So, you are going to Walt Disney World! You’ve already reserved your trip, but now you are wondering what things to do before your Disney vacation. Since a Walt Disney World vacation is expensive, I think it’s important that you are fully prepared BEFORE you leave. Here are some things to do before you go.
Disclosure: Affiliate links within. Purchasing and/or clicking on some of the links in this post helps support Family Travel Magazine®. I am a former member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel and have been on some complimentary press trips at Walt Disney World, but all opinions are my own.
Things to Do Before Your Disney Vacation
Book Dining Reservations
If you have your hearts set on eating with the princesses, eating at Be Our Guest, or experiencing some of the popular character dining, you absolutely have to make advance dining reservations WELL in advance. You can either call (407) WDW-DINE or make reservations online. The window for booking your advance dining reservations is 180 days out, and if you are staying on property, you can make reservations for up to 10 days 180 days from your check in date. This calculator is a great resource for figuring out exactly when you can book.
Do Your Research
Regardless of how long you are visiting, you absolutely can’t do everything. I recommend checking out a few guidebooks or websites in advance of your trip to make sure that you have a plan of what you want to see. Make a basic plan, but leave yourself room for changes.
Load Up Your Smartphone
There are lots of Disney apps that will help you get the best experience possible. My two favorites are the My Disney Experience App (the official Disney app), and the Lines App, which requires a subscription.
You can make your FastPass+ reservations on My Disney Experience 60 days in advance if you are staying on property and 30 days in advance if you are staying off property. There are some very popular options that do book up, so make your reservations as soon as you can.
Decide on Memory Maker
Disney PhotoPass photographers are available throughout the parks. They take photos of families that can then be viewed and purchased when you return home. If you think you’ll want lots of photos, you can purchase Memory Maker, which allows you to get downloads of all of your photos for one cost. It also includes attraction photos and character dining photos (where available).
Plan Ground Transportation
If you are staying on property, you don’t even have to rent a car. Disney transportation can take you to and from the airport, and to and from all of the parks. Be sure to book the Magical Express if you are planning to use it – call (866) 599-0951. You’ll receive luggage tags and paperwork at home in advance of your trip.
Buy Anything You’ll Need
If you are going to Walt Disney World, I recommend the following hotels. Note that I have stayed in some of these resorts as part of press trips, but all opinions are my own.
- Disney’s Beach Club
- Disney Swan and Dolphin
- Disney’s Art of Animation
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
- Gaylord Palms
- JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes
- World Center Marriott