Disney Planning Guide: Your Door to Disney Magic


“OK kids, let’s do it. Let’s go to Disneyland.” Four year old Tyler is jumping up and down. “Sweet,” says eleven year old Jason and from six-year-old Tabitha, “Ariel, Ariel, Ariel, Ariel. Yay, I get to see Ariel.” Even thirteen year old Mya seems excited as she hugs me and says, “Thank you Daddy.” Then the alarm goes off. Time to get up. “Good morning. You’re smiling.”  “Honey, I was just having the best dream.”

What comes to mind when you think vacation? I know what I think … sunshine, the sound of a light breeze rustling the leaves of palm trees, lying around doing my imitation of a beached whale (well, more like a porpoise in my case), and returning home rested. But Disney? Disney is none of that. With a table full of Disney travel brochures, the realization hits, “I need a plan.”

We never travel to Disney anymore without a well-thought-out plan. A Disney Planning Guide can save you hundreds of dollars. It will help you set up a schedule to get the most out of your time and keep you sane while you’re at it. Hotels, meals, meeting Disney characters, budgeting, and airline flights are all things that once planned will relieve a lot of the stress associated with a Disney vacation.

Planning a Disney trip is quite a challenge, especially if you will have little ones in tow. Of course, you can just show up and play it all by ear, but that is almost a guarantee of tears, at the very least, to full late afternoon melt downs, from your little Jedi or princess who, by this time, is tired of waiting in long lines, a little angry at being told for the fiftieth time the Mickey or Minnie ears are too expensive (OMG! $35 dollars?), and coming down from the fast food sugar high. That’s why you need to do a little research and make a plan. And really, the more research and planning you do before your trip, the better time you will have.

No matter how you look at it, Disney is expensive. Whether shopping online for your little princess, buying Disney movies, or taking a Disney vacation, it’s expensive. Especially taking a Disney vacation, that’s very expensive! Not only is it expensive but there are a lot of pieces that have to be planned and arranged for.

Getting a good plan together is more than just using this site. There are hundreds of resources for you to pull from and we help you find some of the best. I can’t promise your Disney adventure will be free of problems, or inexpensive, but we will help you get as close to a stress free vacation as possible, whether it’s only a day trip, or a week-long trip.

Here is some of what you will find in this Disney Planning Guide.

Disney Tips

Most of the major sections of this website have tips that go with the topic of that section. You will also find a specific Tips section. These tips make up your Disney Survival Guide! You will find easy to follow tips and strategies to help you find Disney Magic and make your trip a success. Of special interest for those with children is the #1 thing that can either make, or break, your adventure into the Happiest Place on Earth.


Disneyland in a day? Absolutely! We have conquered both Disneyland and California Adventures in a day for each. Perhaps a bit of clarification is in order though … my wife and I have done Disneyland in a day and California Adventures in a day during major holidays, at a leisurely pace, with time for breaks and meals, plenty of time to see performances and parades, enjoyed almost all the rides; all of that because we had a good schedule/plan of attack and, we did it without kids.

A trip with our five-year old and a six-year-old grandchildren changed the equation drastically. After four full days roaming California Adventures and Disneyland, there was still a lot left undone. However, we were able to accomplish as much as we did, and survive, because we had put in time for research and planning.

Once we started putting time in for making a good schedule/plan of attack, we have seldom spent more the ten or fifteen minutes waiting in line. Believe it or not, we have literally walked on to rides on New Years Eve and New Years Day, two of the busiest days at Disney. That is a life saver when you have children with you. How did we do this? It’s a combination of Disney FASTPASSES and using other resources which we will point you toward.

Money Saving Ideas

Although expensive, you don’t need to break the bank. It is possible to spend two or three, or more, days at Disney and not have to apply for welfare when you get home. You will just have to buy Disney T-shirts, if not for the adults then at least for the kids. How about getting beautiful Disney T-shirts with your name on it for half what you might pay at the Disney Store. You may even have a little extra spending money to buy gifts at the Disney Store.

WARNING – ALERT – WARNING – ALERT – My dad had a really good saying that says, “You can go broke saving money.” Too true.

Where to Stay

This is huge and will take the greater part of your budget. Is a hotel room just a place to lay your head or is there more to it? Do we stay at a Disney Resort Hotel or one off property? There are hotels surrounding Disney property with rooms going anywhere from $65 a night, depending on season, to $400 or more. Some of these are great places for families. Then there is staying on Disney property. While that is an expensive option, it may be worth the extra cost. We’ll help you pick from all the options.


A fact of life is we have to eat. Another fact is Disney is well aware of it and charges accordingly. Is it possible to get around this? Of course. In fact, we like to bring some of our own breakfast and lunch food and most of our snacks for a great savings. We try to stay away from carbonated beverages which don’t really quench your thirst and cost an arm and a leg inside Disney. On the other hand, is a Disney character meal really worth the extra expense? We’ll tell you what you can expect.

Special Needs Children and Adults

At Disney, disabilities are NOT a handicap! Disney goes out of their way to make guests comfortable and have a good experience. Disney service for the most part is excellent. However, if you have a special need such as a 10-year old ADHD boy, an autistic daughter, or a family member who needs a wheel chair, Disney has a special needs program for you.

More to Come

This is only some of what you are likely to find here. If you have a request for something in particular, or if you want to share an experience or idea with us, send us an email, otherwise feel free to leave a comment. Eventually we are hoping have a section where our readers can publish their experiences or ideas to share.


7 Comments on “Disney Planning Guide: Your Door to Disney Magic”

  1. Hi Chris, I never went to waltdisney but I heard alot about it…even my boyfriend was talking to me about it the other night….I know its a very magical place with fireworks everynight, Wish I could go sometimes in my life….
    Good content, it gives the taste to go there

    keep going

    1. OMG!!! You have to go. Save up because it is expensive but you can do it pretty cheaply which I will be writing about in a later post.

  2. I love going to Disneyland. We haven’t gone for 6 years. The last time was when my son was 4 and it was exhausting. I am very interested in your tips to make it easier. That will help us go back. Thanks for the help at such a cool but exhausting, expensive place.

    1. So your son is 10 now. Don’t put it off, you should go before he gets older and cool, where it’s not cool to be seen with mom and dad. 10 is also a great age because they can handle it much better and are still excited bout things.

  3. Great post Chris. I haven’t been to Disneyland for years but would love to take my grandkids. I’ve never heard of Disney Fastpasses. I’ll have to check those out. We rarely buy food as we bring what we’re going to eat with us. Saves a lot on money and keeps us healthy. Great tips. Thank you!

    1. FastPass makes the difference. Without FastPass waiting in lines up to 60 to 90 minutes. With FastPass lines for the same rides are only 10 to 15 minutes. It’s the only way to go. FastPass with be covered in detail in another post.

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