Planning 101! original article by DIBB member MattF
So you’ve booked your holiday to Orlando. As you’re reading this post, you realize that there is more to a holiday to Orlando than a normal beach holiday! There are lots of things that can be booked/considered that I will go over briefly below. This information has been taken from articles and threads that are already here on the Dibb. Much of the information below will take you through to Dibb pages which can all be accessed from the left hand navigation bar
Each of the 3 main theme park operators have a planning DVD which can be ordered for free. These can give you a quick idea of what there is to do and can also help to make the magic feel closer!
The DVD can be ordered from here
– you need to register first with WDW
Can be ordered from here
• Seaworld/Aquatica/Discovery Cove/Busch Gardens
Can be ordered from here
• Theme Park, Resort and other Maps
You can find Disney and other maps here
• Create your own maps for Disney are available too. As a UK resident you have to print them off yourself from here
• Area Maps
Whether you are driving or not, a good map of the area is indispensable for getting your bearings, learning where restaurants are etc
Along with many other Dibbers, I have Steve Munns' (dibb username : mapman) fantastic Orlando map. This is the best map that I have ever used and comes highly recommended from Dibbers. The map can be ordered from here
• Villa Location Map
There is also a link here
which shows you where your villa community is.
A fairly regular question that is posted here on the Dibb surrounds what theme park tickets to get. There is no right answer. What is right for one person, is not necessarily right for another.
If we first look at Disney
There are a number of ticket options
1 - Ultimate tickets
These are offered exclusively to UK guests and can be bought as either 14 or 21 days. These passes give you unlimited entry to all the 4 Disney theme parks, both Disney water parks,Disney Quest and Disney's Wide World of Sports for either 14 or 21 days from the day you first use them. More info here
these tickets expire 14 or 21 days after first use
2 - Premium Tickets
These are either 5 or 7 day passes. They allow unlimited entry to the 4 Disney Theme parks on 5 or 7 days. As well as the theme park entry they also allow 4 (or 6 in the case of the 7 day pass) admissions to either of the waterparks, DisneyQuest or Disney's Wide World of Sports. More info here
These tickets again expire 14 days after first use, though you can purchase a non expiry option
3 - Base Tickets
These can be purchased for 1 - 10 days admission. The following options can be added to your base ticket at varying cost:
>Park hopping (able to visit more than 1 park per day)
>Water Park Fun & More (Water park, Disney Quest and Wide World of Sport)
>Non-expiry option (Prevents the tickets expiring after 14 days)
4-orlando freedom ticket
With the Orlando Freedom Ticket you have complete freedom to come and go as you please to eleven fantastic theme parks and is the ideal ticket solution for both first time visitors to Orlando and repeat guests who wish to experience all the amazing parks for a second time. The Orlando Freedom ticket represents amazing value compared to single day entry tickets and gives you 14 consecutive days access to 11 fantastic theme parks including: 5 - Annual Pass
There are 2 types of Annual Pass that Disney offer
>Annual Pass - unlimited entry to the 4 theme parks
>Premium Annual Pass - unlimited entry to the 4 main parks, plus
the waterparks, Disney Quest and Wide World of Sport
There are a number of Annual Passholder benefits that you can also take advatage off including free parking, discounts on onsite rooms, dining discounts, shop discounts and more
Again there are a variety of options
1 - 2 Day/2 Park tickets
These allow you to have 2 days entry to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. They expire 14 days after first use.
2 - 7 day 2 Park Tickets
These allow 7 days consecutive entry to both Universal and Islands of Adventure.
3 - 3 park Bonus Ticket
These enable unlimited entry to both Universal and islands of Adventure, plus Wet 'n Wild for a period of 14 days
4 - Orlando Flex Ticket
There are 2 options here
a) Orlando FlexTicket
This allows 14 days unlimited entrance to the following parks : Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, SeaWorld, Aquatica and Wet ‘n Wild
b) Orlando FlexTicket Plus
As above but also includes Busch Gardens plus Unlimited FREE bus transportation to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay on the Busch Gardens Shuttle Express, which has scheduled departures from SeaWorld Orlando and various locations in the Orlando area.
5 - Annual Pass
Universal offer 3 different Annual Passes
a) Power Pass
- this excludes certain blackout dates
b) Preferred Pass
- You can enjoy 365 days of unlimited park-to-park admission to both Universal Studios Florida & Universal's Islands of Adventure with no blackout dates, free parking, and discounts on food and merchandise.
c) Premier Pass
- As Preferred Pass but with a number of enhanced benefits such as unlimited Express Pass access after 4pm
Seaworld/Aquatica/Busch Gardens/Discovery Cove
I have already covered off the option of the Orlando FlexTicket above. There are also other options
1 Park ticket
- valid for one visit to 1 park, though you can visit Seaworld again for free as long as it is within 7 days of your first visit
2 Park Ticket
- valid for for unlimited access to Seaworld and either Busch Gardens or Aquatica for a period of 14 days
3 Park ticket
- valid for unlimited visits to Seaworld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens for a period of 14 days
There are also different ticket options if you are going to go to Discovery Cove
- which includes your day at discovery Cove plus a visit to either Seaworld or Busch gardens
Discovery Cove Ultimate
- Includes your day at Discovery Cove plus visits to Busch Gardens, Seaworld and Aquatica
Another regular question on here is how much money should I take. Here
is a link to a great article written by Rusty30, which will give you some things to think about.
Extra Magic Hours (EMH)
These are one of the perks offered to onsite guests by Disney. An onsite guest is anyone who is staying in one of the Disney owned hotels. A different park offers EMH every day. For example Magic Kingdom could offer Morning EMH one day and Epcot will offer evening EMH on the same day. The next day it might be Animal Kingdom that has the morning EMH and Hollywood Studios that has the Evening EMH.
Basically there are 2 types of EMH
- The park will open 1 hour earlier than the posted opening time - ie if the park hours say that the park opens at 9am, it will open from 8am for morning EMH
- The park will remain open for 2 hours past the posted closing time. If the park closes at 11pm, EMH will run until 1am.
Details of which parks are offering EMH on what day can be found on the Park Hours section - located here
Details of what rides are open is here
Ride Height Restrictions
is a link to all the different height restrictions for the rides in the parks
There is a wealth of dining options in Florida. I will briefly touch on some of them, paying particular attention to Disney Dining.
A question that is often asked is "Can I eat in a Disney hotel, even though I am staying off site?" The answer is an emphatic yes. Anyone can eat in any Disney restaurant, be it in a hotel or in the parks. If the restaurant is in a hotel, just mention that you are dining to the security gate and they will give you a pass for a few hours parking. You will need to take photo ID with you to show at the gate.
Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs)
Dining reservations Disney style, are known as “Advance Dining Reservations” or ADRs.
An ADR simply means that you have your name on a list, and you will be seated at the next available table near to your ADR time. It is important to remember, especially at busy times, that even though your ADR maybe at 7pm, you may still have a wait of anything from 5 to 45 minutes for your table – though it is normal to be seated within a 20 minute time frame.
It is advisable to make ADRs for any meals that you know that you want eg you want to eat in Coral Reef in Epcot for dinner on 15th August. ADRs are also advisable for character meals (More informaion below)
More Information on ADRs including how to make them can be found HERE
One of the great things about dining in Disney are the character meals. As well as providing some great food, they also allow you to have a rest from the Floridian heat whilst enjoying character interaction. Further information on character meals including what meals are offered, where and what character attend can be found here