Disney Trip: Planning

All this week I’ll be writing a trip report of my vacation to Walt Disney World in Florida. I took my trip from March 16-March 23 in 2010. I’ll review my trip, include relevant travel issues and next week I’ll follow up my review with posts on how to plan a Disney trip of your own. So, onto this week’s first post: a discussion of how husband and I planned our Disney trip.

Cinderella's Castle, Walt Disney World


This was pretty easy to decide. When planning we wanted this trip to be just me and the husband. We don’t have kids and we didn’t want to bring extended family so it was down to us. We left our dog with my mother and I was deeply disappointed to hear she ended up having a great week and didn’t miss me at all.


This was the next question we answered. We were booking in the middle of winter and we wanted a spring trip since prices tend to go up in the summer. My husband was insistent that we go somewhere warm and I wasn’t going to argue with that after a cold Missouri winter. My job at the time was pretty flexible and his job had informed him to take a vacation soon or he wouldn’t be able to due to a time-sensitive project. The month of March looked good to both of us so it was just a matter of which week had the best airfare to wherever we chose.


To start our hunt for a destination, we had to decide on a goal of the trip. I wanted to get out of our small town, go to a place and do things. Also to eat amazing food and take a zillion photos. I’m the kind of person who loves to plan activities in 15 minute increments. The husband wanted to go somewhere to relax, swim, not have to carry cash on him, and to eat good food. Also to a state our country he had never been.

So it was agreed: we wanted good food. Somehow that wasn’t enough to make a trip appear. In the end, I proposed Disney World. I had been there in 2007, loved it more than my childhood trips there and wanted to experience the magic with my new husband. He proposed an all-inclusive resort similar to one we had been on for our honeymoon. We were at an impasse.

I'm Back!


This was a tough one. Our last vacation had been our Jamaican honeymoon nearly 3 years earlier and we both had agreed on a warm destination. After discussing several vacation spots and prices, it came down to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Disney. Mexico sounded nice but we were hesitant to head down there with our timing of Spring Break and the Cancun area. So that left Disney and the Dominican.

I did some research and discovered a day my local baseball team would be playing their spring training game on Disney property and discovered it was March 21st. I planned a trip around that and priced it out and came to a total of $3500. Then I priced the Dominican all-inclusive resort we were considering and it came to $3500. So much for letting money decide it. My husband then swooped in and made the sacrifice of a lifetime, telling me he could tell I was favoring Disney but afraid to say it and to just book the trip. I was honored by his sacrifice but I think he regretted it around Day 4 of our trip. More on that later though.

Disney World Planning

We booked our trip in late November. Based on our personal budget, we chose a moderate resort hotel: Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. I had stayed here one night on my last trip, loved it, and chose it for our new trip. We looked at the Disney Dining plans and opted to choose the Magic Your Way Plus Dining option. I’ll be doing a very detailed post next week on dining plan options but for a quick summary, each day we had credits added to an account for a table service meal, a quick-service meal, and a snack. We then chose ticket types. The weather was cooler that time of year and we didn’t want to visit a water park. We did choose to add on the Park Hopper option so we could always head to a different resort so we could be flexible with dinner and crowds. We booked a flight through Southwest Airlines because they were the only provider of direct flights from St. Louis to Orlando and we wanted to avoid layovers.

Almost as soon as we booked the trip, I began booking our planned add-ons. First up were dinner reservations. For all sit-down meals under the dining plan, you want to book reservations as early as Disney allows. I sat down, made a list of my top 10 choices and began trying to narrow them down to 7 by choosing convenient open times. I think I changed these plans at least once a week until our trip began. I also booked our spring break tickets and tickets to Cirque du Soleil La Nouba.

Cirque du Soleil La Nouba

We then decided to upgrade my camera that was purchased in 2003 to a newer model. We chose it as a family Christmas gift and bought a Sony DSC-W290. Unfortunately for us, due to an incident outside of our control, our camera was stolen from us less than a month after we bought it. The police recovered it but it was held up for evidentiary reasons and we were forced to get a replacement that arrived less than a week before our trip. We had to go to Disney with a camera that neither of us had much practice with but thankfully it was pretty easy to get the hang of. Check out a huge jump in photo quality around days 3 and 4 of our trip.

We also bought some great supplies for our trip. I heard from people on DISboards.com that the Baggallini bags were a great one to take on a Disney trip. I gave in to peer pressure, bought one, and fell in love. I’ve written about Baggallini bags here and here and I own the Hugger model. It fit everything securely, it was lightweight and I was hands free.


I also gave in to DISboards peer pressure once again for footwear. I’m an anti-Croc person but the people on the boards insisted I try the Croc Cleo. It was more a sandal than a beast, it was waterproof and it was easy on the feet. During a moment of weakness (or a massive sale, whatever you want to call it) I bought a pair. I will confess right now that I fell madly in love and the affair lasted all summer. I still won’t put on one of those clogged crocs but you can’t take my Cleos away from me.

With that final purchase, we were ready. Granted we still had another month until our trip that I filled nightly with Disney trivia and inspiring photos that made my husband doubt himself, but I was ready. On my next post our trip begins.

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I'm Julie, I love to travel, I'm very hyper and I like to "hype" things and from that, TravelHyper was born. I'm a Missouri native and I cover St. Louis travel ideas as well as my own travels. I also like to focus on places I want to visit and budget travel ideas by creating trip plans. There's so much world out there and I hope you'll find that it's worth seeing and that vacation doesn't have to be out of reach to you.

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  • http://disneyvacationspecials.com DW

    Sounds like you did all the right things in planning for your trip. It makes such a big difference to get some helpful tips before you leave!