Walt Disney World Vacation Checklist

Walt Disney World Vacation Checklist

When we talk about planning a Disney World vacation, there are all sorts of things to tackle. From choosing your resort, to making reservations at restaurants, and deciding what to do in each park. Luckily, after 14 straight years of visiting, we’ve pulled together a fantastic Disney World Vacation Checklist so that you can go prepared. If you’re looking for a Printable Disney Checklist for all your vacation planning needs, a timeline for what needs to be done when and packing lists, you can find it here. 

Mickey and Minnie at Animal Kingdom

Disney World Trip Checklist

Need a Plan My Disney Trip Checklist? We’ve got you covered with a Disney World Vacation Checklist that’s simple, easy and fun. For starters get familiar with the Disney Planning Timeline, so you can track things you need to do as you plan. Here is the Quick Rundown of what you need to do when. 

  • Up to 16 Months Before: Room Only Reservations: Up to 16 months in advance of your booking date
  • Up to 16 Months Before: Vacation Package Reservations: Up to 16 months in advance of your booking date
  • Up to 16 Months Before: Ticket Only Orders: Up to 16 months in advance of your booking date
  • 60 Days Before: Dining Reservations: 60 days in advance of your dining date
  • 60 Days Before: Online Check-In: 60 days in advance of your booking date
  • 45 Days Before: Book Your Flight or Rental Car: 45 days in advance of your booking date
  • 30 Days Before: Final Payment for your Disney Vacation Package: Due 30 days in advance of your booking date
  • At Least 12 Days Before: Order Pre-Arrival MagicBands: At least 11 days in advance of your booking date
  • At Least 7 Days Before: Book Your Airport Disney Transportation:  At least 7 days in advance of your booking date

disney experience accounts

Before You Plan Your Trip to Disney World

A Disney World Vacation Checklist can be long and complex. As as result, you’ll have several things to do at each step! But don’t get overwhelmed. Just go through the list one task at a time. This is definitely more of a Disney Trip Checklist than it is a planning post. If you’re looking for all the details, check out our Planning a Disney Vacation 12 Steps for all the details. 

Set Up a Disney Account

You have a Disney Account if you’ve ever shopped on shopDisney.com, taken a Disney Cruise, or are a Disney+ Plus subscriber. If so, then you can use that Disney Account to sign into the Walt Disney World Website. If not, create a Disney account to get started. 

Download The My Disney Experience App

The main app for Walt Disney World is called the My Disney Experience App. This App allows you to see resort times, ride wait times, bus arrival times, dining reservations, tickets, showtimes and much much more! Be sure to Download the My Disney Experience App on your phone, so that you can see all your plans in the app once your vacation is booked. 

Add Friends and Family on the Disney App

If you’re traveling with other adults, then chances are they have their own Disney accounts, or should, as well as their own profiles. By connecting everything in the app ahead of time, you can easily add friends and family to your dining reservations, Genie+ plans, and Virtual Queue Boarding Passes. This is a SUPER IMPORTANT step. Be sure to add all travelers in your party to your Friends and Family list. Children under 18 can simply stay on their parents account. 

Orange Bird sunshine Tree Terrace

Plan Your Trip to Disney World

A major part of the Walt Disney World Vacation Checklist is the actual planning of your vacation. This part of the Disney Trip Checklist includes the most critical parts of your vacation. Luckily, each of these steps is fairly easy and just requires some decision making. If you’re planning your Disney Trip months in advance you’re already ahead of the game. And are sure to have the most magical Disney Vacation. 

Set a Budget

A Disney Vacation Budget isn’t hard to set, but it does tend to be the scariest part for many. Typically about $6000 for 4 people for 1 week, your Disney Budget is affected by A LOT of things. The cost of a Disney World Trip includes a vacation package which consists of lodging, tickets, and food. To help you get a handle on what your amounts may look like check out our 15 Tips to Stick to a Disney Vacation Budget post and our Disney Dining Budget so you know what to expect before you put your numbers on paper. 

Choose Your Travel Dates

Another thing that can drastically affect your Disney Budget, are the dates for your vacation. If you’re budget is tight, be sure to check out our Cheapest Times to Visit Disney World. With a variety of dates scattered throughout the year that are somewhat cheaper than other times, if you’re looking for the lowest cost travel of the entire year, then January and September are the best months to visit Disney World. 

If those months don’t work for you, check out the Best Time to Visit Disney World post for tips on the Best Days to Visit Disney Parks, and when you can find the lowest crowds at Disney World. Hopefully these posts can help you nail down a set of travel dates that work for you. 

Know that Summer is Disney World’s busiest time. As such, if you’re looking for the least busy days at Disney World and the cheapest time to visit, we recommend avoiding the May through mid-August times if you can. 

