We know planning can be overwhelming—when to go, where to go, what to do—it's enough to drive a grown frog crazy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve made it easy to achieve a stress-free vacation. Hop into our Orlando planning timeline, which includes tips and resources to help you plan—and save on!— the perfect family vacation. Let's get hoppin'!
Choosing when to visit Orlando is the most important decision you can make when as you plan your theme park vacation. When you visit affects many aspects of your vacation planning as well as your vacation itself. For example, if you decide to visit between the busy week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, it is highly recommended that you make dining and hotel reservations much further in advance than if you visit during a less-busy time.
Our Crowd Calendar provides a month-by-month look at the best dates to visit Orlando, including recommended parks. You can also see the whole year at a glance!
You probably already know that Orlando is home to some of the most popular theme parks in the entire world. There is so much to experience—especially at the Walt Disney World Resorts®, the Universal Orlando Resort™ and the SeaWorld® Orlando—that planning what to do can be quite overwhelming! That's why we're here to help you determine the best parks, attractions and experiences for your family. The sooner you purchase tickets, the more money you can save.
We recommend that most first-time visiting famliies plan at least four days at Walt Disney World Resorts® and at least three days at Universal Orlando Resort™ (with the coming Universal's Volcano Bay water park, famliies may want to consider adding another day!). Some of our other favorite destinations that we recommend famliies spend at least one day at are SeaWorld® Orlando, Discovery Cove®, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort and Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay.
Undercover Tourist offers discounts on Orlando's top attractions.
When planning your theme park vacation, there is no shortage of options for where to stay in Orlando. With more than 400 hotels as well as vacation home rentals and campgrounds, Orlando has enough accommodation options to suit all needs with regard to budget, location and size. This also can make deciding where to stay a difficult decision. Consider booking a full 365 days in advance if you're visiting during the busiest times for the best availablity, especially if you want to stay at the Walt Disney World Resorts® and the Universal Orlando Resort™.
We're offering discounts on Orlando hotel rooms. Check out our Frog Family favorites, hop-fully located near the top attractions plus reviews of other recommended hotels
At 180 days out, you can make advance dining reservations (ADRs) for the Walt Disney World Resorts®. For the most popular restaurants, or if you are visiting during a busy time, we highly recommend you book as soon as your booking window opens. On-site Walt Disney World Resorts® hotel guests can book reservations for their entire stay at this time, giving them a jump on booking, which is very advantageous for the most popular restaurants.
In addition to dining reservations, you can also book special experiences such as the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or A Pirate’s League, where your princesses, princes, pirates and mermaids can get makeovers.
Create your My Disney Experience account before making your reservation. If you have a Walt Disney World Resorts® Hotel reservation, make sure it is linked in your account under "My Reservations and Tickets."
Although the best time to book a flight can vary by destination, generally you will find the best deals for domestic flights by booking between three weeks and four months in advance. For summer and busier times, it is recommended you book at least 75 days in advance. International travelers should consider booking at least three months and to a year in advance. Some award flights open 331 days in advance, but every carrier is different. If you are considering booking your flights with award miles or points, determine when the specific carrier award flight windows open.
Making dining reservations at the Universal Orlando Resort is a fairly easy process, although the booking windows vary depending on location and type of dining event. Generally, booking a month in advance for most restaurants should be sufficient.
In-park reservations for table-service restaurants can be made up to 30 days in advance by calling 407-224-FOOD or booking online. Reservations for Universal's Superstar Character Breakfast™ at Universal Studios Florida, held on select dates, can be made online up to six months in advance. Reservations for the The Grinch™ & Friends Character Breakfast at Universal's Islands of Adventure, held on select days during the Christmas holidays, do not usually open until early November. On-site Universal Orlando Resort™ hotel reservations can be made up to three months in advance using Open Table. Booking times for the Universal CityWalk restaurants vary, although some are available through Open Table. Some Universal CityWalk restaurants do not accept online reservations. For smaller, more-intimate locations, such as Emeril’s® Restaurant Orlando, you should book as soon as you know your dates, up to a year in advance.
Purchase your Walt Disney World Resorts® tickets at least 80 days in advance if you are staying on-site, so you can link them in My Disney Experience before your FastPass+ booking window opens. We recommend that guests staying off-site purchase tickets at least 50 days in advance. Generally, you will save more money the earlier you purchase your tickets. As soon as your tickets arrive (or you receive your ticket number), create your My Disney Experience account and link your tickets. If you are staying on-site, verify that your hotel reservation is linked with your account.
Undercover Tourist offers discounts on Orlando's top attractions.
It is most convenient to book your Orlando car rental when you purchase your tickets and you have already decided on your travel dates (and booked your flights). At 80 days, you will have a good choice of selection in Orlando, even if you are visiting during a busier time. Try to book at least two weeks in advance for the best rates and availability.
You can save up to 50% on car rental from five top-rated brands when you package with tickets. (Have you bought with us in the past? You already qualify!)
If you’re traveling to Walt Disney World Resorts® and will be staying on-site, you should begin researching which parks you wish to visit on which days, and identifying your priority attractions. You will need to know this information before you make your FastPass+ reservations. The booking window opens 60 or 30 days out, depending on if you are staying on or off-site. If you are visiting another resort or attractions, you do not need to decide what you’ll do as far in advance, but it’s always fun to see what your options are!
Use our Orlando Crowd Calendar to see daily recommended parks, park hours and key showtimes during your visit!
FastPass+ is Disney's reservation system that allows guests to book advance reservations for rides and experiences in the parks. Walt Disney World Resorts® Hotel guests can make FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days in advance of check-in for their entire length of stay. Guests staying offsite can make reservations up to 30 days in advance of each day of their theme park visit.
While you don’t have to plan what you’re going to do once you get to the Orlando parks and attractions, we generally think you’ll have a better time if you at least identify your priorities. We've got a ton of tips to help you plan your days in the parks. We also offer a variety of planning tools, including printable park plans and our Orlando planning app for iPhone that allows you to use our pre-set park plans for the Walt Disney World Resorts®, the Universal Orlando Resort™ and SeaWorld® Orlando that you can customize.
With our free app for iPhone, you can see wait times and create custom theme park plans (now in list and map view)!
Use the Orlando Crowd Calendar to finalize your park plans by day. This is also a great time to print your packing list, so you have time for any additional purchases.
Check our Orlando ride refurbishments page to see what will be closed during your visit.
Review your trip plans, pack and get ready for a great trip!
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