Great tips and tricks for Planning Your Vacation to Walt Disney World, including when to go and what to do before you leave to prepare for your magical vacation.
Planning a Trip to Disney World
So you’ve decided to go to Walt Disney World!
When planning a vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth, there are many things to do and consider to make your vacation the best one yet. Many things can be done months in advance to prepare for the vacation, but there are also some things that just need to be done days in advance (like packing, so be sure to check out our Ultimate WDW Packing List).
Today, I’m going to share with you some tips and information to help you plan and prepare for a wonderful vacation to Walt Disney World, as well as provide a checklist to make sure everything is taken care of.
Disney world planning months in Advance
Some of the things that have to be done for a trip happen the week before. But fortunately, there are many things that can be done for a Disney trip months in advance.
When to visit Disney World
Summer is Disney World’s busiest time. If you are looking for a time that is less busy, consider these days:
- Mid January
- End of February – Early March
- Late August
- Weekdays in November (minus Thanksgiving week)
- Beginning of December
It’s important to book your flights early to get the best deals and to make sure you can visit the parks when you want to visit the parks.
Getting time off isn’t always easy, so be sure to plan accordingly and reserve your airfare at the earliest convenience.
Walt Disney World is popular! Hotels are booked way in advance, so if there is a particular place you’d like to stay, make sure you book it early. Fortunately, there are so many great Disney hotels and resorts to choose from.
You do not have to book your stay at a Walt Disney World resort, however there are many perks that we have found make it worth your while. A few of these are free easy transportation to all of the parks, extra magic hours, and the magical ambiance of the park continuing back at your resort.
We were surprised at the affordable options that there were too. They have resorts from the most luxurious stays, to very fun and budget friendly.
BOOK DISNEY’S MAGICAL EXPRESS
If staying at select Disney resorts, you can use Disney’s Magical Express, a complimentary motorcoach transportation, to and from Orlando International Airport. It also includes complimentary luggage delivery straight to your hotel room. Pretty convenient!!
The service is available for flights arriving from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM so be sure to book it by calling: (407) 939-1936. Luggage Tags will be sent to your home 2-3 weeks before your travel. If you want the bags to go straight to your room upon arrival, attach the tags before you get to the airport and they’ll show up in your hotel room up to 3 hours after arriving at your resort.
There is nothing more magical than dropping your luggage off at your departing airport, and not having to worry about them until you are in your room!
MAKE FAST PASS+ RESERVATIONS
The Disney FastPass+ service lets you reserve access to select attractions, entertainment and more. You can start making your selections 30 days before you arrive, or as early as 60 days before check-in when you have a Walt Disney World Resort vacation package.
Secure up to 3 FastPass+ selections for popular attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Mission: SPACE and entertainment choices such as Fantasmic! There are even FastPass+ picks for Character Greetings where you’ll meet Mickey Mouse and Cinderella, and special viewing areas for parades and fireworks. Definitely a park-MUST!
If you wait to do this until you get to the park, many of the more popular attractions reservations could already be filled
MAKE RESTAURANT RESERVATIONS
All guests can book dining reservations 180 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463).
With the popularity of these restaurants, it can be difficult to walk up and get into these hot spots, even during low-peak season so it’s essential to book in advance. For a complete list of Dining Restaurants, be sure to go HERE.
SET A BUDGET
It’s always a good idea to set a budget before any trip. Doing this for Walt Disney World shouldn’t be any different. Plan accordingly and set budgets for food, souvenirs, etc.
We like to give the kids opportunities to earn money before these trips so they can buy their own souvenirs. It teaches them to be responsible with their money as well as teaches them how to budget. 😉
START ON THE PACKING LIST
For this, you’ll want to use our Complete Walt World Packing List that can be FOUND HERE. The list is several pages long, and you don’t have to bring it all, but be sure to check it out to make sure you aren’t missing anything.
Who you are taking on your trip, when you are going, how long you are staying and more will all be factors in knowing what to pack for Disney World.
