So you are ready to pull the trigger and start to plan that Disney Vacation!
It’s an exciting adventure, but the military always has a way to make it a bit tricky!
The military and husband are kind of responsible for my Disney obsession. Our first family trip in 2001 was because of a military competition they sent my husband to Orlando. At that time Disney offered free tickets for military service members and discounts for their family. I had 2 weeks to plan for that first trip! Thank you, US Army! Nothing like a bit of heads up, but as military families we have to be ready for those type of adventures.
The Army threw us for a loop, but we pulled it off. Pictures from that first trip are still up on my fridge. But boy did I learn a whole lot about planning a trip to Walt Disney World! The first is always be prepared for the unexpected when it comes to vacation planning and the military!
So my first tip to planning a trip to Walt Disney World if you are a military Family?
Always be flexible with your dates and your planning
Some times you just can’t. Your spouse has block leave when coming back from a deployment. You have to do it then. Just know that just because that is when the Military has told you block leave is, it is always subject to change. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to call and push our vacation back a week. It happens. If you are prepared for it, at least mentally, you can deal with it much better.
And any time I have had to change dates Disney has been great and worked with me to get it all back in line.
When you call to make your reservations have a couple weeks as options. See when you can get a reservation. If you are on leave for more than one week, know you can be more flexible. Just because they don’t have a room Sun through Fri you aren’t out of luck. Ask about Mon through Sat. Yes, that one day can make a difference! Just be flexible about those dates, and know that you may have to change them later.
Always be flexible with where you want to stay
We have stayed at a few Walt Disney World Resorts, the Shades of Green and a hotel off property. I do definitely have my favorites. Because we are military there are only a set number of rooms available at the military rate at every resort. If they are gone, they are gone. Cast members can’t make them magically appear, though they probably would like to. When I call to make my reservations I always have at least 3 choice reservations. I have also called and said, “What military rooms do you have available at a moderate resort?”
Now there are other choices. You may want to consider the Shades of Green. Here is my post about Staying at the Shades of Green. Now I want to advise you here that you really need to price this out. Shades of Green is priced according to your rank. If you stay at a Walt Disney Resort with their military discount, it could actually be less expensive. It is a very nice resort with great amenities. Shades of Green is my second choice of where to stay at Disney. They are always offering that military price!
Make a list of what is important to you
Different families have different priorities when it comes to vacations. For some it is all about the adventure rides and the roller coasters. For other families it is all about the foods and the shows. Other families want to do all the character meet and greets.
Make a list of what is important to you and your family members. This will come in handy when you have the cast member on the phone.
Be prepared to call Disney
Because the military promotional is a package without tickets, you have to call to be able to get the military rate. I know it is a pain, but until they figure out how to get the military rates online, it is what it is.
And it does have it’s advatanges. Cast members are trained to be able to link you to your perfect vacation. They know all sorts of great things about Walt Disney World that you may not have considered!
For instance, on your list is character meet and greets. Did you know this can be done at a character meal? The cast member will be able to help you make those dining reservations at the restaurant with your favorite character! Have a die hard Lion King fan in your family? Did you know that there is a resort that has Lion King theming?
So have your list of dates, resorts and priorities and make that phone call! And while you are on the phone be sure to tell them you want the military rate and a package with no tickets!
This is all the beginning stages of planning a military Disney vacation! Now the real planning and fun begins!
Stay tuned for part 2!
Until then, Have a magical day!