This post brought to you by Christina Wood of Pixie Vacations, the preferred Disney vacation travel planner of The Disney Blog.
Back when Disney opened up dining reservations for guests 180-days in advance of travel, there was a lot of grumbling about how this meant too much planning and took a lot of the spontaneity of your trip. And they were right. It’s difficult to predict what you’ll want to eat next week, much less six months in advance. Add to that variables like heat, crowd levels, sick kids, grumpy uncles, and the occasional cash flow problem and it can be downright stressful to plan your meals that far in advance. But here we are years later and most of us have adapted to the system just fine. Of course, now there’s a new wrench thrown into your plans: Fastpass+.
With Fastpass+, you’ll plan your fastpasses up to 60 days prior to travel (30 for off site guests). Since you’re already planning your meals months before that, you’ll need to plan your fastpasses around those meals. Fortunately, if you’re using My Disney Experience and you’ve either made your reservations with that system or adding your confirmation numbers to your profile, your dining reservations will pop up when you make your fastpass selections, alerting you to any overlap. You’ll choose your three fastpasses and then be offered up to four groups to select from. The first one is supposed to be ideal and usually doesn’t conflict with your dining time, but the rest will often have an overlap for at least one ride. Don’t fret about that. Instead, make your selection and once you’ve processed it, go back in and change that time–you’ll usually be given several other options.
So how do you organize all this? I know a lot of you don’t like all this planning and what I’m seeing is that for the average guest, it seems like a lot of extra work, but with a little extra thought, it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a timeline to help:
1. Make resort reservation. This gives you your resort confirmation number, which you’ll input into MyDisneyExperience.com. It also gives you an edge (an additional 10 days) when it comes to booking your dining reservations at the 180-day mark.
2. Know your park hours. This is especially important for those guests who don’t have park hoppers but who want to maximize their park hours with Extra Magic Hours. Keep in mind that from September through December, the Magic Kingdom will have reduced hours on party nights. You can’t eat at Crystal Palace at 8:30, for example, if you don’t have a ticket for a party on those nights.
3. Make dining reservations. At five or six months out, you have tons of flexibility, hampered only by park hours and special events. Even if you’re making your reservations closer to travel, its more efficient to make dining reservations before you schedule fastpasses since your dining reservations are going to be much harder to get. Foodies take note: Worry less about your park choice and go for the food. If you can only get Le Cellier on a Wednesday, find a way to make Epcot work that day, even if it means dealing with higher predicted crowds or you’d rather be in the Magic Kingdom.
4. Make Fastpass+ selections. We usually find that choosing fastpasses for later in the day is the most efficient use of your three selections since the parks are usually less crowded in the morning and standby lines are shorter.
I’d love to hear about how you plan–or don’t plan–in the comments. How has the new system changed how you approach park touring?