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7 Insider Tips: Booking Your Next Disney Vacation Like a Pro!

7) Choose the right dates

When traveling in general, it’s really important to choose the best possible dates for your vacation. Of course with school and work obligations, your options can sometimes be limited, but there are still ways to work around it. If school and work have me a bit tied down, I try to go during the last weeks of summer. Some schools are already back in school by late August, so the crowds will have thinned out a little bit. Without school or work getting in the way, I like to go late September or early October, to enjoy the Halloween party and Food and Wine Festival. Once you choose a time of year, choosing the individual week can be important too, especially if you’re flying to Orlando as airfare can be different for the different days of the week.

6) Research dining options

When you book your Walt Disney World vacation as a package, you’ll be presented with the option of purchasing a dining plan. The dining plan can save you a lot of money if you’re going to eat all of the food that it includes, and probably occasionally order the more expensive things on the menu. Some Disney fans have very strong opinions on the dining plan, but here’s the way I would go about booking it (or not.) Research the menus for where you’d like to eat ahead of time, and look into what comes with the dining plan to compare prices and see what would work best for you.

5) Know the park hours ahead of time

Some guests have trouble deciding where they want to make dining reservations or Fastpasses before they arrive in Orlando because they feel like they have no way of knowing where they’ll be on any given day or time. I find that checking the park hours during my trip ahead of time can really help me plan. For instance, I would rather have dinner in the park that’s open the latest on a given night, so I don’t feel like I’m spending the last hour or so of the park being open eating dinner. It can also help you plan if you think you’re going to park hop, so you’ll know if upgrading to a park hopper ticket will be worth it.

4) Getting your tickets

Unfortunately, tickets are probably the most difficult parts of booking a Disney vacation to get at a discount. Of course, if you’re visiting the parks enough, an annual pass might be worth it, but other than that finding legitimate discount tickets can be very tricky. I’ve heard good things about Undercover Tourist, but other than that I would not recommend getting tickets from other ticket sellers (besides travel agents and AAA of course.) The tourist info kiosks in Orlando, and eBay are not good places to get Disney tickets as you’re taking a chance that they might or might not work when you get to the gate. In addition you want to make sure that you’re getting the right tickets for what you actually need, so make sure you’re going to be park hopping or going to the water parks before you add these as additional options.

3) Use rewards based credit cards

I know some of the people reading this probably don’t want to get another credit card, and that’s totally fine, but if you’re going on vacation it might be worth looking into some kind of rewards cards, either for airline miles or a Disney Visa card. If you use credit cards that earn rewards for your everyday purchases (and pay them off each month of course) you can easily rack up a lot of points to use towards your trip. I’m actually using some of my Disney Visa rewards to pay for my annual pass this year!

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2) Choosing the right hotel

In my opinion, Disney is one of those vacations where staying at the pricier hotel is really a splurge. It’s not the kind of trip where you’re really going to spend tons of time at the resort, so if you’re on a tight budget I would recommend staying at a value or moderate resort. You can still enjoy the shops and restaurants at other resorts, without paying the nightly room rate for them. Conversely, if you have some wiggle room in your budget, by all means, splurge on your favorite deluxe resort on your next trip.

1) Look out for special offers

Special offers can be found on the official Disney website, or they may be mailed or emailed to you in the form of a pin code. Special offers may include things like discounted rates on packages, a percentage off the hotels, or free dining plans. Just remember that when the free dining plan is offered, the room rates are typically not discounted at all, so you really need to make sure that the free dining will make it worth it. Happy planning!

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a graduate of St. Anselm College, where she earned her bachelor of arts degree in History. She completed two Disney College Programs, one at Dinoland U.S.A., in Animal Kingdom, and one at Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Hollywood Studios. She is the author of “Brittany Earns Her Ears,” a memoir about her experiences on the college program, and she currently resides in Massachusetts.