Authorized Disney Vacation Planner Jody Mahoney (and her beautiful family!) on the blog today! When I had the idea to invite clients to guest blog she was at the top of my list; Jody has been both a family portrait & headshot client, and a friend for many years. I think most of my clients will at least consider a Disney trip at some point and I’m also guessing many will feel overwhelmed with the options, planning, pricing, etc. (I speak from experience!). Trust me, using a Disney Vacation Planner will make your trip so, so easy – and did you know it’s FREE to use her services? There is literally no reason not to at least reach out if you are planning a trip. Now, for her article – read on!
Walt Disney World or Disney Cruise Line?
(And Why You Should Consider Using an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner)
If you’re like many, you’ve wondered whether your family should try a Disney cruise or visit Walt Disney World (WDW). As someone who has visited WDW multiple times and sailed on 4 different Disney cruises, allow me to share the ins & outs (and the pros & cons) of both awesome family vacations. And FYI – if you do a price comparison including food and all of the extras for the same amount of time, a WDW vacation and a Disney Cruise actually wind up costing about the same!
WALT DISNEY WORLD:
With 4 separate theme parks, 2 water parks, and Disney Springs, WDW is great for families wanting constant activity and yearning for the “all-out” Disney experience.
- If you’re a thrill-seeker who wants to ride roller coasters and other thrill rides, WDW is for you. Though the cruise ships do feature water slides with much shorter lines.
- Planning. When should you go? Where should you stay? What kind of tickets should you purchase? Should you rent a car? Planning is key to making the most of your time and budget at WDW. All things with Disney are popular, so booking more than 6 months ahead is highly recommended.
- Accommodations. Disney offers multiple on-site resorts based on price, amenities, and proximity to the theme parks. With Value, Moderate, Deluxe Resorts, and Deluxe Villa Resorts options to fit every budget, and there are distinct advantages to staying on-site.
- Dining. The Disney parks offer endless choices when it comes to food. From Quick Service to Table Service options, Disney offers dining plans for different budgets. Eating in the parks a la carte can get pricey if you’re not careful!
- Pricing. Breaking down the pricing for WDW is scattered, when compared to the cruise, which is all-inclusive. You pay for theme park tickets and resort, but once you enter the parks, you will likely buy food and drinks (assuming you haven’t purchased a dining plan). It can be easy to lose track of spend since you conveniently swipe your card or Magic Band and later find your spent more than intended.
- Activities. Clearly, there’s more variety in the theme parks, and therefore, more flexibility in determining your daily itinerary. Disney Cruise Line does a great job of providing something for everyone, and you definitely won’t be bored. At WDW, “there’s more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done.” It’s hard for a ship to compete with 43 miles of Disney. It’s a long day. Wear comfortable shoes.
- Characters. At WDW, you will definitely have the opportunity to see a wider variety of characters through organized Meet-n-Greets, character dining opportunities, and daily parades. Random character sightings are hard to come by and not likely accessible for signatures or selfies. By comparison, characters are much more accessible on the ships, with shorter lines.
- Connectivity. Whether you view this as a pro or a con, you have the ability to stay plugged in at WDW. Free Wi-Fi is available in all 4 parks. On the cruise, this is limited at best and can be disconcerting for those that are used to being connected. But – many love the opportunity to truly “disconnect” and just be with family.
DISNEY CRUISE LINE
DCL is best for families, couples and individuals wanting a stress-free, minimal-hassle, top-shelf vacation with ALL the fun of Disney.
- Cruising on DCL is a luxury experience. Disney works hard to make it a first-class experience for every single person From your stateroom host to your dedicated dining servers, the service experience is simply top-notch. As an example…I started to cut my daughter’s chicken at dinner. They gently took the knife from me and said, “you’re on vacation, let us handle that.” It’s difficult to replicate that luxury experience at the theme parks. Plus, the ships are so gorgeous – from lavish lobbies, themed restaurants, exclusive kids clubs, and more.
- It ALL happens on the ship. Families board the ship together and enjoy plenty of family time, but then each family member can do their own thing if they prefer. Kids may want to hang out in one of the 3 age-appropriate youth clubs, dad may want to hit the gym, mom may want to relax at the spa or the adults-only pool area. There’s even the “It’s a Small World Nursery” providing daycare for those sailing guests under the age of 3.
- The pace. A cruise is a slower-paced vacation, but with no shortage of age-appropriate activities all day long (and night). You certainly don’t have to worry about running across Magic Kingdom to make it to your FastPass+ on-time while on a cruise. You have much more control over your pace and schedule on a cruise.
