UPDATED FOR 2024 TRAVEL. Taking a family trip to the Walt Disney World Resort? We have the top planning tips to make your Disney vacation absolutely amazing!
Disney Parks are the perfect destinations for families of all ages. One of our Get Away Today favorites is the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Not only do you get a touch of the original magic that inspired it all with Magic Kingdom, but your family can experience even more magic at Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.
Quick Look at Walt Disney World
That’s right, there are four main theme parks that make up Walt Disney World Resort:
- Magic Kingdom Park
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
In addition to those main theme parks, Walt Disney World is also home to two water parks:
- Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
And that’s not all! Various sports and entertainment offerings make up the massive Disney property in Orlando, making this a vacation destination for everyone:
There is certainly a lot to consider when booking your Walt Disney World vacation. To help you get the most out of your trip, we have narrowed it down to our top 7 planning tips for Walt Disney World.
Now let’s get started.
When & How Long to Visit Walt Disney World
One of the main questions our guests ask about traveling to Orlando is, “When is the best time to go to Walt Disney World?”
Walt Disney World Resort is packed full of fun all year long, with some seasonal celebrations throughout the year. When to go depends on various factors like weather, time off from school or work, seasonal festivities and more. But, there are some events that many guests like to make a special trip for:
- EPCOT International Arts Festival (January 13 - February 19, 2024)
- EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival (Spring 2024)
- EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival (normally late August - early November)
- Halloween at Walt Disney World Resort - (normally mid-August through October 31)
- Expect Halloween decorations, special menu items and merchandise throughout the Resort.
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a private ticketed event held in Magic Kingdom after hours.
- Holidays at Walt Disney World Resort - (normally mid-November - early January)
- Holiday themed decor, menu items and merchandise will be found in all four theme parks, Disney Springs and many of the Disney Resort Hotels
- EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays
- Jollywood Nights is a private ticketed events held after park hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a private ticketed event held after park hours in Magic Kingdom.
If your family wants to experience specific seasonal events, you’ll want to plan your dates accordingly. See our Walt Disney World yearly calendar for all the festivities and events.
Predicting crowd levels at Walt Disney World has never been easier… or harder! Right now Walt Disney World requires theme park reservations in order to limit capacity. Although park capacity is limited, that doesn’t mean the parks may not feel busy. Lines look long because of physical distancing, but move quickly. We anticipate that Disney will gradually increase park capacity as time goes on, so typically the sooner you can go, the fewer crowds you’ll experience.
Even with theme park capacity limitations, some general rules still apply when it comes to crowd expectations. You’ll normally find the parks busier on weekends and over holidays. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the exception as it nearly always reaches its full capacity and maintains the same level of crowds year round, every day of the week.
Another frequently asked question we hear about Florida is, “How many days should I spend at Walt Disney World?”
One of the best planning tips for Walt Disney World is to consider how much you want to do on your trip. If you want to experience the most out of each park, your family will want to spend at least five or more nights.
If you’re only planning on visiting one or two of the theme parks, your family could probably spend three or four nights at the resort without a problem.
Just remember that you save more per day when you purchase a longer ticket! Plus, you don’t have to worry about rushing to do everything if you give yourself more time.
For a family vacation full of quintessential Walt Disney World favorites, we recommend at least a 4-Day 1 Park per Day ticket so you can experience one full day at each of the main theme parks.
If you have less time, we recommend considering a Park Hopper ticket so you can still experience all four parks.
Stay At a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel
The great thing about the Walt Disney World Resort is that there are so many hotel options for a variety of groups. Staying on property is one of our top planning tips for Walt Disney World.
A lot of people think staying at a Disney-owned hotel is too expensive, but we’re here to show you there are plenty of options within every budget.
Your family can choose from value, moderate or deluxe hotel room properties that can fit every family size and include amazing benefits. There are even Deluxe Villa options available with more space including full kitchens and a washer and dryer.
Here are just some of the cost-savings when you stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel:
- Free transportation between all on property hotels and theme parks (a savings of at least $40 per day if you were to use a ride share service or park on site).
