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Planning Your Next Walt Disney World Trip

Walt Disney World 101

Here are some things you need to know before Walt Disney World vacation planning.

Mouseways is here to help you with free Walt Disney World planning.

The Walt Disney World® Resort spans nearly 39 square miles west of Orlando, Florida and consists of four theme parks (Magic Kingdom® Park, Epcot®, Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park), two water parks (Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park & Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park), four golf courses, two miniature golf courses, the Disney Springs shopping and entertainment district, and 27 Disney Resort Hotels in the Disney Resorts Collection.

The short answer is that it’s never too early to start planning your vacation. We’re already booking well into December of 2024.

The longer answer is that we recommend booking your Walt Disney World trip 60 days out at a bare minimum. That’s when Advance Dining Reservations are available for booking, and those are strongly recommended due to limited capacity.

With Park Reservations being required in some cases in addition to Theme Park Tickets, we’re seeing reservation availability being a challenge. We prefer clients to book 90 days in advance for an even better timeline.

If you have a larger family/travel party and have specific preferences for your resort hotel, you should be booking your trip at least 6 months in advance of your travel date if not more. The good news is that when you work with Mouseways, we can modify your reservation to add a Special Offer (that’s what the Walt Disney Travel Company calls discounted rates) to your existing reservation.

Walt Disney World vacation packages can be secured with a $200 deposit which is fully refundable until your final payment is due (30 days before you arrive.)

The FastPass+ program has been retired. Disney’s Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lane are now available at Walt Disney World® and Disneyland Resort. Read more about the announcement here.

The Disney Resort Collection consists of  27 Disney Resort Hotels with five different categories: Deluxe Villas, Deluxe Resort Hotels, Moderate Resort Hotels, Value Resort Hotels, and a campground. Read more about each category below.

There are 12 Deluxe Villa Resorts at Walt Disney World®. Deluxe Villa accommodations go above and beyond a traditional hotel room. You’ll enjoy the comforts of home in a Deluxe Studio, 1-, 2-, or 3-Bedroom Villa. These 1-, 2-, and 3-Bedroom Villas include separate bedrooms, a full kitchen, spacious living and dining areas, as well as a washer and dryer.  Deluxe Studios sleep 4 or 5 guests and feature a kitchenette and a bit more space. The amenities of the Deluxe Villa Resorts include an assortment of dining experiences—including Signature Dining, Character Dining and room service. You’ll find on-site recreation at Deluxe Villa resorts.

There are 12 Deluxe Villa Resorts from which to choose:

  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
  • Disney’s Beach Club Villas
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows
  • Disney’s Riviera Resort
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

There are 8 Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels. Deluxe Resort Hotel accommodations are uniquely themed and close to the magic. The amenities of the Deluxe Resort Hotels include an assortment of dining experiences—including Signature Dining, Character Dining, and room service. You’ll find on-site recreation as well. These Resort Hotels are a wonderful escape from the busy theme parks to relax.

The 8 Disney Deluxe Resort Hotels are:

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

There are 4 Disney Moderate Resort Hotels from which to choose. These resorts offer a table service restaurant in addition to a quick service restaurant. You’ll find two queen beds in each room. You’ll also find pools and hot tubs with subtle theming.

The 5 Disney Moderate Resort Hotels are:

  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort–Riverside
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort–French Quarter

There are 5 Disney Value Resort Hotels which are especially fun for the younger kiddos with big, bold theming. While they do not feature table service dining, they do offer a food court with lots of fun options. These resorts have some of the best feature pools for you to relax beside or splash and play in.

The 5 Disney Value Resort Hotels:

  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort

You have the choice of a 1- to 10-Day Theme Park Ticket which is valid at one of the four theme parks each day. You can also choose a Theme Park Ticket with Park Hopper® Option to visit more than one park each day. Also available is a Theme Park Ticket with Water Park and Sports Option. If you’d like to combine these two options, then the Theme Park Ticket with Park Hopper® Plus Option is the best for you. Genie+ can be added to any of these options for the length of the ticket! Your Disney Vacation Specialist can help you choose which is right for you.

A Theme Park Pass Reservation is also required for entry in to a park each day. More information about the Disney Park Pass System is available here.

Memory Maker is an incredible way to enjoy unlimited digital Disney PhotoPass photos captured at hundreds of locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort—including select attraction and dining locations. The photos are conveniently connected to your online Disney account with a touch of your MagicBand or card.

The Disney Dining Plan and the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan both offer delightful dining experiences yet differ in their inclusions based on dining styles.

The Disney Dining Plan encompasses a broader range of dining options, including both table-service and quick-service locations across the parks and resorts. This plan provides guests with more flexibility to enjoy character dining experiences, themed restaurants, and upscale dining establishments. With table-service meals comprising one entrée, one dessert, and one non-alcoholic beverage per credit, guests can savor a diverse array of culinary delights. This plan includes one table-service credit, one quick-service credit, and one snack credit for each night of stay.

On the other hand, the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan is tailored for those seeking quicker, more casual dining experiences. This plan primarily covers quick-service locations, where guests can indulge in convenient, on-the-go meals. Each quick-service meal credit includes an entrée and a non-alcoholic beverage or, in some cases, a combo meal, allowing guests to easily refuel between attractions without the need for reservations. This plan includes two quick-service credits and one snack credit for each night of stay.

Both plans offer snack credits and refillable resort mugs for beverages, adding value and convenience to the overall dining experience. The choice between the Disney Dining Plan and the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan depends on your preferred dining style and the level of culinary exploration you desire during your magical Disney getaway.