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Heading to the DisneyWorld soon? Are you feeling overwhelmed with the idea of planning your vacation and don’t know where to start? Are you stressing about park tickets, a hotel room, wait times, and more? Don’t worry anymore! You are in the right place! I’ve created this complete DisneyWorld planning guide that will walk you through every part of the planning process. It doesn’t matter if this is your first time at DisneyWorld or if you’ve been before, these tips will help plan an amazing DisneyWorld vacation.
I remember my first trip to Walt Disney World. I was a Disneyland park expert and so I thought taking my family to Walt DisneyWorld would be so simple and easy! I was wrong. There was so much more planning and prepping involved. I was pretty surprised by how different it was to visit Disneyland vs Disneyworld. I actually have a podcast episode comparing the two right here.
I felt completely overwhelmed when we arrived and pretty lost. In fact, after our visit, I wasn’t sure that I really liked DisneyWorld much. Disneyland is my home park and I feel really comfortable there. Eventually, I realized that the reason I didn’t love DisneyWorld was that I hadn’t been very prepared for our trip. I had shown up thinking it would be the same as visiting Disneyland, but it wasn’t. So, because I was unprepared that left me with a lot of feelings of stress and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong, we still had a great time, I just didn’t think that I ever wanted to go back.
Once I realized why I felt that way, I decided to try another trip to DisneyWorld and this time, I was much more prepared. Guess what? I had such a great time! Since then, I’ve visited Walt DisneyWorld several times a year. It’s grown on me with each and every visit. Now, Disneyland still has my heart, but Walt DisneyWorld is definitely trying to steal a piece of it too. I can’t wait to go back for my next visit soon! So, I’m hoping that this DisneyWorld planning guide will help make your visit easier to plan.
Complete DisneyWorld Planning Guide
I’ve put together a complete DisneyWorld planning guide just for you. Just breath. Everything is fine. With a little planning in advance, you will be in a great position to just relax and enjoy your Walt Disney World vacation. I know you’re going to have the best time! I’ve got a list of steps to walk you through the planning process. You got this! My DisneyWorld planning guide will make things easy. If you’re planning a visit to California soon, I have a complete guide for Disneyland Resort here.
1. Decide When To Visit
The first step to your dream Disney vacation in my DisneyWorld planning guide is to decide when to visit. Would you like to visit during the summer or over spring break to avoid taking kids out of school? Do you prefer to visit during special events like Halloween time or the Holidays? Are you looking for warmer weather or do you prefer to visit when it’s cooler?
DisneyWorld is always going to be crowded. So, I think it’s important to pick a time that works well for you for your family trip. Don’t pick a time based solely on crowd levels, because things change quickly and crowd levels are difficult to predict.
There are lots of things to think about when you’re deciding when to visit DisneyWorld! Make sure you pick a time that is convenient and works best for your family.
2. Are You Using Genie Plus?
Decide if you’re going to use Disney Genie Plus. Disney Genie Plus is the new system that replaced the old Fastpass/max pass system at Disneyland. Disney Genie Plus is an additional $15 and allows you to enter certain attractions through the Lightning Lanes. You’ll want to do some research and figure out if this option is right for your group. Sometimes Genie plus can be really helpful and save you time waiting in long lines for the most popular rides and other times it doesn’t seem to make a huge difference.
You can always add it part way through your vacation using the DisneyWorld app.
3. Buy Tickets
You’ve picked your dates and you’re ready to book your vacation to sunny Florida! But, first, you need Disney park tickets. You can’t visit DisneyWorld without tickets! You can purchase tickets from the DisneyWorld website, but if you go that route you’ll pay full price. Please don’t pay full price for your tickets! Discount DisneyWorld tickets are available!
My partners at Get Away Today have the very best ticket prices around! I have been using them for 15 years and love them. I won’t buy my tickets anywhere else. They have incredible customer service and they even have layaway plans! They care about your vacation and are the best place to buy discount Disneyland tickets. You can read about how amazing they are and all the things they offer here. They also have great deals on hotels!
