The time it takes to plan a Disney World trip is often a surprise to many first-timers. It is a more than a little strange to have to think about what you’re going to eat 6+ months ahead of time.
Today, I have an ideal Disney World planning timeline and what to do if you’re short on time.
I also have a quick tip to increase your chances of getting a FastPass+ to meet Anna and Elsa.
These are notes from this episode. There’s much more info included in the audio so be sure to listen to the episode for a better explanation.
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Ideal trip planning timeline
- More than 6 months beforehand – pick dates, book hotel, make a daily plan and make dining choices
- 180 days beforehand – make dining reservations
- 2-4 months beforehand – book flights
- 60 days beforehand (if staying on-site) – make FastPass+ reservations and check in to hotel online
- 30 days beforehand
- if staying off-site – make FastPass+ reservations
- if staying on-site – make sure Magical Express reservations are made
- everybody – order groceries, pre-order Memory Maker
- Within 45 days after your trip – finalize PhotoPass pics and download Memory Maker pics
Short-on-time planning timeline
- ASAP – pick dates, book hotel, identify high priority dining
- Book dining – stay flexible on times and consider alternatives if you can’t get your first choices. Want to eat at Be Our Guest? Read my info to increase your chances.
- Plan your days based on where your dining reservations are going to be
- Get FastPass+ reservations and plan to show up early for anything you can’t get a FP+ for
Graphic as a reference
Feel free to save or pin this graphic to use as a reference.
Quick tip of the day
People who are staying on-site and trying to get a FastPass+ to meet Anna and Elsa should log on at
midnight eastern time (Updated May 19, 2016: it’s now 7 a.m. eastern time) 60 days before their trip begins and book a FastPass+ for Anna and Elsa first, before booking the other days of your trip.
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Any thoughts or questions about the trip planning timeline? Feel free to leave those in the comments.
- 2023 Disneyland Packages Now Available To Book
- Disney Dining Plan returns January 2024 (plus park reservations ending for date-based tickets)
- Fantasmic Returns to Hollywood Studios November 3
- Park Hopping Changes & More Coming to Disney World & Disneyland
- ‘Ohana Character Dining Returning to Walt Disney World, Plus More
- Erin C.’s trip with two little ones to Disney World– PREP 358 - May 23, 2023
- What is the best way to get from MCO to WDW? - May 16, 2023
- Competing at The Summit and a Disney World vacation with Misty O – PREP 357 - May 16, 2023
Thursday 8th of October 2015
Shannon. I don't understand why you say to check in online to our Disney resort 60 days ahead of time. Why is it necessary to do this? Won't we still need to check in when we get to the hotel? Please let me know the benefits to this. Thanks!
Wednesday 30th of July 2014
Hi Shannon, Thanks for the great tips! Just wanted to let you know that even though I was online at midnight on the 61st day before our trip, I was unable to get a Fastpass+ for Anna and Elsa! And this is for a day with quite low crowds- Sept 8 or 9th! I was a little disappointed, but I don't think we will have too long of a standby wait if we are there at park opening.
Tuesday 29th of July 2014
87 days to go! Our fast pass window is coming up soon and I want to know if it works like dining reservations. With dining you can book out 10 days if you are staying on site, does the same apply for fast pass? We don't plan to book the fast pass for Anna and Else until 6th day into our trip, can I book this on the 60th day before our trip?
Monday 28th of July 2014
Thanks for all the great tips! Last fall we planned a trip in 2 weeks (literally. My husband came home one day and said "I have some leave to take. What do you say we go to Disney?") and I found your site then. Planning that short is clearly not ideal, but we were lucky in that 1) We have family in Orlando and know a hotel manager so where to stay wasn't a problem; 2) we went in September and it was practically dead in the park. I recommend that time of year to everyone now, esp if you don't have school-aged kids and need to worry about them missing days; 3) my husband is an Orlando native and has been to Disney plenty of times and used to work for them so knows their restaurants well. Since there was no one there and we were flexible, we were able to get a character dining meal and a reservation for us the two of us at Jiko. You *can* plan Disney on the fly, you just have to be super flexible and try to go when the crowds are low so you can see what you want see. This time around we started planning like 9 months in advance, and while I feel more prepared it seems like the trip is taking FOREVER to get here. We are going in Jan, staying at BLT, just got to make our dining reservations, and are studying all your FP+ recommendations and counting down til we get to make them! Love your site and your FB chats. I've already started collecting things for Tinkerbell gifts, so even though you claim it can save money I assure you, in my case it does not. Haha.
Sunday 27th of July 2014
Thanks much for all your great tips and all the information. It seems I have been on your site everyday since finding it a few months ago. I have been doing pretty well with all my planning and made several reservations and working on other daily plans. I heard you mention something in the podcast that the fastpass+ can be done when the reservation was paid? Is that correct? I have a package through AAA and have been making payments with the last due 9/23 to Disney, 9/20 to AAA. However, my fastpass+ start date is 9/15. Does that mean I have to make my last payment prior to doing fastpass choice? Just wonder if you can confirm that is correct. Thanks.
Sunday 27th of July 2014
No, no, although that's a common misconception. You just have to make sure you have park tickets in your account and if you have a package already booked, you'll be fine.