When you are just starting out with planning your Walt Disney World vacation, there are many questions you may have.   This blog will cover the pre-vacation planning questions you may have.

– How do you pick the time of year to visit WDW?
Personally, we let family needs dictate the time of year and don’t really focus on crowd levels. There could be times of the year you can’t get off work. Or if you have kids that are school age you may need to wait until they are out of school. Traveling to Florida in the summer is hot and more crowded. Planning to take afternoon breaks during this time of year is one tip. Maybe you want to travel in the winter. Winters in Florida are mild compared to what most of the country experiences. But park hours are more limited, rides could be closed for refurbishment. There are pluses and minuses to any time of the year you may choose is right for you.

Several websites offer crowd calendars for free if  going during a less busy time of the year is important to you. Here are a few I recommend.
http://wdwprepschool.com/step-1-pick-a-date/
http://www.easywdw.com/
www.touringplans.com Offers premium information and is great (and I think most reliable), however, you can only access if you pay a fee.


– There are so many resorts, how do I pick the one that’s right for me?

Budget is always something I think about while picking a resort. Next, I try to decide what park we will be spending the majority of our time at. If I am going to be spending most my day at the Magic Kingdom, I look at resorts closer to there. Wilderness Lodge Resort is one of my favorite Deluxe level resorts and with discounts it can be at a reasonable price. The theme of the resort may be important to you. Disney has a wide range of themed resorts to choose from. If I was staying at a value resort, I would want to stay at the Pop Century Resort or Art of Animations just because the theme of the resorts suits my personality better.  You would want to pick a theme that you like best.

– What is Magical Express?  Who can use it?
The Magical Express is a free airport shuttle available to anyone staying at a Disney resort that provides transportation to and from your Disney resort. You can put a special Disney tag on your luggage and the shuttle service will retrieve your luggage for you and deliver it to your room, this service is only available for the hours of 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and it can sometimes take up to four hours for your luggage to appear at your door. If you arrive late at night, you may not receive your luggage until the next morning, so if you would like to have your luggage as soon as you get to your room I would suggest getting your own luggage from the airport.

– What is My Disney Experience?
My Disney Experience is a website that helps you plan your Disney vacation, you can also get the Disney Experience app. On this website, you will be able to pin your daily agenda’s for your trip. You can go back to review this information whenever you would like. You can make reservations and you can also see the photos taken during visits to a resort with Disney PhotoPass. If you are traveling with friends or family you can add them to a list so you can all plan together, but you can also remove them. You must have a Disney account to access My Disney Experience.

]https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/plan/

– What are Magic Bands?
Magic Bands are rubber bracelets that you are given when you make a Disney vacation. They have many purposes such as your room key, your admission ticket into the park, they can be used to store your fast passes, and they can also be used to purchase items. My boys love using their magic bands for everything.

– What is FastPass+?
FastPass+ is a way to hold your place in line after you make a reservation for a certain ride.  When you get to the parks there is a separate queue to enter where you must have a fast pass. Fast passes really cut down your waiting time in line. The + comes from being able to make the reservation at 60 days out for resort guests or 30 days out for non-resort guests, but of course, you can always go back and change it.  You can make up to 3 FastPass+ selections in advance for one park.  Once you have used the initial 3 selections in the park, you can add additional selections at kiosks stationed around the park. Also if you don’t make any selections in advance you can make the selections when you arrive at the park at a kiosk.

-How important is it to book FastPass+ attractions at 60 days?
It is important if there is a particular attraction you must do or a popular one that you are wishing to do. This way you know that you will get to do the attraction and have a set time. If that time doesn’t work for you, later on, you can always remove it and try to find a different time.  At the time of this post the important items to book are Toy Story Midway Mania at Hollywood Studios and at the Magic Kingdom if you want to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or participate in the Anna and Elsa meet and greet.

– How important is it to book dining at 180 days?
Walt Disney World opens its dining reservation system up at 180 days in advance of arrival for non-resort guest.  Resort guests can book at 180 days plus 10 (the plus 10 means that if your vacation is less than 10 days you can book all your dining on 180 days in advance of your check-in date. It is important to book your dining this early, however, you usually end up changing your schedule around so much that booking it this early almost seems like a waste. If you frequently check the available time and dates, you can usually find an opening that someone has given up if you have waited too long to make your reservation. At the time of this post, you will need to try to book at 180 days at the Magic Kingdom these 2 dining experience : Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest.  Other dining can be booked easily with persistence.  I also want to add here that dining reservations are typically called Advanced Dining Reservations or for short just ‘ADRs’.

– What is Memory Maker and do you think it is worth it?
Around the property, there are Disney Cast Member with cameras set up to take your picture, as well as ride photographs and videos.  You can buy these pictures individually, but with Memory Maker, you are buying all the pictures that are taken for one price.  Memory Maker currently costs $169 (non-advanced purchase price) or $149 for advanced purchase (have to buy at least 3 days in advance). The pictures are accessible to everyone that you have on your list.

My favorite thing is the ride videos and the Magic Shots.

– What is your one planning tip?
Arrive to the parks early.  Everyone else is sleeping on vacation.  You can get so much done in the first 2 hours of the park opening. Also, pay attention to any special events that are going on during your travel dates.  It may impact which park you visit on specific days.

The bulk of the information from the post came from the podcast episode that Angie Muma and I did for the DIStracted Life Podcast.  You can listen in the player below.

Use the comments to share your questions or tips.

Keep the conversation going over at my Facebook page : Ryan Slusher, Key to the World Travel  Facebook

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