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.
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?
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?
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.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. Just remember that it is 180 days for dining and 60 for FastPass+ if you’re staying on property. If you don’t have a Disney resort reservation, remember it’s still 180 days for dining but just 30 for FastPass+.