When I was planning my first Walt Disney World trip in the Summer of 1991, the internet had not yet been invented (well, in the form we know it now), and guide books were few and far between. A friend told me about annual passholder discounts. Cool, a discount, I could use that! They were not published anywhere, you booked your room only reservation, and then you had to call back to find out if anything had been released for your dates, or wait for the Mickey Monitor to show up via snail mail. Times have changed, and there is now a ton of information available to us to help us plan our Disney vacations. Take advantage, it will help. Below are the top 10 Disney websites to help you plan your Disney vacation.
#10: WDW Not Just for Kids – Admit it, you want to take the kids to Disney World, but your husband refuses, he insists he won’t have fun. Or maybe, you and your significant other are heading to Disney for alone, without the kids. Need to find out what there offered in the world for the adult set? WDW Not Just for Kids has you covered, with activities, hints and restaurants that are aimed squarely at adults. Now, Disney isn’t going to be offering much that would fly for adult in Vegas, per se, but there is plenty to do, and you will all have a blast.
#9: Suite Disney – Ever wanted to check out photos of the resorts, rooms and theme parks, but not satisfied with the official website? Suite Disney started out by offering photos of the suites available at the Disney World deluxe resorts, as there really wasn’t any way to find them online, and expanded into photos of all the resorts and theme parks. While still expanding and adding photos, this is a great way to compare resorts if you have not been there before, or to sell family members on the place you want to stay.
- Website: SuiteDisney
#8: Disney Every Day – Get a little bit of Disney in your life with Disney Every Day. Amanda does a fantastic job of providing useful information about the Disney World theme parks and resorts on a daily basis. A great help in your planning, and an even better resource once you are booked to keep you up to date and excited for your upcoming trip.
#7: The Disney Food Blog – Um, Yum! Currently my favorite Disney blog to read on a daily basis, AJ provides daily insight into something Disney food related, whether it is a restaurant review, a recipe or just some great Disney food news. Now, just a warning, eat before heading over to the Disney Food Blog, it will make your hungry! A great way to research and plan your meal while at Disney World, and to keep up to date on restaurant changes.
#6: Disney World Mom’s Panel – Several years ago, Disney took it upon themselves to offer an alternative to the non-official Disney sites out there, and set up the Disney World Mom’s panel, featuring regular folk like you and me. The mom’s panel features both moms and dads who answer questions on the WDW website, and generally offer “official” support to those going to WDW. While the site itself is ok, the best part about the mom’s panel is that most of them are active on twitter, it is a great way to reach out to them for a bit of help, they are all super friendly! Just do a quick search, won’t take you long to find them.
- Website: Disney World Mom’s Panel
#5: Passporter – Authors of one of the best Disney World guide books (the passporter series, of course), Jen and Dave also offer a great planning website. With excerpts from their books, planning tips and tricks plus a great community, this is an excellent place to start your planning.
- Website: Passporter
#4: Disney Forums – Now, I am not going to pick out one Disney forum, there are quite a few, and each has good things about them and not so good. Some are way to big to find information (though there is a ton there, if you know where to find it). Some are too small to provide much help. Look around at a few, find which fits your personality the best, and start there.
Forums are fantastic for planning, a great place to ask questions to those who have gone before you. Find a forum that doesn’t feel to big, but big enough to get your questions answered. Here are a few of my favorites:
#3: Touring Plans – Home to my favorite Disney Guide Book, the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, Touring Plans offers some unique planning tools not really found anywhere else. The crowd calendar is my favorite, it provides a pretty accurate estimate of what crowds will be each day in each park, which is a great help in your planning. Check back often, as the estimates are updated all the time. The other cool thing I love is their Lines iphone app (also available on Android and Blackberry, etc.). This is an on the go tool to use while at WDW to check line lengths for the parks. The best Disney app out there, by far.
#2: Disney Discount Sites – Everyone loves a discount. You are going to Disney World no matter what, so you might as well get the best deal available. MouseSavers has been around forever, and Mary does a fantastic job of keeping up to date on Disney discounts as well as other discounts in the Disney universe. I also like Mouse for Less, which offers tons of planning information along with current discounts. My favorite though has to be MouseMisers, which focuses just on current Disney discounts, with some planning information sprinkled in. MouseMisers does a fantastic job of being available to answer questions through comments on their site or through Twitter of Facebook, great if you want to ask a hard question directly to an expert and get an answer.
#1: AllEars – The de facto standard for Disney information. Deb has been working at AllEars for years (since last century!). Wether you are looking for hotel information, photos, hotel or restaurant reviews or Disney World menus, All Ears is the place to go. When I am looking to answer a Disney question, I usually head to All Ears first, then google second.
A bit of cheating here, I am going to provide a #1a for you. I didn’t want to take away from one of the great sites above, but one of the most important sites you can use in your planning is to employ a Disney only travel agency. They have been there (tons), know the discounts backwards and forwards, and can help you out in any of your planning, and it won’t cost you a nickel. If you call Disney directly, chances are you will spend more money, and you won’t have a personal planner on your side to help you out down the road.
There are a bunch of really good Disney only agencies out there, find one that you like. We are particularly fond of our sponsor Mouseketrips, they go above and beyond, you will love them.