Planning your trip to Disney World can put you through a whirlwind of emotions. You might be excited to plan your trip, but anxious about all the steps involved to making sure you have the best vacation ever. There are many different facets to planning a Disney Vacation. Here is a list of things you must do before your trip to Walt Disney World.
1. Start planning early – This first step is probably the most important one that will influence your entire Disney trip. Start your planning early!! What is your budget? Are you staying on property or off? Will you need a rental car? What time of year are you looking to go? Are there events during that time that might impact your trip? These are questions that are crucial to ask. Talk about it as a family early on. I suggest planning your trip anywhere between nine months to a year out, or even longer!
2. Pick the right resort for you – Now that you have started your planning well in advance of your trip, it is time to choose the right resort. If you are staying on property (and you should!) then where will you be staying? Are you more conscious of your budget and wish to stay at All Star Sports? Is this trip all about splurging on the finer things in life so you plan on staying at the Grand Floridian? If you are going during the Food and Wine Festival, maybe you want to stay in the Epcot resorts. You will also want to consider room size. Is a studio big enough for your family of five, or would you like to stay in a one – bedroom villa for the extra room and a full sized kitchen? Consider these possibilities when planning, and remember to stick to your budget!
3. Decide if you want to do a vacation package or purchase everything separately – This is a very essential step, especially with those who are looking to save a few pennies. Disney gives you the option of purchasing your trip all at once with a Magic Your Way vacation package. This package includes your room, park tickets, and dining plan, if you choose to purchase it. It is very convenient for those that want to buy everything at once and call it a day, but what about if you’re trying to save a little money? You can purchase your tickets through an authorized third party, or if you are going during a time with seasonal discounts, perhaps you want to consider booking your room separately in order to get the room – only discount. There are many different options out there, so when you are planning your trip make sure you familiarize yourself with all of them in order to make the right decision for you and your family! Check out “Disney Magic Your Way Packages 101 – How To Choose Which One Is Right For You.”
4. Advance Dining Reservations – No matter what time of year you are going, it is always in your best interest to make Advance Dining Reservations. You are able to start booking these 180 days out from your trip and it is highly encouraged!! Places such as ‘Ohana and Cinderella’s Royal Table can be completely booked six months out, so if your family has their heart set on a particular restaurant, or if you are celebrating an occasion such as your anniversary and you want to eat at a special place (I recommend Victoria and Albert’s!), then please do not hesitate to make your reservations! Check out “Disney Dining Reservations 101: 5 Things You Need To Know.”
5. Fastpass+ – Disney has implemented the Fastpass+ system, which allows for you to get a pass for up to three rides in a single park. Keep in mind that if you have park hopper tickets, you can still only choose rides for ONE park, and will not be able to choose passes for another park until your three from the first park are used. Passes are broken down into tiers, based on popularity of the rides. While you still want to keep some spontaneity on your trip, consider using the Fastpass+ system to save time in the parks. Discuss with your family what rides they just have to go on or what characters they have to meet, and take it from there! After walking around in the hot Florida sun all day, you and your kids will both be grateful to avoid a 2 hour long wait to meet Anna and Elsa.
6. Keep your packing list up to date – Many of us save packing for the week before or even the day before a trip, but consider writing out a list even a month in advance and add items to it as you think of them. Is your son on a new allergy medication? Did you remember the ponchos? What about rice cakes or breakfast bars to snack on? Writing out a list ahead of time and keeping it up to date can save you a lot of stress later on.
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7. Map out your day – Now that you have chosen your ADRs and fast passes, consider your plan of attack for your trip! If you are looking to maximize your time in the parks, think about what rides you will be doing and when. Familiarize yourself with the maps of the parks so that you aren’t running back and forth between rides all day. Pro-tip: check the refurbishment list! I had my heart set on riding Splash Mountain in January and was very disappointed to see it was closed. The lists are available so be sure to check them out!
8. Have a backup plan – Always, always have a backup plan! There are so many factors that you cannot foresee. Perhaps your child got sick and you have to spend a day at the hotel, or maybe it is down pouring so the parade you were hoping to see was cancelled. A number of different things can happen so leave room for life’s little mishaps.
9. Have Fun!! – Planning a trip to Disney can be stressful and time consuming. Have fun with it! Create a countdown with your children, and take a look at the “extras” the parks have to offer. You are going to the Most Magical Place on Earth; enjoy the journey it takes to get there!
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!