Make Vacation Reservations

Once you’ve figured out your budget, and which dates you will be traveling, you can hop on the Walt Disney World Website to start seeing which resorts, tickets, and/ or vacation packages may work for you. A Disney Vacation includes 2 Types of booking options. A Disney Vacation Package that includes a resort and park tickets. Or a Room Only Reservation that only includes a Room. Generally, we like the Disney Vacation Package best, as it tends to be overall more budget friendly. But if you’re staying off site at Disney World, a Tickets package may be your only option. And truthfully, there are many Orlando hotels within walking distance of Disney Springs that can save you money, and still get you close to the action.

  • Room Only Reservations: Up to 16 months in advance of your booking date
  • Vacation Package Reservations: Up to 16 months in advance of your booking date

Purchase Park Tickets

If Disney World park tickets are not included in your Vacation Package, then plan to purchase these separately. You can grab Disney Tickets on the Disney Website, OR at a Discount Disney Ticket Retailer like Get Away Today. Park Tickets at Disney World are set a variable rate, which means, depending on when you visit, the cost of the tickets will change. Therefore, we typically recommend avoiding the busy seasons if you can. 

  • Ticket Only Orders: Up to 16 months in advance of your booking date

Potstickers atTambu Lounge Disney's Polynesian Resort

Add the Disney Dining Plan ( Or Not)

If you’re in the midst of booking a Disney Vacation Package, know that you can ADD a Disney Dining Plan to the package prior to checkout. As such you’ll want to review the Disney Dining Plans Guide to see which are available and if you have the option to get your Disney Dining Plan for FREE

Book Special Experiences and Enchanting Extras

One of the BEST parts of any Disney Vacation are the special experiences. Whether you’re planning a Disney World Tour, like the Behind the Seeds Tour at EPCOT, or the Happily Ever After Fireworks Dessert Party, or the Candlelight Processional Dining Package, there are plenty of ways to make your trip extra special. This would also include all of your Disney After Hours Tickets as well as Magic Kingdom Party tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. 

ALL of these special experiences cost extra and are not included in your park ticket. As such, you’ll want to book these ahead of time, when you plan your  vacation. You can find the full list of Enchanting Extras at Disney World to add to your vacation plans. 

Make Dining Reservations

Disney Dining Reservations can be made 60 days in advance for all types of dining. So whether you’re just booking Disney Dining Reservations or planning on a Disney Character Dining experience, the 60 day mark is your goal. 

  • Dining Reservations: 60 days in advance of your dining date

If you’re added the Disney Dining Plan to your Vacation package, be sure to read through the Disney Dining Plans Guide for all the options of which restaurants are included and how to use Disney Dining Credits. And if you’re struggling to find Disney Restaurants with availability check out our Tips for Making Last Minute Disney Dining Reservations.

Haunted Mansion Magic Kingdom

Plan Your Itinerary

Planning Your Disney Day Itinerary is by far the MOST FUN thing on this list! In fact we’ve even created fill-in printable Disney planners to help you tackle this step. But if you’re looking to figure it out on your own, never fear, there are plenty of Disney Vacation tips on this blog for what to do each day in the parks at Disney World. Check out the Disney Parks Checklist of Things to Do in Each Park for rides, restaurants, games and shows to add to your list. 

As always check out the day by day Disney World Calendar and the Disney World Calendar of Events, so that you can see what is happening during your vacation dates. 

Mears Connect

After Booking Your Vacation

Once you’ve booked your Disney Vacation, planning the rest of your travel needs is essential. From booking your flights to transportation options, to making a final payment, here are all the things you should do AFTER you’ve booked your vacation.

Arrange Transportation to Disney World

Traveling to Walt Disney World may be half the battle, depending on where you live. If you’re Driving to Disney World, then be sure to check out all the details on Disney Parking Fees, so you can add them to your Disney Budget above. And if you’re flying to Walt Disney World you’ll have to accommodate for travel to and from the airport, as well as things like luggage fees, seat charges, and travel insurance. Booking flights at the 45 day mark often includes the cheapest airfare prices.

We generally aim for flying Spirit Airlines for the cheapest flight, but be forewarned, the Orlando International Airport Spirit lines are horrible. As a result, we always recommend you take a carry-on bag, instead of a checked bag so that you can stay out of long lines. Our second choice is Southwest Airlines, which offers the seats included in the flight costs, and 2 free bags per person. Whichever you choose, you can check out hopper.com for the best deals, and add your flight to a Google Flights alert to grab the best price when you’re ready. 

  • Book Your Flight or Rental Car: 45 days in advance of your booking date

Arrange Local Disney World Transportation

Another TO DO on the Walt Disney World Vacation Checklist is planning your transportation to and from the airport. this could be as easy as just budgeting for an uber or lyft ride once you arrive at the airport. If you go this route, know that uber costs are highest when planes land. As such, you could see rates for a 45 minute drive from MCO to WDW at about $60 dollars for one way. Alternatively you could book the Disney Shuttle from the Airport offered by Mears, which is about $15 per person and offers a coach bus service. There are pros and cons to both options. Be sure to rea the posts we share here to choose your best choice. 

