With such an awesome website and app with Guest chat available, booking a Disney vacation is easier than ever. That said, it still helps to know the tricks from Disney Park pros. While booking a Disney World vacation is a snap, the finer points of planning are more complex. Not to worry, this article shares tips from a Walt Disney World Resort pro and shares things I always do when booking a Disney vacation.
Check the Disney Events Schedule
Disney events on the property and in the Parks are a fun perk of visiting during certain seasons. But visiting Disney World can also mean larger crowds that you may want to plan around. For example, visiting during the International Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT is a fun event-centric surprise that may increase crowds but also means you will have exclusive food and music to enjoy on vacation.
Conversely, accidentally visiting during a RunDisney Race Weekend (when you aren’t participating in the events) could mean longer attraction wait times and larger crowds with no payoff. Take a look at the Disney event calendar on the website to get an idea of what will be happening at the most magical place on earth during your potential vacation dates.
Consult Crowd Maps
If you have any flexibility with when you can vacation at Walt Disney World, we recommend you consult a crowd map when planning. You can search Walt Disney World crowd maps online to see recent years of crowd patterns and project when will be some of the busiest and slowest times in the coming year.
Obviously, this is not a helpful tip for all travelers. After all, school and work vacation schedules may necessitate you to travel during a busy season (like July or December). Still, for those with more flexible schedules, understanding what seasons and days of the week are most crowded could help you better understand when to visit and which vacation arrival and departure days would be most beneficial. Smaller crowds really add to the Disney experience.
Buy Tickets and Disney Genie+
Head to the Walt Disney World website to purchase Park tickets and book your Disney vacation. If you have questions, no worries! Disney Guest Services Cast Members are available by internet chat or phone to answer your questions and assist in any needed troubleshooting as you purchase your vacation.
Take some time to read up on the Disney Genie+ system and decide if you are going to add it to your park tickets before purchasing. We think Disney Genie+ is a great add-on to ensure you see as many attractions as possible during Park days. The flexibility of moving through attraction lines quicker results in less waiting and more time enjoying the fun.
Check the Park Reservation System
A valid Park ticket is not the only thing required to enter Walt Disney World Parks these days. Guests visiting EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios or Magic Kingdom must have a park reservation or park pass to enter the park. Not to worry, you can secure park reservations online after you have purchased Disney Park tickets. Again, the Guest Services chat is invaluable during this process.
Think Through Dining and Park Plans Holistically
It may seem like I’m getting ahead of myself- but stick with me. Take the time to do some preliminary research and understand where you would like to dine on your Disney vacation. Obviously, plans can change and you might not want to feel married to a certain plan. Still, Walt Disney World is a big place and in the interest of not backtracking and wasting Park time, it is helpful to know where you are planning on dining each night. You can then coordinate this with the Park you are visiting each day.
Obviously, you will need to ensure that you have a valid park ticket and park reservation for EPCOT the night your Disney dining plan for the evening involves a visit to charming Via Napoli in World Showcase. But it’s also helpful to enjoy a day in the Magic Kingdom if your dinner reservation is just a short monorail ride away at Polynesian Village Resort’s fan-favorite eatery – Ohana. The proximity to your reservation will ensure you can enjoy more time in the Park than you could if you were catching a bus from Hollywood Studios to Polynesian Village Resort for the same dinner reservation.
So, while your final dining plans do not have to be locked in from day one of vacation booking, it is helpful to have reviewed maps of the Disney property and to have an idea of where you may want to dine and what the closest Disney Parks are to that restaurant.
Cash In Credit Card Cash Back
If you have been earning cashback dollars or points with your credit card company during the year, cash those babies in to offset the cost of your Disney vacation! No amount is too small to make a difference. Depending on the length of your earning streak you may be able to get a park ticket, pay for a night of your Disney Resort stay or pay for a table service dining experience entirely with cash back from credit card purchases you already made.
When it comes to booking your Disney vacation, take a look at your credit card policies and perks prior to booking. This will help you understand any added protection your card ensures. Some credit card companies offer trip protection or limited trip protection on vacations booked on their card, under certain circumstances. Take a glance at your favorite card to see what perks you may enjoy on vacation and how you might be protected.
Start Stashing Disney Gift Cards
This is a random but helpful Disney World tip. In the weeks surrounding booking your Disney vacation, consider snagging Disney gift cards during trips to the grocery store. Adding a $25 Disney or gas gift card to your cart can go virtually unnoticed in a grocery haul but can add up and prove very handy for quick service meals and merch purchases in the Parks.
Recruit Your Travel Crew to Help
Enlisting your travel buddies to assist in planning and booking a Disney vacation is a great idea. If you are traveling with your kids, this will look differently than collaborative planning would if you were traveling with your buddies or roommate. That said, take the time to discuss Park, resort, attraction, and dining options with all the travelers in your crew to be sure everyone has realistic expectations about the vacation and to ensure any must-do experiences are planned for or pre-booked.
Hopefully these vacation planning are helpful as you approach the day when you book your next Walt Disney World vacation. We hope you have the best Disney experience ever and make some unforgettable memories. These things I always do when booking a Disney vacation go a long way to make for a smooth and fun booking process.
Also remember that booking with an authorized Disney vacation planner, sometimes called a Disney travel agent is an option and may even be the best thing for your family. If you would rather not invest the time in learning about the Disney property understanding the details of dining reservations and scheming on how to see the most at the Walt Disney World Resort an authorized Disney vacation planner is a great fit for you!