The Five Golden Rules of Walt Disney World Vacation Planning

5 Rules of Walt Disney World Vacation Planning

New to Walt Disney World Travel? My Five Golden Rules Will Help to Get You Started

If you are new to Walt Disney World vacation planning, it doesn’t take long to discover that there’s no shortage of Disney travel tips online. In fact, you can drive yourself crazy trying to make sense of it all.

While there is a lot of good information out there, I frequently get asked what are my most important travel tips when it comes to planning a Walt Disney World vacation. Over time I have boiled it down to what I call my Five Golden Rules of Walt Disney World Vacation Planning. If you follow these five rules as a starting point, you will be well on your way to creating a magical and rewarding Walt Disney World vacation experience.

Mike Belobradic’s Five Golden Rules of Walt Disney World Vacation Planning

1. Book Your Trip as Early as Possible

Much of the success of your Walt Disney World vacation planning will hinge on meeting early deadlines for various bookings (dining, FastPasses, special events, tours, etc.). By booking your trip as far in advance as possible, you will be able to meet those windows and greatly improve your chances of getting your first choice in any given category—including Disney hotel accommodations.

Remember, you can always apply any special offers that may arise (such as Disney room discounts) to your reservation after the fact, so there is no need to wait for that reason. Note, however, that these offers have limited availability so you will need to stay on top of this and aim to apply any offers as soon as you can (there is no guarantee that you will get an offer due to limited supply), but this would be the same if you were booking for the first time as well. So, again, no need to wait. Get your hotel reservation booked and confirmed with a deposit and move on to the next rule.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Stained Glass

2. Book Your Disney Dining as Early as You are Allowed

Many first time visitors don’t realize that the most popular Walt Disney World restaurants book up months in advance. You are allowed to book table service dining up to 180 days in advance of your stay. Take advantage of this window and book your dining – particularly the hard-to-get reservations – as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Be sure to do your research on Disney restaurants beforehand.

Walt Disney World Resort Launches

3. Stay Onsite at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel

Staying onsite at a Walt Disney World Resort (particularly a Deluxe Disney Resort) not only brings you closer to the magic of the Disney theme parks, shopping, water parks and more, but it also gives you a number of extra perks that offsite visitors do not receive. Unless you have a good sensible reason for not staying onsite, staying onsite at a Walt Disney World Resort will greatly enhance your overall Walt Disney World vacation experience.  Disney Deluxe Resorts provide a truly immersive experience the way that Walt Disney himself originally intended.

4. Book Your Disney FastPasses as Early as You are Allowed

The FastPass+ system gives you the privilege to enter a special queue for quicker access to rides and attractions.

You are initially allowed to book three FastPass+ reservations per day for whichever Disney Park you choose to visit (the first three must be in the same Park for each day; you cannot mix them over multiple parks on one day when first booking). Similar to dining reservations, the hottest Walt Disney World attractions can book up quickly. FastPasses have a limited supply each day; that is how Disney manages crowd flow. Be sure to know which attractions you most want to visit and book your FastPass+ allotment as early as you can (60 days in advance for onsite guests and 30 days in advance for everyone else).

Disney's Hollywood Studios Front Entrance Sign

5. Get to the Parks 30 Minutes Before Opening

Arriving at the parks for opening is the most effective way to beat the crowds and lines and to get on your favourite attractions without a FastPass+ (meaning you can save your FastPasses for later in the day or the evening). This means getting to the parks 30 minutes before the official opening time. It may look crowded at the front gates of the park, but the crowds disperse in various directions as soon as the gates open. You can often get more done in the first 90 minutes after opening than you can in an entire afternoon later that day. The parks will often open a little early as well, which is why I recommend the 30 minute advance time.

Bonus Rule: Get to Know “My Disney Experience”

My bonus rule is to get comfortable with the My Disney Experience app. This is a very powerful central planning tool that is extremely useful in both planning your vacation and for using onsite during your vacation. If you don’t have a free account set up already, you can do so online at the My Disney Experience website.

More Walt Disney World

Looking for more Disney travel advice and information or for help in planning and booking your Walt Disney World vacation?

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Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist
The Finer Side of Travel™ #LuxuryDisney