A visit to Disney World is in a lot of our travel bucket lists – in fact, an average of around 58 million people visit the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and other Disney parks each year – but how do you plan a trip to Disney World when you want to make the most of time and don’t want to miss anything?
If you’re planning on heading to Disney World for your next vacation, the sheer size and limitless possibilities available can make it difficult to know where to start when you want to plan your trip. Not only do you need to consider your accommodation and when to go, but you also need to think about tickets, park reservations, food, and fitting in everything you want to do.
This guide will help you to get to grips with everything you need to consider, plan for, and organize ahead of your trip. As you read through, we suggest keeping notes on the things that stand out to you and the decisions you make as you go along, for example, if you decide on the best month for you and your family or friends to visit. This will help you to sort out your thoughts and give you the best chance of creating a smooth and organized vacation that your whole group will love.
Ready? Let’s get started!
How to plan a Disney World vacation: Getting started
Decide when to go
Although the weather in Florida is typically very steady, and you can expect plenty of sunshine for most of the year, it does vary and rainfall can occur. If you think you might be disappointed by rain, (nobody wants to queue for a ride soaked through to the skin!), then you might want to choose a month when rain is statistically extremely unlikely. However, if you don’t mind facing the rain but want to be prepared, you’ll want to know what months you are most likely to need to pack a few waterproof coats.
It is not only weather you need to take into account, however, when deciding the best time to go to Disney World. Crowd levels can vary throughout the seasons based on whether young children are in school and if there are any celebratory holidays or events occurring.
For example, around Christmas, Halloween, and other national events and holidays, you can expect not only increased crowd sizes due to being off school and work, but many will want to head to the parks to experience how Disney World celebrates. On top of that, Disney World throws its own, unique events throughout the years, such as the Garden and Flower Festival in Spring, which is likely to see heightened visitor numbers. Although a trip at Christmas time would be unbelievably magical, you will need to work out whether that experience would be worth the likely chance of much higher queues for the rides.
Going at an off-peak time is highly recommended if possible, as less crowds means less queues, which means you can pack more into your visit. However, if you have young kids or are, for whatever reason, restricted in the times you can go, there are still better options in terms of crowds than the height of summer.
Decide what it is you want from your vacation to Disney World, when you make your decision on when to go. Make sure you check out our comprehensive guide to visiting Disney World Orlando on a month by month basis, and then narrow down your options until you find the perfect time to pay a visit.
Plan your days
Now, this may seem counterintuitive, but it is a good idea to make a plan for what you want to do at Disney World before you buy any tickets, once you know what time of year you want to go. That is because there are a huge range of ticket types, as well as add-ons to consider such as Disney’s PhotoPass. Before you select your tickets, you need a good idea of what park you want to go to and on what days, as well as what you hope to fit in within each day at the park. Keep in mind the time of year you are going, as well as likely queue lengths, as on off-peak times you can fit in more, and in on-peak times, you may need to factor in more time between rides.
You could easily spend days within each park, and not run out of things to do. So, grab your notebook and decide which parks you want to go to the most, what rides each has that you absolutely cannot miss out on, and the experiences you want under your belt. That will help you decide how much of your vacation time you may want to apportion to each park.
If you really want to streamline your experience, you can use the Genie app to help build a day-by-day itinerary at Disney World, and you can even organize your ride choices by proximity, and keep an eye on queue times. This will help you maximize the time you spend laughing and building memories, and minimize the time spent waiting. We will talk about the Genie App a little more later, or you can check out our guide here.
Buying tickets and ticket options
Now that your itinerary is sorted and you know what park you want to visit and when, its time to actually book the tickets! This is the super exciting moment where your dream DIsney World vacation really comes to life.
You can book ticket packages for seven days, or fourteen days as a special offer, with everything in between, and with tickets covering entry to all parks and water parks. You can also add to choose the Park Hopper, where you can visit another park after 2pm, a Memory Maker which is Disney’s PhotoPass (giving you unlimited downloads to all photos taken on rides and by Disney Staff) and whether you want to add on the Genie+ service, which we will talk a little bit more about later.
Head to the Disney World website to book your tickets. Alternatively, if you are staying with Top Villas, our expert team can assist you in booking everything you need, and can take the stress out of organizing your Disney tickets.
