With all of the different Disney vacation options available, it can be hard to choose just one. Luckily, due to the proximity of Walt Disney World to Port Canaveral, it’s easy to plan a Walt Disney Land and Sea vacation. Incorporating both a theme park trip and a family cruise, this type of trip is a fabulous option for those families who want to experience two aspects of Disney vacations. If you do plan one, here are some Disney Land and Sea tips to make your experience the best possible, as well as our Disney Land and Sea review.
Disclosure: I’ve done several Walt Disney World land and sea trips, including two during Disney Social Media Moms. I paid for my participation in those, but also received perks and discounts. All opinions are my own.
Walt Disney Land and Sea Vacation Tips
Plan the Correct Vacation Order
Because a Walt Disney World vacation is a hectic experience, while a Disney Cruise Line trip can be pretty relaxing, you’ll want to get your vacation order right. I recommend doing the theme park part of the vacation first, so that you can enjoy some relaxing on the cruise ship at the end of your vacation.
Most people will do a three or four day Disney Cruise, so the Disney Dream is often the best option for that. It leaves from Port Canaveral, which is a short distance from the parks. After you finish your Disney family trip, port transportation can take you right from your Walt Disney World resort hotel to the Port (for an additional fee).
Decide on Length of Stay
The length of your Disney Cruise is likely to be about 3 or 4 days, depending on which specific cruise itinerary you book. So you’ll want to decide how long you can be gone from home, and then book the Walt Disney World portion of your trip for the time you have available. If you want to experience all four parks, I’d plan for at least one day each at Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and two days at the Magic Kingdom.
However, if you’ve been to all of the parks already, and just want a taste of visiting Walt Disney World for a few days prior to the cruise, you may just want to book two or three days there. That’s what we usually do.
Keep Track of Dates
You’ll definitely need to stay organized when planning your ultimate Disney vacation. You’ll have different dates to keep track of – from the Walt Disney World dining reservations date and the FastPass+ reservation date to the check in date on the Disney Cruise Line (which is also when you can book excursions and other cruise activities). You won’t want to miss out on any activities or plans, so definitely keep track of all of the dates that you’ll need to know. Put everything in your calendar as soon as you book so you are ready.
Keep in mind that you will need to have fully paid off your cruise before you are able to check in for that portion of your trip. Check in dates depend on your Castaway Club level so make sure you understand that in advance.
It’s easy to forget the second half of your trip when you are focused on the first half, but don’t let that happen. Excursions and activities do sell out on the Disney Cruise Line ships, so take the extra time to be prepared for your trip. You won’t want to be disappointed, especially for a vacation that isn’t cheap.
Consider a Travel Agent
A travel agent can help you book both the theme park and the cruise portion of your Disney land and sea vacation package. They can also assist you with dining and FastPass+ reservations, and will remind you when the various deposits will be due. Booking through a travel agent doesn’t cost extra and can be a great option if you are concerned about forgetting something important. They can also help you find special offers and discounts that can be used during your trip.
You’ll have access to laundry facilities both at your hotel (definitely if you are staying on Disney property), as well as on the cruise ship. However, you probably won’t want to waste your vacation time washing clothes. I never want to, unless the laundry facilities are in the hotel room.
Pack appropriately, and you’ll have enough clothing to wear for the whole vacation. I find that I’m often in my swimsuit for most of the cruise, so I’m able to wear my regular outfits at least twice. You’ll want to have at least one nice outfit for the cruise – especially if you dine at one of the adult-only restaurants, like Palo.
If you have some things that you’ll only want during the cruise, keep those items together in one suitcase. That way, you’ll know that you don’t need to open that bag at all during the first part of the trip. Travel packing cubes can definitely help.
After the land part of your vacation, put all of your dirty clothes in one bag, so you won’t even need to touch it during the cruise part of your trip. Just store that suitcase under the bed in your cruise stateroom. You can take a look at our vacation packing lists to see what types of things you’ll want to pack.
We usually stick with Disney transportation, which means that we don’t need to rent a car. We take the Magical Express to our Walt Disney World hotel, Disney transportation between the parks, and cruise ship transportation to and from the port. The Magical Express is complimentary if you are staying on Disney property, while you have to pay for the cruise ship transportation (both to and from the port). You’ll also receive a specific pick up time from Walt Disney World to the port, so you’ll have less flexibility with regards to when you leave. If you are flexible, I find it to be the best option, but others like to rent a car or book a private car.
Taking a vacation with multiple components can be tricky. You may be anticipating a later part of the trip more than the current part of the trip. The best thing to do is to enjoy everything as it happens. Do advance work before you leave so that everything is set up. Then, enjoy everything, from the Magic Kingdom to Pandora at Animal Kingdom, embarkation day on the ship, and relaxing at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.
Plan Your Budget
These types of vacations can definitely be expensive, so do your research in advance. Much of your cruise expense will be included in the cost of the cruise, but things like bingo, excursions, and alcohol can add up. Just be sure to set a specific budget of what you are willing to spend during both components of your trip, and keep track of your spending. That way, you won’t be surprised when you get the final bill at either checkout.
Have you ever done a Disney land and sea vacation?