8 Simple Tips For Planning A Sensational Disney Vacation!
Planning your Disney vacation can be quite overwhelming. With so much to do and see, it can be frustrating to arrive to the parks and wish you could have done things differently in your planning. You may also not be aware of some of the options you are eligible for ahead of time, which can also cause a damper on your vacation. Not to worry! Here are 8 tips for planning a great Disney vacation!
8. Book Your Resort and Airline Tickets
OK, this may not sound like a huge tip, but sometimes in the midst of dreaming of your vacation, you can forget some of the most important things to do. The first thing you should do when planning a vacation is always reserve your resort and airfare. Be sure to look for great deals on resorts! Disney always offers discounts for military families, Florida residents, and more. You never know what kind of deals you can get unless you ask! If you plan to fly into Orlando, be sure to schedule complimentary pick-up and drop off with the agent you speak with.
7. Download the My Disney Experience App
Disney has definitely changed its usual methods of entry and fastpasses with their new technology, My Disney Experience. This is not only accessed online, but you can also download the app on your phone. In this app, you can link all of your family members tickets and reservations for an easy itinerary right on your phone. Once your tickets are linked, you can select fastpasses for your party and make dining reservations too. Once you’re in the park, you will have access to wait times, parade and show times, change or add fastpasses, and much more. This is truly the best way to keep everyone in the loop and to view al of your plans.
6. Purchase Theme Park Tickets
Visiting the parks is the reason for visiting Walt Disney World, so be sure to snag your tickets. If you plan to visit the parks on a regular day or want to add a park hopper, you can purchase tickets at any time. For those guests traveling for more than just a few days, you may want to look into purchasing more ‘days’ than trying to fit two or more parks in one day with the park-hopper option. Believe it or not, adding more days to your base ticket is cheaper than adding the park-hopper to each day of your stay. This will only save you money if you are planning to visit multiple days. If you plan to visit the parks for a special hard ticket event (for example, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas) be sure to purchase these tickets as soon as you have your dates set. These events tend to sell out quickly and are only sold in limited amounts per night.
5. Create an Itinerary
Planning your days out will ensure that you get to experience all that you want to on your trip. It is best if you plan an itinerary with a park map (which is also on the My Disney Experience App) so that you can organize your routes along the parks. You can also include your dining plans (if you have any sit down meals) into your plan to give yourself enough time in between attractions to eat. There are many guests that love to just ‘go with the flow’ and not plan, however, with the new systems in place for Fastpasses and to ensure that your party is satisfied with what they get to experience, it is definitely best to plan ahead. With so much to do and see, you will want to make sure you capture the magic in everything!
4. Book Your Dining Reservations
Aside from rides and attractions, dining is one of the best ways to live in the magic at the Walt Disney World parks and resorts. There are so many unique experiences and cuisine that you will not find anywhere else. Since dining is a favorite of most guests, restaurants tend to fill up quickly. You can look at menus (also included in the My Disney Experience app) to see what looks tastiest for you and your party. The best part about sit-down dining is that you can ask the restaurants to accommodate anyone in your family that may have an allergy or special diet. You can book dining reservations up to 180 days prior to your stay, so be sure to think about what you would like to visit, and book it as soon as it becomes available. For those guests that have booked their trip within the 180-day time frame and can’t find availability in a restaurant of your choice, remember to keep calling and checking online for cancellations. You may get lucky and snag a reservation if another guests cancels, so keep your fingers crossed and be persistent!
3. Select Your Fastpasses and Check Out Memory Maker
Now that you have your resort, travel, and dining reservations done, its time to choose your fastpasses! Fastpasses can be selected for your party 60 days prior to your vacation. Once your park tickets are linked to each member of your family in your My Disney Experience app, you will be able to choose fastpasses and assign them to each member of your family. Just follow the prompts after you click on the fastpass icon. There is a limit of three fastpasses per day. Once you use all three, you can add more to your account. There are several popular rides that are sold out immediately, so you will want to be sure to login and select them as soon as possible. If you plan to purchase your tickets at the gate, you can select your fastpasses with the help of a cast member at multiple fastpass kiosks in the parks. Keep in mind that there may not be a wide range in selection for the rides and attractions that will be available for fastpasses since those guests that purchased their tickets in advance had the option to select their passes long before that day. This is the advantage to purchasing park tickets prior to your trip.
Memory Maker is a pretty new concept that Disney has put into place for picture lovers out there, and it is truly a hit! If you choose to participate in Memory Maker, you will receive every single picture (yes, every one) taken by Disney Photographers with characters and at restaurants, along with photos from each ride you went on. When you inform the photographers that you have memory maker, they will make sure to take more shots with you and your party so that you have a nice range of pictures. If you typically purchase these pictures individually, then Memory Maker is the best option for you because you get unlimited photos for one price. This is a huge savings option for guests, and one of the best souvenirs to remember your magical trip by!
Planning and packing your Disney themed outfits is half the fun of prepping for your trip! Matching shirts with your entire party are one of the more popular ways to show your Disney side. Some guests have unique hand made shirts, while other purchase different styles of their favorites characters online or at the store. No matter which you choose, you will feel so great matching with your friends and family, or just showing off your favorite character. It’s also really fun when you meet a character at the park and you are donning your wardrobe with them on it. They react in ways that will put a long-lasting smile on your face. Other great Disney themed wardrobe options include jewelry, headbands or hairpieces, shoes, pants or shorts, glasses and even purses. Making your own shirts or purchasing attire prior to your trip is also less expensive than purchasing these items at the parks. Having a Disney inspired wardrobe with your party also makes for fantastic photos!
1. Create the Ultimate Packing List
By now you probably have so much on your mind, and you want to make sure you don’t forget anything for your trip. Be sure to create the ultimate packing list to make sure you can cross off everything you want to take with you as you pack it away. This tip may seem a bit cliché, but often times we think we will remember everything, and writing it down helps with the frustration of forgetting important items (especially if you are packing for multiple people). Make sure to include everything you want to take with you and don’t forget important documents like airfare tickets, park tickets, confirmation print-outs, passports (if visiting outside of the U.S.), military IDs, etc. After crossing everything off your list, you’re ready to enjoy a fun filled trip at the happiest place on earth!
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 Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!
Natalie is an elementary school teacher and a native Floridian who lives and breathes all things Disney. Her love for Disney started at the age of two during her first visit, and has continued to flourish into her adult life. She loves to share her Disney passion with her students and believes Disney is so special because there is no other place to forget about your worries and be a kid again, which is why she refuses to ‘grow up’.