- Early Theme Park Entry perks for all Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests (a savings that can’t be numbered because you can’t buy access, it’s a guest exclusive!)
- Extended Evening Hours for Deluxe and Deluxe Villa guests!
- MagicBand+ discounts for on property stays.
- Optional dining plans when offered.
Ask any travel agent at Get Away Today and they can help you narrow down your choices from the following Disney Resort hotels:
Value Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
- 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
Moderate Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
- The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
- The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resorta>
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort - Riverside
Deluxe Walt Disney World Resort Hotels & 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 LodgeE
- 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 Riviera Resort
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
There are also off-site hotels, as well as condo and hotel rentals. You can search and book all of our off-site Orlando area hotels here. Many guests find that after resort fees, cleaning fees and transportation costs, that they aren’t saving as much as they thought they would by staying off-site.
Additionally, off-site packages do not always have the same generous cancellation policies, so many guests opt instead for the convenience and flexibility of staying at a Disney World Resort hotel.
Book Walt Disney World Early
This is one of the most important planning tips for Walt Disney World! When you book sooner rather than later, you’ll be sure to get the best price and availability.
Get Away Today can help you decide which ticket type will be best for you. Base tickets, also known as 1-Park per Day tickets, allow you to visit one theme park each day and are the most affordable. Park Hopper tickets allow you to visit multiple theme parks each day. Each of these ticket types include an option to upgrade to allow additional visits to Disney water parks and other experiences. You can find out more about each of the Walt Disney World ticket types here.
You can currently book much further in advance than you might think, giving you more time to plan and save. When you book with Get Away Today, your Walt Disney World Resort hotel and ticket package can be locked in for only $200 down.
Pay as much as you want, when you want leading up to your vacation. The remaining balance is due 9 days before you travel. With no strict payment schedule or any interest, it’s a win-win! Get your vacation on the books and still have time to save!
Plan Your Transportation to/from MCO (Orlando International Airport)
How to get to Walt Disney World is a big question for a lot of guests. Many guests on the East Coast will drive, but most of our guests traveling to Walt Disney World Resort fly. For airfare, we are highly encouraging guests to book their own flights directly with the airline. With so many changes and the need for flexibility, it is much easier for guests to get updates and make any needed changes done with the airline directly. We prefer to use Google Flights to check for the best prices, times and airlines, and then book directly with the airline’s website. https://www.google.nl/travel/flights/
Prior to 2022, Disney’s Magical Express, which was a round trip shuttle service to/from the Orlando airport was included in your Walt Disney World vacation package. However, Disney stopped providing this service at the beginning of 2022. But, not to worry! Get Away Today can help you set up transportation to/from MCO. We recommend using The Sunshine Flyer or MEARS transportation. If you're interested in adding airport transportion to your vacation package, be sure to ask one of our travel experts when booking your vacation.
Once you're on Walt Disney World Resort property, all transportation between the hotels, theme parks and Disney Springs is included. Transportation options vary depending on which hotel or park you’re traveling to/from. There are buses, boats, Monorails, and our favorite, Disney’s Skyliner gondola system.
Book Dining Reservations in Advance
There are so many dining options between the four theme parks, each Walt Disney World Hotel and Disney Springs.
Even though there are plenty of choices, the most popular places tend to fill up quickly. This is one of the reasons why Disney World allows families to book their reservations for signature and character dining 60 days in advance for the length of their stay.
This adds to the incentive of booking your entire package early! Family-favorite restaurants like the Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom tend to fill up the first week of dates becoming available.
If you are not finding any times available online, use one of our insider planning tips for Walt Disney World: get free dining alerts here. Sometimes a few openings become available even at the last minute, so you may just be able to snag a spot at your favorite character dining experience!
Pick Your Top Walt Disney World Rides in Advance
Some things at Walt Disney World are not the way they were! Gone are the days of waking up early to score FastPass return times months in advance of your vacation.
