Tammie’s Take Thursday: When Should I Begin Planning My Disney Vacation?

What a crazy couple of weeks it has been since Walt Disney World opened reservations for most of the 2018 calendar year.  It has been a whirlwind of creating inquiry quotes, formal quotes and booking many Disney Vacation reservations for 2018.  I am truly blessed with lots of support into my new venture as an Authorized Disney Vacation planner and Affiliate of Academy Travel and mickyvacations.com.

One question that continuous has been asked over and over the last month is, “When do I start planning a Walt Disney World Vacation?”

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Ummmm, RIGHT NOW!!!! (Okay, probably not the best person to ask, since I love to plan…but you asked). With Disney, just as soon as you have made the decision to go there for vacation is when you should begin planning. Who cares if it is a year away or 2 months away…there are things that need to be done and planned.

My personal opinion is to begin planning somewhere between the 12 to 7 month mark prior to your vacation, with booking around 7 months out for Walt Disney World.  (As far as a Disney Cruise, just as soon as itineraries are announced for the cheapest prices and for Disneyland 3 months is enough time, although resort/hotel reservations can sometimes be hard to get the closer to travel date you are).  As much I as I love planning things, there are reasons why I begin planning so early, the most important being that I want to ensure that we experience all the magic possible during our trip…

  1. I can secure my reservation with a simple $200 deposit which locks in prices for my travel dates at that time.  If Disney decides to raise the price on tickets or rooms prior to my stay, I still get to take advantage of the prices at the time of booking. And if a discount offer/promotion becomes available I am still able to apply that offer to my vacation to save money.  I am also able to put my vacation on “lay away,” meaning I can make as many little payments on my trip up until when my balance is due in full 30 days prior to travel.  This allows me to work my vacation into my monthly household budget seamlessly.
  2. Most activities, tours, and dining reservations begin being made 180-60 days in advance of your preferred travel date.  By planning my vacation early, I can do all the research needed to be prepared when the booking windows open for Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) and FastPass+ (FP+) reservations.  Being able to book on booking day helps me to insure we get to eat where we want and ride the attractions we want to.  I have personally witnessed park guests get very upset and not act very kind & friendly when they are not able to so simply walk up to a dining location and be seated (most cases turned away).  Popular dining locations like eating in Cinderella’s Castle or Be Our Guest (aka Beast’s Castle) reservations at 180 days are an ABSOLUTE MUST and even then, there are no guarantees then that you will secure a reservation.  With the opening of Pandora, the World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom this summer wait times have soared into the 3+ hours for some attractions, being able to book ride reservations or FastPasses at 60 days helps to ensure that we are able to ride without waiting in line for hours as well as get the times that we want to visit the attraction.
  3. Walt Disney World is a huge place (46 square miles) and being able to know what there is to see, do and experience takes time to research, sort through and work into a doable plan.  Every trip I plan I find a new magical experience and has me wanting more.  By beginning my planning early, I have the time needed to find the magic, sometimes more than is possible to fit into the time I have (but that is what another trip is for).

You want to go sooner than 7 months?  No problem, I have helped clients put together a truly magical experience at 70 days.  It will be a fast learning curve and quick decisions, but totally doable and just as magical in the end.  The key with planning under 3 months is to be flexible.

But what if you are the more of the spontaneous type…can’t you just wing it? You’re not a bird, so don’t wing it! I wouldn’t suggest going into any sort of Disney vacation without some sort of plan of time.  It does not have to be

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detailed down to the last second of every day of your vacation, but to truly have a magical experience without the frustration of crowds, lines and not knowing what to expect you must go in with a plan.

I understand, not everyone has the need to be as obsessive, I mean thorough, about planning their Disney vacation as I do. The great thing is that you don’t have to be either, let me walk you through the planning experience.  I have already done the time consuming hard work of researching for you. I will provide you with the information based on what you tell me that you want to get out of your vacation, you make the decisions and I work to make the magic happen (thank goodness for my Fairy Godmother Wand) as much as I can. Best of all my services come free when you book any Disney or Universal Vacation with me.  Here are just a few of the things I can/will do for you…

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  • Welcome Packet full of information to get you started down the planning road
  • Set Up of My Disney Experience (MDE) Account
  • Suggest Flight Schedules & booking option through Disney
  • Arrange Airport Transportation with Disney Magical Express
  • Customized Resort & “On Property” Transportation Information
  • Information to help you decide “What Park, What Day”
  • Information to help you decide on Advanced Dining Reservations as well as advice & suggestions on including a Disney Dining Plan to your reservation
  • Option for booking of Dining Reservations at 180 days for you
  • Monitoring of Requested Dining Reservations not available at time of booking (Wish list)
  • Periodically emails on fun things to try/do and special events to keep you excited about your trip
  • Information to help you decide on FastPass+ Reservations as well as advice & suggestions
  • Option for booking of FastPass+ Reservations for your travel party at 60 days prior to travel
  • Option for custom itinerary and touring plans, or just generic touring plans for each park
  • Tips, Tricks & Suggestions to make the most of your vacation
  • Answers to all your questions, honest opinions and advice
  • Final Packet with Trip Documents
  • During trip support via email, phone or text as needed

What are you waiting for, let’s get planning.  I promise to give your Disney vacation the same attention to care and detail as I would my own no matter how soon (or late) we begin planning the magic!

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