Disney from Dallas Trip Planning

Updated on April 22, 2015
T.K. asks from Grand Prairie, TX
9 answers

I did search old quesons here, but want your fresh perspectives! planning to take the family over Thanksgiving week off from school. Our 1st & probably only time. This is a huge bucket list splurge! We're going to drive. I've chosen the Caribbean Resort and dining plan. Now im trying to find tune the planning. Should i get the water park & more pass? I realize it's nov. But it seems lots of other fun stuff comes with that. Anyone have experience with that? Also, trying to get the timing right. School gets out on fri, is a 16? Hr drive? Do, if we leave sat, drive all day, stay the night where? I'm thinking about hugging the coast on the way there. I want to enjoy the drive, rather than "make time" Then, stop over night in New Orleans on the way back. But how do i book The resort? Sunday night through thursday night? We want to see universal studios. How many days of Disney park passes do i need? I don't need to see everything! Just the highlights. 8 & 9 yr old boy & girl. Cranky dad. I want to have down time and not wear is out, but, make lots of good memories. Any and all advice about the drive, the dining plan, etc appreciated. I work i work for AAA. Our travel agency is booking it and i get employee discount.

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answers from Washington DC on

since you are planning this far out?? I would contact Disney and find out if you can get an all-in-one package and fly out there! That's a long drive from Dallas to Orlando - I think about 1100 miles.

I know the end would be great - as it's Disneyworld - but I'd rather fly and get there than drive.

There are a lot of companies out there that will help you plan the trip and get you the best prices. Since you are going off-peak - you might be able to get some GREAT deals!!

Have a blast!

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answers from Dallas on

We are going next month. We decided after much debate to fly (my mom lives near Tallahassee and we have done the drive more times than I can count, we just weren't up for it). I started trying to plan it all myself. Searching for the best discounts. Trying to figure out what we wanted to see and what we could skip. I quickly became overwhelmed. It's our first trip too, so I didn't have a frame of reference. I planned things preliminarily in my head and figured out the cost. Then decided to call a disney travel agent...just to see what they could do for us. That was SOOO much easier and cheaper. I told our person the basics that we wanted and our must haves. He took over from there. Helped me choose which parks. Helped me choose which fast passes. Gave advice on what's worth the money and what we may want to skip. He was able to get reservations I couldn't manage to get on my own. Just a suggestion. You don't pay for the disney travel agents, I think they work for commission.

My next door neighbor did Disney and Universal in one trip. She said it was a bit exhausting and just a little too much for the kids. (At the time she had a 6, 8 and 10 year old). She said if they ever planned something like that again, she would not do both parks. She wishes she took them to Disney and saved Universal for when they were older. She doesn't feel like they enjoyed Universal as much just because they were so tired. They were at DIsney three days from open to close.

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answers from Dallas on

We used to go every couple of years when daughter was small. I would never consider driving.

We currently go to Orlando about 4 times a year on business and we fly. If you book far enough out, you can fly Southwest for less than $200 each. American Air also has a direct flight which usually runs less than $300 if booked well in advance. We typically got a cab for about $100 and had a straight shot to/from the hotel. I know they have buses that are complimentary but you never know which stop you will be on the bus route or how long you wait at airport for the bus to fill up when you could already be on your way.

That said, I made all reservations through the WDW customer service line. We always stayed a the Polynesian which was on the monorail line and it has always been my favorite spot at Disney.

We declined the food plan. It would be a waste for us because we are not huge eaters which meant part of those funds would be wasted and I don't accept being told where I can eat and when. Granted, things may have changed since we were there.

We got the passes, I think called Hopper, which were good for any Disney park from the time you arrived until midnight of the day you check out. You could go to any park as many times as you wanted daily. This was great because we would take the boat taxi in the mornings to MK and then in afternoon would go to another park.

I also booked character dinners through the WDW line as well. One year we did a private safari at Animal Kingdom and that was a lot of fun. One of the parks opens about an hour early everyday for guests in certain hotels. Make sure you figure out which one works for you on that so you maximize the time.

Of all the years we did Disney, we only went to the water park once. It just wasn't that big of a deal to us. As you know there is Hurricane Harbour and Hawaiin Falls here in the DFW area so the water parks were not that attractive to us.

I know there are a lot of sites with shortcuts and new info. I always had a good experience with the WDW line agents. I explained what we were looking for and they gave me the info I wanted and then I made the choice to add it to our plan or not.

Have a great trip!!! It is a lot of fun.

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answers from Rochester on

We did a water park. I hate water parks. To me it seemed like a wasted day especially since we live within driving distance of a water park Mecca. I would have rather spent more time at Magic Kingdom or Epcot.

We had five day passes. We spent a day at Magic Kingdom and saw about 1/4 of it. We spent a day at Animal Kingdom and saw 90% of it. We only spent 1/2 a day at Epcot because we had done the water park in the morning. We saw about 1/2 of it, but it was rushed. We actually spent a day and a half at Hollywood Studios. We had to go back a 2nd day because we didn't get a spot in the Jedi Training School which was the one thing my daughter wanted to do. One day would have been enough. We wasted an evening at Downtown Disney.

