Beginner Tips for Planning a Walt Disney World Trip

Thinking of planning a Walt Disney World trip?  Or maybe you have one booked but you are not even sure where to begin with your planning?  Disney World is one of those places that can be extremely overwhelming when you are thinking about planning.  How do you decide when to book dining, and fast passes when your trip is 180 days away.  Who knows even knows what you would want to eat that far out??? Unfortunately, with Disney, this is almost a necessity if you want one of those hard to get reservations.  We have some great tips to help you get through your pesky planning phases.

Magic Kingdom Fireworks
Magic Kingdom Fireworks

When to visit:  You can always google crowd calendars and get very technical on this part of it.  Seriously don’t let it stress you out too much.  The parks are always busy these days, as Disney is always having special events to bring in crowds during slow times.  The basic rule of thumb is: the more you can avoid Holidays and school vacations the better.  For example: Spring Break (2 weeks prior to Easter, and 2 weeks after Easter) are always at a much higher crowd level.  Summers (during school breaks), and Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays are more crowded.  Beyond that, crowds are fairly steady.  Even during off periods the crowds can seem heavy, so just come to Disney expecting crowds and lines, and make the best of it.

Book your next magical adventure with Mousing Around Travel

Planning your Days:  The best way to start is just think of how your family might want to visit the parks.  Are you a Toy Story fan?  If so, maybe you want to hit Hollywood Studios first.  This will give you a basic outline of when you want to plan dining and FastPasses.  You may even want to look at the parks schedules, see the hours for the parks, or if any parks have extra magic hours those days.

Dining:  There are a few restaurants that are extremely hard to get reservations at.  I do highly recommend booking your dining at 180-days.  Use your basic planning schedule from the previous step.  You will find that at 180-days, restaurants completely book up, this is because of what I like to call “reservation hoarders”.  So, if you have your heart set on Cinderella’s Royal Table or 50’s Prime Time Cafe and there are no reservations available, do not give up hope, the “reservation hoarders” will let go of reservations as they start to finalize plans, so just keep trying, even up to the day before you dine, you will be surprised as to what you may find.

Dining at Disney

FastPass +: FastPasses can also be stressful.  Be sure to download the MyDisneyExperience App to your phone, this will help you a ton while you are planning, and while you visit.  If you are staying on property, you can book FastPasses at 60 days.  If you are not staying on property, then you can book 30-days out.  This is a great way to skip the line on some of those popular rides.  My biggest recommendation here, is get all your FastPasses out of the way in the morning.  The reason I say this is because after you scan your MagicBand on your third FastPass, you can go online and book another.  It is possible to get 6-7 FastPasses in 1-day very easily.  There are certain FastPasses I always recommend getting at each park at your 60/30 day marks because they will most likely be gone when you are looking to make same day FastPasses, I have listed those below:

  • Magic Kingdom: 7-Dwarves Mine Train, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Peter Pan, Thunder Mountain
  • Epcot: Frozen, Soarin, Test Track (Note: These are all Tier 1 FastPasses, so you will only be able to choose 1 of these in your pre-planning)
  • Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage, Everest, Kilimanjaro Safari
  • Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Mania, Slinky Dog Coaster (coming soon), Rockin Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror

Budget:  This can be a controversial topic at Disney.  The reason is because you can spend $30,000 on a trip or $3,000 on a trip.  Be sure when you are planning your budget to not stress about it too much.  Everyone gets FastPasses as long as you have valid park tickets, you are getting in, just like the next person.  Plan based on a comfortable budget for you, and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, this will lead to you being much happier and stress-free as you travel.  If you are looking to plan on a budget, we have some great articles on FREE Things at Disney and Disney on a Budget you can check out!

Be Flexible:  Last but not least, this is probably the most important thing.  I have planned and planned and no matter what, things change.  Plans change.  Maybe you decide at the last minute your family is exhausted and you decide to skip that coveted Be Our Guest reservation and get pizza in your room, and go swimming at a pool.  (It hurt me the last time I had to do this).  Honestly, my family was so much happier because of it.  We all get tired and worn out, the sun can be brutal, remember to go with the flow and enjoy yourself.  Even the Disney resorts and pools are amazing, so plan some down time, and just take in the magic.

Happily Ever After Fireworks at Magic Kingdom
Happily Ever After Fireworks at Magic Kingdom


This is just a start, so be sure to hang in there.  Anyone can plan an amazing Disney trip.  Just remember, no matter what, you will be at Disney creating lifelong memories with your family, and that is something special!

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About the Author:

I am just another Disney lover.  I am in the parks often and love sharing about all of my experience and tips and tricks.  I figure if I am at Disney, then I am off the couch and outside enjoying life.  Hope you enjoy my blog! -Shanna

Pictures courtesy of Disney Parks Blog and The Pixie Dust Life

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