Planning With My Non-Disney Family: Last Minute Prep

My family trip is less than a week away! It seems like only a few days ago I was going to my brother and sister-in-law’s house to discuss where we’d like to stay and figure out our dates of travel. I couldn’t be more excited to be closing in on our family vacation to Disney World! In case you missed it, I’ve been documenting our planning along the way with a series of blog posts. This week I’ll focus on all the last minute items I’m taking care of this week before we head to Disney World!

Now that we are less than a week away from our departure we have finally decided how we’re getting to the airport. My brother and his family will drive to the airport and self-park. My parents will be doing the same thing, but picking me up along the way. I’m sure we’ll do a drop-off of kids and luggage before the guys make their way to the parking lot. I thought we might hire a car, but it turned out to be a better idea to drive ourselves since we’ll be coming from three different households.

When we arrive at the airport we’ll need transportation to the gate for my mom since walking long distances isn’t an option for her. Since he bought her ticket, I had my brother call the airline in order to arrange for someone to pick her up in a wheelchair or golf cart to get her there safely. Likewise, someone will be waiting for us at our gate when we arrive in Orlando. We will also be using this service on their return trip back to Newark. I have never used this kind of service before so I’ll me sure to report back on how it went.

As I’ve mentioned, a lot of walking isn’t possible for my mom. She has wicked arthritis in her knees, so she will need help getting around Disney World. So I’ve gone ahead and reserved her an ECV using a third-party company that will deliver the scooter directly to our resort and have it waiting for her upon our arrival. This is often more cost-effective than renting directly through Disney, and she will be able to use it out of the parks as well as in while touring the attractions. Since we’re staying on the monorail at the Polynesian and will spend most of our time at the Magic Kingdom, getting around in her ECV should be fairly easy. She is pretty nervous about operating it (she keeps telling everyone to be on the lookout for a headline that reads “Jersey Grandma Runs Over Disney Tourist in Scooter”), but I’m sure she’ll get the hang of it in no time. I’ll be sure to report back about our experience with the ECV and the company we used.

Whenever I’m going to be away for more than a couple days I put a hold on my mail delivery. This is easy to do by simply logging onto You will fill out their form, submit it, and they will instantly send you a confirmation e-mail. I always opt to have my held mail delivered in bulk on the last day of my vacation, but you can also pick it up at your post office. You may also consider putting a hold on newspaper delivery so they do not pile up in your driveway while you’re away.

Now that we are getting closer to our trip weather forecasts are becoming available. Checking them will allow us to pack appropriately and comfortably. The men in my family were both very happy when I told them I saw forecasted temperatures in the 80s next week! If you have already begun packing at this point, there is still plenty of time for tweaking your planned wardrobe to fit your needs.

A seasoned traveler will probably remember to charge his or her phone and other gadgets before leaving for the airport. My family is not made up of seasoned travelers so I’ll be sure to remember to charge theirs before we head out. I’ll also remind them to pack chargers. Likewise, making sure the batteries on your camera are charged is a must before a Disney World vacation. You’ll want to have enough juice to capture all of those great moments with your family on your trip!

I think that covers most of my last minute trip prep bases. How about you? What are some of the last minute things you do before a trip to Disney World? Let me hear them in the comments!


Kristen Helmstetter

Kristen Helmstetter is an Unofficial Guide researcher who will share her 20-something perspective of all things Walt Disney World with blog readers. Kristen’s email address is You can also follow her on Twitter: @khelmstetter.

9 thoughts on “Planning With My Non-Disney Family: Last Minute Prep

  • February 15, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Since we live some 2 1/2 to 3 hours from our departure airport we always go up the day before and spend the night since I usually get a very early flight out to WDW. I was looking for a hotel to use for our last trip to WDW and I ran across something called PARK-SLEEP-FLY. I was amazed. We could rent a room at a motel close to the airport, park our car for free during our trip, and get free transportation to and from the airport. There is no other way to travel for us now. What is best is that it cost less to stay at the motel over night plus the free parking and transportation than it does to pay for a parking place during the trip.
    We also rent an electric scooter for my husband on each trip-it is great, your mother will get use to it pretty quick, and the best thing about this is that you will get to go to the front of the line at any rides, restaurants, etc, and of course all of the WDW busses are wheel-chair ready.
    The only other thing I can say is just relax, do whatever you want, enjoy some wonderful food and I hope you purchased the “Meal Plan”.
    Suzanne and Sim Willis

    • February 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      WDW does an incredible job of accommodating people with disabilities, but the goal is equal access. I want to clarify that people with scooters or wheelchairs DO NOT move to the front of any lineups at WDW.

      We just returned from a trip to WDW with our 12-year-old daughter, and she uses a wheelchair. At no time was she offered a chance to cut into the front of the line. In fact, at some rides, the wait for people in wheelchairs or on scooters was much longer (e.g. Toy Story, Jungle Cruise).

  • February 15, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Something I’ve packed the last few times we’ve traveled is a power strip. There just never seems to be enough accessible outlets for us. This way, each night we can charge phones, camera batteries, iPods and other things. Enjoy your trip!!

  • February 15, 2012 at 9:11 am

    A suggestion I read a while a while back has been a blessing in the age of multigadget persons staying in the same room. We take a light weight power strip. In fact, we have a dedicated one that we leave in the suitcase all the time so we don’t forget it. Hotel outlets are notorious as being hard to get to and limited. It also puts them in one spot for grabbing on the way out.

    Another thing I did when our families met at Disney; I went to the dollar store and grabbed a night light for each room. I was lucky enough to find some Disney themed ones. We plugged them in at the bathroom plug and it was just enough light in an unfamiliar room.

  • February 15, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I am so pumped to hear how your trip goes…I have loved reading all of your blog posts about your trip and will be following on Twitter!! Have a great time sharing the magic with your family. I’m sure they’ll have a great time.

    I’m also interested in hearing about the ECV rental. My grandparents really want to go back to Disney but it’s too much walking for my grandmother (she also has bad knees). If I can convince her to rent an ECV I think she would have a really great time. I’ll be sure to share your experiences with her…especially if they are good!

  • February 16, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I can’t wait to hear how things go with the EVC. I’m planning a trip in November with my family and have been debating on using the Disney or renting one through a third party. My biggest concern is getting around between the parks using Disney transportation. Will it be more complicated.

  • February 17, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Hope you have a great trip!
    A few last minute things I do before our vacations.. I order a groceries online for the day we get back home (with the post-Disney blues and jet-lag, the last thing I usually want to do is go to a supermarket!). I also phone my bank to let them know I’ll be using my credit card in Orlando, just in case they think it’s unusual activity and stop the card.
    I print out all of my planning & travel documents too 🙂

  • February 17, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Hi Tell your mom , that my mom recently had nightmares of similar headlines, we are from NJ too, we took her to Longwood Gardens..TONS of walking, was her first time on a “scooter”…she was like a little kid, had a blast on it and when we left was reluctant to “learn to walk again” Ü…she even saved it from being driven into a lake by my daughter (but that’s a whole other story!)…Your mom will be delighted with the freedom…she wont have to think twice about that second look, or backtracking to something she might have missed…HAVE a great time!

  • February 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Another tip (though it’s a little late for you, Kristen, hope you are having a BLAST this week) that my family did during busy season was to bring little fold up tripod camping chairs. They were only about 18 inches long and had a strap that we slung across our body. It made standing in line during the peak of summer season so much better. We had all sorts of people asking where we got them. Even with touring plans, during peak season you will hit lines and your feet will get tired of standing. I was 10, and it was a great break for my feet, even though I was old enough to handle a full day of intense touring.

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