Booking a Disney adventure #1

Organising a Disney trip and all the research & planning that goes along with it is all part of the fun for me and I know many other fellow Disney fans are the same which was good to hear, I spent many moments thinking I was just a little crazy for the amount of time and effort I went to with it all.
However, I do realise that not everyone is comfortable booking trips the way I do, for some it works perfectly and for others it's not only overwhelming to do it all yourself but also a scary thought and they would rather opt to have a travel agent do all the work for them, some because they don't have the time to put the work in and some because they just find it too nerve wracking doing it any other way. Now if you're the latter I promise you it really isn't as scary and difficult as it seems, in fact for me the research is all part of the fun that comes along with the trip.

*Before I really get into this post I just wanted to add something, this post is in no way intended to brag about the trip and the money I've spent on it, I'm purely adding costs to help show a rough guide to those who want to do something similar, have thought about it but presumed it would cost so much more and to just show a rough guide to what prices to look for. Of course that all goes for the following 2 posts that will follow this one over the next couple of moths*

When it came to booking this years big adventure which includes Disneyland California, Walt Disney World and a Disney cruise it took less planning than my standard WDW trip but more research. Initially the trip was just a Disney Cruise, it then extended to a night at WDW before and 2 nights after, because if I'm flying all that way I need to at least stay at Disney for a few nights. Then of course, I found myself dreaming of heading back to Disneyland California while looking at someones photo's, I've been really wanting to experience the 60th celebrations and after checking the dates realised I could just fit it in, so of course it wasn't long before that got added on for me too.

If you've never been to Disneyland before you might not realise that it's not like Disney World, in terms of how the parks and surrounding area are set out it couldn't be more different. Staying offsite at DLR is not such a nightmare as at WDW, you certainly don't feel you're missing out on being in the Disney 'bubble' as the area surrounding the parks is so different, there's a lot of hotels that are still very much within walking distance and of course cheaper than Disney hotels so it's actually something I'd recommend.
With a Disney hotel out of my budget, I wish I could have parted with over £1000 to stay at The Disneyland Hotel (the dream) I couldn't, so I took to the usual sites of Kayak and Trivago (I highly recommend these websites when looking to book hotels rather than jumping the gun and booking direct or with who ever you usually would use) as they'll do the hard work for you and search all the hotels plus the booking websites to show you the best prices. It wasn't long before I had some options and noted who was cheapest to book with, I found a couple of hotels that seemed to fit exactly what I was after, which was something decent but cheap and no more than 10 minute walk from the parks and in the end I went with Desert Palms Hotel for £300 for 4 nights, I booked through Travel Republic because not only was it the cheapest, I only had to pay £1 deposit, result!

Next on the Disneyland planning agenda was tickets, now Disneyland tickets aren't cheap if you're used to Disneyland Paris or Walt Disney World ticket prices in comparison Disneyland ones will seem pricey, you definitely don't get as many park days for your money and trying to find a UK supplier is a lot harder than if you're on the hunt for DLP or WDW tickets which seem to be sold so widely, I checked my usual first stop for  attraction tickets Attraction Tickets Direct they were cheaper than Disney direct but unfortunately don't sell 4 day tickets, so I'd have had to pay for a 5 day ticket which of course would mean more money and a day wasted and I hate the thought of that, I checked another well known ticket supplier, Attraction Tix and found exactly what I wanted for a great price (well great compared to direct with Disneyland) £185 for a 4 day hopper and bonus £9.25 cashback via Quidco, the ticket is a voucher but that doesn't bother me, apart from the fact I'm worried I won't be lucky enough to get one of those 60th anniversary tickets but I'm sure I'll deal with that if I don't, please Disneyland save me one.

And then of course came what is probably the most important part of any trip, booking the flights, it's not like the other parts are any use if we haven't sorted a way to get there and this is actually how Disneyland got added on because I discovered it would cost the same to fly to LA as it would Orlando so it was a no brainer really.
A little confession from me now, I'm a flight searching addict, it doesn't matter if I have any intention of booking them, wishing or don't even have any need for them, I just love seeing what deals I can find, keeping track of when flight prices increase and go on 'sale'. Only this flight was slightly different because I was flying into one coast of the US and home from another so had to take to websites multi-trip section rather than searching for your standard return and booking two one way flights is definitely not the way to go as it will cost you more. It still meant I took to my trusty Sky scanner, I cannot recommend this website enough as it will do all the hard work for you, they'll search practically every airline and every company you can book with to show you all the prices, so with one search you can find the airline that has the cheapest flights and which company is cheapest to book through, don't be fooled that jumping straight to a certain airlines website is always the cheapest, I've often found it isn't.

Flying to California isn't always cheap, certainly not as cheap as it was the first time I went back in 2009 unfortunately and I was set on flying with my trusty Virgin Atlantic so I could continue to top those miles up, when I was searching flights to LA and returning from Orlando were around the £800 mark, now this of course is more than a return to Orlando, nearly double in fact and that would of made the extra destination on the trip much more difficult but then I discovered a little trick a few months previously and thought I'd check it out, it couldn't hurt after all and would be interesting to see. By searching flights from and to Dublin via London, the important part being via London so that I didn't have to drag my case to Dublin and could do that part the day before meaning I'd be flying direct from London to LA, I found the exact same Virgin flights but almost a whopping £500 cheaper, the only downside was I'd have to fly to Dublin and back to London the day before my London to LA flight, for that kind of saving and the opportunity to go back to Disneyland, I did not care, a one way flight from London to Dublin cost a mere £20 and for just over £350 all in, I was booked, a dream was coming true and I was heading back to Disneyland and what started of as a holiday on a Disney cruise suddenly become a Disney adventure.

And with that it was on to sorting my flight from LA to Orlando and the next part of the trip, keep your eyes peeled for my next post in the series about booking and planning a big Disney adventure.

Do you have any sites you always use for good deals or ways to save money? or are you someone that booking all this yourself fills you with dread and you leave it all down to a travel agent?

1 comment

  1. Love the trick to fly from Ireland... We were very tempted to try that last time we went to Florida but in the end it was too much hassle within our time constraints to actually get to Dublin for the cheaper flight :(


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