Getting the Most Out of Disney World. Our Planning Guide.

All thoughts and statements in this post are my own. I in no way represent Disney World.

Planning Disney can be an entire job to some. There are Facebook groups, advice pages, and blogs solely about Disney. Of course, I want my family to have a fantastic experience. But I do not consider myself a crazy Disney planner. Check out my planning experience here.

Disney, Take 3… Kind of…

We are so excited about our second family trip to Disney World! But wait, I said three, right? Well, in March 2020, we were ready, ten days out from our first trip to Disney! Then came Covid-19 and the sad cancellation of our trip. I’m not sure who was more upset, the kids or myself. I was excited to see my children and husband experience Disney for the first time. But, like the rest of the world, we could do nothing but wait out the pandemic.

Our First Trip to Disney World…

Finally, the world started reopening, and we could take our trip in March 2021. Due to scheduling issues, we could only go for a quick trip. We visited Magic Kingdom twice and Hollywood Studios. This was a great trip but not the perfect Disney trip. At the time of our visit, there were no character meet and greets, no hugs from Mickey Mouse, Disney Princess sightings from afar, no parades, and we still had to wear masks. Check out some of our memories here…

Disney World, Take 3!

Our upcoming trip is just a few weeks away; resorts are booked, park reservations booked, restaurants booked, and modified BBB planned!

Accommodations:

There are so many Disney World Resorts to choose from! I will start by saying we were fortunate with our resorts due to the special people in our lives! A special friend gifted us four nights at Animal Kingdom Lodge through their Disney Vacation Club. I have never been to this location, but it looks beautiful, from the exterior design to the rooms, the pools, and more. We are incredibly excited to stay here. Be sure to check out our follow-up article on Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Initially, we booked an additional four nights at Pop Century; this is considered a value-level resort, it fit within our budget, and I felt it was a bit nicer than the All-Star Resorts. My in-laws then decided they wanted to join us and experience Disney with their grandchildren. They booked us all a two-bedroom suite at the Boardwalk Villas! We canceled Pop Century and are fortunate to enjoy the beauty of another Deluxe-level resort. Like Animal Kingdom, I have not stayed at Boardwalk. Keep an eye out for our post-trip write-up about our experiences!

Parks/Pool Days:

If you have not been to Disney since Covid, some lasting changes have occurred. One of these changes is the need to make reservations for the parks. Some people get confused; you must buy your tickets, check the calendar, and reserve the park you want for a particular day. We do not have any park plans on the day we arrive (day 1); we will relax by the pool and enjoy the warmth!

  • Day 2: Magic Kingdom
  • Day 3: Animal Kingdom
  • Day 4: Pool day!
  • Day 5: We will be resort hopping from Animal Kingdom Lodge to Boardwalk.
  • Day 6: Epcot
  • Day 7: Hollywood Studios
  • Day 8: Pool day/last day of warmth!
  • Day 9: Afternoon flight home, hoping to squeeze in some relaxing time!

So, don’t forget, first you buy your Disney World Tickets; then you make your park reservations.

Additional bookings:

Transportation:

Since we visited Disney in 2021, Disney stopped the Magical Express. This was a free bus service to and from the airport for those staying at a Disney property. I was unsure what to do regarding transportation to the hotel, seeing that I had used this service on all my other visits. So, I contacted my cousin Caitlyn, a Disney travel agent. She provides all booking services FREE to the client! She booked us on The Sunshine Flyer for only $122 round trip! If you want to plan a Disney trip, do not hesitate to contact Caitlyn, she does it all! You can reach her here.

Food!:

Im not sure what you know about Disney, but for some, booking meal reservations at Disney is like an Olympic sport! Since Covid, there are no longer meal pans at Disney, but restaurants are highly sought after. There are Facebook groups solely dedicated to food at Disney. Disney has three types of meals: table service, quick service, and snacks. Table service requires reservations (you may get lucky with a walk-up table), and you have a server. Quick service you can walk up, order your food and hopefully get a table outside the eatery. Snacks are similar to a kiosk or food truck; you grab your snack and go.

If you are staying at a Disney property, you can start booking your dining 60 days in advance at 6 am Eastern time. I had a few restaurants in mind and am an early riser, so I was ready to start booking! I was not going to stress this like I have heard others do.

Our reservations:

I started with Day 2: Magic Kingdom; as a major Beauty and the Beast fan, I wanted to eat at “Be Our Guest.” However, I did not want to get my hopes up as I heard it could be a hard reservation to get. Additionally, we would be a party of 8, which is a large group, and it could be hard to get reservations for larger groups. Luck was on my side! I was able to get an 11:45 booking for everyone. Be Our Guest has an expensive preset menu, but I hope the experience is worth it.

