Trip Planning

January in Walt Disney World: A Primer

by on December 20, 2016

TouringPlans logoAre you planning or considering a trip to Walt Disney World in January?  It’s not on a lot of traveler’s radar because people are often wrapping up other holiday vacations and kids are just getting back to school.  If you can swing it, however, the reality is that January can be one of the best times to visit Walt Disney World! Gone is the oppressive heat of the summer, depending upon when you go, you can encounter some of the lightest crowds of the year, and the experience delivers the magic you can expect any other time of the year.  So, should you go?  Read on to find out about the pros and cons of a January trip! 

Mild (if unpredictable) Weather

 

One of the most frequent questions I get about January travel to Walt Disney World is about the weather — what to expect, what to pack, etc. The good news is that the weather tends to be pretty mild this time of year, and it’s honestly one of the best reasons to plan a trip in January. Historically, the average highs during this time of year are around 70° F, with lows around 50° F. Also of note: the 3 o’clock rain showers that are common during the summer months are not really part of the January experience — it can rain, but January is one of the drier months, and it’s not like you expect it to rain, like you do during other times of the year. 

 

Accuweather's January Forecast 2017

Accuweather’s current guesses for part of January 2017 in Orlando

 

The bad news, however, is that there can be wild variation in the weather during the month of January.  You might experience weather that is uncomfortably hot, or uncomfortably cold, and you might even experience both on back to back days.  I can remember on one of my first January trips heading to what was then Downtown Disney wearing shorts, but by midday, it was cold enough that people were running around in hats and gloves.  Part of that, of course, is the comically panicked reaction that Floridians have to temperatures that start with a “5,” but it was still a significant temperature swing in just a couple of hours, and it left me pretty uncomfortable. Lesson learned.   

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TouringPlansTV: Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels + Video

by on December 13, 2016

The Dolphin at Walt Disney World

Welcome back to TouringPlansTV!

Ever heard of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels? Well, you’re about to!

To find out more about the theme, rooms, transportation and pools, click below.

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Saving Time vs. Saving Money at Walt Disney World

by on December 12, 2016

When I started blogging for TouringPlans, oh those many years ago, I asked our fearless leader Len Testa what kinds of things I should write about. His response was, “Stick with our goal – help people save time and money on their vacations.” While that mission is fantastic, I sometimes struggle with the interplay between the two halves of the statement. Sometimes the things you might do to save time are diametrically opposed to the things you would do to save money, and vice versa. Let’s look at some of the tradeoffs. screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-10-48-09-am

PRIORITIZING SAVING TIME, EXTREME VERSION

If you have unlimited funds, there are plenty of things you can do to save time. First among them is hiring a VIP guide. For $400-$600, (price varies seasonally) per hour (with a six hour minimum), plus park tickets, for a group of up to ten people, you can have your very own cast member guide escort you around the parks in whatever manner you wish. They’ll pick you up at your hotel and bring you into the parks via a back door entrance (no pesky waiting for the bus or walking from the parking lot to the entrance gate). They’ll scoot you through the FastPass line for attractions, even if you don’t have a FastPass reservation. They’ll take you to a reserved area for parades and shows, so you don’t have to waste time staking out your spot in advance. In short, if you want to throw four or five thousand bucks extra bucks at the “saving time” problem, Disney has you covered.

A similar argument could be made that the new Magic Kingdom shanties cabanas at $650 per day are a way to obviate the need to go back to your resort for a nap. Why waste time shlepping back and forth to the hotel when you can sleep in privacy right in the middle of Tomorrowland.

Magical Express saves money, but might cost you time.

Magical Express saves money, but might cost you time.

PRIORITIZING SAVING MONEY, EXTREME VERSION

On the other end of the spectrum, if you want to save money, you can stay at a bargain-basement off-site hotel. A quick peek on Expedia will show several Orlando area options in the $50 range per night, or about half the price of the Disney World value level resorts. I was even able to find a deal for a $29 per night — at the M Hotel near Universal. (Let’s ignore the fact that the hotel’s reviews are, um, less than stellar. A fairly typical Expedia review said, “The only nice thing I can say about this hotel is that I’m still alive.”) You’ll certainly save money staying there, but you’ll have to factor in at least 30 minutes a day of extra travel time to and from the parks, and significantly more if you want to take a mid-day nap break. There are definitely more palatable bargain hotels that are closer to Walt Disney World, but they all involve time trade-offs. For example, if you’re using an off-site hotel’s shuttle service to the parks, you’ll be dropped off at the farthest bus zone, adding walk time. More obliquely, you may end up spending more time waiting for a meal or a ride because you did not have access to Disney resort guest early access to Dining or FastPass+ reservations.

