Today at Mint Fox Meadows we’re taking a break from planners and discussing how to plan a Walt Disney World vacation in a week. Believe me, the whole concept sounds crazy, but it’s entirely possible as long as you remain flexible. In fact, I planned a whole Walt Disney World vacation in a week, for a week, but due to multiple circumstances, was not able to go. That doesn’t mean that you can’t, though! While Walt Disney World currently relies heavily on pre-planning currently, you can absolutely do everything on a whim.
First thing’s first, do not attempt to do this without having the proper funds or without doing previous research ahead of time. A vacation at Walt Disney World is very expensive, but there are definitely ways to cut costs; at the end of the day, it comes down to what you’re willing to pay and what you’re able to afford. If you’re prepared to jump into putting together a vacation, knowing that in seven days you’ll be spending time with Mickey Mouse and walking down Main Street, U.S.A., then keep reading!
When preparing for your trip, analyze the costs of how to get to Walt Disney World as well as analyze the cost of staying on Disney property as both things rely on the other. If you have the time to make your way to Orlando by driving, this will also affect your travel decisions as well as the cost of your trip. If you’re working on a slimmer budget, driving to Orlando and staying off property will be the most cost-effective overall, but if your budget is a little bigger, then you can adjust your trip as needed.
When it comes to finding a flight, I suggest creating an email specifically for this purpose if you don’t want to receive emails daily on flights. Sign up for every airline that’s local to you and see what deals pop up for you. If you’re lucky and live by an airport that serves a budget airline, those might be your best options. As long as you’re okay with traveling light or can combine everything into a single carry-on bag, a budget airline will be the most cost effective. If you think you want to drive, you have to consider the wear and tear on your vehicle as well as the price of gas. Sometimes this seems like the best option as you can afford the most flexibility during your time in Orlando, but sometimes the cost of bringing your car outweighs the cost of flying in and having to use a taxi service to get to other places that you need to visit. When it comes to booking the flight, I recommend having your hotel booked before purchasing your flight unless you purchase travel insurance or fly with an airline with a booking policy that allows you to cancel with no penalty. There’s no point to buying the tickets without having a place to stay.
My recommendation will generally always be to fly in to Orlando and stay on Disney property just on convenience alone, but I’m aware that staying on property isn’t always an option due to the price. Depending on the season at Walt Disney World, accommodations will range anywhere from $70 for a space at their full-service campground and upwards to $1500 a night for their deluxe resorts. While Walt Disney World offers a plethora of options for their guests, sometimes you also run into the issue of whether or not accommodations are available in your price-range.
If you’re looking to spend your time on-property and you have a specific amount that you can budget towards accommodations, I recommend checking daily to see if anything has opened up. During my own personal search, I knew I wanted to stay at Pop Century; one day there was no openings, a few hours later a room opened up for more than half of the time I was planning to spend at Walt Disney World, the next day the full week opened. The best part of booking a room at Walt Disney World is their booking policy can be very lenient. While I was asked to pay the full-price up front, I had up until two days before I planned on arriving to cancel and receive the full amount back. I had called into the reservation line and was also given the ability to add on a deposit and have up until the day off and only have to loose the non-refundable deposit if I didn’t show up, in lieu of paying for the room 100% at that time. Sometimes all it takes is a quick phone call in order to receive more information and find out what other options would be available for you. Also, rooms can sometimes be offered as a package only versus room only. Definitely try multiple options if you don’t see something immediately.
If you’re willing to stay off property, then Trip Advisor will be your best friend. Look for hotels in your price range, read reviews of people who’ve stayed previously, and also make sure to research any amenities that they have that would be extremely helpful. A lot of Orlando area hotels offer shuttles to and from the parks, which generally solves the issue of getting to where you need to be. Once you’re on Disney property, you’re able to take advantage of their transportation and can travel to any location that you need to be at, whether it’s at a park, Disney Springs, or even at a different resort. Finding a hotel with complimentary breakfast is also a great perk since it’s one you won’t find on property.
An additional option that most people don’t know about is renting Disney Vacation Club points. Usually these bookings need to be made well in advance, but if you do your research and go through a reputable DVC point renting service, sometimes you can find someone renting out your week at a steeply discounted rate. This means you get to take advantage of the Disney amenities and have confidence that your entire trip you’ll experience what I call the “Disney Difference.”
This will lead me to mention this small bit on car rentals, as I’m sure this will be something that you’ll be wondering about. If you’re staying off property, I do recommend renting a car to get around, but if you’re staying on property, I would pass. However, this depends entirely on whether you want to venture outside the Disney bubble as their is tons to do in Orlando. Do your research on this as well because your situation is going to be unique.
Once you’ve successfully found your room and you’ve booked your flight, it comes down to purchasing tickets. Unfortunately their is no true discounts on tickets. You can either have purchased your tickets as a package when staying at a Disney resort or you can purchase them separately. There are very few sellers of Disney tickets that offer discounts, but they exist. If you decide to purchase from someone not directly associated with Disney and on their property, DO YOUR RESEARCH. While tempting, there’s no point in losing your money on fake tickets.
Once everything else is in order, now comes the time to truly be flexible. With Walt Disney World’s new process, guests are able to make their Fast Pass and dining reservations well in advance. Unfortunately this means that a lot of experiences are planned out and often times full before you get on property. Luckily there’s work-arounds, but they rely heavily on being flexible with your plans. Don’t go in with any expectations and you’ll be able to avoid any disappoints you might have. If you book your stay on Disney property, you’re able to start booking your reservations right away, but if you’re staying off property, unfortunately you have to wait. If you’re on property and able to start booking, then watch My Disney Experience attentively to snag the fastpasses or dining reservations that you’re looking for. People drop their reservations every day and even the most sought out locations can be picked up, even on the same day that you’re visiting a location. If you’re staying off property and need to wait, you’re able to visit a Fast Pass+ kiosk located in park and make your reservations. If it’s a specific dining reservation that you’re looking for, sometimes it pays to visit the location and inquire about making a reservation or find out their availability in the coming days. Sometimes if you’re nice you can experience a magical moment, but never expect one.
My other recommendations are to venture outside of the normal Disney spectrum and just people watch at Disney Springs or at a resort. There is so much to do on Walt Disney World property that it’s impossible to take it all in. Give up a few days in the parks and spend time appreciating everyone else enjoying their time at Walt Disney World. Some of my best moments have been sitting on a bench watching everyone else and seeing the joy that they have. Sometimes it comes from talking to the child who just so happens to want to have a random conversation with you or the older couple holding hands and walking around with the goofiest smiles you’ve ever seen because they’re so in love.
Hopefully this post has helped you out a little and have given you consideration in planning a trip with very little time to spare. It can be worth it if you’re able and the spontaneity of the trip will only add to the magic that much more.
**I do not work for the Walt Disney Company. The views and opinions in this post are my own.**