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Last Minute Trip to Walt Disney World

 

 

 

I got a note today from a family who is making a last minute trip to Walt Disney World. I think they had just run across Dad's Guide and found out that a Disney World vacation is not like running out to the local theme park. It takes a bit of planning.

 

 

 

 

So, let's talk about what to do in case you are in the same boat. Is it possible to plan a trip in just 24 hours? Sure it is. Let's get started.

 

A last minute trip to Disney World can make your head spin

The new Dumbo ride at WDW with a blue streak

Photo by Don Sullivan

Step 1 - Reservations

The first thing we have to do is make sure we have reservations. It's a daunting task, but with a bit of help, it should be pretty easy to complete. (You could always turn it over to Dad's friends at Destinations to Travel. They will be glad to smooth things out.)

 

The first thing you'll need is a airline reservations. They can be a bit tricky, especially if you are talking last minute. Sometimes you'll find a great deal, but not usually. Dad's got a neat little tool on his Flights to Orland page that will help you find the best deal.

 

Of course, you'll need hotels. Dad recommends Disney Hotels, but you might also want to look at hotels near Disney World. (Again, tryDestinations to Travel for your reservations.)

 

Tickets, get your tickets. If you didn't get your tickets with your Disney World Vacation Package, you might buy them at the gate. Yes, Disney sells tickets both at the hotels and at the gate. If you'd like to save a bit of money, check out Dad's Disney World ticket partner, Undercover Tourist. They have a store right in Orlando where you can pick tickets up.

 

If you are less that a week away from departure on your last minute trip to Walt Disney World, it might be too late for Disney's Magical Express (the free shuttle service to Disney Hotels) so you might have to rent a car at Disney World.

 

This late in the game it's probably to late to make Advanced Dining Reservations at any of the Table Service Restaurants, but you could always give it a try.

 

OK, all of that's out of the way it's time to go to step 2.

Step 2 - Planning

Since your going on a last minute trip to Walt Disney World, you probably don't have time to do a lot of planning and scheming (Dad loves the planning and scheming part of a WDW vacation) so this will be the condensed version of Planning a trip to Disney World.

 

Probably won't get to see
Pluto at Chef Mickey's
Pluto in a chef's apron at Chef Mickey's
Photo by Jeff_B.

The main thing is to pick the best days to visit each park. For that Dad recommends you look at Touringplans.com. Yes, go ahead and subscribe even though most of the information you will need is free. You'll definitely want to get the Lines app for while you are in the parks.

Once you get your subscription, look at the days you are planning to be at Walt Disney World. You'll see which park is recommended for each day. There will also be a ranking of predicted crowds levels for each park each day. The park opening and closing hours are also there along with the times for the parades and fireworks shows. Use this information to choose the which park you want to visit on each day.

 

Next you'll make a rough dining plan. If you have any reservations you can pencil them in and look at the restaurants you think you might want to check out. There are some great fast food or as Disney calls them Quick Service restaurants all around. I would highly suggest you eat breakfast at your hotel each morning early before you leave for the parks. (Once you get in the park, your time is better spent experiencing the rides.)

 

Ok, we have a rough plan let's firm it up a bit.

Step 3 - Crowd Avoidance Strategies

One of the big things to know, it will save you a ton of time on your last minute trip to Walt Disney World is how to avoid crowds. Crowds are a fact of life most of the year at WDW. That's just the way it is. But it they can be avoided at all but the busiest times of the year.

 

To avoid crowds, check out Dad's top 10 tips. These are the basic strategies that will always give you the best opportunity to tour without too much trouble.

 

Slow down and you might even see a butterfly

A monarch butterfly at Walt Disney World

Photo by Don Sullivan

Step 4 - Have Fun

Even a last minute trip to Walt Disney World can be fun. Yes, you planning nuts (Dad) it can. Remember, as you go through the parks, slow down, take in all the wonderful scenery. Check out all of the little details that separate Disney from the other theme parks. Take time to watch a show. Let the kids pick what to do next even if it's playing on a playground instead of riding the next great ride.

 

This is a time for the whole family to enjoy. Yes, you've spent a lot of money, enjoy it. Make a game out of standing in line. It's fun. Talk to people around you. Have fun. You won't regret it.

 

Dad's Bottom Line

A last minute trip to Walt Disney World can be a wonderful experience. It can also be a nightmare if you don't take a few minutes to think things out. The bottom line is to have a good time, stop and smell the roses.

 

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