PlanningThe ParksTips

10 Steps to Do Prior to Your Disney Vacation

Planning a Walt Disney World vacation can take a lot of work and might seem overwhelming but here at How to Disney, we want to make it as easy as possible for our readers.

We have ten steps that Guests should do prior to their Walt Disney World vacation in order to be set up for success.

Set a Budget

Before you start planning your Walt Disney World vacation make sure you set a budget.  We all know that a vacation to Walt Disney World is expensive.  Make sure you don’t go over budget by setting your goal ahead of time.

Know what you hope to send when it comes to your Disney Resort, Disney tickets, transportation, food, and souvenirs.  This will help you stay within your budget as you plan and start making decisions.

Don’t feel like you have to have the same budget as your neighbor as Disney has options for all budgets so you will be able to have a magical trip.

Pop Century Resort
Photo Credit: Disney

Disney Resort

After you determine where you want to stay at Walt Disney World, you will want to take some time to learn about your Walt Disney World Resort.  We have some blogs about the value and moderate resorts than can get you started.

When looking at your Walt Disney World Resort, make sure you know what transportation options you will have, what dining choices are available, and if there are other entertainment options.

By knowing this prior to your trip, you will be more prepared to really take advantage of everything that your Resort has to offer.

credit: Disney Tips

New Things

Each and every trip to Walt Disney World is different because there are always new and exciting things to experience.  Before you head down for your trip, make sure to take time to look at what new experiences are available.

You don’t want to miss out on the new, big thing so take time to be in the know prior to the trip so you are aware of what will be available.  New dining, new rides, new shows, and new entertainment are constantly being added to the Walt Disney World Resort property.

We love always having something new to look forward to when we head to Walt Disney World.  Whether it is a new dining location like Space 220 or a new exciting ride such as Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, we love all the new experiences.

Credit: Disney

Can’t Do it All

Prior to going down, make sure you set realistic expectations.  Know that with four Theme Parks, 2 water parks, over 20 Disney Resorts, and Disney Springs you won’t be able to do it all no matter how long your Disney vacation is.

Sit down with those you are traveling with and talk about what your top attractions and experiences are for the trip.  What snack goals does everyone have?  What rides are must-dos?

By setting your goals for the trip you will be able to focus on those instead of everything you might not get in during this trip.  Don’t stress yourself out or ruin the magic by trying to do it all.


Genie+ or No Genie+

A new decision that Guests have to make now prior to their Walt Disney World vacation revolves around Genie+.   Before heading down, do some research (we have a lot on How to Disney) about Genie+ the new paid fastpass system.

Even if you don’t purchase it before your trip, it is good to know what Genie+ is and how it works.  By being educated about this new system, you will be able to determine if it will be worth it for your family or not.

To Hop or Not to Hop

Another decision that Guests need to figure out prior to their Walt Disney World vacation revolves around Park Hopping.  Guests who wish to move between the four Disney Parks during a single day need to add the Park Hopper option to their ticket.

By adding this feature to their Walt Disney World ticket, Guests are able to hop from one Disney Park to another after 2 pm.

For some, this is a great feature as they enjoy afternoon breaks at the Resort and then hop to a new Park for the evening.  For others that stay at the same Park all day, this wouldn’t be a good fit.

Think about your touring style for the trip to better understand if a Park Hopper is something that would work for your family.

Sleepy Hollow Magic Kingdom
Credit :Disney

Dining Decisions

An important part of a Walt Disney World vacation is the food. Before heading down to Walt Disney World know what your plan is when it comes to food.

If you want to enjoy sit-down meals while visiting, you will want to make dining reservations through the My Disney Experience app 60 days prior to your trip.  Popular dining options such as character meals fill up quickly and need to be made early on.

For those that are more on-the-go eaters, you will want to be familiar with mobile ordering on the My Disney Experience app.  This feature will save time in line during mealtime as you are able to preorder your food.

No matter what style of dining you want to experience in Walt Disney World, make sure you have a plan before going.

Space Mountain at Night
Credit: Disney

How Tall Are You?

If you are traveling with little ones, make sure you take a moment to determine how tall they are prior to heading down to Walt Disney World.  Although there are numerous experiences for all ages, you will want to avoid meltdowns by being aware of how tall your little one is.

After you future this out, check out what rides in the Disney Parks have heigh requirements so you know what they can and can’t ride.  This will help everyone out in the long run.

My Disney Experience App

My Disney Experience is Key

It is essential for a successful Walt Disney World vacation to be knowledgeable about Disney’s app My Disney Experience.  This app is the key to everything in Walt Disney World and is so important to a successful trip.

Because it does so much, we highly recommend taking some time before going down to figure out what it does.  Check to make sure you have a valid credit card loaded as well as know your password and how to navigate between the different screens.

We love My Disney Experience, but it can be frustrating and overwhelming if you haven’t taken a look beforehand.

Credit: Inside the Magic

It Will Rain

Be aware as you pack and prepare to go down that weather does happen even in Walt Disney World.  Make sure that you pack rain gear, sunscreen, and if you are going in the winter months like December, January, or February winter gear.

Take time to invest in rain gear, fans, and other weather-related items so you are prepared for whatever mother nature throws at you.

Walt Disney World Map
Credit: Disney

Lay of the Land

We don’t expect you to memorize the map of Walt Disney World, but we do suggest taking time to look over the maps for the different Parks so you have a general idea of the layout.

The My Disney Experience app has easy-to-access maps with wait times making it easy to see where those most popular rides are and how to get to them easily.

By having a general understanding of where things are you will find yourself less likely to be crisscrossing around the Parks.

By doing these 10 things before your Walt Disney World vacation you will be better prepared for the magic when you arrive.

Jennifer Retzlaff

Jennifer became a lifelong Disney fan during her first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of her life. She quickly started to introduce her love of Disney to her family with a Disney honeymoon and then family trips when her youngest was 18 months old. She loves the magic that Disney brings to people through theme parks, cruises, and adventures. As a teacher, she tries to bring Disney magic into her classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” She is also part of the Magic Vacation Planner team as a personal travel advisor. With this team, she can now help others plan magical vacations. She loves bringing her love to Disney to readers with How to Disney.

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