1. Choose The Right Dates
The first step to booking a Disney vacation is choosing dates that are right for you. I would recommend first looking at a calendar to determine which weeks you can potentially go, and narrowing it down from there by figuring out which weeks you would prefer to go. In doing this, remember to take into consideration crowd levels and special events. For instance, if you have the choice to go during April school vacation week, or the end of August, I would go with the end of August just to avoid the school vacation week crowds. If there are special events that you’d like to go to, maybe Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for example, make those dates your priority.
2. Choose Your Resort
I would highly recommend staying at a Disney resort, especially if you are not bringing a car. While you can stay off property at cheaper hotels, the benefits that Disney resort guests receive really do make it worth it to stay on property. As a Disney resort guest, you receive complimentary transportation to and from the airport, as well as the theme parks. You can also participate in Extra Magic Hours, in which the parks open earlier or close later for resort guests only. And, you can opt in to purchase the Disney Dining Plan if you purchase a vacation package through Disney.
3. Research Ticket Options
Before deciding on which tickets to purchase, make sure you do your research. The park hopper option is convenient, but not the most cost-efficient if you’re only planning to park hop during a day or two of your week long trip. In addition, make sure you’ll visit the water parks enough to get your money’s worth if you decide to add the water park option to your ticket.
4. Pack All The Basics
You don’t want to find yourself in Orlando without sunscreen, sunglasses, or your favorite hat. In addition, make sure you pack all of the important stuff like medication, travel documents, cameras, and chargers for whatever other electronics you bring.
5. Make Dining Reservations
If you want to eat at some of the more popular restaurants in Disney, it is strongly recommend that you make reservations 180-days in advance. Reservations are quick and easy to make on the official Disney World website or My Disney Experience App. Your entire itinerary will automatically be added to your account so that you can easily find them later as well.
6. Make FastPass+ Reservations
If you purchase your park tickets ahead of time you can also log on to My Disney Experience and make FastPass selections in advance of your trip. Guests staying on Disney property can book FastPass selections 60 days in advance. Non-Disney Resort guests can book their FastPass selections 30 days in advance. FastPass is a free and easy to use service that lets you book times when you can experience attractions with little to no wait.
7. Wear Comfortable Shoes and Clothing
You’ll probably be walking about ten miles a day in Walt Disney World, and you’ll be spending a lot of time standing, so it’s really important to make sure that you’re comfortable. If you’re going in the summer, you especially want to make sure that your clothing is light and comfortable to better deal with the Florida heat and humidity.
8. Stay Hydrated
The weather can be brutally hot in the sunshine state, meaning that dehydration can easily become a real possibility. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water while touring the parks, especially if you go to Epcot and drink around the world. Ideally, drinking around the world should be accompanied by drinking as much water as you are alcohol, and snacking around the world as well. If you’re not interested in carrying water bottles around, or buying bottles over and over again, stop in at any quick service restaurant and ask for a cup of ice water for free.
9. Take Breaks
Touring the theme parks can be tiring, so it is important to take breaks so that you don’t wear yourself out. Even something like sitting in the air conditioning with a cold drink can help when you’ve been going all day in the heat. For a longer break, I’d recommend leaving the park in the middle of the day, aka the most crowded time, to head back to your resort’s pool.
10. Take Lots of Photos
While selfie sticks are prohibited from the theme parks for safety reasons, you can easily ask other guests or cast members to take your photo for you. Any PhotoPass cast member will gladly take your photo with your camera for free as well. If you’re interested in purchasing PhotoPass photos, I would strongly recommend purchasing Memory Maker. While it does come with a high price tag, it does allow you to download high quality photos taken by Disney photographers in the parks, at character meet and greets, select dining locations, and attractions.
11. Have Fun!
You’re on vacation in Disney World, so leave the stress at home and have some fun on your vacation. Be a kid again and have fun doing whatever makes you happy. And don’t sweat the small stuff, if things don’t go quite your way just have a positive attitude and keep going and I promise you’ll have a great time on vacation.