Tips and Tricks for Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation

Tips & Tricks for Planning a Disney World Vacation

So you want to plan a Disney vacation. Congrats! You’ve gotten to the first BIG step: RESEARCH

This step would ideally be completed 7-12 months before your travel date. Already feel behind? Don’t worry, I’ll catch you up! During the research phase, I’d suggest ordering a planning DVD from Disney’s web site. This will familiarize you with the parks and some of the great things Disney World has to offer presented in a fun way the whole family will enjoy.

Next steps, create your budget. I suggest creating multiple budgets underneath your full budget. This would include airfare or gas to get you to Disney, hotel and park tickets, food (or dining plan), souvenirs, and any extra spending money. During down travel times, a decent budget for a family of 4 (2 adults, 1 junior, 1 child) would be about $2500 for hotel and park tickets. It can obviously be a little less or a little more. During peak travel times, I’d suggest a budget of about $3000 for hotel and park tickets as prices increase during spring break, summer, and holiday time.

Once you have a budget, it’s time to start looking at resorts (hotels). Each hotel has their own pros and cons and with over 25 options, it can be VERY confusing! To make things easier, here’s some easy questions to answer to help get to your final destination:

  •          What are my options within my budget?
  •          Are we a family of 5 or more?
  •          Is location on Disney property important?
  •          What park do you plan on visiting the most?
  •          Do you have a little one who will need a nap in the middle of the day?
  •          Do you need Disney characters in your room or around your resort? (this is somewhat limited)
  •          Is bed size important to you?

All these important questions will help steer you toward the best location for you.


Remember, if you’re looking more than 6 months out from your vacation, the cost you see online will likely not be your end cost. Disney typically released special offers/discounts between 2-4 months prior to your arrival date.

Why do I suggest booking so far out? DINING! If getting some of the hottest dining reservations are important to your family, you need to have your vacation booked more than 180 days from your arrival date. This will allow you to get first pick of dining locations like Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table. Be Our Guest consistently is 100% booked 180 days from arrival and getting a reservation for dinner is extremely difficult after that point.  On top of that, you’ll need to be up at 6 am eastern time to secure a great reservation time (for you west coasters that’s 3 am!)

The next step in this process is RELAXING! Between 180 days and 60 days there’s not a ton of important things to do except get excited and think about the various attractions you’d like to see/do as well as any characters you’d like to meet. Check online Disney’s website for some information or order customized maps for your vacation. This will give you a list of all the available attractions in each park. Now is also the time to keep an eye out for discounts to be released through Disney’s web site. Once they are made available, it’s important that you call a cast member to apply the discount as soon as possible as rooms at some resorts go very quickly.  Be aware you may need to upgrade your room view to take advantage of the discount (you’ll still save money in the process, so don’t worry about it too much!) Also be aware that it may take over an hour on the phone to get a hold of a cast member when a new discount is released and Disney does not automatically apply any discounts to your account without your request.

At 60 days, we’re back to BOOKING. Now it’s time to book your FastPass+ reservations. When you do this, it’s very important that you know a few things:

  •          Do you have park hopper tickets?
  •          Parks with early morning magic hours
  •          Best and worst parks each day
  •          The best attractions to use your FastPass+ allotments on
  •          Do you have smaller kids that would be scared of dark rides or have height restrictions?

Around this time is usually the perfect time to get the lowest cost on flight reservations (if you haven’t already done so). After your flight, you’ll need to call Disney to add your flight information to your Magical Express reservation.  60 days prior to arrival is also makes online check-in available. This will allow you to provide Disney with your arrival time to your resort as well as provide a credit card on file during your stay. It’s another way to skip the line. If you’re planning on arriving later in the afternoon, this option isn’t necessary.

This is also a quick reminder that in 15 short days, your final payment is due for any package. If you have a room only reservation, you’ll pay the remaining balance on arrival.

Between 45 days and arrival day, there’s not much more to do in the planning phase. If you were unable to get any dining locations you were hoping for, you can continue to check back online for cancellations. Or, if you’re like me, you can change and update your FastPass+ and dining reservations until you make yourself crazy!

Have a completely confused you? Do you feel really behind? The good news is that you have another option to take all the stress and planning away. Use an authorized Disney vacation planner and the better news, is I’m happy to help! Four reasons to use a travel planner instead of doing it all yourself:


Reason #1 to use a  Travel Professional: KNOWLEDGE!

Did you know that some of the most popular Disney Restaurants can be completely booked 180 days in advance? Your best bet is to wake up at 6 am EST and get advanced dining reservations online. For you west coasters, that means 3 AM! Unless you have a newborn that’s already awake, that’s no fun for anyone. As part of my Disney Travel Experience, I take care of all of your planning needs, not only resort and ticket reservations, but also Dining and FastPass+. This is more time to spend with your family.

Reason #2 to use a  Travel Professional: CONVENIENCE & TIME!

Your ideal resort or room sold out on Disney’s web site for the promotion you were hoping to get? Well never fear, check with a Disney Travel Specialist to see if their access allows you to book your dream vacation. Also, Magical Vacations is the Home of the Minnie Box, a special gift that arrives on top of all the other goodies that Disney offers when you book a vacation package! Additionally, you’ll have extra time in the parks with a personalized itinerary tailored to your family’s wants and needs.

Reason #3 to use a Disney Travel Professional: SPECIAL BENEFITS!

Did you know that using a travel professional is absolutely 100% FREE? You read that right! Having someone else do all the heavy lifting, waking up early, and being available for questions costs nothing! PLUS, you have the peace of mind that everything is taken care of before your departure.

Reason #4 to use a Travel Professional: FREE!

There are just some of the great benefits of using an authorized Disney vacation planner. While you are able to use any travel professional, I suggest you choose one who is readily available, willing to go the extra mile to make your vacation magical, and someone with a great level of customer service. So what have you got to lose?

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

One thought on “Tips and Tricks for Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation

  1. Pingback: Disney World Tips and Tricks: 10 Tips for planning a vacation with children 5 and under | A Little Disney Magic

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