Monday, February 17, 2014

Disney Trip Planning Checklist: The Basics

A Walt Disney World vacation can be a big investment and often is a once in a lifetime experience.  Even the most seasoned Disney veteran can become confused with all of the details.  Here is a basic overview checklist to help you organize your plans.

Value, Moderate, Deluxe, Villa, Family Suite?  
Be sure to check out the "SPECIAL OFFERS" for various room types.  
For more details on choosing a room, see my article about choosing a Disney Resort:

A.  How Many Days?
There are 4 parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.
There are significant discounts on 5-day or more tickets.
Base tickets allow entrance to one park each day.

B.  Adding Park-Hopping?
Park-Hopping allows entrance to multiple parks each day for an additional fee.
There is enough to do at each park to fill an entire day.
First-time visitors may want to spend a full day or more exploring each park.
Hopping may take an hour one-way and require significant additional walking.
Use hopping for short trips or for great flexibility.

C.  Adding Water Parks and More?
For a fee, this allows entrance to both water parks, Disney Quest interactive games, Wide World of Sports Complex, and a walking golf course.
Add this option if you want to spend at least two days going to these places.
If you plan on only one day of these activities, buy a one-day separate ticket.

Discounts are available for adding BOTH "Hopping" and "More" together.

Meal plans are only available for guests staying at a Disney-owned resort.
Every guest in the same room must choose the same meal plan.
All meal plans include a souvenir refillable mug for use at resorts (1 per person)
Meal plans are a good value for families with 2 or more kids.
The Basic Meal plan is a good value for guests who go to Character Dinners or eat a lot of steak.
The Deluxe Meal plan can be a good value for guests who enjoy Signature/Fine Dining each night.
Meal plans are good for budgeting/prepaid planning purposes.
Meal Plans are a good value if part of a Special Offer package, especially "Free Dining" promotions.
The Quick-Service meal plan, unless part of a special offer discount, is not a good value compared to cash prices.

There are 3 meal plan options (meals are PER NIGHT/per person)
*Quick-Service Plan (2 counter-service meals with drink and dessert plus 1 snack)
*Basic Plan (1 counter-service meal with drink and dessert, 1 table-service meal with drink and dessert or buffet INCLUDING 1 CREDIT CHARACTER MEALS, plus 1 snack)
*Deluxe Plan (3 meals of any type including drink and dessert.  Appetizer also included at all table-service meals. plus 2 snacks)

Dining reservations may be made up to 180 days in advance.
Guests do not have to be staying at a Disney-owned resort to make dining reservations.
Reservations must be cancelled 1 day in advance to avoid a $10 per person fee.
Book reservations to match Fastpass+ attraction reservations (same park/same day).

Reserve attraction (rides) up to 60 days in advance.
Only guests at Disney-owned resorts may schedule in advance (at this time).
Only 3 FP+ reservations permitted per day (at this time).
Book reservations to match dining reservations (same park/same day).

For the best Special Offer pricing and complimentary service with booking and coordinating all dining and fastpass+ reservations, make certain to use a Disney Authorized Travel Agent!  I recommend using , official sponsor of The Princess Papers!  Free itinerary planning from a mom with a love of Disney.

Let Katherine know that you found her on The Princess Papers!


  1. This is Exactly what I need to see!! First Trip!!

    1. I"m glad it helped you! Sometimes a basic step by step list is the simplest way to cover something that can be so confusing.