Download the My Disney Experience app and link your tickets
Once you have booked and paid for your Disney World tickets, the next thing to do is download the My Disney Experience App.
Here, you can link your park tickets, and keep them in an easily accessible and safe place. This makes showing them on the day as easy as getting out your phone and opening your app – no worries about misplacing them or leaving them behind. If you don’t want to download an app, however, it can also be done by signing up to an account via Disney World’s website.
The My Disney Experience app is also absolutely essential for your vacation in general, as it is here where you can make your park reservations, and make your restaurant bookings, which you will find out a bit more about later on.
Book park reservations
Now that you have your tickets booked and linked up to your My Disney Experience app for quick and easy access, the next step is to book your park reservations.
This is a relatively new feature at Disney World, in which you have to make a reservation for the park you would like to visit each day. If you have a ticket but no park reservation, you won’t be granted access, so it is extremely important to get these reservations sorted. You can do this very easily within the My Disney Experience app. You will need to make a reservation for each park, each day you want to visit.
However, there is an exception to this rule if you have booked a Park Hopper ticket. A Park Hopper ticket gives you the ability to visit a second park after 2pm on each day. You will need a reservation for the first park you visit, but you do not need to make another for the second park you visit in one day. You will be granted access to this second park after 2pm without a reservation, as long as it is not already at capacity.
Disney Genie and Genie+ Services
Those looking to optimize their Disney World Park experience, should tap into the Disney Genie service. This complimentary Disney service invites you to fully enhance your Disney World Park experience. Building on from the itinerary creation service in the My Disney Experience app, Genie goes one step further in providing recommendations on rides, experiences and restaurants that might fit into your day. These are easy to swap in and out, so you can build the perfect schedule no matter where in Disney World you are.
All-new Disney Genie features also include a virtual tip board with forecasted wait times. As well as checking out the wait times for rides, you will also be able to tap into existing Park planning support, for restaurant check-ins and mobile food ordering. Enabling you to order food ahead of your arrival to a chosen restaurant and collect is as soon as you get there promises a (delicious) hassle-free Disney Park day out!
Overall, the Disney Genie will ensure not a moment is wasted during your magical vacation.
To completely streamline your Disney World experience and receive more time-saving benefits, you can pay to upgrade to Genie+. This popular add-on service allows you to join Lightning Lanes for rides, with on average 2-3 rides accessed daily when selected early on the day! The Genie+ service also offers unique new audio experiences and exclusive access to Disney’s PhotoPass camera lenses for mobiles, which can be downloaded via the My Disney Experience app. These fun, interactive lenses invite you to create and customize your Disney Park snaps, for the most magical Park souvenirs!
Book your Disney World accommodation
Now that you know when you want to go and have got your tickets booked, paid for and ready to present at the parks for every member of your group, it’s time to think about finding somewhere comfortable and luxurious to stay when you’re not busy exploring.
There are several incredible resorts located in the areas surrounding Disney World. Our guests particularly love Reunion Resort, Encore Resort, and Champions Gate, though we do have plenty more on offer besides our most popular destinations.
These resorts offer incredible vacation homes to suit everyone. From smaller apartment style accommodation if you’re heading off on a romantic Disney getaway for two, to sprawling properties with fully-equipped kitchens, private pools you can spend the evenings splashing about in, games rooms for a round of snooker, and even private movie theaters where you can catch up on the latest Disney films in reclining seats.
If you’re traveling with little ones and looking for a vacation home at Disney World that is in and of itself its own destination, equipped to deal out plenty of laughter and memories, then have a look at our favorite themed bedrooms. From future jedis, astronauts in training, and Disney princesses alike, these homes will truly make your childrens’ vacations one to remember.
If you want to have a good browse through everything we have to offer at Disney World, then hit the button below. Get your booking in well in advance to make sure you can snap up the vacation home of your dreams.
Once your accommodation is sorted, make sure you book your travel, including your flights. If you book with Top Villas, our guest experience team can help you sort out any transfers or car hire, so you can have every little detail sorted and ready before you land.
How to plan a Disney vacation – just before you go
So, your essentials are booked, the dates are in the diary, and now you and your friends or family are counting down the days until your magical vacation to Disney World. Next, it’s time to sort out the little details that really make your trip special.
