Disney World 2015 Trip Planning Guide


Planning your 2015 Walt Disney World trip can be intimidating, especially for first-time visitors. This guide will give you tips to save money, time, and make the most of Walt Disney World, navigating its four theme parks, dozens of hotels, hundreds of restaurants, and a variety of additional entertainment activities and options that can make for really complicate planning. Walt Disney World is a busy place, so determining when to visit and how to tour the parks to avoid crowds is a critical step in the process. Add to that trying to save money on park tickets and hotels, and planning can be daunting, especially for first-time or infrequent guests who want to plan a memorable trip.

If you’re feeling yourself being sucked into the rabbit hole that is Walt Disney World vacation planning, our updated-for-2015 Walt Disney World trip planning guide is here to help…or perhaps drag you deeper into the rabbit hole. Think of it as Walt Disney World Trip Planning 101, organized into the 10 most important aspects of Walt Disney World vacation planning. As complicated as the process might seem right now, it’s really not that bad, and the ultimate payoff will be huge. You’re also a bit fortunate that you’re being sucked into the rabbit hole now, as many first-time visitors don’t realize Walt Disney World planning can be so complicated until they arrive, and are then overwhelmed. The commercials make it look like a carefree world where everyone runs around holding hands with Mickey Mouse while laughing and riding all of their favorite attractions without any problems…but that’s definitely not the reality.

Even after dozens and dozens of trips to Walt Disney World, we still don’t know everything there is to know about the place, but this post contains most of what we do know (most stuff, at least…not the nitty-gritty details like which drinking fountains are coldest!). We wouldn’t visit so much if we didn’t like it, so our opinions are colored by the fact that we are Disney fans. That said, we don’t see the world through rose colored glasses, and we try to stay as objective as possible here, sharing the good and the bad. If that’s not for you, there are plenty of other planning sites that offer only positive or only negative spins on Disney.

This vacation planning guide applies to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. That might seem silly to point out if you’re a seasoned Disney fan, but a lot of people don’t know. (You did see the episode of The Middle where they made that mistake, right? All TV is obviously based on real life!) World=Florida, land=California. If you are visiting California, please consult our Disneyland Resort Trip Planning Guide. If you’re trying to determine which coast is right for you, read our Walt Disney World v. Disneyland post.

This page is a jumping off point to give you some background information on each aspect of your trip, with links to other blog posts that offer much more detailed information. Each post opens in a new tab, so click away as you read and prepare to waste the better part of a day or more reading all this.

We promise that the payoff will be worth it, so let’s get started! (more…)

Disneyland 2015 Trip Planning Guide

This post is a guide for planning your 2015 visit to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Here we cover tips and tricks for experiencing Cars Land and Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary, making 2015 a great time to visit Disneyland. We first posted this guide a few years ago when Disney California Adventure had its big reboot, and have updated it multiple times per year since. We have received messages from a lot of people who had great trips thanks to our recommendations, and this guide has been refined based upon numerous visits to Disneyland in 2014 (we didn’t do trip reports for the 2014 visits, but here’s our most recent Disneyland Christmas Trip Report) and will continue to be updated as we make regular trips to Disneyland in 2015.

Disneyland Resort has been on a roll as of late, expanding upon the success of its big recent addition, Cars Land, with the opening of Mickey and the Magical Map, plus World of Color – Winter Dreams, seasonal celebrations, and more. 2015 is Disneyland Resort’s “Diamond Anniversary”, which is slated to begin in May 2015. While all of the details have not yet been announced for the 60th Anniversary, we know that it will be based in nostalgia, and strong rumors suggest a new nighttime parade (a modified version of the Paint the Night Parade from Hong Kong Disneyland), new fireworks, significant upgrades to Fantasyland dark rides, and more.

We highly recommend a visit to Disneyland, as the 60th Anniversary sounds like it’s going to be awesome. Honestly, there hasn’t been a year recently when we haven’t recommended a Disneyland Resort visit. The place is firing on all cylinders. As long as Disneyland keeps doing new things and Cars Land keeps looking great, you may be hearing this same sentiment in 2015, 2016, 2017 and…you get the idea.

It may seem silly to point this out, but this planning guide applies to the Disneyland Resort in California. If you are visiting Florida, please consult our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.

