{Almost} Everything that You Need to Plan a Walt Disney World Vacation


You’ve booked your trip to Walt Disney World! …now what?

{If you haven’t booked your trip yet, what are you waiting for?! Plus, if you want some FREE help planning any vacation, check out our friends with Embrace the Journey Travel!}

My Disney Experience

You can start your planning before you hit the parks online! Disney has introduced MyDisneyExperience for all guests to get a jumpstart on their planning. Once you register/log in here, you will be able to link all your resort reservations, dining, and family and friends traveling with you. We will also be able to customize your Magic Bands! These bands will contain your admission to the parks, allow you to charge purchases to your hotel room account, FastPass+, manage dining reservations, use dining credits, etc. You can also download the free MyDisneyExperience app on your smartphone from the app store. This will allow you to access your magical itinerary on the go!

Once you’re in your MyDisneyExperience account, you can link your reservation by going to the “MyDisneyExperience” tab and selecting “My Reservations & Tickets” and then “Link Resort Reservation”. At that point, you’ll enter your confirmation number and last name to link the reservation.

Planning Your Days

Next, you need to figure out what you want to do. We usually start with these files that I created {You can get them for FREE when you subscribe to our blog!} to sort out our “must do” items for each park. Have a family meeting, check out the Disney website, talk to your travel agent, and come up with a general idea of what would work best for your family. That will look different for each family, so the dining and Fastpass+ list that works for a family with small children will probably not be the same one that works for a family with teenagers.

Dining Reservations

The first date that will open for you is 180 days before your check in date. At this point, you can book advance dining reservations {ADRs} including firework dessert parties, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Magic Kingdom or Disney Springs, The Pirate’s League in Magic Kingdom, backstage tours, spa services, etc.

Availability will be different depending on when you go, but it’s always best to be ready to call Disney Dining or jump on the Disney website right at 7am EST to get your ADRs. Or if you use a travel agent, have your reservation wishlist to them prior to 180 days out and they’ll do this for you! Yes, there are times of the year where you can grab reservations for great restaurants right before you go, but I promise that you don’t want to take the chance of not getting in if you can avoid it. If you are interested in Character Dining, check out Disney Character Dining 101 to see the options available.

All restaurants will require you to give credit card information to book the reservation, but some restaurants will require you to pay for your meal in full at the time of booking unless you are on the Disney Dining Plan. Some of the restaurants that require full payment include Cinderella’s Royal Table, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, and firework dessert parties.

Fastpass+ Reservations

The next window is for Fastpass+ Reservations {FP+}. These open 60 days in advance for on site guests, and 30 days in advance for off site guests. These reservations also open at 7am EST. You MUST have valid park admission in order to make your FP+. Your FP+ guarantees your place in a much shorter line during a specific time slot, and it’s so helpful especially on the rides and character meets that tend to have very long lines. For example, Frozen Ever After, The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Toy Story Mania, and Flight of Passage are a few of the rides that you really should consider getting a FP+ for. However, if you don’t get a FP+, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to be able to ride something, but you’ll just have to wait in a longer line. Your entire trip isn’t ruined if you miss a Soarin’ FP+, I promise! You can download instructions on Making a New Fastpass+ Reservation and Modifying an Existing Fastpass+ Reservation here.

Another thing to be mindful of is that 3 of the 4 parks use a Tier system for Fastpass+ reservations, and you can choose 1 FP+ from Tier 1 and 2 from Tier 2 OR 3 FP+ from Tier 2. With the opening of new areas in the parks, the Tier lists have changed around a bit, but as of June 30, 2018, this is where they stand:

Magic Kingdom:
  • No Tier System
Epcot:
Tier 1:
  • Epcot Forever
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Test Track
Tier 2:
  • Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Journey Into Imagination With Figment
  • Living with the Land
  • Mission: SPACE
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Turtle Talk With Crush
Hollywood Studios:
Tier 1:
  • Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
  • Slinky Dog Dash
Tier 2:
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
  • Disney Junior – Live on Stage!
  • Fantasmic!
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Indiana Jones™ Epic Stunt Spectacular!
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
  • Toy Story Mania!
  • Voyage of The Little Mermaid
Animal Kingdom:
Tier 1:
  • Flight of Passage
  • Navi River Journey
Tier 2:
  • DINOSAUR
  • Expedition Everest
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo: The Musical
  • Kilimanjaro Safari
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
  • Primeval Whirl
  • Rivers of Light
  • UP! A Great Bird Adventure

Enjoying Your Vacation!

I know, this seems like a lot {and it is}, but it will be worth it once you get to Walt Disney World! When you see people wandering around confused and complaining about not having reservations and FP+ for lines that are hours long during busy season, you’ll be thankful that you planned it out months in advance. I’m not saying that you can’t have a great vacation with zero planning because we do it all of the time, but I am saying that it will be a generally calmer and more relaxing vacation if you do plan ahead.

If you have questions about what might work best for your family, feel free to contact us here or through one of our social media pages, or contact our friends from Embrace the Journey Travel!

Happy planning!

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