PlanningThe ParksTips

Prepare for the Hardest Decision You’ll Make When Planning a Disney Vacation

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World involved a lot of decision-making.  It can seem a bit overwhelming when you sit down to start planning your Disney vacation.  We are going to help by breaking down the hardest decisions you’ll have to make when it comes to your Walt Disney World vacation.

We think being aware of these tough choices ahead of time will make your planning as well as your trip that much more magical.

heart castle
Credit: Disney

How Long to Stay

The first major decision that has to be made is how long you are going to plan on staying in Walt Disney World.  Even though we would all love to be able to have a nice, relaxing week-long vacation, this isn’t always possible.

If you are planning on visiting all four Disney Parks during your vacation, we do recommend at least 4 to 5 days.  This gives you a day to focus on each Disney Park as well as a bonus day.

As you are planning, realize that no matter how long or short your Disney vacation is going to be you won’t be able to see and do it all. There is so much at Walt Disney World to experience that even with a few weeks, Guests still find new, magical experiences.

Look at that budget and your goals for the trip.  What do you really want to see and do in a Theme Park?  That can help you determine how long you would like to stay.

Disney's Polynesian Resort View 2
Credit: Jennifer Retzlaff

Where to Stay

The next big decision that Guests have to make when planning a Disney vacation is where to stay.  Disney offers so many amazing Resorts that it can be hard to determine where you want to end up.

The three main categories of Disney Resorts are value, moderate, and deluxe.  Each of them offers different price points for Guests as well as different amenities.  We have a whole post comparing them HERE if you would like a deeper look at these categories.

Start by thinking about your budget and which category would allow you to stay within that goal.  Once you determine that, look into the different amenities and even the location of the different Disney Resorts.

If you are thinking about spending a lot of time at EPCOT for a festival, consider a Resort like Pop Century, Disney’s Rivieria, or Disney’s Beach Club that would give you quick and easy access to that area.

For those Guests with little ones, if swimming is going to be a big deal, be aware that the value Resorts don’t have slides.  Most kids just enjoy swimming, but if a slide is important you are going to be looking at the moderate and deluxe options.

There is a lot that goes into choosing a Walt Disney World Resort.  Take a look at some important questions to ask yourself when choosing HERE.

Walt Disney World Map
Credit: Disney

Ticket Options

Once you know how long you are going to stay and where you are staying, it is time to figure out of many days you want to head into the Disney Parks.

Disney offers a variety of ticket options for Guests.  Guests can choose to add on a Park Hopper option.  This allows them to travel between the four Theme Parks after 2 pm.  Park hopping can be a great option if you enjoy spending the evenings having a nice meal in EPCOT or watching the fireworks in Magic Kingdom.

Park hopping does take some effort.  If you have little ones or plan to stay in one Disney Park all day, Park hopping might not be for you.

For Guests that want a little extra during their Disney vacation, they can choose to add the water and sports option.  This feature gives Guests access to all four Theme Parks as well as any water park that is opened at the time of travel.  Guests are also given access to the golf courses as mini-golf courses.

When determining which ticket is the best for you, really think through your plans.  You don’t want to purchase more than you are going to use.

Memory Maker Magic Shot
Credit: Disney

Memory Maker

When booking your Disney vacation, you will also be given the option of adding Disney’s Memory Maker.  This is the photo pass package that gives Guests access to all of their photos taken both by Disney’s Photopass Photographer as well as on-ride photos.

While we think that this feature is a fantastic option, we know that it isn’t perfect for everyone.  Look into what it offers and think about if your travel party will make use of it during the trip.

Hollywood and Vine
Credit: Disney

Where and When to Eat

At 60 days prior to check-in Guests are able to start booking their dining reservations.  This is one of the harder decisions to make when it comes to traveling to Walt Disney World.

Guests can choose between two major dining styles in Walt Disney World.  Table-service dining is a sit-down restaurant where Guests are waited on by Cast Members.  Quick-service dining provides Guests with a causal on-the-go meal.  These are ordered through the My Disney Experience app and mobile ordering.

Prior to 60 days, Guests are going to want to determine if they are going to want table service or quick service meals.  If they are wanting to experience any of Disney’s table service meals, it will be important to make those reservations at the 60-day mark.  Many popular meals book up quickly.  See the hardest-to-get options HERE.

Having a plan when it comes to dining in Walt Disney World.  You want to either have reservations made or know how to use the mobile ordering feature on the app.

Credit: Disney


A new decision that Guests traveling to Walt Disney World have to make is if they are going to pay for Genie+.  If you are unsure what this feature is, it is a paid option that Guests can add to their ticket.  It gives them access to Lightning Lane and lets them bypass the standby lines.

We have a lot of information about Genie+ over at How to Disney.  Our first suggestion would be to learn as much as you can about what it offers.  The more you know about Genie+ the easier it will be to determine if it will work for your family or not.

Credit: Disney

What to Do

Finally, the last of the hard decisions revolve around what you are going to do in each of the Disney Parks.  We don’t recommend having a minute-by-minute schedule (quilty) but instead, focus on those 3-5 big goals for each day.

Determine what is a must-do ride or experience for each person.  Use this to make a tentative guide for the day.  Knowing what you want to accomplish before you enter the Park can make a world of difference.  It gives you focus and keeps you (hopefully) from running all around the Park.

We have some of the top rides in Walt Disney World right now HERE to help you get started with your decision-making.

There are a lot of hard decisions that go into planning a Walt Disney World vacation.  We hope breaking them down will help you feel less overwhelmed and able to make decisions easier as you prepare for a magical time in Walt Disney World.

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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