Saturday, November 26, 2016

Disney World Holiday Trip Review

Disney vacation vlogs are LIVE on Being Mommy with Style and I have a trip recap coming up at the end of the videos, but I thought I would give you some of our quick thoughts on the trip in a little trip recap preview here on the blog!

We went to Walt Disney World from November 8th - November 14th, and our main intents for this trip were to: try staying on property for the first time as a family of four, try out the Disney Dining Plan for the first time to see how it worked for our family, and mainly... take the girls to Walt Disney World during the holiday season to take part in holiday events and enjoy the holiday decorations!

It is the most magical time of year and I have been to Walt Disney World during the Christmas season previously, but my girls hadn't been during that time period. I knew after seeing them play on the opening day of Osbourne Family of Lights last year that we needed to do a FULL Christmas trip. Christmas party, Christmas outfits, the works! And I was not disappointed in the least, the trip was magical, and there is just something special in the air at Disney during the holiday season.

The decorations were amazing and we loved the holiday spirit! We went to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party twice, and I'll have a full review of that coming up - but it was a great time and we would definitely do that party again!

Here are our thoughts on the different parts of this trip...

On this trip, we stayed at Caribbean Beach Resort, a first for our whole family. I figured it was a good starting point and we could figure out what we liked and what we wanted to change for future trips.

The resort was gorgeous, and BIG. The location of our particular building seemed to be a bit far from different things around the resort that we felt it would be handy to be closer to, like the pool and quick service locations - so we agreed that if we stayed there on future trips, we would want to 100% be in a preferred room. (Which I had originally booked, but lost the preferred room when we changed our dates slightly to accommodate my husband's work schedule.) Overall though, the resort was beautiful and we liked the vibe there.

On future trips, we do plan to try other resorts because we'd like to see what kind of fit other locations are for our family. I do think we would consider Caribbean Beach Resort if we were looking at a moderate level trip in the future, however I think our room would have to be a preferred room to stay there again.

Dining Plan
The dining plan... oh the dining plan. How I deliberated on whether or not to get it. And at the last minute, I almost DIDN'T get it. On our previous trips we had stayed off property at a family member's house, so getting the dining plan wasn't an option - so this was all new territory for us. I knew what it had cost us to pay out of pocket for food, and based on all of the caluclators we should have saved a "bit" of money using the dining plan, I was just apprehensive on whether it would be too confusing for us or not. Whether we would actually save anything??

Well... we did, and it was AH-mazing! I am SOLD, on the dining plan! We will definitely be getting them on future trips and I added the dining plan to our bounce back that we reserved at the end of this trip. (Yes, I did. We're going again. #sorrynotsorry)

The Disney Dining Plan is the middle range dining plan, and it cost us just over $1000 for our family of four on our 6 day, 7 night trip. (Prices may vary depending on your resort booking, time of your you visit, and other promotions.) We LOVE doing character meals and using always do a number of character dining experiences on our vacations. Because of this, I assumed we would come out ahead with the Disney Dining Plan and that did turn out to be true.

Where we REALLY came out ahead, where the added bonuses of the Disney Dining Plan, the refillable cups that were included. (Which we would have used more had we been located more conveniently to the quick service at the resort, see point above about the resort.) Also, snacks were something I never really took into account in our food totals, but over a week - they REALLY add up. Once I took into account all of the quick service meals and snacks we got along with our table service meals on the Disney Dining Plan - we definitely came out ahead money wise, AND we found it easy to use & stress free to just swipe our MagicBand and go!

Christmas at Disney
Okay, so we kind of cheated on this one, just a bit! I knew how busy it was during ACTUAL Christmas time and we had a mini Fall break during this week in November, so I decided to use that to our advantage to take a bit longer vacation and try to miss the HUGE crowd during Christmas season at Walt Disney World. I knew the parks would be decorated for the holidays by this time, and the Christmas parties had just started before we headed down there. It was crowd level of 9-10 on a few of our days, due to vacation days that week and also a marathon on property at the beginning of the week - however overall it was manageable and things like dining reservations were still able to be reserved fairly easily.

It was a great way to take advantage of our vacation for both my husband and girls, and also miss the large crowds between Christmas to New Year's week. We attended Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party on two nights, November 10th & November 11th - and I felt like it took us both nights to see and do everything we wanted to do! On the first night, we focused on seeing the parade, watching the fireworks, and riding rides. On the second party night, I took Natalie to see a few of the party specific characters she wanted to meet (while Dan & Bella rode rides) and we tried as many of the treats they were handing out for partygoers as possible!

Watch Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Night 1- parade & rides, here:

Watch Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Night 2 - characters & treats, here:

It was amazing to experience the joy of the Christmas season with my girls at Walt Disney World! I'm so glad that we planned this trip, and I feel like it "checks the box" for that type of trip, since we've been there at Halloween the past two years.

What about the future?
Well, we're definitely going back, I don't know that it was even a question, ha! We booked a bounce back vacation at the end of our trip, and plan to try out a new resort on our next trip. On our next few trips, we'd like to rotate time of year to try different times of year and different resorts, to try to settle in on what type of trips are our favorites.

Resorts we have considered for future trips include: Contemporary, Polynesian, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Beach Club. Bella has also requested we stay at the Grand Floridian at some point.

I do think that we if have a "party focused" trip in the future, like a Halloween party or Christmas party trip - we will likely try to stay on the monorail loop if possible on that trip. The convenience of being able to walk of our Magic Kingdom at midnight and board a monorail to our resort instead of waiting for a bus would definitely make it worth it on that type of trip to make that our resort choice.

All in all, it was another magical vacation and watching the joy of Disney through my girls' eyes makes me so happy that we've found this special type of family vacation to go to together.

** We attend some events complimentary. All opinions are my own.

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