Now, it’s important to get familiar with the new Disney Genie+ service. and how it can help you avoid long lines during your trip. Genie+ gives you access to the Lightning Lane queue for tons of rides around the resort.
If any of these rides make your must-do list, you’ll want to snag those first at 7:00 a.m. the morning of your visit.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Disney Genie+ Attractions:
- Festival of the Lion King
- Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
- Feathered Friends in Flight!
- Finding Nemo: The Big Blue... and Beyond!
- It's Tough to Be a Bug!
- Kali River Rapids
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
- Na'vi River Journey
- The Animation Experience at Conservation Station
EPCOT Disney Genie+ Attractions:
- Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
- Living with the Land
- Mission: SPACE – Green
- Mission: SPACE – Orange
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- Soarin' Around the World
- Spaceship Earth
- Test Track
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends
- Turtle Talk with Crush
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Disney Genie+ Attractions:
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
- Disney Junior Play & Dance!
- For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Muppet*Vision 3D
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Tower of Terror
- Toy Story Mania
Magic Kingdom Disney Genie+ Attractions:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Haunted Mansion
- "it's a small world"
- Jungle Cruise
- Mad Tea Party
- Meet Cinderella and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall
- Meet Mickey and Minnie at Town Square Theater
- Meet Princess Tiana and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall
- Mickey's PhilharMagic
- Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
- Peter Pan's Flight
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- The Barnstormer
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Under the Sea - Journey of The Little Mermaid
It’s also smart to prioritize Disney favorites like Frozen Ever After or Space Mountain because those Genie+ selections can run out of spots fast!
The extra cost for Disney Genie+ is well worth it in our book! It’s also worth noting that some attractions are on the “Individual Lightning Lane” purchase list which is detailed in this article.
Plan Your Walt Disney World Budget
Now that you’ve narrowed down when to visit, how long to stay, where to stay, places to eat and what to ride, take some time for one of the greatest planning tips for Walt Disney World: creating a budget.
This may seem silly, but you’ll be surprised at how much you can spend while you’re in the parks if you don’t have a plan beforehand. Especially since your credit card can be linked to your MagicBand+!
It’s a good idea to have a budget for food as well as a budget for souvenirs. You can include your kids in the fun by starting a “Disney World Fund” or even taking part in a money-saving challenge.
One of our favorites, if you have a year or more before your trip, is the 52 Week Money Challenge. You start by saving a dollar your first week and each week save a dollar more than the last week, ending up with over $1,300 by the time 52 weeks rolls around. Your wallet will be sure to thank you no matter which way you choose to budget for your upcoming trip!
We’ve also put together a full article that breaks down the costs of your actual vacation with tickets and lodging. This article also includes sample package pricing for our most popular hotels for a variety of months and travel groups to give you a basic idea of Walt Disney World Resort vacation costs. We keep this article updated frequently to reflect current prices and specials.
Book Your Walt Disney World Vacation with Get Away Today
Planning a Disney World trip can seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be when you use Get Away Today!
Here’s how we can help:
- We can help you choose and book park tickets.
- We can help you choose and book a Disney hotel and even off-site properties if you choose.
- We can help you become familiar with the My Disney Experience app and how it syncs to your MagicBand+.
- We can help purchase Disney Dining Plans.
- We can help you choose the most popular rides and ones your little ones will enjoy.
- We can even help you locate Mickey Mouse for that perfect family photo on your vacation!
- All for FREE!
When you book with Get Away Today, you get our concierge services included which guide you through everything you need to know. You’ll receive detailed information on many of these extras that are available to you, but some we recommend are:
For more information about our FREE conceirge services, click here.
The list truly is endless. We love sharing our planning tips for Disney World and can answer any questions you may have.
Plus, we keep you up-to-date about any new offers or festivities coming to the resort. Our travel experts know all the best tips for Walt Disney World and can help you plan the most magical vacation ever!
A family trip to Disney World is always a great idea, especially when you use Get Away Today to make it the best it can be. Book online or call 855-GET-AWAY to speak with our travel experts. Our agents are always ready with the best planning tips for Disney World and all other vacation destinations!