After talking to several people, we decided the meal plan would be a waste of money for us. We didn't want to do a character breakfast and didn't really care about eating at any of the themed restaurants. With younger kids, we knew they wouldn't eat enough to equal what the daily amount would be. We were able to eat lunch at one of the themed restaurants by stopping by just as they were opening and had an early lunch.

Definitely take advantage of Fast Passes. That's the only way you are going to get on some of the more popular rides. But, if you show up for a ride and there isn't a long line, don't waste your Fast Pass. You can trade it for a different ride. We had gotten Fast Passes for one ride, but when we got there it was only a 5 minute wait. We quick changed our Fast Pass to a different ride (using the My Disney Experience app). We actually got to ride that ride about three times never waiting for more than 5 minutes and got to ride a different ride that was one of our "if we don't have to wait in line" choices.

Park Hopper passes are worth it. I didn't think we would use them, but we did spend a day at one park and then went to another one in the evening.

Start with one of the smaller parks first. Magic Kingdom and Epcot can be really over whelming. Start with one of the smaller parks to get your feet wet and kind of get a feeling for how Disney works.

Personally, I wouldn't do Disney and Universal in the same trip. If you do, I would just get 1-2 day passes for Disney and just do Magic Kingdom and then do Universal. Five days of Disney was overload for me. We broke up the week by taking a day trip to NASA. Even then I was exhausted from the trip and swore I would never go back to Disney. I can't imagine driving home after a week at Disney. We just had an hour long drive from the airport to our house and I thought it seemed twice as long.

Lots of people told me to research as much as possible before the trip. I bought a book and tried to plan out every little detail. I gave up. It was just too overwhelming. Pick the top 10 things you want to be sure to do, then let the rest just happen. It will be a much more relaxed trip.

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answers from Lakeland on

That sounds like a lot to do in one week. The drive one way will take an entire day (you need to consider stops).

If you have never been to the parks it is very overwhelming. I don't think I would bother with the water parks since Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest times. Universal will also be busy and they have two parks to choose from.

I will suggest looking into flying to Orlando and staying on Disney property. This way you can get to the parks and be able to go back to your room to rest in between. I am sure there are ways to get to Universal, maybe a cab ride over its not that far from Disney. I would skip the drive and not stop in New Orleans.

I have seen first hand where people come for the first time and get nutty from being overwhelmed (I recently experienced this with my niece and her family). Once you are here you will want to see and do it all and that's just not possible. I am sure others will tell you the same. Please also keep in mind that you will be visiting during a holiday week. Christmas time is busier, but Thanksgiving week can be just as bad.

**I forgot to add that tickets for Magic Kingdom are priced higher then the three other parks so keep that in mind. AAA is the only way to get a legit discount so I would consider booking with them.

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answers from New York on

You said you wang to see the highlights. So does everyone else so you may have to settle for non so popular that time of if year. Dining plan is good. 99% of restaurants take it and you can make your reservations Dix months out. I would purchase the Unofficial Guide to Disney World by Birnbaum. $20. That will all you need to plan. It's hard when you ask because some people like some things, some other things. Some like dining some do not. Get the book. Would not bother with water park passes. I would pass on Universal Studios. If you want to go, you can get Mears bus from your hotel. I would ho with an idea of want you want to do. Don't over plan. You might be fisappointed. Just go have fun. Book fast passes an hour to an hour and a half apart. You can do three a day. Enjoy. Get there early in am. They have been known to close parks when maximum capacity is reached. Mickeys Very Merry Christmas party is a fun experience. Need extra ticket for that. It's between $70 and $75 each. Don't miss the Osmibd light show. 5 million dancing lights at Hollywood studio. It is amazing. Enjoy.

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answers from Lewiston on

I don't have much advice, we are planning a trip there for the first week of November this year! I have found a lot of useful information in the unofficial guide book, allears.net and touringplans.com. Such good money saving information! Plus when to go see something at a certain time, and info on all that Disney has to offer!



answers from Dallas on

I think you are trying to do to much it that time frame. If you arrive Sunday, everyone will be tired so you shouldn't waste a day at the park. So basically you have only 4 days possible, I would do 3. I would skip the water parks. Look up the Disney parks and decide which your kids would enjoy the most, based off the shows, rides, themes. Magic Kingdom is a definite.



answers from Wausau on

Decide what you feel you absolutely must do/see. You say you're thinking Sunday night to Thursday, on the calendar that seems like a longish stay, but it isn't long enough to enjoy every option, so you have to choose before you can plan what you need.

Disney World has 4 main parks - Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. If it was me, I'd do 1 park in a day, and not bother paying extra for the park-hopper add on, opting for downtime at the hotel instead of running off to a second location.

There are 2 waterparks. The issue is that in November it is possible that you won't think it warm enough for swimming. Check the historical weather for the time you're going to be going. It is it usually cool, wait and see. You can always buy passes on-site.

You also mention wanting to see Universal Studios. Universal is not a Disney park and won't be included in your DW tickets, so that is something else to consider before you decide how many days you need for your DW tickets.

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