Are you headed to Walt Disney World – but stressing over your vacation? No worries, it’s happened to all of us. But, happily, there are ways to knock the stress out of your planning for a stress-free trip. From organization tips to must-know timelines, here are 10 essential ways to de-stress Disney World trip planning.
1. De-Stress Disney World Trip Planning: Research Literally Everything
I get stressed out when I have no idea what I’m doing. And that rings especially true when traveling.
When I was planning my family’s first Walt Disney World (WDW) vacation, I sat for a couple of hours each day and absorbed all the information. I looked up on-property resorts, checked out dining menus, and dug into park logistics.
My #1 tip to de-stress Disney World trip planning is to do all the research for your upcoming trip. While you’re sitting at home and watching tele, hop on your laptop and start looking at Disney World tips. Pinterest is a great resource for all-things Disney World, so start there if you have an account.
If you have questions, you can call or hop on a chat with a Disney planning agent via the official website, too. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve asked for advice. And, honestly, they’ve been nothing but helpful and kind.
2. Sign Up for a Disney Planning DVD
If you’re on the fence about which Walt Disney World Resort to stay at, sign up for a free Disney planning DVD. It takes a few weeks to arrive, but it delves into theme parks, resorts, and even dining. When my daughter was younger, we loved watching it to get vacation ideas. Heck, she still enjoys watching our old one to this day.
Looking to save some serious cash on your vacation? Here are the best secret freebies at Disney World.
3. Schedule FastPass+ Selections as Soon As You’re Able
When I first started planning our WDW vacations, we relied on good, old paper Fastpasses to help us get ahead of the standby queues. But, gone are those days and FastPass+ has become a necessary means of park planning. You have three ways to schedule a FastPass+ selection:
- My Disney Experience App
- Online at waltdisneyworld.com
- In the theme parks
As for FastPass+ scheduling, you can start locking them down as early as:
- 60 days if staying on property with valid theme park admission
- 30 days if staying on property, an Annual Passholder, or DVC Member
If staying at a WDW Resort, you’ll also have up to a 10 day grace period. Confusing? Let me try to explain.
Say your WDW vacation starts on April 1st and you’ll be visiting for 7 days. At 60 days out from April 1st you may begin choosing FastPass+ selections for the length of your entire vacation. If you’ll be visiting 11 days or more, you’ll need to select them for 10 days, and then log in the next day for the 11th day. Make sense?
And While You’re Scheduling…
Look up attraction height requirements. If a WDW Castmember thinks your child is too small, he/she will have to measure up before entering the ride queue.
4. Schedule Dining Ahead
When it comes to WDW Dining, both in-park at at the resorts, you can begin locking down reservations at 180 days out. You’ll need a valid credit card to hold your reservation and, if you have to cancel, a fee of $10 per person may be charged if cancelling less than 24 hours beforehand.
The super popular restaurants sell out quickly, so give yourself a calendar reminder at 180 out so you can score the ones you want. Character dining is super popular, so lock those down if you really want them. For example, here are the hot restaurants to grab early:
- Be Our Guest – Magic Kingdom
- Cinderella’s Royal Table – Magic Kingdom
- Crystal Palace – Magic Kingdom
- Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater – Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS)
- Oga’s Cantina – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at DHS
- 1900 Park Fare – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
- ‘Ohana – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – Norway Pavilion at Epcot
- Tusker House – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Chef Mickey’s – Disney’s Contemporary Resort
5. De-Stress Disney World Trip Planning: Sign up For Disney’s Magical Express
As soon as you have your flight information locked down, sign up for Disney’s Magical Express. It will take you to and from WDW complimentary, and you’ll receive stickers to put on your luggage handles in the mail.
If it’s a last-minute vacation, you’ll have to skip the luggage tags. However, you’ll still be able to take advantage of Magical Express.
6. Expect Crowds
Even on low crowd-level days, there are a ton of people in all of the theme parks. But, knowing about it before you go can help you to make a park itinerary.
Crowds at Disney World are generally highest from lunchtime to dinnertime. So, if you think you’ll like arriving when the park opens each day, aka rope drop, that’s the time with the least amount of waiting in attraction queues. And, if I can narrow that down, the first two hours of park opening is the standby queue sweet spot.
So, my advice is to start scheduling FastPasses two hours after rope drop. That way you can take advantage of a shorter line when the standby queues are the longest.
7. De-Stress Disney World Trip Planning: Early Check-In
With a valid credit card, you can officially start checking into an on-property WDW Resort when you receive the go ahead. It’s this time you can put in room requests and let the resort know what time you’ll be arriving.
You can also prioritize requests, too. If you’d rather have your room ready earlier, as opposed to a lower floor, you can request it. It’s not guaranteed, but they do try to accommodate everyone.
8. Clothing Options: Start Packing Early
Taking the stress out of packing for a Disney vacation can be helped with a couple of things:
- Start Packing Early
- Use a Packing List – or Make Your Own
One of my big travel stressors is thinking I’m going to forget to pack something, especially the morning that we’re leaving. So, pack your family early. Make a list of last-minute things to add to your suitcase.
You can also find plenty of WDW packing lists to help you remember everything. But, customize them for you and your family.
9. Driving? Download Maps on Your Apps
We drive to WDW all of the time ad I rely on driving apps to get me where I need to be. If you’re unfamiliar with the roads you’ll be taking, look online ahead of time to get the general idea.
I’ll also download local maps from Google Maps just in case we lose service. That way, you won’t have to panic about the app not working correctly.
10. De-Stress Disney World Trip Planning: Make Yourself a Daily Schedule
I know, I didn’t think I’d like my entire WDW vacation planned out ahead of time, but it seriously takes the pressure off me. Once dining and Fastpasses are locked down, I can make an itinerary of where we need to be and when. I’ll add in shows and parades, as well as parties and fireworks.
Then, I’ll add the plans to small notecards. It’s easy to pop them into my travel bag for reference. Of course, Google Drive works well, too.
If you’ve signed up for a My Disney Experience account, you can add daily activities, dining, and shows right in. all you’ll need to do is log in to check them out.