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How to Plan a Visit to Disney World

June 14, 2022

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I'm Amanda — Your Disney-Specialized Travel Agent. I'm here to worry about the details so that you can maximize your memories and minimize your stress.

Meet Amanda

It’s time to plan a visit to Disney World. You’re ready to walk down main street with your family, see the castle ahead and feel the magic all around you for this year’s vacation.

You pull up the Disney website and are immediately overwhelmed by all of the options, and everything it seems like you need to know in order to go on vacation.

Maybe you should just take the family to the same old place you always go instead. There’s so many less decisions to make. You can stay at the same place you always do, do the same things you always do, and you don’t need to do any research. You already know everything you need to know. Maybe that’s the move?

Don’t worry. If Walt Disney World is where you’re wanting to go, I’m here to help make it as easy as possible. Of course, you can always learn more about my services to see if having me plan the trip for you is the best move for you, but if you know you want to plan the trip yourself, this blog post will walk you through the steps you need to take in order to successfully plan a visit to Disney world.

Ready to plan a visit to Disney World but overwhelmed by all of the things to do? This blog post will walk you through the 7 steps to take!

Step One to Plan a Visit to Disney World

Determine When

First, you’ll want to determine when you’d like to go. Often, when clients come to me, they have a good idea of when they can take vacation. However, if you don’t, some things you’ll want to consider are:

  • Special Events Throughout the Year
  • Slow Times at Work/School
  • Holiday Seasons
  • Weather Patterns in Orlando

These are just a few, but will give you a good starting point if you really have no idea when you’d like to go. For a more detailed look, be sure to check out my blog post on when to visit Disney World in 2022.

My favorite time of year to visit? September and February (although you’ll be up against hurricane season in September).

Determine Days of the Week

Another consideration when it comes to determining when you’ll go is to think about what DAYS you’ll travel.

Usually, people will travel Saturday to Saturday because it just flows easier with work and school schedules. However, if you think outside the box a bit, you’ll likely be able to save a little money by staying weekday to weekday – like a Wednesday to Wednesday.

Step Two to Plan a Visit to Disney World

Determine Park Days

There are two parts to this step. First, you’ll want to determine how long you’d like your trip to be. This may be predetermined based on your days of the week you determined in step one, but if not you’ll want to do that now. Are you planning a full week? 4 Days? 10?

Once you know how long you’d like to stay, it’s time to determine how many park days you’d like to have. A lot of times people will skip on getting tickets for the day they arrive and the day they leave in order to save money.

Pro tip? Ticket cost by day decreases dramatically the more days you go. So, if you plan to go for a Saturday – Saturday type trip, it might be worth it to go ahead and grab a  7 or 8 day ticket versus just a 5 or 6 day ticket.

If you’re really looking to save money on tickets, skip Park Hopper instead. At the time of writing this post, you can’t park hop until 2:00 pm anyways, and Park Hopper really bumps up the ticket cost.

Most of the time, my clients want to get a ticket that’s one day short of how many full days they have, but with ticket price decreasing so much for each additional day, I personally prefer to have tickets for each day because I don’t feel so rushed for time. That way, if I want to spend a morning or most of a day lounging by the pool, there’s no guilt about needing to be in the parks to get my money’s worth.

Step Three to Plan a Visit to Disney World

Check for Special Offers

Before you book, be sure you check to see if there are any special offers available around the time you’re planning to visit Disney World. You can always have a special offer retroactively applied to your trip, but it’s worth taking a look at before you book. That way, if there’s one around the time you’re planning to visit, but your decisions don’t quite line up with the offer (maybe it’s for five nights but you were planning four), you can determine whether or not aligning with that offer is worth it for your trip.

Step Four to Plan a Visit to Disney World

Book Hotel and Tickets

It’s time to determine where you’re staying, and book your hotel and tickets.

There are two different methods for finding the right fit for your trip and you need to know what your priority is – the dates you determined, or a specific hotel?

If your hotel is your priority, search for dates within your specific hotel or group of hotels around the time you determined.

If your dates are your priority, search by those dates to see what is available and make your choice based on that.

When it comes to hotel, there is a huge variety to chose from, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. If you’d like help determining where to stay, check out these blog posts:

Beginner’s Guide to Disney World Hotels

Should You Stay On-Site or Off-Site for Your Disney Vacation?

Now that you’ve determined your hotel, and you already know what your ticket needs are, it’s time to book both hotel and tickets.

And don’t forget – once you’ve booked those, be sure to link your reservation to your My Disney Experience account, if it doesn’t automatically and then be sure to book your park reservations for each day!

Step Five to Plan a Visit to Disney World

Decide on Magical Extras

Disney has a plethora of magical extras that you can add to your trip for a little something special. Things like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Fireworks Cruises, Savi’s Lightsaber Workshop, and so much more.

Determine which, if any, you’d like to do and make note of when you can book. Some things can’t be booked until you’re 60 days out, and some can be booked way in advance.

Step Six to Plan a Visit to Disney World

Decide on Dining

Take a look at your dining options for each day. You already know what parks you’ll be in for which meals, and that will help make researching for each meal much easier.

There are a few types of dining at Disney – quick service, food booths, and sit down meals being the main ones. (For more detailed information about dining, check out this blog post.)

Only the sit down meals will need a reservation, but I highly recommend making a plan for your quick service meals in advance as well. Anything you can do to eliminate decisions while at Disney will help make your trip that much smoother.

Outline where you’ll eat, and when, and make special note of the reservations you’re going to want to get. 60 days before check-in, you’ll be able to start grabbing your dining reservations at 6:00 am EST. Dining reservations tend to go fast – especially for the more popular places – so you WILL want to be ready and on your computer at that time.

Can’t grab the ones you want on that morning? Keep checking back – people are often changing up their reservations.

Step Seven to Plan a Visit to Disney World

Sketch Out Your Days

The final step for planning your Disney World vacation is to sketch out your days. Like I mentioned before, doing everything you can before you leave to make decisions will be incredibly beneficial during your trip. (Download this free sample itinerary that I created for you to help you sketch out your days!)

The last thing you want to happen is to have no plan for lunch, end up in a line that’s longer than expected, and struggle to find any place with food that doesn’t have a crazy wait or isn’t across the park. That’s a recipe for meltdowns from hangry travelers.

I create an itinerary spreadsheet for each of my clients that outlines everything from park hours, to shows not to miss, to where they’re eating and so much more. And I highly recommend you do something similar as well. If you get there and decide to toss the plans out the window? No worries. But if you get there and decide you wish you had plans? You’re out of luck.

When it comes down to it, there’s a lot to learn and a lot to plan for for a Disney World vacation. By taking it one step at a time, doing what you can to eliminate decision fatigue in the moment, and understanding that you can’t do it all on your trip, you’ll be able to plan a magical escape for yourself and your loved ones.

And if you want some help planning that stress-free magical escape? Be sure to check out my services page to learn more about working with me.

Ready to plan a visit to Disney World but overwhelmed by all of the things to do? This blog post will walk you through the 7 steps to take!

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