Walt Disney World is in constant flux, and honestly, that is one of the main reasons why travel agents like Mouseketrips are in business and doing well. Packages change, hotels change, parks change, it can all get very confusing. For 2018, even more things are changing, and if you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World in the future, there are a few things you MUST know and do long before you leave. The ground rules of booking a Disney vacation have drastically changed, even from a year or two ago. If you haven’t been for 3 – 4 year (or more), it is no longer the same place, and booking your trip is going to be a completely different experience than before.
What has changed at Walt Disney World
- Walt Disney World is a world class tourist attraction, and you can bet that international tourists outnumber Americans on a regular basis. Economies in much of Asia and South America are improved, many people who could never travel before are now able to afford it, and one of their top destinations is Walt Disney World. Coupled with an improved US economy, Walt Disney World is in demand.
- Walt Disney World now has fewer hotel rooms than they have had anytime in the last few years. Both Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs have torn down a number of buildings to make way for expansion. Until those buildings are completed, there are fewer rooms available. Couple this with several deluxe resorts that have lost a large number of rooms to Disney Vacation Club, including the Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Polynesian Village, and there are less rooms available to book than anytime in the last 10 years.
- RunDisney is as popular as ever, and seems to get more popular each year. Unfortunately, Disneyland has announced that they will not hold any RunDisney events in 2018, which should make the Walt Disney World versions even more popular.
- Disney Cruise Line is set to launch 2 new larger ship very soon, which will bring even more Disney fans who want to experience both a Disney Cruise and Walt Disney World.
- Some very popular additions are coming to the Disney parks. In 2018, Hollywood Studios will be welcoming a new Toy Story themed land, with the Star Wars land to follow shortly (no opening date announced, but most likely sometime in 2019 or 2020). The Magic Kingdom is adding a new Tron coaster, based on the popular Shanghai Disneyland ride. These new lands and rides will surely increase demand to visit the parks.
So, there is more and more demand at WDW, and fewer resort rooms available. There was a time when you go plan your early December Disney vacation a few weeks in advance, stay anywhere you want, walk on all the rides and have no problem at all with dining reservations. Those days are gone, my friends. There are not more slow times at Disney. With the rise of the internet and planning sites, many of the traditional slow times are now some of the most busy, due to people reading 10 year old data and assuming it is still accurate.
What you MUST DO when planning a 2018 Disney World vacation
- Plan Early. When I say early, that does not mean 4 weeks instead of the normal 2 weeks. Plan as early as possible, preferably at least 7 – 12 months in advance. While this may sound crazy to some of you, it is the reality of visiting Disney now. Lately, we have had complete months were there was zero availability at any Disney hotel, and we expect in 2018 and beyond to be even more busy, From now on, assume that every night at every Disney hotel will be completely sold out three months before you are to arrive. If you wait until 3 – 4 months before travel, you will be very limited as to where you will be able to stay, if you even are given a choice.
- Book your dining reservations early. When staying on Disney property, you can book all your dining reservations 180 days in advance of your check in date. Do not miss that date, even by a day or two, or it is very likely you will miss out on most of the restaurant options at Disney, they fill up fast. Find out your date, get your schedule mapped out and restaurant options listed, then get up EARLY on your day and get your reservations booked.
- Book your FastPass reservations early. As with dining, fastpass reservations are getting harder and harder to come by. Staying on Disney property, you can book fastpass reservations 60 days in advance of check in. Again, get everything mapped out and decided, then get up early 60 days before and get them done.
What you MUST KNOW when planning at 2018 Disney World vacation
- Discounts are going away. For the last few years, and especially in 2017, Disney discounts are dead. While Disney World still releases their discounts just like they have done for the last 15 years (some much longer), the availability that Disney has offered is going down, down, down. So, when booking your vacation (well in advance), DO NOT plan on a discount, regardless of when you are going. The price you book it at will most likely be the price you will pay. If a discount does come out and you or your travel agent is able to secure it for you, consider it a lucky bonus and upgrade to a nicer hotel or add a dining plan. Remember, there are fewer rooms with much, much greater demand, and the resorts are selling out at full rate, so Disney no longer has any need of offering you a discount.
- The parks will be BUSY. As long as you know the parks will be busy, you can deal with it. As long as you have made your dining and fastpass reservations well in advance as suggested, then you will be fine. If you show up in early December thinking you will be the only one in the park and are just going to wing it, you will be sorely disappointed.
- Pick a resort you want to spend time at. At Mouseketrips, we have long suggested a break from the parks in the middle of the day. Arrive early, take a break, head back and enjoy the evening. If you do this, you are going to be spending more time at your resort than just sleeping there. Make sure your resort has the amenities you want (pools, gyms, restaurant, etc). Lean on your Mouseketrips agent to make sure you pick a resort that is right for your family.
Plan early and know what to expect, and you will have a fantastic Disney World vacation. Better yet, use the services of a Mouseketrips travel agent for free and let someone else do all of the planning and worrying for you.