Friday, November 30, 2012

We're Going Back: Part Two

I stared blankly at my "pros and cons" list of several possible dates for our next Disney vacation.  Over the past two days, I'd revised the list three times, added and deleted potential dates, cross-checked flights, and crunched numbers...all to no avail.  Choosing a date for our first vacation had been a snap.  I knew that September (with its lower rates and lower crowds) would be a great time to visit.  Of course, that meant pulling my children out of school for a few days, but since they were so young (preschool and first grade), I was not conflicted at all.  This time around, the decision was much harder. 

Even though the weather would be pleasant and the prices would be reasonable, I'd quickly eliminated late spring (even though they were young, I personally couldn't justify pulling the kids out of school TWICE in one year).  I also ruled out the month of July; no part of me was interested in battling the giant mid-summer crowds in the blistering heat and stifling humidity.  Early fall was also out of the question; my mother is an administrative assistant for a school district, so the beginning of the school year is a busy time for her at work.  

Grandma's Coming, Too!
Then, it hit me.  I remembered a conversation that I'd had with an airline desk clerk several years earlier when we were returning from a mid-August trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina.  I commented that the airport seemed strangely empty for summertime, and he responded that, for much of the country, school had already begun.  Being Michiganders, our kids don't return to school until after Labor Day, but that's not the case for many other states (including Florida).  Late August was starting to look like a viable solution to my scheduling predicament!
Tip Time: Now that I am a travel professional, my clients often ask for my advice on the best time of year to visit Disney World.  Although the answer is somewhat subjective, depending entirely on how the client is defining “best”, I can offer them some guidelines.  First, I would recommend avoiding the weeks before and after Christmas, the weeks before and after Easter, and the entire month of July.  These are some of the most crowded, most expensive times of year to visit Disney World.  The weeks before and after President's Day in February are also often crowded, but they are more tolerable than the previous weeks that I mentioned.  My favorite time of year to visit Disney World is late September/early October when crowds and prices are low and the parks are decorated for Halloween.  Another great time to visit is during the week after Thanksgiving and the first two weeks of December.  Crowds are bearable, prices are reasonable, and festive holiday decorations adorn the entire resort.  In early January, crowds and prices are at their lowest, but park hours are often shortened and ride closures are likely.  If you can't (or don't want to) pull your kids out of school for a vacation, try visiting Disney World immediately after school lets out in June or during the last two weeks of August.  The weather will be hot and humid (and it's hurricane season) and crowds will be above average (although not as bad as July), but discounts are often available.

Countdown to August 22nd!
I selected a few potential dates in late August, found some available room discounts, and discovered that flights were reasonably priced for that time period.  Before I knew it, I'd zeroed in on a departure date of August 22nd.  On our first trip, we'd spent four nights at Disney World, and we felt like that was just a little too short.  This time, since the kids weren't missing school, we were able to devote an entire week to our trip, but my husband also had expressed a strong desire to visit the ocean while we were there.  As a result, I settled on a seven night vacation, spending five nights at Disney's Beach Club Resort in Disney World and two nights at Disney's Vero Beach Resort (approximately 90 minutes from Orlando, located right on the Atlantic Ocean).  

With the trip officially booked, I was able to focus on the really fun aspects of Disney vacation planning: deciding on dining reservations and designing our itinerary and daily touring plans.  As I excitedly set to these tasks, a nagging feeling of dread refused to leave the deep recesses of my mind.  Although I was confident that mid-August was the perfect time for our vacation, I'd read that late summer is peak hurricane season in Florida.  Still, the chances that a hurricane would actually hit during our vacation were very slim, right?  Right???.......(to be continued)


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