  • Book Your Airport Transportation:  At least 7 days in advance of your booking date

Pay for Your Vacation

In addition to your Vacation deposit, you will have to pay the rest of your Disney Vacation Package balance 30 days in advance of your travel date. As a result, if you’re paying this in increments, it’s helpful to split up your balance into savings amounts throughout your planning process. To help with saving for your Disney Vacation we highly recommend using Discounted Disney Gift Cards or the Disney Visa Rewards Credit Card to get the best deals. 

  • Final Payment for your Disney Vacation Package: Due 30 days in advance of your booking date

Pre-Order Disney’s Memory Maker PhotoPass Service

If you’re hoping to have photos taken at Disney World, grab the Disney PhotoPass service. Memory Maker allows you to download all your favorite photos from the ride snapshots, and all the photos taken across the parks. So whether you’re standing in front of the castle or screaming on TRON, grabbing the Memory Maker for your Disney Vacation is a great way to capture the memories! 

Disney World Planning Changes in 2022

Order Pre-Arrival MagicBands

If you’re visiting Walt Disney World we highly, highly recommend you get a MagicBand+ for each person in your travel party. For adults who have their own accounts, they can access the “Order MagicBands” screen through the My Disney Experience App. If you’re child is included on your account you can add MagicBands for each of them as well. 

  • Order Pre-Arrival MagicBands: At least 12 days in advance of your booking date

Magic Bands come in a variety of colors, and are at a discount, when you book a Disney Vacation Package and purchase through the website or app. Since MagicBands can scan you into your Disney Resort room, onto rides for which you’ve selected Lightning Lane, and includes your park tickets, to help you scan in at the park gates. 

Check In Online

Checking in for your Disney Resort online, which you can do in the My Disney Experience App, is easy, and can be done 60 days in advance of your date. Additionally, by having your resort information in the app, you are able to check your room number, and when it’s available on your Disney World Check-In Day

  • Online Check-In: 60 days in advance of your booking date

Check Travel Documents

As you wrap up the main things on this Walt Disney World Vacation Checklist, you’ll want to double check your travel documents. Including your flight information, resort information, local transportation, parking, and WDW transportation as well. You can also check your TSA precheck, or preboarding info, and any other plans that involve other people to ensure a smooth trip. 

packing for disney aulani, disney aulani, what to pack disney aulani

Packing for Disney World

In this post we’re sharing a Disney World Checklist with everything you need for the trip. But, we also have a Free Printable Disney Packing List for everything you need to bring. Check out our Disney World Packing List Printable and our Disney World Winter Packing List  for all the packing essentials. Things like sunscreen, medications, snacks, phone charges, sunglasses, and good walking shoes for Disney are all a must! Check out all our Disney Packing Lists to make sure you bring everything you need. 

Check the Florida Weather

Florida weather is varied. Depending on when you visit you’ll see a range of temperatures not only throughout the year but the day also. As such, being prepared for Florida weather is a must. If you’re traveling during the winter months, temperatures can drop down to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. And if you’re traveling between March and September, you can expect temperatures as high the 90’s, with an even higher heat index. Add in the Hurricane Season at Disney World, and you can expect intermittent rains from June through November. Luckily, we have packable rain jackets for that.  

disney parks bag

Create a Disney Park Bag

If you’re traveling to Walt Disney World it’s important to pack a Disney Day Bag for yourself and your family. This bag should include your phone, wallet, water bottle, camera, hand sanitizer, etc. Everything you will need throughout the day. Check out the 10 Things On Your Disney Park Bag Packing List that you should bring. And remember that while Disney World does have lockers, it’s best to bring a small bag, that you can carry all day, and that will fit at your feet when you’re riding rides. 

Charge Electronics

Often a forgotten step in the Disney World Vacation Checklist is charging your technology and electronics. Ensure all your devices, like battery packs, phones and cameras, are fully charged. Even better be sure to charge your FuelRod as well, so that you have a battery back up. Also often forgotten are the charging cords, and plug blocks needed for the usb cord devices. Check out these Disney Shopping Lists for the best battery packs and charging needs.  

Download Playlists and Shows on Your Device

One of our favorite parts of planning a Disney Vacation is making the travel parts extra fun. So, we always make sure to have our favorite Disney Playlists and Disney shows downloaded for the plane, and bus trips. Since many places during your travels may be without accessible wi-fi networks, you can, it’s best to be prepared. We also love having our favorite shows ready for when we need downtime during vacation. 

