Planning your Disney World trip, or any Disney trip for that matter, can be a bit overwhelming. Especially if it’s the first time you’re going, it’s hard to figure out where to start.
1. Pick Your Travel Date
First things first, figure out when and for how long you want to go. When choosing a date, take into consideration the crowd levels, prices and weather for that particular time of year. On the Internet there are lots of places you can find crowd calendars and weather forecasts, and on the Disney world site you can see the prices. I understand that if your children go to school, you’ll have to stick to the dates they’re off. But if you can, consider visiting when school is in session as Disney parks will be significantly less crowded. Check out our article “4 Best Times A Year To Visit Disney” for more information. (Tamar – I’ll often add links to other articles on our site that can help augment the information a reader sees on any given article. This way, we’re keeping the reader on our site and not directing them to another.
2. Choose a Hotel
After you have picked your perfect date, start looking for hotels. First you need to figure out whether you want to stay on or off site. Staying in a Disney hotel has a lot of benefits, for example: Extra Magic Hours, package deals and free transportation. If Disney Resorts don’t fit your budget or you don’t want to be around the Disney-themed places all the time, there are lots of non-Disney hotels in the neighborhood. If you do wish to stay on site, you can research which resort suits you and your family best. This is also the time to think about whether you want a Disney dining plan or the photo memory maker. Check out our article “Disney Resorts 101” for more details.
3. Day planner
So you know when you want to go, and also where you are going to stay. Now the fun part can start, you can start planning your amazing Disney itinerary! First, it’s a good idea to look at which days you wish to go to what park. Again keep in mind that some parks are busier on certain days, especially if a park has Extra-Magic Hours that day. Also, if you’re going for a longer time, keep in mind that it’s a good idea to plan some time off. Whether it’s a day off, a morning of sleeping in or a day returning to your hotel early. When I heard about taking time off from Disney, I thought people were crazy for even considering it, but in the end it’ll pay off.
4. List of favorites
After you know to which parks you’ll be going to on what days, you can start planning your itinerary a bit more. I’m not saying that you have to plan every second of every day, this will probably just work against you. But it might be a good idea to know what you can do in the parks. Look up a list of all the attractions there are in the parks you’re visiting and make a list of the things you wish to do, or see and find out what the busiest attractions are on your list and FastPass+ those if possible. You can make FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance if you stay on Disney property. 30 days if you stay somewhere else. The reason why I thinks this tip is important is because it’s the worst feeling to walk out of the parks for the last time, and find out you missed out on something you’d liked to experience.
5. Dinner reservations
Dining in Disney can get expensive, busy or a complete disaster. Luckily, there are lots of ways to prevent this. There are a lot of eating possibilities: you can buy a snack on the street, go to a quick service restaurant or have a luxurious Disney character meal. On the Disney site you can find the menu of all the restaurants in Disney world, and on the map you can see where they’re located. Some restaurants get really busy, and you won’t get in without reservation. You can make your reservations up to 60 days before your arrival. Then you’ve got to choose whether or not you want to use the Disney Dining Plan. Depending on your family size and plans this Disney option may or may not be the right choice for you and can cost you or save you money. Try to schedule eating times before or after the busy lunch and dinner crowds! For more information, check out our article “Disney Dining Plan 101”.
6. Weather forecast
I know this was already stated before in point number one but this is really important! Florida is known as the sunshine state but the weather can get tricky. I’ve seen people walk around in shorts and tank tops, and the next day everybody was buying sweatshirts against the cold. Main tip: Wear layers. It also helps to have rain gear like a poncho… they’re cheap enough to buy at any drugstore but if you wait and buy them in the parks, you’ll pay a premium.
7. What to pack
Make a list of what you want to bring to this magical place. It depends on your family needs but just take the time to see what kind of clothes, accessories and other things are important for your family to take with you. Our article “Top 10 Packing Guide For Disney Rookies” offers an exhaustive list of items your family should bring to Disney World.
8. After you’ve done all this, just relax!
You’re prepared, you know when you want to go, where you’ll be going and what you want to do. Now just take the time to get excited, re-watch your favorite Disney movies and daydream away about your amazing Disney holiday.
Of course you can’t plan everything, you can’t control other guest or you child’s tired moods. Don’t cling on to the plan too much once you’re there. Just enjoy and save some room for surprises. After all you’re in the most magical 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 price for your vacation, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!