Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation in 2023

Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation in 2023

Walt Disney World in 2023 may just be the best year to visit. While you can still expect high costs, and high crowds, construction projects will finally begin to complete. So, make way for new rides, new spaces, and even more to fill your Disney Vacation. With so much to consider we’re doing a round-up of everything that is happening and how you can go about planning your Disney Vacation in 2023. Whether this is your first Disney vacation, your only Disney vacation, or just making your annual trip. Here is everything to help you get the most out of your vacation to the most magical place on earth. 

Walt Disney World has seen tons of changes in the last couple of years. Not only with the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World wrapping up in March 2023, but also with a slew of new projects on the way. Thankfully, 2023 will see the completion of much of that work, revealing new rides, restaurants, and more. Also, 2023 is the 100th Anniversary of the Walt Disney Company sure to make its mark in the parks. Here’s everything to know before you go. 

How to Plan a Disney Vacation in 2023

It’s true that with all the vacation considerations like transportation, resorts, and when to visit that planning a Disney Vacation may begin to feel a little more like work than the magical experience you looked forward to. No worries. We have you covered. If you’re looking, we have a free 12-Step Disney Planning Guide for getting your Disney Vacation planned and booked. And if you’re not ready to do this on your own, be sure to work with a Disney Travel Agent.

EPCOT gardens Walt Disney World

Disney Vacation Planning Basics

Getting some basic questions out of the way first will help nail down your Disney Vacation Planning for 2023. And we’ll share some details along the way so you can make the best choices as you tackle this vacation planning project.

When do you want to Visit?

Choosing the right time to visit Walt Disney World can make or break your vacation. Take a look at our Disney Calendar of Events for 2023 to get a handle on the holidays and events that may be happening during your stay. Things like runDisney marathons, festivals, and holiday weekends can all interfere with the best-laid plans. So, as you’re figuring out work and school schedules, compare them against the calendar to see what may conflict with or support your Disney Vacation. Be sure to check out the Best Time to Visit Walt Disney World post. Then check the Park Pass Reservation system to see if your tentative dates have park availability. And if you’re hoping to be in the parks during a certain festival, party, or holiday, take a look at our Year of Walt Disney World Events to get a glimpse of happenings each month. 

Dsiney Flower and Garden Festival

How Long Will you Stay?

We always recommend staying on vacation as long as possible. Obviously. But since everyone has a “real life” to get back be sure to check out our post on How Many Days Should You Stay at Disney. This will give you a good idea of what you can fit into your vacation without feeling rushed. And give you some insight into what you may want to skip if you need a shorter vacation. We typically recommend about 7-12 days to really make the most of a Disney Vacation. 

How will you Get There?

Will you be driving or flying to Disney? Perhaps you are considering taking the train? We sometimes recommend driving to Disney, simply for convenience and safety. But if you’re comfortable flying during 2023, then you will need to consider airlines, the cost for each person, and additional transportation once you arrive in Orlando. Keep in mind that there are new ways to get from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World that will cost you. Including Sunshine Flyer and Mears Transportation Bus Service. 

Who is included in your Travel Party?

How many people are going with you on this vacation? Is this a Disney adult trip or a family trip? Will you have pets that need boarding during your stay? Think of things ahead of time. It will be important that each person in your party has a My Disney Experience account. Before you do anything else, take some time to get these set up if you have not already! 

Disney's Riviera Resort Walt Disney world

Do you have a particular Disney Resort in mind?

With over 25 resorts at Walt Disney World, at a variety of price levels, there are many places to stay on property at Walt Disney World. Are you looking for something fun that feels like Disney, as an All-Star Resort? Or something more relaxed and island-like like Caribbean Beach Resort? Perhaps you want glamourous accommodations at the Grand Floridian or animal viewing from your room at Animal Kingdom Lodge? Maybe you’re hoping for tons of ease and convenience and want a resort within walking distance of Hollywood Studios Park and EPCOT. Maybe check out the Boardwalk Inn? Think about which resort will make your Disney Vacation feel special. We recently stayed at the Walt Disney World Swan Reserve which is a wonderful Disney Resort for Adults, as it’s out of the way, just next to the BoardWalk. 

Disney Caribbean Beach Resort

Will you Want to be in the Parks Every Day of your Vacation?

