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You’re going to Disney World! And you know you need a plan, but where to start? And when? It can be overwhelming, especially when planning your first trip. Here are some quick and easy tips for planning Disney World trips so you can plan the perfect trip for your family. Let’s get started!
Quick Tip #1: Learn When to Start Planning
The first tip for planning Disney World trips is knowing when to start.
Many Disney novices are surprised to learn just how early you need to begin this process. In order to maximize your options, you really need to start your trip planning more than 6 months before your arrival.
This will give you time to do your research and make choices for your family before your window for various reservations open up. It will also prevent you from getting stressed out and overwhelmed by it all.
If you are already within that 6 month period and haven’t started yet, don’t worry! You can still plan a great trip for your family. You will just have to do things a little faster. And you may have fewer options available.
The earlier you get started planning your trip, however, the better.
Quick Tip #2: Figure Out Where to Stay
Now that you have your timeline in place for planning, it’s time to start making some decisions.
The first big one is where to stay. There are an endless number of options to choose from in the Orlando area. Do you prefer to stay onsite at Disney World or off property? Would you rather stay in a hotel or rent a vacation home?
This is a personal decision that will differ from family to family. However, take a few minutes to read why you should stay on property before you decide. This will lay out all of the factors you should consider when deciding where to stay.
Quick Tip #3: Determine How Long to Stay
The next thing you need to decide is how long to stay.
Real-life considerations, like available vacation time and budget, will obviously have a big impact on this decision. Generally speaking though, the longer your stay, the more relaxing and less stressful your trip will be.
I recommend staying at least 4 full days. But, seven to ten days is the perfect length for a Disney World trip. This will give you a full day in each park with a few other days to revisit some of your favorites or enjoy some of the out-of-park offerings. A full week at Disney World will also prevent you from feeling rushed to fit it all in.
Quick Tip #4: Decide Where to Eat
Next on our list of quick tips for planning Disney World trips is to decide where to eat. Now, I know it may seem crazy to plan where you want to eat on vacation 6 months in advance. But at Disney World, this is a must if you want to experience some of the best table service restaurants there.
It is almost impossible to get into any of Disney’s table service restaurants without advance reservations. You can start making these reservations, beginning 180 days before your trip. It is extremely difficult to snag a reservation for the most popular restaurants on property if you don’t make it 6 months out.
There are over 50 restaurants scattered around Disney World property. You can find a wide range of cuisines, themes, and styles of restaurants. So, it will be easy to find places that will please your family.
But, it will take you some time to decide where you want to eat. You can find a list of menus for all Disney World restaurants at allears.net.
And remember, you don’t have to be staying at a Disney World hotel to eat at the restaurants there but you will need to have a park ticket to eat at a restaurant inside one of the parks.
Quick Tip #5: Make Park Reservations
The next item on your planning agenda is to make park reservations. Since reopening after the pandemic, Disney World has required you to have a park reservation in addition to a park ticket for each park you want to visit each day.
So, once you know your travel dates and how many days you will spend in the parks, you need to decide which parks you want to visit on each day.
Then, go to Disney World’s website or the My Disney Experience app and check availability. If there is availability, then make your park reservations.
If the park you want to visit on a particular day is unavailable, then check the other ones. Just because Magic Kingdom is full on the first day of your trip doesn’t mean that Animal Kingdom will be full. You may just need to switch around the order in which you visit the parks.
Quick Tip #6: Make a Touring Plan
Once you have made your park reservations, you need to decide how to attack the parks.
Remember that there are tons of things to do in each park. To make the most of your time, you need to have a plan before you arrive. If you just wander around trying to decide what to do next, you will waste a lot of time. So, decide the order you will do things in before you get there each day.
In order to avoid long wait times, hit up the most popular attractions early in the day. Then do the less popular attractions later in the day when the crowds reach their peak.
For help with making a plan, look at the plans on touringplans.com. I highly recommend them. I use them for almost everyone of our trips. They are based on years of data regarding wait times and other things. I have found that they are really effective in minimizing the amount of time you spend waiting in lines.
For some ideas of things to do, see our must-do’s at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot’s World Showcase, Epcot’s Future World, Hollywood Studios, and for kids. Also see our list of hidden gems at Disney World.
Quick Tip #7: Consider Some Out of Park Experiences
Many people don’t realize that there are many amazing things to do outside of the parks at Disney World. There are four golf courses, two miniature golf courses, a bowling alley, a movie theater, and more. You can also go fishing, parasailing, horseback riding, shopping, learn archery, attend a dinner show, or watch a movie under the stars.
While planning your trip, explore these out of park experiences. You may want to take some time during your trip to get away from the crowds and enjoy some of these extras.
Going to Disney World can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. These quick and easy tips for planning Disney World trips will help you create a customized plan perfect for your family!
For more detailed planning information, check out our step-by-step guide and the best resources for planning a Disney trip. And take a look at the rookie mistakes to avoid on your trip. Have a great trip!