Disney World Planning: Design Your Dream Vacation

There’s a lot to see and do at the most magical place on Earth, and it can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out what to do.

Need help planning your dream Disney World vacation? Outlining an epic adventure to the most-marvelous, enchanting destination on the planet is exciting! Get ready to be transported to a fantastical world. Walt’s imagination is inspiring and has surpassed his wonder-filled dreams.

If you haven’t been or are a repeat traveler who hasn’t seen it all and needs help planning a Disney World vacation—we have the ultimate Disney World Trip Planner Guide for you!

Scheduling your ideal family vacation can be a lot of pressure. Not only are you finally cashing in your Mickey piggy bank bucks but trying to please everyone can be daunting. If your planning trip to Disney World is causing you the cobbywobbles, not to worry! Your “Plan Disney World Trip Survivor Guide” is here!

First, congratulations on picking the “Vacation Kingdom of the World.” It truly is the happiest place on earth. From the moment you enter, Disney magic takes hold. From Main Street to Cinderella’s Castle to the charming characters around every corner—it’s a small slice of heaven.

Grab a Mickey bar, and let’s explore Walt Disney World Resorts. We have a Disney Planning Guide just right for you!

aerial view of Millennium Falcon at night in Star Wars Galaxy's Edge in Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, USADisney World Vacation Guide

To start your Disney planning, you’ll need an overview of what to expect. Let’s do a quick rundown of all the attractions available at the legendary Disney World Resort.

  • Four major theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot
  • Two waterparks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon
  • Five golf courses
  • Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney)
  • BoardWalk Entertainment District
  • Over 20 large resort hotels

Granted, you probably won’t see all there is to see at Disney on your first day or possibly your first trip. Keep these Disney World planning tips in mind to help narrow your selection.

close up view of Spaceship Earth at Walt Disney World's Epcot in Orlando, Florida, USAWhen to Visit Disney World?

Let us be your personal travel agent! When you run through this Disney World Guide, you may find your wish list long and your time limited. Planning your Disney trip over summer and spring break can be super busy, so plan on packing patience into your suitcase!

For instance, if you have children and don’t want to take them out of school, summer may be the only option for travel. However, if you are more flexible, keep dates in mind for Disney special events and festivals. Highlights include Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Star Wars Weekends, EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival, and Food & Wine Festival.

Timing is everything, and if you want to avoid large crowds, early fall, December prior to Christmas vacation, and mid-January through early March are all good times to visit. Check out our In-Depth Guide to When is the Best Time of Year to Go to Disney World for a deeper dive into this topic!

How Far in Advance Should You Plan for Disney World?

While there’s no set rule, a good rule of thumb is to start gearing up for your Disney World adventure around six months ahead. This timeframe allows you plenty of opportunity to book accommodation, secure dining reservations, and meticulously plan out your park days. Not only does this help smooth out logistical stresses, it also builds the anticipation and excitement that’s a big part of any Disney trip.

photo credit: Disneysnapshots1 via Facebook

How Many Parks Do You Want to Visit?

If you’re lucky enough to visit Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, fortune is truly smiling on you! To get the most bang for your Disney buck, we recommend purchasing Disney Park Hopper tickets. If this is your first time at Disney, you’ll want to take your time at each park you visit.

If you park hop, which is recommended to maximize your time, you can hit a park that opens early and divide your day with a park that stays open late. Theme Park tickets are pricey, so research each one before making your decision.

The Magic Kingdom is fondly known as the best and most endearing park, so visiting there is a must, and if you only have one day, we have a Disney World plan to conquer this theme park beast. Check out How to Do Magic Kingdom in One Day.

What is The Best Park to Visit at Disney World?

If you’re seeking the sheer embodiment of Disney magic, then the Magic Kingdom is arguably your top pick at Disney World. Sprinkled with everything iconic from Cinderella’s Castle, an impressive range of thrilling rides to nostalgic attractions like the It’s a Small World Ride, the Magic Kingdom is a timeless classic that charms both the young and the young at heart.

Trees and Plants at Pandora The World of Avatar at Disney World's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: Avatar via Facebook

Where Will You Stay?

This factors into a lot of your Disney World trip planning as the location is key, but so is cost. Luckily, there is a wide range of lodging choices available in Orlando. From hotels to condos to resorts, the options are endless.

If you can, splurge and stay at a Disney World Resort Hotel. Although Disney vacations can be pricey, they are so worth it! And staying on-site offers so many perks. Disney hotels pamper you in every way, and the parks are literally at your doorstep. No driving, parking, or traffic headaches weigh you down.

Just walk from your hotel room to the tram, and you’re set! Plus, guests receive early theme park entry and extended evening theme park hours with free and convenient transportation to Walt Disney World.

You can stay in Disney-themed rooms or sleep under the stars in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground or Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Check out our Guide to the Best Walt Disney World Resorts to learn more and decide which resort may be right for your trip to Walt Disney World!