If you’re looking to save some money at Disney consider exploring the parts of Walt Disney World that don’t include a park day. We love taking time to meander through the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds and stop by Wilderness Lodge for a coffee. Planning a Disney Monorail Resort day or Disney Boardwalk Resort day are also things we like to do regularly. Heading to Disney Springs and boating over for beignets at Port Orleans French Quarter gives you an insider’s look at all things Walt Disney World and can really make your trip feel more than just a checklist. Choosing this route for a typical 8-day vacation could easily have only 5 tickets allowing you a few days to be outside of the parks. Consider your Disney Arrival Day and Disney Departure Day as free days, without tickets, to just explore. 

Are you Adding a Park Hopper Ticket?

Do you need to be in more than one park per day? The Walt Disney World Park Hopper Ticket is an extra add-on ticket per length of your stay, so can get very pricey as an extra perk if you have several people in your travel party. The Park Hopper Ticket allows you access to more than one park per day and is an added convenience. As Walt Disney World is made up of 4 parks, this could allow you to spend your morning at one of them and your evening at another. We usually skip purchasing this ticket and plan for one park per day. There is so much to do in each Disney Park that it feels inopportune to leave halfway through the day.

However, if you’re trying for a short Disney trip and will not get all the parks in during your vacation, then this may be a ticket you consider.

Are you Adding a Water Park and Sports Ticket?

Walt Disney World has 2 water parks; Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. They are open year-round. If you are traveling during the extremely hot and humid summer months of Florida, then a water park ticket added for each person in your travel party may be a good idea. Just like any Disney park you can go and stay all day. If you are traveling in the Dec- February months, however, it does get a little chilly in Florida and a water park ticket may not be needed.

The Sports portion of this ticket also allows you access to the golf courses and is a great way to get a little bit of variety if you’re looking for a more complete leisurely vacation. The sports complex ticket gets you access to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course, and Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course.

Disney Flower and Garden Festival 2022

Are you adding Event and Party Tickets to your Vacation?

While the EPCOT festivals are FREE and included with your park tickets for the day, other events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are extra. For events like these, since special event tickets can often be as expensive as regular Disney tickets, we recommend skipping your day ticket on the day of your special event. This will save you some money and allow you time to explore Disney Resorts, Boardwalk, or Disney Springs.

What Are your Disney Restaurant Dining and Meal Plans?

One of the biggest expenses of a Disney Vacation in 2023 is food. Whether it’s the $10 breakfast and coffee, the $15 lunch, or the $40 dinner, something will catch you off guard when it comes to the cost of food. Disney snacks alone can be close to 8 dollars, and you have to consider that’s just for 1 person. Check out our Disney Dining Budget post for details on how to budget your Disney food expenses. We typically say plan for between 70-100 dollars per person per day. But of course, check out the dining budget post for alternative things like packing meals or sticking with only Disney quick-service meals

Will the Disney Dining Plan be Available in 2023?

While we tend to have a love/hate relationship with Disney Dining Plans, the loss of these has had us mourning the loss. An easy way to pay for your Disney food ahead of time, the Disney Dining Plan may return to Walt Disney World in 2023. Frankly, we always feel like just paying for food as you go is cheaper and easier, BUT, we absolutely adore that on the Disney Dining Plan we can often frequent restaurants we may not have considered due to the cost. Be sure to plan a Disney Dining Budget to help you put aside the sticker shock of meals throughout your vacation. 

What is your Maximum Disney Budget?

A big thing to consider is your overall Disney Budget. Whether you are going into your planning with a maximum number you can’t go over OR just a general idea of costs you can stomach here are a couple of things to know.

Disney Boardwalk Resorts at Walt Disney World

Booking a Disney Vacation in 2023

If you’re looking at this list and wondering where to start, grab our printable Disney Deluxe Planner for a fill-in template that will get all your thoughts and ideas in one place. You can also bring all these questions to a Disney travel agent to get help with your vacation planning.

How do You Book a Disney Vacation?

Once you have gone through the entire planning process you are ready to book. You can do this quite easily by visiting the Walt Disney World website, putting in your dates, selecting your resort, and choosing your tickets. At this point, the breakdown is as follows.

Disney World Packages (Resort Room + Tickets): A $200 dollar deposit is required to hold your vacation. The remaining balance is due 30 days before check-in. You can add the Dining Plan (when available). You are able to add Memory Maker. Your Disney Vacation can be canceled and refunded up to 30 days before your trip. Magical extras are included.

