Disney Vacation Planning Step 1: How Much Time Do I Need?

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What if I told you half the fun of any Disney vacation is the planning! Sometimes I think I enjoy Disney vacation planning as much as the vacation itself. With Walt Disney World, the possibilities are endless- 20 resorts, 100 + restaurants, 4 parks, two water parks, a shopping district, 2 mini-golf courses, a regular golf course,  do you want me to keep going? If you’re not a regular, it can be downright overwhelming.

Disney Vacation Planning Series

That is why planning is so important! If you were to just show up with no preparation, you would miss out on so much just because you didn’t know it existed. Honestly, I think this is the main reason that families are disappointed by their Disney World Vacation. They walk away feeling frustrated by crowds and like they didn’t get their money’s worth. I don’t want that to be you! That’s why I’ve come up with 11 simple steps for planning a Disney World Vacation:

Step 1: How Much Time Do I Need?

Step 2: Which Disney Resort to Stay At

Step 3: Where to Eat

Step 4: How to Use Fastpass+

Step 5: Creating a Touring Plan

Step 6: What to Do on Resort Days

Step 7: Transportation

Step 8: Counting Down to Your Trip

Step 9: Packing For Your Trip

Step 10: Arrival Tips

Step 11: When Things Go Wrong

What can you expect to get from all this planning? A stress-free vacation where all the decisions have been made. No more standing in the park wondering what to do next. No eating burgers all week because you don’t know about all the amazing food options available. What if you only waited in line for 30 minutes for even the most popular rides? It’s possible when you plan ahead and know what to expect.


Of course the unexpected will happen, even at the most magical place on earth, but a good plan is flexible when a problem or even some extra magic comes along. You don’t want to copy someone else’s vacation, but decide what will make your vacation unforgettable. This guide will walk you through the options and help you know which is the best for your family. Ready to start? Let’s jump right into Step 1– Deciding how long your trip should be!

How Long Do You Need To Go For?

When you first start looking at a Disney World vacation, you will be overwhelmed by the number of things there are to do. You may think you would have to stay a month to get it all done.  While that is probably true, “getting it all done” should not be the goal of your vacations. If it is, you will be TIRED! Trust me. I’ve tried! I went; I did; I was EXHAUSTED! Several factors go into choosing how long to stay.


When deciding how long to stay, go through the list of attractions, shows, and dining and decided what is your absolute must-dos. The things that make your vacation feel Disney. The things that if you miss will be disappointing. Confession time! I can go to Disney World for a week, not go on Space Mountain one time, and be perfectly ok with it. For many people this is a must do, but right now for me, it’s not. For one, neither of my kids are tall enough to go on which means Shaun and I have to take turns going solo. It’s a rough ride and a long line. So for now, I leave it off my must-dos. When the kids are older and into it, that may change.

Must-dos can change with every trip. For instance, if you’re going at Christmas time, you may focus only on Christmas stuff while a summer trip may have days at the water park. Think about how many days it would take you to get through that list. One day in a park, or would it take two? Don’t plan so much that you feel rushed, and don’t judge the value of your trip by how much you “get done”. Sometimes, you just can’t plan Disney magic.

Disney World is huge! How long does it take to see it all? The answer to how long you need to stay at Disney and other questions are answered in this 11 part Disney vacation planning series.

Length vs. Luxury

If you’re like us, you are working on a budget which means decisions need to be made. I’ll talk more about resorts in a later post, but one factor is where we want to stay and what experiences we want to have. Sometimes we would rather stay at a deluxe for 2 nights for an anniversary trip instead of a value for a week on a family vacation. I may choose to stay one less day and go on a backstage tour. Getting the most out of a vacation is about having the best experience possible. Which one will give you the best experience? Quality or quantity?

Off Days

When I’m heading to Disney World, I factor in how many days I want to go to the parks and how many days I want to take off. Remember this is a vacation! Relax! Spend some time by the pool and window shop at Disney Springs. Don’t feel like you have to be a park every single day. You want to go home somewhat rested. If I’m going for a week, I divided it this way- 2 travel days, 3 park days, and 2 off days. We will have plenty of time to go on all our favorite rides, but we can still swim, shop, and eat without feeling like we’re wasting park time. Not to mention this also helps the budget by buying fewer tickets.


No two Disney vacations will look the same. I’m up at rope drop and stay till the park closes then crash by the pool the next day. You may only spend half a day at a park each day and sleep in every day. There is no right or wrong. Go ahead and make your must-do list. Ask your family members what they are looking forward to. When I asked my 5-year-old, he said swimming in the pool. He didn’t even mention a ride. I was shocked, but it changed my perspective on what was important.

When you get out of the mindset of doing everything, you will be able to relax and enjoy what’s most important to you. Calculate how many days you think your must-dos will take, add in a couple of off days to relax, plus a couple of travel days and you should have a pretty good idea of how long to stay. To continue with your Disney Vacation planning, continue with Step 2: Choosing a Disney Resort.

Disney Vacation Planning Timeline

One last thing! I’ve made a Disney Vacation Planning Mini Guide for you! In it is a timeline of Disney Vacation planning. Go ahead and look over that! Many of the things may not make sense to you right now, but I promise as we work our way through the series it will become clear! Download That Now, and then leave a comment telling me the #1 thing on your must do list! Mine is Expedition Everest!


  1. Taryn April 25, 2018
    • klund April 26, 2018
  2. Jessica January 1, 2019
    • klund January 2, 2019

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