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Continuing the fun at the Family Travel for Real Life (#FT4RL) conference, and continuing the live blogging!  I hope that you will follow along with me as we learn about family travel, and how those of us with families can take part in it with their families.  See below for the lineup of speakers and follow us throughout the day with hashtag #FT4RL on Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

Haley is another speaker that I had not yet met in person, though we had “talked” via Twitter, and she did once comment on my blog that if she was “sitting next to [me] during an evacuation and you go for your bag under your seat I will smack you upside the head. Hard.”  (and she was correct to say so – I have rethought my airplane emergency stance).  Leslie from Trips with Tykes gave a good presentation on Disney last time, and I’m definitely taking notes as our family (hopefully!) has a Disney trip in our future within the next year or two.

I am not a Disney expert by any means, so please forgive any transcription errors as I try to take notes here 🙂

Going to Disney

Before the presentation started, Dia and Haley spoke a little to the Disney naysayers – just commenting that if you’re not a Disney fan, to at least keep an open mind

Going to Disney is not unlike other vacations – you have to plan your transportation, lodging and other things – the only real difference is that you do need to be a bit more organized in planning your activities

Walt Disney World is big (about the size of Paris or Washington) and a trip to Disney requires a good plan and deserves a full week

Disney Planning 101 (travel hacker style)

  • Create 2 MyDisneyExperience accounts – the goal with this is to get 2 sets of Disney Bands – in order to get a full set of Magic Bands
    • Under Account A book 65 days out
    • Under account B book the real dates, hopefully over 181 days out
    • Once your Magic Bands arrive for Reservation A, then you can cancel the reservation

Planning when to go and where to stay

Haley was a proponent of taking your kids out to go to Disney (I know some others disagree, though I agree with her).  She suggests the April-May timeframe.

Here's the Disney Swan

Here’s the Disney Swan – bookable with SPG points

There is also a big running debate of whether to stay onsite or stay offsite, but is swinging back to staying onsite because of the benefits that Disney offers when you stay onsite (like being able to book your FastPasses 60 days in advance instead of 30 days.  If you want to see Elsa or Anna, or ride the Mine Train, you pretty much have to stay onsite, because those FastPasses will be gone at the 30 day mark.

Off-property – some options are:

  • Swan / Dolphin bookable with SPG points
  • Good Neighbor hotels
  • Every big hotel chain
  • Many non-chain hotels
  • Rental homes
  • Timeshare units.
  • etc. etc.

Using Manufactured Spend on Disney Gift Cards

One strategy is to use manufactured spending on Disney gift cards.  Recently there was an Amex Sync offer for $30 off a $150 purchase and Lowe’s sells Disney gift cards.  Even if you get Disney STORE gift cards, the Disney store sells Disney park tickets.  Haley also shared a way to do a Disney gift card “merry go round” which would let you purchase Disney gift cards with a HUGE discount.

But then you’ll end up with a lot of small Disney gift cards – the easiest way to consolidate all these gift cards is to open a My Disney Savings Account and load the cards into the account

Then planning

At 181 days out, you can make your dining options

60-30 days out, you can book your Fast Passes

Then plan out your touring plans.  Depending on how meticulous you want to be, there are a few sites out there that can help with creating a touring plan

Ride priority should be 100% about how fast the line builds.  Rides or attractions that take longer to get people onto have the longest lines.  Then, the next are rides that are popular and have a fixed number of riders per hour.  Last (shortest line) are the less popular rides or attractions with huge capacity.

There is really SO much information about Disney out there!

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