Disney World Room Only: The deposit is your first night’s resort rate at the time of booking. The remaining balance is due at check-in. No dining plan is offered at checkout. Tickets purchased separately cannot be refunded, though the date of the tickets can be changed. No magical extras.

Staying on Disney Property Disney Resort Perks

If you’re going back and forth on whether to stay on-site or off-site at Walt Disney World, the perks over the last few years have changed. Currently, Disney Resort Guests get an early theme-park entry of 30 minutes before park opening, Discounted MagicBands upon checkout, 7 am Lightning Lane, and Disney Genie + access ( as opposed to 9 am), and an earlier Dining Reservation window ( when available).

Can I book A Disney Vacation Now?

YES! Check out our Disney Timeline for all the details. In general, a Disney Resort room can be booked 499 days in advance and Disney Packages for each year are usually released the previous summer.

Disney World Cancellation and Change Policies

Be aware of Walt Disney World’s cancellation policies. If you cancel less than 30 days before your trip there is a fee of $200. If you cancel less than 6 days before your trip the fee is the first full night’s room rate. You can change the date of your vacation up to 30 days before your vacation. Check out the Disney World website for all of Disney’s Cancellation policies. 

Disney 50th Anniversary Castle

What’s Changed for Disney Vacations in 2023?

Walt Disney World is always changing. As we’ve been tracking the changes at Walt Disney World as part of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations, we can share that rides, restaurants, and shows have come and gone throughout just the last couple of years. And 2023 will be no different. 

Disney Park Pass Reservations are Still Required

Perhaps the biggest thing to know while planning is that you will need a Park Pass Reservation for each day you are in the parks. This is in addition to your park ticket, as Park Pass Reservations fill up fast. Checking for Park Pass Availability should be one of your FIRST STEPS in planning a Disney Vacation in 2023. Note that in order to park hop to any park, you must have an active reservation at your first park of the day, but do not have a park pass reservation for your second park. Park hopping is open starting at 2 pm. 

Figure out Your Transportation to and from Orlando International Airport

You are now on your own in regards to getting to and from the airport to Walt Disney World. Of course, if you are driving to Walt Disney World then you can skip this step. If not be prepared to factor in transportation costs as needed. Whether that be a rental car or Uber, Sunshine Flyer, or Mears Connect, if you’re not driving to Disney, add this to your planning. 

Should you Rent a Car for your Disney Vacation in 2023?

We’ve talked about the pros and cons of Driving to Walt Disney World before, and still stand by those realities. Flexibility is key, and since all guests will have to figure out transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World, do what is best for you. It’s easy to use Disney Transportation during your stay. This is one of our favorite ways to stay in the Disney bubble on vacation. If you are driving be sure to take note of Disney Parking Fees

Disney annual passholder slider for magic band


This upgraded New Disney 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, in the parks, and at a discounted rate when purchasing a Disney Vacation package.

Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane

Disney’s newest planning tool, Disney Genie, can be found within the My Disney Experience App and allows guests to have everything about their vacation at their fingertips. Complete with AI features that prompt you towards potential rides, shows, and other opportunities based on your favorite experiences. The Disney Genie Service is free. But the Disney Genie+ version has a variable cost per person, per day. Typically between 20-30 dollars. The Disney Genie+ version includes additional features and built-in Lightning Lane options that allow guests to choose 2 lightning lane passes per day. Note that each member of your family will need to have a My Disney Experience Account and Disney Genie+ activated on each account to take advantage of the services included. Select rides are available for individual Lightning Lane purchases. Read more about Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane.

Park Hopper Tickets are Available with Restrictions

A Park Hopper Ticket can get you access to more than one park a day. But, right now, you are only allowed to access your second park after 2 pm. With some parks closing earlier in the summer and even earlier in the fall this drastically limits your time in a second park for the day. We recommend skipping the Park Hopper Ticket and just focusing on maximizing your time in one park per day.

Dining Reservation Timeline

The Disney Dining Reservation window for guests is 60 days before the first day of their vacation. We recommend reserving the most popular restaurants as soon as the window opens. As dining reservations are increasingly difficult to obtain during the busiest times of the year. Check out all of our Disney Restaurant Reviews to see which ones you want to add to your vacation. 

Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations 2023

Disney World’s Most Magical Celebration celebrating the 50th Anniversary is happening from January 2023 through March 2023. So, if you’re traveling during the earliest part of the year you’ll get to experience all the 50th-anniversary happenings. New 50th Anniversary Snacks, and the 50th Anniversary Golden Statues are all part of the special experiences happening for this celebration. 

Tron Construction Walt Disney World

What’s New at Walt Disney World in 2023?

In addition to new rides, restaurants, and upgraded resorts, you can also find New Disney World Snacks, new merchandise, and shows. And many of the construction projects from 2022 will finally be past the new and crowded phase, so hopefully free for the experience on your next vacation. 

TRON Lightcycle Power Run Rollercoaster | Magic Kingdom

TRON Lightcycle Power Run is located in Tomorrowland, Magic Kingdom and covers a huge space next to Space Mountain. This light cycle ride brings riders over and under spaces within the complex and is filled with blue light, giving it a very futuristic look. A major rollercoaster, TRON is sure to become Walt Disney World’s most popular attraction as soon as it opens. We’re expecting a Virtual Queue Boarding Pass and Individual Lightning Lane pass options upon opening. Opening April 4, 2023

Woody’s Rodeo Roundup BBQ | Hollywood Studios

Woody’s Rodeo Roundup BBQ is a new table-service restaurant coming to Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios.  This one promises to be a great family-friendly dining experience. Woody and Jessie are said to make appearances here. And the restaurant is filled with Toy Story characters, toys, and everything you would expect to find in a Wild West Rodeo playset. Serving an American BBQ menu, this restaurant is a nice respite from the outdoor dining at Woody’s Lunch Box. Open Spring 2023

Moana’s Journey of Water | EPCOT

Moana’s Journey of Water nature trail. This whole new water-focused interactive experience includes waterfalls, sounds, and light that connect guests to the natural environment. With elements we see in the film, Moana, you can experience the beautiful sights and sounds in this new space inside the World Nature section. Open Late 2023.

New Nighttime Specatular | EPCOT 

Announced for EPCOT is a new nighttime spectacular show replacing Harmonious running through the 50th Anniversary celebrations until March 31, 2023. This new show aims to unite guests around the World Showcase Lagoon. Opening 2023

New Fireworks Spectacular | Magic Kingdom

Replacing Enchantment Fireworks Show, special for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, Magic Kingdom gets a new Nighttime spectacular. The brand new fireworks show will feature the song Happily Ever After, previously used in the Happily Ever After Fireworks Show at Magic Kingdom. Enchantment completes at the end of March 2023. Opening 2023

Hatbox Ghost Arrives at Haunted Mansion| Magic Kingdom

The classic Hatbox Ghost, currently found in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, is being added to Haunted Mansion at Walt Disney World. This larger-than-life character features a ghost whose head magically disappears from his neck and reappears in his hatbox. Arriving 2023

Figment Character Meet and Greet | EPCOT

Returning to Walt Disney World is EPCOT’s star character, Figment the dragon. Figment is set to be available for character meet and greets for a limited time. Most likely in honor of EPCOT’s anniversary.  Arriving 2023

Main Street USA Building

Disney Vacation in 2023 Tips

Walt Disney World in 2023 will see the heavy crowds and higher costs that have been rising over the last couple of years. As such, we highly recommend a few things to help make your vacation easier and more enjoyable. 

Book Your Vacation Early

We share this with the knowledge that travel is at an all-time high, and if you are competing with just about everyone for rooms, rides, food, and space.  So, if you’re hoping for a Disney Vacation in 2023 and beyond book as early as you can! You can always adjust days, or add special offers along the way without any fees up to 30 days before your vacation, just by calling Disney. 

If Flying, Book Your Flight Early

Airline fuel is expensive. As such, airline travel is getting more and more expensive! That said, just like hotel and car rental, if you are flying to Disney, be sure to book it as far out as you can. Try to select arrival dates of Tuesday or Wednesday- which are generally the cheapest flying days. At the latest, try to book your airline travel at least 45 days before your vacation mark for the best price. If you’re looking to avoid bag costs, try Southwest. If you’re looking for non-stop flights, we recommend Spirit. And if you’re anywhere near a Jet Blue hub, that’s the airline to choose. 

Try a Travel Agent

Don’t be afraid to use a Disney Travel Agent if it all starts to feel overwhelming. Trust us, we get it. You’re trying to run your life but really need a vacation, the last thing you have time to do is plan a vacation. Especially with the changes at Walt Disney World requiring Park Pass Reservations, new transportation options, lack of a dining plan, park hopper rules, and crowd levels. There are more things now than before to consider when planning a vacation. With many things changing regularly it is good to have a travel agent on hand to help. 

