Disney World Planning Pt 1: When to Visit

Yay! You’re going to Disney World! I am so excited for you, and there is so much you’ll need to know. Don’t be intimidated, planning a Disney World trip is a big undertaking but this guide is going to take you through it one step at a time. I’ve visited Disney World so many times, and I’ve planned trips for other even more. I’m here to help you through the ins and outs of everything you need to know. We’re going to start at the very beginning, it is a very good place to start. When should you plan your trip?

Important Deadlines

I know, I know I’m scaring you off. You’re all excited thinking about princess pics and your kids meeting Mickey for the first time (Or planning your Drinking Around the World Strategy), and I’m putting big scary words like DEADLINES in bright caps. This is one of the most important things to take into consideration, because of 2 major planning deadlines.

FastPass+

We are at the start of our planning journey, so we do not need to worry just yet about what exactly FastPass+ is, however trust me you will want it. Essentially FastPass+ (or FP+) is a reservation system that allows you to book certain rides in advance and skip some of the longer attraction lines. There are rules, and tiers, and strategies – but we’ll save that conversation for another time. Just know you will want to be able to take advantage of this. There are 2 booking deadlines, if you will be staying off property (non-Disney hotel) than FP+ bookings are available 60 days from the first date of your trip. If you are staying on property (Disney hotel) bookings are available 90 days out.

Dining Reservations (ADR)



Disney World is FILLED with a multitude of different restaurants. There are quick, fast-food type restaurants, themed restaurants, celebrity chef restaurants, and many, many more. However, there are also many, many people how will also want to dine at these very popular restaurants. Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) are key to securing experiences and meals at the most popular of choices. Again, the details and strategies are not important at this time. However, it is a good choice to keep this option open. For guests staying off property ADR’s can be secured 90 days in advance, and on site guests can make their reservations 180 days from the first date of their trip.

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How Far in Advance Should you Book?

At a bare minimum you need to book at least 61 days in advance. This will allow you to make FP+ reservations, which are almost essential for some rides and experiences. If you’re able to though, I recommend booking 6 to 12 months in advance. Booking your vacation this far in advance will allow you to secure ADR’s, FP+, and disperses the cost over a larger period of time. It’s difficult to push a trip off that far once you’ve made the decision, but it will be well worth the wait especially if this is your first time at Disney World.

Which Time of Year is the Best to Visit?

There are several different seasons at Disney World, defined by their crowds and pricing. Generally there is an On Season and an Off Season, then there is what I like to call the Mid Season.

Off Season

Disney is, of course, notorious for large crowds and price tags – but traveling during one of the two off seasons will help mitigate a bit of both of these issues. The official off season is early January (after new year’s) through the end of April – with the exception of Spring Break. The downside here is that there will be many rides that are closed for refurbishment and shows will be less frequent, as the crowds will be less. Prices for hotels will also be lower though, as a means of offsetting the more limited offerings in the park. There are also lower crowds during hurricane season and the beginning of Fall, August through till mid October. Prices are not necessarily much lower during this time period, but there are also less ride closures.

Obviously, the weather during these periods will be less desirable than in late spring or early summer. In the off-season it will be chillier and you will need to pack accordingly, if you go during hurricane season – well there’s a higher chance of hurricanes.

Mid Season

On the other end of the spectrum is the high crowd season, but in between is what I refer to as mid-season. This is April through June and Halloween through Thanksgiving, these periods of time will see higher attendance and higher pricing but more will be available. The crowds and prices will still be less than in the peak season, though.


Peak Season

I do not recommend visiting Disney World during the peak season. June and July are the hottest months of the year in Florida, and temperatures will be in or above the 90’s every day. There will also be very high crowds, possibly even park closures due to capacity issues. Prices will also be higher for both the parks and the hotels.

Promotions and Special Pricing

Another key factor is the availability of promotions and special pricing. These usually occur during the off season and hurricane season, to drive tourism during less desirable travel times. These are never a guarantee, and they usually are not advertised until much closer to the effected dates. Therefore It’s not something to base your trip around, however it is something to be aware of.

Seasonal Calendar

A crowd index or seasonal attendance calendar is a great tool for determining your ideal travel dates. There are many different versions of this data available on the internet, including mine which you can snag by clicking HERE

Final Thoughts

So there are a few key points to take away here when deciding what time of year to visit.

  • Plan your vacation 6 to 12 months in advance
  • Be aware of the season and its effects on crowds and pricing
  • Utilize a Crowd Index Calendar to determine your ideal travel dates

There are many other factors that may come in to play such as school breaks, birthdays, anniversaries, employer vacation black-outs, and personal engagements. The planning and reasoning behind the decisions made for each trip is personal and will vary from person to person. By no means do I intend to say, or believe, that everyone should visit in March or that they have to book the day their desired dates become available. Take this information as a resource to guide the choices that you make for you and your family, but plan your trip according to your needs.

Are you still burning with unfulfilled questions about Disney World Planning?

If so, be sure to sign-up to receive the rest of this series below AND join the #DisFanChat Vacation planning group on Facebook, where me and my expert Disney pals can answer any questions you have!

 



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