It’s hard to have a bad vacation in Walt Disney World. That being said, I have seen it happen. Without planning as much as possible beforehand, you may end up with unexpected issues popping up and ruining aspects of your vacation that could have been completely in your control. Here are some simple tips to help you plan for a sensational vacation at the most magical place on earth.
8. Start your planning as far ahead as possible. A sensational Disney vacation includes many aspects: where you’re staying, where you’re dining, what experiences you want to enjoy. Without planning as far ahead as possible you simply won’t get the dining reservations you want. Dining reservations become available 180 days out. So if you wait until all of your other vacation aspects are planned, you may not get that coveted dinner spot at Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Castle. So even if you know which dates you might be going to Disney, don’t wait – book dining reservations at that 180 day mark to make sure you get the ones you want (you can always cancel or move them later, if you need to). These days, most flights also end up cheaper the further out you book. So if you are flying into Florida, best to secure those flights earlier rather than later. And of course, FastPass+ opens up 60 days in advance, if you are staying on site. Grabbing these right at your 60 day mark will ensure you can get FastPasses for busier rides (Toy Story Midway Mania or Soarin’, for example) so that you don’t have to wait hours in line.
7. Make must-do lists. Walt Disney World can be overwhelming. There is so much to see and do. And there really is something for every member of the family. So sit down with everyone and make sure you find out what experiences are on each person’s wish list. This will help you plan your FastPasses, as well as your days in the parks. If your family has more interest in the Magic Kingdom than in Animal Kingdom, for example, make sure you plan accordingly with more days spent in Magic Kingdom, and maybe only one in Animal Kingdom. Unless you are spending an unlimited amount of time in Walt Disney World (which would make you the envy of more than a few people!), you won’t be able to do everything on property. Making these lists in advance will prevent you from missing out on things that are most important to you.
6. Look up menus. Dietary restrictions are nothing to worry about in Walt Disney World, as there is a wide variety of restaurants catering towards guests with food allergies or dietary requirements. But if someone in your party is a vegetarian, or they don’t like spicy foods or have a seafood allergy, then you want to make sure that even though a restaurant may be highly recommended, everyone in your party is going to enjoy their meal.
5. Schedule time to relax. There is so much to do in Walt Disney World that if you wanted to, you could be on the go from sunrise until the moment the parks close each and every day. But that’s a good way to exhaust yourself, so make sure to take time to relax. Enjoy those resorts! They all have stunning pools, restaurants and experiences of their own. You don’t want to be so tired mid-way through your vacation that you don’t even remember those incredible memories.
4. Add extra days. Once you reach a certain point, it costs very little to grab another day’s park ticket. If you think you might want another day in the theme parks but aren’t sure if you will use it, after the fourth day it only costs about another $10 per person to grab another. Don’t be stingy, and get the most out of your vacation!
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3. Take advantage of Disney’s Transportation System. If you are staying on resort, Walt Disney World makes things wonderfully convenient and simple to get around. If you are flying in, don’t worry about getting a cab or renting a car. Disney offers a free service that will pick you up from the Orlando airport. It is so simple and relaxing. Once you are at your resort, of course, you won’t need a car. You can get to each and every park by shuttle bus from every single resort. Some even have boat rides, or are linked to the parks via monorail.
2. Figure out where your resort is. This goes back to the previous point: some resorts have boats, some have access by monorail, and with some you’ll be relying exclusively on the shuttle bus system. Figure out where your resort is in respect to the different parks. For example, some mornings you may need to leave a little earlier if you are further away from Animal Kingdom, and that’s where you’re spending the day. You won’t wait long for a bus, boat or monorail but try to build in some time for transportation so that you don’t miss rope drop if that’s what you are aiming for.
1. First day early, last day late: this is something we have always done and always will do, to maximize our time at Walt Disney World. It seems a waste to get to the resort so late on your first day that you can’t go to a park. Maybe it’s the kid in me, but I don’t think I could stand it if I was on property but unable to visit a park as soon as I got there. Don’t worry about arriving at your resort before your room is ready – all resorts will hold your bags for you and drop them in your room when it’s ready, while you begin your vacation in the parks. That goes for your last day as well. You may need to check out of your room by 11:00 am, but every resort has a check-in service for the airline, as well as a place to hold your luggage until later in the day if you are leaving later. We always grab the last possible flight to squeeze every second of fun out of our Walt Disney World vacation.
Planning is key to enjoying a sensational vacation. It takes a lot of the stress out of your stay, and ensures that once you get to Walt Disney World, every member of the family can enjoy every second of their magical experience.