First Timer #Disney Planning Tips



After spending last week scrolling through everyone’s Disney pics you have decided to show your DisneySide and finally book your own Disney World Vacation.

The most important thing to remember is when it comes to a Disney World Vacation planning is key. My Weight Watchers coach used to say,


This definitely holds true for Disney Vacations as well.

Disney is not a place for winging it. You can’t just show up and make it work. It requires a little planning.

Magic Bands 31.) Purchase your park tickets. You have two basic options for park passes a base ticket or a park hopper. The park hopper adds an extra $64 per ticket and enables you to visit multiple parks each day. The base tickets gives you entrance to one Park each day. There is also a Water Park Option which is also $64 per ticket and gives you entrance to the two Disney Water Parks. Once you purchase you tickets you can customize your Magic Bands. Magic Bands will be sent to you a few weeks prior to your vacation.

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios



Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom






2.) Plan out what park you will visit on each day of your vacation. This is especially important if you purchase a base ticket with no park hopper since you will only be able to visit one park per day. While you are planning out your days also check to see when Extra Magic Hours are being offered at each park. Extra Magic Hours are when the parks open an hour early or extend their closing times 1-2 hours after scheduled closing time. These extra hours are for Disney Resort guests only and lines are typically shorter during these times. Plan to visit each park on a day they have scheduled Extra Magic Hours. The evening extra hours are my favorite because they are longer than the morning.

images-93.) Create an account on My Disney Experience. Once you create an account you can plan your vacation extras here. You can create an account for all the people in you party and link your hotel and dining reservations as well as your Fastpass+ choices. You can also plan our other activities like shows and parades you would like to see. My Disney Experience also has a mobile app for your phone. For the really anal retentive my husband likes to make an excel document color coding each day and each park with our dining reservations.

Chef Mickeys  A Family Favorite for Character Dining

Chef Mickeys
A Family Favorite for Character Dining

4.)Book your dining reservations 180 days in advance. Once you have a rough plan of what park you will visit on each day of your vacation you can start booking your WDW dining reservations. Each park has quick service, table service and character dining options. You only need to make reservations for character dining and table service restaurants. It might seem crazy to book your dining reservations so early but that will give you the best chance to eat where you want when you want.

5.) Make your Fast Pass+ reservations 60 days in advance. (30 days in advance if you are not staying on property) Booking this far in advance definitely seems weird. I remember my husband asking me whether we should go on Space Mountain or Runaway Train at 11:00 on a day three months from now. I love Disney and I was even like, “Really I have no idea just trying to get through the day today!” Once you get over that feeling of absurdity you can easily make your selections. It’s good to have a plan but they are not set in stone and you can change your FastPass+ selections at any time. However, the earlier you choose the better chance you have of getting the FastPass+ for the rides you want. Although I haven’t done it yet you can even use your FastPass+ for preferential seating at parades or fireworks or or character greetings.

Following these tips should take some of the worry and anxiety our of your Walt Disney World Vacation.

14 Responses to First Timer #Disney Planning Tips

  1. Great tips 🙂 We didn’t stay at a Disney property, so we actually purchased Magic Bands when we arrived. I love the convenience of not having to dig around for my tickets. 🙂

  2. Love these tips. We don’t always make fast pass reservations in advance, but have been pretty successful in getting what we want. We also try to get to the parks at rope drop!

    • Rope drop now you are a real Disney Insider and impressive you get there that early. I have yet to make it to the parks for rope drop but I hear that is the way to go.

  3. distherapy says:

    What a terrific, simple, common-sense primer Amy; perfect for a first visit or someone who hasn’t traveled to Walt Disney World in the age of My Disney Experience. I’ve pinned your post to spread your Disney Side to the masses!

  4. Debs says:

    Great tips and spot on saying! Pre-planning is a must for a magical vacation!

  5. We plan to a certain extend but to be honest most of our trips are during race weekends and we do end up just “winging it” because we don’t know how we will be feeling after running, If I was bringing a large family, I would definitely plan more things in advance!

    • A race weekend is in my bucket list. Do you have any blog posts about race weekend? I am curious how that all works. If you do, would love for you to link one up next week.

  6. Great tips! So important to know when your dining reservation and Fastpass+ windows open!

  7. Gayle says:

    Such Great Tips! Having Disneyland as my Home Park, we live in the moment but thanks to you, I’ll be ready for my next WDW adventure

    • I am a little jealous I have never been to Disneyland. As a local it must be a completely different experience. A visit rather than this major vacation. That must be nice.

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