Run Disney Blog Series - My Disney Experience
Happy Monday Everyone! At this point in the series you have registered for your race of choice, you are starting to train and now it is time to start planning your trip! Race weekends are some of my favorite times to be at Disney because you are there with so many runners, but with a race weekend comes at least 25,000 additional people at Disney! I like to start planning as soon as I can, but part of this could be my OCD!
Walt Disney World has streamlined their website to make sure you can do everything you need to do to make sure your trip is set! This post is going to help you do everything from booking your hotel to purchasing your photo pass!
Booking Your Hotel
The first thing I do, after registering for my race, is checking out which hotels have availability for the weekend and what the price would be. Disney offers five different categories for hotels, they have something for all budgets:
I tend to stay at the value or moderate resorts, mainly because I only use the room to sleep, but I have stayed in a deluxe hotel once and the location was amazing! So, from the Disney homepage you can put in the dates for your weekend, I am going to use Dark Side weekend for this post, and when you press search it will bring up all of the available options:
Disney will bring up any promotion they are running during your stay and will show you the price per night. You can modify any information you need to, to make sure you don't exceed your budget. The hotels may also change if you have over a certain number of people. Most hotel rooms are equipped to house 4-5 people, but there are family suites at some of the hotels if you are looking for additional space and sometimes even a kitchen. Depending on the amount of time you are staying, Disney typically only requires you to pay for one night up front. You can make payments on the vacation over time, or finish the purchase when you arrive at your resort. The biggest pro for staying on Disney property is you never have to worry about transportation. You will have free transportation to the theme parks, race expo and to and from the start and finish lines.
If you are flying to Orlando, Disney offers the Magical Express which is a free shuttle service to and from the Orlando Airport to your Disney resort. You can either add this on when you are booking your hotel, or you can call and add it at a later date!
Purchasing Your Park Tickets
You can purchase your park tickets directly though the Walt Disney World website account. If you are booking your hotel through Disney, you can add the tickets and make it a package. Then you can bundle everything together into one price. Most of the time you will get a discount or promotion for booking a hotel room and purchasing your tickets at the same time, so definitely check this out when you are going through the process.
This is what the ticket option will look while you are booking your hotel. It will give you different options for the number of days you will need and you will also have the option of adding park hopper options to the tickets so you can do more than one park per day.
If you are purchasing your tickets separate from your hotel booking, this page will show you how much the tickets would start at per day. You would also have the option to add the park hopper options here as well!
If you happen to be at Disney while there is a special event going on, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, these tickets can also be purchased through the website as well and will be an additional charge on top of your normal park ticket.
if you would like to eat at about 90% of the restaurants at Disney World, you will need to make reservations. They do have some quick service options, where reservations aren't needed, but the majority of the restaurants will require reservations. All dining reservations can be made 180 days prior to your resort check in, so if you are looking to eat at Be Our Guest, Cinderella's Table, or one of the extremely popular restaurants, you will need to be ready to book these reservations 180 days out. These reservations can be made through My Disney Experience and will be saved to your reservations and itinerary. To make a dining reservation, for breakfast, lunch or dinner, just head to the Things to Do tab and click on the "Things to Do" tab at the top. It will show you restaurants that have availability, at the time you are looking for, with the available options. They will require a credit card to guarantee the reservation. Some restaurants, very few, will require you pay up front. You will not be charged again when you get there and you can cancel and get your money back if you change your mind.
Selecting Your Fastpasses
If you haven't been to Disney World in a while you may think about the old fastpasses where you had to go to the individual attraction and get a ticket to return between certain times. This is not how they work now! You can now book your fastpasses through My Disney Experience! You will be able to book three fastpasses per day, but once you use your three you can go book more. The fastpasses will become available 30 days before your trip and you can book them for all members of your party, who are linked in your My Disney Experience. It is best to know which park you will be attending on which day because then you will know what rides you are looking to get fastpasses for. One additional piece of advice, if you are planning multiple parks in one day you can only schedule fastpasses for an individual park. You can't plan one per park you are attending.
We all know how much we all love photographs to relive those special moments, so having a family photo in front of Cinderella's Castle is definitely a must. This is where Memory Maker comes in! Memory Maker gives you access to download all photos and videos that appear on your account. This now even works with race photos as they are taken by Disney photographers. If you purchase Memory Maker at least 3 days before your arrive it will cost you $169. If you purchase it while you are on vacation the cost will be slightly higher at $199. You can use these photos to print or even use them to make a photo book.
Customizing Your Magic Bands
If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, then you will be receiving complimentary Magic Bands. These bands will be your hotel room key, park ticket, fastpass check in, link Disney photo passes after photos are taken and you can even link a credit card to make purchases. You have several color options to choose from and you will be able to customize a band for each member of your party. You will need to customize the bands as soon as you can to make sure they arrive to you at least 30 days before you travel. If you don't customize them, everyone will get a standard grey band.
There are so many other features on My Disney Experience, but I don't want to overload you on information. My Disney Experience also has an app for your phone where you can see live wait times and even order ahead for some of the quick service restaurants. Disney really has thought of everything!