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Free 2017 Disney Planning DVDs Now Available

by on December 6, 2016

Free Disney 2017 planning DVDs are available now.

Free Disney 2017 planning DVDs are available now.

This is a sponsored post. TouringPlans receives a commission on each free DVD requested through the ad in this article. The revenue goes to travel and research for our blog and site.

The Walt Disney Travel Company has released its 2017 planning DVD. The DVD is free to anyone who requests it. And even if you don’t have a DVD player (because it’s 2016, and who does?), signing up will get you a link to stream the content online.

The free DVD is a fun way to get excited for your upcoming vacation or even help you get your Disney fix if you don’t have a trip planned.

Check out this page for more information. And, hey, thanks for supporting the blog.

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TouringPlansTV: BoardWalk Inn – Dining and Amenities + Video

by on December 6, 2016

I’m finally here with part 2 of my BoardWalk Inn review!

Here, I delve into the dining options, pools, recreation and amenities.

You’ve all been so patient, so I won’t keep you waiting any longer.

Check it out below!

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Review: Thanksgiving Weekend at Walt Disney World

by on December 5, 2016

thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you’re familiar with the TouringPlans Crowd Calendar, you know that major holidays at Walt Disney World can be intense when it comes to lines and crowds. But this year, I abandoned all logic and spent Thanksgiving with my family at Walt Disney World. I survived, but would I do it again? Read on for my Review: Thanksgiving Weekend at Walt Disney World.

November 23rd

My concern over the holiday crowds and never ending lines wasn’t limited to the confines of Walt Disney World. Actually, I was more concerned over what awaited me at my local airport since my family and I were flying into Orlando the day before Thanksgiving. One of the busiest travel days of the year!

Fortunately, our Frontier Airlines flight was scheduled to depart at 7:00 A.M.; and while the queues for security had already been extended, we made it through with plenty of time to spare and with no delays.

I was shocked when we found that there were no lines for Disney’s Magical Express at Orlando International Airport. Maybe because it was still early in the day? Or maybe Disney was more than prepared for the holiday rush? Regardless, we walked right on our bus bound for Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort. We had never stayed at the French Quarter as Port Orleans Riverside is the Moderate Resort we gravitate to; but, thankfully we loved the French Quarter! It was smaller and more intimate, yet never once felt crowded or chaotic.

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Walt Disney World December 2016 Preview

by on November 30, 2016

Walt Disney World December 2016

Walt Disney World December 2016

Welcome to TouringPlans’ Walt Disney World December 2016 preview – we hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Who’s with us and ready for December? The holidays, which started as soon as the Halloween decorations came down are in full swing. We’ve got food booths at Epcot, Christmas parties, and TENTS.

Ready for more? Read on.

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TouringPlansTV: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2016 + Video

by on November 22, 2016

© Disney

Ho-ho-hope you’re having a great day!

You may be thinking, “What’s with the holiday pun? It’s not even December yet!”

You see, I’m already in the Christmas spirit as I’ve just been to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World!

Allow me to share my tips and tricks below!

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A Frozen Holiday Wish – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 2016 + Video

by on November 15, 2016

Photo - Matt Stroshane

Photo – Matt Stroshane

For today’s TouringPlansTV, I’m bringing you with me to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!

Watch Elsa freeze Cinderella Castle in A Frozen Holiday Wish.

Enjoy!

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Touring Plans for Early Morning Magic and Custom Ride Durations

by on November 10, 2016

Today we’re releasing two updates to our touring plan software:

Disney’s Early Morning Magic

Disney’s Early Morning Magic is held on selected Sundays and Tuesdays throughout the year. For an additional cost of $69 per adult and $59 per child, you get access to 3 Fantasyland rides (The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Peter Pan’s Flight), plus breakfast. The event starts around 7:45 a.m. and runs through 9 a.m., when the park opens to regular guests.

When creating a Magic Kingdom touring plan for a day on which Early Morning Magic is held, you’ll be asked whether you plan to attend the event, along with any other special events taking place in the park on the same day:

extramagicmorningsupport

The touring plan software knows which attractions are open during the event, and will show you the expected wait times for each attraction. (The waits seem to be very low.)

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