Many travelers believe that you have to plan a Walt Disney World vacation well in advance. This is true if you want to secure the exact resort, dining reservations and fast passes. If you aren’t a planner, that’s ok, too; you can go last minute and still have a magical time. With only three days notice I planned not only a last minute trip, but a surprise trip to Walt Disney World for my seven year old daughter. So how did I do it? I will share tips and tricks so you can pull off the perfect last minute Disney vacation.
How did I come to plan a Walt Disney World trip with three days notice? My teen daughter was on a cruise with her dad and my youngest felt left out. My husband travels a lot for work and was home for the weekend so we said, “Let’s take her to Disney World”. With his crazy travel schedule, we do what we can with him whenever we get the chance. After messaging my oldest daughter to let her know what we were doing for her sister (and make sure she didn’t feel left out), it was time to plan.
My first bit of advice is don’t expect any discounts when you book a last minute trip. A short trip won’t break the bank, and that is why three or four days is perfect for last minute trips to Walt Disney World. We did have a budget in mind while planning this trip.
A deluxe resort was not in the budget for this stay. When you visit Disney for a short amount of time, you don’t spend extra time at the resort. Don’t splurge on a deluxe resort; save that for when you go for a week.
There were a few resort options available for the weekend, and we agreed on Caribbean Beach Resort. This moderate resort was perfect for the three of us. Offering newly refurbished rooms with two queen beds and a wall trundle, the room had plenty of space for us. I would even book this resort if we were traveling with my 16 year-old.
You will need to book your resort first, as that is where you will link everything in My Disney Experience as you plan.
TMOM Tip: Don’t try to plan a last minute trip over busy times such as Spring Break or the holidays. There will be little to no availability. Not to mention the price tag that will come with traveling to Disney during a peak time!
Side note: We love cute Disney-themed products and outfits! Not only do they look super cute in park photos but they make our lives easier – especially when they’re affordable. Check them out for yourself:
If you are flying to Orlando, you can find deals on Jet Blue or Southwest for last minute trips. You may have a layover but you will get to Orlando without a hefty price tag. Last minute trips are when frequent flyer miles come in handy. We used points to get home on Southwest but we flew to Orlando on Jet Blue. Shop around and find the best rates for your trip, even if they are on different airlines.
Once you have your airfare booked call Disney’s Magical Express line and set up your airport transportation. With this being linked to your reservation number, there is no need for paperwork. You will come up in the system when you check in. If you have Magic Bands from previous trips use those for this trip. Your Magical Express will be linked directly to the bands. If you don’t have a band, don’t worry. Show up and give your reservation number to the cast member. Your magic bands will be at the resort when you check-in.
TMOM Tip: Pack a carry on for the weekend. This way you don’t have to worry about baggage fees. You also won’t need to go to baggage claim upon arrival with a carry on. Get off the plane and head straight for the Magical Express to start your vacation.
Once you have your resort room and airfare booked it is time to plan for the fun. When planning a last minute trip to Disney, you won’t secure the top fast passes for the parks. By that I mean you probably won’t get one for Toy Story Midway Mania or the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. With their popularity, they go really fast even for those planning six months in advance. We chose a two day park hopper for our ticket option for the weekend. This gave us some down time on arrival day at our resort.
- You can find great fast passes last minute for many top attractions. We were able to secure Expedition Everest, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Kilamanjaro Safaris fast-passes.
- The My Disney Experience app shows wait times in real time. This means you can change fast passes if the stand-by wait time isn’t long for an attraction you may have booked a fast pass for. The flexiibility of My Disney Experience is great for last minute trips.
- The attraction lines are open until the park closes. This means you can get in line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 9.58 pm if the park closes at 10 p.m. and still get on with little to no wait at the end of the night.
Many Disney trips mean great dining. This trip was no acception. Before we left for Disney we secured a reservation at Splitsville in Disney Springs. When visiting Disney on a last minute trip, try something new. There are many great last minute reservations available. You can also keep checking My Disney Experience for cancellations. This is how we were able to surprise our Princess with Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom for lunch during this trip.
The key part of planning a last minute Disney vacation is being flexible. You can go with the flow and still have a magical time. I know we did.
Have you ever planned a last minute Walt Disney World vacation? What tips can you share?