Planning a Walt Disney World vacation should be a happy occasion. But it’s also imperative to be aware that things can still go wrong, even at the most magical place on Earth. Nobody wants to dampen the mood by pondering all the what-ifs, but you should still be prepared just the same.
Doing so will help you carry on with your Disney vacation plans well intact and enable you to enjoy the most optimal time. Here is a short list to keep in mind to help you avoid all those potential problems and inconveniences that can significantly detract from a Disney World Vacation.
Do Your Homework Beforehand
The first course of action before you even book a Disney vacation is to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land. Do your homework beforehand. Walt Disney World Resort is massive, so you’ll want to go into Disney vacation planning with a working knowledge of the different Parks (and which attractions are in what Parks), the various Disney Resort designations (and each one’s proximity to the different theme park locations), what viable dining options exist, and so on and so forth.
Read all the guidebooks, watch online videos to familiarize yourself visually, and most importantly of all, get your hands on a good Disney World area map. You can’t just walk into Disney World blindly and expect to be able to navigate with ease.
Walt Disney World Resort is not the sort of place where you can just wing it. Now that you have more of a feel for what to expect, you need to have some sort of working plan in place. Obviously, you’ll need to take care of booking a Walt Disney World Resort (or other area resort) accommodation well in advance of your trip.
You’ll also need to secure any and all Park ticket(s) in addition to making the needed Park Reservations that are now required in order to enter the Parks. Also keep copies of any and all reservations independently from Smart Devices, just in case.
Even though Walt Disney World Transportation services are complimentary for any Guest staying on Disney property, to be used for traveling to and from Resorts, Parks, and even to nearby Disney Springs, you’re still going to want to make the necessary arrangements regarding how you will arrive to your Resort from the airport (if this is the method by which you are traveling).
As for planning out your itinerary, it’s always a good idea to go on a Disney vacation with some tentative ideas in mind regarding certain must-do experiences. Organize your own plans, or if you need help doing so, there’s always the complimentary Disney Genie service to help you out.
Want to ride something specific? Plan on waking up early and making your first Lightning Lane selection as early as 7 a.m. (if you are using Genie+). Also be sure to arrive at the Park that you have made reservations for bright and early, to get the most Disney magic into your day.
Little things like these can go a big way in saving time, avoiding aggravation, and increasing the magical experiences overall. Having everything go according to plan is never a guarantee, so when you make plans, be sure also to make room for a little impromptu flexibility as well.
Make Advance Dining Reservations
Do you have any specific dining experiences that you may especially be counting on? It’s always best to make any dining reservation or reservations well in advance.
Guests may book reservations at any Disney World restaurant up to 60 days prior to the intended vacation timeframe. Dining reservations are strongly encouraged for table-service restaurants specifically, especially those that offer up a unique experience like character dining.
It’s also important to emphasize that if you are with anyone who has any specific dietary restrictions, allergies, or any particular needs, you should notify Disney’s Special Dietary Requests well in advance. Disney is excellent when it comes to accommodating the needs of all Guests perfectly, but prior notification is always best.
Slate Your Budget
The total costs and expenses that go into a Disney vacation can get pretty pricey if you’re not careful. That’s why you need to set a reasonable budget in place both during the planning phase as well as for your time to be spent at Walt Disney World Resort as a whole. Go into planning knowing which additional services and added extras you will be opting for (Park Hopper, Memory Maker, etc.).
You also need to have a total costs limit in mind for any in-Park/at-Resort spending along the way. This will allow you to have the best time possible with well-meaning boundaries in place, helping to keep things in perspective.
Consider Payment Options
While thinking about a budget, you may also want to consider the payment methods you intend to utilize for the upcoming trip. My suggestion is to limit the amount of credit cards you bring along to just one — the card you likely used when booking your vacation.
Taking just one card allows you to keep better tabs on it and makes things easier in the event that it ever gets lost or stolen. You should also bring along some actual, real physical spending cash to have on hand as well.
Purchase Travel Insurance
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Life situations that are beyond our control have a way of throwing that proverbial wrench into the wheel of our hopes to go on much-needed, yearned-for vacations to Disney World or elsewhere.
That’s why you should absolutely always consider purchasing Travel Insurance when taking any vacation. There are many ways to get coverage independently, through an employer, or via a travel agency, but do take note that Disney’s own Travel Protection Plan is also offered through the Disney Website. It is available to all residents of the United States, including those living abroad.
Be First-Aid Ready
Nobody wants to fall ill at Walt Disney World, but just in case, you should pack along your own personalized first aid kit. Consider packing those essentials you and everyone in your group would need specifically in the event of a foreseeable emergency.
Pay special attention to all those hard-to-find items you can’t guarantee your Resort’s gift shop will have available. These include prescription medicines, inhalers, EpiPens, supplies, and devices for diabetes management, etc.
Be Mindful of the Season
You also need to be aware of the time of year in which you’re planning your Walt Disney World vacation. From weather conditions to special events that may result in elevated crowd levels, whatever is going on at a given time can significantly impact your specific vacationing experience. Just check one of the existing Disney World Crowd Calendar online sites for the best indications of what to expect in regards to crowds.
The season you opt for can also be a factor in the going rates for specific Resorts you’re looking to stay at during your trip. This is especially true if you go during what is considered peak season as opposed to sometime during the off-season.
Be Ready to Weather the Weather
Don’t be one of those people who incorrectly assumes that the weather in central Florida is always hot and perpetually sunny. Consider hurricane season, for example, or those sudden and unexpected storms that are known to pop up. Florida is by no means a dry place to be, and rain can pretty much sneak up on you at any given moment.
As for the “hot” weather connotation, do beware that even Florida has the occasional cold day here and there — not to mention the blasting AC on said hot days that can leave you shivering (especially if you’re underdressed and wet).
The point is to be prepared by packing all the proper attire you may need. This includes hoodies and/or jackets too, and at least two pairs of shoes (in the event one pair gets drenched). Consider bringing along an umbrella as well, in addition to a very handy pocket poncho, which you should keep with you at all times.
You want every day spent at Disney World to be the best day ever. And preparing for the worst even while expecting the best is a way to foresee and prevent potential problems, avoid unnecessary stress and aggravation, and, most importantly of all, make the most of the most magical vacation you could ever hope for.