Here is a step by step process to help you from the very beginning planning stages all the way through to when you are packing your bags to go on your magical vacation to Walt Disney World. This site exists because Walt Disney World is a force to be reckoned with. There are pages and pages of helpful information to help people plan their vacations, but many people ask, "Where do I start"?
- The first thing you should do is decide when you want to go to WDW, because the time of year will impact the cost of the nightly rate, theme park tickets, restaurants and travel. While Disney tries to announce refurbishments well in advance so you can plan accordingly to what will be open during your vacation, it doesn't always pan out. But, go to Walt Disney World's Refurbishment Schedule to see if you will miss out on any of your most important attractions you want to see so you can decide if you need to change your dates for vacation to WDW or not. Also, WDW no longer has "low crowds", they have "less busy times". According to Disney's crowd tiers, click here for the Best Weeks to Vacation At Walt Disney World.
- Next thing to do is you need to think about your budget. How much are you willing to spend on a hotel? If you prefer to know how much all of it would cost in order to save the amount needed, go to the next step, but also go to "Tips On How To Go To Walt Disney World On A Limited Budget" That page has helpful information on how to save money for your trip including earning Disney dollars with a Disney Credit Card.
- Ok, where to now? I started with finances, because Disney has 3 levels of hotels. They have value, moderate and deluxe. It's not just about location or if there's a restaurant in your hotel, there are relatively big differences between all 3 levels. Yes, you will probably be spending most of your time in the parks so why bother to spend so much on any other resort other than a value? The answer is "Comfort". There is a difference with the pillows, beds and square footage between all 3 levels. Maybe you want a kitchen in your room. If you have more than 6 people, you need a deluxe resort bedroom villa unless you plan on staying in multiple value or moderate rooms. Want to stay on the monorail? You need a deluxe resort. If you need more space or a better, quality bed, a value resort is not the place for you. That's just a few examples. To see all the differences between the 3 resorts, go to these pages: Moderate Vs. Value Resorts and Should I Choose A Moderate or Deluxe Resort?
- Once you decide on which resort level, then you need to decide on which hotel! What?! Yup! That was just deciding a level. Now you ask, "Which one is best"? Well, they're all great! They are all themed in their own special way. When it comes to Value or Moderate, I choose the resort with the least expensive nightly rate. Deluxe is a different story. Not all of the deluxe resorts are on the monorail. In my opinion, I prefer the buses. I've had some inconvenient and not-so-magical experiences with the monorails. If you stay at the Contemporary, you can walk to the Magic Kingdom. Animal Kingdom Lodge is nice and quiet. It's a beautiful resort and is my favorite out of all of them. Choosing a Deluxe resort is purely a personal preference. Go to our YouTube page for videos of some rooms and/or our Facebook Group to ask for recommendations if the descriptions about each resort on the Walt Disney World Site are not sufficient.
- Once you get all of that done, the rest flows smoothly. How many days do you want to go to the theme parks? Many will have the first and last day as their travel days and consider them to be "down days". They'll go to Disney Springs, swim at the resort, go resort hopping, etc. TIP: Try to book your outgoing flight late morning or in the afternoon. When taking Disney's Magical Express back to the airport, you board 3 hours before your flight. That's just for a domestic flight. It's more if you are flying international. You don't want to hurry up and rush your last morning at the Happiest Place On Earth. So, keep that 3 hours in mind when booking your flights.
- Once you've decided on the time of year, resort, tickets and dining, look for specials! If it's too early to look for specials for the time you plan on going, you can still book your package with the required down payment and make payments as frequent as you want. You simply continue to look for specials and call WDW when you see one that impacts your vacation. They will adjust your trip accordingly as long as it's at least 45 days before your check-in date.
- If you're flying, start looking for prices for flights if you choose not to have Disney schedule your flights as part of the package.
- Set up "My Disney Experience" on your computer on WDW's site and download the app to your phone, if you have a smartphone. This is where you would choose your MagicBand colors and names and you can see everything from your resort reservation to your dining reservations, fastpasses, theme park hours, create an itinerary, book Disney's Magical Express to pick you up at the airport to bring you to and from your Disney resort hotel, etc.
- Then you can sit back, make payments on your trip (if you book a package), look at Table Service restaurants you want to dine at and wait for the 180th day from your check-in date. Be sure to have a plan ready for 6am EST on your 180th day. On the 180th day, you can book all of your dining reservations (180 +10 days if staying in a Disney hotel). Click here for 7 Tips For Successful Dining Reservations.
- In the mean time, decide what attractions you want to schedule FastPasses for on the 60th day from your check-in date. What is a FastPass? Here's all the info you need about FastPasses and Tiers. Knowing the tiers is important. You also need to know Attraction Height Requirements for the little ones. That is a quick reference listed by heights instead of having to look for each individual attraction for the height requirement on Disney's site. There's so much to do! What are the most important attractions to see? It's a personal preference, but here's a list of the most popular attractions/shows that many people recommend for each park. Click here to see A List of Must-Do's For Each Theme Park.
Final thoughts, if you are a US military veteran and/or active duty, Disney has discounted rooms and tickets at really good rates. Plus, look at Shades of Green, which is on WDW property as an option for your stay. It could save you money.
AllAccessDisney.com has everything you need to know to plan your vacation, but I highly recommend you go to Walt Disney World's site and price out packages. Play around with different options. You're not held to anything until you are putting your credit card information into the system to pay. That's when you stop unless that's the package you want to book. Disney will take your choices all the way to the end showing you the cost with taxes. Just don't put your credit card info in unless you are sure that's the package you want. You can always upgrade with Disney, but you can't downgrade. (Certain exceptions apply, packages versus individual purchases, etc.)
Feel free to ask questions through our Contact Page, Twitter, Facebook Page, our Disney Vacation Club group and our Facebook Group! Just remember to have a magical time on your vacation!