The Toughest Decisions You’ll Need to Make in Disney World

by | May 7, 2024 | WDW Blog

When it comes to your vacation, there are quite a few tough Disney World decisions you’ll need to make. We’re sharing a few of the hardest ones, and how you can make them simpler for your trip.

Where do I stay? How many days should I plan for? Do I need to buy extras such as Disney Genie+? These are just a handful of the decisions you’ll be faced with when planning your trip to Walt Disney World. Sure, it’s the Most Magical Place on Earth, but it’s also a pricey one. With that in mind, you want to plan wisely to make the most of your time and budget while you’re visiting the theme parks.

Hard Decisions in Disney World

While there are plenty of difficult decisions to make, we’ve narrowed down a few of the hardest choices most visitors will be faced with when planning their Walt Disney World vacation, as well as our thoughts on how to make it a bit easier.

The Length of Your Vacation

Disney World is home to four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping and dining complex, a sports complex, and tons of hotels. Long story short, there is a lot to do. With that in mind, when it comes to planning out your Disney World trip length, you’re going to want to tailor it to exactly what you and your group want to get done.

First and foremost, the length of your vacation could depend on your budget. If you have a set budget that will only allow you to stay for a short trip, there are absolutely ways to get the most out of your time there. For example, for a shorter trip, you may want to consider purchasing Disney Genie+, or investing in a Park Hopper ticket to get the most from a smaller length of time.

If you are more flexible with timing, you will likely want to spend at least one day at each of the parks to get as much done as you can. For EPCOT and Magic Kingdom, especially, you may even want to opt for two days each as there is so much to do.

Whether to Get the Disney Dining Plan

One of our most frequently asked questions is whether the Disney Dining Plan is worth the cost. The Disney Dining Plan basically acts as a prepaid meal program, allowing you to pre-purchase a set number of table service and/or quick-service meals and snacks that can be used throughout your trip. While it can be particularly useful if you are working at staying in a certain budget, it’s also an expensive addition that really needs to be used in full to be worth the cost.

There are a few big factors to consider when choosing the Dining Plan or not. One is how much you actually plan on sitting down and eating while you’re in Disney. There are two potential plans: the Quick-Service Plan and the regular Disney Dining Plan. Only the latter includes table service meals, with one table service credit applied per night of your stay. If you don’t plan on eating at least one table service meal a day, the price you’re paying for the plan will likely not work out to be worth it.

Before choosing whether or not you want to add the Disney Dining Plan to your vacation, look at what restaurants you want to dine at, along with pricing. Many of the prix-fixe and buffet options have set pricing that will allow you to calculate exactly how much it will cost per person. From there, you can have a better idea on whether you would break even on the cost of buying the plan, or if it would be better to just pay out of pocket in person.

What Advance Dining Reservations to Make

Speaking of dining in Disney World, choosing which restaurants you want to make an Advance Dining Reservation at can be one of the hardest decisions you have to make while planning your trip. Between its parks, hotels, and Disney Springs, you’ll find countless dining options at the Most Magical Place on Earth. And for table service restaurants, you have the ability to make an Advance Dining Reservation 60 days in advance of your visit (and can book for the length of your stay, when staying on property).

Some of the most popular restaurants in Disney World go pretty fast, so it can be a good idea to try and get those reservations they day they become available so they don’t book up for the time and date that you want. For example, restaurants like ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom, or Space 220 in EPCOT can be hard to.get reservations for if you wait too long. While last minute availability can open up, we recommend making a list of your top choices and dates for where to eat and having those ready for when reservations open up 60 days out (typically at 6 AM).

Disney Genie+: To Buy or Not to Buy

Disney Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selections are Disney World’s two ways to skip the line through Lightning Lanes. The Disney Genie+ service is a paid one that eplaced the free FastPass+, allowing you to pay to skip the standby line for select attractions throughout the day. Individual Attraction Selections are a select group of rides that you can also pay to skip the line for outside of Disney Genie+. However, you are paying for just the one ride, typically at a price that’s 50% or more of what you’re paying for Disney Genie+.

Both of these services can only be purchased day of, with pricing depending on the date and park you’re visiting (though you do have the option to purchase a multi-park pass). If you’re visiting on a busier time of year, Disney Genie+ is likely something you’ll want to budget for. While expensive, the service can help you from spending your entire day in the parks stuck in a line. However, during a slower season, you may find that lines are short enough that it’s not worth paying the extra money just to save 10 to 15 minutes in line.

You can check out our Disney Genie+ price calculator for a better estimate of how much the service may be throughout the year.

What Hotel to Choose

As Disney World is located in the theme park capital of the world, you have a lot of hotels to choose from. On Disney World property alone, you can choose from Value Resorts, Moderate Resorts, Deluxe Resorts, and Deluxe Villas Resorts (a.k.a. Disney Vacation Club properties). You also have off-site hotels you can stay at, often for a better price than you’ll find anywhere on Disney World property. And on top of that, there are Airbnb and vacation rentals – the possibilities are truly endless!

With all of these options, it can seem like an impossible decision to choose where you will actually be staying. First, you’ll want to decide if you’re staying on or off the property. There are some advantages to each – staying on Disney World property allows you to be in the Disney bubble, with access to Disney World transportation, Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours. Plus, staying on the property comes with the ability to make your first Lightning Lane selection at 7 AM!

But, for a smaller price, you can get many of the same great amenities just a short distance away at an off-site property. The Bonnet Creek Area and Disney Springs Area hotels, for example, are actually located on Disney property, meaning you are just a small drive from each of the parks. Many of these hotels offer shuttles to and from the parks, and even come with on-property perks such as Early Theme Park Entry (you’ll want to check with your specific hotel to see, though).

The choice will come down to your budget, transportation options,and the amenities you’re looking for. For example, if you want accommodations for a lot of people, staying in a vacation rental or Airbnb may make more sense.

 

 

Posts by Morgan Flaherty

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Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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Authored by
Morgan Flaherty

Morgan is the Staff Editor for WDW Magazine. A lifelong Disney fan, her dream day involves just about anything to do with Animal Kingdom. Along with several years of experience writing about Disney, Morgan has also written as a contributing writer for Well + Good, Scary Mommy, Brit + Co, and Baby Chick.
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