The Perfect Walt Disney World Trip In 10 Easy Steps

Credit: Disney

Everyone wants to know how to plan an amazing Walt Disney World Vacation. I’ve broken it down into 10 easy steps that anyone can follow!

10. Do Your Research

Walt Disney World parks and resorts are still constantly evolving. Make sure you do some research on the whole resort complex before you start to really plan your vacation, especially if you haven’t been in a few years. The ticket system has changed, as have fastpasses, and there are new attractions and resorts. Know what you’re getting yourself into before you start!

9. Plan a Budget/ Start Saving

Now that you have a better understanding of the hotels and parks, you know approximately how much your vacation will cost. Then start saving. In most cases, you’ll be able to make monthly payments toward your vacation (except if you book through Disney less than 45 days beforehand). Walt Disney World has three hotel tiers to choose from (Deluxe, Moderate, and Value, plus the campsites) to suit the needs of everyone.

8. Hotel and Travel Reservations

Once you have a budget in place, it’s time for the fun part– making reservations! Book a Magic Your Way package, which includes hotel and tickets. You also need to create a Disney account, if you don’t have one already, which you use to make Fastpass and Dining Reservations too. This is also the time to at least consider your mode of travel. Flying or driving? If flying, start looking out for plane ticket deals. If driving, will you need to stop overnight? If so, then book your stopping point hotel now too. Don’t forget to consider Disney resort overnight parking fees in your travel plans and budget if you do decide to have a vehicle on-site.

7. Plan Your Park Days

Before you make any Advanced Dining Reservations or Fastpasses, it’s good to have a rough idea of what park you’d like to be in each day of your trip. Some factors to consider: park hours, Extra Magic Hours, special events, and evening entertainment. Knowing where you want to be each day will make the other planning easier. But be flexible too, dining and Fastpass+ plans might change your original ideas.

6. Plan Dining

Advanced Dining Reservations can be made online or by phone, just like hotel reservations. Dining times become available to reserve 180 ahead of time, at 6:00 am Eastern time. Guests staying in a Disney hotel can make reservations for up to 10 days at that time. Popular restaurants, like Be Our Guest, and Chef Mickey, do fill up that far in advance!

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5. Book Fastpass+

Gone are the days of the old paper Fastpasses. Guests can choose 3 Fastpasses per day, before they even leave for vacation! On-site guests can make Fastpass+ reservations 60 before they check-in, for up to 10 days at a time. Guests not staying in a Disney hotel can make Fastpass+ reservations 30 days out. Just like Dining Reservations, Fastpass+ time slots do fill up very quickly for the most in-demand attractions, like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway or Avatar Flight of Passage.

4. Tell Your Kids

Depending on the age and maturity level of your children, you may want to let them in on the fun earlier in the process. Older children will likely want to have a say in the planning process, especially on any character meals and Fastpass+. On the other hand, a surprise trip to Walt Disney World could be fun too. Of course, you know your kids, and the decision on when to tell them is up to you.

3. Write a Packing List

This step is crucial and so often overlooked! Most items can be purchased on property if you forgot them at home: sunscreen, bandaids, pjs, etc. But you definitely need your driver’s license, credit cards, and prescription medication! Also, be sure to check the weather forecast before you leave home. Florida is not always hot and sunny. Pack layers and clothing that can get wet. Otherwise, you may end up buying everyone a new hoodie, or a poncho everyday, all at inflated theme park prices!

2. Wear Comfortable Shoes

For the love of Mickey, don’t wear brand new shoes! You will walk a lot! Blisters and sore feet will ruin your vacation. Be kind to your feet, if you do buy new shoes, break them in for a couple weeks first.

1. Be Spontaneous

All of my other tips are about planning and knowing what happening at every step of the way. But don’t forget to leave room for random fun! Stop and enjoy the entertainment in the parks; say yes to ice cream, and Dole Whips, and churros; play along with the Cast Members and characters. Your vacation will be so much more magical and memorable if you go with the flow!

How do you like to plan your Walt Disney World vacations? Do you have any steps that I left out?

About Robin Swanson

Robin’s Disney journey began with Beauty and the Beast bedsheets, a Jasmine dress up set, and a purring Nala plush. As a child in the 1990s, the renaissance and classic animations alike captivated her imagination. In 2008, Robin visited Walt Disney World for the first time, and the obsession really took hold. Since then, Robin has enjoyed visiting the Happiest Place on Earth many more times. She lives in the Chicago suburbs where she is wrapping up a Masters in writing. When not at Disney World, Robin enjoys researching fairytales, eating ice cream, Netflix binging, reading and, of course, planning the next Walt Disney World vacation!