PlanningThe ParksTips

Tips for Taking That Last Minute Disney Trip

Most of us when planning a Walt Disney World vacation are doing so months if not years ahead of time.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t take last-minute trips to Walt Disney World.

Last-minute trips to the magic can be a fantastic and magical experience; however, you do have to keep in mind a few things along the way.

We have a few tips that you will want to know before jumping on the airplane or hopping in the car for a last-minute vacation to Walt Disney World.

Be Flexible

The first and most important tip when it comes to a last-minute trip to Walt Disney World is to be flexible.

Every aspect of your trip from where to stay to where to eat and what to experience is going to need you to be flexible.  We will get into these areas in more detail soon, but overall know that flexibility is going to be the name of the game during a last-minute trip to Disney.

Pluto and Grand Floridian
Credit: Disney

Resort Choices

When planning a last-minute trip to Walt Disney World, you are going to need to be both creative and flexible when it comes to where you are going to stay.  Disney is extremely busy lately and that means room availability is limited.

As you look for a specific Disney Resort to stay at, be aware that you are going to need to be flexible.  If you only stay at value resorts, you might get the chance to try out a moderate.  Only get a studio when staying at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa?  You might have to jump over and enjoy a savanna view studio room over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

For vacations that are longer than a quick get-away, you might have to get creative with your Resort stay.  Stays that are a week might need to be split up in order to find availability.  Although this might at first seem frustrating, consider it as a way to experience multiple Resorts in one stay.

It is always our top choice to stay at a Disney Resort during our Disney vacations; however, if you really can’t find something that fits your need on property look outside of the bubble.  Disney’s Good Neighbor Resorts as well as the Swan and Dolphin offer great options for Guests wanting to visit Walt Disney World.

Be flexible with your Resort choices as it will give you the chance to experience more of the magic.

California Grill Fireworks
With sweeping views of Magic Kingdom fireworks from atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, the re-imagined California Grill also features a new design inspired by mid-century modern California, and a new menu showcasing seasonal ingredients and a lighter touch. Known for its stellar wine list, the restaurant now boasts about 250 wine selections, 80 by the glass, an expanded sake list, eight kinds of craft beers and ciders and signature cocktails created by staff mixologists. Disney’s Contemporary Resort is located at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kent Phillips, photographer)


We are grateful that so many of the amazing restaurants at Walt Disney World are now open giving Guests so many options when it comes to dining.  As you prepare for your last-minute trip, you might notice that there aren’t a lot of dining options.  Don’t panic as you have some choices.

The first thing with dining is to never stop looking.  You will want to keep checking as dining reservations are constantly canceled and changed by Guests giving availability even the day before or the day of.  Don’t give up!

If you really can’t find your top choice, like with Resorts, use this time to experience something new.  Try a new table service meal at a Disney Resort that maybe you haven’t done before.  Think about checking out a quick service location such as Flame Tree Barbecue at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Just because you didn’t get a top dining reservation you normally do doesn’t mean that you are going to starve.  There are a lot of amazing options that you can enjoy throughout both the Disney Parks and Disney Resorts.

Disney Animal Kingdom
Credit: Jennifer Retzlaff

Park Reservations

Guests traveling to Walt Disney World are required to not only have Park Tickets but also Park Reservations.  If you are traveling at the last minute, you might find that there is limited availability as to what Disney Parks you can enjoy.

This doesn’t mean that you are out of luck.  There are a few ways you can still experience all four Disney Parks.  The first is to look into a Park Hopper ticket.  This allows you to travel between the Walt Disney World Theme Parks after 2 pm.

This means if you can only snag a Park Pass for EPCOT, you can still hop to Magic Kingdom after 2 pm to enjoy the magic there.

Also, be aware that there is a lot to do at Walt Disney World even outside of the Disney Parks.  The two water parks (only Typhoon Lagoon is currently open) are fantastic ways to spend the day together.

Mini-golf, Disney Springs, and visiting Walt Disney World Resorts are all fun things to do outside of the Disney Parks.  Take a skyliner or monorail ride around to enjoy all the amazing Disney Resorts.

Don’t panic if you can’t get a Park Pass to all four Disney Parks.  There are ways around that concern.

My Disney Experience App

Be Prepared

Even though you are taking a last-minute trip to Walt Disney World, you are still going to want to be prepared.  This means making sure you have the My Disney Experience app downloaded and that you have taken a little bit of time to navigate it.

You also want to make sure that you are aware of Disney Genie and Genie+ options.  Even if you decide not to use these features, they are a big part of Disney now and something Guests should know about.

Finally, make sure you have a mini-plan.  Whatever that might look like for a last-minute trip.  Are you going to go fast and try to hit as much as you can?  Are you going to enjoy the Resorts and hang out at the pools?  No matter what your goal for the trip is, make sure you are ready with one when you arrive.

A last-minute trip to Walt Disney World can happen and can be super magical.  Make sure to take these tips into consideration when you get ready to go down.  They will help you have a fantastic time.

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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