How to plan a Disney World trip (6 step process)

(Last updated: January 22, 2018)

Planning a Disney World trip is overwhelming at first. Here's some info with the steps on how to plan a Disney World trip to help you get started.

Video: how to plan a trip to Disney World

Check out this video for an overview of the WDW Prep 6 step planning process.

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Infographic: how to plan a Disney World trip

Walt Disney Trip INFOGRAPHICv5 - How to plan a Disney World trip (6 step process)

Disney World planning steps

Step 1: Choose your dates

⇢ Disney World crowd calendar -

Step 2: Pick where to stay

⇢ Pros and cons of all Disney World resorts -

Step 3: Make a daily plan

⇢ Use the monthly dashboards to pick best parks for each day of your trip -

Step 4: Make dining choices

⇢ Disney Dining Plan info -

Step 5: Plan park touring

⇢ Touring plans for all 4 parks -

Step 6: Add extra magic

⇢ Lots of extra magic ideas here -

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Hi Shannon – awesome work, thanks for sharing. Quick question, I am planning a trip to DW in October this year, but only for 2 days. Which parks do you advise us seeing the best as obviously we won’t get to them all. We are a family of 5, 2 adults and 3 children in the teens, however I’m thinking that 2 days on rides everyone will have had enough. Any suggestions to last the days? Thanks Tania

Angela Cooper

I’m planning a 4 day trip October 9-12 (Columbus Day weekend) and only want to stay on-site for 2 days. Would it be better to stay on-site Fri/Sat or Sun/Mon? Any advice is appreciated!

Andrea Thompson

weekeend rates will be slightly higher than weekday rates. Crowd levels in the park will also be higher on the weekends as well.

Hello. I am looking for some answers & you look like the place to get them! (I pulled this from the FB post I left on your page… I thought maybe it would be less messy to post any answers here.) I am currently planning our EPIC 2018 family vacation to WDW. It will be our first time going and probably the only time for my husband & I. We are a “Disneyland Family” with 2 adult kids (and the fiance of one of them) that grew up in So Cal and goes every year to DLR, so we are… Read more »


Sandi- 1. Nope, you don’t have to have your trip paid for in full yet in order to make your dining or fast pass reservations! 2. There is only a $200 deposit required to book your Disney package. You can pay chunks whenever you want, and then the balance is due I believe around 6 weeks your trip. We are preparing for our second trip! You can only book for the current year, until the following year’s rates are released (usually in the summer) and then you can book for the following year as well. Basically, it’s currently May 7th… Read more »

Chris Geary

I see on your infographic 2015 calendar that “Jersey Week” falls on the second week of November. But on the “Best times to visit calendar” it is showing the first week. can you please clarify.

Shannon, so does the calendar on the infographic take the place of your previous 2015 crowd calendar?

Susan Walizer

Shanon, I used the tool just to see if my preferences matched your tool guide. It was right on. We always stay at POR and that is the resort that it suggested. Your website is awesome. I also printed off the packing list which was a great help to me last trip. We are going in November and I cannot wait. It will be our 7th time staying at POR. Thank you for all your wonderful tips and suggestions.

Christine N.

Thanks Shannon!!!!
This helps so much in our planning for May trip this year!!! So very excited to be there for the Flower and Garden Expo and the beginning of Star Wars Week, Woohoo!!!!!! Hoping it will be nice weather and light crowds like predicted!!!:)

Randi Guire

Great Job Shannon! Love this quick tool that is easy to the eye and gives a quick but helpful breakdown.


Wow, Shannon! Very nice!!


What’s a dessert party and how do you schedule one?

John Sheets

Now I am worried! We were originally scheduled to go April 19-25, but had to switch to 12-18 due to a scheduling conflict. This will be a first time visit for my kids 5 and 6. I was hoping that since this was a full week after Easter it would be a light crowd week. How bad do you think the crowds will be?

John Sheets

Oops! just looked at the calendar above instead of clicking the link… Looks like we’ll be ok. Sorry!


Is there another way to access the link that you provided for the calendars of extra hours and shows etc? It doesn’t seem to be working for me in that format. Thanks!


This looks awesome! And very helpful!


Can anyone tell me why the last week of August is light crowds but then September moderate??

Anna Senn

Looks AMAZING!! I am so impressed!

Greg Nevius

Very nicely done! A lot of information presented in a quick and easy format to digest.

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