Planning a trip to Walt Disney World can be a daunting task. Don’t worry though, I am here to help guide you through the process of how to plan a Disney World Vacation and to offer you lots of Disney Tips.
Today I am sharing the Disney World vacation planning timeline. Since there is a lot to think about and a lot of reservations to make I am going to lay them out for you in a step by step plan.
How to Plan a Disney World Vacation
It is never too early to start planning your vacation to Disney World. This timeline will help you plan a trip to Disney World.
One Year Before Your Disney Vacation
Create a Disney Vacation Board On Pinterest. One of the first things I would do once you have an interest in planning a vacation to Disney is to create a Pin Board on Pinterest and start pinning all the Disney articles you can find. Find Disneybounding ideas, dining reviews, resort reviews, and more!
Create a Disney Planning Binder. Use the binder to put in your planning pages such as checklists, budget sheets, and packing lists. You can also put reservations and confirmations from airlines, car rental companies, and more!
Establish a budget. Don’t go broke going on vacation! I totally believe there is a way for every income level to enjoy some sort of Disney vacation.
Start a Savings Jar and a Vacation Account. Make a huge water jug a saving jar and start collecting all your loose change and bills. Another good plan is to make add an additional savings account at your bank and start putting some money in there. In my family, we have direct deposit and we put some money from our checks directly into the Disney account so we don’t even see it.
Begin Researching Resorts. Pin resort reviews to your Disney Vacation Pinterest Board. If you can’t afford on property resorts, don’t forget to look into vacation homes and off-site properties that might fit into your budget.
Decide When You Want to Vacation. Do you want to go during a special time like Christmas or do you want to avoid crowds? Touring Plans has a great crowd calendar to use as a guide. With Disney World’s tiered ticket pricing you save money when you go during non-peak days!
Find an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Working with a travel agent will help you every step of the way and even do most of the work for you and their services are completely free.
Make a preliminary resort reservation. It’ll typically require a deposit equal to one night’s stay, and it guarantees you a room. You can change or cancel it without penalty for several months while you continue researching if you find a different resort you like better or travel dates change. You save money the earlier you make a reservation because more budget-friendly room categories are available.
Start Securing Travel Insurance and Passports if you are not a U.S. citizen. Passports typically need to be valid for 6 months beyond your travel dates. An electronic U.S. visa is typically good for 2 years from the date of issue if you need one. See travel.state.gov/content/visas/english.html for details.
6 Months Before Your Disney Vacation
Create Your My Disney Experience Account. The My Disney Experience App is where all of your Fastpass +, dining, and resort reservations are held. The app also allows you to view your photos, has maps, make mobile quick service restaurant orders, wait times, and more!
Make Dining Reservations. If you’re staying on-site and have a reservation you can reserve dining 180 days out plus the next 10 days after that limit. If you are staying off-site or don’t have a reservation yet then you have to make a reservation 180 days out for each day of your vacation.
Book Special Experiences and Tours. This is the time where you can book special tours, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, haircuts at the Harmony Barber Shop, Pirate’s League, Dessert parties, and more!
4 Months From Your Disney Vacation
Make a list of must-see attractions and shows from each park. It is a good idea to visit YouTube and watch ride videos for any rides you and/or your child are unsure about.
Begin a Possible Park Touring Plan. Using your My Disney Experience, use the park hours to develop a plan of action. You should have your sit down restaurants booked so plan your day around those and shows you would like to see.
60 Days from Your Disney Vacation
Make Fastpass+ Selections. If you are on a Disney Resort guest you can make your fastpass+ choices at this time. If you are using an authorized Disney Vacation Planner, they can do this for you!
Complete Online Resort Check-In.
Customize Your Magic Bands. Magic Bands are free for those who have a Disney vacation package or annual passes. You need to go to your My Disney Experience account and pick out which colors you want and add names to the bands. They ship rather quickly once they are ordered. If you do not have a Disney vacation package you can still buy them and link your tickets to them but other than having a cute bracelet during your trip, there is really no point to them, your park ticket will do everything the bands do except for certain ride photos.
Start Walking More. If you are not doing around 10,000 steps or more start a walking regimen that will get your body ready for all the walking at Walt Disney World.
45 Days from Your Disney Vacation
Final Payment is due for Disney Vacation Packages. Your vacation should be fully paid for by this point, except for incidentals and souvenir money.
Make Magical Express Reservations. You can call (407) 939-1936 and be prepared to give the Disney Cast Member your Disney Resort reservation number and flight numbers. You may also make your Magical Express reservation online at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/airport-transportation-reservation/
30 Days from Your Disney Vacation
Off-site Guests can make their Fastpass+ selections. Time to wake up early and book your top ride choices!
Confirm Park hours and finish your park touring itinerary. Up until this point, the park hours you see on the My Disney Experience App are not confirmed. Parks hours are pretty much concrete at this time. If anything Disney would extend park hours if there are any changes. You can finalize your daily plans now.
14 Days from Your Disney Vacation
Order Groceries for Your Resort. You can use Garden Grocer, you can also use Amazon and have them ship to the hotel. The cheapest option (though it takes away from your Disney time) is to get an Uber and go to Walmart. If Walmart is your choice, make a shopping list now.
5 Days from Your Disney Vacation
Fax your Room Request to Disney. If you book with A2M Travel, they can do this for you! Please remember this is a request and may not be accommodated.
Start Packing. I have a great printable Walt Disney World Packing List to download to help you make sure you have everything you need.
Check Your Prescriptions. Do you have more than enough of your essential medications to see you through the entire Disney World vacation?
Alert Bank/ Credit card Company. To avoid issues with credit and debit cards, call the company and let them know where and when you’re going and to expect activity on the card from Orlando.
Purchase Memory Maker. Purchase at least 3 days in advance to ensure all photos are linked as soon as you arrive. You’ll also get a $30 discount by purchasing in advance.
Make Sure Your Home is Secure/Taken Care of. Make arrangements with neighbors, family or friends to pick up papers and flyers that are delivered to your home. If you’ll be using timers to set for sprinklers, radios and/or lights make sure you have 1 timer for each task you want to have done automatically. Arrange to have your mail picked up, forwarded, or put aside for the duration of your stay.
Make Beauty Appointments. Trim, color, perm, braids – this week is the time to get your hair in princess-worthy shape. Make manicure, pedicure and waxing appointments for two or three days before you leave. I always find that the manicure and pedicure relax my pre-travel nerves.
Free Printable Disney World Vacation Planner
For each checklist, I have included a space for notes and other important information. I have also included blank “to-do’s” to account for special things like making shirts, telling the kids, and other fun Disney Vacation things.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave a comment, email me, or contact me via Facebook.