How to Plan Your Disney World Vacation Itinerary In 10 Easy Steps
Itineraries come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re more of a “wing it” person, you’ll probably be tempted to stop at a basic itinerary (when are we going, where are we staying, and maybe a few ideas of things you want to do on the trip). However, a very prepared Disney guest will know when they want to go to each park and have several meal and FastPass reservations. And, if you’re an over-the-top planner like me, you may even know the order of attractions you’d like to see. Here are 10 simple steps to help you create the itinerary that’s right for you.
1. Pin down travel dates
First, decide when you can travel. Be sure to take into account your family’s schedule for school and work, as well as any special events or promotions you want to take advantage of at Disney World.
2. Figure out travel details
You’ll obviously want to book your travel as soon as possible. Are you driving? If you’re flying, be sure to have all your flight numbers and other details on your itinerary!
3. Book accommodations
Book your accommodations. Staying on-site has many perks (Magical Express from the airport and Extra Magic Hours in the parks to name a few). Are you splurging for a Deluxe resort? Or is an All-Star Value resort more appropriate?
4. Decide what you want to see and do
Create a plan that includes everyone’s “must do’s”. Vacation should be relaxing, I know- but having a plan will help you spend less time waiting and more time having fun. Things to consider: Do you have foodies in your group with fancy dining tastes? Do you have thrill-seekers who will need Fast Passes for certain rides? Water park fans? These are all things to consider when deciding how to spend your time.
5. Make a basic plan for each day
Write or type out each day that you’ll be there. Don’t forget to add your arrival and departure, and don’t try to plan too much on those two days. Now you might want to decide what days you’ll visit each park. Trust me, waking up in the morning and just randomly choosing won’t allow you to maximize your time. You may want to give yourself more time for the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, which usually take more time to fully explore than Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
6. Book Advance Dining Reservations (ADR’s)
Step 5 and 6 may be interchangeable. If you’re trying to secure hard to come by reservations, you might want to make dining reservations first, then make a basic plan for each day (step #5) around your reservations. Remember, if you are travelling at a busy time of year, you’ll want to secure your reservations well in advance. The most popular reservations (such as Le Cellier, Be Our Guest, Cinderealla’s Royal Table, etc.) go fast!
FastPasses can be secured using the My Disney Experience app or website (up to 60 days in advance for on-site guests, 30 days for off-site guests) It is in your best interest to use FastPasses only on headliner attractions that accumulate long lines, or on special experiences such as premium parade viewing locations or character greets. Schedule your FastPasses for later in the day- you don’t need them early in the morning.
8. Leave some “wiggle room” and “down time” in your itinerary
I like to leave some time open toward the end of the trip to do things that I’ve missed. You may also want to leave down time in the middle of your days for breaks.
9. Pencil in some rides and attractions
The uber-planner may want to make a loose schedule of when to ride the attractions. You’ll benefit most from riding popular attractions first thing in the morning or in the evening. You may want to make note of a general order for your mornings in the parks to help you remember which rides to hit first. Remember, rides that get extremely long lines are best experienced as early in the days as possible, or with a Fast Pass later in the day.
10. Review the details of your itinerary
You’ll want to record each dining reservation and Fast Pass on your itinerary. Also make note of park hours for each day, including Extra Magic Hours. Park hours change, so you’ll want to double check them right before your trip. Don’t forget to make sure your schedule is realistic. For instance, did you dinner at Be Our Guest for 6:00pm and have a Fast Pass for Space Mountain at 6:45? That’s cutting it too close. You’ll want to make sure that all your reservations make sense, and if they don’t, they’re easy to change!
There you have it- 10 simple steps to making a great Disney World itinerary. Do you like to wing it, or are you an uber-planner? How has your style impacted your Disney vacationing?
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!
Meredith Smisek is a kid at heart and works as an elementary school guidance counselor. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, dog, and parrot. Meredith's hobbies include cooking, playing ukulele, and "talking Disney" with anyone she knows who is planning a trip to Disney or has just returned.