Give me the cliff notes of planning a Disney World trip

amscherm

"All your dreams can come true if you have the cou
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Hi Everyone -

Well it has been quite some time (sadly) since we have been to the World. Life gets in the way and it isn't always easy to get there. So with that said, we are heading back in 2021... it is where my son wants to go for his high school graduation trip. So what is the abridged version of planning a trip? New tips and tricks I should know, things we definitely have to do - Star Wars is the main reason he wants to go - anything you can think of that I can add to my list of research as I start to plan this trip out for 12 of us. It would greatly be appreciated!!
 

Unvoiced_Apollo

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 30, 2018
If you want to eat at a sit down restaurant, know which one well in advance of your 180 day mark which ones. 180 days in advance of the start of your vacation is when you can make reservations.

If you have must do attractions, put that park at the end of your trip and prioritize those on your FP day (60 days out if on-site, forget about popular fastpasses if offsite)

Understand the Fastpass tier system for each of the parks (sans MK which is not tiered).

With RotR opening tomorrow, any convention developed since GE's open may not be the most optimal. So far visiting later at night has yielded better results.
 

DuskKodesh

Marvel Hero in Training
Joined
Aug 11, 2019
Watch videos, lots of videos. Youtube is a godsend. Pick your dates first, book where you'll be happy then watch for discounts to drop. Dining is at 180 days out and if you want anything hard to get be at the computer at 7am est. There are a few things that are hard to snag. If you don't get what you want use Touringplans reservation finder. You have a big group so talk with them, see if you'd like to split up for portions because snagging reservations for the whole trip will be tricky. Definitely watch some stuff about fastpasses.
 
  • Disneyfan754321

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 19, 2019
    For one night at the hotel or $200 (not sue how many rooms you need) you can book your trip , you should get your dates,hotel, tickets as soon as possible. You can always change the details later and can cancel if necessary.
    If possible go to Hollywood studios on a party day, the lines are a little better or go at rope drop because there are no fast passes for the two star wars rides so you want to get to the front of the line. 12 can be hard to get reservations for you want to get them at the 180 day mark so be ready.
    You can save money on your trip buying Disney giftcards on discount. check out the thread in giftcards or i love credit cards on the budget boards.
     

    Carrie Ellis

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 7, 2004
    Twelve people is a lot! Actually, we have that many too. I can't do hotel rooms anymore with that many people. Way too much money. We book this vrbo. It is the best. Where it is located, it really is just 10 minutes to the parks. There are no highways to jump on either. Super easy super quick. www.stayhappilyeverafter.com.
    The owner is so nice and so easy to get hold of. I would book as soon as you know you are going. The only issue is you can only book 30 day out FPs. For us, my mom and dad pull their RV and since they are staying at Fort Wilderness and we are tied to them, we can do 60 day FPs.
    I purchase our tickets off the military base. It save us $100 per ticket this time. If I did not have that ability, I would purchase through Undercover Tourist soon as possible (make sure the tickets expiration date is past your trip). That way you can get them prior to ticket price increase. They let you use Paypal so you can choose no interest for 6 months and pay it off.
    Once you have a date range with your stay booked, you can move forward with a lot of other things.
     

    Disneyfan754321

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 19, 2019
    We are a family of 8 , we still prefer rooms... the one time we had 3 bedroom we were too on top of each other, So for us the rooms work nicely.. i think it depends on the make up of the 12.
     

    smshick

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2009
    Since you will have a large group, you might want to consider purchasing the Disney Photo Pass Memory Maker. We went with a large group about four years ago and it was well worth the price. If I remember you pay one group fee, and then everyone in your "friends and family list" you add on My Disney Experience can go have fun having the Disney staff take photos of your group all over the park and it includes the photos that are taken on rides. And EVERYONE is included in the photo since you are having a Disney staff take the photos at the best spots. It's easy to view the photos from an app on your phone. In our group, we had a few that were more timid and a few who liked the faster rides. So it was fun to be able to see one another's photos when the group had split up as a way to stay connected. When you get home, the main person has a short window to download all the photos and can then share them however they wish. It also included little mini videos as well from rides such as Seven Dwarfs Mine train. Cast Members can also add special effects to your photo like Disney images and pretend like you are standing next to or holding them in the photo, etc. Might be a nice memory for your son's graduation trip. I just checked the price and it is $169 for advance purchase. If you purchase Memory Maker and want to start immediately, it costs $199. Have fun!
     
