Going to Disney World? Thinking of going to Disney? Overwhelmed by all of the information and jargon our there? Not sure whether your kids will enjoy?

We get it. We’ve been there.

We created this simple, 6 step process to help you plan a perfect Disney World trip with kids of any age: babies, toddlers, preschoolers, school kids, tweens, teens.  We’ve also got age specific information for adults and grandparents.

This is our step-by-step planning process for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, school kids, tweens, teenagers, and adults.

This planning process serves as a platform, that you can add age-specific information on top of.

how to plan a trip to disney world

For each step, we have lots of information tailored to kids of specific age groups, and trip lengths.  You can layer that age-specific plan on top of this base plan.  Step 1 of our age-specific comprehensive plans ties into step 3 of this plan.

This handy little infographic summarizes the process.  You can embed it anywhere you like by using the code snippet at the end of the post.


Step 1

Choose your dates

If possible, book at least 6 months in advance.  This will allow you the most flexibility in your ADRs.  Use our crowd calendar to select your dates.

Step 2

Chose your resort and select your dining plan

If possible, book your resort at least 6 months in advance.  Staying on property is more expensive, but has some significant advantages.  You can participate in dining plans (which can be a great deal, and are sometimes offered free) and extra magic hours.  And, you get the Disney magic at your resort.  If it’s in your budget, we recommend staying on the property.

If you are booking yourself, we recommend booking your resort through Undercover Tourist, or through Disney directly.  The Undercover Tourist has deep discounts on resorts and ticket prices, and they will tell you if they don’t have the best deal.  Undercover Tourist tickets can be linked to your MyDisneyExperience, just like any other ticket.  You can also find great deals through Disney.

Here are the Best Disney World resorts by age:

We also recommend deciding what, if any, dining plan to purchase at this point.  This will inform your decisions on which and how many ADRs to book.

We recommend purchasing trip insurance, which is quite inexpensive compared to the cost of a Disney World vacation, and protects you against unforeseen problems, like illness.

Step 3

Pick your parks

Decide which park you want to visit on which day.  Use our park selector tables to help.  This one is tailored for toddlers, but is also appropriate for preschoolers and school aged kids.  You will make your ADRs accordingly in the next step.


Disney World Park Plan for Toddler Itinerary

At this point, your parks days are still flexible. You may have to shuffle them, depending on your ADRs.

Having this starting point helps you focus on which ADRs and when in step 4.

Our age-specific comprehensive plans tie in at this step.  You can view our age specific plans here:

Disney World Plans for Toddlers:

1 day itinerary | 2 day itinerary | 3 day itinerary | 4 day itinerary | 5 day itinerary | 6 day itinerary | 7 day itinerary


If you haven’t already, you’ll need to buy your park tickets.  Again, we recommend buying through Undercover Tourist, or through Disney directly.

Undercover Tourist

Step 4

Make your Advanced Dining Reservations

ADRs can (and ideally should) be made 180 days before the day of your check in at a Disney resort or the day of your park ticket.  For the most in-demand ADRs you will have to make them immediately as soon as they open, 180 days in advance.

We always recommend booking your ADRs before you make the rest of your park touring plan.  Once you know where your meals will be, you can plan to be near or at the location of your meal.  You don’t want to plan an Epcot day when you have lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic Kingdom!  We have a guide to ADRs here and a guide to snagging the hard-to-get ADRs here.

Once you have your ADRs, you should modify your park days from step 3 accordingly.  For example, if you got into Akershus on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, then make Wednesday your Epcot day.



Step 5

Make your Park Touring Plan

At this point, you have chosen which park you want to visit on which day of your trip, based on where you have ADRs.  Park days are now firm, and you can make your plan for each park day.

We have comprehensive parking touring plans with itineraries tailored to kids of different age groups.

We have information on the best rides and attractions for kids of specific age groups here:

Part of your parking touring plan is making your FastPasses, which leads us to step 6.


Step 6

Book your FastPasses

FastPasses can be made 60 in advance of the day of your check-in if you are staying at a Disney resort, or 30 days in advance of your park ticket if you are not.  We have a guide to FastPasses here.


Step 7

Pack your bags

Check out our Disney World Gear Guide to stock up on the best gear for Disney World.

Make sure you’ve got everything you need, with our packing lists tailored by age group.

Attach your yellow Magical Express tags to you luggage if you will be flying into the Orlando airport and using the Magical Express.

Do not pack your Magic Bands in your checked luggage. You will need them to board the bus.

Congratulations!  You are ready to enjoy your magical Disney World vacation!


Planning Infographic

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how to plan a trip to disney world

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