Author: Disney Diva
Warning: This post is LONG. Why? Because it is a 6 month plan. All of this info has been spread out to read more in depth over the site so EXPLORE the site! This is a checklist, so yeah lots of info here! 🙂
So you’ve decided that THIS is the year that you’re taking the family to Walt Disney World or Disneyland? Maybe you’re even about to give a trip to your family for Christmas!! Most people travel during the summer which means you’re about 6 months out. Time to get planning.Lets start the planning process from now and work our way down to your arrival day!Before you decide WHEN to start your 6 month park should start you’ve got to decide WHEN TO GO so you can choose the dates. Read our article on when to go to Walt Disney World and when to go to Disneyland. Also be sure to look up if there are any Free Dining Deals or Resort Deals going on before you settle on your dates. Also read this article on how your kids can SAVE you Money by planning ahead by taking their desires in mind. You may find that their dream vacation is much cheaper than yours is!!6 months to Vacation:
1) Decide if you’re going to try to plan everything yourself or if you’re going to use a Travel Planner. Disney travel planners don’t cost you a dime and can make your attempt to find the BEST DEAL out there a whole lot easier. Not sure if a travel planner is for you? Check with Leslie at Pixie and get a free vacation quote!2) Decide with your family what the budget for the trip will be. Trust me, it is a bad idea to just throw it all to the wind and spend every dime you have on your vacation. Even if you’re planning on going deluxe all the way you need to decide what your MAXIMUM spending amount is. The website PlanITDisney.com has a GREAT application that can help you plan your budget and manage it.
3) Consider getting a Disney Visa Card. I personally am a fan of Dave Ramsey and don’t encourage the excessive use of credit cards, but there is one credit card we keep and pay off every month. Its Disney’s Visa Card. There’s three main perks for me. For every $100.00 you spend on just life stuff like groceries and gas and whatever, it turns into 1 Disney Dream Reward Dollar. We use those Disney Reward Dollars for food (especially snacks) and souvenirs in the park. We actually have over $500.00 in Disney Rewards going into this trip and that’s with us just paying normal day to day things. The other advantage is that you can do 0% APR Vacation financing for 6 months on Disney Vacation Packages. Also, when you do to the parks and use your Disney Visa in the souvenir shops they take 10% off your purchase and 20% of some of the Tours. So, as long as you promise this Diva that you’ll pay it off EVERY MONTH and not go into debt, I would recommend applying for a Disney Visa to get some good perks.
4) Book your Room, Tickets, Dining Package. Based on your budget line decide if you want to stay in a Deluxe, Moderate, Value, Camping, or Staying Off Property at WDW or a Disney Resort or Good Neighbor Hotel at Disneyland. We don’t always buy a Dining Package, even when we are staying on property as a way to save some money, but again researching the packages (or better yet using our Official Travel Planner, Leslie at Pixie Vacations do it for you). If you decide to not buy a package.
5) Book your Advance Dining Reservations (ADR’s). Explore our Dining at Disney tab to make some decisions on which dining opportunities are best for you. You need to book ADR’s (Advanced Dining Reservations) in particular if you are planning on doing any Character Meals, or High End Table Reservations (ex: Le Cellier, Tutto Italia, Coral Reef, California Grill, Blue Bayou, T-Rex, Rainforest Café, or Napa Rose). You can add more later but these are gone quickly so as soon as you know you’re going reserve a table. (remember if you decide to change you have to cancel the reservation or Disney will charge you. You can make your own Dining Reservations online, or your travel planner can do it for you. Keep checking back on the site to get reviews from our writers on the different restaurants at Disney World and Disneyland (this is a new addition so it may take a while to get them all).6) Book a reservation for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Pirates League or any Tours. The castle’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique fills up fast so you need to get your “ressie” in there fast. Pirates League is a blast and needs a reservation and there are many awesome Tours (coming soon) to book. Don’t forget about Richard Petty’s Driving Experience if you’ve got someone with a NEED for SPEED.
5 months to Vacation:
1) Order your Disney Vacation Planning DVD. First off, its fun to watch and dream about your vacation, so that’s the best reason to order one. Second, it will help you get a little more familiar with what is out there so you can decide to make any changes to your reservations.
2) Order your customized park maps. At no cost to you you can get a Customized Map of each of the Disney Parks mailed to your house. Get together with your family and ask them what they’d like to do. This gives you your first chance to get a little more familiar with the parks which is VITAL before you go.
