Planning, to one degree or another, is key when it comes to vacationing at the happiest place on earth! There is so much to see, do and eat at the Walt Disney World Resort that having at least the outline of an itinerary can make sure your trip is everything you want it to be. When it comes to planning your WDW vacation, I’ve created a list of Do’s and Don’ts to make the process a little simpler.
Do plan enough time for everything you want to do. If you want to visit all four theme parks, a water park and Downtown Disney make sure you give yourself enough time. You don’t want to be running around so much you don’t have time to actually stop and enjoy everything. Each park can easily take a day to see and there are several non-park things to do and see so allow yourself at least five days, especially if this is your first visit.
Don’t try to do everything in one trip. The WDW Resort is HUGE and there are so may things to experience. Trying to cram everything into a week, or even two-week, vacation will just add unnecessary stress. Make a list of those things you can’t miss and plan around those attractions, meals, and shows.
Do make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs). ADRs can be made 180 (or 180 +10 if you’re staying at a WDW resort property) days in advance. There are some highly popular restaurants at WDW that fill up very quickly including Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest. You can always try to walk up to a Table Service restaurant but you may not be able to get into your first, second, or even third choice without a little advanced planning.
Don’t forget about Extra Magic Hours. One of the benefits of staying on property are EMH. These are select times that that park is open only to resort guests. All parks have Morning EMH and Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios have Evening EMH. If you chose to take advantage of EMH you can either sleep in (if you’re going in the evening) or call it an early day (if you’re using Morning EMH) – adding a little bit of relaxation to your trip.
Do make sure to familiarize yourself with FastPass+ and make your selections in advance if possible. Guests staying on Disney property can make their FP+ selections 60 days in advance and those guests not staying on property can book their choices 30 days in advance. While it may seem impossible to know what you’ll be doing that far in advance the new system will save you from having to make a mad-dash to the most popular rides at rope drop.
Don’t forget to give yourself enough time for travel and meals. Disney suggests allowing yourself 45-60 minutes of travel time to get from one place to another. If you’re going from resort to resort build in a little extra time since you’ll have to make a connection at a park, Downtown Disney or TTC. Character meals can take an hour or more if you want to enjoy your meal and spend time interacting with all of the characters. You certainly don’t want to feel rushed while having dinner with Cinderella or breakfast with Mickey and his friends!
Do set a budget. Make sure you include not only room, tickets and transportation, but food (or tips if you chose a Disney Dining Plan), money for tips for people like Magical Express bus drivers, anyone who assists you with your luggage and Mousekeeping and money to bring home a souvenir or two. My family always makes sure we have enough for a new picture frame and an ornament for our Christmas tree.
Don’t over-plan and schedule yourself down to the minute. When I was younger I would plan our Disney vacations in 5-minute increments. I even scheduled bathroom breaks! That did NOT go over well with my family. Planning is great. I have several Excel worksheets dedicated to Disney planning. But remember, it’s still a vacation. You don’t want to have such a tight and rigid schedule that one little thing throws your whole day off.
Do make sure to check out the things to do outside of the parks. Downtown Disney has amazing shops and places to eat – Earl of Sandwich is personal favorite. And resort-hopping can make for a really fun afternoon. There are so many fun things that happen at each resort, like evening movies and campfires with marshmallow roasting that even if you decided to have a non-park day you won’t get bored!
Don’t forget to utilize a Disney Travel Agent, like World of Magic Travel to help you plan your magical vacation! Your Disney Travel Agent has had training specifically related to planning a magical Disney vacation or cruise and wants to share all of that knowledge with you. Using their service is free and can even save you money because they will keep an eye out for any promotions and make sure they apply those that qualify to your vacation without you having to lift a finger. They can also assist with all other aspects of your trip include air and ground transportation, dining reservations and another other special touches to make your trip the vacation of a lifetime!
My name is Alissa and I am a Writer for Chip and Company. I’m also an Independent Travel Consultant with World of Magic Travel, the preferred agency used by Chip and the Disney Addicts. Email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your next “Magical” family vacation to your favorite destination.
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