A Disney vacation is exciting in every way possible. And planning is half the fun. Your trip can be months, even years away, but researching and planning make the wait a little bit more bearable. There are plenty of things that you can do to get the ball rolling on your next Disney trip. And here are 15 of the best tips we have come up with.
15 Best Pre-Trip Planning Tips for Disney
1. Visit Disney Websites. Official and Unofficial.
The Disney website offers some great trip planning tools, but so do some unofficial Disney websites. Like Disney Fanatic! Read reviews on restaurants and resorts, tips about how to tackle a day in the park, and even tips like when to visit. This should be your first step. You do not want to go booking resorts or reservations without doing any research beforehand. There are some really good websites out there that give you a good idea on what to expect in every aspect of your trip.
2. Order Your Disney Vacation Planning DVD
This is a great tool to use in the very beginning of your vacation planning process. After creating an account on the Disney website, you can order your free Disney Vacation Planning DVD. This will give you the low down on all you need to know about parks, resorts, dining, and so much more.
3. Decide On A Budget
One of the very first things you must do when beginning to plan your vacation is set a budget. This should include anything and everything that you plan to spend money on, airfare, car rental, accommodations, park tickets, dining, etc. This will help you to stick to your plans and not overspend.
4. Research When You Want To Go
Deciding when to visit Disney is an essential part of the planning process. There are a lot of factors that play into deciding when the right time to go is. If you have children, obviously school schedules are something to think about, as well as your work schedule. Once you figure out things like that, then you can think about things like weather, rates, etc. There are value times and there are peak seasons, these are all things that really matter when choosing the perfect time to visit.
5. How Are You Getting There?
There are things that are unavoidable when planning a vacation. Transportation is one of them. You simply cannot have a Disney vacation without a way to get there. If you are traveling from a distance, decide whether flying or driving would be more suitable for your family. Also, decide whether you will be renting a car once you are there. All these things should be added into your expense journal, especially if you are on a budget.
6. Renting A Car Or Not Renting A Car
Rental cars usually take up a huge chunk of your budget. They can get pretty pricey, especially if you are going for more than a week. Luckily, Disney offers many transportation options that make getting around Disney World super easy. They have a complimentary shuttle that will take you to and from the airport. They also have a bus system that can take you absolutely anywhere on Disney property. The downside of not having a car is that you are limited to Disney property only and the wait for busses can be fairly long. But if these things don’t bother you much, then save a few hundred dollars and use Disney transportation! Check out our article To Rent Or Not Rent A Car At Disney for more information.
7. Decide Where You Are Staying
The next step in your planning process is to decide where to stay. You always have the option of staying on Disney property or staying off property. But since this is a Disney themed website, I am going to stick with staying onsite. The Disney website is really a great tool when deciding where to stay. It allows you to view current offers, compare resorts, and even browse through pictures of each resort.
8. Make Dining Reservations 180 Days In Advance
Reservations at Disney World fill up fast! Especially during peak season, or at a popular restaurant. You are able to make your reservations up to 180 days in advance. I strongly suggest you take advantage of that! This will ensure you get the time and date that you want.
9. Tripadvisor Is Your Best Friend
I like to use different websites to help me plan. Like I’ve mention in number one, I like to use unofficial Disney sites to get the run down on where to begin planning. I also like to use sites like Tripadvisor for dining and resort information. They have tons of reviews and pictures that make planning super easy. I like to look at pictures of the resorts to help me decide which resort will work best for me. I also like to look at the pictures other guests have submitted of the restaurants. Not only does this get you super excited for your trip, but it also gives you a good idea what the resort or restaurant looks like and what kind of food they offer.
10. Make Your Fastpass+ Selections ASAP
If you are staying on Disney property, you can make your Fastpass+ selections 60 days in advance. If you are not staying on property, you still get the luxury of using the Fastpass+ system, but you cannot begin making your selections until the 30-day mark. Whether you can start at 60 days or 30 days, definitely begin making them as soon as possible. Fastpass selections tend to go fairly quickly, especially for popular rides. So it definitely won’t hurt to make them early.
11. Visit My Disney Experience several Times Before Your Trip
You can use the My Disney Experience app or on the website. Here you will be able to make your Fastpass+ selections, view your tickets and reservations, and even manage your magicbands. You can even set up a wish list and itinerary. Once you are in the park, the app becomes especially useful because you are able to view and modify your Fastpass+ selections.
12. Always Keep Packing In Mind
Whether you are a last minute packer or you pack weeks ahead, it’s always good to be thinking about what you’re going to pack ahead of time. Make check lists. They will come in handy when time is rushed and you don’t want to forget anything. I usually start thinking about what to make the second I book my vacation. Mostly because I’m so excited! So what I do is start jotting down things that I absolutely need to bring. If I’m at the store and I find some travel sized item or something, I’ll buy it and set it aside for when I do start packing.
13. Decide How You Will Be Eating
This goes hand in hand with the previous tip. You must first decide how you will be dining at Disney World. Do you plan to eat out everyday or do you want to bring a lot of your own food? If you are planning to eat at Disney restaurants everyday, then I would consider checking out the Disney Dining Plan options. If you plan to make most of your meals, or even just bring snacks, then I would begin making a list for that too. First off, make sure you know what appliances your resort will provide. A lot of them only come with a mini fridge and a coffee maker. Some do come with a microwave and some come with a full kitchen. It just depends on the resort. There are companies that let you order your groceries online and then have them sent to your resort. This is a great option if you plan to eat most of your meals and snacks in your room. Disney does allow you to bring snacks into the park, with the exception of glass and alcohol. So bringing a few granola bars and a couple bottles of water is always a good idea.
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14. Make An Itinerary
I know some people don’t like to over plan too much. But unless this is a completely spur-of-the-moment trip, a little planning goes a long way. Decide how many days worth of tickets you will purchase, and then decide on which days you will visit which park. Once you do this, you can start making your dining reservations and begin buying park tickets. Having somewhat of a foundation to your trip can make sure everything else goes smoothly.
15. Utilize The Online Check-In
Disney offers this wonderful thing called online check-in. This allows you to start your check-in process 60 days prior to your visit. You can do things like add room requests, set up a payment method, add a pin number to your Magicband, and basically just confirm your reservation. The benefit of using online check-in is that once you arrive at your resort, you get to bypass the regular line and head straight to the online check-in line. Then they will give you your room information and maps and you’ll be on your way!
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So no matter where you are in your Disney vacation planning process, these tips are sure to come in handy. Planning is a great was to make sure you get everything you want, within your family’s budget. But most of all, don’t forget to enjoy every single bit of your vacation, including the planning!