Hoping to squeeze in a last-minute trip to Walt Disney World Resort? We don’t blame you. We’re always up for a Disney trip, and if that means squishing it in at the last minute, that’s exactly what we’ll do. That said, there once was a time when taking a last-minute trip to Disney World was quite difficult. Oddly enough, all of the changes made since Disney World reopened over the summer have actually made it much easier to plan a spontaneous Disney World trip.
Last-Minute trips are easier than ever! Wondering how on earth these changes have made things easier for the spontaneous Disney traveler? Well, essentially, the changes have removed the need to be a super planner in order to see and do all of the best things. Gone are the days of making dining reservations a full 6 months before your trip, and hopping on to make FastPass+ reservations the second your window opens up. In fact, dining can only be reserved 60 days out now, and that isn’t even always necessary. As for FastPass+? That’s gone entirely for the time being. Other things you won’t need to plan around include a single big afternoon parade or long waits to see characters. Instead, you’ll be treated to short-and-sweet spontaneous “Character Cavalcades” throughout the day, as well as other surprise character appearances. This means you can get a taste of the parade and character experiences without the long waits, and without planning your whole day around them.
So what do you need to know to plan a spontaneous Disney World vacation? Well, there are still some things you’ll want to take care of before you go, as well as a couple of things to know once you arrive. These include the following.
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1. Know What You Need
First, you will want to make sure you know what you need on a trip to Disney World these days. Obviously, the usual park essentials such as sunscreen and water bottles are still on the list of must-haves. In addition to these things, you will also want to grab several comfortable masks and make sure you have enough to change your mask at least a couple of times each day (trust us, you’re going to want to). It’s also a good idea to pack some hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Lastly, make sure to download the Disney World app (search for “My Disney Experience”) and bring a way to charge your phone in the parks. As usual, you will want to use this app to check ride times, but you’ll also need it to place mobile orders at quick-service restaurants, a step that is required in many locations now.
2. Be Flexible
One of the best things you can do when planning a last-minute trip is to be flexible. Know that you may not get to see and do everything, don’t make any firm plans, and instead let things happen spontaneously. You might just find that you enjoy this more relaxed type of Disney visit more than the super planned visits of yesteryear, and it certainly makes putting a last-minute trip together a less stressful experience. On top of that, it will help ensure you aren’t overly disappointed if something you wanted to do happens to be closed or modified due to the virus.
3. Make Park Reservations
Everyone who wishes to go to Disney parks this year will need to make park reservations. These allow Disney to know how many people to expect in their parks and plan accordingly. The reservation system also allows the company to limit the number of guests allowed in the parks in a single day, helping everyone to maintain social distancing protocols. What does this mean for you as a spontaneous traveler? It means you’ll need to hop on and make reservations as soon as you know you’re going, keeping in mind you may not get the park you want on any given day. That said, we rarely see days when all parks become unavailable, so you should be able to get something. This is where that flexibility comes into play. If you don’t see what you want, get what you can and keep checking back. Sometimes park availability does open back up, especially the morning of. (Talk about last minute!)
4. Do Walk-In Dining
If your last-minute trip is still a week or two out, you might still be able to snag dining reservations. Go ahead and grab what you can, but if you can’t get a restaurant that you really want to experience, it’s also worth trying walk-in dining. That’s right, it’s now possible to eat at some of the more popular restaurants on property without making a reservation months in advance! To take advantage of the new walk-in dining option, you’ll want to open the Disney World app and click “Check Dining Availability”. From there, you’ll select your party size and today’s date. On the next page, click “Now” under the “search by time” section. This will pull up a list of available walk-in lists near you at the top, and a full list of all available walk-in lists at the bottom. If a list is available it will provide an estimated wait time. To join an available waitlist, you must be near the restaurant. Currently, while walk-in dining isn’t available everywhere, it does give last-minute vacationers a few more options and we’re happy to see it.
There you have it! You are all set and ready for your spontaneous trip to Walt Disney World. Have a magical time!