Disney & Universal Planning in 5 easy steps

Planning in 5 easy steps. As a vacation planner, I always feel a lot of pressure to deliver the best possible vacations to my own family.  After all, they expect the very best from someone who earns a living helping others create lasting memories.  As I am sure many of you have felt, the pandemic has affected the way we approach travel.  Our priorities have shifted from wanting the absolute best deal to making the most out of our vacations. 

Step 1: Write down a list of Desires. 

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Sadly many tend to skip this step. It is so important it is to take the time to sit down and make a list of what you want. Share this list with your travel advisor so that they can design the best possible trip for you.

I sat with my family, and we listed all the must-do parks and attractions. From that list, we each chose 1 particular desire. We then went through a process of elimination until we had a game plan that we all felt awesome about. Let’s face it, prices have gone up! We have lost our cherished free Fast Passes option. With this in mind, we decided to only visit 2 of the Disney parks this time around (GASP). This will allow a full day to relax at the hotel. Finally, we’ll enjoy 3 full days at Universal Orlando with park to park access.

Step 2: Be honest about your budget!

Most people feel uneasy talking about their budget, however it is just as, if not more important than sharing your desires. It is necessary to have boundaries about what you feel comfortable and able to spend on your vacation. There truly is something for everyone out there, and ways to make dreams come true even when your finances have limitations.

Having not travelled since 2019 (thanks COVID), we are itching to walk across than plane aisle and just get away!  We feel there is so much catching up to do and want to see and do it all, but we also had to get real with what we can afford.

Step 3:  Check what attractions are closed for Refurbishments!

Planning in 5 easy steps

At first, we were set on visiting Animal Kingdom. We are HUGE animal lovers and have never missed a Kilimanjaro Safari during our Disney Vacations. However, after taking the time to look up all the attractions that will be closed for refurbishments, we were sad to see Expedition Everest on that list. It is another one of our must-do rides, and knowing that it would be closed left us feeling disappointed. It helped us choose which 2 parks we would visit (Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios). If your budget only allows for a certain number of days at the parks, this tool is extremely handy.

Step 4: Choosing where to sleep

After reviewing several options of offsite and onsite hotels, this is what we chose. We booked our first 3 nights at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort Dockside Inn and Suites in a 2-bedroom suite, followed by 4 nights at The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. We referred to our list of desires from Step 1 which included:

  1. Staying connected to the Magic of both Disney and Universal

  2. Transportation included within each destination

  3. Taking advantage of early park admission – especially during high season

  4. Avoiding parking fees at both hotels and parks

We factored in our budget when making our decision, as well as what type of room would fit our families’ needs. It was important to have a separated sleeping area and a kitchenette for breakfasts in our room. It was also essential to choose a hotel that offered several activities, so we can enjoy our non-park days.

Step 5:  Creating your vacation schedule

Planning in 5 easy steps

A schedule is key to managing any unwanted vacation stress. Ideally, working with a travel consultant will take the guesswork out of planning and save you time. A consultant will share their destination knowledge and provide tips and recommendations for you.

Here is how I created our vacation schedule:

  1. Decide which park to visit each day, and try if possible to leave 1 day to relax at the resort and recharge your batteries.

  2. Download the My Disney Experience app, as well as the Universal Florida app, once you have confirmed your trip and familiarize yourself with them.

  3. Link all of your hotel and park pass reservations in each app.

  4. Make sure that you make your Park reservations for Disney World for the days you would like to visit each park.

  5. Pre-book your dining reservations when the booking window allows

  6. If there are any special events taking place during your visit, be sure to pre-book those reservation tickets in advance, as most will sell out quickly.

Please reach out to me if you would like more tips with you and help with planning your next vacation.

Are you planning a trip to Disney or Universal soon? Share your experience in the comments below.

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