A trip to Walt Disney World can be a magical experience loaded with fun and thrilling rides, great entertainment and tasty food. But, you may have heard that it takes quite a lot of planning to get the most out of a Disney vacation. With that in mind, how far in advance do you need to start planning your visit to Walt Disney World?
Despite our recommendations below, keep in mind that a spontaneous trip to Disney is still very possible. In fact, some of our favorite trips were more spur of the moment. However, if you’re wanting to experience all of the most popular rides and restaurants, you’re going to want to plan everything well in advance.
NOTE: Walt Disney World’s changes related to COVID-19 have altered the list below. We recommend checking Walt Disney World’s website and checking their current offerings before making any decisions.
When to book a Disney resort?
Thinking you may stay on Walt Disney World property to take advantage of all the on-site benefits? We recommend looking at rates and deciding where you’ll stay between six and 12 months ahead of your planned visit. For the most popular times to visit, such as around a major holiday, we would recommend stretching this guideline out even further.
Disney typically releases hotel discounts seasonally, announcing their summer promotions during the spring and so on. Even if you book your resort before a discount is announced, you can always reach back out to Disney and secure the new discounted rate.
Summary: Make your reservations as soon as possible if there’s a Walt Disney World resort you have your heart set on. The hotels will fill up particularly during peak times of the year and you may be left with few options.
When to book dining reservations?
NOTE: Dining reservations now open up 60 days before the first day of your visit due to operational changes. Below are our pre-pandemic recommendations.
Disney allows guests to make dining reservations 180 days before the first day of their scheduled visit. Yes, that does mean that you’ll need to plan where you want to eat about six months before you ever arrive at Walt Disney World. It sounds a little crazy – maybe very crazy – but you’ll need to make your dining reservations as soon as you can if you want to eat at the most popular locations.
Staying at a Disney hotel: Book your dining reservations 180 days before the first day of your visit, plus up to an additional 10 days beyond your arrival date. For example, if your trip is July 1-7, you can book dining reservations for your entire stay beginning 180 days before July 1.
Not staying at a Disney hotel: Book your dining reservations 180 days out.
When to book FastPass+ reservations?
NOTE: FastPass+ is not being offered at this time. Below are our recommendations under the FastPass+ system that existed pre-pandemic.
Guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort have a significant advantage when booking FastPass+ reservations. That’s critical when FastPass+ selections for the most popular attractions disappear almost instantly when they first become available.
Staying at a Disney hotel: FastPass+ selections for your stay can be booked beginning 60 days before the first date of your visit.
Guests with just a theme park ticket: FastPass+ selections can be made 30 days before the date of your visit.
Timelines for booking a Walt Disney World trip are in a state of flux at this time. Currently, operational changes due to COVID-19 have eliminated FastPass+ and reduced the booking windows for dining. Guests should keep a close eye on the Walt Disney World website to stay informed of the latest timelines for booking resorts, dining and more.