Planning a Disney Vacation? Start Here

Planning a Disney Vacation? Start Here

If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani, or even a Disney Cruise you are in the right place! Here is everything you need to know from start to finish. Let’s get started.

Wondering how to plan a Disney Vacation? It can all seem a little overwhelming.  The first time my sister, Melanie, and I went to Walt Disney World together, it was a disaster. We had lists, backup plans, and everything booked, and in the end left absolutely no room for error, adjustments, or all those things that actually happen in real life. 

That said if this will be your first Disney Vacation you’re probably trying to troubleshoot everything. If it’s going to be your family’s Only Disney Vacation you will want it to be perfect. And If you haven’t visited in a couple of years and need to brush up on the rules around fast passes, magic bands, magical express, and the new My Disney Experience site and app, you’re probably feeling a little lost.

Hakuna Matata. We’re creating quick bite-sized posts about the basics, and sharing reviews of resorts and restaurants so you have everything you need to know about each park, cruise ship, and more. This post will get you started and we’ll keep adding content as it gets crafted. Ask questions if you got ’em. Let’s dive in.

Coronado Springs Resort

Hidden Mickeys at Walt Disney World

Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation

Whether you’re getting ready for your First Disney Vacation or just one of the many Disney Vacations you and your family take. Here’s our Quick List of the things you should check out during your planning or daydreaming process. Check out our Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Guide for all the details. 

Walt Disney World Vacation Planning has changed! As part of streamlining all things, Walt Disney World has introduced faster ways for people to enter the parks, plan their vacations, a new MagicBand, and altered transportation options. Here is a snapshot of everything to know before you go. And if you’re looking for the basics, like where to stay, eat and how to get everywhere, check out our How to Plan Your First Trip to Walt Disney World, complete with each step you need to complete. 

When to Visit Walt Disney World

While many people will be up against work, school, and family schedules, choosing WHEN to visit Walt Disney World is your first step. Consider what you’re hoping to do when you go. Are you planning on visiting an EPCOT festival? During Halloween or Christmas? Once you’ve decided which dates you will be visiting, then you can decide where to stay. Check out our Best Times to Visit Walt Disney World post for some ideas on when to visit. 

Where to Stay at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World has over 25 resorts covering its 40 square miles. As such, choosing the right resort is important. If you’re visiting Disney World for a festival, then staying at one of the Boardwalk Resorts is key to being within walking distance of EPCOT park. Though a Skyliner Resort will also get you easy transportation to EPCOT. Maybe you’re visiting Walt Disney World to spend time with princesses, and attend one of the parties at Magic Kingdom? If so, one of the Monorail Resorts, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge or Fort Wilderness Resort will get you close to Magic Kingdom and within easy transportation distance. Perhaps you’re heading to Galaxy’s edge for all things Star Wars, consider a Skyliner Resort, or the Swan and Dolphin Hotels to be within walking distance. And if your goal is Animal Kingdom, then Animal Kingdom Lodge gets you close to the park and extra time with animals on the savanna.

If you want to take it all in, and not attending for a certain event, then consider any of the Value Resorts or Moderate Resorts as your best bet. All have bus transportation to the parks and are budget-friendly. Perfect if you’re hoping to get there, and be in the parks all day. Choosing a Disney Resort also varies depending on your temperament, budget, and plans. Can you afford a Disney Deluxe Resort? If you’re just visiting with the kids, one of the Value Resorts, with fun Disney theming may be more your style. Be sure to check out our post on Disney World Hotels within Walking Distance of the Parks, if you’re looking for extra convenience. Browse all our Disney Resort Reviews to pick out where you want to stay. 

Where to Eat at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World has more than 200 restaurants covering parks, resorts, and Disney Springs. As such, choosing a Disney Restaurant may not be as easy as you think! Are you more into Chinese food or Italian? Or is a good burger more your thing? Perhaps you’re looking for Disney Restaurants with Characters? Whatever you’re searching for, there are some decisions for you to make before choosing where to eat. 

Are you looking for a Restaurant at a certain Disney World Park? If so, check out the Disney Restaurants at each park, on our park pages, below.

If looking for a dining reservation, guests can now reserve their preferred restaurants 60 days before the first day of their vacation. Restaurants can be reserved for the length of stay as soon as the reservation window opens. Try to reserve the most hard-to-get restaurants, like Be Our Guest, and Topolino Terrace first.

Which Disney Parks to Visit

Walt Disney World isn’t just one place. In fact, it’s made up of 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a shopping center and a boardwalk area. As a result, if you’re going to Walt Disney World for a week, then you may have time for the 4 parks, but little else. Check out the details about each park in the links below. We share the attractions, restaurants and Top 10 Things to Do at each park. 

Tickets for Walt Disney World 

Getting tickets for Walt Disney World doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, we always recommend just purchasing a Disney Vacation Package that has both resort stay and tickets included. You can do this by choosing your Disney Resort on the Disney Website and then adding tickets as you go through the booking process. Be sure to check out all the ways to Save Money at Walt Disney World to help you get the best price for your vacation. 

Transportation at Walt Disney World

2023 brings a whole new way to get to and from Walt Disney World. If arriving at the Orlando International Airport, you can book Mears Connect or Sunshine Flyer to transport you to Walt Disney World for a fee.  Alternatively, you can book a rental car, which will incur Disney Resort Parking Fees, or hire an Uber to get you to and from the resort, be prepared for this new expense. 

Within Walt Disney World, you can find complimentary Disney Transporation to all the parks, resorts, and Disney Springs. From ferry boats to the monorail to the Disney Skyliner, there is no shortage of ways to get around. 

MagicBand+

Every Disney Vacation includes getting a MagicBand or MagicBand+ as a way to scan into rides, parks, and your resort. The upgraded MagicBand+ is available with interactive components, including lights and vibrations to help you connect even more with the magic in the parks. Still, including all the MagicBand functionality you need, this new version will be available for purchase on shopDisney.com, in the parks, and at a discounted rate when purchasing a Disney Vacation package. shop MagicBands on shopDisney.com

disneyland disney park

Planning a Disneyland Vacation

Peruse our Disneyland Vacation Page for Anaheim Hotel reviews, Disneyland Park Tips, California Adventure news, restaurant reviews, and all you know about Disneyland during the holidays! 

Guide to Planning a Disneyland Vacation

Disney Dream Disney Cruise Line

Planning a Disney Cruise

Grab this quick guide on How to Plan a Disney Cruise. We’ve gathered information on the Disney Caribbean Cruise to Nassau, Bahamas, Halloween on the High Seas, a Very Merrytime Christmas Cruise, and Alaska. Plus tips for your first Disney Cruise, how to stay on budget, and extra ways to make it special! 

Guide to Planning a Disney Cruise Vacation

aulani dining, makahiki dining, disney aulani dining, disney aulani restaurant, disney aulani food, disney aulani buffet, aulani buffet, character dining aulani

Planning a Disney Aulani Resort Vacation

We’ve got budget tips, planning tips, and how to make the most of it with teens! Plus a 5 Stop Road Trip so you can explore the island. Check out all our Disney Aulani Vacation Tips

Guide to Planning a Disney Aulani Vacation

Eizarding World of Harry Potter Vacation

Planning a Wizarding World of Harry Potter Vacation

Skip a day at Disney and head to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios! We’ll show you how to do it on a budget and smash it in one day so you can save money and time! 

Guide to Planning a Wizarding World of Harry Potter Vacation

 

1. Join our Disney Vacation Blog and Shop newsletter.

Sign up here for a Friday newsletter.

We’ll share reviews, our latest posts, our latest designs, and any fun news we see about Disney on the horizon. We’ll only send a newsletter once a week so if you’re hungry for more, just follow us on our socials- all lined up in the sidebar and at the top of this page.

 

2. Follow us on our Disney Travel Instagram

Disney Vacation Instagram @ polkadots_and_pixiedust

Need a little happiness in your feed? We’ll share Disney pics from our vacations and beautiful photography, so you can pick your favorites to visit next time you vacation.

 

3. Follow us on our Disney Shop Instagram

Disney Shop Instagram @polkadotpixieshop

Need Disney gear for your next Disney vacation? We release new designs all the time, so keep an eye on new stuff on our Shop Instagram. Follow for giveaways, insider info and more.

 

4. Follow us on Pinterest

Find us on Pinterest @polkadotpixies

Start pinning all your favorite restaurants, resorts, attractions, events, and Disney outfits. We pin it all on our Pinterest page.

 

5. Check out our Disney Apparel and Accessories

Find us on Polka Dot Pixie Shop or visit us on Etsy. We love designing stuff. Designs are switched out regularly and sometimes limited. We can also do light customization if you’re searching for family shirts with a year and the family name just let us know.

 

6. Planning a Trip to Walt Disney World?

Check out our 12-step guide to Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation. You can also check all our sections on the blog for resorts, festivals, and restaurants.  If you have questions, just send us an email.

 

7. Planning a Trip to Disneyland?

Peruse our Disneyland Vacation Page for Anaheim Hotel reviews, Disneyland Park Tips, California Adventure news, restaurant reviews, and all you know about Disneyland during the holidays! 

 

8. Going on a Disney Cruise

Check out our posts on Disney Cruising so far. We’ve gathered information on the Disney Caribbean Cruise to Nassau, Bahamas, Halloween on the High Seas, a Very Merrytime Christmas Cruise, and Alaska. Plus tips for your first Disney Cruise, how to stay on budget and extra ways to make it special! 

 

9. Heading to Disney Aulani in Oahu Hawaii?

We’ve got budget tips, planning tips, and how to make the most of it with teens! Plus a 5 Stop Road Trip so you can explore the island. Check out all our Disney Aulani Vacation Tips

 

10. Want to Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter During Your Vacation?

Skip a day at Disney and head to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios! We’ll show you how to do it on a budget and smash it in one day so you can save money and time!