Planning a Walt Disney World vacation may seem a little bit overwhelming at first, but we are here to help! Here are 15 things you should definitely know from our Insider’s Guide to Walt Disney World:
15. Deciding when to go.
Deciding when to go will have a large impact on the crowds that you can expect and what festivals and events will be taking place during your stay. If you go around spring break, summer or any major holiday then you can expect larger crowds, but the parks will be open later and there will be a variety of extra entertainment and events. If you can visit in months like January, February or September, you can probably enjoy cheaper rates and fewer crowds.
14. Decide on Single Park or Park Hopper tickets.
This is a decision you have to make based on your family’s preferences. If you choose single day, you will only be able to go to one park during that day. You can leave and come back, but it will have to be to the same park. With park hopper, you can go to multiple parks in a day. This can be great if you plan to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours so you don’t have to spend all day in the parks when you will be going to the extra hours.
13. Select the right resort for your family.
There are a variety of resorts with different themed to meet every budget. You have to pick the price and theme that is right for your family and will offer the kind of accommodations that you are looking for. The size of your party can also have a lot of impact on this since some resorts can better accommodate larger groups.
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12. Book dining, FastPass+ and experiences as early as possible.
Guests are able to begin booking Advance Dining Reservations and many experiences like spa and salon services, recreational activities, etc. at exactly 6 months prior to arrival. We definitely recommend that you book as early as possible so that you ensure you get the times and experiences that you are looking for. Resort guests are able to make FastPass+ selections 60 days in advance and all other guests can make their selections 30 days in advance.
11. Determine if the Disney Dining Plan is right for you.
Disney offers different tiered dining plans depending on the budget and dining preferences for your family. There is the Quick Service Dining Plan, Disney Dining Plan and Deluxe Dining Plan. They vary in cost, the number of meals and the type of meals that are offered within the plan. I typically recommend the dining plan so that you pre-pay for your meals and don’t have to worry about the costs sneaking up on you when you arrive, but sometimes the plan may not make sense. You will definitely want to run the numbers.
10. Consider an authorized Disney Travel Agent.
There are authorized Disney Travel Agents that can help you book your vacation and find you the best deal. Their fees are paid by Disney and you would receive the same price as what you would pay booking directly, so it is a great service. A lot of times they may even give you a free gift and/or book your dining reservations and other bookings for you, too.
9. Leverage My Disney Experience for your vacation.
Be sure to set up a free account on My Disney Experience so that you can link your vacation package and reservations there. You will be able to manage your entire vacation from there, look at your pictures, etc. Download the My Disney Experience App so you can keep tabs on where you are supposed to be while on vacation and even check wait times and more.
8. Purchase Memory Maker.
Memory Maker is a photo add-on package where you get all of the PhotoPass photos from your vacation, including the ride photos. You are able to download them, have prints made, etc. The add-on is cheaper if you purchase it in advance of your arrival, but you can also purchase it after you arrive and see your photos, too.
7. Understanding the transportation options.
If you are arriving by plane, you can take the Magical Express to your resort. This is complimentary with a Disney resort stay. Once on property you can use the bus, boat and monorail transportation to get around. There is also the Minnie Van service for $25 one way trips if you want a more direct route. You can also drive your own car or rent a car while there, but there will be some additional charges for parking at your resort. You can definitely get by without a rental car if you will be staying on Disney property.
6. Decide what attractions and experience are “must-do” for your family.
I always recommend that you research the attractions at each park and determine the “must-do” attractions for your family. You can make a list of those so that you prioritize them during your vacation. It may be difficult to fit everything in, especially if you have a limited number of days in the parks, so this will help make sure that everyone gets to do what they wanted.
5. Take advantage of Extra Magic Hours.
Extra Magic Hours is a perk for Disney resort guests where they get to enjoy one park each day for either an extra hour before opening or a couple of hours after closing. The park that is offering Extra Magic Hours is different each day and varies as to whether it will be morning or evening hours. This is a great perk to enjoy fewer lines and crowds so you can fit in some of the popular attractions.
4. Use Package Pick-Up or Resort Delivery options for purchases.
If you love shopping, you don’t have to worry about carrying everything with you. You can send your packages to the front of the park or you can send them back to your resort gift shop. It is a complimentary service to make shopping much more convenient! You can also leverage the Shop Disney Parks app to do some of your shopping, too!
3. Don’t miss out on the evening shows and fireworks.
There are evening shows and/or fireworks at each of the theme parks. You definitely don’t want to miss these. If you are worried about being able to make it all day, then take a break for a nap or pool time in the middle of the day so that you have the energy to stay out for the evening entertainment.
2. Plan a pool day and/or Disney Springs time.
If you will be at Walt Disney World for several days, then you won’t want to wear yourselves out too quickly. Be sure to plan a pool day and/or some more laid back Disney Springs time away from the parks. This will give you a little bit more time to recharge for more park fun! You can also plan breaks during the day each day, too, as a great way to keep from overdoing it!
1. Have a plan, but don’t over plan.
I am big on having a plan for each day. It is a good idea to have an idea of what park you are visiting, where you are dining, your FastPass+ selections, etc. Be sure not to over plan, though. You don’t want to try to map out every minute of the day or you won’t leave yourself much room to be spontaneous and just enjoy the fun as it unfolds. This is definitely a balancing act!