Planning a Disneyworld trip. The 5 most important steps.

Are you planning a Disneyworld trip? 

When Walt Disney first opened Disneyland in 1955, who would have imagined over 65 years later there would be multiple Parks in multiple locations.

Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Shanghai Disney, and Tokyo Disney.

Each of these Parks all requires their own level of research and planning but none more than Walt Disney World, the largest of all the Parks. The size of the entire Walt Disney World resort is 40 Square miles roughly the same size as San Francisco

Whereas in Disneyland you can organise your Fast passes on the day of your trip, at Walt Disney World fast passes are organised either 30 or 60 days out (depending on your accommodation).

Dining reservations are made up to 180 days out, compared to Disneylands 60 days out.

We have been to Disneyland on multiple occasions both before we had children, and then with our four children and I have to admit except for our accommodation, and preorganising our Bibbity Bobbity Boutique and Goofy’s Kitchen. There was not a lot to do before we arrived. However, our next trip to Walt Disney World is a little bit different.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Planning a Disney world trip.

Step 1, When Planning a Disneyworld trip

Choose your dates carefully.

  • Most of our trips to Disneyland have taken place over Australia’s winter/spring. It’s the perfect time to escape the chill and head across to the states. During this time there are often great specials on flights to Los Angeles and when you are traveling with four children, these flights quickly add up. Unfortunately, though that is right in the middle of Hurricane season over in the East Coast of U.S.A. The Hurricane season runs from June through to November most years
  • Crowds. There are quite a few factors that influence crowds at WDW, from Marathons, Cheer competitions, Public Holidays to Spring break. So when looking at your dates make sure you find a crowd calculator to see if there are some dates that you should simply avoid.
  • This also comes into how many days should you go? Unlike Disneyland, Walt Disney World is made up of 6 parks. 4 Theme Parks and 2 water parks, not to mention Universal Studios that is only a short Uber trip away. Depending on what time of the year you are going, you need to work out how many days would be enough. Most of my research has said that you need a minimum of one day per park, and even then you will miss out on plenty of rides, attractions, and shows.
  • Obviously though sometimes you have no choice but to go at a certain time, after being at Disneyland for the Diamond celebrations when the park was at capacity a few years ago, we have come up with a motto. Better to be at a packed Disney resort than stuck at home. So no matter the time make the most of it.

Step 2, When Planning a Disneyworld trip

– Where are you going to stay?

  • The First decision you need to make is whether you are going to stay on property or off. The Real advantages of staying on property are!
    1. The ability to get your fast passes 60 days before your trip, compared to 30 days when staying off property.
    2. Free Ground transportation from your resort to the Parks.
    3. Extra Theme park hours
    4. Disney Dining Plan
    5. Location
    6. Any items you purchase in the parks can be sent back to your room so you don’t have to carry them around the park
  • If you are staying on property, what level of Accommodation are you after? Walt Disney World has 25 resorts to choose from. They are classed as Value resorts, Moderate resorts, Deluxe resorts, and Deluxe Villas. Obviously depending on the number of guests in your party your choice of accommodation can be fairly limited. AS we travel in a group of 6 we find it a lot harder to find accommodation that will accommodate all of us, than if you were traveling in groups of 5 or less.


Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort


Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort


Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Deluxe Villas:

Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
Disney’s Beach Club Villas
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Step 3 – When Planning a Disneyworld trip.

Should you do the Dining Plan?

Another big difference when planning your Disneyworld trip is the Disney Dining Plan. The Disney Dining plan allows you to prepurchase your dining before you get to the park for a predetermined price.

