Planning your Walt Disney World trip
Before FastPass+ and My Disney Experience was introduced to Walt Disney World, you could simply rock up day-of and; ride what you wanted, eat where you wanted and just take the day 'as it comes'... Unfortunately (or fortunately), that is no longer the case. Meals are now booked 180 days in advance, and FastPasses pre-booked 30 - 60 days before your trip. This planning process can be overwhelming, so I thought i'd share how I approach planning and booking each aspect of my trips.
Make a Spreadsheet
This is my number one tip - a spreadsheet will help you keep on top of everything! You may think "isn't a spreadsheet a little OTT just for my vacation?" - You'll soon come to realise the answer to that is a resounding NO! If you don't want to make your own spreadsheet, here is a link to my template which you are more than welcome to download, use and adapt.
Start by filling the spreadsheet with the Disney basics such as;
- Park Hours: Check the My Disney Experience app or Walt Disney World website for the latest park hours. You can find the park opening hours here.
- Extra Magic Hours: As a benefit for staying on site, resort guests get extra hours to experience the parks; each day, one or more of the parks open early or remain open late. You can find this information on the same site as the Park Operating Hours, or by clicking here.
- Nighttime Spectacular Showtimes: If you are planning to see any of Disney's amazing nighttime entertainment offerings, it is also helpful to list their showtimes on your spreadsheet. You can find scheduled shows
on the specific pages for the offerings (i.e. for Happily Ever After showtimes, visit the Happily Ever After page and select the calendar icon beneath 'Hours").
Advance Dining Reservations (ADR's) can be booked 180 days before your trip using My Disney Experience. I'd suggest making a list of the restaurants you want to dine at before this date, so you are fully prepared to book your ADR's. Once you have made your reservations, you now want to input your plans into the same planning spreadsheet. I tend to include the following information; park, restaurant name, reservation time and booking confirmation number. Look out for dining reviews and vlogs coming later this year once I return from my #NathanGoesSolo trip to WDW!
In my opinion, booking FastPass+ reservations is by far the hardest part of the planning process. If you are staying onsite at a Walt Disney World Resort, you are able to book FastPasses 60 days in advance, whereas guests staying offsite can book 30 days in advance. There are two stages to planning FastPasses in my opinion;
1) List your ideal/preferred FastPass+ reservations and times (just roughly - AM/PM/Evening). I'll be sharing a post with my FastPass recommendations soon, so watch out for that if you are unsure what rides to go for!
2) Book your FastPasses! At the 60 or 30 day mark, it is now time to book your ride times! On that day, use your rough spreadsheet to book the rides you wanted! For those in the UK, you can make reservations beginning at 12pm on the 60/30 day mark. Go straight for the biggest and most popular rides before they run out of FastPasses (attractions such as Flight of Passage, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Toy Story Midway Mania). I then tend to work day-by-day through the rest of the FastPass bookings - availability tends to be alight providing you are choosing your options close to the FastPass+ window opening (60 or 30 days prior). You are now going to want to re-enter your FastPass+ reservations into your spreadsheet with the correct window times listed too.
Use Google Sheets or 'Numbers'
If you are travelling with a group, i'd suggest using either 'Numbers' for Apple devices, or Google Sheets, and then share the spreadsheet using the collaboration feature on both platforms. You are able to invite the rest of your party to view or change the spreadsheet, which can help with making joint decisions!
I hope you have enjoyed reading how I plan for Walt Disney World, and that it has been helpful as you plan your future trips! The excitement for Disney definitely starts to settle in after you have booked your FastPasses, so let the countdown commence! If you have any questions, be sure to leave them in the comments below, or contact me via social media/email and I will be happy to help the best I can!
Watch out in the coming weeks for another post outlining my FastPass+ plans for my upcoming #NathanGoesSolo trip to Walt Disney World! T-37 days and counting!