Planning the details and experiences for your Disney vacation is definitely a critical part of the process. I, personally, get a rush from the planning process. I absolutely love searching for experiences, booking the reservations and FastPass+ and hunting for the best deals and options. I find it to be a lot of fun, and find that I learn a TON of great information about the parks. I read reviews on events, learn about things that have “historically” happened at certain times of the year, etc. It is extremely helpful in getting the most out of the Disney vacation for your family. Not sold yet? I have put together the 6 biggest reasons why proper planning is critical for your Disney vacation:
6. You can lessen the exposure to crowds.
Disney World is a popular vacation destination. Regardless of which season or time of year it is, with good planning you can help your party avoid unnecessary crowd exposure. For example, the parks tend to be really light on crowds right at opening. If you plan your days so that you are in the parks at opening, then around noon when the parks have become really crowded, your group is ready for lunch, relaxing by the pool, a nap, etc. You were able to get a lot of attractions in and then get a break. Sounds much more relaxing, right? And, this is just one example of how planning can help you avoid crowds!
5. You will be more efficient and get to experience more.
So we already talked about how you may be able to fit more attractions in, in shorter amounts of time by avoiding crowds. Also, if you don’t do research and planning you miss out on other opportunities to do and experience more. You may miss out on things because you didn’t know about them or plan for them. You need to know when extra magic hours will be at each resort, so you can plan to attend and plan the earlier part of your day to be able to attend (especially if you didn’t purchase park hopper tickets). Knowing what you want to experience and what attractions are there, in advance, will give you the advantage and give you time to figure out how you can fit it all in so you aren’t spending your vacation time trying to figure that out, thus missing out on more.
4. You are more likely to get into popular dining and attractions.
FastPass+ (FP+) and Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) are critical to an organized Disney vacation. FP+ guarantees that you have access to favorite or more desired attractions with a shorter wait time. You can start reserving these 60 days in advance as a resort guest and 30 days in advance for other guests. Popular attractions go quickly and you aren’t very likely to get them the day of arrival, so planning is necessary. The same is true for ADRs. Do you have a little princess who wants to dine in Cinderella Castle or really want to try Le Cellier like everyone suggested? These reservations are made starting at 180 days in advance! To some it sounds crazy to think that you would plan dining and such this far in advance, but we crazy Disney fans do. This is why Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest are typically booked up within minutes of the booking window opening. Sometimes reservations open up, but I wouldn’t count on it. You are able to check at the location and see if you can be put on a wait to dine, but that would mean sitting there for possibly a long time, with your entire party, trying to see if you can get in. It is much more efficient to do that planning and then you don’t have to worry about it!
3. You can plan your budget.
Once you have done your research, this will help you get an idea for how much money you need/want to plan for your vacation. For most travelers, splurges on vacations need to be planned in advance from the cost perspective. It’s much better to know about it in advance and plan the special events, meals, etc. so that you won’t stress about finances on your vacation. I think that also looking at restaurant menus is helpful so that you set the expectations for what food cost will be, since this tends to provide a lot of sticker shock for guests. Then, you can research the Disney Dining Plans and see if one of those may meet your needs better so that you get a bit of the all-inclusive feel and have your food pre-paid for. Each budget and interests are different, so this research in advance is critical since only you know what you can afford or what you want to spend, compared to what your family really would like to do or experience. You can also spend time planning items you may want to bring with you to save on incremental costs at the parks like bottled water, snacks for the room, light up toys, etc.
2. You can set the right expectations with your family.
This can be a really important factor to having a successful, fun vacation. Now you have done your research , made reservations, planned your budget…. you just need to share the expectations with your family! It is important for them to understand how much souvenir money they will have and any rules you have around that, dining expectations (like if you are giving them a set price limit, no dessert, etc.) and anything else that would be helpful for them to know in advance. Maybe a member of your family had their heart set on eating at a particular character breakfast, but you couldn’t get a reservation. You have the opportunity to make a back-up plan and talk up that option so that you don’t have a meltdown on vacation. It’s really helpful to be able to set these expectations.
1. You get to relax and enjoy your vacation.
Now that all of the planning and “hard” work is done, you can enjoy your vacation. You have worked hard for it and deserve it. You’ll already know your dining reservations, FP+ and which park(s) you are visiting for the day, and won’t have to put any thought into it. You don’t want to over plan where you don’t have flexibility to adjust and be a little spontaneous, so make sure you left yourself room to breathe and enjoy the magical moments. The planning process may seem overwhelming, especially if you have never been to Disney World before, but don’t worry. There are many Disney fans out there that would be happy to answer questions, as well as friends and family you know that have been before. You deserve an amazing, magical Disney vacation and your planning will help guarantee you that experience.