A Whole New World (of Disney Vacation Planning)

Booking a Walt Disney World trip has changed since 2020. 

You can’t just pop into a park whenever you want or skip the standby line for free. On the other hand, you no longer have to make dinner reservations six months in advance or get up at 6:55 a.m. to book FastPasses. 

The jury is out on whether the new way is better, but for now it is what it is. Here are eight quick-and-dirty steps to planning a Disney vacation.

Step 1 – Can You Get Through the Turnstile? 

You need a reservation to visit a Walt Disney World theme park, so check for availability. Click here for Theme Park Reservation Availability

Step 2 – Book a Room and Buy Some Tickets

Call a travel agent that specializes in Disney vacations. Using a travel agency like MEI-Travel or Dreams Unlimited Travel doesn’t cost you a dime, but it could save you some money. So, take advantage of the extra help.

Every Disney resort is worth consideration. Choose from a number of value, moderate, or deluxe resort options. For tickets, base price ones get you into one park for a day. The more days you buy, the lower the cost per day becomes. You can also purchase add-on options to allow your ticket to do more, like:

  • Park Hop (visit more than one park in a day)
  • Visit a water park
  • Wait in a shorter line

Step 3 – How Are You Getting There?

If you are driving, you’re all set, go to Step 4.

If you are flying, book flights after you’ve confirmed you have a place to stay (only because it is easier to change resort reservations than it is to change flight reservations).

Also arrange transportation to and from the airport. Buses, taxis, ride share services, and rental cars are all current options. Unfortunately, Disney’s free Magical Express service will no longer be available to guests arriving after Jan. 1, 2022.

Step 4 – Get the App

Create an account on and download the My Disney Experience App on your smart phone.

Step 5 – Make Park Reservations

Link all your confirmation numbers to My Disney Experience and make park reservations. Remember, you MUST have tickets BEFORE you can make theme park reservations. 

Step 6 – Dream, Research, and Wait! 

What do you want to see? Where do you want to eat?

Step 7 – Get to Know Genie+

Do a deep dive into the pros and cons of Disney Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selections. Both are options to pay your way to the front of the line on about 40 Disney attractions.

Step 8 – Decide on Dinner

There are a few sit-down reservations that are hard to get like Cinderella’s Royal Table, Space 220, Steakhouse71, The California Grill, and ‘Ohana. If these dining experiences are a “must do” for you, then be ready between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. 60 days in advance of your arrival date to make reservations on My Disney Experience. (Team Tip: Using a desktop or laptop to book is easier than booking through the App.)

Lots of Disney experts will tell you that Disney planning is hard, but it’s not. You can do this! (But don’t disregard free help. Remember, travel agents are awesome.) There is no one out there that has done it all in one trip. So don’t even try. 

Relax. Do what YOU want to do. And know that another trip is “just a dream away.”

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