[Updated September 2016]
If you’ve ever tried to plan a Disney vacation, you know that it’s no small feat. There’s the decision of staying on property versus off, what kind of tickets you’ll buy, and where you’ll be eating — not to mention getting organized for FastPass+ reservations. While we’ve shared advice for these specific topics and more, we thought we’d also offer a few more general tools to help you. After all, stressing out over planning defeats the very purpose of taking a holiday, no?
Disney Vacation Account
Here’s a little nudge to start saving up for your trip: set up an online Disney Vacation Account, to which you can make automatic contributions with your credit or debit card every week, every month, or every two weeks. You can start saving for a trip that you’d like to take up to five years from now — and you’re not limited to just Walt Disney World or Disneyland either. You have the option of budgeting for getaways to Aulani, sailings aboard Disney Cruise Line, or treks with Adventures by Disney. Other features of a Disney Vacation Account include setting up a timeframe for when you’d like to reach your monetary goal, tracking your progress, and withdrawing your contributions for a full refund at any time.
Disney Cruise Line packing list
We’ll admit that packing isn’t the most exciting part about travel, but if you’re taking a trip with Disney Cruise Line, put yourself at ease with this handy packing list. While it does include the most basic things like shorts and t-shirts, you’ll find other items of interest that you may not have even thought about taking. It also defines what’s acceptable for its “cruise casual” dining attire, so you’ll know exactly how to coordinate outfits.
The calendars for the Disney World and Disneyland resorts don’t just list the operating hours for each of its parks and Disney Springs. They also lay out a complete schedule of everything taking place throughout the day, from character meet-and-greets to parades and street performances. This might seem like an elementary suggestion, but here’s where you’ll want to make sure you check the schedule: if there’s an event you absolutely want to see, you should plan your dining reservations or FastPass+ times around them in advance. And good news for those early birds: The calendars are usually released online six months ahead of time.
Disney Parks Moms Panel
Did you know? Each year Disney recruits a group of moms (and dads) who are well-versed in all things Disney to help answer reader-submitted questions on the Disney Parks Moms Panel. The thousands of questions and answers, with new ones added daily, cover a broad range of topics, including dining and accommodations at the parks, how to budget for a cruise, and more. If you want expert feedback but don’t like calling customer service, this is a great resource. Think you have what it takes to be a panel member? In 2016, the search is between September 7 and 14 — good luck!
Disney World has four theme parks, two water parks, dozens of hotels, and hundreds of dining options, so we can’t blame you for being overwhelmed — we’ve definitely been there. That’s why we find its Vacation Recommendation tool quite useful: you’ll be given a suggestion of a resort hotel and room type, park tickets and on which days you should go, and a Dining Plan and where you can eat. This is all based on your personal travel style and criteria that you input — including with whom you’re traveling; if it’s a budget or splurge trip; if it’ll be relaxed or active; your preferred park activities; which hotel and dining features you like; and the season in which you’re going. Cool, huh?