Visit During Low Crowd Times

A Disney Vacation in 2023 was already going to be a busy year with TRON opening and so many things finally completed. But, know that there are ALWAYS times of the year when crowds are simply lower. Check out our Best Days to Visit the Disney Parks for a monthly breakdown of what is happening throughout the year. 

Stay on Disney Property in 2023

While we don’t usually make a blanket statement regarding the Disney On vs. Off-Property discussion in 2023 it’s important to be on property at Walt Disney World. Why? Because there are A LOT of CHANGES at Walt Disney World that may give priority to Disney Resort Guests. While we don’t know all the perks on the way, Early Theme Park Entry is currently available and will be helpful during busy times. Early booking at 7 am for Lightning Lane passes is also available to Disney Resort Guests. 

Stay at a Disney Value Resort if…

If you’re visiting Walt Disney World during less busy times of the year, like early January, February, and September ( and all the other lower crowd times at Disney World), then you’re safe to stay at a Value Resort and save some money. We highly recommend Pop Century Resort as it’s one of the best and is now also on the Disney Skyliner line. A word of warning though, during busy times of the year and through the summer months, value resorts are filled to the brim with school groups, spring breakers, and international groups and can be very noisy and busy. Read our Disney Value Resort Reviews. 

Stay at a Disney Moderate or Deluxe Resort if…

If you’re ready to graduate from the Value resorts to the Moderate Resorts, we definitely have our favorite Disney Moderate Resorts to consider. But, Walt Disney World during the busiest times of year is best spent in the more expensive resorts. Disheartening yes, but sleep is important. While many clubs, groups, squads, etc. will all pile themselves into the cheapest resorts possible during the busy times of the year if you’re just hoping for a nice vacation spring for the higher-end resorts. They are less affected by the crowds. So at least while the parks may be crowded, your resort experience can be relaxing. We like the Boardwalk Inn best for its easy access to the parks and quiet relaxing atmosphere. Read our Disney Deluxe Resort Reviews.

Disney Vacation Planning in 2023

Sure, planning for a Disney Vacation in 2023 may feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Grab a cute journal or planner and just get started. Once you’re confident you’ve answered some of the big questions here, you’ll be ready to start booking your Disney vacation in no time! 

Animal Kingdom Park Walt disney World

Disney Anniversaries in 2023

Between and all the Disney Parks, we’re sure to see special snacks, and merchandise honoring the anniversaries of The Walt Disney Company, Chip and Dale, and more. Check out all the Disney Anniversaries happening in 2023. 

Chip and Dale’s 80th Birthday

When: April 2, 2023

Chip and Dale celebrate 80 years! With our favorite dynamic duo celebrating 80 years, there are sure to be Chip and Dale snacks, merchandise and more!

Happy 40th Disney Channel Birthday!

When: April 18, 2023

The Disney Channel turns 40 years old in 2023, and it’s sure to be a fun year full of reunions, and special shows. Check out all of our Disney Channel Shows to watch in our Disney Movie Night section. 

Animal Kingdom’s 25th Anniversary

When: April 22, 2023

We love park anniversaries. Sure to offer up specialty merchandise, snacks, programs on Disney Plus and more. 

Disney 100 Anniversary Walt Disney Company 100 Years of Wonder

100th Anniversary of the Walt Disney Company

When: October 16, 2023 

Celebrating 100 years, the Walt Disney Company is set to reveal special exhibits, new shows on Disney Plus, and celebrations at Disney Parks. Be sure to check out everything planned so far for the 100th Anniversary of the Walt Disney Company in 2023.  

Mickey and Minnie Turn 95 Years Old

When: November 18, 2023

We’ll be pulling out all our Mickey Birthday Party gear to celebrate this special day by honoring our favorite Disney couple. 

Walt Disney World in 2023

So, if you’re up for traveling to Walt Disney World in 2023, know that there are a lot of things going on! But all of them are manageable! With some planning, you can craft the perfect Disney World Vacation. Choose the best time to visit and which new things you’re hoping to try. Happy vacationing.

Planning a Walt Disney World Vacation in 2023. Everything you need to know. #disneyworld #disney2023

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.

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