3) Decide on Transportation. Based on the budget you have decided on with your family make a decision about travel. You can predict gas using this awesome website called cost2drive.com and check airlines. Don’t forget you can fly into more than MCO. We fly into Sanford (SFB) for much cheaper and rent a car using name your own price on Priceline. Sanford is only about 23 miles from Orlando. However you can check the many airports that surround Orlando, but remember you need to add a car rental to that price, and gas, and parking. If you are staying at Disney World resort and flying into MCO you can use the Magical Express and Disney Transportation the rest of the time. So you really need to price those options out along the way.
4 months to Vacation:
1) Book your airline tickets and rental car (if needed).
2) Start looking for “supplies”. There are many things you can buy to Save Money in the Park start looking around for these items to save money in the park.
3) Get your Touringplans.com subscription. Touringplans.com does three things better than everybody else. I don’t even TRY to compete with them on it: The Crowd Calendar, Lines App for your Cell Phone, and Touring Plans for both Disney World AND Disneyland. These things are HEAVEN SENT for planning your days at the park! The subscription which is $10.95 (and worth every penny) gives you full access to how busy the parks will be and what order to do rides in to minimize waits in lines. The Touring Plans by themselves are worth more than that, but the crowd calendar will be ESSENTIAL in your planning.
3 months to Vacation
1) Begin planning your day. To help you get your planning under control I have designed a Printable Planning sheet that will help you begin to get your day into order, but before you can really fill it out you have GOT To check Touringplans.com’s crowd calendar to decide what are the Best Parks and what are the Parks to Avoid for the day so you know what order to go to the parks in.
2) Take another look at your Dining Reservations. Still like what you see or has your plan changed now that you know what are the best days to go on? Decide if you want to change park days to go along with your current ADR’s or if you want to change an ADR to go with you resort. I would actually suggest calling (407) WDW-DINE or talking directly to your travel agent to modify your Disney Reservations unless you can see online that a reservation exists for you to switch to. What I mean is, don’t cancel anything till you can be sure you can get what you want on the correct day.
3) Get your Tickets. If you’ve not already purchased theme park tickets, you can go ahead and order them now. Make sure you decide if you’d like Magic your Way or Park Hopper. You can find discount tickets at http://greatorlandodiscounts.com/
2 months to vacation
1) Research the shows and attractions and work them into your plan. Make sure that what you’re hoping to ride is age-appropriate for the members of your group. Also look through the wdwent site to know when special entertainment, fireworks, parades and more are scheduled.
2) Purchase or begin making your autograph books.
3) Purchase a fast-pass lanyard and nametags (if you can find some available).
4) Begin Pre-purchasing any Tinkerbelle Items or items for the Giveaway Toy Challenge.
4 weeks to Vacation
1) Print out your “Perfect Packing List” and read through all the Packing Tips and make sure you have all the things you’ll need for the trip.
2) Make sure you have your backpack in order to have the Perfectly Packed WDW Backpack ready to pack.
3 weeks to Vacation
1) Start Double Checking that you have everything you need.
a) Plane reservations (if needed)
b) Hotel confirmation #’s
d) Magical Express Tickets (if needed)
e) Review Dining Reservations again, cancel any reservations you don’t intend to keep.
f) Make sure you have the Touringplans.com application, our iphone Tips from the Disney Diva app (WDW Diva) or another Disney parks application installed on your smart phone (if you have one).
2 weeks to Vacation
1) Keep reading Tips from the Disney Diva for Park Tips Galore!
2) Re-watch the Planning DVD just to get everybody pumped up again
3) Start an official count-down somewhere in your house.
1 week to vacation
1) Start packing. Packing for Disney is a pretty extensive process and likely you’re packing for more than one person. So don’t wait till the last minute. Here’s a packing list again if you need it.
2) Place your order for Grocery Delivery if you’re going to have it. Yes, you can have it delivered to your Disney resort also. Make sure if you need a refrigerator that your resort knows to have one in your room for you (it’s a very small charge to have one put in).
1) Make sure you have everything! EVERYTHING packed. Packing and Backpack supplies ready to go.
2) Make sure you have EVERYTHING you need for airlines, drive, resorts, magical express, park tickets, fast pass lanyard, cell phones, cell phone CHARGERS, Daily Plan (and copies of the plan for anyone else going) and have it all in one place. ONE PLACE you can grab and go tomorrow! Go ahead and pack the car if you can!
3) Read Nick the Disney Devo’s upcoming article on TETS syndrome (To Excited to Sleep) for tips to relax the night before you go. And if this is your FIRST trip read all our first trip tips!
HAVE FUN!!!! You’ve done your research you’re going to have a great time!
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