How To Plan A Spontaneous Trip to Walt Disney World

Spontaneous trips to Walt Disney World are some of the best! Whether you live in driving distance and are a new passholder, or are planning to take advantage of your next long weekend, we’ve got our tips for having the best spontaneous Disney trip ever in this list:

1. Be Flexible

Spontaneous trips are easier to plan if you’re able to be flexible, in more ways than one. Ideally, flexibility in your schedule for when you’re able to travel can really come in handy, although this is unrealistic for many jobs or trips where you’re limited to time off from school. You can also be flexible once you’re in Walt Disney World, though. Spontaneous trips by their nature come with less planning, so you may find yourself changing plans on the go more than you normally would. Accept this as part of the trip, and remember you’re sure to have a good time regardless- You’re in Disney World!

2. Plan Early and Late Arrivals

For many Guests, spontaneous trips are synonymous with shorter trips. If this is the case for you, take advantage of early mornings and late nights, both in the parks and in terms of your travel days. If you’re able to be flexible in your flights, arriving early the first day of your trip and leaving late on the last day can add some valuable time to your vacation. 

3. Get to the Parks Early

In terms of maximizing your time in the parks, we recommend arriving early. You can beat some of the crowds if you get to the parks close to opening, and this can be an important factor in experiencing a lot of attractions during a quick, last-minute trip. Midday breaks are always helpful to refresh in the middle of the day, too, and this is when the parks are at their busiest. If you don’t want to leave the park however, we recommend spending the afternoon focusing on shows over rides until the wait times for rides slow down a little bit as it gets later. 


4. Familiarize yourself with My Disney Experience 

The ultimate key in flexibility at Walt Disney World right now comes with the My Disney Experience app. After you make your park reservations, keep the app an active part of your phone to find restaurant hours, mobile ordering, transportation details, and more. If anything in your reservations change, or a ride becomes temporarily unavailable, you’ll be able to see the details in the app and using the app frequently can certainly save you lots of time on a spontaneous trip. 

5. Try to go with a Smaller Group

The larger the group, the more difficult it can be to be flexible and change plans on the go in the parks. Of course, if you simply have a larger family, you may simply not be in luck here. If that’s the case, we recommend splitting up into smaller groups and meeting back up for dinner. It’s a lot easier to navigate the parks in smaller groups, and time is money on those quick Disney getaways!

6. Budget Extra Spending Money

If time is money, you may not want to spend your time figuring out things that you could pay to be done for you. The two most notable examples of this are Memory Maker and taxi/ride share costs. Memory Maker comes at a cost, but it allows you to download all of the photos taken by Disney photographers (and on rides). And taking photos with Disney’s PhotoPass photographers can often be the easiest and quickest way to get the whole family in the photo without passing your phone off to a stranger (which they may not even want to do at the moment…) Disney’s complimentary transportation is a huge benefit of staying on property, however it isn’t always the most efficient. For early morning or late night dining reservations at a resort you are not staying at, you may find it easier to budget in some extra cash for a quick taxi or rideshare trip. 

7. Keep your Phone Charged

With so much planning and logistical aspects of your Disney vacation being available via mobile app, it’s important to keep your phone charged, preferably with a portable charger. Without a portable charger, you may find yourself glued to a wall outlet and that is certainly not how you want to spend a spontaneous trip to the ‘most magical place on Earth.’

8. Pack Comfortable Shoes

Spontaneity sometimes means more walking, so pack your best walking shoes! If you traverse the Magic Kingdom for instance based on which attractions have the lowest wait times rather than their locations, you may find yourself walking back and forth a few extra times around the park. Another instance could be if an attraction has some unexpected downtime and your plans change that way, or if you luck out on scoring a Rise of the Resistance boarding pass. For visits in the immediate future, it’s also important to note that FastPass has not yet returned, so you may find yourself standing more often than usual while using standby lines.  

9. Have Fun! 

Some of our most memorable trips have been the most spontaneous ones! There is truly nothing like making a long weekend into a last minute Disney vacation or surprising the kids who thought they had a few more days of school before the weekend. Even if your vacation turns out to be a bit of a last-minute splurge, sometimes that little bit of magic is just what we need, and we’re always grateful when we’re able to make that happen!

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."