by Pixie Dusted Diva
I’m asked frequently when and how to start planning a Disney vacation. I have some tips for you that have made planning my trips a success! These based on my personal experience as we travel to Disney twice a year.
First and Foremost – I 100% recommend staying on Disney property, for the Disney magic and experience. You will have access to free Disney transportation including the Magical Express to and from Orlando International Airport, buses, the monorail, and watercraft transportation. No rental car is ever needed! You’ll have access to extra Magic Hours at the theme parks where the parks are open to only Disney resort guests either before or after normal operating hours. You may purchase the Disney Dining Plan, which is not available to those staying off property. You have the ability to make dining reservations 180 days in advance from check in for up to 10 days! Right now Disney is giving free customized magic bands with each and every resort reservation. You’ll have the ability to charge on your magic band (and not have to worry about carrying cash in the parks!) and you can send your purchases back to your room! And last but not least, you can book your FastPass+ reservations at 60 days prior to check in.
Plan Early – Last minute trips are possible, but to make things run smoother and less stressful I suggest planning as early as possible. The best trips my family have taken have been planned over six months in advance.
Decide on A Date – Disney has seasons where the room prices will be cheaper during the value season which is known as the slower times at Disney, but the holidays times are more expensive. Disney does offer discounts for room only and Magic Your Way packages and if you book your room or package before discounts come out for your dates, do not worry! Your travel agent will be able to automatically apply those discounts to your package when they come out.
Pick a Resort – Disney has resort categories for every budget. The value hotels such as Pop Century and the All Star hotels offer a basic hotel room. The moderate hotels such as Coronado Springs or Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter offer bigger rooms and bigger beds then the value rooms. The deluxe hotels tend to be closer proximity to the parks with larger room sizes and larger beds, but they also cost more per night. There’s also the DVC Villas which have studios, 1 or 2 bedrooms. Art of Animation is considered a Value Resort, but is one of Disney’s newest resorts offering family suite style themed rooms and basic value rooms as well. Whatever your Disney budget is one of the resorts categories will fit your budget for sure. Once you have your date and resort chosen you can book your Disney vacation package and set up your My Disney Experience account.
Your My Disney Experience account is your key to planning your vacation, making and linking all your Disney reservations for your stay including customizing your Magic Bands.
Make Dining Reservations – Even though I am a big fan of the Disney Dining Plan, you do not have to purchase the Disney Dining Plan to make dining reservations. Reservations can be made 180 days in advance. As mentioned previously, if you are staying on property you can make 10 days worth of reservations from your date of check in. If you are staying off property you will need to make each day individually, 180 days in advance. Here’s where the planning early comes into play – if you are planning 180 days in advance this allows you time to research restaurants, menus, characters and prices. When making dining reservations always allow enough time for transportation from the resort or park you will be coming from as well.
Plan FastPass+ – You’ll be able to make your FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance for on property reservations (30 days in advance for off property).
Plan Magic – In between the major highlights I mentioned above, Disney offers many magical extras which can be booked advance such as Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or a haircut at the Harmony Barber Shop. You can pre-order the Memory Maker so you can capture all your family photos while in Disney as well.
Following these simple tips above should help you plan a magical Disney vacation for you and your family. Should you have any questions feel free to ask us here at Tips from the Disney Divas and Devos anytime!