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{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?!

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, purchase and book Genie+ Lightning Lanes, manage dining reservations, 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. 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 plan that works for a family with small children will probably not be the same one that works for a family with teenagers.

Park Reservations

Park Reservations are now required for entry into the Walt Disney World Resort Parks, and while availability is generally pretty open, it’s not uncommon for parks to fill up for weekends, holidays, summer dates, etc. The best way to make sure that you get the Park Reservations that you want is to book your resort reservation early!

Reminder: it only requires a $200 deposit to book your resort reservation, and then you can make as many payments as you’d like over time up to final payment at 30 days before travel

The Disney Park Pass system is now open to guests with valid admission. The number of theme park reservation days you can hold at one time varies based on your plans:

  • Disney Resort and other Select Hotel Guests can make park reservations for dates during their stay for the number of days that they have valid theme park admission.
  • Annual Passholders can make theme park reservations for up to 3-5 days at a time (depending on Annual Pass) and for length of stay if staying at a Disney Resort or other select hotel.
  • Park Ticket Holders can make reservations for the number of days of valid theme park admission.

Dining Reservations

60 Days Before Check In

The first date that will open for you is 60 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, 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 6:00am EST to get your ADRs. Or if you use a travel agent, have your reservation wishlist to them prior to 60 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. Some of the restaurants that require full payment include Cinderella’s Royal Table, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, and firework dessert parties.

Genie+ Service

Genie+ starts at $15 per person per day that gives you access to Lightning Lane (LL). It’s not for every ride, and you can only ride each ride one time using the Lightning Lane. Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) rides in each park are purchased individually that isn’t included in the Genie+ purchase, and the price per ride depends on the day. You can buy up to 2 Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) rides per day, and if you have a park hopper, those 2 rides can be in different parks – ex: Rise of the Resistance + Flight of Passage. You CAN buy just the extra rides without buying Genie+, so if you want to ride Flight of Passage but aren’t concerned about doing Lightning Lane for anything else that day, you can just get Flight of Passage and not purchase Genie+.

Individual Lightning Lane:
Magic Kingdom
  • TRON Lightcycle / Run
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
Hollywood Studios
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Animal Kingdom
  • Avatar Flight of Passage
Genie+ Lightning Lane:
Magic Kingdom
  • The Barnstormer
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Haunted Mansion
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mad Tea Party
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Meet Cinderella and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall
  • Meet Mickey and Minnie at Town Square Theater
  • Meet Princess Tiana and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall
  • Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade (seasonal)
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Space Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid
  • Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Journey into Imagination with Figment
  • Living with the Land
  • Mission: SPACE – Green
  • Mission: SPACE – Orange
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Spaceship Earth
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Test Track
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
Hollywood Studios
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
  • Disney Junior Play & Dance!
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • Toy Story Mania!
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Animal Kingdom
  • The Animation Experience at Conservation Station
  • Expedition Everest
  • Feathered Friends in Flight!
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
  • Na’vi River Journey

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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