Father and Child on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • On Dec 19, 2019
    Katie from MO Asked Note: This answer was provided prior to the change to planDisney and may still contain references to Disney Parks Moms Panel.

    I am super overwhelmed! We are surprising my boys (ages 5 and 8) with their first trip to Disney for Christmas. We’ll be going the last week of July and spending 3 days at the parks but are staying off property. Where do I begin with planning and extras?

    Hi Katie,

    Ohmygoodness...your boys are going to be SO EXCITED when they find out that they're going to be visiting "The Most Magical Place on Earth" next summer! Your house is going to be a VERY happy place on Christmas morning!

    You've come to the perfect place for help, Katie! While I grew up spending a day here and there at the Walt Disney World Resort, I remember planning my very first week-long Disney vacation. It can feel a bit overwhelming when it's all new, but I promise you, it's not only manageable, but lots of FUN! I'm so glad to hear that you're starting to plan now, and I'd be happy to point you in the right direction to get you started!

    First, you'll want to put together those big pieces of your vacation puzzle. I'd start by booking a place to stay and figuring out transportation. From there, you'll want to figure out what kind of tickets will be best. It sounds like you've already thought through some of this, so see? You're off to a perfect start! After that, I'd recommend thinking through your itinerary. What days do you want to visit the theme parks, and which parks on which days? The park hours calendar will be very helpful for that, but I'd also recommend checking out the calendar at touringplans.com, which provides hours 190 days out instead of 180, and estimates them even further out than that. While park hours are always subject to change, and I can't guarantee that any third party site's hours are completely accurate until Disney releases the official hours, it's a great place to start! Once you have a decent idea on where you'll be each day, you'll want to keep a couple of planning dates in mind. The first one is 180 days beforehand when your dining reservation planning window opens. You'll want to make a reservation for any Table-service meals you'd like to enjoy during your trip, and it sounds crazy, but some places fill up very quickly - even that far out! The other important planning window will be 30 days beforehand when you'll be able to make your FastPass+ selections. With the complimentary FastPass+ service, you'll be able to select three attractions or experiences per day to skip the standby line. And the really great news is that once you've enjoyed those three selections, you'll be able to use the handy dandy My Disney Experience mobile app or an in-park kiosk to make additional selections, one at a time!

    Let's see...lodging, transportation, tickets, dining, FastPass+... those are all the biggies! Of course, as your trip gets closer, you'll want to think through what you'll want to wear, souvenirs you'd like to look for, whether or not you'd like to purchase MagicBands, etc., but you've got lots of time to think through all of the details!

    Thanks so much for visiting us at the Disney Parks Moms Panel, Katie, and please feel free to come see us again any time you have a Disney-planning question! I hope that you and your family have a truly magical vacation next summer!

    Missy
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Meet the Panelist: Missy, Virginia

Hi!  I'm Missy, a homeschool mom originally from Indiana, but recently transplanted to Virginia.  With a husband and five kids, I understand what busy family life is all about and how important it is to get away and create magical moments with your loved ones.  I also believe planning is half the fun, so I'd be honored to help you plan your Walt Disney World Resort vacation! Learn More About Missy

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