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How to Plan a Disney World Vacation: A Timeline

March 13, 2023

Planning a vacation is exciting, but between dining and park reservations and now Genie+, organizing a Walt Disney World trip can take a little extra planning.  Here’s a guide to plot out what you need to book and when. 

11 Months Out: Book Your DVC Reservation

Disney’s Riviera Resort

If you plan to use DVC points or rent a DVC reservation for your trip, you can book as far out as 11 months prior to your check in date.  This is when availability is best, so you have a greater chance of booking the resort and villa type that you would like.  For DVC owners, booking begins at 8am ET online or 9am ET by phone.

After Booking Your Resort: Buy Park Tickets and Book Park Reservations

Spaceship Earth in EPCOT

To visit a theme park, Walt Disney World requires not only tickets but park reservations.  This means you will decide in advance whether you would like to visit the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom.  Park reservations are currently available for dates as far out as February 2024, so you can book them on the Walt Disney World website or through the My Disney Experience app as soon as you purchase and link your park tickets.  For discounted tickets, order them through Unlocked Magic!

60 Days Before Check-in: Make Dining Reservations

Cinderella’s Royal Table (Photo Credit: Disney Tourist Blog)

For many people, dining is a big part of vacation.  From character dining like Cinderella’s Royal Table to signature dining fit for foodies like Victoria & Albert’s, there is something for everyone.  With Disney World table service restaurants, advanced dining reservations are highly recommended.  If you are a Disney resort guest, you can book them online or through the My Disney Experience app starting at around 5:45am ET 60 days out from your check-in date.

At Least 4 Days Before Arrival: Schedule Transportation

Mears Connect at Orlando International Airport

If you’re flying into Orlando International Airport, Mears Connect is an affordable way of traveling to your Disney resort.  With premium motorcoaches, and forty plus years of transportation experience in the Orlando area, Mears Connect will transport you between the airport and your resort in about an hour.

Starting at 12am the Day You Visit the Park: Purchase Genie+

Peter Pan’s Flight in the Magic Kingdom (Photo Credit: Disney Tourist Blog)

Genie+ is Disney’s paid service that helps minimize guests’ wait times for over 40 attractions.  It replaced the old FastPass+ system.  You can purchase Genie+ within the My Disney Experience app starting at 12am the day of your visit.      

7am the Day You Visit: Make Your Selections in Genie+

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Photo Credit: Disney Tourist Blog)

With Genie+, you reserve an arrival window, so you can join the attraction queue via the Lightning Lane entrance for a shorter wait.  As a guest at a Disney resort, you can make your first Genie+ selection for the day at 7am.  At 7am, you can also purchase up to two Individual Lightning Lane selections per day.  Individual Lightning Lanes are available for some of the most popular attractions that are not included in Genie+:

  • Avatar: Flight of Passage
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Both Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane selections can be made within the My Disney Experience app.  If you’re part of the World of DVC’s Unlocked Magic community, be sure to check out the exclusive PDF, “A Look Inside the Lamp: Guide to Disney’s Genie and Genie+” for more details on how Genie+ works!  

Start planning your next trip to Walt Disney World with the DVC Rental Store!  Browse the confirmed reservations or ask about future availability

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