Step-by-Step WDW Planning Guide

Planning a Walt Disney World vacation? No worries, it’s actually easier than you might think! Sometimes we tend to overcomplicate things, and planning a Disney vacation is no exception. So, let’s break it down into a twelve step WDW guide that will make your planning process a breeze.

Before we get started though, create a Disney account on It’s completely free and will be your hub for managing all aspects of your Disney vacation. Also, make sure to download the My Disney Experience app on your mobile device—it’ll be your trusty companion before and during your visit.

Step 1: Get Familiar 📚

Walt Disney World consists of four amazing theme parks—Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. There are also two water parks—Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, a fantastic shopping district called Disney Springs, and a selection of themed resort hotels.

Take some time to familiarize yourself with each of these offerings. Additionally, explore dining options, ticket details, transportation choices, special events, and Genie+ services.

Step 2: Pick Dates 📅

Now it’s time to decide on the length of your visit and potential dates. Consider your availability and compare different dates based on factors that matter to you, such as pricing, special events, weather, and crowd levels. Resort and ticket prices can serve as reliable indicators of crowd levels.

Step 3: Select a Resort Hotel 🛌

Now that you’ve settled on a date, it’s time to choose a resort hotel. Keep important factors in mind, like proximity to the parks, transportation options, room size, and available dining choices.

Step 4: Select Tickets 🎫

It’s also time to decide on tickets. Determine how many days you want to spend at the parks, whether you want to visit multiple parks in a day, and if you’re interested in the water parks. For now, I recommend starting with base tickets and potentially adding park hoppers and water park tickets as you flesh out your itinerary later in step 9.

Step 5: Select Dining Plan🍴

If you’re booking a vacation package for 2024 and beyond, you have the option to pre-pay for dining using the Disney Dining Plan. Check out my post Disney Dining Plan Returning in 2024 to see if this is a good option for you.

Step 6: Check Budget 💰

With the basic decisions of out the way, it’s time to consider pricing for accommodations, tickets, and dining. You can spend a lot of time trying to get an estimated cost, or you can cut to the chase and ask me to send you a free Disney vacation quote so you have an accurate idea of cost.

Step 7: Book It! 🎢

You’ve received your free Disney vacation quote and are ready to move forward – now it’s time to book! I can walk you through this step to make sure everything is taken care of correctly. If you’re booking a Disney vacation package, you will put down a $200 deposit at this time to hold the reservation.

Step 8: Pick Transportation 🚌

If you’re flying, consider how you’ll get to and from the resort. You have various options, including paid bus services like Mears Connect Driven by Sunshine, car rentals, or rideshare services like Uber and Lyft.

Step 9: Plan Itinerary 🧞‍♂️

It’s time to plan out how you’ll spend each day of your vacation. Start by checking park hours, scheduled entertainment, and special events for your travel dates. Then, identify your must-do attractions, shows, character experiences, and dining options in each park. Use this list to allocate time for each park and decide the order of your visits. Once your schedule is finalized, make your park reservations. Check out our in-depth post – How to Plan Your Disney Itinerary – for more details.

Step 10: Book Dining & More🍴

When you’re 60 days out from your trip, use your finalized schedule to make table service reservations. You’ll also want to book any event dining experiences, like fireworks dessert parties, at this time. Dining reservations can go quickly, so prioritize your top picks and book them as early as possible.

Step 11: Complete Payment & Check-in ☑️

Before you reach 30 days out from your trip, log into the My Disney Experience app to validate your resort, dining, and park reservations.

You’ll also need to make any outstanding payments and consider ordering MagicBands. This is also the time to complete online check-in at your resort and setup Disney’s MagicMobile service for room and park entry using your phone.

Step 12: Strategize📱

Return to the My Disney Experience app and strategize your park days. Familiarize yourself with features like viewing plans, checking wait times, purchasing Genie+ and Individual Lighting Lanes, joining virtual queues, and using mobile ordering for food. Practice using the app until you feel comfortable using it during your actual park visits.

That’s It!

Planning a Disney vacation doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By following these simple steps, you can simplify the process and even enjoy it. Remember, I’m here to help you with any and all of the steps. Use my get started form or contact me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter @nextstopaaron to get started!

If you enjoyed this article, consider supporting an organization that we support – the International Mission Board – in their work to spread the message of Jesus across this, our Spaceship Earth.

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