The question I get asked most often is “when do I need to start planning my vacation to Disney World?” Even more often received is the look of shock when I tell them the ideal time to start planning is seven to nine months ahead of time! When it comes to travel within the United States, planning a trip a couple of months – and in some cases, a couple of weeks – in advance is plenty of time to get together a fun and well-planned trip. However, with a Disney vacation, this isn’t exactly the case! It may sound crazy to some to book a vacation nine months in advance, and even crazier to schedule dining reservations six months in advance… but there’s a method to the madness, I promise! Here’s my timeline of events that helps me stay on track and will hopefully help you!
Eight to nine months in advance
Contact your vacation planner (that’s me!) and get a trip on the books! If you’re not sure where you want to stay, how many days you want to visit the parks, etc. this gives you plenty of time to chat with your planner and make a plan before dining reservations have to be done!
Six to seven months in advance
Start thinking about where you want to eat! This where it sounds insane, I know. I mean, how do I know if six months from today I’m going to want Italian food for dinner, right? But you can never plan too early with Disney and if you change your mind closer to your trip, there’s always the option to make changes to your plans!
Dining reservations open up 180 days prior to your check-in date, so it’s good to have a set game plan about seven months in advance. If you are interested in restaurants such as Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest, it is imperative that you arrange these reservations 180 days in advance! These reservations can be made at 6 AM eastern standard time, which I do as part of my services to my clients so I can wake up early and you can sleep in, resting assured that everything is taken care of for you!
Three to four months in advance
This is when I start to look at dining reservations and plan FastPass+ selections around those! I like to make a game plan for my FastPasses to ensure I do the least amount of unnecessary backtracking in the parks and making sure I have all of my plans matched up with dining reservations and park events such as fireworks and parades.
Two months in advance
Sixty days prior to your check-in date, FastPass+ selections can be made! These open up at 12 AM eastern standard time, another service I offer to my clients! I plan these rather meticulously as to make sure there’s no running all over the park all day long, no selections conflicting with parades and various shows throughout the parks. This is also when I like to make sure I have all of my Magic Bands customized and ready to go before the customization deadline (which is usually around 30 days prior to check-in).
Three to four weeks in advance
This is when you’ll receive your Magic Bands in the mail and the vacation will start to feel real!! Around this time, I like to check in with my clients and go over their itineraries and make sure their questions are answered!
One week before vacation
I start packing for my trips about a week or two in advance, including everything I want to take in my park bag (Here’s a great read on what to pack in park bags!) **Link to blog: https://travelwiththemagic.com/packing-the-perfect-park-bag/
I like to go over my vacation itinerary a few times en route to my destination so I know my plans when I arrive – that way as soon as I check in, I can jump right into my vacation and right into all the magic that Disney has to offer!
My name is Haley Tucker and I am a vacation planner affiliated with Travel with the Magic. All of my services are completely free to those who book their travel with me! I offer a multitude of services ranging from itinerary planning to special event arrangements, arranging for special celebrations such as birthdays and honeymoons, as well as booking your dining reservations and FastPass+ selections for you! Rest assured you are in good hands with me!
If you are a social media lover, please like my Facebook page to keep up with the latest happenings in the world of Disney! www.facebook.com/HaleyTuckerTravel
Another fun avenue of following along on my latest adventure – I will be using the app “Periscope” to film snippets of my upcoming vacation to Walt Disney World! Be sure to follow me (username @ehaleyt) to follow along! I’ll be filming September 26 – October 1, 2015 at each of the parks, Downtown Disney, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and even some of the restaurants we are visiting including Cinderella’s Royal Table and Be Our Guest!! It’ll be fun and I hope you can join me and get a small taste of the Disney magic!!