If you’re anything like me, planning your Walt Disney World vacation is almost as fun as actually going on that vacation. My planning starts months (almost a full year!) in advance and involves countless hours of research, several excel spreadsheets and more than a few phone calls to the Disney Reservation Center – the hold music alone is enough to put me in a happy mood.
Now, I know that not everyone is like me. My husband wouldn’t be caught dead putting as much thought into one single vacation as I do. And since I know I’m probably the exception and NOT the rule when it comes to vacation planning, I though it is only right that I share the knowledge and tricks I’ve discovered with you – the faithful Chip & Co. readers!
1. Check out a crowd calendar BEFORE booking your trip. Does the hustle and bustle of crowds make you a little queasy? Or the thought of a wait time of over 45 minutes to ride your favorite attraction sound anything BUT appealing? The experts at Chip & Co. have put together a simple to read chart that details the times when crowds will be at their highest and their lowest. It’s always best to check it out before booking your trip.
2. And once you have your dates selected, figure out if there are any special events happening during your stay. Or maybe this should be your first step is there is a Disney event you’re dying to try. The Fall Food and Wine Festival or the Spring Flower and Garden Show are amazing events that run for at least a month and are filled with fun, music and food – and don’t require an extra ticket. There are also ticketed events, such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party that happen annually and are ways to experience a little extra Disney Magic during your trip.
3. Plan your meals. Now we’re not exactly what you’d call “foodies” in my family but the dining experiences at Walt Disney World are when some of our best memories have been made. On our upcoming trip we have decided to get the dining plan and since we’ll have our 2 year old with us we’re making sure all of our table service meals are either buffets or all-you-care-to-enjoy since our son can eat off of our plates for free. We also want a lot of character meals since we are going with our little one. Once our dates were set I started planning out meals we’d like to do and that sets the days we’ll be in each park. Remember you can make your reservation at 180 days out (or 180 +10 if you’re staying at a Disney Resort).
4. Don’t forget to schedule your FastPasses. If you’ve already made your dining reservations, you’ll have a pretty good idea which park you’ll be at on which day. Scheduling your FastPasses in advance may take a bit of work before your vacation but it can take away a bit of stress when you’re actually at the WDW resort. Again, if you’re staying at a WDW resort you can book your FP+ at midnight 60 days before your trip. Guests staying off site can book their FP+ at the 30 day mark. A few more things to keep in mind – you can only book in advance for one park a day. You can, however, book additional FP+ at another park once you’ve used your first three passes. And my final tip – if you have a large group and can’t get reservations for everyone at the same time just try and get them within the same window. If I have a reservation from 12:30 to 1:30 and someone else in my group has one from 1:00 to 2:00 we can both go at 1:00 and still experience the attraction together.
5. Make a list of the other “must-do” activities for your trip. For us those include Character Meet and Greets, Fantasyland attractions and the parades. For you they may include certain shows (Fatasmic is amazing!) or maybe one of the Disney tours (Keys to the Kingdom is a dream of mine!). Once you’ve narrowed down the things you don’t want to miss you’ll be free to spend the rest of your time just exploring the parks.
Hopefully these tips are enough to help you get started planning a magical vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort. Have you planned a trip to WDW recently? What tips would you share with those just starting the process?
This guest post was written by our newest writer Alissa. If you like her work post a comment below to let know…
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