This guide contains all the resources you’ll need to plan your Disneyland Resort trip, including when to visit, where to stay, what to do, and much more… (more…)

When To Visit Disney World in 2015

People often ask, “when is the best time to visit Disney World?” Some days and times of year are better to plan your trip to Walt Disney World. The least crowded times of the year are typically after Labor Day until the week before Thanksgiving, early December, the entire month of January and early February, and late April. That said, nowadays especially in 2015 now that New Fantasyland is complete and ‘Frozen Frenzy’ is at its peak, there really is no “slow season” at Walt Disney World.

Crowds should not be your only consideration when planning when to visit Walt Disney World. There are some great seasonal events, such as the Halloween and Christmas seasons, Food & Wine Festival, runDisney, and other fun events. You may also be constrained as to when you can visit by school schedules, vacation time, and other factors. Add to that weather and various other considerations, and when to visit Walt Disney World isn’t as cut and dry as visiting in late September, early December, or February when crowds are low.

Of course, choosing which days to visit Walt Disney World is just one aspect of planning a trip. To make sure you tackle everything, make sure you read our Guide to Planning a Walt Disney World Trip, which covers all of the essentials.

With that said, let’s take a look at when you should and shouldn’t visit Walt Disney World… (more…)

Disney World Christmas Time Lapse Video

Merry Christmas! No new post for today, but above is a time lapse video I shot back in 2011 at Walt Disney World during the Christmas season. I’ve played with time lapse photography a lot since, but I haven’t tried anything this ambitious since then; one of my big goals for 2015 is to get serious about time lapse. Although I look back at some parts and cringe a bit, it’s still a fun video that I enjoyed making–hope you like it if you haven’t seen it before! (more…)

Disney Packing List

A great packing list for Disney with unique items you probably wouldn't consider!

When we pack for Walt Disney World or Disneyland, we make a check-list of what we need to bring for the trip. We’re sure most of you also have similar lists, and probably don’t need a reminder to bring toothpaste and deodorant. Instead, here’s our list of less obvious items that we bring with us to Disney, which you may want to consider adding to your own checklists!

We change our packing list regularly based upon feedback and suggestions we receive in the comments on this list (thanks!), as we like to try new and useful travel products that will improve our trips. Our 2015 ‘what to pack for Disney’ updates include a few new products that we’ve found have made our trips (in Walt Disney World & Disneyland and in the Asian parks) easier. Also, this list is not tailored towards any specific season; check out our Winter Packing Tips for Disney post for more specific insight on what to take on your trip if you’re visiting from November through February.

For the food and consumables, to avoid adding weight to our luggage (we have a page devoted solely to choosing the right luggage, so check that out if you need new bags) that might cause us to have to pay baggage fees, we often place an order with Amazon.com prior to our trip, and have the items shipped to our Disney resort. (In Address Line 2, specify your arrival date.) Shipping on orders over $35 is free with Amazon.com. One tip for this is that you need to specify when ordering that you want your order in “as few shipments as possible.” A few Disney resort-hotels charge a small “package fee” when you pick up the package. This $2 or so fee isn’t much for one package, but could really add up if Amazon ships each little toiletry separately!

With all of that said, let’s get to the Disney packing lists, grouped by category. Hopefully this ‘Unique Disney Packing List’ makes your trips better, too!  (more…)

Where To Stay At Disneyland

When trip planning, guests must ask where to stay at Disneyland. Off-site or on-site? In the Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier Hotel, Grand Californian Hotel, or one of the cheaper hotels on Harbor Boulevard? The reasons to stay on or off-site at Disneyland are quite different than the reasons for choosing a hotel at Walt Disney World, but much like the Florida Disney resort, there are compelling reasons for staying in Disney-owned hotels and for staying in off-site hotels.

First, the benefits of staying in the Disney-owned hotels, Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa.

Reasons to Stay On-Site

Perks – Most of the perks offered to Disneyland guests are not dependent upon staying in a Disney-owned hotel, but instead are dependent upon booking a package with the Walt Disney Travel Company. These packages can be booked for either a Disney-owned hotel or a third-party “Good Neighbor” Hotel.

However, there is one very big exception to this. Guests staying in a Disney-owned hotel can enter Disneyland or Disney California Adventure one-hour early for each day of their stay to enjoy the Extra Magic Hour. This is important, because even in 2014, Radiator Springs Racers still has quite long lines, often exceeding two hours and FastPasses for it run out within an hour of official park opening. The Extra Magic Hour really makes experiencing Radiator Springs Racers multiple times much easier (check out our Cars Land Tips & Tricks for additional strategy). If there is one perk that tips the scale in favor of staying in a Disney-owned hotel, this should probably be it. (more…)