A lot goes into planning the ultimate Walt Disney World Vacation from booking your trip to packing your bags! A little extra thought, and a check list or two, in the beginning is one way to help ensure you have the best trip possible. I’ve been planning Disney vacations for as long as I can remember (yes, I was that 8-year-old with the Disney Planning Books while everyone else was playing at the playground) and wanted to share my Top 10 Tips to keep you organized as you plan your magical vacation.
1. First things first – decide on the type of vacation you want to have! Do you want to stay on property or off? Do you need Park Hopper tickets or are those something you can skip? Would the Disney Dining Plan be a good option for your family? What time of year and for how long do you want to stay? This is the step where getting a travel professional involved is a great idea! World of Magic Travel, the preferred agency of Chip and Co, specializes in planning the ultimate Walt Disney World vacation, so why not contact an agent for help? All services are 100% free of charge.
2. Book your vacation at least 180 days out if possible. Now I know this isn’t always a possibility, but the earlier you get your vacation booked, the earlier you’ll have access to making your ADRs and FastPass+ selections.
3. Create your free My Disney Experience account and make sure your resort reservation and tickets are linked. My Disney Experience allows you to keep all of your planning information together in one place. And while you’re at it, download the MDE Mobile App. With the mobile app you have access to all of your information while you’re on the go (and in the parks)!
4. Make your Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) as soon as possible. Resort guests can book their ADR’s at 180 +10 (so they can book for the first 10 days of their trip at the same time. ADRs open to the public at 180 days as well but if you’re staying at a non-Disney property you need to log in each day to make your reservations. Reservations can be made at 6:00am EST online and 7:00 EST over the phone. This is a great way to utilize your experienced Travel Professional and allow them to make the reservations for you.
5. Think about any tours or other special events or extras you’d like to experience. For example, if you have a little Jake and the Neverland Pirates fan or Captain Jack Sparrow lover you may want to consider booking them a visit to The Pirates League. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to get a backstage tour of Walt Disney World? In that case, a tour like Keys to the Kingdom or Backstage Safari might be something you’d like to consider. And don’t forget, if you’re going to be there during a special ticketed event, like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, get your tickets as soon as possible so you don’t risk the event being sold out.
6. Customize your Magic Bands. You can begin customizing your Magic Bands as early as you’d like but there is a deadline to when they must be customized to ensure delivery. Most of the time it is approximately 5 days before your check-in date for delivery to your WDW resort or 10 days before your check-in date for delivery to your house but check your MDE account, or with your Travel Professional, for the exact date. At this time you have seven color options: Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange, Red, Pink, and Grey. You can also customize the name on each band – and it doesn’t have to be your
7. Make your FastPass+ selections! Guests staying at a WDW Resort can make their FastPass selections for their trip 60 days out from check-in and non-resort guests can make their choices 30 days in advance (as long as your tickets are linked to your MDE account!). Most of the time you can begin making your selections right at midnight but occasionally there is a glitch and it won’t let you in right away. Keep trying (or better yet have your TA keep trying!) though because it usually doesn’t take too long to let you in. A few things about selecting FastPasses – You can choose 3 attractions at 1 park each day. Once you’ve used those FastPasses you can select another at the park. Also, some parks are operating on a Tier System – you can select 1 attraction from Tier One and 2 from Tier 2. Not sure what FastPass+ selections you should make? We’ve got you covered!
8. If you’re flying, make sure your ground transportation from the airport is set up. If you are flying into Orlando International Airport and staying at a WDW Resort you are able to use Disney’s Free Magical Express Service. Make sure you have this added to your reservation so your luggage tags come in plenty of time for your trip. If you’re staying off property, check with your hotel to see if they offer airport transfer service. If they don’t, MEARS Shuttle Service is a popular option to get you to your hotel. You will need to book in advance so make sure to contact them as early as possible.
9. Start Packing! This is probably one of my favorite things about a trip to Walt Disney World. Packing all of my son’s costumes and Disney clothes means our trip is fast approaching. Check the weather for your travel dates, just remember, it’s Florida and the weather can be unpredictable. If you’re traveling in the winter months pack for both warm and cold weather and make sure to include layers. If you’re visiting in the summer, don’t forget rain gear – a quick mid-day shower is very common and while it shouldn’t put too much of a damper on your trip, having a poncho or stroller cover can make a big difference! And make sure you have all of your travel documents, including your Magic Bands in your carry on luggage – you’ll need them for the Magical Express!
10. Let the Vacation Begin! You’ve done all of the planning and now it’s time to enjoy your vacation at the Happiest Place on Earth!
Did we miss anything? What does your Disney Vacation Planning Checklist look like? Share it with your fellow readers below.
My name is Alissa and I am a Writer for Chip and Company. I’m also an Independent Consultant with World of Magic Travel, the preferred agency of Chip and the Disney Addicts. Email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your next “Magical” vacation to your favorite destination.
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