Exterior View of Disney’s All Star Music Resort - Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: Disney World Passholders via Facebook

If saving money is essential to you, you might want to consider staying at a Disney moderate resort (Disney also offers value resorts that are a step down from moderate. Deluxe resorts are a step up). Walt Disney World has four moderate resorts: Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans – French Quarter, and Port Orleans – Riverside.

Possibly the biggest benefit is you can make your first Lightning Lane purchase starting at 7:00 a.m. each day of your visit. (FYI: A Lightning Lane is a secondary queue that allows guests priority placement on popular attractions.)

Likewise, the off-site properties are just a few miles from Disney World’s entrance. In addition, you can have the convenience of being near Disney World yet save a few bucks for other vacation expenses. And most importantly, you need to choose the Orlando lodging that best fits your family’s needs and budget.

exterior dusk view of Disney's Coronado Springs Resort with reflection on the water in Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: MousePlanning via Facebook

How long will you stay in Orlando?

As far as Disney World questions go, this one is extremely important. It certainly factors into both of the above questions, but after learning all there is to do at Disney World Theme Parks, you may want to rethink your game plan. For instance, you might want to make the most of your park hopper pass and visit three parks in one day.

However, this high-paced whirlwind of parks could be too much for some people. For those who want to take their time and experience the unique activities and attractions at each park, a slower pace might be the better option.

If you want to visit all four theme parks, which is ideal, you will want to have at least five full days. Or if you want to add on extras like a round of golf, Disney Waterparks, or DisneyQuest, then it might be a good idea to plan on seven days. Check out Conquering Disney World in 3 Days: The Complete Guide for a day-by-day itinerary to help plan your time.

This way, you can get the whole Disney experience without running around like a mouse chasing after cheese! Plus, seven-day park hopper passes are only marginally more than five-day tickets ($20 more for two more days of fun!).

View of space mountain at night with green and blue light on and clouds in the sky at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: Disney via Facebook

What Type of Disney Tickets Should You Buy?

The Disney Park hopper tickets are the way to go if you’re going for multiple days. With so much to see and do here, you’ll love the ability to come and go from theme park to theme park on the same day. Plus, you receive an equal number of separate admissions to any Walt Disney World Waterpark.

The big question is if you want to spend a day at the waterpark vs. another day at the theme park. For starters, let’s just say these are not your average mom-and-pop adventure waterslides. Like everything Disney, these tropical paradise splash zones are designed to thrill, chill, and entertain everyone in your party.

In addition to the featured waterslides, these splash-tastic venues have family-style raft rides and a one-acre wave pool—the largest wave pool in North America!

Related Post: Restaurants at Epcot: Which are the Best?

If you purchase the Park Hopper® Plus Ticket through Tripster, you can exchange your E-Ticket at any Walt Disney World Theme Parks. The Disney Park Hopper Plus option provides admission to one or more of the four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks for each day of your ticket (Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

In addition, you’ll receive admissions to these other attractions: Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, one round at Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course – FootGolf, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course (Greens Fees Only), one round of miniature golf at Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature golf course or one round of miniature golf at Disney’s Winter Summerland Golf Course.

What is a Magic Key Pass?

The Magic Key Pass is Disney’s innovative solution for granting guests a unique, customized experience, serving as a limited license to enter the Disneyland Resort theme parks. Unlike traditional single-visit tickets, this pass unlocks the ability to plan and schedule visits according to the holder’s convenience and preference, offering flexibility and magic in every visit. Keyholders can take advantage of this pass to explore the captivating and enchanting Disney world, immersing themselves in the Resort’s myriad attractions and experiences.

For an even deeper dive into the Disney World parks, ticket prices, and Disney dining options and dining plans—look into our Insider’s Guide to Walt Disney World. Here, we explore the different Disney Parks, hotels, and can’t-miss attractions. It’s all you need to know about planning a Disney World vacation! There are also insider tips, suggestions on which ticket type to purchase, and so much more!

Wide shot of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: Renato Mitra via Unsplash

Plan, Book & Go

There are countless reasons to pick Disney World for your big trip. The wonder capital brings smiles to all who enter. It’s perfect for all ages and spotless, with trash cans every 30 feet! The new Star Wars Galaxy Edge® delights not only Star Wars fans, but all who feel the force.

Take off on Space Mountain, which has delighted families for decades! Epcot showcases the world with exotic destinations and the exciting Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind. Meanwhile, Animal Kingdom’s Avatar is stunning.

We hope this Disney World vacation planning guide helped you pin down your choices. If you’re ready to plan, book, and go, we have discounted park tickets, hotels, and vacation packages to save you time and money! Remember, these packages include your choice of Disney hotel on property and tickets to Disney World.

Located in the heart of the magic, the Disney Resort hotels possess amenities that create memories to last a lifetime. Just take your printed tickets or phone scan to any Disney counter. Your dream Disney World vacation is ready. Are you?

What Did We Miss?

What would you add to our Disney World trip planner? Do you have more questions about Disney World? Leave us a comment below!

close up of Erin smiling on a sunny day

Written by Erin Poche

Erin Poche` is a Utah-based writer and editor for Tripster and contributing writer for BeyondType1. She also writes and edits for an indie...

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Orlando Planning
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