Planning a trip to Walt Disney World is always exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Aside from the basics—deciding where to eat and what to see and do—there are the logistics, which seem to include an endless list of dates and deadlines to keep track of. Fortunately, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you stay on top of important bookings—from how early you should make dining reservations to when to secure your FastPass+ slots.
A table-service meal is a great way to escape the park crowds for an hour or two, and depending on the restaurant, you can even meet some of your favorite characters. We always recommend that you make dining reservations (especially if you’re on a Disney Dining Plan) on the day the window opens—180 days before the reservation date. For example, if you plan to eat at The Crystal Palace on January 15, you can place your reservation online or by phone as early as July 19. If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can make restaurant reservations for your entire trip 180 days prior to your check-in date. (Note that this can only be done for trips up to 10 days long or up to 10 days of a longer trip.)
Each park ticket includes three FastPass+ slots per day of admission, allowing guests to plan ahead for which attractions they’d like to experience. For Disney resort guests, this can be done 60 days before arrival, or 30 days prior to the visit if you stay off property. Guests of Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, for example, can begin booking FastPass+ attractions on October 10 if they’re checking in on December 9.
Guests staying on site can skip the queue to check in and do so online up to 60 days before arriving. Here, you’ll provide credit card information for incidentals, arrival and departure times, and room requests. Once you arrive at the hotel, you can head straight to your room if you have a MagicBand.
Paying Off Balances
For those booking a package that includes accommodation, park tickets and/or dining plan through Disney, remember that your balance is due 30 days before check-in. If you’ve only booked a room, balances must be paid at check-in. (Package deposits are $200, room-only deposits are the price of the first night, and both are due at the time of booking.)
Disney’s Magical Express (Transportation)
One of our favorite parts about staying at a Disney World hotel is the ability to forgo renting a car in favor of using the complimentary resort transportation. You can even arrange round-trip transfers to the hotel from Orlando International Airport via Disney’s Magical Express, a free service that will also deliver your checked luggage straight to your room. Just keep in mind that you must make Magical Express reservations at least 10 days before arrival.
When you book a stay at Disney World, you’ll have the opportunity to customize your MagicBand, the wearable tech that acts as your room key and holds park tickets, FastPass+, and more. Do this up to 11 days before check-in so they can be shipped straight to your house. If you customize them six to 10 days prior, you’ll get them at check-in. Those who do it past that window or don’t do it at all will be given a non-customized band upon arrival. Checking in on September 30? You’ll have until September 19 to place your order to ensure you get them at home.