There’s never a wrong time to book a magical Disney vacation, right? Not so fast! There are some key time frames you need to know to help you make the most of your visit. Knowing when to book your resort, dining, and fast passes will ensure you are not “frozen” out of any must-see experiences!

When and how to book a Disney vacation

Don’t get “Frozen” out of must-see attractions at Disney! Photo credit: Shannon Entin / Over 40 TravelingMom

Booking Your Disney Vacation: Timing is Important

TravelingMom reader Sharon asks, “How early is too early to book Disney?”

First, let’s look at accommodation options, since that’s the first thing you’ll want to pin down. Generally, booking a Disney resort property six to seven months in advance is plenty of time to get everything you want out of your vacation. But feel free to book earlier if you just can’t contain your excitement! According to Amanda Topinka, Spontaneous TravelingMom, you can book a Disney resort property as early as 499 days before your trip, but you have to call Disney Reservations – you can’t book that early on the web site.

Disney vacation packages start with room and park tickets and typically include extras such as discounts on shopping, entertainment, and dining at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). From there you can add on various dining options, from quick service to deluxe. Disney typically releases its vacation package details during the summer for the following calendar year. So if you are booking a package for January, you won’t be able to book until six to seven months prior. But if you’re planning your Disney vacation in September, you’ll have access to package options and pricing 14-15 months in advance.

And did you know Disney offers free dining plans on select dates when you book a vacation package? Yes, you can eat for free! You have to be on the lookout for these special offers, which you can find on Disney’s web site.

Booking a Disney Vacation Off-Site

If you’re staying off-site, you have a little more flexibility, but you still want to book early to get the lowest price, according to Michael Rezmer, Complex Director of Sales & Marketing for Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs™ Resort Area. “With the busy summer travel period approaching, it is highly recommended to book sooner than later. Preferably 30 days prior to your travel dates. Orlando hotels in high demand areas typically run occupancy levels in the mid 80% to 90% range in the summer and rates will invariably rise as more compression is felt.”

The Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort is the closest property to Disney Springs.

Breakfast at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort. Photo credit: Shannon Entin / Over 40 TravelingMom

The Wyndham Lake Buena Vista offers tons of amenities for families, such as character breakfasts, transportation to Disney parks, the Oasis Aquatic Pool Playground and more. And it’s located directly across from Disney Springs, offering easy access to world-class shopping, entertainment and dining.

How early should you book your Disney vacation?

Pin for later! Photo credit: Shannon Entin / Over 40 TravelingMom

Booking Disney Vacation Dining and Fast Passes

While there are tons of quick-service dining options at Disney, you probably want to book at least a couple of sit-down meals at Disney’s legendary restaurants. You can make table-service dining reservations 180 days before your Disney vacation. For Disney resort guests, “The 180 day window is measured from your date of arrival,” says Sherry Boswell, Melodious TravelingMom. “So that means if you contact Disney at 180 days out, then you get a leg up on non-Disney guests for booking dining for the rest of your stay, up to 10 additional days. (Hint: that may make it easier to find coveted dining reservations later in your visit).”

You’ll also want to be sure to reserve your Fast Passes. With Disney’s FastPass+ system, you can book up to three fast passes per day in advance of your vacation. You can book them online or use Disney’s mobile app. If you are staying at a Disney property, you can book your Fast Passes 60 days in advance. Off-site guests can book 30 days out. After you redeem your initial three picks, you can head to a FastPass kiosk in the park where you’ll be able to make another selection.

More Disney Tips

“Disney is one of the few destinations that pays travel agents, which means there is no cost to you for using them,” says Leslie Harvey, Frequent Flyer TravelingMom. “Travel agents often have access to, and knowledge of, the best deals, so it can even pay to use them. They can save you a ton of time, and time is money!”

Let’s say you only have one day at Disney. Is it worth it? Texas TravelingMom Rebecca Darling did it, and she outlines her nine best tips for getting the most out of one day at Disney. “If you have a lot of stamina and want to see the parks, I encourage you to try too!” says Rebecca.

Have a question about family travel? Ask a TravelingMom!