Book your Disney World restaurant reservations
Disney World plays host to a glorious array of restaurants, including those that we highly recommend sorting out a booking for well in advance.
If you don’t want to arrange your meals ahead of time, that’s absolutely fine – Disney World offers plenty of restaurants where you can walk in to grab a bite at any time of day. But the park’s most famous and coveted restaurants you will need a booking for.
Whether you are heading to Cinderella’s Royal Table for a proposal, or Be Our Guest for somebody’s birthday, these restaurants are as much experiences as the rides on offer here, and we highly recommend at least one special night at a memorable Disney World restaurant.
Do you remember the My Disney Experience app we mentioned earlier? Well, you can also use it to sort out your restaurant reservations too. Reservations will open to you 60 days before your trip, so make sure you jump on and get them sorted as soon as you can.
Reservations at the most popular restaurants can be snapped up in a blink of an eye, so it’s a good idea, if you have your heart set on a particular place, to book as soon as you enter that 60 day window so you can avoid disappointment.
If you want to know what the most popular restaurants are throughout the parks, as well as our spotlighted favorites, then be sure to check out our article on the best restaurants in Disney World to help support your reservation planning.
Work out a packing list
The days are slipping by, and your journey to Disney World is just around the corner! It’s time to get packing.
With about a week to go until your trip to Disney World, have a look at the weather forecast. As Florida has the nickname “the sunshine state”, it is highly likely that you will enjoy blue skies and sunshine, and will need to bring your sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself as you walk around the parks.
That being said, it may be an idea to bring some waterproofs just in case! The weather doesn’t always play ball, so it’s best to check ahead to make sure there aren’t any nasty surprises.
Comfy shoes are an absolute must as you will be spending hours walking about, as well as footwear that can be fastened securely so you don’t lose them on any of the rides. Drinks, snacks and any lunch items you want to bring into the parks should also be considered, as well as ensuring you pack all of your usual toiletries, medicines, and plenty of changes of clothing. Whatever you choose to bring with you, make sure you are well organized and have packed well in advance, so you have plenty of time to add in the little things you may have forgotten!
How to plan a vacation to Disney World – Making the most of your holiday
When you’re on vacation in Disney World, there is so much to do and see that it might feel overwhelming. Or at the very least, difficult to work out exactly what to do to maximize the amount of time you have there. For many, a trip to Disney World is very much a “once in a lifetime” kind of vacation, so you don’t want to head home feeling like you’ve missed out on anything.
That’s why Disney World has created its Disney Genie service. This complimentary service invites you to optimize your Disney World Park experience. Not only can you build itineraries into the app, Genie also provides recommendations on rides, experiences and restaurants that might fit into your day. These are easy to swap in and out, so you can build the perfect schedule no matter where in Disney World you are.
All-new features include a virtual tip board with forecasted wait times. As well as checking out the wait times for rides, you will also be able to tap into existing Park planning support, for restaurant check-ins and mobile food ordering. Enabling you to order food ahead of your arrival to a chosen restaurant and collect is as soon as you get there promises a (delicious) hassle-free Disney Park day out!
Overall, the Disney Genie will ensure not a moment is wasted during your magical vacation.
To completely streamline your Disney World experience and to receive more time-saving benefits, you can pay to upgrade to Genie+. This popular add-on service allows you to join Lightning Lanes for rides, with on average 2-3 rides accessed daily when selected early on the day! The Genie+ service also offers unique new audio experiences and exclusive access to Disney’s PhotoPass camera lenses for mobiles, which can be downloaded via the My Disney Experience app. These fun, interactive lenses invite you to create and customize your Disney Park snaps, for the most magical Park souvenirs!
Now you have read our guide to planning a trip to Disney World, you will be able to book like a pro. Either come back to this article or review any notes you made about the process of booking at Disney World, when you would like to go, and what you would like to go, as well as what you can do with the useful app that is on offer to help support your planning.
Once you have got to grips with the booking process, everything will fall into place, and not only will your vacation run smoothly, but you will also really make the most of the experience and fill your days with plenty of adventure, laughter, and memories. Make sure to tag us in your social posts so we can see your Disney World experience unfold!
We at Top Villas wish you a very happy Disney World vacation!