ORDER CUSTOM MAGICBANDS
MagicBands are colorful, waterproof wristbands—resembling a watch or bracelet—that can unlock your Disney Resort hotel room, allow you to enter theme parks, check in at FastPass+ entrances, charge food and merchandise purchases to your room and more.
- You can order a custom MagicBand at least 10 days before your arrival by going HERE.
CHECK DISNEY’S EVENT SCHEDULE AND PLAN YOUR DAYS
Visit the Park Calendars by going HERE and have a tentative schedule of what you would like to do each day.
DISNEY WORLD PLANNING A WEEK IN ADVANCE:
There are many things that can be done months in advance for a trip to Orlando, but there are also some things that can be done the week before your trip. Here are some suggestions:
Pack appropriate clothing, and don’t forget items like umbrellas and ponchos in case you need them. Orlando weather can be fickle so just know you may be in a jacket and pants one day and shorts and flip flops another day.
Plan and pack accordingly so you’re prepared for the changing weather.
PRE-ORDER DISNEY’S MEMORY MAKER
Disney PhotoPass Service gets everyone in the picture—and Memory Maker allows you to download all of your favorite digital photos taken at all the perfect locations, with your favorite characters and on rides.
There’s no need to buy pictures individually because Memory Maker captures all of them for you! If purchased in advance, you get a discount rate, so if you know you’ll use it, buy it in advance. Memory maker even has special video capture for certain rides where they will insert you into a movie about the ride! Our kids love this!
PAY BILLS BEFORE YOU LEAVE
The last thing you’ll want to worry about is paying bills while on vacation! Take care of all finances beforehand and let any banking companies know you’ll be traveling if needed.
HANDLE MAIL FOR YOUR VACATION
Have a friend pick or neighbor pick up your mail while you are gone or call the post office and have them hold it. If you also get the newspaper, be sure to have someone pick that up for you.
For those who deal with email correspondence for work, turn on your vacation responder.
INFORM YOUR NEIGHBORS OF YOUR DEPARTURE
Make sure a close neighbor or friend knows you will be gone so they can keep an eye out on your house. Be sure to exchange phone numbers with your neighbors in case of an emergency.
TALK TO YOUR FAMILY ABOUT TRAVEL SAFETY
Be sure to inform your children of safety rules while on your Disney stay and to stay close while at the parks. Getting lost can easily happen, so make sure your kids know that they can get help from any Disney employee.
DOWNLOAD MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE PHONE APP
The app is filled with handy features and lets you view and update your plans, make dining reservations, search maps of all 4 theme parks, get real-time attraction wait times and more.
There are many services available that allow you to order groceries and have them delivered to your hotel room on a specific day. If you are hoping to use this service, it must be done several days in advance upon your arrival.
We love to do this so we have snacks for the parks and all the fixings for breakfast at the hotel.
Make sure all devices (phones, cameras, tables, Portable DVD Players, External Phone Chargers, etc.) are charged and ready to go. Be sure to pack extra memory cards and batteries too! You will need them. 😉
Start this several days/weeks in advance and keep a running list of items to bring and place them in a designated are as you think of them.
PACK TRAVEL BAGS/BACKPACKS
Make sure all reservations, paper documents, IDs and everything else for the plane/car ride is handy.
Disney World Stroller Rental
Decide whether or not you want to bring your stroller from home. Stroller restrictions have recently been updated, so check those out HERE.
If you aren’t bringing one from home, don’t fret. Stroller rentals are available at Disney World theme parks and Disney Springs. All information about that can be found HERE.
Many Disney resorts and hotels have Online Check-in so be sure to do this by going HERE.
Yes, there’s so much to do for your vacation, but I promise you it will be amazing!! To help you out, I thought a cute printable checklist would be handy. We’ve added a few more things to this checklist, but we know it will come in handy when planning your trip to Disney World.
TO DOWNLOAD, GO HERE.
For more Disney tips, check out:
- Best Restaurants in Disney World
- Disney World Packing List
- TOP Disney World Tips
- 25+ MUST-KNOW Disney Cruise Tips
- Verry Merrytime Cruise Info
- Preserving Your Disney Memories
- 10 Creative Ways to Reveal A Disney Vacation