There are three levels of the Dining Plan. (2019 Prices)

Quick-Service Dining Plan

Adults $52.50 (9 plus)

Children $23.78 (3-9 Years)

Per guest, for each night of your stay:
2 self-service meals
1 non-alcoholic/alcoholic drink per meal
2 selected snacks
Refillable mug (This can only be refilled at the resorts, not in the parks)

Disney Dining Plan

Adults $75.49 (9 plus)

Children $27.98 (3-9 Years)

Per guest, for each night of your stay:
1 waiter service meal
1 self-service meal
1 non-alcoholic/alcoholic drink per meal
2 selected snacks
Refillable mug (This can only be refilled at the resorts, not in the parks)

Deluxe Dining Plan

Adults $116.25 (9 plus)

Children $43.49 (3-9 Years)

Per guest, for each night of your stay:
3 waiter or self-service meals
1 non-alcoholic/alcoholic drink per meal
2 selected snacks
Refillable mug (This can only be refilled at the resorts, not in the parks)

When you arrive at the resort they load all your credits onto your magic bands, so you can use as many of them you want each day. So if one day you decide you don’t want any snacks, you can purchase more snacks on another day. You just need to make sure you use up all your credits before midnight on the day you check out.

One look on any of the Walt Disney World Facebook groups will have you confused as to whether you should or shouldn’t do the Disney plan, you need to work out what you want for a trip. Ask yourself these questions

  • The age of your children, all children 9 years and over have to pay adult prices.
  • How much do you eat?
  • How many days are you going to be doing things outside of the park, as the Dining plan is for every day of the whole trip? So if you are at Universal for a couple of days you will still pay for those days.
  • There are still additional costs associated with it, Ie Tips are not included in Table service meals.
  • What sort of foods do you normally eat?

Walt Disney World

Step 4 – When Planning a Disneyworld trip

What Ticket should you buy?

There are three different tickets you can purchase to get into Walt Disney World. Obviously, each level comes with a different price.

Park ticket

  • Access to 4 Theme Parks
  • No Park Hopping
  • No Water Parks

Park Hopper

  • Access to 4 Theme Parks
  • Multiple parks per day
  • No Water Parks

Park Hopper Plus

  • Access to 4 Theme Parks
  • Multiple parks per day
  • Water Parks
  • Also you can visit one of these Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, ESPN Wide World of Sports, Greens fees at Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course; one round of mini golf at Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course (prior to 4pm) or One round of mini golf at Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course (prior to 4pm) each day.

Step 5 – When Planning a Disneyworld trip

What Park are you visiting on what day?

  • Fastpasses

The big difference between planning a Disneyland and Walt Disney World trip is the Fast pass system at each park. Disneyworld has a system called Fastpass+ in this system you are able to book your fast passes either 30 days out or 60 days out if you are staying on property. The problem with this is that you then need to work out what resort you want to be at 60 days before your trip.

With Fastpass+, you can only prebook your fast passes at the one park. So if you are desperate to get on one of the must do rides, like Animal Kingdoms Flights of passage and get a FastPass on Day 3 of your trip, then you are stuck planning your day around the park.

Now if you have a hopper you can skip out after your fast passes.

  • Meal reservations

Another tricky thing is Meal reservations, some of the restaurants are booked up 180 days in advance if you want a dinner reservation at “Be Our Guest Restaurant” you often need to book it 6 months in advance. Once again if you manage to swing a dinner reservation and don’t have a Park Hopper pass you are then stuck at a certain park for the day.

  • Crowds

The interesting thing about Walt Disney World is often there will be different events running on different days so the crowds can be very busy at one park, and very slow at others. This is something you should keep in mind.

Magic hours (Often the park with extra magic hours is a lot busier)

  • Special events.

Some days the parks will close earlier for a special ticketed event, Keep that in mind as if you are planning to spend the day at the Magic Kingdom and then find out it is closing 3 hours earlier, it will be very disappointing. (however often if you have a park hopper ticket the morning of special events are known to be a little bit quieter as people without Park hopper tickets often avoid the park that day.

Star Tours WDW Planning a Disneyworld trip

Have you been to Disneyworld before? Do you agree with the 5 most important planning steps to planning a Disneyworld trip?


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