Disclaimer about this post, I am a mouskaholic and love all things Disney. This is how I plan my Disney Vacation. Just because this is the way that I plan my vacation, doesn’t mean it is how you have to plan your vacation. Everyone has their own way of doing things, and it doesn’t make it right or wrong, just different. If you’ve never planned a Disney vacation before this is a good starting point though!
Step 1)– Look at a calendar and see when is the best time for your family to go. Time is important when you’re planning a Disney vacation, and if you want to maximize your vacation, this is a step that can be planned carefully. Also research the best time of year to go to Disney and see if that works for your family. Often in the fall, Disney will run specials with free dining plans, and discounted room rates, BUT, if you have kids in school, you’ll have to decide if you can take the kids out of school for the trip or not. It may seem small, but picking the time to go is a big step. (Side note, I learned the hard way this year that planning to leave the day after school was out was a BAD choice! We ended up having what seemed like a BAZILLION snow days this year, and ended up having make up days! I swear calling Disney to cancel my vacation was one of the worst days of my life… no exaggeration.)
Step 2)– Visit the Disney World website and create an account if you don’t already have one.
Setting up the account is very simple, there is a link at the top of the page that says create and account. It will direct you to a page with some preliminary information, enter it, make a username and password and BAM, let the planning begin 🙂
Step 3)- Research the resorts. From that main Disney website page click on “Places to Stay”. Look at several resorts and figure out what is within your budget. There are three levels, Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. There are differences both in price and amenities between these resorts. I recommend picking three different resorts… you’ll see why in the next step 😉
Step 4)– Begin pricing your vacation! You’ll do this from the main Disney World page. Right at the top, you’ll enter your dates, how many people are going on the trip, and the resort. Price out the vacation with your top choice in resorts. I would then check out the pricing with one or two other resort options.
This step is a little involved. After you leave the main page you will have other options to select a)Which room type you’d like b) how many days worth of park tickets you’d like c)Whether or not you’d like to add the park hopper or water park options d) Whether or not you’d like to add the dining plan (If going with this option, you’ll then need to select which dining option you’d like to go with).
Disney Website Homepage. Price your vacation
At this point I write down the price and details and then price it another way, different resort, different number of park tickets, etc. to see what is going to work best for us.
Step 5) Choose which option is best for your family and your budget.
Step 6) Book your flights. I always book my flights before my vacation. The reason being is that I like to be able to enter my flight information when I book my Disney vacation, so that I don’t have to call later and schedule my Disney Magical Express.
Step 7)- Book your vacation! To book you’ll have to have a $200.00 deposit. This can be paid by credit card or with Disney Gift Cards!
Disney Gift Cards
(If you’re in the Northeast Ohio area, I HIGHLY recommend going to Giant Eagle and purchasing Disney Gift cards! That way you get the fuel perks! Christmas time, and over the summer will sometimes run 20 cent fuel perks for gift cards! Seriously, I saved close to $400 in gas this year by buying my Disney gift cards!)
Step 8) Start to plan your itinerary. Using the Disney World website, find out which days over your vacation offer Extra Magic Hours at each park. Extra Magic Hours are special times that are available for guests staying on Disney Property. They will generally open the park 1 hour early, or stay open up to two hours after park closing for guests staying on property. With that being said, I choose which park we will attend on a given day based on the available extra magic hours. You can find out which parks have extra magic hours by following these steps
a) From the main page click scroll over “Theme Parks and Tickets” and Select a park.
b) Select a park, and click on the calendar for that park, check the dates and see if there are Extra Magic Hours available. This step takes a while because I check for every day that I will be there, and for each of the four parks.
Extra Magic Hours available
c) I build my itinerary based on which parks have extra magic hours for the day. On some trips we’ve had the park hopper option, and have gone to a park in the morning that had early Extra Magic Hours, and then ended the day with a park that has evening extra magic hours!
Step 9) Dining Reservations. Now you know what day you’ll be in which park, so you can make your dining reservations. If you’re wanting restaurants like Be Our Guest Restaurant, Cinderella’s Royal Table, or Le Cellier Steakhouse, try to make your dining reservations as soon as possible.
Not sure which restaurants you want? You can again use the Disney website to research the restaurants. Click on a specific park, then the dining link
This link will show you all the restaurants within a park. You can narrow your search to include only the table service restaurants, and then check out their menus.
Step 10) Alright, you’ve covered most of the main steps. When you reach the point where you are 60 days away from your vacation, you can then book your fast passes for the rides you want!
Fast pass selection window
Step 11) Okay, now here’s the hardest part… WAIT for your magical vacation to arrive! I also recommend researching at this point. This is the time to read up on the Disney parks, check out cool Disney blogs (cough cough… Confessions of a Mouskaholic) ask questions from friends and family who have been there before, and look for ways to enjoy your vacation more!
Alright, I know that I just threw a TON of information your way, so if you have a question PLEASE don’t hesitate to ask in the comments, or send me a message on the facebook page! www.facebook.com/mouskaholic