After you book your Vacation and your flights if you are flying, it is time to start planning your stay overall. If you booked at 180 days or less for your trip you will want to do these things as soon as you book. If you book over 180 days in advance some of these are not as urgent. But nonetheless it is all things you will need to do following your booking.
First things first, after booking your vacation you will be given a confirmation number. You will need this number in order to sign up for the My Disney Experience. This is the first thing you should do following your booking. My Disney Experience is where you customize your magic bands, make reservations and create your fast passes. You can control your entire families itinerary from here. You can also add special events and other extras on My Disney experience. An example of a special event is the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party. An example of an extra is the Memory Maker if you didn’t add it at the time of booking.
Next you will want to customize your magic bands! Pick your color and name and submit it. Your magic bands will ship out to your house one month before your trip. If you book your trip less than a month before you go you can have your magic bands sent to your hotel. We recommend checking with the hotel before your arrival that the bands are in fact there and also get the name of who you spoke to. When we went last year we were told our bands were not at the hotel after we had called and spoken with someone prior to our trip. After much argument with one person and a less than helpful assistant manager we were given replacement bands and got a phone call later saying our bands had been found. We also got free Fast Passes to whatever rides we wanted to at anytime for each day of our stay to make up for the issues. Disney doesn’t like unhappy guests and will help make things right.
After customizing your magic bands, you will want to choose which parks you want to do what days, this is so that you can begin deciding what Fast Passes you need for what days and what restaurants, if you are doing any, you are going to be looking at for which days.
After deciding what days you want to be at which parks, the next thing will be deciding where to have your sit down dinners. This is if you chose to do one of the two dining plans with the sit down meal option or if you aren’t doing a dining plan but would like to do a sit down meal this is the time to choose your restaurants. At 180 days before your trip you are allowed to begin making dinning reservations. If you book your vacation before your 180 days, you will be allowed to make reservations at 7 AM on day 180. YOU WILL WANT TO BE ONLINE AT 7 AM EST! Especially if you want dinning reservations at some of the more popular restaurants such as Be our Guest at Magic Kingdom, or any Character meal. These are very popular and tend to go first! Now if you are into your 180 days when you book be prepared that you may not get everything you want when it comes to reservations. We will say this: Check back often! Make other reservations but check back to see if something you want has an unexpected opening. People change there minds all the time. You can also cancel up to 24 hours prior to a reservation without penalty. Disney’s cancellation policy is available when you go to confirm your reservation. You can be charged a $10 per person cancellation fee for canceling less than 24 hours prior to your reservation. The other option is to leave a day empty for reservations for a sit down and see what comes up the day of if you are not too picky.
Following making Dinning reservations will be your online check in at your hotel and making fast pass reservations. You are allowed to do this 60 days prior to your visit. Again for Fast pass reservations you want to be on at 7 am EST 60 days prior. This is to give you the best chance of getting some of the harder to get Fast passes. Now if you are not staying at Disney you can book fast Passes 30 days prior to your stay. After booking your fast passes you will want to check into your resort. This is when you can choose your room preferences. For example we are staying at All Star Sports this fall and our room preferences include: Surfs up Section and Ground Floor Room. You can also choose to have early check in be at the top of your list if that is more important than anything else. None of this is guaranteed though, Disney does try their best to meet what you asked if they can. Other options that we have seen for room preferences across all the resorts are the following:
- Ground Floor
- Highest floor
- Near the elevator
Each hotel does give you options for different parts of the hotel. For example if you are staying at Caribbean beach you can choose to give preference to being in one of the rooms in Jamaica, Trinidad North, Trinidad South, etc. So make sure to do some research on your hotel before this to get an idea on where about you want to stay in the resort.
When you do your online check in you will also create a hotel pin number. This is the number you will use for your magic bands when using your dining plan or making purchases using your magic band. Each person that has park tickets can choose a pin. I recommend writing down your pin/pins someplace, we forgot what we used for our pin last year and had to have it reset. If you do forget or want to change it after you have already submitted, just talk to the hotel main desk and they can help you out.
Next…it is time to wait for your trip! We suggest that if you didn’t get a restaurant or a Fast Pass that you wanted then to check back every now and then. You can modify your Fast Passes whenever you want and you can see what else may have become available. If you are curious on how Fast Pass + works be on the lookout for a post about Fast Pass +.
We get that was a lot of information. Questions? Feel free to message us or leave a comment. Want us to go into more detail about something we mentioned? Let us know! Want recommendations for restaurants? Let us know and we can let you know our favorites at Disney!
Until next time have a wonderful day and remember: The best is yet to come!