Tips For Planning A Weekend Getaway At Walt Disney World

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Do you have any big plans for the weekend? How about a mini vacation to Walt Disney World Resort? If you think a trip to the most magical place on Earth can’t be done all in the course of a single weekend, think again. By following a carefully executed game plan, you can make any visit to Disney a fulfilling adventure, even when your time is limited. Here’s a list of helpful tips to consider if you’d like to plan a weekend getaway to Disney World.

1. Book an early flight

Remember that your time is limited, so be mindful about arriving at your destination as soon as possible. Unfortunately, you can’t rely on pixie dust alone to get you there quickly, so that’s why booking an early flight time is absolutely crucial. If you’re lucky enough to live in a convenient driving range to the Orlando area (a couple of hours by car), then these next steps don’t apply to you. Just be sure you head out the door and start your drive early enough to avoid traffic. However, if you are like the majority of Disney vacation-goers then you more than likely rely on airline travel to get you to your resort. So it is my sincerest recommendation that you book your chosen airline’s absolute earliest available flight time for that day. Consider whether to choose a direct flight or if you have any planned stopovers (I strongly encourage the first option) and then estimate your time of arrival to the Orlando International Airport. The earlier the better to start your magical weekend getaway!

2. Pack light

You’ll only be gone for the weekend, so there’s really no reason to bring a whole lot. And on that note, my advice to you is to travel light. Since most airlines allow for one carry-on bag and a personal item (which can include a smaller bag) per person, you and your companion (s) would find convenience in just bringing carry-ons and foregoing checked luggage altogether. While it’s true that Disney has a wonderful to-your-room delivery service with checked luggage (and you wouldn’t need to visit baggage claim anyway) it’s also true that by taking an early flight, your room may not be ready by the time you arrive. But thankfully, even if that is the case, helpful cast members are at your resort to watch over your carry-ons and personal items for you, so you can get on with your magical day without having to carry around your personal items until your room is ready.

3. Stay at a Disney Resort

It goes without saying that a weekend getaway to Disney World would be optimized if you book a stay at a Walt Disney World Resort. Not only is it convenient to stay onsite, but it also saves a significant amount of travel time back and forth between parks and other Disney-affiliated locales. That’s because all Walt Disney World Resorts offer complimentary transportation to its guests, beginning and ending with Magical Express transport to and from the airport. During your stay, you may also utilize complimentary shuttle services departing throughout the day from your resort to the various parks, water parks, and even Disney Springs. Depending on which resort you choose to stay at, and nearby park location to that resort, other complimentary forms of transportation may also be offered as well, including monorail rides, ferryboats, and the new skyline gondolas set to premier this fall. There are also helpful Minnie Van rideshare rentals available via Lyft. All in all, opting to stay onsite at a Disney Resort, rather than booking just any Orlando-based accommodation, will offer convenience in traveling to and from your various destinations, as renting a car for your weekend duration will be unnecessary. And on one final note—all Walt Disney World Resorts make available the same great perks to their guests. So if you’re just going for the weekend, why not opt for a Value Resort instead of a more lavish Deluxe Resort? Unless you come across a great deal going on in which a typically higher Moderate Resort is going for a room-specific rate competitive to that of a Value Resort (and is more convenient in location to any must-dos on your itinerary), or you happen to be a Disney Vacation Club Member with dibs on a Deluxe, there really is no reason not to book a Value Resort for your wonderful weekend.

4. Don’t wing it—keep a game plan

I made a previous reference to having an itinerary of must-dos you’d like to accomplish while on your mini vacation. Keep in mind that establishing a working game plan prior to going is absolutely essential for carrying out a successful Disney Magic-packed weekend getaway on a number of accounts. Don’t be fooled into thinking that less time requires less planning. In fact, the opposite is true. Having a capable working plan and itinerary can actually help you utilize your lack of time more efficiently and, in the end, ultimately allow for you to accomplish even more. Know beforehand which parks, rides, attractions, and other Disney-specified activities you’d like to accomplish. Know each one’s location in relation to other plans you may have, specific time sets in which said must-dos are occurring (if applicable), and of course travel time calculations and the methods in which you will be traveling to each designated location. We’re not dissuading you from relaxation altogether or the idea of unwinding with a little down time during your visit. We’re talking about the people who don’t make plans for essentials and arrive too late at each turn, all for failure to execute a well-thought plan. As for relaxing, we encourage you to make time for this on your itinerary as well. So in conclusion, my advice to you is to have a working game plan in mind, with slated must-dos, but do also leave room of tentative, unexpected surprises and experiences along the way.

