Walt Disney World is the kind of place where you can either have the time of your life, or a really awful vacation. When I hear about folks having a bad Disney World experience, I can usually get to the bottom of the problem pretty quickly – they just didn’t have the information to make some key decisions regarding their trip. Where you stay, where you eat, how you utilize free services (such as FastPass+), and what park you visit on what day can make a HUGE difference in the quality of your vacation!
Luckily there many websites that offer free vacation planning advice out there on the web – maybe too many! Just sifting through the thousands of websites offering planning tips can be as overwhelming as actually planning the details of your trip. So I’ve decided to share my three favorite and most utilized Disney World planning sites to help you save time planning your trip. These sites really can help you have the best possible visit to The Most Magical Place on Earth!
Heinous crowds and long waits for attractions are the biggest complaints of many Disney World visitors. That’s where Josh’s EasyWDW.com’s Free Crowd Calendars come in. These are the best resource out there (in my experience) for deciding which park to visit on which day of your trip. Dodging crowds, getting to the parks early and knowing how to utilize Disney FastPass+ system will save you hours of time and make your trip SO much more enjoyable!
Case in point – we once made the mistake of heading to the Magic Kingdom first on our trip, which happened to be a Saturday afternoon. If we had consulted a Crowd Calendar we would have seen that the Magic Kingdom is almost always the least recommended park to visit on Saturdays for just that reason – many people start their vacation on a Saturday and head straight there! The crowds were so thick it took us fifteen minutes of doing what my husband calls the “Disney Shuffle” before we could even get to Cinderella’s Castle from the entrance. From that point on, we stuck with Josh’s recommended parks for the day and wow, has it made all of the difference. We have even had Animal Kingdom practically to ourselves before – on Christmas Day no less – because we heeded Josh’s touring advice.
I have used AllEars.net for researching pretty much everything at Walt Disney World – accommodations, restaurants, attractions and more. It is an exhaustive site with tons of helpful planning information. I most often visit the Menus Around the World page to research restaurants in Disney World. There are over 135 restaurants at Disney World, some of which are excellent and some of which should be avoided at all costs! When I hear folks complain about the food I shed a silent tear, because there truly are incredible dining experiences to be had at Disney World! Not all of these experiences will break the bank, another common misconception about dining at Disney. It just takes some time to read through reviews and find the best spots to suit your family’s tastes.
For example, one of our not-to-be-missed restaurants is Flame Tree Barbeque in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. We eat there on every trip and the ribs are some of the best you will ever have – I don’t care where you are from and what kind of ribs you are used to having. The half slab of ribs come with a side of baked beans and coleslaw and are an excellent value at $12.99. You’d be hard pressed to find even mediocre ribs for that price at most restaurants.
P.S. I can’t write about food and Disney World without mentioning the Disney Food Blog. It has excellent in-depth reviews, news, and resources for making the most of a visit to Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival.
Where you stay when you visit Walt Disney World can have as much impact on the quality of your trip as anything else. MouseSavers.com is an excellent resource for finding the best place to stay at or around Disney for the best price. I personally am a huge proponent of staying at one of Disney’s resort hotels (read more about why in this post) but clearly many people chose to stay “off property” for a variety of reasons. With so many resorts to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find one that fits your family’s needs. I think you can’t go wrong with a Disney resort (even Disney Value Resorts are impressive), but there are many nearby resorts that should be avoided, no matter what the reviews say on TripAdvisor! MouseSavers has a list of about ten Preferred Hotels Near Disney World along with all of the current discounts at each of them. I trust their research and advice more than any other website.
I also regularly reference their Disney World Resort Rack Rate page to decide if a discount is actually a good deal. Disney always has discount offers and sometimes the only way for me to calculate which offer is the best is to compare prices to the rack rates.
If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World I hope this list helps guide you toward an incredible vacation. Also feel free to leave any questions in the comments below!