PlanningThe ParksTips

Important Steps To Do BEFORE Your Disney Vacation

If you are thinking about planning a Walt Disney World vacation for the family, we have some key steps you will want to make sure you do BEFORE you head down to the magic.  Make sure you check out our planning 101 post HERE for more help as you prepare for your trip.

Gran Destino Tower
Credit: Disney

Pick Your Resort

The first thing that you need to decide when it comes to your Walt Disney World vacation is where to stay.  Walt Disney World offers three main Resort categories:  value, moderate, deluxe/deluxe villas for Guests to choose from for their Disney vacation.

Each category has pros and cons to them so make sure you look at our post on questions to ask yourself before booking a Disney resort HERE.  This post will help you think about what is important to you when it comes to a Resort.

Determining where you want to stay is the first step you need to take BEFORE you head to Walt Disney World.

KiteTails Disney Animal Kingdom
Credit: Disney

Get Tickets AND Make Park Reservations

Now that you know where you are staying, it is time to purchase your tickets.  Disney offers a few different options when it comes to Disney tickets; however, the two most popular ones are base tickets and park hopper tickets.

Base tickets allow Guests to visit one Disney Park per day but they can come and go from that one Park as much as they want.

Park hoppers allow Guests to “hop” or move between the four Disney Theme Parks after 2:00pm.

It is important to think about your family and how easy or hard it will be for them to move between Parks before you decide what ticket you want to purchase.

Since reopening in the summer of 2020, Disney has been asking Guests to make Park Reservations.  Once Guests have a valid theme park ticket, they can go into their My Disney Experience app and select which Disney Park they are going to attend to start the day.

This is an extremely important step to have done BEFORE you head to Disney as these park reservations can and do fill up.  It was devastating to show up at Magic Kingdom to only be told you don’t have a Park Reservation to get in that day.

We highly recommend making those Park Reservations as soon as you have tickets.

credit: Disney

Think About Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes

Two new features that Walt Disney World has introduced is Genie+ as well as Individual Lightning Lanes.  Before heading down to Walt Disney World, take some time to learn about these features and determine if they are right for you and your traveling group.

We have a lot of posts on How To Disney about Genie+ in each of the four parks as well as overall posts about how it works.  Really take some time to learn about what Genie+, how it is used and then determine if you might use it.

If you do think that this will be a good feature for your family, make sure you budget for it.  The cost can add up so plan ahead so you are prepared.

Chef Mickeys
Credit: Disney

Make Dining Reservations

60 days before your Walt Disney World vacation you can make dining reservations at Disney’s table-service locations.  If you prefer to have this type of dining experience, you will want to make sure you are up and ready on the morning of your 60 day mark.

Many of the popular locations such as Chef Mickey’s, Space 220 and Steakhouse 71 fill up quickly making it important to plan ahead if you want to dine at these locations.

Although you can find outstanding meals throughout the Parks without dining reservations, if you want to have sit-down meals making your reservations before you arrive is key.

credit Disney


As we mentioned earlier about taking time to learn about Genie+, we also think it is important to take time to learn about Walt Disney World in general.  You are taking the first step by reading this post and we recommend looking at more of our planning tips and posts on How to Disney.  Use the search to find what you are looking for.

We always recommend that Guests take time to learn about the My Disney Experience app as it is an essential part of a Walt Disney World vacation.  This app is where you will order food, book Genie+ and find the wait times and bathrooms.  Take some time before you head down to look over the app and learn some of the key features.

We also recommend taking time to learn about the four Disney Parks as well as your Disney Resort.  Figure out where rides, attractions and dining is located so you are frustrated or confused when you arrive.

Credit :Disney

Make a Plan

We don’t suggest that you plan every minute out of your day; however, we do think it is important to have a general plan for your days in the Parks.

Start with a must-do list (we have suggestions on How to Disney) as that will help you know where you focus should be in all the Parks.

Figure out if there are rides, shows, characters or snacks that everyone must have so you can put that into the plan.

Taking time to have an overall plan will help the day in the Disney Park go smoother for everyone.

Those are some of the big and important steps you need to do before your Walt Disney World vacation.  By taking time to do these steps you will be setting yourself up for success 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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