They can give you a free quote on a package with hotel and park tickets. You can fill out a quote request here or just give them a call at 1-855-GET-AWAY and tell them Melissa with Mix In Some Magic Sent you for the very best deals. If you book one of their vacation packages you can use my code MIX10 you can save an additional $10. The staff at Get Away Today are Walt DisneyWorld experts and really know their stuff! I know you’re going to love working with them.
There are two ticket options. A one park per day ticket and the park hopper ticket. The park hopper allows you to “hop” in between the 4 DisneyWorld parks after 1 pm. Personally, I don’t buy park hopper tickets often. I prefer to purchase one park per day tickets. There’s so much to do in each park, there’s enough to keep you busy for a full day. So, I prefer to purchase the less expensive one park per day option.
4. Make A Park Reservation
The next step in my DisneyWorld Planning guide is to make a park reservation. Tickets AND theme park reservations are required to visit the Disney parks. Now that you’ve got your tickets, you can make your park reservations on the my Disney experience app. After you’ve purchased your tickets from Get Away Today, you can log into the DisneyWorld website and make a reservation for each park you’d like to visit on your trip. DisneyWorld has 4 theme parks(Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot) and a shopping/dining district(Disney Springs).
If you pay full price for your tickets and buy them directly through the DisneyWorld website, you will make your park reservations while you are purchasing your park tickets.
5. Book Lodging
If you purchased a package with a hotel from getaway today you can skip this step. Many people enjoy staying on property at one of the Disney resort hotel options when visiting DisneyWorld. DisneyWorld has lots of resorts to choose from in all different price ranges. Staying on property at a Disney hotel is a great experience, but it’s not for everyone. Especially if you have a large family.
If you have a large family(more than 5) or simply want more space than a DisneyWorld property can offer, you may want to consider staying off property. Our family of 6 prefers to rent a nearby house. The last home we rented was cheaper than staying on property(for our family of 6), had 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a private pool with a hot tub, a game room, and a full kitchen. It was a dream! You can read more about why we choose to stay off property here.
6. Book Dining Reservations
The next step in my DisneyWorld planning guide is to book dining reservations. Some of the most popular dining experiences at Walt DisneyWorld require reservations. Guests can make dining reservations 60 days in advance. Do some research and figure out what restaurants you’d like to eat at and if a reservation is needed. There are many quick-service dining options available that don’t require reservations. We usually book 1 or 2 reservations per trip and eat at quick services restaurants for all the other meals. I’ve got complete guides to dining at each park. You may find them helpful. Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot(coming soon), disney’s hollywood studios(coming soon)
If you’re looking to save money, bringing in some of your own food to DisneyWorld is a great way to do it! We eat breakfast in our hotel or rental house, bring in a picnic lunch/snacks and eat at a quick service for dinner. You can find out more about bringing outside food into the parks here.
Disney parks are very open to allowing you to bring in food and beverages. There are really only a few things that are not allowed inside. You can find the list of what’s allowed in the Disney parks here.
7. Make A Basic Plan For Each Day
The next step in my DisneyWorld Planning Guide is to make a basic plan for each day. Now don’t freak out when I say “basic plan”. I’m not suggesting you have to schedule every minute of every day. Unless you want to! If that makes you happy, do it! I prefer a detailed plan myself, but a basic plan is fine too.
Take some time to research the rides and entertainment from each park. I’ve got a virtual ride tour of each park that you might find helpful. Figure out what’s most important to you. Research the popular attractions and entertainment from each park. Do you have any favorite characters you’d like to see? Figure out what’s most important to you and your family. Ask the people in your group what they are most looking forward to and make sure you make those things a priority. You’re not going to be able to see and do everything, so do the things that are most important to you first and fill in with some of the other things in between and at the end of your trip if there’s extra time.
Take a look at a map from each park so you’re familiar with the layouts. You can find one on the DisneyWorld App. Decide which rides you’re going to do first thing when you arrive so you don’t waste time standing around making a plan Write out a general outline for your day. Make sure you add in meal times and breaks. If this is overwhelming, I’m here to help! I offer custom DisneyWorld plans complete with a personalized itinerary to help you avoid long lines and accomplish everything that’s important to you.
