It’s almost Spring Break for schools and you know what that means – one of the most crowded weeks of the year at Walt Disney World. We thought it woud be a great time to check in with some of our columnists and get their take on visiting Walt Disney World during a holiday week.
This month’s contributing writers are Kelly Ortiz one of the newest writers for WDW Fan Zone and the founder of Disney Guru as well as a contributing writer for The Affordable Mouse. Lynn Wiltse a feature writer for WDW Fan Zone with several new articles appearing each month. Stuart Sternberg a Co-founder of the WDW Fan Zone and weekly columnist whose articles are published every Tuesday.
Here’s the situation…you can ONLY visit Walt Disney World during a crowded holiday week this year. Do you go for it or skip a year?
Kelly: While I would be a little leery due to crowds I would never skip a WDW trip…haha. We would go for it!!
Lynn: ? I would totally go. I don’t foresee our family skipping a year ever again.
Stuart: I would rather spend a holiday week at a very crowded Disney than have to skip a year. I wouldn’t care if the parks were so crowded that I was the last one allowed in for the day. Someone who visits the parks often will be savvy enough to know how to make the crowds work to their advantage and make the most of their vacation.
Do you pull the kids out of school to visit during a less crowded time of year?
Kelly: For the past 4 years we have been pulling our children out of school in October for Disney trips. My husband works for a major retailer so we do not have opportunity to vacation during the times that the kids are off of school. This October will be our last time doing this as my daughter is going into high school. So yes, to avoid crowds and save money, we do pull the kids out of school. :0)
Lynn: I think this one depends on the family, how the child’s doing in school and if there’s any way you can go during a school break during a less busy time. I’ve personally taken my son out of school to go to Disney.
Stuart: I have always been adamant that it’s wrong to pull children out of school to go on any vacation although I did that with my kids one year when they were younger. However, I have drastically changed my position on this matter. I am a huge fan of the Be Our Guest Podcast and my friend and host Mike Rahlmann is a school teacher who has often discussed the life experience and educational value a child can receive from a Disney vacation and I couldn’t agree more. What changed my mind was our last family vacation this past summer. Both my kids love Epcot and we spent more time in Innoventions than we ever did before. My children then 17 and 14 love the attractions but on this vacation they seemed far more interested in the educational aspects that Disney has to offer. I do believe the decision to pull a child out of school to go to Disney becomes more difficult as children get older. Parents should always ask their kids how they feel missing school will effect them before deciding to pull their kids out. Some kids can handle the time off from school while others might fall behind and struggle to catch up. One thing I do know is that any Disney vacation is a valuable learning experience that no child should be deprived of.
Would one Disney resort be better than another for a stay during a holiday week given pricing, transportation, on-site dining…?
Kelly: If you are on a budget then the best Disney resort category to stay in would be value category. With value pricing come larger crowds, especially during the holiday season. Busses and food courts will be filled to the max. The best option would be to upgrade to a moderate resort such as Coronado Springs. Here the resort is quite spread out and offers several bus stops keeping the crowds on busses a bit more controlled. This set up will allow vacationers to feel less crowded while vacationing. Last, going back to a not so crowded living space at the end of the night will give you a reprieve from the park crowds.
Lynn: If budget’s a concern, try for a value. If you’re just going to go with the attitude to “get done what you can”, maybe a room with a little more space or a resort with features your family would enjoy (great pool, yummy food on property, ect) is a better choice. When we went over Thanksgiving last year, we paid full price at a value until we were able to get into a moderate resort with “free dining” for the remainder of the week. Don’t be afraid to split your stay if you can get a better deal.
Stuart: When you visit Disney during a holiday week you can expect to pay premium prices. The first question you have to answer is which resort can I afford to vacation at? The Value resorts are the least expensive for those who are budget conscience. The Moderate resorts are priced a little higher and offer distinct themes. The Deluxe resorts too are uniquely themed and offer the most amenities but, they are also the most expensive. The real work and research comes once you determine the type of resort you can afford to stay at. If it’s a Value resort my choice no matter what time of year is Pop Century. It’s close to the parks and it has its own transportation meaning it doesn’t share buses with another resort. It also has a pretty good food court. In the Moderate resort category my choice is Port Orleans French Quarter. It is beautifully themed to New Orleans Madi Gras. It’s small in size so you are close to the main building and buses no matter where you are situated. The resort is very quiet and peaceful and it is a perfect romantic setting for couples. It doesn’t have a sit down restaurant but it has an excellent food court. Although it’s relatively close to the parks the bus transportation is shared with Port Orleans Riverside resort and it can take a very long time to go to and from your destinations. However, one of the amenities is a boat service to Downtown Disney which also provides you with a bird’s eye view of the Tree House Villas. During a holiday week the Deluxe resort I would want to stay at is the Beach Club. If you want to take a break from the parks and the crowds you can go to Beach Club pool, Stormalong Bay which is like a water park unto itself. When staying at the Beach Club you can walk right into Epcot and World Showcase and you are not too far from Disney’s other parks. The dining in the area is second to none and you can stop by Beaches and Cream for some good food and great desserts. The great amenities at this resort make this a winner during any holiday week.
Let’s talk touring strategy during a holiday week with longer attraction lines. Do you try to hit only the “big” attractions; stay away from the most popular rides and visit ones with less wait; or some other touring strategy?
Kelly: I believe that talking with the people you are traveling with is the most important thing you can do. Make sure that everyone has a top 5 list. This list should include up to 5 things that each person must see/do before you leave WDW. My family and I always use Extra Magical Hours in both the morning and evening. We found that we get the most done with the morning hours. When you arrive at the park in the morning have those lists handy and be on a mission to get to those important attractions.
Lynn: We make a “must do” list for our family. If there’s something someone really wants to see or ride, we make sure to do that first thing to avoid lines, break downs or anything else that might come up. We’re always able to get a lot done in the parks arriving at rope drop, resting the afternoon and going back for evening touring regardless of the time of year.
Stuart: As I stated in my answer to question no. 1 the seasoned park visitor will be savvy enough to know how to make the crowds work to their advantage and make the most of their vacation. Staying on property allows you to take advantage of extra magic hours and what I’ve done when there is a long line for an attraction is simply pass it by. Then, I’ll go back to the attraction during extra magic hours and walk right on to it. One thing I will greatly emphasize is the need for a touring strategy when you go to the parks no matter how many times you’ve been there before. Let’s use Disney’s Hollywood Studios (“DHS”) as an example. When DHS opens I would run straight over to Toy Story Midway Mania and get a fast pass. Then, I would go ride Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Getting a fast pass for arguably the most popular attraction at DHS, Toy Story Midway Mania then riding the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster will allow you to avoid what is certain to be incredible wait times for these popular attractions as the day progresses.
Best advice for visiting during a holiday week?
Kelly: .A lot of this is mindset, if you go in knowing that it is going to be crowded and that you will not see and do everything as usual, you will not get disappointed. Just remember that the holidays are some of the most magical times to be at Walt Disney World and enjoy.
Lynn: Be patient. Chances are there will be a lot of crowds and many people are making their first or yearly visit and are trying to fit a month’s worth of activities into a week. Let them run ragged while you and your family sit back and relax with the knowledge of how and when to visit the various attractions.
Stuart: My best advice for visiting a park during a holiday week is go against the crowds. By that I mean while everyone is rushing to get on long lines for the attractions take your time and advantage of the special holiday events going on that week. If you go on vacation with the attitude less is more you’ll find you will get a lot more accomplished than expected and end up having a great time.Share