Planning Your Trip to Walt Disney World
Congratulations! You’re going to Walt Disney World in sunny central Florida, one of the world’s largest and most popular vacation destination.
Planning is the key to making the most of your time and budget and to enjoying this wonderful World of theme parks, shopping, entertainment, water parks, hotels, and much more. But planning a trip to Walt Disney World has never been more complicated and difficult than it is now.
AllEars.Net is here to help you plan your trip by posing the first essential questions: When should I go? Where should I stay? What tickets should I buy? And the biggie: How much will it cost?
These are not simple questions, and there’s no single answer for everyone. But with our guidance below, we’ll help you answer these questions for you.
In each section below and in the column on the left, there are links to areas on this site that will provide you with additional information to help you make informed decisions about your vacation. And don’t forget to subscribe to AllEars®, our free weekly newsletter about Walt Disney World, which brings Disney news, fun content, and additional tips. Click HERE to subscribe to AllEars® now!
AllEars TV is another incredible source. Our YouTube channel provides information on planning, maximizing your resources, saving money, and more — plus we’ve got ride videos, trivia, and park challenges. It’s fun and it’s informative — win/win! Click HERE to check out AllEars TV!
All right — let’s get into it! Here’s Planning Your Trip to Walt Disney World!
Ideally, you want to go when the weather is moderate and the crowds are low. Unfortunately between vacation schedules and school-age kids, your options might be limited. Plus, anecdotally speaking, it often feels to guests there are fewer and fewer “off-peak” times these days.
Because Disney World now uses date-based pricing for tickets, those can be a guide to which days, weeks, or months are expected to be less crowded (and therefore priced lower) than others. For 2020, dates in January, February, late-August, and September are cheaper and thus expected to have lower crowds.
In addition to the natural ebb and flow of guests due to weather and school vacation schedules, there are special annual events at Walt Disney World that can add to your vacation experience (though crowds may be increased as well). Special events include Epcot’s four festivals, After Hours experiences, and holiday parties.
Take a look at our Calendar of Events, and don’t forget that busier times of the year will have extended Park Operating Hours, so while it may be slower going with crowds during the day, if you’re a night owl, the busier seasons might actually work really well for you.
Calendar of Events Highlights
Special times of the year are in mid-January through late-February (Epcot International Festival of the Arts), mid-March through May (Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival), late-August to mid-November (Epcot International Food and Wine Festival), and mid-November through New Year’s (Epcot International Festival of the Holidays and holiday decor in all four parks).
In addition, there are two special ticket parties at the Magic Kingdom — Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (various dates mid-August through early-November) and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (November – December).
Where to stay at Walt Disney World (or nearby) is a major decision. Walt Disney World has over 30 on-site Resort hotels to fit most budgets, and they offer special perks to their guests (Extra Magic Hours in the parks and complimentary Disney Transportation).
Staying offsite is likely to cost less, but then you’ll probably want a rental car off-site transportation is sometimes less frequent and less reliable). The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin offer AllEars.net readers special discounts! Click here to see what’s available now!
There are advantages and disadvantages to staying on-site and off-site — only you can decide for yourself which works best for you!
Here are a few of our pages that might help you with your decision:
Disney offers a wide range of ticket options from which to choose, from one-day/one-park admissions ticket to a Platinum Plus Annual Pass that will get you into all the theme parks, water parks, ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, and Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course — and every kind of ticket in between!
The ticket structure “rewards” longer stays with a greatly reduced prices for 7+ day tickets. Read through the Ticket FAQ and decide which is best for you.
If you think you may return to Disney multiple times in a year, consider an Annual Pass. By purchasing the Annual Pass, you can return to Walt Disney World over and over and not have to pay for admission tickets each time. Take a look at our analysis of when it makes more sense to buy an Annual Pass over other types of tickets. Sometimes discounted hotel rates are also offered to Annual Passholders and Florida Residents.
Your Walt Disney World vacation is going to be an expensive trip, no doubt about it. There are ways to minimize the cost if you’re willing to do some work. Your major costs will be Transportation, Tickets, Resort Lodging, and Food. Planning ahead by using the information here can save you some money or at least give you an idea of what the trip might cost:
Driving at Walt Disney World has some drawbacks, but so does waiting for Disney transportation or needing to hire a rideshare or taxi to travel off-site. Then again, relying on Disney means you don’t have to shell out for parking (Resort or Park) or rentals. You can read more pros and cons and other advice here:
You can travel to Walt Disney World as a family, as a couple, as seniors, with friends, and even alone! When traveling as a family there are a number of considerations depending on the age(s) of your child(ren).
Empty Nesters addresses issues for guests traveling without children!
The Cast Members at Walt Disney World know that travelers may have special needs and they do their best to be accommodating. Knowing the ins and outs of how the “system” works ahead of time will make your vacation more relaxing and pleasurable. This section addresses those with special physical requirements, including large-sized guests, as well as those with special dietary considerations.
Visit our Special Needs pages. Here’s just a sample of what’s included:
WDW at Large for those who know one size does not always fit all!
Also read about PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, written for those who face special challenges.
Be sure to check out our searchable TIPS database, chock full of hundreds of ideas and tips to make your vacation a magical one!
Other planning tips and hints you might find helpful: