Dreaming of Disney – Planning the Perfect Trip

Disney World - planning the perfect trip - when to book your trip

I have a case of serious Disney FEVER!!  I don’t really know what has come over me in the last few weeks, but I just cannot stop thinking about and planning for the ultimate family vacation to Disney World.  The only problem:

We have to wait over a YEAR before we get to GO!!

Currently our girls are the perfect ages for a trip (6 and 4), but our little guy (almost 18 months) is still figuring out the walking thing.  But the big obstacle is the baby in my tummy!  So, we are shooting to take a big family trip to the World in September of 2018 – when baby is about a year old and the kids are all mobile (for the most part).

I have heard through my research that Disney believes it takes the average family 3 years to plan and save for a trip to Walt Disney World.  So, I figure I am not too early in the process.   Even though it does feel like this is WAY too early to be thinking of a vacation!

I have held off on contacting a travel agent at the moment (more on that later).  And I have to have a place to get all my ideas out of my head.  SO…

I will be sharing them here!!

Follow along over the next year + or so as we plan for our trip to Disney World.  Share tips with me for our perfect trip.  Dream with me.  And just enjoy the plan!

I will be sharing the details for our trip in future posts, but I thought I would share a tip for one of the biggest considerations for our family for this trip:  DINING!!

We live to eat.  We travel to eat.  We literally plan our trips based on what we are going to eat!

And from what I remember from a previous trip to Disney World and doing a little bit of research, Disney World has become quite the food-lovers destination!  As such, the reservations for the best dining destinations in the World can be hard to get – especially when traveling with a larger group.

We are planning on booking our dining options early by utilizing Disney’s 180 day out policy for reservations.  Disney allows vacationers to start booking reservations for their fabulous restaurants 180 days before the first day of their trip.  But I have a hard time with numbers.  And I needed a bit of help figuring out how to take advantage of the 180 day point.

When to BOOK Dining Reservations

I found a great website calculator to help with the earliest stages of my planning:  It is called TimeandDate.com.  This website has a ton of ways to play with calendars.  But the one that helps me the most with my planning is called Date Calculator: Add or Subtract from a Date.

Date Calculator for Disney World vacation planning. Know when to start planning your vacation.


Here’s how I used it to figure out when I will (finally) get to book those dining reservations.

  1. Set a target day for the trip.   We are shooting for late September 2018.  I picked the 18th as my first day of the trip.
  2. Enter your target day into the calendar and SUBTRACT 180 days.  My result is March 22, 2018
  3. Factor in flexibility.  I am by no means dogmatic about the start day of a trip over a year from now.  So, I as I am thinking about booking our trip, I am looking for a booking window.

When to BOOK the TRIP

From this information, I can now figure out my BOOKING WINDOW.  I am defining my booking window as the period of time to have my trip “booked.”   This means I will have contacted a travel agent about my travel dates and will have a reservation in with the folks at Disney.  I will have specific trip dates with a reservation confirmation.

I want to have some time to ruminate on the steps of this process, so I want to make sure I have the trip BOOKED by at least a month before the 180 day Dining reservation day.  I also want to factor in at least 2 weeks for our dates to shift depending on the best prices.  So I will want to be booked and confirmed by February 22, 2018.

Now that I know my Booking Window, the next step is figuring out when to get in touch with a Disney travel agent.  From what I understand, it is really never too early.  But honestly, there won’t be a lot of movement in the process until a later date.  Contacting a travel agent at this point will only put my name on a list to be contacted when Disney releases the prices for 2018.  I understand this will happen sometime in June 2017.

A note about travel agents for Disney World trips:

We have never used a travel agent for any of our trips.  And I typically wouldn’t see the benefit of booking with a travel agent.  BUT, Disney travel agents are not only incredibly knowledgeable, they are available at no extra cost to the vacationers!  BONUS!

Disney travel agents get paid for booking travel to Walt Disney resorts and cruises by Disney.  Because of this, we are planning on using a travel agent to help us book this perfect vacation!


Are you dreaming of the perfect trip to Disney World, too!  Follow along and share your tips here!

Planning the Perfect Disney World vacation - when to book

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