Ginger Joiner is the lady to talk to when you have questions about planning a Disney World Vacation. A mother of a young child, herself, (soon to be two children!) she has enjoyed the magic of traveling to Disney earlier in life, and now as a parent. She loves it so much, in fact, she is now a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. So we asked her for advice on how to do Disney as a “local” who lives within a few hours of Orlando. She shared some great tips with us below. Thanks, Ginger! ~ Mamamelia
Mamamelia: Ginger, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us! It’s a privilege to get expert tips on visiting Disney World as a local. But before we get into that, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Joiner: I live in Brunswick, Georgia, and have been married for 8 years. We have a daughter who just turned 3 years old and I am pregnant with a boy, due in May. I decided to go into the travel business because I love planning and taking trips. It is a passion of mine to travel the world and explore new places. My husband and I actually visit a different state every year for our anniversary. By the time we have been married for 50 years, we will have visited all 50 states!
Mamamelia: That is such a romantic idea, and a great way to see our country! What’s your favorite trip you personally have taken?
Joiner: That is a really tough question. We have been so many places, it would be hard to narrow it down to one. We have taken an Alaska cruise which was AMAZING. We have been to Niagara Falls (I highly recommend staying in Canada). New York City is one of my favorite places to visit. The state of California has a lot of offer, from San Francisco, to LA/DisneyLand, just a lot of fun all around.
Mamamelia: Disney vacations are one of your specialties. What is it about traveling to Disney destinations that’s so special?
Joiner: Disney is just such a magical place. We would always take trips there before my daughter was born and had such a fantastic time. Now, we are able to experience it through the eyes of a child, and it is even more magical! The character greetings and princesses bring to life what she watches on TV and in the movies. Disney does a fantastic job capturing the magic and making your experience an amazing one.
Mamamelia: If someone has never been to Disney, how would you explain the best way to plan a visit there?
Joiner: If you have NEVER been to Disney, now is the time to plan a trip and GO! We normally only take small weekend trips to Disney — we actually just went to Disney World a couple of weeks ago. Short weekend trips are definitely fun to get a taste of Disney. However, I do not feel that you really get the whole Disney experience by staying for 2 nights and going to one park. Ideally, to get the most out of your trip, I would recommend a 4-5 night stay on property and visiting 3-4 parks.
Mamamelia: People who live and breathe Disney swear by the benefits of staying in a Disney resort as opposed to the other hotels in town. What difference does it make?
Joiner: IT MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE!! Traffic in Orlando can be a nightmare any time of the day. It is a HUGE convenience to be able to park your car at the resort and not have to use it again until you leave. When you stay at a Disney resort, you ride on the Disney Transportation system, which can range from a bus to a boat or a monorail, depending on where you are going. When you factor in parking fees, it can actually save you money, too.
Mamamelia: Can you break down some of the many phrases Disney lovers throw around: FastPass, MagicBands, Magic Hours. What’s it all mean?
Joiner: FastPasses are a MUST when going to Disney. You are allotted 3 fast passes at each park to book in advance. After you go to the park and use all 3, you can then add one FastPass at a time. They are super convenient as they allow you to “skip the lines.” You can go on a ride, meet a character, or even have better seating for the fireworks show. You will want to use the FastPasses to your advantage to make your experience better. FastPasses for certain rides do fill up quickly. I can help you plan your vacation accordingly.
MagicBands are AWESOMEl!! You will automatically receive a magic band when you stay on Disney property. They are your built-in room key, credit card, FastPass and link for any pictures taken with the Disney PhotoPass. You can customize your MagicBand from the 8 different color options and even personalize your name on your band. They are also waterproof.
Extra Magic Hours are only available to guests that stay on Disney property. Every day, one of the four main parks opens one hour earlier or stays open 2 hours after the park closes. Extra Magic Hours are offered at the water parks as well!
Disney also offers a Disney Dining Plan (3 different dining categories) which is included when you book a Magic Your Way vacation package. This can be a GREAT option, as you can eat at over 100 different locations throughout the park and at your resort.
Mamamelia: Many of our readers are Florida residents, members of the military, or both. What kind of special deals should we be looking for from Disney, and when are we most likely to see them?
Joiner: Right now, Disney is offering Florida Residents Discovery Disney Tickets! It includes 3 days at Walt Disney World Theme Parks for $139 per person, plus tax. You can add a 4th day for only $20 more. Proof of Florida residency is required and the offer ends on June 9, 2017. Florida Residents can also save on tickets for Cirque du Soleil La Nouba, which will be performing its last show in December 2017.
Disney is also offering a great Military Discount for 2017. It includes a 4- or 5-day military promotional ticket with the park hopper option included. A 5-day admission is $224 plus tax through December 19, 2017. A 4-day admission is only $209 plus tax through December 16, 2017. You can add the water park fun and more package for only $37 plus tax. Plus, besides discounted tickets, military will also get great rates at select Disney World Resort hotels.
Mamamelia: Those are great deals. So with deals like that, what’s the advantage of hiring a travel agent as opposed to just giving Disney a call?
Joiner: This is a GREAT question! It is a great misconception, that you have to pay a travel agent extra or we will include extra fees in your package. This is not true! It does not cost you any extra money to book through an agent vs. booking straight through Disney. Disney does pay a commission to the agency that books for you, but it is at no cost to you, the client. There are many perks of booking through a travel agent. We are always aware of any current specials and can help you save money. We also take care of the planning and reservations for you.
Mamamelia: What’s the best time of year to avoid the crowds at Disney?
Joiner: The best time to go to Disney World is after holiday crowds have gone home and when kids are back in school. RunDisney races can also bring crowds, along with any special events at the parks and 3-day weekends. There are some great crowd calendars online that you can look up that go into detail from which weekend will have a slower crowd to which weekend you will want to avoid.
Mamamelia: Any other advice for families hoping to travel to Disney in the near future?
Joiner: Disney is truly a magical place and a great place for families to relax and enjoy themselves. If you would like to know more, feel free to send me your email address and I can add you to my email newsletter that I send out every month. It includes specials Disney is running, plus any updates to the resorts or parks.
You can also follow my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/
Please let me know if you have any questions or would like a FREE no-obligation quote.
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