Day 4: Pool day. I reserved Beaches and Cream Soda Shop for 12:35. This restaurant is at the Beach Club Resort. It has a pretty basic menu, burgers, grilled cheese, sandwiches, etc. But it is the desert that lured me in! They make amazing-looking ice cream sundaes and milkshakes; check out their photos!

Day 5: Pool day/switching hotels. This day will be a bit hectic, having to pack and switch hotels, but I got a reservation for Chef Mickey at 10:15. Chef Mickey will be our only character dining on our trip, and I have heard a lot about their breakfast. I anticipate a fun experience.

Day 6: Epcot. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do about dining at Epcot. Initially, I was thinking about eating ‘around the world.’ My mother-in-law wanted to eat at Biergarten, the German buffet. I was able to get his reservations for us. However, I may modify it for just my in-laws. The menu does not appeal to the kids or me. I will have to explore Epcot’s food options more.

Day 7: Hollywood Studios. I was hoping to book the Fantasmic! dining package. This is the option of 1 of 4 restaurant reservations with a voucher for guaranteed seats for the Fanatasmic! show. Unfortunately, I was not able to get this reservation. I did book Mama Melrose for 7:10; hopefully, we can find a decent spot for the show.

I did not make too many dining reservations; I don’t want to be stuck to a schedule and running to make reservations. We are planning some quick service meals and snacks. We have planned to have food ordered through Instacart to be delivered to our hotel. I will bring drinks and snacks into the parks, and we will have a leisurely breakfast in the room.

My kids are so excited! My daughter is looking forward to seeing some Disney princesses, and my son said, ‘all Disney Characters, but I want to see Mickey Mouse’ the most! I cannot wait to see the joy on their faces!

This is the planning that I have done so far, and I will update until our trip. In the meantime, check out some of the items that I have bought for our trip so far:

Women’s ‘World Traveler’ Shirt for Epcot:

I got this in matching father and son shirts for our Animal Kingdom day:

Check out my Instacart link to get food delivered to your hotel room! https://inst.cr/t/8c6c4565f

Did Be Our Guest meet our expectations? Read our follow-up article here.

21 thoughts on “Getting the Most Out of Disney World. Our Planning Guide.”

  1. Great post!! I love Disney! Haven’t been in so long but hoping to plan a trip there next year!

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  2. Those shirts and the headband look so good [light on the head].

    What a great idea for a father-and-son Animal Kingdom T-shirt day.

    Another person who plans Disney World trips really well is Georgia’s Brittany Hildebrandt.

    Also in recent times I have been reading about meeting characters on cruises.

    [Goofy and Pluto especially would appeal to me – and maybe the Ducktales lot or even the ones from Toon Town].

    Pool days are awesome.

    Good luck with the Epcot food options. There are some German foods I do enjoy like pretzels and sweets [gingerbread especially] and schnitzel.

    Some of my cousin’s friends have worked in the Disney programmes for a year or so [and one had to cancel hers because of COVID-19 – or at least defer].

    Do tell me – is there a soda jerk at the Soda Shoppe?

    Good luck with the Mama Melrose show.

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  3. Still would love to visit Disney World even though I’m an adult now haha. Thanks for breaking this guide down into easy digestable chunks!

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  4. I’ve been to Disney countless times with my kids. We usually stayed at a hotel off property, but there is something to be said for staying on property, for the convenience. Epcot is my favorite, but with the food, you have to look around for something palatable to your own tastes.

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  5. I have never been to Disney. But I can only imagine how much fun you and your family had during your short stay. I appreciate you sharing the hotel accommodations. It’s a blessing to be gifted a stay for 4 nights.

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  6. Wonderful post! I’ve never been to Disney but hope to make it there soon. I appreciate you putting this information out there for when it’s time for us to start planning!

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  7. Nice post! I have been fortunate to visit Disney many times in my life. The stress to get the right reservation to eat is crazy. Up at 5:30 am 6 months before you are leaving seems ridiculous, but it is a must. A vacation to Disney, deserves an additional vacation to unwind. To do it right, you want to pack as much time in as you can while you are there seeing everything Disney has to offer. There are so many decorations, gardens, hidden Mickey’s that go un notice as you briskly walk to your next ride or adventure. Taking time to check out other hotels, or just riding around on the Monorail is a must. If you are able to add a day or two where you are not visiting a park, it breaks up the hustle just a bit. My parents just celebrated their 50 year anniversary in 2022 and we did a family trip that included 16 of us. So much fun!!!

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