How far in advance should you plan your Disney vacation? The best time to plan your Disney vacation is always as soon as possible. There is no benefit in waiting when you decide you want to book Disney World.
You can have a great time no matter how far in advance you plan but, it is so disheartening when someone comes to me a few weeks before they want to go to Walt Disney World, and they are so disappointed that they can’t get dining reservations for their family at the restaurant they fondly remember visiting as a kid.
Planning a Walt Disney World vacation has changed so much in recent years. With the new MyMagic+ technology system that brought us FastPass+, Magicbands and My Disney Experience, and the hundreds of Disney planning websites, there is so much more that goes into planning your trip BEFORE you arrive. Booking before dining and FastPass windows open has become SO important to get the most out of your experience. You are spending so much money on your vacation. You want to book far enough in advance that you have the opportunity to enjoy the restaurants, activities, and attractions that are important to you.
So, when should you book your trip? It depends on what your priorities are. In this post, I walk you through what some of the top concerns are and when you should be booking to alleviate them.
If you are looking for a particular suite or a unique room type, you can reserve it 499 days before the day of check out. This only applies to the Disney resorts, not the Disney Vacation Club Villas. But if you are looking for a certain style suite at let’s say the Contemporary, you will want to get that booked early. Disney doesn’t usually release packages until a year or less in advance, so you will not be able to add tickets or the dining plan until later. There is a bit of a break in Disney’s process, so if you want to make it a package, it will need to be canceled, refunded, and rebooked with a new deposit. If you are looking for a pretty standard room that is not known to book up, there is really no benefit to booking it this early, and I would wait until packages are released.
Disney, like most resorts in the industry, “yield” their prices, which means as the resort fills the price increases – your basic supply and demand. Disney usually (I am going to use this term loosely because as soon as we think Disney usually does something, they do the opposite) releases their packages for the following year in June. You should book your spring/summer reservations at that point to get the best pricing. If you are looking at a fall reservation, then about a year in advance should also offer great value. Do not wait for Disney to release a discount or promotion:
1. It is not guaranteed that they will
2. More than likely, you will receive a better price booking earlier than you will by waiting for a discount after the room rate has increased significantly
3. I offer Discount Checking, so if you book with me and a promotion is released that applies to your dates and room type and will lower your cost, I will automatically apply it and send you an email with the amount of money you saved
Because the Disney villas are a part of Disney Vacation Club (Disney’s timeshare program), they do not hit the inventory when all of the other rooms do. DVC members can book 11 months in advance at the resorts that they “own.” They hold the rooms to allow members to book before the rooms hit the consumer inventory. If you want a large (2 or 3 bedroom) villa, you should be ready to book as soon as they hit the site. They go quickly! If you are not a DVC owner, you will need to be flexible with the resort you want, as not all the resorts and room types make it to the general booking inventory.
I think the sweet spot for booking your Disney vacation is about 7-8 months in advance. It is close enough that you can enjoy the anticipation, but far enough in advance to enjoy decent pricing and get everything that you want. The first big planning milestone when booking a Walt Disney World vacation is your recreational and dining reservations 180 days prior to your check in date. If this is a once in a lifetime vacation, you want to make sure you are booking at least this far in advance to reserve some of the most popular activities and dining. Aren’t able to book that far out, check out some alternatives to some of the most popular dining establishments.
If you can’t book 6 months in advance you will at least want to try to book before the FastPass booking window opens 60 days prior to check in. This is when you can make reservations for your favorite attractions. You are able to make 3 per day in advance, which saves you time in line and greatly improves your overall experience. Guests not staying at at Walt Disney World can’t make their Fastpasses until 30 days prior to check in. By the time their window opens some of the more popular attractions are no longer available. This is a huge perk to staying onsite, so you do not want to miss out on this benefit if you are staying onsite.
As long as you are flexible and adjust your expectations you can have a great trip no matter when you book. However, if this is a once in a lifetime trip I would really recommend waiting until you can book a little further in advance. This allows you time to plan and to book the activities you really want to enjoy. It is important to note that it is not possible to do everything in one trip (I haven’t even done everything and I go 3 times a year). Make sure you set the expectations of everyone in your party.
If you aren’t able to plan in advance, you will need to work around what’s still available. If you are willing to eat at odd times, make another restaurant choice and/or remove something from your wishlist, you will still have a magical time.
You can reserve your Disney vacation package for only $200 per room. The deposit is fully refundable up to thirty days prior to check in. If you are considering a trip it is best to lock in pricing early and make changes as needed. If you are ready to start planning request a quote now.
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.
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