We just returned from our most recent Disney World vacation. We joined my family over the Fourth of July weekend at the Polynesian Village Resort at Disney World. This was a major shift for our travel style. I discovered a few things I didn't realize before, squashed some of the "peak time" fears I had and got a good look at how a lot of vacation-goers experience at the parks that I hadn't been keen to since 2007. Here are some things I learned and my takeaways from my most recent trip.
Short TripWe've never been on a "long weekend" type trip- it's usually a 6 day + planned out vacation. We arrived Thursday and left Sunday. With a promise to spend the fourth at Universal Studios (my sister and I have never experienced the Wizarding World of Harry Potter together), we really had only one full day and some evenings to spend at Disney World. If I didn't go frequently I would've had major FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) but I visited roughly eight months ago and already have a trip booked for later this year, so I wasn't too concerned with hitting every single thing. We hit Magic Kingdom for some fast passes Thursday evening both before and after Ohana for dinner. (Sidebar: yum.)
We rode all of our favorites (Seven Dwarves Mine Train, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad) as well as snuck in a few lower wait time rides. It worked out really well. We were really only there for about 3 maybe 4 hours total. We had a full day at Animal Kingdom the next day. [Reminder that Expedition Everest is freaking awesome.] We hit up Universal Studios for most of the day on Saturday, catching the July 4th fireworks from the Polynesian Saturday night, and left on Sunday morning. We had a very full few days and didn't feel like we missed anything. It opened up our eyes to the possibility of more weekend trips instead of long vacation type visits. It's now a whole new world for Disney travel in our eyes. :)
Summer HeatAshley hasn't ever (and I haven't since I was 18 or 19) been in the prime of summertime. It was kind of a rule that Florida summer was off limits. (We've become quite acclimated to Chicago's summer, thank you.) We don't always do well in blistering sun for days on end. That coupled with the walking required for a Disney World vacation made us absolutely terrified- so we've usually stuck to fall and winter trips only. While we definitely would much prefer a cooler temperatured trip- we made it out pretty well in the heat. Honestly, we went in early October last year and it more or less felt the same as it did this trip. So if there is a special event or some type of offer over summer- it's not off limits any longer. Although, I still don't think a full on 7 days in that heat would've worked out well for us :).
Deluxe ResortWe stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge, another Deluxe Resort, before our February cruise this year and loved it, but we didn't put all the amenities to full use since it was just a one night stay and we didn't have park tickets. This was really our first time going to the parks from a Deluxe Resort. The Polynesian has been some where I've wanted to stay since I was a kid. The room was enormous. I really enjoyed it. I loved the food options at the Polynesian, and the easy access to a Dole Whip is kind of great. While I always love a good bargain and tend to like to spend our budget on experiences rather than the hotel room.... it's going to be kind of sad to go back to moderates and values. I won't lie to you! The value rooms are small and the bathrooms aren't as nice in anything other than the Deluxe Resorts. When I was younger my family stayed at the Grand Floridian and the Wilderness Lodge but I don't remember a ton about it. Ashley likes the Animal Kingdom Lodge better than the Polynesian, but the Polynesian location really can't be beat for me! I love staying at different resorts, so we will be jumping around on future trips, but this trip really holds a special place. I can already tell it's going to be hard to top.
Monorail AccessWe've never stayed at a monorail resort and subsequently haven't ever stayed without having a car available (either renting or driving our own there.) We didn't rent a car this time because 1) my family was already there and they didn't have one, 2) we were staying on the monorail track, and 3) it was a shorter trip- so we thought we'd take a shot at the no rental car option. The transport to Magic Kingdom was easy and a no brainer. We used the monorail mostly and also the ferry boat from the Polynesian. We ended up missing the bus for Animal Kingdom and had breakfast reservations so we got a cab to get there on time. (I'd advise against using the Mears cabs if you can help it. They're ridiculously expensive. From Polynesian to Animal Kingdom was $20. But we were in a bind.) That easy access to Magic Kingdom seriously made our shorter trip much easier. It made the transportation time much shorter and we weren't late for dinner! (For once..) If you can afford a resort on the monorail line- it's so wonderful.
Visiting on a HolidayWe have another rule to go along with our "no summer" rule we've learned to break- and that was not to visit on a holiday where it is guaranteed to be very high crowds. We usually try to stick to the "off season" and July 4th is the opposite of that. While we didn't visit Magic Kingdom on the actual holiday, (my mom and sister attempted it.... and turned around) we realized that the other parks aren't that bad on holidays because people flock to Magic Kingdom. While we left on the morning of the 5th- I saw plenty of Disney friends on Instagram and Facebook post nearly empty photos of MK on the 5th. So maybe the day after a holiday is a perfect time to visit Magic Kingdom. :)
So essentially, we squashed some of our fears on this trip which will change the way we consider dates for future trips. It actually kind of opened up other possibilities as far as planning, as well. Have you ever changed your travel style? Do you avoid Disney during any certain times? Let me know your feedback in the comments!