Disney World Vacation Plans + Free Printable Checklist
Top tips and tricks for planning your Walt Disney World vacation, including when to go and what to do before you leave, to prepare for your magical vacation.
Planning a trip to Disney World
So you decide to go to Walt Disney World!
What should we do now?
When planning a vacation to the happiest place on earth, there is a lot to do and consider to make your vacation the best it can be. Many things can be done months in advance for the holidays, but there are also some things that need to be done days in advance (like packing, so be sure to check out our Ultimate WDW packing list).
Today, I’m going to share with you some tips and information to help you plan and prepare for a wonderful Walt Disney World vacation, along with a checklist to make sure everything is taken care of.
Disney World plans months ahead
Some travel must-dos happen the week before. But luckily, a lot can be done for a Disney trip months in advance.
when to go to disney world
Summer is the busiest time for Disneyland. If you’re looking for a less busy time, consider these days:
- Late February – early March
- late august
- Weekdays in November (excluding Thanksgiving week)
- early december
Book a flight
It’s important to book your flight early to get the best price and make sure you can visit the park when you want to.
Taking vacations isn’t always easy, so be sure to plan accordingly and book your flight early.
Book your hotel
Walt Disney World is a hit! Hotels are pre-booked, so be sure to book early if you have a special place to stay. Fortunately, there are plenty of great Disney hotels and resorts to choose from.
You don’t have to book a stay at Walt Disney World Resort, but we’ve found that there are many perks that make it worth it. Some of these are free and convenient transportation to all parks, extra time for magic, and the magical atmosphere of the parks that continues back to your resort.
We were surprised that there were also affordable options. They have everything from the most luxurious accommodations to very fun and budget friendly resorts.
Book the Disney Magic Express
If staying at select Disney resorts, you can use Disney’s Magical Express, a free coach transportation service to and from Orlando International Airport. It also includes free luggage delivery directly to your hotel room. very convenient! !
This service is available for flights arriving between 5:00am and 10:00pm, so be sure to call: (407) 939-1936 to make a reservation. Baggage tags will be sent to your home 2-3 weeks before your trip. If you would like your luggage to be delivered directly to your room upon arrival, please tag it before you arrive at the airport and they will appear in your hotel room within 3 hours of your arrival at the resort.
There’s nothing more magical than dropping your bags at your departure airport and not worrying about them until you’re in your room!
Fast Pass + Book
Disney’s FastPass+ service lets you book select attractions, entertainment, and more. You can start choosing 30 days before arrival, or as early as 60 days before your stay if you have a Walt Disney World Resort vacation package.
Up to 3 FastPass+ options for popular attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Mission: SPACE and entertainment options like Fantasmic! There’s even a FastPass+ option for character greetings, where you’ll meet Mickey Mouse and Cinderella, and a special viewing area for parades and fireworks. Definitely a must in the park!
Many of the more popular attraction reservations may already be filled if you wait until you arrive at the park to do so
Make restaurant reservations
All guests may call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463) 180 days in advance for dining reservations.
With the popularity of these restaurants, it can be difficult to walk into these hotspots even in the off-season, so it’s important to book ahead. For a complete list of restaurants to eat and drink, be sure to go here.
set a budget
It’s always a good idea to set a budget before any trip. Doing it for Walt Disney World shouldn’t be any different. Plan accordingly and set a budget for food, souvenirs, etc.
We want to give kids the opportunity to earn money before these trips so they can buy their own souvenirs. It teaches them to be responsible for their money and teaches them how to budget. 😉
Start with a packing list
To do this, you will need to use the complete Walter World packing list which can be found here. The list is a few pages long and you don’t have to bring it all, but be sure to check to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
Who you’re traveling with, when you’re going, how long you’re staying, etc. will all factor into what you know to pack for Disney World.
Order a custom magic strap
MagicBands and cards are secure all-in-one devices that give you easy access to your plans and vacation choices made through My Disney Experience.
MagicBands are colorful, waterproof wristbands (similar to a watch or bracelet) that unlock your Disney Resort hotel room, let you enter theme parks, check in at the FastPass+ entrance, charge your room for food and merchandise purchases, and more.
- You can go here to order a custom MagicBand at least 10 days prior to arrival.
View Disney’s event calendar and plan your schedule
Head here to access the park calendar and create a tentative schedule of things you want to do each day.
Disney World Plan A A week ahead:
There are many things that can be done months in advance of a trip to Orlando, but there are also some things that can be done a week before the trip. Here are some suggestions:
Check the weather
Pack the right clothes and don’t forget items like umbrellas and ponchos in case you need them. Orlando’s weather can be fickle, so be aware that one day you might be in a jacket and pants and another day in shorts and flip-flops.
Plan and pack accordingly to be prepared for the changing weather.
Preorder Disney’s Memoirs
Disney PhotoPass service keeps everyone involved – Memory Maker lets you download all your favorite digital photos, taken in all the perfect locations, including your favorite characters and rides.
No need to buy pictures separately, because Memory Maker takes all the pictures for you! You can get a discounted rate if you buy it in advance, so if you know you’ll be using it, buy it early. Memory maker even has a special video capture feature for some rides, and they’ll insert you into a movie about that ride! Our kids love this!
Pay bills before leaving
The last thing you want to worry about is paying your bills while on vacation! Take care of all your finances beforehand and let any banks know that you will be traveling if needed.
Process mail for your vacation
Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up your mail while you’re away, or call the mail office and have them keep it. If you get the newspaper too, make sure someone gets it for you.
For those of you who deal with work email correspondence, please open your vacation reply.
Notify your neighbors of your departure
Make sure close neighbors or friends know you’re leaving so they can keep an eye on your house. Make sure to exchange phone numbers with your neighbors in an emergency.
Discuss travel safety with your family
Be sure to inform your kids about the safety rules during your Disney stay and stay close while at the park. It’s easy to get lost, so make sure your kids know they can get help from any Disney employee.
Download the My Disney Experience mobile app
The app is packed with handy features that allow you to view and update your plans, make dining reservations, search maps for all 4 theme parks, get real-time attraction wait times, and more.
There are many services that allow you to order groceries and have them delivered to your hotel room on specific days. If you wish to use this service, it must be done a few days before arrival.
We like to do that so we have snacks at the park and all the food for breakfast at the hotel.
Make sure all devices (phones, cameras, desks, portable DVD players, external phone chargers, etc.) are charged and ready to go. Be sure to bring extra memory cards and batteries! you will need them. 😉
Pack your bags
Start a few days/weeks in advance and keep a list of items to bring and put them where you think they are designated.
Packing a travel bag/backpack
Make sure all bookings, paper documents, IDs and everything else for the plane/car are accessible.
Disney World Stroller Rentals
Decide if you want to take the stroller home. Stroller restrictions have recently been updated, so check here.
Don’t worry if you don’t bring one from home. Stroller rentals are available at Disney World theme parks and Disney Springs. All relevant information can be found here.
Many Disney resorts and hotels have online check-in, so be sure to go here.
Yes, there is a lot to do on your vacation, but I promise you it will be amazing! To help you out, I thought a cute printable list would be handy. We’ve added more to this list, but we know it’ll come in handy when planning your trip to Disney World.
To download, click here.
For more Disney tips, check out: