By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

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Instructions for Your First Visit to Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute



Follow the instructions that follow for your first family visit to Walt Disney World to save thousands of dollars, and avoid dozens of hours waiting in line, while seeing all the best of Walt Disney World! you make great Disney World plans quickly!!1. When to Go to Walt Disney World:

Most years, I suggest that if you can, you should arrive at Walt Disney World one of the first two, sometimes three, Saturdays after ThanksgivingIn 2024 I recommend the first two weeks after Thanksgiving.    More…    Next best dates to go…

2. How Long to Stay:

You can have a wonderful trip spending as few as 5 days. However, if you can, be in Orlando for 9 days–a Saturday through a Sunday.    More…    Going for a shorter trip…

3. How Old/Tall Your Children Should be:

Kids of any age can have a wonderful time at Disney World. However, if this may be your kids’ only childhood visit, consider going when your youngest child is at least 8 or 9, and your shortest child at least 48 inches tall.      More…    Planning for going with younger/shorter kids…

4. Where to Stay at Walt Disney World:

Stay at Disney’s Polynesian Resort if you can afford it, or at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort if you can’t.   More…    Next best resort options…

5. How Much to Budget:

You can have a wonderful first visit for $3,000 or less. However, to see all the best of Walt Disney World at the best time of the year to visit, budget if you can $14,000 if you are staying at the Polynesian, or $9,500 if at Art of Animation.    More…    Developing a much lower or a different budget…

6. When Your Plans Need to be Firm:

Your plans should be firm at least 181 days before your arrival date.      More…    Planning if it’s already later than that…

7. How to Eat at Walt Disney World:

Sign up for the “Magic Your Way Plus Dining” package. More…    Planning if you can’t do this package…

8. Where to Eat:

The Basic Itinerary tells you exactly where to eat (as do the Other Itineraries).      More…    Next best dining choices…

9. How to Spend Your Time at Walt Disney World:

The Basic Itinerary tells you exactly how to spend your time in Orlando (as do the Other Itineraries).      More…    Other Itineraries…

10. What to do When:

See the To-Do List for an exact list of what to do when to prepare for your trip.       More…    To-Do Lists for Other Itineraries…

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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1 Brian { 10.12.19 at 6:54 pm }

Thanks again for the quick response. Ya I’m still not 100 percent sure if or when we are going. I have looked at prices for tickets and as of now I’m seeing 485 for 2 two day tickets. does that sound about average or is there any other place that I maybe able to get them cheaper. Those prices are direct from disney btw. Thanks again for all your help

2 Dave { 10.13.19 at 11:01 am }

Brian, prices vary by the first day of eligible use–in the period you are looking at, the range for two two day park tickets is about $60. You can’t find short tickets elsewhere that will cost less. Some of the longer-day tickets are available for small saving from third parties, but not shorter tickets.

3 kristi { 10.27.19 at 10:20 pm }

Can I get a copy of your schedule in word so i can use that to plug my plans into?

4 Dave { 10.28.19 at 8:13 am }

Hi Kristi, not sure what schedule you are referring to?

5 Elise { 11.10.19 at 7:19 am }

Dave! When is the 2020 book coming out???

6 Dave { 11.10.19 at 8:58 am }

Soon! All our copy is in our publisher’s hands

7 Brian { 11.18.19 at 1:51 am }

Just updating. We did go down 2 weeks ago was a fun trip for what it was but my little boy got sick the very first day at magic kingdom. But I’ll give disney credit I talked to the front desk at my room and they gave me 2 tickets good for a year for him getting sick. Def will be coming back down soon. What’s the weather usually like dec threw Feb. Want to come sometime in that area and curious on temp and swimming conditions. I know that’s a broad range but figured you would have an idea of the best time to go

8 Dave { 11.18.19 at 9:19 am }

Brian–so nice they worked with you on tickets.

On weather, I note on this page that highs are not reliably (80% chance or better) above 75 between the beginning of November and the end of March.

You can see a more nuanced version of this in the chart below. If you look at the bottom (blue) line, you can read a number for any date. 80% of the time the high will be over that, and 20% lower than that. The middle (pink) line is the 50-50 line–half the time the high will be lower, half the time higher.

9 Bria { 11.18.19 at 3:27 pm }

Thanks again for the quick response. Ya they worked really good with me and even refunded 50 more dollars because they refrigerator wasnt keeping anything cool in the room. Also is it normal for a plan to be cheaper at the desk than buying online? I was paying half cash and half on card so they told me I could at the front desk and the plan I got was cheaper by about 60 dollars or so. Maybe a little more I’d have to check my figures for an accurate account. I wasnt aware they charged for parking at their hotels so that kind of blew but still no paying at the parks so I still came out ahead

10 Dave { 11.19.19 at 2:04 pm }

What kind of plan?

11 Brian { 11.20.19 at 4:17 am }

I got two 2day passes and 3 nights at the all star movie resort (as I said it was a quick trip down and back literally left Sunday night and came back thursday morning) but the plan was cheaper at the desk vs what I was quoted online just curious if that’s the normal or I just got a off day on pricing

12 Dave { 11.21.19 at 7:34 am }

Brian, I have never heard of such a thing. There are some 10% ish off room rate deals out there–maybe you got put into one of those?

13 Brian { 11.26.19 at 1:28 pm }

Ya I’m not sure. The original plan I looked at online and was quoted on the phone was right about 906 I believe. Not including the parking. Or at least it wasnt mentioned. But the price they gave me at the desk before parking was under 900. Close to around 880ish I believe. It was wierd for sure but like you said maybe I got put into a discount. I’ll definitely check ahead of time again before I come back. This time I’m thinking magic kingdom and then sea world instead of animal kingdom. Didnt seem like much to do kid wise there but then again he was sick so that was also an issue

14 Jane { 12.16.19 at 11:51 am }

Hi Dave, I just wanted to say Thank You again for all of your wonderful advice which helped us on our most recent trip a few weeks ago and also our visits in 2014 and 15.

15 Dave { 12.17.19 at 9:04 am }

Jane, so glad to have helped!

16 Nadine { 12.29.19 at 10:54 am }

Your site is my favorite resource for Disney planning, since planning my family’s own “first visit” back in 2011!

I am now planning our third (and likely final—as my daughter will be graduating and moving away) visit for November 2020.

The Star Wars attractions are a priority for my husband and myself. With your experience, do you have any speculation as to how the process may be for riding Rise of the Resistance and Smuggler’s Run by that time? I realize the current practice with Rise of the Resistance is unprecedented. I guess my question is this—I need to determine to stay on-site vs. off-site. We will have a party of 6 this time, including my elderly parents and two teenagers, so space is important.

Obviously, even with the option of renting DVC points, we can get more bang for our buck for a large group if opting to stay off property. However, if there’s any chance of fast passes becoming an option for these attractions by then, the 60 day window alone would make it worth the extra money to stay on-site.

Of note, I’m a fan of the “Disney bubble” and we did stay on property our last two visits, though last time we rented a car and did 2 days at Universal, my kids’ “favorite” park. (I like it, too, it’s just no Disney!) We will go to Universal for a day this time as well (though we can take an uber now that that’s a valid option).

17 Dave { 12.29.19 at 11:01 am }

Hi Nadine! My best guess is that by then they will indeed be using FP+.

One thing you could do is double book both a 60 day eligible hotel and a 30 day eligible one. With the Disney hotels, you can cancel up until 5 days before on a room-only booking and get your full deposit back.

Another thing to keep in mind is that there are now many more hotels eligible for 60 days than there used to be. All the Disney Springs Resort Area hotels are now eligible, as are a few others. Detailed reviews are linked to from the bottom of this page. If multiple rooms is an ok option, look in particular at the Wyndham Garden.

The Doubletree sleeps 6, but the room layout may not suit your group…

18 Nadine { 12.29.19 at 12:31 pm }

Thank you so much for the advice!

19 Jennifer { 02.09.20 at 12:36 pm }

Hi, I wasn’t sure if this question was posted, I’m here at Disney now, I picked this week thinking it wouldn’t be crowded. but it’s PACKED. Someone said yesterday that the crowds were at 10/10! Any idea why?

20 Dave { 02.10.20 at 8:21 am }

Hey Jennifer, crowds Saturday were indeed at 10s, and Sunday at 9s. Everyone missed this. Touring plans had Saturday projected for a 6, and Sunday as a 4.

I have–in retrospect, so not helpful–several theories as to why:

Reschedules from hurricane Dorian; a general shift of people aimed at Food & Wine to Festivals of the Arts, because of several years in a row of hurricane issues. Both of these focus on this weekend as it is well into the second semester, so a good time to take kids out of school, but also avoids disrupting you-know-who’s watching of the super bowl. And Festival of the Arts is much better than F&W, anyway.

Also, this was the first weekend AFTER Rise of the Resistance opened that was also had a 60 day FastPass+ window open…so folks waiting to book a trip to WDW for Galaxy’s Edge until the RoR reviews came in would find this as the best first choice.

21 Sue { 02.22.20 at 1:50 pm }

Hi Dave!

Will you be reviewing Disney’s Riviera Resort? We have reservations for August and I’m looking for what room to request if you have a 2 bedroom villa with a standard view! Haha! Looking forward to your awesome expertise! Thanks!


22 Dave { 02.23.20 at 9:34 am }

Hi Sue, I’m working on my review now! I hope to have it done within a couple of weeks–it’ll be coming out in bits and pieces…

23 Michael { 03.08.20 at 10:27 am }

Hi Dave, just found your site (I knew of your co-author’s). This is wonderful! Although it’s not our first time, this year I, the wife, and grandson are going Sept 19, and your calendars and crowd guides are invaluable info! But, when oh when will RoR go to FastPass+?

24 Dave { 03.08.20 at 1:05 pm }

Hey Michael, welcome and thanks! FWIW, for someone coming here from, the most different stuff is my resort reviews–you can find links to all my resort reviews here.

For Rise, is seems the main question is continuing reliability, so they know with some assurance how many FP+ to issue per hour. I don’t think any outside has any insight into when that will be resolved sufficiently…

25 Brian { 03.28.20 at 6:00 am }

Quick question. With the shutdown and everything that has happened do you believe there is a chance they will be running specials or reduced rates on rooms at resorts when they finally open back up? I enjoyed the room we had back in November but cant being myself to pay almost 200 for the “value” rooms next month or soon after when they reopen. Any thoughts are appreciated

26 Dave { 03.29.20 at 2:36 pm }

Absolutely, I do Brian.

27 Brian { 03.31.20 at 5:44 am }

Hope so I have to get back down before july and was actually shooting for this month or april until everything happened. But we going threw prices for similar rooms we stayed in and it just seems to pricey for the same room in my opinion. Almost 200 last I checked a night for value rooms in the all star movie resorts. Hopefully they drop back down to a reasonable level or cheaper. If not any recommendations for offsite hotels? I’m sure you have a section on the site but I didnt see it. Thanks again for all your help

28 Brian { 05.28.20 at 11:56 pm }

Well now that everything is in motion to open back up what are your thoughts on how long the mask policy will last? A few weeks or months etc? I’d assume the first time people start passing out from that heat in a mask they will recend it. but who knows. Any thoughts?

29 Dave { 08.26.20 at 8:34 am }

Brian, I expect masks to be the last policy to be reversed–although clinically the best last policy to abandon is physical distancing.

30 Luis Benet { 05.17.21 at 9:19 am }

We would like to get back to WDW during the 50th, but limited to when children are not in school. We live in MA, and thus our vacation timeframes are President’s Week, the April vacation, and summer (about June 20th forward). We normally just do April but April 2022 is the week after Easter, and April 2023 is the month after the 50th is over.

What am I likely looking at in terms of crowds in ’22 for a President’s Day trip vs a week after Easter (Easter late next year – April 18th).

Also considering the late June.. a bit scared about the heat as we are wimpy New Englanders and we’ve been spoiled with prior trips being great weather (mostly mid April trips, couple early December).

31 Dave { 05.19.21 at 10:00 am }

Hi Luis, I have not done the data collection and analysis I need to do to give you an answer with conviction. However, it is typical that in late Easters the week after Easter is manageable–not good, but manageable. My vote right now would be that given the weather differences you should aim for the April dates.

32 Lauren { 07.20.21 at 6:27 pm }


Love your site even as a frequent Disney visitor, are you planning to post your 2022 recommendations soon?

33 Dave { 07.22.21 at 11:28 am }

Hi Lauren, and thanks!! I hope to have them out within a month

34 Sarah { 10.31.21 at 3:10 pm }

Hi Dave!

I love your content. I’m a pro with Disneyland (used to be a CM there,) but have only been to WDW once. My husband and daughter have been to Disneyland, but not WDW. We want to take our daughter next year when she is 5 1/2 years, she’s already 42″ and we plan on returning a couple years later, but we want this first trip to be special. We will be out of debt next year and this trip will be a celebration for us. We are excited to splurge and plan on staying at the Polynesian.

In 2022, out of September, October, November or early December, when do you recommend we go?

Thank you for everything you do!

35 Dave { 11.01.21 at 12:49 pm }

Thanks Sarah! I’ll have specific week by week recommendations for 2022 out very soon–hopefully by the weekend.

Take a look at those when they come out and let me know any questions you have!

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