Disney Tips,  Planning Information

7 Steps for Planning A Walt Disney World Vacation

Planning a vacation to Walt Disney World can be very overwhelming. There are a lot of steps to the planning process and a lot of pressure to plan the most perfect vacation.

Some don’t like to plan every moment of every day, and that’s totally ok! I actually don’t think you should. Leaving room for spontaneity is just as important. Sometimes the best moments and memories come out of the ones you don’t pre-plan.

With that said, I do think you should plan what you can and are entitled to and if you decide not to do something once you are on vacation, you don’t have to! Nothing is set in stone, ever. But knowing the important dates and scheduling FastPasses and a few dining reservations will prove to be necessary (and you’ll be thanking yourself for taking the time to schedule it!).

Breaking it down into manageable and easy steps makes it much easier.


STEP 1. Choose Your Dates

One of the very first things you need to do when beginning to plan your Walt Disney World vacation is to pick the dates you want to travel. These dates can vary based on a many different factors, such as crowd levels, price, discounts offered, etc. There are known times of the year when Walt Disney World theme parks draw more crowds, especially during special events such as Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and during Run Disney races. Spring Break and other times of the year kids have off from school prove to be busy times at the parks as well.

STEP 2. Choose a Walt Disney World Hotel

There are so many on-site Walt Disney World hotels to choose from, at all different price points, to suit your family needs.

On-site Walt Disney World Resort Guests get the benefits of Extra Magic Hours, booking dining reservations 180 days out from your vacation, booking FP+ reservations 60 days before your trip and ordering your Magic Band that you can link to your credit card/hotel to pay for anything during your trip.

Off-site Guests can usually get more bang for their buck. Often the hotel rooms/accommodations are bigger for comparable or less money. You get the option to book dining reservations 180 days out from your vacation, book FP+ reservations 30 days before your trip and can purchase a separate Magic Band that you can link to your park tickets and My Disney Experience account.

There are over 30 hotels on Disney property to choose from starting from Value Resorts all the way up to Deluxe. All have their pros and cons, it depends on your price-point when booking your trip.

Walt Disney World offers discounted offers throughout the year that you can take advantage of. Even if your trip is already booked and an offer is announced, you can call a Disney agent and have them apply the discount to your existing reservation (if applicable).

If you want to browse the different Walt Disney World hotels, visit their website for detailed information.

Ready to book? Contact Royal Treatment Travel for all your vacation planning needs! They can help guide you through the process and pick the most suitable hotel for you and your family!

STEP 3. Determine How Many Days You Plan to Visit Disney

Deciding how many days to spend at the Walt Disney World theme parks will depend on several factors. Budget is usually the number one reason in determining how many days you’ll spend at the parks. Some families like to spend a day of their vacation resort hopping or at the resort pool. Some families like to explore other parts of Orlando during their stay. Whatever your reasons will help you decide how many days you will visit the Walt Disney World parks.

STEP 4. Purchase Tickets

Once you determine how many days you plan to visit the Walt Disney World theme parks, you will need to purchase your tickets. The more days you purchase, the cheaper per day your ticket becomes. Tickets are now date-based. Depending on the time of year you are visiting will determine the price per day. The more popular the time of year, the more expensive the ticket.

Note: Ticket prices increase generally early each year. Planning ahead can save you a few $$ by purchasing your tickets prior to the assumed ticket increases. The ticket increases are usually due to future updates/new attractions, and a great way for Walt Disney World to attempt to control crowd levels in the parks.

Keep in mind you will also need to have your tickets purchased and linked to your My Disney Experience account prior to scheduling FastPasses (Step 6).

Ready to purchase tickets? Click here.

STEP 5. Reserve Dining

It is important to know that you can start planning your dining reservations at 180 days prior to the start of your vacation. In order to ensure that you get the restaurant and the reservation you want, you should be ready to log online at waltdisneyworld.com on the day your window opens to make reservations. If you are using a travel planner, they will take care of this for you!

  • For on-site guests: Dining reservations begin online at 6:00AM 180 days prior to Day 1 of your vacation. You can book your reservations for the length of your stay. Phone lines open at 7:00AM, call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463).

  • For off-site guests: Dining reservations being online at 6:00AM 180 days ahead of the planned day you want to eat at a particular restaurant. In other words, if you are staying off-site for 6 days, you will need to be prepared to be ready at 6:00AM for each day you want to book a dining reservation. You cannot book for the length of your stay on Day 1 like on-site guests. Phone lines open at 7:00AM, call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463).

For more information about all things dining at Walt Disney World, click here.

STEP 6. Schedule FastPass+

All guests can make up to 3 FP+ reservations per day in 1 Walt Disney World Park in advance of your vacation. The benefit is you have 3 pre-planned attractions you are guaranteed to see/ride when you arrive at the Park. If you are using a travel planner, they will take care of this for you!

Visit my FastPass+ post for detailed information on planning FP+s.

STEP 7. Check-In Online Prior to the Start of Your Vacation

There are great benefits to checking in on-line. Log into your My Disney Experience (MDE) via the app or by visiting waltdisneyworld.com to begin the check-in process. Because everything is linked to your MagicBand, once your room is available on the day you arrive, you will receive a notification via email or text. You can bypass the front desk and go straight to your room. Use your MagicBand as your room key. It’s that simple!

BONUS: Ultimate Walt Disney World Planning Checklist

To make the process even easier, I’ve created the “Ultimate Walt Disney World Planning Checklist“. This checklist covers all 7 steps and the timelines associated with each step. I hope this is helpful to you and a good start in planning your ultimate Walt Disney World Vacation!

BONUS: Ultimate Walt Disney World Vacation Packing List

I’ve also included the “Ultimate Walt Disney World Vacation Packing List“. The items included on the list will vary from person to person, however this is a great start to organizing the items you should consider bringing on your vacation.

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1 year ago

[…] Dreaming of your next Walt Disney World vacation? Planning a trip on your own? Visit my 7 Steps to Planning A Walt Disney World Vacation! […]

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