Winging It: The Biggest Disney Mistake
There are a lot of mistakes you can make while visiting Walt Disney World® Resort. You can forget to try a Dole Whip, or to miss out on meeting Mickey at Town Square Theater. You can decide to get a Disney Fastpass+ for the The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ Attraction instead of Toy Story Midway Mania!® Attraction, when the standby lines for each are incomparable.
The biggest mistake, hands down, that you can make is winging it. Like it or not, Disney can be hard work; however, if you plan in advance, you can have a fun, carefree vacation in Orlando.
180 DAYS IN ADVANCE
Six months prior to my Disney vacation, I have pretty much my entire itinerary planned. Why? Because of dining reservations.
At Walt Disney World Resort, the booking window for dining reservations is 180 days before the first day of your vacation. What does that mean? That the most popular dining spots are often booked solid six months in advance.
Popular character meals like Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom®Park book up immediately. Other popular restaurants, like Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Le Cellier at Epcot® Canada Pavilion, and Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom are just as in demand.
Therefore, dining comes first, and if you want a memorable meal at a restaurant I mentioned, you cannot wait until the last minute. I often hear from Disney guests that they’ll just show up and try to walk in without a reservation. I am here to tell you that if that happens, it’s an anomaly.
Once your dining is confirmed, you can work the rest of your itinerary around it. Be sure to plan for special events, parades, and other seasonal celebrations.
In addition to your dining reservations, plans for recreation, spa treatments, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and other special events like fireworks cruises and dessert parties can be made at this time.
60 DAYS IN ADVANCE
Immediately prior to this mark, you should make sure you have your tickets set and linked to your account. Why? Because at this point, you can start to make your Disney Fastpass+ Service reservations.
Gone are the carefree days where you could show up at the park and head to an attraction you want to experience, insert your ticket and get a Disney Fastpass+ for later in the day. At 60 days, anyone staying on Walt Disney World Resort property can make three Disney Fastpass+ reservations per day. Like dining, the more popular attractions fill up first. Attractions like Sinky Dog Dash at Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park, Soarin’® Attraction at Epcot and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom Park tend to book up quickly.
At this 60 day mark, I also prepare for the next two weeks, when I plan out a more detailed itinerary in My Disney Experience.
A WEEK BEFORE
Believe it or not, you can check in to your resort online at this point. You can also fax a room request directly to your resort, as it is around this time room assignments are made.
ONE FINAL TIP
Are you able to plan a last-minute trip to Walt Disney World Resort? Sure. However, you must remember that the most sought-after reservations are made well in advance.
Is this a lot of work? Quite frankly, yes! That’s why I highly recommend using an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner who does this for a living and can point you in the right direction and make recommendations. At my agency, Glass Slipper Concierge, we handle all of the above for our clients. If you want to brave the process on your own, I recommend doing your research well in advance of these important milestones, so you get the reservations you want and have a stress-free Disney vacation!
Rosanne Mottola plans Disney vacations with her husband Thomas Mottola as travel advisors with Glass Slipper Concierge. As a former Disney Cast Member, she offers a unique insight into Disney Destinations around the world. Additionally, Rosanne authors the blog, What’s the Point? where she discusses life in New York City, adventures in motherhood, and all things Disney.
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