My Optimal Disney World Planning Timeline

So you've decided to take a Disney vacation, but where should you start? Look no further than my optimal Disney planning timeline!


As promised in my blog post last week, “My Favorite Disney Planning Tips”, I’m going to share my optimal timeline for planning a successful Disney vacation this week.  Let me preface by clarifying that this is simply my idea of a desirable timeline; it is definitely possible to plan an amazing Disney vacation in a shorter timeframe.  Nevertheless, this timeline will afford you the best opportunity to get everything you want on your “wish list”, from dining reservations to resort hotels.

10-12 Months Before Your Trip: Find a trustworthy, knowledgeable travel professional OR start conducting in-depth research for your vacation on your own.  Focus on your resort and package options at this time.

8-10 Months Before Your Trip: Book your Disney vacation (either with your travel professional or on your own).  Start discussing your itinerary with your travel agent OR design your itinerary on your own.  Begin exploring dining choices.

6 Months Before Your Trip: Book your dining reservations exactly 180 days before your trip or have your travel agent do it for you.  You can also book any “extras” at this time as well (Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique appointments, Pirates’ League reservations, fireworks cruises, etc.).  Remember, the online reservation system opens daily at 6:00am Eastern Time; the telephone reservation system opens at 7:00am Eastern Time.  Once you’ve made your dining reservations, finalize your itinerary. 

3-4 Months Before Your Trip: Book your flights if you haven’t already.  Start discussing your daily touring plans with your travel professional or begin designing them yourself.

0-3 Months Before Your Trip: Finalize your daily touring plans.  Don’t forget to update them about a week before you leave home when schedules for character meets and showtimes are typically released (or at least highly predictable).  Make your final payment if you booked a package (45 days before your trip).  Then, start your countdown!!


Meredith McCutcheon

Disney Specialist, Ginger's Getaways

Personalized Disney Itineraries and Daily Touring Plans

Find me on Facebook or on "Drinking The Kool-Aid"

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Meredith McCutcheon February 07, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Hi Erin! Yes, all Disney resorts have laundry rooms!!
Michelle May 01, 2013 at 01:44 PM
My family of six is going on our first WDW trip in August! Yeah! We'll be staying at the Shades of Green Resort, checking in on Monday and checking out on Friday. We got a food plan through the hotel in which they feed us breakfast and dinner. So my question is regarding lunch. For us to eat lunch in WDW, does every place to eat require reservations? Or are there some places that don't require reservations? I thought we could eat lunch at a different place every day. What are your thoughts?
Meredith McCutcheon May 01, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Hi Michelle! Yes, there are lots of quick-services restaurants in the parks that do not require a reservation. We love to try lots of different places. My biggest piece of advice regarding these locations is that you try to eat at off-times so that you are avoiding the mealtime rush. Try to eat lunch by 11:30am (of after 1:30pm). Try to eat dinner by 5:30pm (or after 7:30pm). Have a great time!!
Michelle May 01, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Great advice Meredith! Thank you! : )
Meredith McCutcheon May 01, 2013 at 03:11 PM
You're very welcome!


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