Plan to park-part 2-add on extra magic!!
So, you have decided WHEN you want to book. You have decided WHERE you want to stay (either on site at Disney or off site). You have chosen what sort of park tickets you want and where you would like to eat. You have made advanced dining reservations if necessary and have chosen a dining plan...but wait, there's still more you could do to add extra magic to your trip!
If your budget allows, you may want to consider purchasing tickets to a myriad of special experiences Disney offers. At each park, you can do things such as after hours events at night (getting to experience the park with much lower crowds, wait times, and unlimited popcorn, ice cream, and drinks), maybe it's a special holiday event or dining experience. You can even do things like swim with dolphins at Epcot.. There are lots of choices, but be mindful these must be booked well in advance as they sell out quickly.
If it isn't in the cards for you to do a ticketed event, the parks still offer lots of things included to guests staying on site and off (nightly fireworks shows, extra magic hours, advanced fast pass reservations, yearly festivals like food and wine or garden festival at Epcot. Those things are all included in your ticket price to the parks. However, Chuck and I are really big on experiences, particularly those related to food. Dining is a huge part of our travel. So, we do like to budget for 1-2 special ticketed experiences per trip.
To plan which one we choose, I scour Disney blogs, podcasts, etc. My top resources are:
For our upcoming trip, we have budgeted for 2 ticketed experiences that I booked at least 4 months out.
1) Disney After Hours Villains Party- this event allows us to go to the park for a late night visit with MUCH lower crowds. We can stay until 1 am and ride and see the attractions with little to any wait time. There are special shows, ride additions (like a completely blacked out Space Mountain), and snacks. There is also a special Villains show. The Disney villains are funny, entertaining, and great counterparts to the "good guys." This particular after hours event is geared towards adults which we love. We find that the experience at events like this is SO valuable and fun, it is worth every penny.
2) Our second ticketed event for our July trip is the Highway in the Sky Dine Around.
For this special experience, we will basically have a small group, led by a guide, take us on a progressive dinner in our own monorail car! We will travel to each Magic Kingdom resort that has a monorail stop. That includes the Contemporary, the Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian. We will enjoy food and drinks at each stop. Our last stop will be at the Contemporary for drinks, dessert, and fireworks viewing in an exclusive spot. The tickets aren't cheap, but a great value for all the food, private attention etc that we will get. The price also includes tip. We are more excited for this event than anything else we have booked for summer.
If you like special one of a kind experiences that you will never forget, ticketed add ons are a great way to go. If you want to save some cash, enjoy all that Disney already offers in your ticket price. :) We have found that these ticketed events add so much magic to our trips, and even though not cheap per say, you get TONS for the price...so great VALUE!
Coming up soon...understanding the Disney fast pass system! Trust me, it really can be like a fun game.