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Why planning in advance for a Walt Disney World vacation is important

Everyone wants their Disney vacation to be magical and perfect in EVERY way, just like they see on television commercials. Dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table at the Castle in Magic Kingdom, Gliding over the Great Wall of China in Epcot's Soarin', taking a ride on a Banshee with The Flight of Avatar in Disney's Animal Kingdom or slinking along twist and curves of Slinky Dog Dash in the New Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios; all desired attractions we hear our clients ask about when we are helping them plan "Their perfect Disney Vacation". These are often the first reservations to book up too! So, can you plan a last minute Walt Disney World vacation? Sure! It can be done, but I wouldn't recommend it. And here is why...


Planning that "'Picture Perfect Magical Vacation" takes a little back-end pixie dust. That "pixie dust" is planning ahead. I wish we had a magic wand like the Fairy Godmother we could wave 2 months before arrival and there would be endless availability to these sought after attractions. Unfortunately, that's not reality. The Fairy Godmother keeps her wand all to herself. Turns out she can be a little selfish.


Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust

Whether you are working with Reach for the Magic Destinations or planning the entire Disney vacation on your own, planning ahead will ensure that you will get the most out of your Disney Vacation.

If you don't already know, you can start booking dining reservations 180 days (6 months) prior to your arrival date. I know sometimes it's hard to know what you are doing next week, let alone 6 months from now. That's why working with a reputable Disney Authorized Travel Agency such as Reach for the Magic Destinations is a great idea. We can help you focus, organize and plan ahead. Ideally, 9-12 months in advance is great pre-planning time frame. It's best to have your deposit paid resort reservation in place prior to the 180 day window. One of the most coveted dining reservations at Walt Disney World is Cinderella's Royal Table. If you are ready to start booking dining the day your 180 day window opens, you are more likely to secure that reservation AND at your desired time. Add peak travel times such as spring break, fall break or holiday time to the mix and booking as close to the 180 day window becomes even more important.


Same is true for your Fast Pass+ reservations. The Fast Pass+ window opens 60 days prior to arrival if you are staying on Disney property and 30 days if you are staying off Disney property. The closer to that 60 day window you begin booking your Fast Pass+ reservations, the more likely you are to secure the most popular rides and attractions. There is a definite advantage to staying on Disney property as this gives you a 30 day head start to booking your Fast Pass+ reservation over someone staying in an off Disney property.


Working with an agency such as ours, you access our experience and knowledge to in helping you narrow down what's MOST important to your family and what is going to make YOUR Disney vacation perfect for YOU; not your friends or your relatives. It can become very overwhelming to decipher what's important when you have friend and relatives coming at you with "their must dos". Planning ahead allows you time to take all this in chunks vs. resort, dining and fast pass reservations information coming at you all at one time.


Here's a great planning time table:

  • 9-12 months prior to arrival: Explore and decide on the perfect resort, ticket amounts and type.

  • 6-9 months prior to arrival: Explore and narrow down your dining choices. Then when your 180 day window open, there is a focus

  • 3-5 months prior to arrival: Research and narrow your desired attraction Fast Pass+ list. Be ready with your desired choices when your 60 or 30 day window opens.

  • 30 days prior to arrival: start gathering and packing items you plan to pack for your trip as you think about them. Waiting til the last minute will result in forgotten important items.

Waiting until 2 month before you want to take a Disney Vacation between Christmas and New Year's Day will certainly cause stress and panic. It's almost guaranteed you will be missing some of your most desired dining and Fast Pass+ reservations because they won't be available. Spreading the planning process will help ensure that you are more likely to have your "Perfect Disney Vacation" without getting overwhelmed. You are much more likely to secure your dining and Fast Pass+ choices. In the end...you are the one that holds the bag of pixie dust. Have "faith" that it's OK to plan what you will be doing 6+ months from now, "trust" we will help you through the process and "dust" your planning over a period of time it makes the planning process so much easier and so much more fun! Just like Peter Pan says, Faith, trust and Pixie Dust!


We look forward to helping you plan your next vacation,

Kellie Beadle


**The opinions within this post are my own and no financial compensation was provided in exchange for this review.