Buy Disney Travel Essentials

We’ve rounded up Things to Buy Before You Go To Disney items to help you get started. But you can also head to Amazon for things like ponchos, packing cubes, battery packs, sunscreen, and good shoes. Check out the Disney Shopping Lists to browse ahead of time. 

Medications and First Aid

If you’ve visited Disney World before you know that everything costs more there. Whether you’re finding it in the gift shops or in the parks, things like sunscreen, medicine, Band-Aids, and even tampons all cost more! Save some money by buying these things ahead of time. Pack any necessary medications, pain relievers, and a basic first-aid kit just in case. 

Meal and Snack Planning

Even if you have the Disney Dining Plan, and meals already planned, chances are you will need snacks. From granola bars, to protein bars, or small packs of graham crackers, early mornings, late nights and long days are imminent. Add in wait times at the airport, at the bus stop and even in ride lines, and you’ll be glad you brought a few things to eat in your Disney Park Bag. Having some snacks on hand is a great way to Save money at Disney World.

Festival of fantasy parade at magic kingdom

Before You Leave Home

After you’ve taken care of booking your vacation, printing out the free printable Disney packing list, and getting everything linked in the My Disney Experience App, there are still more things to take care of before you can leave for vacation. Here’s the lineup of things to do before vacation. 

Place Mail Hold

Placing a Mail Hold is absolutely necessary if you’re gone through the week, and away for more than 3 days. You can Request a Mail Hold on the USPS website. And are able to request a hold up to 30 Days in Advance of your trip. This means your mail carrier will simply accumulate mail and packages that can be delivered when you return, or picked up at the post office. 

If you have packages coming from UPS or FedEx, they too have the services that allow you to place a hold on your mail, or have it delivered to an office to await pickup. 

Pay the Bills Before You Leave

Ahhh, bills. If you haven’t already, now is a great to set up automatic payments on the bills that matter. Electric, Gas, Rent/ Mortgage, etc. may have due dates that come up while you’re away. As such, be sure to schedule payments before you leave. Additionally, check credit card due dates so you don’t miss them. If you’re planning to be away from some time, you can also double check streaming subscriptions, to make sure you’re not paying for something you’re not using. 

Clear out Perishables in Your Fridge

When planning for vacation, we typically start working through all the perishables in the fridge the week before we leave. Making sure that the foods that remain will still be good once we return. Be sure to get rid of, or eat though, any fruits, vegetables, greens, and milks. You can freeze cheeses, meats and breads to use later. 

Take Care of the Pets and Plants

If you have pets, now is a good time to plan for pet sitting or a boarding kennel. And plants should be watered just before you leave. If you have extra fussy plants, you can ask a friend to pop in to do the watering while you’re away. 

Leave the Light On

A great security measure is to leave your front porch or garage light on in the evenings. If you have a backyard light, you can leave that on too. It deters anyone from getting to close to your home, and ensures a higher level of security. 

Double Check Your Documents

As you’re preparing for packing for your trip be sure to Recheck your identification, tickets, reservations, and make sure you have everything you need.

packing for a quick trip, quick trip to disney, weekend disney trip

Pack Luggage

Time to Pack! Once you have all the things you need from your packing lists, and the stuff you needed to buy, you are ready to pack! 

  • An Airplane/ Travel Bag: This bag should have an extra set of clothes, if needed, all your tech, and charging items, and snacks. Travel bags should also include something fun to do; a book, game, ipad, etc. 
  • Luggage: Whether you’re carrying on the luggage or checking your bags, your luggage should be free of batteries or any electronic equipment. 
  • Disney Park Bag: A Disney Day Bag is needed for your days in the parks. However, you may need these same things in your travel bag. As a result we typically recommend just packing the park bag itself, so you can transfer any thing you need into it, prior to your first park day. 

Arrange for Local Transportation To and From Home

Parking at your local airport only makes sense when you’re a long distance from the airport, or if you’re traveling for a short period of time. Otherwise, airport parking can get pricey! Be sure to check rates and daily limits on your airport website. It may be best to Uber/ Lyft to the airport if you live closer and are traveling during daytime hours. Whatever your choice, be sure to add this to your Disney budget and planning so that you’re ready when the day comes! 

Stay Flexible and Travel Safe!

While you will need to do everything on this list, perhaps the most important things we can share is to stay flexible! If you’ve done your planning then you should be golden. But, it’s not always easy to plan for everything. As such, Be prepared for changes in your plans, and remember to relax. Disney World is fun no matter when you go, how much it costs, or how you get there.

 

Disney World Checklist Travel listDisney World Vacation Checklist

Hopefully this Disney World Vacation Checklist has been helpful!  We hope you have the best vacation! You grab this Printable Disney World Vacation Checklist to so you can mark things done as you go!  

Walt Disney World Travel Checklist Printable

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.