Planning your Disney World vacation is a bit of a science. There are specific times to do certain things. It’s a lot to remember – so I’ve broken it down into manageable chunks and providing the best time frame to complete each step. Do this will ensure you have the most successful vacation experience possible!
6 to 12 months in advance – Decide on the exact dates you want to visit Disney World. Keep in mind projected crowd levels, temperature/weather, and price. Book your hotel (preferably on-property for maximum benefits!) for the best dates and make a general daily plan. Do some research on dining options for each day and be prepared to make dining reservations exactly 180 days in advance of the first day of your vacation.
- TIP: Do some hotel price comparisons for a few date ranges that could work for your family. You may be surprised how different dates can have such different prices.
180 days in advance – Make dining reservations at the restaurants you want to eat at, as well as special events (dessert parties, tea parties, etc). Failing to do so at this point will likely cause you to miss the opportunity to dine at Disney’s most popular restaurants. If you’re staying on-property, you’ll be able to make all of the dining reservations for your entire trip 180 days before the first day of your vacation. And if you’re not staying on-property, you’ll need to call Disney or log onto their website 180 days before each day of your trip to make those reservations.
- Tip: Check out my thoughts about some of the best restaurants at Disney World. This includes the best Character Meals and my top 10 dining tips.
- Tip: These are some of the restaurants that will likely get filled up the fastest:
- Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Be Our Guest
- Chef Mickey’s
- Chef’s Table at Victoria and Albert’s
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue
- Princess dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
- Tusker House
2 to 6 months in advance – Book your flight to Orlando. If you will be arriving later in the day on the first day of your vacation, I’ve highlighted some non-park admission activities to do on arrival (and departure days). You won’t want to waste a day of park admission for a partial day! Continue to work on your daily plans and research your top priority fast passes to reserve at 60 days in advance, if you’re staying on-property. If you are not staying on-property, you have to wait until 30 days in advance to make fast pass reservations.
60 days in advance – Assuming you are staying on-property, you may now log onto Disney’s website and make your fast pass reservations for your top priority attractions. It’s 30 days in advance if you’re not staying on Disney property.
- Tip: Advice on my top priority fast passes at each link below:
30 days in advance – Finalize your daily touring plans for each park (review park hours for each day of your trip). Make sure you have transportation from the airport to your hotel arranged (via Magical Express if you’re on-property).
- Tip: Look into adding Memory Maker onto your vacation – I did this last time and received tons of great professional family photos in key places across the Parks, received all the photos/videos taken on the rides, as well as lots of great Disney stock photography. Advance purchase of this package is cheaper than waiting until you get to the Park.
- Tip: Garden Grocer will deliver groceries to your Disney World area hotel. I always use them to order bottled water, energy drinks, breakfast items, snacks for the park bag, and beer/wine for the evenings. This saves A TON on money over purchasing these items in the parks.
7 days in advance – Develop your packing list to make sure you have everything you’ll need to pack for your vacation. Have your mail held for the dates you’re away. Print your travel plans.