Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Made EASY. Do you feel overwhelmed by everything you see that goes into a Disney vacation? I am a Vacation Planner specializing in Disney and I plan countless family vacations to Walt Disney World I use my years of knowledge and experience to break the process down into 5 easy steps.
One of my absolute favorite memories of visiting Walt Disney World as a child was riding Big Thunder Mountain over and over again. We went to WDW for the first time when I was in second grade. At the time I had two brothers: Greg was 3 and a total scaredy-cat, and Michael was only 15 months. My baby brother Andrew wouldn’t come along for another few years (yes he is now 21 years old and yes he will always be my baby brother.) I was adventurous and all I wanted to do the whole trip was ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. One night after dinner when my Mom brought the boys back to the hotel for bed, my Dad took me back into the Magic Kingdom. It was past my bedtime but he wanted to make sure I got to experience my first roller coaster. I will never forget riding the runaway mine train as the fireworks went off over the castle. There was nobody in line so the Cast Members let us ride over and over again without having to get off. I think we rode it 4 times in a row!!!
Many people have similar memories of their childhood trip to Disney. Where they got to ride things over and over again, they walked into their favorite restaurant without a reservation or they went in October and felt like they were the only people in the park. Since the dawning of the internet, hundreds of Disney planning sites have emerged telling you the least busy times to go – well now those times are some of the most packed with people trying to escape the crowds. Every website tells you that you must eat in this certain restaurant and the reservations become impossible to get. Gone are the days when you can just book a trip to Walt Disney World, show up, and enjoy. There is some serious planning that must be accomplished before your trip in order for you to make the most of your time and money. Some people get extremely overwhelmed with everything they think they need to do, others don’t do it at all, get to the park and are extremely disappointed with their trip. I don’t want either of these things to happen to you, so here is a very easy step-by-step guide to planning your Walt Disney World vacation.
When is the best time to go to Walt Disney World? This is the number one question I hear asked over and over again. Like I said, there really is no slow season anymore. In addition to all the Disney websites telling everyone to go during what used to be quiet time, Disney also did a great job getting people down during slower times with special events or discounts. Don’t think about when the best time to go is, think about the best time for you. Consider your kids’ school schedules, seasonal events you want to experience, and pricing. If you can, try to plan your trip 7-8 months in advance. If you want to go sooner you can still have a great time, you just may have to be a little more flexible when choosing resorts, dining, and Fastpass reservations.
I know it seems like we are jumping the gun but trust me, you need to do some research before you go any further. There is so much to do, and every family does Disney a little different. Depending on the parks and attractions you want to visit, you may find certain hotels and resorts are much more convenient. Knowing what you want to do will also help you determine how long you should stay. Disney World itself has 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and a ton of other activities. Then there is the rest of the Orlando area. Do you want to spend some time in Universal Studios or Sea World or Legoland or Busch Gardens or the Outlets? A good starting point for a once in a while trip is 6 days in the Disney Parks with a day or two to rest. If you plan on going more often and don’t feel like you have to experience as much, a shorter trip is easier to manage.
First you’ll have to decide whether to stay at an official Disney resort, or at a nearby “off-property” resort. When I say off-property this means that it is not a resort owned and operated by Disney. Some are quite close and a small handful are physically on Disney owned land. Others say they are near Disney property but that could mean miles and miles from the theme parks. Consider your party size, budget, where you want to be located and your aesthetic.
This is always my favorite part of any vacation but especially my Disney vacation. There are over 300 restaurants on Disney property alone plus hundreds more in the Orlando area. Reservations for all Disney table service restaurants are strongly recommended. For some of their more popular locations and character meals, you want to book reservations far in advance.
The booking window for ADRs or Advanced Dining Reservations (as Disney calls them) opens 180 days in advance. There are a handful of dining experiences that typically book those full sixth months in advance, but there is a no-show penalty so people are canceling reservations all the time. With some persistence and flexibility, you can usually get in. If not there are some great alternatives I often think are better than the popular destination.
Booked with Showcase the World? Don’t even give it a second thought. I will make the ADRs for you as soon as the window opens (or as soon as you book if it is within six months), and I will check daily for any reservations we weren’t able to get. Once we find out availability and what your meals look like we can discuss if a dining plan would be a good option.
This will determine which park you go to on what day and a very loose schedule of what attractions you will visit. A few years ago Disney introduced FastPass+ and it’s free for all Disney guests. It allows you to schedule in advance your must-do attractions to save you time in line.
One of the perks to staying on Disney property is that you can make your FastPasses up to 60 days in advance of the booking window, which for all other guests opens at 30 days. There are many attractions that offer FP+ which don’t typically acquire long lines, so it is important to understand the popularity of attractions so that you can use your FastPasses to truly optimize your time in the parks. You also want to have an idea of how and when lines build, so you can come up with a rough plan for your day.
A lot of people plan their days down to the minute, which can get a little crazy. I definitely think you need a plan so you aren’t wasting time in the middle of the park with the map out, deciding what to do next, but flexibility is also really important.
No problem! I can help you with every aspect of planning your trip. I handle all the details so you can spend less time worrying, and more time enjoying. In addition to walking you through the steps above with personalized recommendations, I provide discount checking services, share Money and Time Saving Tips, and create a custom touring plan to help you optimize your family experience and make the most of your time in the park.
If you would like me to help you book your vacation, click here to request a quote.
Not quite ready to book your trip.? Sign Up for our email list for more great planning resources and exclusive promotions.
I understand how you’re feeling, I know all too well how easy it can be at the beginning to start researching online, just to find yourself 3 hours down the line more confused than when you started. But don’t panic! I can help you plan your dream Disney vacation without any of the stress of hassle – starting with the ‘A Disney Trip without Overwhelm, 5 Easy Steps’ Guide. These 5 steps will help keep you focused on organizing the best trip ever, while giving you peace of mind that everything will be done, and nothing will be left out.
Showcase the World is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Showcase the World also participates in other affiliate programs and may earn a commission for purchases made through links on this site.