Trip Preparation: When do I start planning?
You want to take a vacation to Walt Disney World, awesome! To make the most of your time on site and the money you spend to fly down, purchase tickets and stay: plan ahead. A good window of time to start planning your vacation is 7 months out. 7 months out allows you 30 days of planning before restaurant reservations open. 180 days before your Disney Vacation you can make reservations at restaurants around Disney property. To make this decision you’re going to want to know what you plan to do on any given day. You don’t want to try and make a reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table on a day you plan on being at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. To make these reservations 180 days before you need to have a resort booked and a My Disney Experience account linked to said reservation.
A couple of things to watch out for when you’re making your plans are the Halloween and Christmas parties. These are special ticketed events that require a separate admission occurring on select nights at the Magic Kingdom. If you are visiting the Magic Kingdom on one of these days you will be asked to leave the park before the party begins, which would be 7pm. Therefore make sure you plan to spend these days at another park. Check the RunDisney page as well to see if there are any events taking place on the dates of your vacation. If there are then steer clear of the parks on those mornings. The traffic to the parks will be heavy because of road closures.
Planning 7 months out also gives you flexibility. Make a few priorities. Maybe your must-dos are an appointment at the Bibbity-Bobbity Boutique at Disney Springs, dinner at 1900 Park Fare or meeting Mickey Mouse. Make a tentative plan with those as the pillars. If you can’t get these reservations on the dates you want, then adjust your plans to make that happen. After these preliminary reservations are made you can shelve your planning for a couple of months.
The next important date is 60 days before your vacation to book your fastpasses. So 3 months out I would return to your planning and figure out what fastpasses compliment your family and the visions for your vacation. This 60 days only applies to those staying on site at a Disney resort and you need to have purchased your tickets. At the 3 month mark I would make sure your tickets are purchased and linked up with your My Disney Experience account. Use the same approach with your fastpasses as your restaurant reservations. Make a couple of priorities: Seven Dwarf Mine Train, Meet and Greet with Elsa and Anna, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. Then cross reference them with your restaurant reservations. Make sure you’ll have ample time to go from your restaurant reservation to your fastpass reservation.
Once your dining reservations are booked and your fastpasses are booked, make a blueprint for each of your days. Create a loose itinerary for your park days, so that you’re only hitting one area of each park once, instead of going back and forth, wasting time going from one end of the park to the other.
So as you can see, it can be a bit of a process but well worth the invested time. It will create a less stressful vacation. Having the planing spread out like this also makes it less overwhelming. Concentrate on one piece at a time and enjoy making selections that your family is going to love.