Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. This is no extra cost to you, but sometimes I receive a commission from links for referring you.
We started planning our first Disney vacation in 2014 (went for the first time in 2015) as a way to have something exciting to focus on in the midst of our struggles with infertility. We had no idea we’d get addicted to the most magical place on earth like we did, and no idea that it would save our sanity after our miscarriage last year. While we haven’t become a “Disney every year” family, we do go every other year, and we’re currently planning our third Disney vacation for May 2019!
Quite often people tell me “I want to plan a Disney vacation but have no idea where to start”, so that is what this post is going to focus on today! Disney vacations are not like any other trip you plan. I spend fewer hours planning to go to the beach or the mountains. There is a lot of detail involved with Disney, and while it can look overwhelming from the outside, once you’re in it you understand why there is so much to plan. From dining to FastPasses, to touring plans so you can avoid long lines, there is just a lot to figure out. But the good news is there are so many free resources available to not only making planning more fun but to also take the hard work out of it. Whether or not you have children to take to Disney, there is something at the parks for everyone.
Before you get started on planning your Disney vacation, check out my posts on How to Afford a Trip to Disney World and How to Earn FREE Money for Vacations, then come back here for your free planning resources.
FREE Disney Vacation Planning Videos
Disney does a great job creating videos that get you excited to visit their parks. They used to send DVDs in the mail but have now switched everything over to streaming online. So grab a cup of coffee, grab your family (or don’t if you want this to be a surprise!), and check out their free planning videos. You do need to fill out a little form to access them, but I promise it’s worth it. And to be honest, once they have your info, they can mail you special offers. I’ve gotten a few in the mail myself! Even though I’m into planning my third trip, I enjoy these videos. The Magic Kingdom video gives me so many feelings! Check them out here:
FREE Travel Agent Services
I love planning my Disney vacations, but I don’t always love doing the work of booking dining reservations and FastPasses. It tends to stress me out… especially when it comes to competing for the highly sought-after reservations. Hiring a Disney Travel Agent for our trip in 2017 was the best decision ever. I was able to pick everything out myself but I didn’t have to deal with any of the bookings. I stayed in bed while all of my dining reservation confirmations were rolling into my email in the wee hours of the morning. It was glorious! I loved it so much, I hired the same agent for our 2019 trip. Her services were (are!) free to me (her commission comes from Disney), and you can do the same thing. There are a lot of agents around the US, but I use Lauren with Mainstreet Travel Co, and she can help you, too!
FREE Informational Podcasts
If you have a long commute to the office like I do, you probably see the value in listening to a podcast while in traffic. I have found that Disney podcasts are my favorite because I learn a lot and it keeps the vacation planning fun alive while I’m waiting for the next “booking” date to come (dining reservations are 180 days out and FastPasses are 60 days out if you’re staying on property, 30 days out if not). There are a few that I listen to the most:
- WDW Prep To Go: Shannon pretty much has everyone beat when it comes to Disney vacation planning help. Not only is her website the best, but her podcasts feature trip reports from her own trips and other people’s as well, and I find I learn so many new things by listening to these reports. She also has random informational podcasts that are short and sweet but packed full of valuable information. She owns a travel agency so that adds a depth of information you wouldn’t get otherwise. I recommend everyone start with her first. I’ve listened to her podcasts since 2015!
- DisUnplugged, Dreams Unlimited Travel, and The Best & Worst of Walt Disney World. All three of these are the same people, so it depends on what you’re interested in. I personally enjoy the food reviews they do because they are very detailed, and I do enjoy the news segments from time to time. Since they are a travel agency (like WDW Prep), I’ve learned a lot of random things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. They’re a quirky group, but they’ve been in the Disney business for 20+ years so they have quite the knowledge to share. If you want to learn a lot about the ins and outs of Disney, these are good ones to listen to.
So as you can see, there are so many free resources available to you! There is absolutely no reason to pay for a “how to” book or pay someone a fee to do the planning and booking for you. Remember that Disney travel agents are free to you and if someone charges you a premium, they’re scamming you. It’s free. Start with Disney’s official planning videos and go from there! And of course, if you have any questions, hit me up. I’m happy to help! I love talking Disney…