The Best Checklist For A Walt Disney World Vacation

Planning can make the difference between a so-so Walt Disney World trip and the best vacation ever. Many people don’t realize how large Disney World actually is. Others don’t know how much there is to do, they think that it’s just the theme parks. You want to get the most out of your vacation dollars. Here’s a checklist and timeline to help you do just that.


Step One:

As early as possible order a copy of the planning DVD from the Walt Disney World website. It is free, and it will answer a lot of your questions. There is no obligation to book a trip if you order the DVD, so you’ll want a copy even if you aren’t sure whether or not Central Florida should be your next vacation destination.

Step Two:

After you’ve watched the DVD and have decided that you want to know more, talk to a travel agent, especially if it will be your first Disney trip. Look for someone who is a Disney expert, because he or she will know where deals and discounts can be found. A travel agent will also explain the pros and cons of packages verses buying things separately. If you don’t like the idea of sitting face to face with someone, you can chat online with a representative through the Walt Disney World website.

Step Three:

Pick your dates and book your rooms. If you’re staying on property and booking directly it’s a good idea to call 407-939-5277, instead of booking through the website. A live operator will know about discounts and extras. Following your reservation, visit your My Disney Experience account to select what color you prefer your complimentary MagicBand to be if staying at a Disney Resost. The MagicBand will be shipped to your home roughly 2-weeks before arrival.

Step Four:

You may not be thinking about food six months before your vacation, but Disney wants you to. You can make your Advanced Dining Reservations up to 180 days in advance. While most restaurants don’t require that much notice, the more popular ones like Be Our Guest Restaurant might. Book any must-tries this far in advance. You can always cancel later if you change your mind. Dining reservations require a credit card to hold them, and you will be charged if you don’t cancel in time.

Step Five:

If you haven’t already, order your tickets and link them to your MyDisneyExperience account. This is also a good time to book extras such as Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

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Step Six:

FastPass+ reservations can be made 60 days in advance if you’re staying at a Disney Resort, and 30 if you aren’t. While most rides and attractions won’t require that much time, there are a few that will. Think of popular attractions to select first like Avatar Flight of Passage and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. There are a few other rides that will also fill up quickly. You can change times and attractions later if you need to, if there are any spots open.

Step Seven:

Once your vacation is getting close, it’s time for the chores that you need to do on any vacation, like confirming your travel and lodging reservations and making sure that your prescriptions are filled. There are some special things that you’ll want to do if you’re headed to Walt Disney World. Plan a family Disney movie night to get everyone even more excited. Pick up some Disney themed t-shirts at the local department store, they’ll be cheaper than in the parks. Make a final list of must-do rides, attractions, and restaurants.

Step Eight:

Some families like to start packing a couple of weeks before a trip, others will wait to the last minute. Don’t forget hats, sunglasses, comfortable walking shoes, and sunscreen. A few days before you leave check the Orlando weather forecast, and then check it again each day until you leave. The weather in Central Florida can change in a moment, and you don’t want to be caught unprepared.

Step Nine:

The day before you leave look through everything again. Make sure that you have any important papers (license, insurance cards, etc.) in a bag that will be with you at all times. Explore and learn the My Disney Experience App if you haven’t already, you’ll use that in the parks regularly. If you’re flying, check in online. Get a good night’s sleep before you leave, because a Walt Disney World vacation can be exhausting!

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.