It’s never to early to plan your next vacation and I’m pretty sure that most people are already thinking about what they will do this summer. Will you take a cruise? Go to the Caribbean? How about Walt Disney World? Kaleigh Lay, one of the hosts of Cruize Cast, a great podcast on cruising, was kind enough to allow me to interview her about Disney World, another passion of hers.
Travel Shop Girl: How many times have you been to Disney World?
Kaleigh Lay: I think 15 times; I am having trouble keeping count. Veronica has been 4 times already at age 3!
TSG: Why do you think a Disney vacation is a great vacation?
KL: The attention to detail and theming is unmatched anywhere else. Also, it is such a complete vacation destination with theme parks, amazing dining, waterparks, shopping and more. There is just something special about the Disney way that speaks to me.
TSG: What is your favorite park in Disney World?
KL: Epcot; no contest! I love the World Showcase. It was what inspired me to travel before I had the money to do so. The opportunities to sample foods and cultures from around the world is just so cool to find in a theme park. Mixing that with the forward-thinking attractions in FutureWorld, combines to make the perfect park experience for me.
TSG: Do you prefer to stay on property or outside of Disney World?
KL: If money is no object, I will always choose to stay on property. It provides a seamless Disney experience from parks to hotel, and the hotels are just so well-themed that it really makes a special vacation.
TSG: Do you think the meal plans are a good option or would you recommend skipping them altogether?
KL: While I can totally see the draw of the meal plans and have used them myself in the past, I feel like the dining plans no longer represent a good value. In order to recoup what you pay, you have to eat dessert at every meal, as well as order one of the more expensive items on the menu. Oh, and you have to eat your table service meal at dinner because that is when it is more expensive. I prefer to eat when, where and what I want rather than constantly trying to make the plan worth it.
TSG: Do you recommend renting a car while in Orlando or using a shuttle?
KL: I always recommend renting a car. The shuttles just aren’t good enough, in my opinion, to rely on. If you must use on property transportation, some resorts are much better than others. Don’t assume that the more expensive hotels have better transportation. The opposite is often true.
TSG: Do you think that a Disney vacation is a good value?
KL: If you plan ahead of time and go during the down season, Disney is a great value. The busier it is and the hotter it is, the worse the value. You can have an excellent time at Disney World or it can be a nightmare. You can’t just expect to show up and have a great, magical time. It may work out that way, but more than likely, it won’t.
TSG: How many days would you recommend staying in Orlando to enjoy Disney World to its fullest?
KL: I think a week is a great length: long enough to enjoy everything without running around, short enough to not get tired of it.
TSG: When you have visited Disney World in the past, do you also visit other theme parks like SeaWorld or Universal Studios? Why or why not?
KL: I have been to Sea World, but not Universal. I am an unabashed Disney devotee, and really can’t tear myself away.:)
TSG: What tips do you have for the first time visitor to Disney World?
KL: Wow, this could go on forever. Don’t go when kids are out of school. Avoid the heat. Take an afternoon nap. Get dining reservations before you go. Be at the park at opening. Eat sit down meals at lunch. Eat in the resorts. Stop and enjoy the theming. Do some research before you go. Don’t have too high expectations for your kids, just let them enjoy what they enjoy, even if it is the hotel pool or an ice cream. There are many more, but these are the first ones that come to mind.
TSG: What is the biggest lesson you have learned from your multiple visits to Disney World? This can be something philosophical, about travel, or about Disney in general – just wondering if when you have traveled there if it made you a different kind of traveler.
KL: My reaction to Disney is always one of wonder and joy. I think that my multiple trips have kept that part of me alive, and have prepared me to look at every place that I travel with the eyes of a child.
TSG: Have you ever been to Disney World and then gone on a Disney cruise? Do you think this would make for a great vacation?
KL: I haven’t done a cruise and Disney World back to back, but if I did, I would do Disney first, then the cruise. As much as I love Disney, it can never be as relaxing as a cruise. If the price is right, I think this could be a great vacation.
There you have it! I hope you enjoyed everything that Kaleigh had to offer about Walt Disney World and that this has inspired you to think about a trip to Disney. If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World and you’ve been thinking about it, maybe now is the time to start looking and booking your trip. BTW, your kids will thank you later!