Planning Your First Trip

You’re going to Disney World!

So you’ve decided to make the pilgrimage down to Central Florida and visit The Happiest Place on Earth. But where do you start?

With all of the aspects that go in to planning a Walt Disney World vacation it can become overwhelming.

Here we have included some tips and tools to help you easily plan your upcoming trip.

The things you will need to do are:

My Disney Experience

My Disney Experience is your vacation hub provided by Disney.

This is where you can make your resort reservations, buy tickets, book dining and make FastPass+ reservations.

To get started visit My Disney Experience and create a user account.

When Should I Go?

Deciding when to go to Disney World is the first question to ask. Once upon a time there used to be a slow season on property but those days are long gone.

There still, however, are better times to go than most.

When To Go:
  • Late January/Early February
  • September through Thanksgiving Week
  • First week of December
When Not To Go:
  • Race weekend in January
  • Easter Week
  • June and July
  • Thanksgiving Week
  • Christmas Week

Please review the crowd calendar below.

Anything in Green and Yellow would be your least crowded times of year.

Anything in light or dark red would be the most crowded. In years passed Labor Day Weekend would not be as crowded but with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening this year expect very large crowds.

We go into detail here on what makes these times of year so busy.

As you can see the worst times to visit Walt Disney World correlate when most schools are out for vacation. These will be the most crowded times. Disney’s response to curb attendance?..raise prices.

These times will also cost the most to visit.

If you are able to attend during any of the date windows above you will have a much more manageable and enjoyable time.

Where To Stay?

Walt Disney World is home to 25 themed resorts and additional 12 third party resorts and hotels. One being Shades of Green, reserved for retired and active duty servicemen and women.

Disney resorts are available in five different categories:

Value resorts will be the most affordable slowing increasing in cost to Deluxe Villa, the most expensive.The only items driving these costs are amenities and location.

If you only need a place to sleep so that you may spend your time in the parks then consider a Value or Moderate resort.

If you’re looking for a more upscale experience look at a Deluxe or Deluxe Villa.

As mentioned there are also some third party hotels on property that share a lot of the same perks as Disney owned and operated resorts. These are a good choice if you have a lot of points available to a certain brand, or need a last minute room.

How Long Should I Stay For?

Deciding how long to visit is based on how much you want to get done and how much you are willing to spend.

Obviously the more time that you spend on property the more you can achieve – but you’re also spending more money.

The longer you stay on property the less your park tickets will cost per day.

On average most guests spend five days on property but some guests spend as many as fourteen. Each park has their own nighttime spectacular so you may want to consider staying at least four nights on property.

What Type Of Ticket Should I Get?

Single Day Ticket

Walt Disney World uses a date based ticketing system. This means the busiest times of year will cost more compared to slower times of year. Each calendar has its own ticket price. Whichever day you select as the start of your vacation is what your ticket will cost per day.

For example if you select to start your trip on a Monday and that ticket price is $105 and Tuesdays is $100, you will pay $105 for each day. This is also applies if your first day is cheaper.

This also means you will pay the same to visit Magic Kingdom as Hollywood Studios which was not true in the past.

If you need to move or cancel your trip Disney typically will not offer a refund for the dates you purchased. If you move to a cheaper time of year you will not be refunded. If you move to a more expensive time of year you will the difference.

Tickets you purchase a valid for only a certain window of time. A ‘No-Expiration’ option is available but at an expensive cost.

Park Hopper Option

Disney offers the option of visiting more than one park in a single day – the Park Hopper. This option allows you to visit up to all four theme parks in a single day.

The cost is about $60 over your base ticket price but the more days you add the cost incrementally drops. For example your first day may cost $169 but by your fifth day your ticket would only cost $99.

Park Hopper Plus

The Park Hopper Plus includes access to all four theme parks in a single day as well as access to the following:

  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
  • Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course
  • Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course
  • Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course

You get access to the above based on how many days you buy. If you buy a four day ticket you get four ‘vouchers’ to any of the above activities.

Annual Pass

Disney currently offers three Annual Passes to non-Florida residents.

  • Disney Platinum Plus Pass – Cost is $1,219 plus tax
    • Same privileges as Park Hopper Plus
    • Includes Memory Maker photo downloads
    • Up to 20% off on select dining
    • Up to 20% off select merchandise
    • Standard them park parking
  • Disney Platinum Pass – Cost is $1,119 plus tax
    • Same privileges as Standard Park Hopper
    • Includes Memory Maker photo downloads
      Up to 20% off on select dining
      Up to 20% off select merchandise
      Standard them park parking
  • Water Parks Annual Pass – Cost is $139 plus tax
    • Access to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach Water Parks

Disney does raise ticket prices multiple times per year. These prices are valid as of May 2019.

Reservation Add-Ons

MagicBand

MagicBands are the new keys to the magic. The MagicBand replaces the typical room key but it can do much more than that.

Make sure when making your reservation you customize your free band. If staying off property you may purchase one separately.

Please click the link above for a more detailed look at MagicBands.

Disney’s Magical Express

Disney offers motor coach transportation to and from Orlando International Airport as part of your resort reservation.

This transportation is free and they will even get your bags from the airport and deliver them right to your room.

If you do not have this information at time of booking make sure you call 407-WDW-1936 and add it.

Please click the link above for more information about getting to and from the airport.

Advanced Dining Reservations

If you have booked a reservation at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel you can start booking dining reservations 180 days out from your check-in date.

This gives you an opportunity to secure some of the more difficult dining locations.

Make sure your resort reservation is linked to your My Disney Experience account.

Please click the link above for more information on Advanced Dining Reservations.

FastPass+

FastPass+ is a feature that comes included with your park ticket to reserve your spot in line for select Disney attractions ahead of time.

FastPass+ gives you an hour time window of your choosing to queue in a separate line from Standby. It can make what might be a 3 hour wait for an attraction 15 minutes or a walk on.

Please click the link above for more information about how FastPass+ works and how to book reservations.

Extra Magic Hours

Each day one of the four Walt Disney World Theme parks opens an hour early or stays open a few hours later.

This extra time is reserved for resort guests only and is included in your stay at no extra cost.

Check the Walt Disney World site for which parks are participating each day.

Memory Maker

All across property Disney Photopass Photographers are available to help your family capture your special moments. This service allows everyone to be in the shot.

Many of your favorite attractions have on-ride photos as well.

While it is free to view all of these photos online you would have to pay for them individually unless you have Memory Maker.

Memory Maker gives you access to download all of your photos from your trip online for one cost.

Memory Maker currently costs $169 when booking your reservation online. You must book at least days prior to first use.

You can buy Memory Maker at many locations around property for $199.

Photos will expire 45 days from the date that they were taken so make sure you download them!

Helpful Tips

  • If your dates are flexible check the resort rate at different times of the year as this will be your largest cost.
  • Disney offers different resort rate specials throughout the year check the Disney website to see if any are valid for your dates.
    • Offers can be added to already booked rooms for a credit
  • If you’re visiting during the Christmas or Halloween party at Magic Kingdom consider using this party as your park day ticket. Spend the day at your resort or Disney Springs then head to the park. Most party times start at 7:00PM but you can get in an hour early.
  • When booking rooms remember when adding more than two adults per room you will be charged another $10-$15 per person per night.