First time going to Disney with family, need HELP.

Bhumika Popli

Earning My Ears
Aug 29, 2019
Hello fellow Disney lovers,
My family, husband and two girls ages 6 and 8, are planning a Disney vacation in November 2020. I need help in understanding and booking:
1. Resort prefer to stay within but not to expensive
2. Meal plans
3. Tickets for the parks

And any useful information that can help me plan this trip for my daughters without breaking my bank. Thank you all so much in advance. Grateful for having found this forum.


DIS Veteran
Sep 8, 2005
Welcome! How long will you be there for? Will you be visiting over Thanksgiving? Please give us an idea if you are looking at value, moderate or deluxe pricing for your resort. I’m thinking you are probably thinking value or moderate? Will you have a car or will you be using Disney transportation?

During November WDW offers holiday parties and events which some are an extra cost and some are not. The dates you will be there will help with that information.


Earning My Ears
Aug 6, 2019
1. Any Value resort will work well for a family with young kids, most families or schools stay on these resorts.
2. Meal plans are worth it when staying on property. If your kids dont eat alot its worth it to get the lesser option and pay for snacks when needed IMHO
3. Plan out a 7 day trip with one down inbetween 2 park days. Example - Sun travelday Mon/Tues park Wed downday Thurs/Fri parks Saturday travel day. Ive gone twice in 4 years with my now 10 and 7 year old and the down day is a must we were at parks open to close and even had a universal day!
  • Wild4Walt

    DIS Veteran
    Jul 28, 2008
    Of the Value resorts, I prefer Pop Century due to location, but with kids I would consider All Star Movies or Art of Animation - just with Art of Animation the Little Mermaid rooms are the least expensive and in the back of then resort. It makes for a long walk at the end of the night.

    Dining Plan - unless this is on special ( meaning 'free' dining ) we don't find the value in the Disney Dining Plan. A lot of food and snacks we just couldn't eat AND more expensive than paying out of pocket. I haven't used the Quick Service plan which I'm sure others here will be able to comment on.

    I agree with @jebiker852 - plan some down time to avoid melt downs ( both the kid version and the adult ).

    If you're not familiar with the FP system read up on that - it comes in very handy.

    ciocci sue

    Earning My Ears
    Sep 2, 2019
    hI … I have done trips with nieces of all ages. we did not do the dining plan and here is why. although my nieces are not TOO picky, and since I am aunt not mom, there were so many snacks I wanted them to try. Which by the way they loved - DOLE WHIP, Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie, Mickey Ice Cream bars, turkey legs,etc. then when it came to meals (mostly counter service) it was cheaper to buy them an adult meal, and have them split it - instead of 2 kids meals. check out menus. when I went with a friend (a little older than me) she wanted to do the dining plan. we were only there for 7 days and since I am a park person, and it was thru Thanksgiving (larger crowds) I hated wasting an hour+ on dining. It is a major decision. any character or special restaurants you can still do without the dining plan. just be sure to hit your 180 day out reservations.
    as for resorts, I loved all stars when I found them - tried all 3 - but then found Pop Century. Pop is a little more expensive per night, but they have their own bus and soon the gondolas. Since their price went up, I am going back to the all stars (music this time). All stars share buses, especially if you stay until park closes. First stop all star sports - people climbing over you to get o ut. then music - bus will still be fairly crowded and more people shoving to get off. movies is the last stop - so if I get a seat or not I don't have to climb over people to get out. GOOD LUCK IN YOUR DECISION. On the Disney site you can put in dates and prices to get some help


    Earning My Ears
    Jan 27, 2018
    1. Pop century preferred room- You will be close to dining and bus stops. The rooms are newly renovated plus you’ll have the option to use the gondolas. For me the dining plan isn’t worth it. We usually pick two or three sit down restaurants per trip for non park days. Good luck!

    chris benton

    DIS Veteran
    Oct 17, 2016
    You should be 127% prepared for Nov 2020 if you research what you need to now. Congratulations on not being one of the hundreds of ppl you'll be seeing that have no clue what they are doing.