  • _19disnA

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 8, 2018
    Lots of people will cancel their dinner reservations the day before to avoid the no-show fee, so making yours 180 days ahead of time doesn't need to be a priority. Honestly, who knows what/where you will want to eat when you are at Disney, especially if you haven't been there in many years?

    I assume the 12 people is some extended family group, so the best thing to do is to get all of the adults in a meeting to discuss the trip and agree ahead of time what they want to do together vs. what they prefer to do separately. Do you want to eat as a group or split up and only have certain meals as a group? That many people won't fit at one table at many of the Disney restaurants even if eating as a group. Unlikely that all 12 people will want to do the same thing all the time. Which parks do they want to do, do they want to go shopping or spend time at the pool, etc. It would be a mistake to think the 12 of you can all go to a park with no advance discussions and once you arrive suddenly realize everyone doesn't agree on where to go next. Depending on budget, everyone may not choose to even stay at the same hotel.

    We were at Disney earlier this year after not going for many years. We made our 3 daily FastPasses when the window opened for the entire trip and it was no big deal which day we did first. In something like 30 minutes on the PC, we made all of them. It is helpful to have the Disney park map when making FastPasses, so you don't end up zig-zagging all over the park for the various Fast Passes.

    Planning can take as little or as much time as you want, just depends on personal preference. I would definitely let each family make their own hotel & travel reservations so you aren't acting as their travel agent. Disney is crowded most of the year, so no amount of advance planning will reduce the number of other people who are there.
     
    Last edited:

    Scubadaddy32

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 12, 2019
    The way we plan our trips:
    1) Lock down dates and resort(s)
    2) Make a calendar for those dates on Word doc.
    3) Look at several crowd calendars on various sites and figure out a day to day scheduling of parks and areas based on those. (I know some people will say that they are not important, but I still find them helpful.)
    4) Once you have your park days set.
    5) Figure out Extra Magic Hour Days and After Hour events if applicable. Making ADR's will be easier as you will at least know what areas/parks you are likely to be in at a given point during the day.
    6) Make any necessary changes to plans as the 60 day FP window gets closer. Then choose FP's based on your scheduled days in the parks. (Remember the hard to get FP's will be tougher to get in the first few days you select your FP's) Keep this in mind when selecting your days in the parks as well.
    For example: If FOP is a must, you may want to arrange your park day at AK for later in the week to assure a better chance to obtain a proper time for FOP.
    7) Pace is something that is going to be tough with 12 people, so keep that in mind Some will likely be the types to go on "playcations" and want to go go go and others will be the "relaxed" types and want to spend time doing a lot more relaxing things.
    8) The best advice anyone gave me. Have fun and don't be ridged with your itinerary and stress everyone out! I can be that way, but I'm learning that about WDW. It's likely things will change after a few days into the trip as everyone settles in and you figure out your likes and dislikes. People tend to underestimate the amount of energy spent each day at the parks walking around from attraction to attraction.

    This is an example of what we do. We usually try to book hard to get ADR's at the 180 day window: Ohana at diner is the first to go usually. Cali Grill firework hours and BOG at lunch. At HS 50's Prime Time is sometimes a tougher one. Epcot Space 220 will be the hot ADR. Yak and Yeti and Tuskerhouse would be my picks at AK for an ADR.
    This wasn't how it all worked out as we didn't eat a Liberty Tree 3 times. Ha We decided to attend MK AH on the 19th, so we canceled everything at MK for the following day and went to HS on the 20th instead. It worked out great.
    1 Sept.jpg
     

    BobbyDukes

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 30, 2016
    Plan early
    Adjust the plan as you need so experiences can "occur"
    Make reservations for your restaurants as early as you can or 6 months prior to your arrival.
     

