How to plan a Disney World trip

I love Florida, visiting Disney and the other theme parks can be a full on affair, you’d be pushed to do it all in two weeks.  My top tip is to book as long as you can afford!  Interested in how you can plan a Disney World trip?  These tips are based on having at least seven months before you go, whilst it’s still easy enough to plan after that, you may need to have your plan less rigid otherwise if you want to factor in converted restaurants such as O’hana or Be Our Guest, plus pick up those fast passes for popular rides such as Flight of Passage in Pandoraland at Animal Kingdom.

 

As soon as you start planning your trip make a list of exactly what you want to do, with six Disney parks and water parks, three Universal parks plus SeaWorld, Discovery Cove Aquatica, Busch Gardens, not to mention Legoland, Kennedy Space Center plus shopping and swamp tours to name a few you could easily spend a month in Florida and not scratch the surface!  If you have limited time. Work out what you would most like to do.

 

Work out a rough budget, whilst you can do Orlando on the cheap, you can also spend a fortune.  If you are trying to save cash a last minute deal, booking it yourself or saving money on theme parks can help reduce costs.  Being from the UK the 14 day ultimate tickets are good value if you are going to be at Disney a lot of days, however if you are only doing one or two, it makes sense to look at Magic Your Way tickets for the exact number of days.

Decide what time are year you are going.  Do you need to factor in school holidays, do you hate bugs (avoid the lovebugs in May and September), or would you like to see Mardi Gras, Halloween or Christmas? Are you a foodie or love flowers?  Then you might want to check out Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival or the Flower and Garden Show, or SeaWorld’s Food Festival.  I personally love October going into November because not only do I get to see the Halloween decorations turn to Christmas decor, there’s special events such as Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween, Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party as well as the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.  There’s so much going on!

 

Decide what sort of holiday do you want – do you want to be in the Disney bubble, maybe just a hotel nearby or perhaps Harry Potter is more your thing and you want to stay at Universal.  Do you need a cheap place to stay and you want a shuttle as you don’t fancy driving? Or how about you want a villa with your own private pool? Or how about a twin centre holiday, a relaxing few days at the beach, seeing Miami or Key West?

Armed with what events you are attending and what you want to do see, check out the DIBB park hours and busy day guide.  With this, I work out a plan of what days to go which are least busy, making sure I can see the main events, for me the fireworks at Magic Kingdom, and other evening shows. Next I work out my Disney restaurants around this, so I’ll try and plan for Be Our Guest one evening we are in Magic Kingdom to watch the fireworks etc, maybe a meal at a resort nearest to the park we are at that day.  If you are getting the free Disney Dining Plan with a Disney hotel stay you really want to be reserving restaurants to make the most of it.  If you have little ones they may love dining with Mickey and pals or those Disney princesses!  Reservations open at 180 days prior, to get those coveted restaurants, especially for a large number of people you need to be hot off the mark.  But if you’re unsuccessful do keep trying as cancellations do come up, especially the day before as Disney charge a fee for no shows and so people have to cancel the day before to avoid those charges.

Next up it’s fast passes assuming you are doing Disney.  Fast passes are the best invention, they can save you queuing for hours!  You can book three a day, once you’ve used them you can get another. The best thing, at Disney they are free!  Downloading the My Disney Experience is great for changing them on the go should you wish.  When planning fastpasses it’s best to work out the rides or characters with the longest queues.  For example at Magic Kingdom I would be picking fastpasses for the Seven Dwarves Mine Train first or Talking Mickey if character visits are important, followed by less popular but still a queue Space Mountain, the Runaway Mine Train and Splash Mountain.  But for shows such as Mickey’s 3D PhilharMagic Orchestra, I would be doing that as a walk on in between fast passes as less queue.  A book, such as the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2019 (The Unofficial Guides) can really help here as can help you decide which rides are the most important to do.  As we’ve been numerous times I don’t have to worry about that as we know what love and I’d quite happily never set foot on It’s a Small World ever again!  Definitely research will help you here, you can even find touring plans to help you decide what to do exactly to make best use of time.  For Disney hotel and good neighbour hotels you can book fast passes at 60 days out for the length of your stay.  Off site guests at 30 days.  Be prepared, those coveted fast passes like Flight of Passage go fast!

If you have little ones, or you just want a slower pace, block out some non park days, perhaps you’d like to visit a spa, do a shopping trip or a water park or pool day.  Planning an anniversary or proposal, there are plenty of things to do, from fine dining at Victoria and Alberts, to a trip to Disney’s town, Celebration or how about a hot air balloon over Disney Springs?

 

Well I think that’s information overload for beginners for this blog post!  I hope it helped get you started, feel free to post questions I will answer for you.  If you are feeling completely overwhelmed I offer a complete travel planning service.  Get in touch at cocktailinhand@gmail.com.  Likewise if you want to plan something special for a loved one, or make a proposal, having got married at Disney World I know all the best places!!

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