Planning a Disney vacation is not for the faint of heart! The decisions to be made and the vast array of choices is enough to make your head spin. But never fear—a well-planned Disney trip is not out of reach. Take a breath and focus on these seven things as you prepare for the trip of a lifetime.
7. Book Early
Yes, it is possible to do a “last minute” trip to Disney World. But if you don’t want your choices to be limited, book your vacation as early as you possibly can. For large groups who want rooms next to each other, this tip is especially important. Booking rooms early helps you “cross off” a major item from your to-do list, gives you a home-base from which to plan your itinerary, and gives you ample time if you opt to make payments. But don’t forget to continue watching for deals and specials after you book—if your reservation qualifies for a discount, call Disney and they will honor it.
6. Research Early
Once your room is reserved, it’s time to start planning everything else. First, do your research on: which parks you’ll visit, what days you’ll visit each park (remember to look up Extra Magic Hours), and how you’ll get from your hotel to the parks (look up transportation routes). Next you’ll want to research: where you’d like to eat on each day and which rides/experiences are on your must-do list. Print a map of each park and highlight points of interest.
5. Reserve Early
If you’re staying on Disney property, one of the major perks is that you get first dibs on dining and Fast Pass reservations. Don’t let that privilege go to waste! Check out this five step process to make the most of your reservation window for dining reservations. For Fast Passes, the best way to choose your reservations is to cross-reference you must-do list with the wait times shown on the My Disney Experience app. (For example, the Teacups may be on your must-do list, but wait times are usually on the short side. Don’t get a Fast Pass for this one.) Try to get your Fast Passes for early in the day so you have the ability to reserve more inside the park, and remember that you can always make changes if your plans are altered.
4. Get Crafty
As you prepare for Disney World, it’s fun to bring everyone together with some DIY projects. Lots of families will wear homemade matching shirts to Disney by using iron transfers or tie dye. When your Magic Bands arrive, consider decorating them with each person’s favorite character. You can find inspiration in this article. Even if you’re not super crafty, you can still have fun with a countdown paper chain or decorating mini notebooks to collect autographs.
Unless you plan to eat all your meals and snacks in restaurants, you’ll need to have some groceries in your room to feed your flock. If you’ve got a car you can always make a grocery run nearby Disney World, but who wants to waste precious vacation time in a supermarket? Order your groceries before you leave to ease your mind and save your sanity. This article helps you weigh your options.
2. Get in the Zone
Athletes often have a routine to psych themselves up for competition. Since Disney World is like the Super Bowl of vacations, you should probably do the same. Have a Disney movie marathon. Create a Disney playlist or Pandora station. Start collecting quarters and pennies for the pressed penny machines. Take regular walks—in your park shoes. (I once made the mistake of wearing un-tested shoes to the parks and ended up with a bruised toe from a bad fit.) Basically get yourself in regular Disney headspace, since anticipation is part of the fun.
1. Pack Like a Pro
As you pack for your Disney vacation, remember that you’ll need to pack the travel basics (clothes, shoes, swimsuits, toiletries) AND you’ll need to prep a park bag (sunscreen, water bottles, wet wipes, Magic Bands). We’ve developed a master list for you to print including space for you to customize the list to your own family’s specific needs.
Follow these seven steps and planning for Disney will be simply magical. Have fun!
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like MickeyTravels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!