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Vote of the week: How long do you take to plan a theme park vacation?

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Published: October 21, 2011 at 2:45 PM
Are you thinking about a Disney World trip for Christmas? Or maybe a visit to Universal Orlando next summer? Or are you the type who plans way ahead, and are putting together a budget for a theme park vacation in 2013 or beyond?

Grand Californian Hotel interior
Inside Disney's Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland - your pick as the best theme park hotel vacation destination last year.

That's our vote of the week this week on Theme Park Insider: How far in advance do you start planning your theme park vacation?

We're not talking about random day trips to parks near you, but about overnight vacations instead. Maybe they're to a nearby park. Maybe they're to a park across the country or around the world. We've got a nice page here on the site with some general theme park vacation planning tips, but I know that different people do that planning in very different timeframes. Some readers make vacation planning a year-long process. Others believe in spontaneity (or last-minute discounts), and throw the whole thing together in a day or two.

Which type of theme park vacation planner are you?

Please share your favorite vacation planning tips, in the comments. And, as always, thank you for reading Theme Park Insider!

Readers' Opinions

From Martin Gardner on October 21, 2011 at 3:03 PM
20 years ago, we could jump on a plane from the UK at the very last minute. We used to book off "Teletext" a text information service on one of our Four (yes, USA, four!) TV Channels. You could get a last minute deal for as little as $150, all in. However, the costs have risen ENORMOUSLY (what happened to the concept of air travel getting cheaper as the years go by???!)but now, its cheaper to book months in advance, but still very expensive compared to what it used to be....
From 76.224.10.97 on October 21, 2011 at 3:34 PM
We usually start planning about 2-3 months out. My wife calls Universal and speaks directly with an agent who sets up a deal with airfare / on-site hotel and park tickets.

We usually save a few hundred by doing it this was as opposed to purchasing everything separately. They usually throw in a few perks as well. Last time they gave us a room upgrade at no charge. We will be going back in Summer 2012 for an 8 day stay at the Hard Rock.

I think we may do a 2 park VIP tour this time, although I probably know more trivia and facts about the parks than some of the tour guides.... :)

From Dominick D on October 21, 2011 at 3:45 PM
Because Im about 25 minutes from Orlando, Its always the week were going. Now were thinking about a California theme park vacation.
From David Brown on October 22, 2011 at 12:23 AM
My wife and I have just booked our next Disneyworld vacation - for November 2012! Partly because we need to plan ahead, (we run a guest house here in Wales), partly because it gives us something to look forward to, but largely because there have been some good deals available here in the UK for bookings made by the end of October - (free Disney Dining Plan, 14 day ultimate tickets for the price of a 7 day non-ultimate(I forget the wording), plus $150 spend in the Disney stores).
Now I just have to spend the next 12 months planning what to do, where to eat, etc....
From duncan henny on October 22, 2011 at 5:00 AM
i booked last may for next september but started thinking about it the day i got back from last trip which was 2008 and already thinking about a 2016/17 trip to see the avatarland
From Rob Viala on October 22, 2011 at 10:59 AM
I can normally throw the foundation of my vacation together in about 2-3 days (the hotel, park tickets, transportation and the like), but it could take me a whole year to really build the vacation to what I beleive it should be. When I have dont this my girlfriend loved the vacation I planned. I booked our March 2011 trip to Disney World on October of 2010 primarially because my dad wanted to take his time. I began thinking of off site hotels of where we would stay, then I looked at the Disney Web Site and saw the free dining promotion and decided a better money value would be on property. After all the planning and reading I did to make sure me choice was right I went with it and booked it through a Travel Agent. The trip was errorless because of the way I planned and a month after I came back from my trip I became a travel agent my self along with my girlfriend...now I creat the dreams I have for other families. Currently I am planning a trip for October of 2012 for me and her to visit Disneyland so the 1 year rule still in the way I go for my own vacations.
From Deidre Dennis on October 22, 2011 at 12:18 PM
We usually brainstorm where we want to go in the fall, get serious about reservations in December, then pay for airline tickets, park tickets in January and February. We stayed close to home this past June, so I'm in the midst of planning a trip to Orlando in December, the week before Christmas. The room is reserved but nothing else is paid for and I'm literally freaking out.

Booking flights today, will pay off room before arriving, and will buy park tickets next month. I love having everything paid for in advance, but we drug big time this year.

From Skipper Adam on October 22, 2011 at 12:51 PM
I work for Disney, but I don't live in Florida or California. So when I go to work, I have to work. When I go by myself, I go care free. When I'm taking people, especially newbies, I plan months in advance, schedule the days out, with help from the Unofficial Guide people, so we don't waste time in the mornings and then have relaxing evenings.

Short of a time table, I have dinner, lunch, shows, hours, locations etc planned ahead. But it's almost a hobby to me.

From Zena Sharpe on October 24, 2011 at 1:41 AM
Our next trip accross the pond is going to be 2014 and yes, I am already planning it! When it comes to Orlando vacations I have a serious case of OCD!
I think mainly because planning a trip to Orlando is the best vacation I could ever plan so I go mad with planning.

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