How to Have a Stress-Free Disney Vacation

My husband and I are Disney fanatics. For the past several years, we have made a yearly pilgrimage to either Disneyland or Disney World. Since we live in Oregon, Disneyland usually wins out since it’s closer. So, I am always on the lookout for ways to save money on each Disney adventure. Over the years, we’ve acquired some tricks that may help you experience a stress-free Disney vacation.

The Set-Up

We know both parks like the back of our hand. So when planning our next trip to Disneyland or WDW, I am always on the lookout for new and inventive ways to save money on each Disney adventure.
  • My go-to website for all things Disney is Mousesavers. Here you will find a wealth of information about both parks. A few of the websites’ features are: discounted park ticket info, affordable and comfortable nearby hotels, tips for navigating the parks (with or without children) and up-to-the-minute deals on everything Disney. Their homepage has a running list of the latest deals, with additional, easy-to-navigate links on the left side of the page. They also have valuable information on the Disney Cruise Line, and Broadway & Ice shows!
  • Many of us are tempted to throw caution to the wind and spring for a package deal that includes airfare/car/hotel/tickets. Don’t. Unless you really don’t want to (or have the time) to research buying each individually, these package “deals” rarely will save you money. In some cases, you’ll end up paying more, with features you won’t even use. It’s not that hard to purchase everything individually with all of the great discounts out there. (Did I mention Mousesavers?)
  • When traveling with a family or group, try to come up with a loose schedule that everyone is required to adhere to, before the trip begins. This will alleviate stress during the daily trips to the park. If everyone sticks to a schedule (when to get up in the morning, when to have meals together, etc.), it will (mostly) eliminate frustration and frantic texts wondering where someone is at.

Our first time at the (then new) Cars Land. I’m in the front, middle seat.

The Plain Facts

  • Disney theme parks can be super-expensive: between theme park admission, meals during the day, hotel and/or flight reservations – your hard-earned cash can be eaten up very quickly if you pay full price for everything. It’s expensive enough with just my husband and me – I can only imagine the costs for a family of four. Mousesavers can literally save you hundreds of dollars on each trip.
  • In addition to the exorbitant prices, much of the year the parks swell to overflowing with people from every corner of the planet. This means huge lines for most of the attractions, and during peak times, the most popular rides guarantee you a 2 hour wait. That is, of course, you have a fast-pass. But with the popularity of those, even fast-pass holders will have a wait time on the more popular attractions.
  • Disney cast members, those angels who work tirelessly to make our Disney experience magical, are in fact, human. Even though they are specifically hired to be as nice and as accommodating as possible to all, there are times when thousands of hot, sweaty and cranky guests can get to a person. Please treat them with the utmost respect. When standing in line for a ride, try to engage them in brief conversation, show them you care.

The Bottom Line

If you can possibly avoid it – DO NOT go to a Disney park in the summer time, Spring Break, or the two weeks around Christmas and New Years. That’s right, I said it. “But hold on!” you say, just when the kids are out of school, and this is probably the only time you can make it? Think again. If you really want to get the most out of the Disney parks, go in September/October, or better yet, in the early Spring.

Because during those peak times mentioned above, Disney prices sky-rocket, and the crowds can become unbearable. Even some of the Disney restaurants jack up their prices slightly, knowing there will be plenty of people who need a culinary reprieve in between waiting in line for rides. Having said that, visiting either park during the holiday season is a real treat. Disney “decks the halls” of the entire park from November through January. The super-sensory experience of the lights and sounds of Christmas make the parks extra-magical during this time.


The Moral of the Story

So do yourself a favor and go during off-season. You will thank yourself for it. Prices are at their lowest, both for hotels and attractions, and the crowds are much smaller. This translates into spending less time in lines (for everything) and therefore more time to enjoy more attractions, and do I even need to mention less stress? Temperatures are cooler as well – it’s a triple-whammy-win.

What are YOUR Disney tips? Tell me how you plan your Mouse-filled vacation!

*Disclosure: I am in no way affiliated with Mousesavers. I am getting nothing from your clicking to their website from my page. I just REALLY like them a lot!

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About Me

Hi, I’m Susan, a travel writer based in Portland, Oregon. THANKS for stopping by my Pacific Northwest travel site! This blog focuses on Pacific Northwest travel, but also is a place showcase all of my travels, and is a great place to start when planning your next vacation to my area of the world. Please e-mail me or leave a comment, I’m here to help!

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