There are those of us who have a hard time believing any Disney trip would be less than magical, but alas, even my perfect family has struggled with Disney meltdowns. Perhaps sensory overload or physical discomforts chase away the magic. If you have been to Disney World, you know how overwhelming it can seem. Failure to plan ahead can have disastrous ramifications. With a bit of forethought and planning you can have the trip of your dreams.
1) Consider your Dining Requirements First
Advance Dining Reservations (ADR’s) can be made 6 months out, and in some cases MUST be made well ahead of time. I have even been able to score a coveted reservation upon arrival, but there is no guarantee. If you absolutely must get a particular reservation, early planning is the best bet. If you are more flexible, you can put off reservations for little while.
2) Objectively assess your traveling party.
Every vacationer is different. When you plan your tip, list the ages of the participants, and any special concerns that individual might have. Plan to walk at least 7 or 8 miles per day. Young children may require a stroller, even if they have outgrown it at home. Likewise, the grandparents may benefit from an electric scooter. Sore backs and feet lead to misery, especially in hot, humid weather.
3) Involve everyone in the planning stages.
You may not be able to meet everyone’s expectations, but if they have input, there will be fewer complaints and arguments at the parks. When you tell the kids they are going to Disney World, they will immediately begin to form images in their mind of what they expect, or want to see and experience. Young children are more flexible, but teens through adults should make a list of MUST do’s. Try to accommodate as many of these as possible. Consider splitting into groups with similar interests. While the adults head to a stage show, let the kids have some time to ride their favorite thrill ride. Know what the expectations are, and you can prepare to meet them.
4) Explore your options.
If you can afford it, stay a little longer. Ticket prices become cheaper per day the longer you plan to stay. Consider if your group will be content in a single park all day, or if they may want to park-hop to take advantage of EMH (Extended Magic Hours). Is a water park on anyone’s must do list? It pays to do the math to find the best deal for your group. The water parks and more option may cost less than a single day’s admission, and provide multiple entries. These tickets also include green fees for golf enthusiasts, peewee golf for the rest of us, and Disney Quest, which is terrific for teens. Consider your options, budget, and time availability to find the combination that suits your group best.
5) Schedule your FastPass+ tickets in advance.
If you are staying on site, you can obtain FastPass+ ride times as much as 60 days before you arrive. The days of a rope drop a dash are gone. Consequently, you will need to have some idea of which park you plan to visit each day. Some people determine their parks based on EMH availability. I prefer to use the crowd checker sites on-line, to see which parks have the lowest attendance. Our group does better with evening EMH than we do mornings. Consider how your group will work with crowds and weather when choosing your day-to-day itinerary. You will need this information to book your Fast Pass + reservations. Do not overlook scheduling some down time, too. We like to make special dining reservations at one of the other resorts, especially those on the monorail line. We enjoy a slow-paced excursion from one deluxe resort to another, discovering their hidden charms. It makes for restful day away from the crowds.
6) Despite so much advice, try not to over plan.
There are so many options, you may want to cram it all in. Don’t. There is no way you can see it all, or do it all, in one trip, unless you plan to stay a year or so. I suggest planning a maximum of three must-do activities daily. I count FastPass+ tickets as one item, although you can choose three rides. I include ADR’s, and shows (including parades.) If time and energy permit, you can always accomplish more, but the sheer size of Disney World can consume a lot of your time. It may take you an hour and half to travel to your dinner location. If you linger to check out the parade, you may not make it time. Dining reservations require a credit card, and you will be charged for a no show, or late arrival. Knowing the park you will visit, you can make ADR’s without having to jump through hoops to get there.
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best price for your vacation, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!