Congratulations!!! You booked your trip to Disney World!!! Let the planning begin!
Most people are very excited once they book their trip, but it’s important to note that the planning is not over! To succeed in preparing for a great trip, it’s important to follow the strategies below to maximize your time, which in turn, maximizes your dollars. Follow these SIMPLE SEVEN STEPS to keep planning your vacation, and you’re guaranteed to have a great time.
Step 1: Mark the date for your Fast Pass+ reservations!
Set the alarms now! If you booked a WDW Resort, you can make your Fast Pass reservations as far out as 60 days from your first day (off Disney property, you only get 30 days). For this blog’s sake, we’ll reference it as “Fast Pass Morning” moving forward. The best news is, on Fast Pass Morning, you can book Fast Passes for all of the days you will be visiting the parks. That means that you don’t have to wake up super early each morning to make more Fast Pass selections. You get to book for your entire vacation on Fast Pass Morning. So, find your date for your Fast Pass Morning, and mark every calendar you own.
Step 2: Download Disney’s “My Disney Experience” App
If you search “Walt Disney World” in your app store, it will come up . Log in or create a username and password, and get familiar with using the app. It will be your best friend while you’re in Walt Disney World.
Step 3: Time to Start Planning Your Trip!
To me, this is the fun part. I use my Disney Trip Itinerary spreadsheet for each trip, and start penciling in my bucket list items. After I decide what I want to do on the trip, I then work out the best days to do each adventure. Of course, I edit and edit in the weeks leading up to the trip. I am constantly making revisions, always keeping in mind the best use of our time.
Be sure to keep in mind your transportation options while planning. Mark my words: If you’re staying on Disney Property, you do NOT need a rental car. Save that money! More to come on that in a future post.
Finally, it’s important to keep an eye on the Park Hours as you get close to the trip. Find out why in my Instagram Post
Step 4: Book Your Dining Reservations
I myself have fallen victim to not immediately booking our dining reservations. In my head, I was thinking, “I’ll take care of it later because I have to put a deposit down with the reservation, and I don’t want to pay any more money out right now.” I was wrong. DEAD WRONG.
So, keep this in mind: Yes, they do take a credit card to secure your reservation. However, they don’t charge the credit card to secure it. They only charge the credit card if you don’t show up. The only catch is, if you plan to make changes, do so 24 hours before your reservation. If you don’t, then you’ll be charged.
Making reservations is quite easy to do. You can make reservations by calling the Dining Reservations line, OR you can save yourself a TON of time, and book reservations using the app. Once you secure the reservation, you’ll see it in “My Plans” in the My Disney Experience App.
I personally have never struggled to move reservations around, but I’m also not trying to book at overly popular places like Beauty and the Beast in Magic Kingdom, or Homecomin’ in Disney Springs. Some places are extremely popular and hard to get into. The reservation window opens six months in advance. So, keep that in mind if you’re considering booking a trip. You can actually book that dining reservation before you even book your vacation.
Step 5: Link Your Park Tickets!
Friends, this is the one people almost always forget, and yet it’s the MOST CRUCIAL thing to get done before you book your Fast Passes.
Truth is, you can purchase your Walt Disney World park tickets from lots of places. Some places offer discounted tickets, but those discounts have scaled back significantly since the change in ticket pricing structure by Disney in 2019. Now, you’re looking at much smaller discounts available on other sites like ParkSavers and Undercover Tourist Blog.
If you don’t want to mess with hassle, I would recommend you book your tickets through Disney. Reason being, once you purchase your tickets, they will link straight to your account and you don’t have to mess with it. If you book your tickets from a third party, you need to link your park tickets to your Disney account BEFORE your “Fast Pass Morning”. I would recommend you use the Disney World Website to do this, not the app. Email me if you need help linking your tickets. Blog post on how to do this coming very soon!
Step 6: Set your Alarm for Fast Pass Morning and Book those Fast Passes!
Just a reminder: Are you staying at a WDW Resort? If so, you get to book your fast passes 60 days in advance of your first day in the parks. This is one of the major benefits of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort during your trip. Not staying at a WDW Resort? You get 30 days in advance of the first day in the parks.
So, once you’ve marked your “Fast Pass Morning” date, make sure you have the majority of your plans penciled in, and that your alarms are set so that you’re up and ready with the app open and quick fingers before 7am that day. For booking fast passes, check out this video.
A few quick tips:
* Sometimes it pays to be flexible with what days you visit the park. So, when planning, decide on “Day A”, “Day B”, “Day C”, and so on. That way, if you see a great Fast Pass available at a park, you can decide that’s the date you’re going to do “Day B”, and so on. You’re basically puzzle piecing your trip together based on the availability of Fast Passes. I don’t always do this, and some times I wish I would have.
*There are some who use the strategy to book the LAST day of their trip first, and work backwards. The reason they do this is because you can book Fast Passes for your entire trip on your “Fast Pass Morning”. So, if a family is going for 7 days, some book the 7th day first and move toward the first day, because the likelihood of popular fast passes being available is very high.
*Once your Fast Passes are booked, you can always change your choices. I can’t think of a trip that I didn’t spend hours of “Fast Pass Morning” editing, and rebooking, and making more changes until I got my plans to where I wanted them. Sometimes it’s easier to grab a Fast Pass and then “modify” the time once the actual Fast Pass is secured. Just keep in mind – you can’t see the Fast Passes in the other parks once you’ve booked the Fast Passes in one park. Usually, I modify my trips around my “anchor” Fast Passes, and rarely change parks once I’ve secured good rides.
Step 7: Choose your Magic Bands
Magic Bands are basically your park ticket and credit card all in one. I LOVE having my Disney Magic Band! Selecting your Magic Bands through the app is VERY simple. One cool thing to know: The Magic Bands that have designs on them are discounted to guests when they are choosing their Magic Bands. This is basically the only spot you’ll get a discount on your Magic Bands. Select your Magic Bands, and they’ll ship to your house before you leave for your vacation, adding that much more excitement and anticipation before you go!
Optional Step 8a: Check in to your hotel using My Disney Experience
Disney does offer the ability to check in for your room and make certain requests in advance of arriving at the Resort. This gives you the option to skip the lines at the front desk and go straight to your room. However, if you’re new to Disney, or even knew to that resort, I would not recommend skipping the front desk. The last few trips, I have checked in online, and then went to the Front Desk just to say hello, and understand my way around. The app will say “Please go to room 4416”. This is nice, but I immediately think to myself, “Great. Where’s that!?”. My recommendation would be to check in using My Disney Experience, but then visit the front desk once you arrive.
Optional Step 8b: Book the Magical Express
More to come on this step a little later, but note that if you want FREE transportation to and from Orlando Airport, Disney offers that if you book a stay at a Walt Disney World Resort. Simply, sign up for it during check in! Check out the bottom portion of this blog post to see how Disney’s Magical Express works!
I hope you have started the countdown timer for your trip! Be sure to check up on the park hours consistently, especially when your trip is just around the corner. Any questions, be sure to use the email me button and I’m happy to answer whatever I can. Start counting down the days til you’re Leavin’ 4 Disney!