Planning a Disney World Trip in 2022
From hotels to tickets, here’s everything you need to know when heading to WDW.
I have planned a trip in a month with friends for spring break, and have spent almost two years planning trips with my family of 10. No trip is the same, so no guide will be the same either. Additionally, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, things change quickly. However, we can share some general tips when it comes to how far out you should start planning your Disney vacation.
Trip Planning Timeline
You can make reservations for Disney Resort Hotels 499 days in advance if you call Walt Disney World directly at (407) 939-1936. You will have to pay the price of a one-night's stay as a deposit rather than the $200 deposit you pay for reservations made online. You will also not be able to purchase a “package” that includes park tickets so those will have to be purchased separately.
As of February 18, 2022, you can book a trip through December 31, 2022 on the Disney website. Booking directly with Disney means you have the ability to cancel for a full refund or change your reservation up to 30 days before your trip without any fees. The golden rule is to try to book 6 months or more before your desired check-in date, especially if you have specific needs for your trip. These needs could be:
There is a specific time you need to go
There is a specific hotel you want to stay at
There is a specific room type you’d like
If you book in this timeframe, you can generally get the room you’d like for the days you’re looking at. If it’s a particularly crowded time, such as holidays or school breaks, you’ll want to book even further in advance.
Note: Try using a crowd checker tool to explore different times of the year. More crowded also means a higher price for rooms and tickets.
When we planned our Spring Break trip, we were methodical with checking on different days and times for alternative check-in and check-out dates, resorts, and room types. If you’re diligent and flexible, you can usually find a winning combination.
Park Tickets and Park Reservations
Since the parks now require a park reservation for all guests above the age of three, Disney now recommends you purchase your park tickets at the same time as your hotel reservation. Disney recommends this process:
Check theme park reservation availability
Book resort and purchase admission tickets
Make park reservations
While the Disney Dining Plan is not currently active, you still need to plan ahead for any sit-down meals. Disney allows you to book dining reservations 60 days before your check-in date, which is closer to your trip than the 180 days it used to be before COVID-19. Also, not all restaurants with character dining are offering that experience right now.
Note: If the restaurant is located in one of the four parks, you will need a valid theme park ticket and park reservation to enter. You should plan your dining reservation around one of the days you already have a subsequent park reservation, as you may not be allowed to park hop due to crowds.
There’s always the possibility something will open up in the days before or during your trip. Similar to hotel reservations, you can score dining reservations if you keep checking for different days and times. Try a midday meal at 3 p.m. instead of a meal at more traditional breakfast, lunch, or dinner times. As a bonus, some of the meals are so filling you may only need one meal for that day!
Disney Resort Transportation
As of January 1, 2022, the complimentary shuttle service known as Disney’s Magical Express took its last ride. So now, you have several, paid options to consider to get from Orlando International Airport to your hotel:
Mears actually operated the Magical Express service, so it functions the most similarly. As soon as you book your flights, you can book this shuttle service which comes in standard (multiple stops at several hotels) or premium (direct to your resort). Mears recommends that you book around one month out from your arrival date, but you will need your flight information.
Genie+ and Lightning Lane
Technically, FastPass no longer exists. It’s simply Lightning Lane and Genie+ on the My Disney Experience app. While you used to log on 60 days before your trip to book FastPasses, you now have to wait until 12 a.m. the day of your first park visit to purchase Lightning Lane for $20/person. Then, at 7 a.m., you can make your first ride selections for the rides included at that park you have a reservation for. After you use the virtual pass during that time frame, you can select another and another as available, just like paper FastPasses used to be.
Some of the more popular attractions are not available on Lightning Lane and need to be purchased as individual passes. These range from $7 to $15 per person at Disney World. However, you do not have to purchase Lightning Lane to buy the individual passes.
Note: If you are not staying on property the night before your visit to the parks, you will have to wait until the park opens to make your Lightning Lane purchase and ride selection.
Planning a Disney trip can be overwhelming with so many moving pieces. But remember, there is no wrong way to plan a Disney vacation.
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