    The resorts are priced by what amenities they have AND ALSO their proximity to parks. Time is at a premium at WDW. I factor that time in my resort choices. If I can WALK to a park instead of walking to a bus stop, and then waiting for a bus, and then riding a bus - that is MONEY to me. I like to stay at an EP area resort for a known travel time of only a few minutes to TWO parks. Those parks happen to be ones my family really enjoy, so I can figure out real value for travel time if we plan on being at those parks a few times during our stays. We also buy hoppers for this reason. I can be at DHS or EP in 15 minutes, or back in the room from those parks in 15 minutes. I find real monetary value in that over the course of several days.

    The dining plan allows you to average out your meal prices. That's all it does. If you order a meal over or below the cost of that prepaid average, then you lose or gain money. You will not get refunded any money you prepay for, but do not use. If you use that money on items you'd never buy in a zillion years, I'd consider that wasted money. If you choose a dining plan, it's pretty simple to figure out if the money will work. Most ppl can make the money work pretty well by doing character meals with kids. The math is easy though. A lot of ppl will tell you that the meals can be pretty big, and the regular Dining Plan will be a LOT of food unless you plan it out well. The dining plan would take a lot of work to make the math work for my family, and even then, it would be way too much food for us, so we could break even, but we'd be tamping food down our gullets. We pay for our meals out of pocket, and we eat like absolute pigs anyway, and still save a whole bunch of money over the Dining Plans. "Free Dining" will lock you into paying for other things at the resort or ticket option you may not want or need. Free Dining is not free for everyone. There is still (simple) math to be done to determine if free dining is worth it for you.

    Tickets don't have too much fluctuation in price vs the overall cost of your vacation. You're gonna spend too much money. Get over it. Plan the living sh*t out of this vacation and enjoy watching the girls make memories of a lifetime.

    I will also say this:
    Don't immediately scoff at paid events like dessert parties, or the exclusive park time pre-paid events. Research them to see if they are right for you and your fam.

    Don't be on the go all day and night even though you wanna get the most out of your $$. Plan ahead SO you can relax while you're there. Don't run the fam ragged.

    Start a family walking regimen several months before your trip. Go ahead and research how much most people walk per day in Wallytown.

    Have a budget, suuuuuure. Have one. Whatever. :jester:
    If you happen to be a Costco member, check out their travel section for WDW pkgs.
  • cbyrne1174

    Earning My Ears
    Sep 1, 2018
    If you are middle class, stay off property because the rental prices only cater to the upper middle class. November is in the value season for Bonnet Creek. You could find a 2 bedroom deluxe for $1100 - $1200 for 7 nights on Redweek. Make sure it's a verified and protected listing. I always sell Bonnet Creek when I have extra points and it really is a good deal if you want space. The room comes fully stocked with everything and you can rent a car and buy your own groceries to save HUNDREDS of dollars. Also, if you want to avoid paying parking, you can park at Disney Springs or the Boardwalk and use their transportation to get to the parks. I never pay parking. $25 only saves 10-15 mins of time tops.

    Bonnet Creek has 2 lazy rivers, 2 water slides, 9 spas, 2 arcades, mini golf, a recreation room, quick services, a few restaurants and a spa. Kids that age really can't tell the difference between the Disney hotels vs Bonnet Creek. Bonnet Creek IS ON DISNEY PROPERTY. It's owned by Wyndham but doesn't get the extra magic hours or free transportation. A car is a lot more convenient though so you can save a bunch on food. If you spend more than $2000 on your food, car and accommodations, you are overpaying. Here is a video of the room I'm suggesting:



    DIS Veteran
    Feb 6, 2018
    I know everyone is different but we would not stay off site, ever. We like parking the car upon arrival and getting back in it when we leave. We really think there is a Disney bubble and it would be lost (to us) if we did not stay at a Disney resort. That being said, we love the Pop Century and have stayed there this Summer and last. It is pretty economical but seemed better than the All Stars. The opening of the Skyliner would be a huge bonus. The last 2 Summers we have booked under free dining so we weren't worried about menu prices so it is hard to say if it would work well for you family's eating habits. I do like the 2 snacks per person per day so we never had to say "no" to snack requests. Everyone knew that everyone was allowed 14 snacks (7 night stay) and they were free to use them as they wish but use them wisely. As for tickets, we had to get park hoppers in order to qualify for free dining but we always get hoppers anyway. We like deciding after an afternoon swim break whether to go back to the same park or do a different one on the last few days of the trip. I will also say we never schedule a non park day. We take afternoon breaks to rest a bit or swim or do half day at a park and afternoon/evening at Disney Springs or go back to a park. Have fun deciding and if you stay on site and get to book fastpasses at 60 days, book them asap as soon as your booking window opens.


    DIS Veteran
    Apr 29, 2019
    We always stay on property. If you are flying, you can use the Magical Express. It is Disney's free transportation to and from the airport. You can book fast passes 60 days in advance, and can attend extra magical hours. (Park hours open early or stay open late, for on site guests.). There are other hotels that offer the benefit of 60 day fast pass and extra magical hours at Disney Springs hotels and a few others.

    The cheapest rooms on property are the value resorts. All Star Sports, All Star Music, All Star Movies, POP Century, Art of Animation. We always stay at POP. Queen size bed and a Murphy bed (also queen size, with same mattress as regular bed). The All Star Resorts are also being renovated with same type of beds.

    Unless you find an offer (free dining) while staying in site. We find it cheaper to just pay out of pocket. You can start buying Disney gift cards (at a discount) using a Target Redcard. A lot of warehouse clubs also offer discount Disney gift cards. The gift cards can be used to pay resort rooms (if staying in site), food and souvenirs - even tips at restaurants. (The downfall to using gift cards, if you would need to cancel, the funds are returned to the gift cards. Your method of payment, is your method of refund)

    Tickets, you can purchase from Disney or an authorized third party vendor. For a first visit, you could just do one park per day, saving the cost of park hopper. If you chose to stay in one park per day, look at park calendar. There are special events and the park will close early to regular park guests (6:00 pm).

    Cruising Engineer

    DIS Veteran
    Apr 18, 2018
    Since you are over a year out, I would start saving for the trip, no matter where you stay or how you eat. Go to the Disney Gift Card Deals and learn how to save 5% - 15% on gift cards: . Start with the last 2-3 pages to learn the system. GC deals change quickly, so don't start at the beginning. And only buy Disney Gift Cards and NOT Disney Store, those are only goo for store merchandise, not hotels, food, tickets, etc. Then go to to combine your little cards into $1000 units.
  • siren0119

    DIS Veteran
    Sep 26, 2018
    The room comes fully stocked with everything and you can rent a car and buy your own groceries to save HUNDREDS of dollars. Also, if you want to avoid paying parking, you can park at Disney Springs or the Boardwalk and use their transportation to get to the parks. I never pay parking. $25 only saves 10-15 mins of time tops.
    RE: the bolded above - there are NO buses from Disney springs to the parks. Ever.
    There are buses that run from the Parks to DS after 4pm, but if you were to park at DS you would need to get to a resort, then get a bus to the parks - which is going to mean a fair chunk of time taking buses, nevermind that it's an abuse of the free parking at DS.

    I'm not sure when was the last time you parked at Boardwalk, but it's becoming more frequent that they will not allow you to park there during the day unless you're a guest, or only visiting for a few hours for dining. If you get lucky and the lot isn't very full, some attendants will let you in but there has been a crackdown at all of the deluxe resorts regarding non-guests parking in their lots.


    DIS Veteran
    Feb 19, 2019
    There is so much to learn.... I paid for all my trip with giftcards that i bought from 5-15% off .
    But i started with a resavation. All you need is $200. You can always change the details.

    By the way i paid for 1 night of hotel (asm)and 2day tickets for 4 all with swagbucks.
    We stay offsite the rest at Sheraton vistana


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