5. Make all essential reservations

Getting back to the idea of establishing a working game plan, it’s crucial to make any and all reservations for must-do endeavors well in advance. This includes booking dining reservations, specific activities and extras like tours or spas, FastPass+ selections, and even online check-in to your Walt Disney World Resort. Even if you do not opt for a Disney Dining Plan during your weekend stay, there may be certain mealtime experiences you would like to have, such as character dining engagements, dinner shows, or perhaps a chance to just experience a new restaurant for yourself. If any of these plans sound like something you may be interested in then we suggest reserving a spot rather than taking a chance and winging it. The previously mentioned convenience of online check-in before you even leave home is undeniable, and if you are staying on Disney Property this can actually be done up to 60 days prior to your trip. Likewise, Disney Resort guests get first dibs on making their FastPass+ selections (which can be done at the same time as online check-in—60 days in advance) as well as booking the aforementioned dining reservations up to 180 prior (60 days for those who aren’t staying onsite).


6. Get Park Hopper

From my personal experience and belief, you can never go wrong with Disney’s Park Hopper Option. This is especially true for those with limited time at Walt Disney World looking to experience all that the four theme parks have to offer. Without Park Hopper you are limited to how many parks you may visit in a set daily timeframe, and if you are here for just a weekend this can significantly limit your experiences and opportunities for doing more in less time. Seasoned Disney navigators know the ins and outs of getting around, including the how-to of jumping from Magic Kingdom Park to Epcot via monorail (or combination of ferry and monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center) and then sailing onward toward Hollywood Studios from Epcot all in a single day! So in your mindful planning of what to do and when, your set navigation pattern, and advanced reservations, the Disney’s Park Hopper Option is crucial for accomplishing more in less time.

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7. Choose a less-crowded time to travel

Another very important matter to consider when planning a weekend getaway to Walt Disney World is the time of year you choose to do so. Disney World is one of the most popular destinations on the planet, drawing in scores of visitors from all over the globe. And we all know that overwhelmingly large crowds can significantly impact the overall rate of even the speediest, most resourceful Disney Park navigators. Therefore, when the option presents itself, your best bet is to consider one of Disney’s less crowded times. It’s true that there is no real down time or official offseason at Disney World, but there are certain times of the year when crowds are far less overwhelming and specified room rates may actually be a little lower. Most people will agree that the times of the year that coincide with the general public having time off from work and school, such as holiday seasons and summer vacation months, are typically more in-demand for travel. So it goes without saying that on the flipside, you will find setting off during times that are generally more inconvenient to the public are much more promising at Disney, and by extension, traveling in general as airport traffic and congestion also tends to be at a low around these times. Some of the best recommended times to plan a weekend getaway to Walt Disney World include early September through mid-November (with the exception extended holiday weekends like Labor Day and Thanksgiving) and then January through February. December can also be an excellent time to visit, but do be mindful of the Christmas holiday and special engagements that, depending on how you plan things, can have coinciding moments of heavy travel traffic. All the same, if done correctly it may be an opportunity to experience the festive Disney Magic of the most magical time of year.

There are plenty of things to keep in mind when planning a Disney vacation in general, let alone a mini weekend getaway excursion. While ideally most people would prefer to spend much more time here than a weekend allots, any amount of time at Walt Disney World is better than none. It’s how well you manage your time and utilize these tips highlighted to ensure that you have an always positive and, above all, magical experience that extends beyond the weekend and stays in your heart forever.

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About Laura

Laura Catherine aka “LC” is a writer who resides in Maryland with her family and several pets. She visits Walt Disney World whenever she can. Additionally, she is a published author of three novels, a children’s book, and has a passion for gardening.

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