This is a question that I hear frequently. But, it’s a hard question to answer because what is on my “must” list may not necessarily be what is on your list. So, if you are trying to determine how far in advance to book your Disney World vacation, then you should ask yourself these questions.
When would I, ideally, like to go to Disney World?
When Disney releases their prices for the following year, it is usually between June and August. That means that if you plan on traveling in January, you are getting somewhere between 5 and 7 months between the time you book and the time you leave for vacation. If you need a longer period between booking and leaving for your trip, you may want to consider pushing back your dates to give you the time you need to plan out your vacation.
Do I plan on booking any table service reservations?
Whether you purchase the Dining Plan or not, 180 days before your vacation, you are able to start making your dining reservations. If table service meals are a “must”, then you should allow at least 180 days between booking and the start of you vacation, especially if you plan on booking a highly popular restaurant (like Be Our Guest). While it’s not impossible to get reservations at your favorite restaurant after that 180 day mark, you may have to compromise on what time you eat. If eating dinner late at night or waking up early to eat does not work for your family, then making sure you’re ready before that 180 day mark is something to consider.
Do I plan on using my Fastpasses on highly popular rides?
If you plan on staying on property, then you can begin booking your Fastpasses 60 days prior to your arrival. Popular rides like Frozen Ever After and Flight of Passage go very quickly, so if popular rides are is one of your “musts”, then I suggest booking at least 60 days before the beginning of your vacation to give you your best chance at getting one of these coveted passes.
If you are staying off site, you will not be allowed to book your Fastpasses until you are 30 days from your arrival. To give you the best opportunity to book the rides that you want, I would suggest at least 30 days of planning.
Am I waiting for discounts to be announced before I book?
Everyone wants a discount. So, it seems like a good idea to wait for one before you book. However, by waiting, you could be be risking the chance that the room that you want will be sold out by the time you are ready to book. The good thing is that Disney has discounts all the time and you can usually guess when these discounts will occur based on past years. Just because your vacation is booked, it does not mean that it is set in stone. It can be changed again and again until you are satisfied with your plans…with no penalty from Disney for doing so.
Free Dining is probably the most popular discount. If you want to travel during the Free Dining promotion, booking ahead of time could be the best way to ensure you get the discount once the dates are released, since Disney states they only have a certain number of rooms per resort for the promotion. If you have read Why I became a Disney Planner, you will notice that I booked my vacation prior to the announcement of the Free Dining promotion. Once the promotion was released, my Travel Agent did the work for me, changing my reservation (and travel dates) to get me and my family the discount. That’s when I realized just how valuable having a Travel Agent that specializes in Disney can be. She literally saved me hundreds of dollars on our vacation (And I got to sleep in on the day it was released 🙂 ).
By asking yourself these few questions, you will get a better sense of when YOUR ideal time-frame to plan your vacation is. If you are still unsure about when you should start booking your vacation, please feel free to contact me for a consult.