Write out a general outline for your day. Make sure you add in meal times and breaks.
If you’re really wanting to maximize the time you have in each park, consider rope dropping. Rope dropping means arriving at the parks early so that you’re inside the park when they “drop the rope” and it opens up. This usually requires you to be entering the park security at least 60 minutes before the park opens. The parks at DisneyWorld will open their gates and start letting people inside about 30 minutes before the park officially opens.
A cast member will stop you at a rope at some point and hold you there until the park officially opens. When it does, you’ll be able to enjoy an hour or two of very low crowds and wait times while everyone else is still looking for coffee or a parking space. Rope dropping is a really great way to maximize your park time.
I have a full guide to rope dropping at Disneyland that you might find helpful. It’s the exact same process at Walt DisneyWorld.
8. Read My Top Tips
The next step in my DisneyWorld planning guide is to take a look at my top DisneyWorld tips. This is an important part of my DisneyWorld Planning Guide! These will be so helpful for you. I’ve included things like info on Rider Switch, Genie Plus, Mobile ordering, using the DisneyWorld app, and much more! These tips will walk you through all the important things that you need to know for your DisneyWorld trip and you’ll really feel like you have a better idea of how DisneyWorld works. You will learn so much and show up prepared for anything and everything! Find them here.
9. Buy Some Essentials In Advance
DisneyWorld has everything you could possibly want/need for sale in the parks, but it’s expensive! I hate spending money on things I could have easily bought before my trip for much cheaper! I like to buy a few things in advance on Amazon to save a little bit of money. You can find my list of what to buy on Amazon before your Disney trip here. It’s filled with bunches of things that you may not have thought of, but will be really helpful for your visit!
I also make sure I have a fully stocked park bag before my vacation, so I’m ready for any situation! I have a little bit of everything from pain medication, bandaids, sunscreen and so much more! You can find my park bag essentials list here.
It saves time when you have everything you need with you when you’re on your family vacation. You don’t want to take the time to walk all the way to the first aid center for a bandaid to cover a blister. It’s much better to just have things with you and ready to go!
Plus, it’s so much cheaper to buy things beforehand and pack them in your bag. I’m all about saving time and money wherever and whenever I possibly can! That’s why I’ve included this in my DisneyWorld planning guide.
This is probably the most important step in my DisneyWorld planning guide. Enjoy yourself! Don’t forget this is a vacation. You’re supposed to relax and enjoy yourself. I know it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of a vacation, especially one with young kids. It’s especially easy to get frustrated when things to go quite according to plan or if your family members aren’t behaving the way you pictured they would on your magical Disney vacation. I get it.
But, can I tell you a secret? There’s no such thing as a perfect family vacation. No matter where you go or what you do, you’re going to run into some bumps and unexpected turns along your vacation road. Just make sure you’re flexible and have a good attitude. It will go a really long way! When you look back at your DisneyWorld vacation, you won’t remember all of the hard moments. You’ll just remember the good stuff and those memories will be priceless!
Because you’ve put in a little work ahead of time planning your vacation using my DisneyWorld Planning Guide, and it’s going to pay off big time! I hope my complete DisneyWorld planning guide was helpful for you. Remember to go with the flow and have a good attitude. Take lots of pictures and enjoy your magical DisneyWorld vacation!
I know that visiting the Disney theme parks can be pretty overwhelming and a little stressful. I have totally been there and I’m here to help! I’m not a travel agent(I let my friends at Get Away Today handle that stuff) but, I’m just a Disney Mom that’s here to offer tips, tricks, and lots of planning advice. If you need more help or have any questions, reach out to me and ask! I’m happy to help! If you have any questions while you’re in the parks, ask a cast member. They are so friendly and helpful. I know your whole family is going to have such a good time on your vacation!
Make sure to check out my podcast for lots of Disney planning information! You can find it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Just search for “Mix In Some Magic” Follow me on Instagram for more Disney tips and lots of Disney fun!