Walt Disney World is one of the most magical places in the world. It’s the place to go when you want to escape your worries, when you want to step back in time and steep in nostalgia, and when you want to show kids the time of their lives. People young and old visit this enormous resort every day, and while it does come with its fair share of frustrations, the experiences to be found within those gates are both incredible and incomparable.
While some people may not consider Walt Disney World an all-inclusive resort, the truth is, it absolutely can be! That is, if you visit the parks the way Disney would like you to. So while it is possible to visit the parks for only a day, and while it is possible to opt out of the dining plan, what we are reviewing here is the all-inclusive Walt Disney World vacation experience.
Disney World offers a variety of accommodation options from a campground — a pretty fancy one, at that — to some gorgeous world-class hotels. Each guest is free to choose the resort that best suits their wants, needs, and budget, but clearly, the more money spent, the swankier the accommodations will be.
The Fort Wilderness campground, for example, is one of the cheapest options in terms of places to stay. However, even this option is pretty incredible when it comes to amenities. These include a water play area for little ones, two pools, a water slide, a hot tub, pony rides, a nightly campfire, clean bathrooms, and much more.
When ranking these hotels by price, the campground is closely followed by the “value” resorts, which are very clean and offer fun theming.
Next in line are the “moderate” resorts, which give guests the comfort of queen-sized beds instead of the doubles found in the value resorts. The moderates also tend to keep their theming a bit more subdued — appealing more to the adults out there — and they offer water slides and hot tubs in their pool areas, something you won’t find at the value resorts.
Lastly, the “deluxe” resorts are the nicest of the Disney hotels, and offer even more in the way of amenities.
Whichever way you decide to go, you are unlikely to be disappointed. Disney hotels are all very clean, and the staff is always kind and helpful. The pools, playgrounds, and food options at each resort are convenient, as are the other special perks offered only to Disney guests. These perks include free transportation to all Disney parks, as well as Extra Magic Hours, which are extended park hours that are only open to resort guests. The transportation is almost always running on time and efficiently, and the Extra Magic Hours are perfect during the most crowded seasons.
For the most part, the food at Disney World is pretty average. However, there are certain restaurants on the property that will leave you craving more long after your vacation has ended. These restaurants include Ohana, Hollywood Brown Derby, and California Grill, among others. Additionally, the character meals are a fun experience and well worth your time. Be sure to do your research and find some of these awesome experiences before you head out. You will want to make reservations early in order to get into your most-desired restaurants.
The dining plans offered by Disney are broken into categories. The plan you choose determines where you are allowed to eat. The plans are as follows:
- Quick Service Plan — Includes two quick service meals each day and a snack.
- Regular Dining Plan — Includes one quick service meal, one table service meal, and one snack each day.
- Deluxe Dining Plan — Includes three meals (any combination of quick and table service) and two snacks each day.
All three plans also include a refillable mug, but the mug can only be refilled at your hotel. The best value of the three is almost always the regular dining plan.
The parks at Walt Disney World Resort are truly incredible. The theming is the best in the world, the parks are immaculate, and the staff is nearly always friendly and fun. In addition to all of those things, the rides and experiences are truly magical, and often transport you to a completely different time and place with the flip of a switch.
The biggest downside to the Disney parks are the enormous crowds. Everyone in the world wants to see this awesome place, and it can sometimes feel like everyone in the world showed up all at once. However, there are a few things you can do to make the experience enjoyable despite the crowds.
The first option is to avoid the crowds by visiting during low season. This could mean visiting in late August, September, or January.
If you can’t swing a low-season visit, make sure to take full advantage of your Fast Passes. Fast Passes are basically reservations to experience your favorite rides and attractions without the long waits. You are allowed to make three Fast Pass reservations per day. Use them all and reserve early in order to get your preferred rides and times. After you have used your initial three passes, you are allowed to make more for the same day.
Other ways to beat the crowds include making good use of Extra Magic Hours, arriving at park opening, taking a break mid-day (when the crowd levels are highest), and staying late into the evening.
As you have likely gathered, it is important to plan ahead in order to get the most out of your Walt Disney World vacation. However, with a little bit of planning you are sure to have the most magical vacation of your life.