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Earn your Mickey ears with stress-free Disney World vacation planning

A trip to Disney World should be a thing of magic, but can be a pain to plan. Here’s how to cut down on the stress.

BY RICHARD HALL Published: December 9, 2012
/articleid/3735632/1/pictures/1902760">Photo - Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park has a host of shows, including a live production of “Beauty and the Beast.” PHOTO BY Richard Hall, THE OKLAHOMAN
Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park has a host of shows, including a live production of “Beauty and the Beast.” PHOTO BY Richard Hall, THE OKLAHOMAN

There’s also a resort specifically for members and retirees of the armed services, called Shades of Green. It’s on Disney property but is operated by the U.S. Army and offers a considerable lodging discount for those with proper military credentials.

Disney dining plans

One more perk of staying on-site is being able to use the Disney Dining Plan. Basically you pay upfront for all your meals and snacks, sans alcoholic beverages, tax and tips.

There are several dining plans to choose from, with the most popular being the standard dining plan. This gives each person in your party two meals (including drink and dessert) and one snack per night of your stay. The cost for 2013 is $17.16 per night for visitors age 3 to 9, and $55.59 per night for visitors age 10 and up.

There are more than 100 restaurants that operate within the parks, so you’ll likely find something to fit everyone’s tastes.

Disney discounts

Disney oftentimes offers discounts ranging from a percentage off resort stay to free dining plans for your entire party. But, those discounts and promotional periods usually happen during the park’s off season, and aren’t widely advertised by Disney except on their website or by word-of-mouth.

Disney releases promotional information a couple months before the promo begins. This might be a problem for the family who plans way in advance, but a call to Disney’s customer service line often results to getting the promo applied if you meet requirements for it.

Disney Vacation Club point rentals

One of the absolute best ways to save money on a Disney World trip is to rent Disney Vacation Club points. It sounds convoluted but it operates like if you were to rent a time share. Using a service like David’s Vacation Club Rentals allows you to pick the dates you want to go, and shows you which resorts are available to your party and for what price. This price is oftentimes half of what Disney World charges for the same room during the same dates, even when add-ons like dining are included.

For example, if booking your trip through David’s Vacation Club Rentals, a seven-night stay for two adults and two children during the summer season at Animal Kingdom Villas with a view of the park’s savanna, with the basic dining plan and Park Hopper tickets added on, will cost about $4,100. The exact same package when booked through Disney will cost about $6,350. Going with David’s saves more than $2,200.

Learning from others

The Internet is full of blogs, forums and websites devoted to Disney World. Many of these share tips and tricks far beyond what what’s already been mentioned, such as dining reviews and menus, ride and closure information, and words of encouragement for “Pooh-sized” (overweight and obese) park visitors. These sites also have tons of information on how to physically plan for the trip, because the average Disney-goer walks 10 miles a day while there.

A trip to Disney World is literally like visiting another planet, and should be memorable for all the right reasons.

Squashing some of the stress before pulling out the credit card will only help you further enjoy your vacation.

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