So many people planning their first Disney vacation always tell me how stressed they are when it comes to planning, and even once they get down to the parks! Indeed, there are a lot of moving parts, and sometimes it can be hard to keep track of it all. Once you’ve had enough practice, it does start to come naturally. But not everyone is a Disney-crazed nut like myself, and they don’t want to spend countless hours trying to come up with a military-level plan for their vacation! So, if you may fall into the category of an overwhelmed first-timer when it comes to going on a Walt Disney World vacation, here are a few tips to help you get through the process!
Dining Reservations – 180 days out
If there is anything you get from this post, it is to remember the 180-day mark and 60-day mark of your vacation (see 60 days below). 180 days out from your vacation, Disney allows you to book your party’s dining reservation. Perhaps there is a character breakfast you want to try where the kids can meet their favorite characters. Or maybe you want to eat within the grand décor of the Beast’s castle at the Be Our Guest Restaurant. Many of the popular dining experiences are booked solid the first day they become available, so make sure to log on to My Disney Experience early in the morning on the day of your 180-day mark. In order to know what you want, you can research the extensive list on Disney’s website and read reviews many places online.
***Pro-tip: Book your breakfast reservations in the park as early as the restaurant allows. Many restaurants inside the parks publish reservation times earlier than park opening, so you can enter earlier than everyone else! It is a great time to stop for a quick photo-op with no one else in the background, and crowds will be lower after your meal for attractions!
Fast Passes – 60 days out
Don’t you miss the days when you had paper Fast Passes for the attractions you wanted to see? While it seems like an added stress to plan ahead of time, there are actually great benefits to booking your Fast Passes before you’ve gotten to the parks! If you are staying at a Disney Resort hotel, you are able to book your Fast Passes 60 days out from your vacation, rather than only 30 days for guests staying off-property. Do some research before your 60-day mark on park hours to know which days you would like to go to which parks, as well as taking into account your dining reservations. When it comes time to make your Fast Passes, you’ll have a game plan and know exactly which days you are going to which parks. Once you’re in the parks, you won’t have to worry about running to the attractions in order to get your Fast Passes, one at a time! The Fast Pass+ system on My Disney Experience allows you to book three Fast Passes per day at a park. You’ll already know walking into the park when your first Fast Pass is coming up and can use the extra time to catch another attraction!
***Pro-tip: Once you’ve used up your three Fast Passes, you are able to book one more Fast Pass at a time for the rest of your day! This can be arranged on your My Disney Experience app or at a Fast Pass kiosk in the park.
Don’t Plan Too Much
I know people who will plan each part of their Disney days down to the minute! This may work for some guests who are looking to make their time in the parks as efficient as possible, but it can also lead to some problems. There may be a ride that had to be closed for unexpected repairs, or a dining reservation takes much longer than anticipated. While planning each day at the parks is important, it is also critical to remember to leave some room for spontaneity. Things will sometimes go wrong and having a rigid schedule can lead to disappointment. After all, isn’t some impulsive decision-making okay on vacation?! Let loose, and have fun! Some of the best memories you may make are the ones you weren’t expecting.
Don’t Worry about Seeing Everything
Unless you are planning on moving in to a hotel for a couple of months, it is just not possible to see and do everything Disney has to offer on one trip! Before your trip, make a list of must-do’s and try to get Fast Passes to the attractions that are really important for people in your party to experience. You can even make a list of the must-try snacks (because trust me, there are SO many!). And don’t let one missed-out-on ride spoil the trip! You are in Disney World! There is so much to do if that even if one ride happens to be down, there are plenty of other opportunities around every corner. You are going to have fun no matter what.
Book with a Travel Planner!!!
When you book with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner like MVP, you are going to get exceptional service. Not only will they find you the best deals, but these people are OBSESSED with Disney and love to help others create a magical vacation (yes, that includes me!). We know our stuff, and are happy to make suggestions and recommendations before and even during your trip, so you get the best experience possible. Not to mention, we can help book your dining reservations and walk you through making your Fast Passes! These services all come at no extra cost to you (if they do, you are paying more than you should be!) as Disney pays the agents’ commission – not you! If you want the best possible service, contact me or your own travel agent about your next Disney vacation.
Vacationing in Disney does come with a bit of homework. But it is well worth it! The memories you make will last a lifetime. And if you think the planning is just too much too handle, talk to your travel agent. They can help plan the perfect Disney vacation for you and your family. There is no right or wrong way to experience Disney, as it means something different to everyone. The most important thing is that you have fun on your vacation!