Haunted Mansion Up Close at Night

Walt Disney World Trip Planning Part 2 – Electric Boogaloo

In the second part of this series we’ll dive into the planning for an actual upcoming trip I have. Walt DIsney World Trip Planning is no joke (unlike the title of this post – Hi Always Sunny Fans.) In this post I’ll walk you through my process in the hopes of making all the choices a little less daunting.

In the first part of this series I broke how down how I think about a trip, quite literally the old who, what, when, where, why. Who would have thought that elementary school lessons would translate to Walt Disney World trip planning? So here is how I answered those questions for this trip:

  • Who? – My Wife and I, both adults, old years of age.
  • Why? – Because if I’m depressed when I’m not planning a Disney trip and winters in upstate NY are dark and angry. Also, we love Festival of the Arts at EPCOT. Finally, we have not experienced Tron at Magic Kingdome yet. So that’s a must do for this trip.
  • When? – Late January/Early February
  • Where? – The Boardwalk Inn. My absolute favorite resort and we got a heckuva deal on it. More on that later.
  • How? – We’ll be flying in via direct flights on Southwest.

To paraphrase the immortal David Byrne, how did we get here? Well let’s dive in.

Any Disney fan knows that empty feeling that starts to gnaw at your very soul in the days and weeks after you’ve returned from a trip. If you’re anything like me you fill that emptiness by planning out potential trips. Well, that’s how we got here in a nutshell. But also like most Disney fans, what came to be was roughly the 121st iteration of my plan.

In my adult life I’ve taken 6 trips to Disney parks. 5 to Walt Disney World in May 2014, October/November 2017, December 2019, January 2020, and January 2023; and one to Disneyland in August 2022. Perhaps the biggest thing I learned from those trips is that I enjoy my time in the parks the most when it doesn’t feel like I’m walking on the surface of the sun. I’m a 60’s and sunny kind of guy. 70’s are fine, 80’s are not, and 90’s are just silly. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the heck out of every trip I took even if it the real feel temp was 105. But I have total flexibility when I go, so why pick a time when I’m likely to be uncomfortable most of the time? So that means the best time to go for me is somewhere in the late November – March time frame .

Another takeaway from my previous trips is that I absolutely love the EPCOT festivals. I’ve experienced all of them at this point. I found that the Festival of Arts is my favorite and there are a few reasons for that. It still feels like a special event with some unique activities and vibe, it’s held at a time when the weather in upstate NY is a bit draining and the weather in Florida is almost perfect for me. And finally, both my wife and I love Disney art. The proliferation of Disney iconography makes EPCOT a feast for the senses, but not overwhelmingly so. Finally, Festival of the Arts is not the draw that something like Food and Wine is, and it runs at a generally slower time period, so crowds are more manageable. For me, it’s the perfect cross section of everything that moves the needle. The Festival of the Arts is a shoter festival, usually running for 6 weeks or is from mid-January through late February. So the weather and our love of the Festival of the Arts meant that we had a general idea of when we would travel.

EPCOT Entrance for Festival of the Arts
EPCOT Festival of the Arts

To help refine the dates I consulted the wealth of knowledge that is http://DisneyTouristBlog.com to understand what events and activites may be going on around the world at this time. Based on that info I decided on the last week of January into February. So the when and why was coming into focus.

Now it was time to make perhaps the most important decisions of any Walt Disney World vacation; where to stay? My favorite resort is the Boardwalk. We stayed there by renting DVC points (we’ll go down that rabbit hole at some point, trust me, it goes deep!) for our Fall 2017 and December 2019 trips and fell in love with the resort. I cannot overstate how incredible it is to be able to walk to both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Everything is easier and it enables both better planning and more spontaneity. The downside is of course the price. Rack rates at Boardwalk are generally right around $600 a night. It’s tough to justify those prices when you can get 2-3 nights at a moderate for the price of 1 night at the Boardwalk. When I’m running through my planning I always have a Boardwalk trip priced out as I narrow down where I want to stay while also pricing out other options such as moderates and the cheaper deluxes.

While I was planning out this trip (my planning generally last MONTHS) Disney was starting to release discounts for time periods that they generally did not need to offer discounts for. Seeing this I felt confident that we’d see some discounts for the traditionally slower periods like Mid-January to Late-February. Turns out, I was very correct.

First, Disney offered a pseudo free dining deal giving guests a rebate in the form of a dining credit. This was a pretty solid deal, but it added another layer of planning. To get the full discount you would have to make sure to spend the entire amount and there were some location restrictions. I felt that I would almost certainly spend the full amount fairly organically, but I also had a feeling that this wasn’t the end of the deals for this time period. Turns out I was right!

Disney Visa Card
Disney Visa Card

In the next post I’ll dive into the offer that I ultimately took advantage of because it required jumping through another hoop – signing up for a Disney Visa card!

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