    emcarle27

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jan 2, 2020
    The way we plan our trips:
    1) Lock down dates and resort(s)
    2) Make a calendar for those dates on Word doc.
    3) Look at several crowd calendars on various sites and figure out a day to day scheduling of parks and areas based on those. (I know some people will say that they are not important, but I still find them helpful.)
    4) Once you have your park days set.
    5) Figure out Extra Magic Hour Days and After Hour events if applicable. Making ADR's will be easier as you will at least know what areas/parks you are likely to be in at a given point during the day.
    6) Make any necessary changes to plans as the 60 day FP window gets closer. Then choose FP's based on your scheduled days in the parks. (Remember the hard to get FP's will be tougher to get in the first few days you select your FP's) Keep this in mind when selecting your days in the parks as well.
    For example: If FOP is a must, you may want to arrange your park day at AK for later in the week to assure a better chance to obtain a proper time for FOP.
    7) Pace is something that is going to be tough with 12 people, so keep that in mind Some will likely be the types to go on "playcations" and want to go go go and others will be the "relaxed" types and want to spend time doing a lot more relaxing things.
    8) The best advice anyone gave me. Have fun and don't be ridged with your itinerary and stress everyone out! I can be that way, but I'm learning that about WDW. It's likely things will change after a few days into the trip as everyone settles in and you figure out your likes and dislikes. People tend to underestimate the amount of energy spent each day at the parks walking around from attraction to attraction.

    This is an example of what we do. We usually try to book hard to get ADR's at the 180 day window: Ohana at diner is the first to go usually. Cali Grill firework hours and BOG at lunch. At HS 50's Prime Time is sometimes a tougher one. Epcot Space 220 will be the hot ADR. Yak and Yeti and Tuskerhouse would be my picks at AK for an ADR.
    This wasn't how it all worked out as we didn't eat a Liberty Tree 3 times. Ha We decided to attend MK AH on the 19th, so we canceled everything at MK for the following day and went to HS on the 20th instead. It worked out great.
    View attachment 459164
    How was crowds in September? We're planning trip for September 2021 and would love any feedback you have. There's only 2 of us.
     
  • Scubadaddy32

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 12, 2019
    How was crowds in September? We're planning trip for September 2021 and would love any feedback you have. There's only 2 of us.
    The crowds are about as low as they are at WDW all year in Sept. The heat and the threat of hurricanes keep many people away, so you trade that for lower crowds. It's just my wife and I as well, we are from the gulf coast so we are use to the heat and hurricane threats in our home town, so we take advantage. We also take advantage of the "Free Dining" offered in Sept. typically.
    Mind you, we are park people and usually spend most of the time at the parks rather than the resorts. We never rope drop, set up our FP's for 10am on and just move stuff around as we see fit during the day. We attend MNSSHP a couple of times during our stay and we do AH events as well. We find that it makes the daytime in the parks far more relaxing not going at a fever pitch. We still do a ton during the day, but we also know we can get in all the popular rides at all the parks during the night time events when it's a bit cooler.
    Last year we were very lucky as a cool front came in and stayed for the majority of our trip. The temps were in the mid 80's with low 70's at night. Both our trips in Sept. the last two years had hurricane threats either during or right after our scheduled dates. You never know what you are going to get in Sept., so just be willing to adjust plans if need be.
     

    lucille104

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 1, 2019
    Wow 12 people! I will agree with everything everyone said. I would also ask, have you considered renting from DVC? I am not a DVC member but my sister and niece have rented points and the price they paid vs the price I paid was almost 1/2. Not including tickets and food. DVC works the same way. The DVC Member that helps you is basically your travel agent. You also get free parking if you are driving! Or you can use the ME. I would check it out. My family used the DVC Rental Store

    The one down side is that if there is a Free Dining Plan being offered at the time that you go, you will not be eligible for it.

    Hope this helps
     

    Pesky

    "Who's the monkey?!"
    Joined
    Apr 9, 2012
    Ha! I'm beginning to research for a tentative 2022 plan! But you are smart. It was early planning that made our other trips go smoothly. WDW favors the planners. Like folks said, I'd try to identify and book your place to stay at least a year out. Start looking for Disney GC deals if you want to start stashing those away for food and/or ticket costs. I'm current hoarding CC points for the pending trip. They aren't kidding on that 6 mo mark for dining. I was up at something ridiculous like 5 am to get the prized reservations. Same with the FP+ dates. 100% agree with the memory maker -- worth every penny. Get the app so you can link everyone. Don't plan to be altogether all the time. It's too hard and plus some folks sleep in, others get up early and so on. Plan to have time where folks are together and some time they can break up and go do their own thing. Definitely have your DS take a major role in planning so he is sure to get the trip he wants. :)
     

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