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Do These 8 Things Now for the Best Family Trip to Disney World

Expert advice on what to book in advance to make the most of your stay

The magical Walt Disney castle at night, lit up and surrounded by fireworks

If you’re heading to Disney World for the first time, Jenny Pegg and Amber Russell have some advice for you. Both are CAA Authorized Disney Vacation Planners, and they stressed the importance of planning so you aren’t overwhelmed by all the options once you arrive. (And, more importantly, so you don’t miss out on opportunities that book up quickly.)

Here are their top eight tips.

Book accomodations close to the action

Woman dressed as Tinkerbell waving from a float in a parade as it passes by the entrance to the Magical Kingdom castle

Staying at a Disney resort will give you perks such as extended park hours and MagicBand wristbands, plus deals on dining packages, park tickets and more. You’ll also get complimentary transport to and from the Orlando airport and throughout the Disney parks.

Get a FastPass+

Little girl uses her FastPass+ pass with her mom at a Disney resort

The FastPass+ lets you reserve access to rides, shows and attractions 30 days in advance—double that if you are staying at a Disney resort. The FastPass+ means shorter lines and better views, and gives you a guaranteed time slot for the most popular attractions.

Make dinner reservations now

50's Prime Time Cafe sign at the Disney's Hollywood Studios park

Sit-down dinners are popular, and many restaurants (such as the famous California Grill atop the Contemporary Resort and the 50’s Prime Time Café at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios park) are part of Disney resort dining packages. Without reservations, it’s nearly impossible to get a table.

Think about which characters you want to meet

Little boy taking a selfie with Minnie Mouse and two other kids

If your little ones (or you) have always wanted to meet a Disney character, you can make it happen next to character-related rides and attractions. These photo ops can be arranged through your FastPass+.

…and definitely consider character dining

Woman dressed as Cinderella elegantly squatted down as she talks to a little girl wearing a princess dress

Enjoying a meal with your favourite Disney character can be one of the best parts of visiting Walt Disney World. The most popular restaurants are Cinderella’s Royal Table and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, which hosts Princess Storybook Dining, so take advantage of early reservations if you’re hoping to dine at either one. You can book these meals up to 180 days out.

Plan for holiday events

Micky and Minnie Mouse dressed for the holidays in front of a Christmas tree while on a float during a parade

Whether it’s Halloween or Christmas, holiday events sometimes close the park early. You can get tickets to these parties, but they sell out fast, so make sure your family’s entry is booked ahead of time.

Grab a spot on backstage tours

Giraffe in the grass at the Animal Kingdom

Go behind the scenes on tours such as the Keys to the Kingdom tour at the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom’s Wild Africa Trek. These experiences are made for small groups and can be booked up to 90 days in advance.

Find out about premium experiences

Polynesian Village resort sign at night surrounded by palm trees

From fireworks-viewing dessert parties to a princess makeover in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, the Spirit of Aloha dinner show to Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy, there are always new Disney experiences. These in-demand events fill up quickly, so reserve ahead of time.

Need more inspiration for your Florida trip?

If you’re driving to Florida, make your road trip better with these five exciting stops and these eight must-try dishes.

Not only can CAA Authorized Disney Vacation Planners help you book everything, they can point you toward CAA Member discounts. Visit your nearest CAA Travel Store or click here to learn more.

Image credit: Walt Disney World Resort