For many families, a vacation to Walt Disney World is a big investment, often requiring savings months or even years in advance. Because of the cost and planning involved, a trip to Disney can be a trip of a lifetime for families. For a vacation like this, plan and research ahead of time to get the most out of your trip and make sure you don't find activities, dining experiences, or attractions too late to add to your plans. Below, I've compiled a Disney World planning timeline, including key dates and recommendations. You don't have to plan ahead to get a great Disney trip, but doing so will greatly increase your odds of getting what you want from your trip.
The dates listed are based on your arrival date, so one of the most important steps in planning is decidingwhen to visit. Once you've determined your arrival date, use the calendar to calculate key dates for Disney World's scheduling schedule. For example, if you arrive on November 29, the calendar will show the date as 333.RDday of the year. To find dates for booking windows that open 180 days in advance, subtract 180 from 333, which is 153. check calendar view 153RDThis year's day is June 2.
499 days away
You have 499 days from your arrival to stay at a Disney resort. While you can start pre-booking at this time, you'll typically want to make your reservations closer to your arrival date. The exception is if you plan to visit during peak periods such as the week around Christmas and New Year. The earlier you book, the better your chances of securing a reservation at the resort of your choice. If you plan to book the most popular restaurants in advance, you should definitely book the Disney World Resort 180 days in advance.
190 days out
Even though the reservation window doesn't open for 190 days, start planning which parks to visit for each day of your trip. you can use itCrowd calendar for undercover touristsCheck park hours and recommended parks throughout the day. This planning is required if you wish to pre-order in-park dining (Disney terminology ADR) or make reservations at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in the Magic Kingdom. This is an absolute must if you want to reserve a table at a highly sought-after restaurant like Cinderella's royal table. For those who do not plan to do ADRs or plan to eat at less popular restaurants, there is no need to plan ahead.
For my own family travels, I found this usefulStart viewing park hoursWe are a few weeks ahead of the 190 day mark as I can see a weekly pattern of park hours and extra magic times. This helped with my initial planning, which I completed when park hours were announced for the dates of our visit. Note that park hours listed may be adjusted in the future, so check back regularly for changes.
At this point, you should go ahead and create a My Disney Experience account on the Disney World website (if you haven't already). Meal reservations via the Internet andFast Pass + Reservation.
180 days out
The period for pre-ordering dining is 180 days. However, the opening of the 180-day window has different consequences depending on whether you have booked a Disney resort or not. For holidaymakers, starting 180 days from the date of arrival, you can make an ADR for the date of arrival plus the remainder of your stay (up to a maximum of 10 days). Using the November 29th arrival date as an example, you can start making ADRs for your visit from June 2nd. This means that in addition to being able to make an ADR on November 29th if you stay 8 days, you can also make an ADR on December 6th 187 days in advance because you are a Disney Resort guest. For those looking to get ADR at popular locations, you may want to plan towards the end of your trip rather than the beginning as the time will be further out. For example, we will serve breakfast ADR for Cinderella's royal table before the park opens. When my 180 day period opened, Cinderella's royal table was reserved on the day of my arrival. But looking at a date during our visit (December 3, 184 days later), I was awarded a mouth-watering breakfast ADR.
Travelers not staying at a Disney Resort can only make an ADR up to 180 days prior to the desired reservation date. If I wasn't a Disney Resort guest, I would have to wait until June 6th to try and do an ADR for Cinderella's royal table. At that point I doubt the early morning slots are still available. Resort guests can take advantage of the extended booking window so that all reservation slots are fully filled before non-resort guests can book. This is why one may try to make an ADR as soon as the 180 day window opens, only to find that there is no space available.
There are two ways to formulate an ADR. One is to call Disney and the other is to use the Disney website. I recommend using the website as it allows bookings from 6 ET, while phone lines don't open until 6 p.m. 7 A.M.
Another popular place to book with teenage girls is the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, located inside Cinderella's Castle in the Magic Kingdom. Resort guests receive the same 180-day extended reservation period benefit as ADR. However, this is not mentioned very well on the Disney website. You need to call to make a reservation, which I highly recommend you do as soon as possible as it is very popular. If you are new to shops, you canread my review.
80 days away
Even if the reservation window does not open 80 days before your arrival, you mustBook Disney World ticketsBefore this date so they arrive before your FastPass+ pre-order window opens.
60 days/30 days
At this point, the FastPass+ pre-order window will open for you to visit. There are two dates because Disney Resort guests can reserve their entire stay (up to 10 days) up to 60 days prior to arrival (up to 10 days) starting at 7 AM EST, not Disney Resorts. Guests must wait until midnight 30 days in advance to visit the theme park each day. Using the previous example from November 29 (333RDday of the year) arrival date, 60 days earlier would be day 273 (333-60), which is September 30.
While it may seem excessive to expect you to schedule the one-hour slots you want for attractions 30 or 60 days in advance, in reality the initial 1-hour slot selection only really matters for the most popular attractions (i.e. . the popular ones).meet anna and elsa, reserved for the parade and fireworks, Toy Story Mania). You can edit and change your selections at any time after you make them, so for attractions with plenty of FastPass+ time, you can adjust your visit window as your visit approaches.
For planning purposes, plan which park you will visit each day at least 61 days in advance (for Disney Resort visitors) or 31 days (for off-site visitors). Next, note park hours, the times of parades or special performances you want to see, and meals or other reservations. Now decide which three attractions will be your top choices and the approximate time you will visit each. With these basics in hand, when the clock strikes midnight and FastPass+ opens up for you, you're good to go. Those staying off-site may find that top-tier FastPass+ options are limited or non-existent, even if online at midnight after 30 days, as resort guests may have snapped up available FastPass+ slots.
For example, the parade viewing area is not large for a once-a-day performance, while other amusements can accommodate thousands of people per hour. Greeting characters like Anna and Elsa, even if they see one person a minute, would only see 720 people during a 12-hour day at the park. When I booked 60 days past midnight for my own family's arrival date, I found that there was no FastPass+ or reserved fireworks area to meet Anna and Elsa. looking at 5thand 6thIn the few days we met with Anna and Elsa, respectively 64 and 65 days in advance, I was able to book an afternoon spot for 5 people on the 5th.thThe day we visited. I also checked 6thOn the day we visited, we found no available times for more than two people. This really surprised me because I was looking 65 days in advance. For those of you staying off-site or only at a Disney resort for a few days, you may need the help of a fairy godmother or elves to get an appointment.
visit undercover touristFast Pass + GuideLearn more about specific FastPass+ attraction information and details.
3 days away
Get $30 off ($169 vs. $199) if you purchase Disney's Memory Maker photo service at least 3 days before your first photo shoot. Check out the information on the Disney website andcheck previous commentI wrote an article about the predecessor to Memory Maker to help you decide if you want to buy it. Although the name and some details have changed, much of this article is still relevant. The main difference is that it's all digital now (you don't receive a picture CD with all the pictures, you download them) and you no longer receive free print packs from certain restaurants. However, you can still get a picture CD with all the pictures for $29.95 if you want.
I hope this article helps you plan your visit. Have questions about the Disney World planning timeline? Please share any comments or thoughts below!
Fern and his wife are the parents of two boys and a girl, and they both love Disney animated films and shorts. He lives in Ohio and is a mechanical engineer, which helps explain his excessive attention to detail, organization and planning. His older son loves to watch animated shorts from the Disney Treasures series, his younger son, whose middle name is "Donald", loves to tell people that he is named after Donald Duck, and his daughter loves Disney princesses, especially the long-haired princess and most recently Elsa.