Complete Disney World Vacation Guide

Burst of fireworks over Cinderella Castle

Are you ready to start planning a Disney World vacation? We’re here to help!

Below you’ll find resources to help you make Genie+ reservations at the theme parks, make dining decisions, and decide whether or not you should stay at a Walt Disney World resort.

We’ve broken this guide down into the following sections: Planning, Resorts, Tickets, Genie+, Food and Transportation. Contact us if you think we missed something!

Planning & General FAQ

How Much Do I Need to Plan?

Planning a Disney World vacation does take some time and effort. Some reservations must be made in advance while others are left until the day of the visit.

You’ll need to make dining reservations and make other decisions before you leave on your trip. But, Genie+ selections have to be reserved while at the theme park.

Where do I make my plans?

Making an account at My Disney Experience, Disney World’s official planning website, allows you to buy tickets, make reservations, and organize all of your plans.

How Many Days in Disney World?

You can spend weeks at Disney World and still not experience all it has to offer. That being said, below is how many days we’d recommend at each theme park to have the best experience possible.

EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom each require at least one full day to fully experience. Personally, we’ve spent multiple days at each park and still found things to do. It all depends what interests you.

The Magic Kindgom is a two-day theme park. By this, we mean you need at least two full days to explore the Magic Kingdom due to its size and number of attractions.

In a five-day trip, we have bought Park Hopper tickets and visited each park multiple times. Again, it all depends on your group and your interests.

When is the Best Time to Visit Disney World?

The best time of year to visit Disney World will vary depending on your objectives. The smallest crowds are found while schools are in session. We love visiting during holidays because of the special events, but there’s much larger crowds.

Click here to learn more about the best time to visit Disney World.

What’s the Weather Like?

Florida weather varies depending on what time of year you visit. The summer months are extremely hot and feature rain showers almost every day. The winter months are cooler and may feature more mild weather. However, the Orlando area will occasionally see temperatures that drop into the 40s or lower during the winter months.

Rain protection is an absolute must no matter when you visit. Showers and storms are a feature of most Disney World vacations. Ponchos are a safe choice, but rain jackets may be easier for kids. Click here to see some of our favorite Disney rain jackets. We recommend bringing large Ziploc bags to store your wet ponchos/jackets after the rain has stopped.

Check out the forecast for your trip regularly before packing. Temperatures and forecasts can change in a hurry and you don’t want to be stuck without a jacket or pants on a chilly night.

What are the Ride Height Requirements?

Walt Disney World theme parks and water parks have rides and attractions for the whole family. However, some attractions have a height requirement guests must meet before riding. These are safety regulations that every guest must follow.

View the full list of Disney World height requirements.

How Big is Walt Disney World?

Walt Disney World is enormous! The full property that Walt Disney World sits on is about 40 square miles, or twice the size of Manhattan in New York.

Click here to learn more.

What Does it Mean to ‘Rope Drop’ at Disney World?

Visiting a Walt Disney World theme park at rope drop means that you are arriving at the park right as it opens. Visiting at rope drop usually means shorter initial lines before larger crowds arrive for the day.

Click here to learn more about visiting at rope drop.


Should I Stay at a Disney World Hotel?

Should you stay at Disney World during your vacation, or does it make more sense to stay at a nearby hotel? That’s a difficult decision. Ultimately, it’s an argument of convenience versus price.

Click here to see whether or not it’s worth it to stay at a Disney World hotel.

Resort Categories

Currently, there are three main resort categories at Disney World – Deluxe, Moderate, and Value. The distinction of the different resort categories is starting to blur some, but this is where things stand as of today.

All Disney resorts include complimentary transportation to the theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs.

Note that Disney resorts do not offer a free continental breakfast at this time.

Deluxe Resorts

The Deluxe Resorts are the most expensive at Disney, and include Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge and several others. They offer the most amenities for guests and may include unique transportation options (Monorail or boat service) to the theme parks.

Click here for a list of Deluxe Resorts.

Moderate Resorts

The Moderate Resorts are more affordable than the deluxe options, but more expensive than the value options. They offer more amenities than the Values, but fewer than the Deluxe category. These include Port Orleans: Riverside, Caribbean Beach and several others.

Click here for a list of Moderate Resorts.

Value Resorts

The Value Resorts are the most affordable hotel options at Disney (not including the campsites), and offer the fewest amenities.

Click here for a list of Value Resorts.


Where Do I Buy Tickets?

Ticket for Disney World theme parks may be purchased online by clicking here.

Theme park tickets use date-based pricing, meaning you’ll pay a different amount depending on the date of your visit. There are third-party ticket providers that sell ticket packages at a decent discount. Guests may be able to save money through Costco or through a reputable travel agent (we love Royal Carriage Vacations) to find the best deal.

What are Park Hopper Tickets?

Park Hopper tickets allow you to visit multiple theme parks in the same day.

For example, you could visit Hollywood Studios during the day before heading to EPCOT for their nighttime fireworks show.

Park Hoppers come at an additional cost and only make sense for groups who want a flexible schedule and who can spend longer amounts of time in the parks. These aren’t typically recommended for groups with young children.

Disney Genie+

What is Disney Genie+?

Genie+ is the paid line-skipping service at Walt Disney World. Guests must purchase Genie+ on the day of their visit and use the service to utilize the Lightning Lane queue at attractions.

What are Individual Lightning Lane attractions?

Some Lightning Lanes must be purchased separately and are not included in Genie+. These rides carry their own charge and must be bought on the day of the visit.


What is the Disney Dining Plan?

Disney World offers Dining Plans for guests who want to pre-pay for their meals while on vacation. The different plans offer a variety of options for guests, but they also require additional planning.

Click here to learn more.

Is the Disney Dining Plan a Good Deal?

Ultimately, the answer to this question is subjective and varies depending on your group’s interests.

The Dining Plan requires guests to make selections that fit within the plan, forcing them to closely study menus. The more expensive plans may require reservations or for guests to spend large chunks of time at a table-service restaurant. That’s not necessarily bad, but it’s something to be aware of when budgeting your time.

Some items may not be covered under the plan, or come at an additional cost. Guests may not fully use all that’s included in their plan before their vacation is over, leaving money on the table.

Personally, we have done the math and found that we prefer to skip the Dining Plan in favor of paying as we go.

Do Disney Resorts Have a Continental Breakfast?

Resorts at Disney World include a variety of amenities for their guests. Unfortunately, a continental breakfast is not included at any Disney World resort.

Click here to learn more.

How Expensive is Food at Walt Disney World?

Prices for meals will vary depending on your group and where you eat. Disney World offers quick-service meals that are less than $15, but also offers table-service meals that are well over $100 per person. How much you spend is really up to you.

Overall, food at Disney World isn’t cheap, but it also isn’t in the same inflated category as stadium concessions.

We mostly eat at quick-service locations with a couple table-service locations mixed in over the course of our vacation. We don’t recommend making too many table-service reservations at Disney World as they consume large amounts of time and money. When time is your most valuable asset on vacation, dedicating hours to a meal may not be the best for you or your group.

Can I Bring Food into Walt Disney World?

Yes! Walt Disney World allows guests to bring their own food and drinks into the parks.

However, there are a few stipulations and rules in place that guests must follow. Alcohol and glass bottles are not allowed.


What happened to the Disney Magical Express?

Disney used to provide complimentary transportation between the Orlando International Airport and Walt Disney World hotels. But, the Magical Express ended in January 2022. Other third-party services have been created since that time in an effort to replace Disney’s.

Transportation at Disney World

If you’re staying at a Disney World resort, you’ll have complimentary transportation to the four theme parks, both water parks, and Disney Springs.

Most resorts primarily use bus transportation, but select resorts have alternative modes of transportation such as the Monorail, watercraft and the Disney Skyliner gondola system.

Note that the bus service doesn’t travel between resorts. You’ll need to connect at a stop in order to travel from one resort to another.