- Dining. The food on the ship is fantastic. Disney features “rotational dining” where your family visits all 3 restaurants onboard during your sailing. Order as many meals as you like – it’s all paid for! In addition, there are two brilliant adult-only restaurants onboard. These are unique, gourmet opportunities not to be missed. There are also buffets on deck, ice cream and soda stations, and 24-hour room service – all included. J
- Pricing. Cruise pricing will depend on the length of voyage, time of year, type of stateroom, and number of people in your party. Compared to other cruise lines, Disney might seem more expensive. But, excluding gratuities and alcohol, you don’t necessarily have to spend a single penny during your cruise. And, as Disney cruisers can tell you, once you’ve cruised Disney, you won’t want to cruise on anything else. There’s a big difference.
- Port Adventures. Want to get off the ship? Plenty of opportunities to explore a new activity or destination depending on your itinerary. DCL offers itineraries almost anywhere you can imagine now, and getting on/off the ship is simple – Disney manages this easily and safely.
- Castaway Cay. Disney’s private Caribbean island. In a word: amazing. This place is beautiful, serene, clean, and super fun for everyone in the family. Every Caribbean DCL itinerary makes a stop at CC, and you’ll wish they stopped there more than once during your trip (some itineraries do!). By far the best part of the cruise!
- Broadway-quality live performances. Every night of your cruise, there is a 45-min show featuring amazing talent and production. You’ll love the familiar stories and characters, and I cannot overstate how stunning these shows are!
- Characters. If one-on-one time with characters is important to your family, you’ll experience more of it on the ship than you will in the parks. From Minnie and Mickey to Donald and Daisy and the coveted princesses (including Anna & Elsa!), not only are character greetings scheduled multiple times daily in common areas, they also make appearances in the kids’ clubs. My daughter sat with Minnie to draw a portrait together!
- Disney is the only cruise line featuring fireworks at sea! Enjoy fireworks on Pirate Night (yes, dress like a pirate for a special themed night!).
- Crowd control. People ask me all the time about the best time to visit WDW due to the expected crowds (and that answer changes all the time). The ships have an advantage over the parks – natural crowd control. Even during Spring Break or the holidays, a ship can only hold a certain number of people, so it’s no more crowded than other times of the year. Go when it’s convenient for you.
Feel like you need a combination of both? Guests often book a “Land and Sea Package,” with a Disney cruise following a few days at WDW!
And why should you consider using an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner?
First, it’s FREE for you to use my services. In addition:
- Expertise. If you’ve ever considered visiting or been to a Disney Destination, you know it requires hours of research. As a Disney Vacation Planner, I offer my own personal experiences and recommendations. And on top of being a Disney enthusiast, a great deal of planning & training is involved in becoming a Disney Vacation Planner. Each agent is required to attend the College of Disney Knowledge, an extensive, immersive (ongoing) Disney course. We also have endless resources at our fingertips and stay current on all of the latest Disney news & developments.
- Use me as much or as little as you’d like. I can arrange dining reservations, special event tickets, and much more for you if you’d like. If you’d like to have each day of your trip planned out with a set itinerary, I can take care of that. If you’d rather have more control over your days, that works, too. We’ll communicate regularly about your preferences and I can provide specific recommendations to suit your family’s needs. Either way, I generally go above and beyond, doing everything in my power to design a seamless vacation for you.
- I can save you money! Most Disney offers & promotions emerge a few months in advance. If you book with me, I will monitor your reservation and if a promotion becomes available after you’ve booked, I will attempt to have your reservation changed to reflect the current promotion, assuming your reservation details are applicable to the promotion.
Jody Mahoney is a Disney Destinations specialist and has quickly become the source for friends & family regarding all things Disney. Jody keeps up with park news, itinerary strategies, and makes it her mission to stay on top of Disney’s promotions that will earn you the most magic for your vacation dollar. Whether you prefer East or West coast, a vacation at sea or in a faraway place, Jody’s strong attention to detail and white-glove approach to planning will create a special, seamless Disney experience for you. With a young Mouseketeer of her own, Jody understands the amount of detail involved in Disney planning. If she feels her clients are well-prepared, she is happy. Jody, her husband Dana, and their daughter Lily reside in beautiful Raleigh, NC. Jody loves “talking Disney” would love to help your family book an amazing Disney adventure!