Preparing For Our Disney Trip
The moment has come. We are bringing Emily to Disney World for the first time! Very exciting stuff for our little family, especially since it will be a bit of a mini family reunion as well. Emily will be able to enjoy this trip with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even great grandparents!
As you can imagine, preparing for our Disney trip took a lot of effort. We started talking about this trip about one year in advance, and after we booked our flights (10 months in advance), things really started to take shape. This trip probably wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for some very generous points donors (thanks, Dad and Rebecca!), as the entire family is going to be able to stay at the same hotel for no cost.
The biggest reason we booked our flights so far in advance was because we wanted to book our flights using American Airline miles. Back in February, American increased their award redemption chart by about 30% for flights we normally take. That meant that a flight from Rio to Orlando was going to jump from 40k miles to 60k round trip at the SAAver (cheapest) level.
In order to avoid paying the new rates, we booked our flights in January and locked in three economy seats round trip from Brazil to the US for only 120K total miles. A pretty good value as ticket prices are hovering around $1000 each.
Researching hotels in Orlando can be a very long process. Add in Airbnb options, and it could feel like a never-ending ordeal. Fortunately for us, my dad and his fiance took care of that part for us.
They are owners of a Hilton Grand Vacation timeshare and are very generous with their annual point allotment. Since they didn’t travel much this year, that meant they had a nice little stash of points to use or lose.
After narrowing down a few options in Orlando, we were able to get everyone a room at the beautiful Parc Soleil Resort.
The Parc Soleil gets great reviews on TripAdvisor, is close to the parks, has two pools, a whirlpool, and a water slide. I think we will all be very comfortable.
Renting A Car In Orlando
We have been to Orlando a few times and have always found that renting a car is the best option for us.
Many hotels offer shuttles to the parks but we like having the flexibility that a car offers, especially since we like to go out to eat at night or go to the market.
Like most of our rentals, we are renting with Hertz. I originally reserved our car right after we booked our flights, since then I have canceled and re-booked a few times in order to take advantage of lower prices.
We were even able to take advantage of a fall promotion that will earn us an additional 550 Hertz points after only one qualifying rental – that’s enough for a free day!
Theme Park Tickets
One of the biggest budget line items for a trip to Orlando can be the theme park tickets.
Fortunately, the parks do not charge for children under three, so with Emily at 2.5 years old we saved a few hundred dollars.
Unfortunately, Caline and I will still have to pay for our tickets. However, we were able to save a few dollars by buying our tickets at UnderCoverTourist.com. On top of the deal we got, American Express had a great Amex Offer of $20 off a purchase of $200 at UnderCoverTourist, so that saved us a few more.
Maximizing Our Time
Now that all of the heavy planning is done, let’s start with the fun stuff!
After doing a quick search, it became very clear that having a schedule inside the parks can be crucial to a successful trip. Maximizing our Fast Pass and checking the crowd calendar will go a long way, but we still have “work” to do.
We will be visiting during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, which we are very excited about. It is a two-month-long festival showcasing food and drinks from around the world. Since we are only planning to visit Epcot once, we need to have a plan.
Here are some of the blogs and websites we are using for our trip:
Overall, preparing for our Disney trip was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun! We gave ourselves plenty of time to plan, and hopefully, we won’t run into too many issues.
One final thing that we have planned, and highly recommend, is some down time. We have scheduled a few days in between park days to just chill at the hotel pool and decompress. Running around theme parks can be exhausting for adults, let alone for a toddler. This will hopefully make the trip feel a little bit longer and a bit more relaxed!
Have you planned a trip to Disney? Share your tips in the comments sections!
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