Family vacation planning

Planning a vacation for our family is new to us. Sure we have gone away before. All of those trips were to visit family and/or friends for a long weekend at the most. Nothing involved a car trip longer than 6 hours, and certainly not an airplane. Fact is, I have not been on an airplane since December 2002 and so much has changed in that time.

In just about four months, we will be heading to Walt Disney World with the boys. This is a huge adventure for all of us. A first time trip to the magical world of Disney for the boys and first time in an airplane. My mother has commented that I am more excited than she has heard in quite some time. This is very true. It is always wonderful to have something to look forward to.

Unfortunately, with the fun and excitement comes the inevitable planning and some stress. Here are a few things that have been on the plate so far.

  • Which hotel do we stay at? – If you have been to Disney World lately, then you know there are a lot of resorts on ground to pick from. There are value, moderate, and delux accomodations. We opted to try a value resort for the first time. After booking our trip we changed from All Star Movies to Pop Century because of a few items we learned about. JL and I also found out about activities at Pop Century that sound amazing. We do not need the extra frills when we can save money. The money saved now could be for a future trip back to Disney World after all.
  • Do we haul our stroller or rent there? – This was a question that I posed on a Disney forum that I recently joined.  I knew that we would need to rent a stroller no matter what. Although NHL is five, Disney is a lot of walking for my adult legs. When I asked in the forums about this several people suggested not only to rent a double stroller, but to stray from Disney. Everyone mentioned Orlando Stroller Rentals. The people had links to reviews and the website with photos of the stroller that you can rent. The best part is the double jogger can accomodate up to 100 pounds of kids, they deliver and pick up from the hotel, it folds easy, is comfy for JSL to nap in, and saved us about $90 over Disney. Now I just need to figure out a rain cover to buy for it.
  • Which parks do we go to on what days? – Yes, vacationing with family means being flexible.Fact is that at Disney World reservations for dining book quickly. If we do not set up plans in the 90 days before our trip, we may not get our preferred times to dine (if we can get them at all). Thanks to this, we know our magic 90 day date and have to figure out where we would like to dine so we can attempt to make reservations. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Just note that JL eats vegetarian when out, but this includes fish like salmon (no seafood like shrimp/clams/scallops/lobster).
  • When will Disney release the park hours for May? – We only have one month before we can schedule our advanced dining reservations (ADR). That means we would like to know the hours of the parks to figure out where we should go. The only definite plan now is to go to the Magic Kingdom the first full day we are there. Beyond that it is hard to know without the hours. We certainly do not want to hop buses for reservations, we would rather just spend the time we want at the park that we will dine at later on.
  • Should we take our laptop with us? – The easy answer would be no, but TechyDad and I are not sure we want to be without it. Aside from taking the bag with us on the flight, the real issue is internet service. Believe it or not, Disney does not have Wifi at their resorts. We were pretty surprised with that. Disney also charges for use of internet while on grounds. The rate at this point is $10 for a 24 hour period. This is something we will definitely be debating.
  • What should we do on JSL’s 2nd birthday? – We will actually be at Disney World for the little guy’s birthday. Sure he will not really appreciate a lot of it, but we still have to do something special for him. We will likely do a character meal on that day, but not 100% sure what at this point. Of course we are hoping that he will not be terrified of the costumes like his big brother.
  • Should we take the travel insurance for the trip? – Right now we are waiting for the information sheets about this from the travel agent. I want to know what benefit it has over what the hotel and airline will cover anyway.

Thanks to these and a few other quetions, we have been doing a lot of research. Amazing people online in the Disney forums, on Twitter, along with other friends and family have been weighting in on some of them.


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  • Nancy says:

    It sounds like you have items 1 and 2 pretty much set.

    Parks: This is a tough one. While the extra magic hour days may be tempting, they also tend to be the most crowded days in the parks. Also remember you won’t get to see everything so you should learn about all of the attractions at each park and prioritize. And take advantage of Fast Pass as well as Parent Swap. Both are a parent’s best friend.

    Park hours: According to one of my favorite planning sites,, “Walt Disney World now publishes operating hours on its official website up to six months in advance.” So that information should be there now. If you can’t find it on the website, call them. 407-W-DISNEY.

    Laptop: Tough call. We are geeks and bring ours, I tend to use it more than Jon does though. If you don’t have WiFi, or have to pay for internet at all, I wouldn’t bother though. I do go withdrawal without it.

    JSL’s birthday: Zach hated the characters. Alex loved them at that age, still does, so you never know. Maybe since NHL hated them, JSL will love them? :) I think I would do the Magic Kingdom on his birthday, just personal preference. If you can broadcast somehow that it’s his birthday – a special hat, maybe – I bet cast members would do lots of cool things for him.

    Travel insurance: We never do, but it’s personal preference. I also never get the additional insurance on rental cars, so take that as you will.

    I’m so excited for you! Even though we’re going for the 3rd time in 2 years later in the year, I’m looking forward to our trip too. I have a few months before I have to worry about dining reservations so I’m trying to avoid the planning sites for now since I get sucked in. :)

  • Nancy says:

    Oh and look into the meal plan, if you’re not already planning to use it. We haven’t yet, since we haven’t stayed on property (though I think they changed it that you don’t have to stay on property for the meal plan), but I’ve heard it’s a great deal.

  • Steffj89 says:

    on the laptop i would totally take it…even if they dont have wifi on site, there are tons of places like starbucks and mcdonalds now that do offer it…also it makes it easy to do things like save pics and clears your camera each day etc….

  • Shawna says:

    I can’t comment on much but the laptop issue . . .I wouldn’t take it. The reason places like Disney (and Vegas) don’t offer WiFi and make you pay for internet usage is because they want you to be out and about and not playing around on the computer. In my experience, the internet service in those kinds of resorts is sketchy and slow and it ends up not being worth it. You might want to check into a hotel that has a business center if that’s an option and if you really think that you’ll go through withdrawal.

    I’m so excited for you! It will be here before you know it!

  • Damselfly says:

    I hope you have the best time!

    When we went last month, we chose not to take the laptop for the WiFi rates.

  • I haven’t been since I was oh 8 I think. So I can’t help much on that front. Sounds like a wonderful trip. Trip planning always causes a little stress but just think of the stress there would be if you didn’t do the planning!? You sound on top of it though. :)

  • Steve says:

    Have a wonderful time! Your kids will absolutely love it as well as yourself if you are young at heart. One tip though, check on the official Disney World website which attraction will be closed in what park or parks. We got there in the first week of June and they closed one of our favorites, “Pirates of the Caribbean”. We got to ride on it several times the first day we arrived in one day before it closed the rest of the time we were there and we were there for 2 weeks. So if you have a favorite, make sure you check it out before you go so you don’t miss out. Feel free to check out my website at for tips, reviews, merchandise and more.

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