Given that Walt Disney World is one of the most popular theme parks in the world, booking early has its advantages.
But, how far in advance can you book a Disney vacation? The short answer is it depends.
...are you looking to book rooms at your first-choice Disney resort?
…do you want to get the best seats in the house at all the must-do experiences?
…or are you after scoring a table at your favorite restaurants?
Whatever your itinerary is, one thing’s for sure — the early bird gets the worm! Read on to know everything about booking your Disney World vacation far in advance.
How Far In Advance Can you Book A Walt Disney World Vacation?
Let’s break this down for you. Here are the guidelines for booking your trip early. You can book a room only or a full vacation package.
Disney World Vacation Package
The vacation packages for the first half of 2022 were released in February of this year — which means some people actually booked theirs more than a year in advance!
However, this doesn’t happen often as there is no specific date on which Disney releases package pricing every year.
The Walt Disney Company typically releases packages for the following year sometime in the summer, usually mid- to late-June, but it can even be as late as mid-July. If we’re in luck, they’ll have it available way earlier just like how they did this year.
A Walt Disney World vacation package includes:
- Room at a Disney Resort hotel
- Park passes, water park tickets
- Dining plans
- Transfers on Disney’s Magical Express (available until December 31, 2021).
I’ve tried booking Walt Disney World packages as soon as they are released (more on the advantages of booking early below). Let me tell you the Disney phone lines can get crazy busy.
You might want to get an authorized Disney vacation planner to make the call for you, whether you are booking a new package or switching from a room-only reservation to a package.
If in case you have made a room-only reservation (more on this below) and you want to switch to a package, you will need to put down a $200 deposit. Your initial deposit will be refunded to you (this is usually the cost of a one-night stay at a Disney World resort).
You can book a room-only Walt Disney World vacation 499 days in advance.
This type of booking includes only your room or rooms at a Disney Resort hotel. It does not include any theme park tickets, Disney dining plans, or special experiences.
Take note though that if you are going to make a reservation this far out, you may not be able to do it online. Disney’s online reservation system usually only has dates until the end of the next year.
For a reservation that is 499 days out, I recommend calling Disney directly or using a travel agent for your Disney vacation planning.
If there is a specific resort where you want to stay at during your Disney World vacation, room-only reservations can get you your preferred room (for instance, a room with a view of Magic Kingdom fireworks) before the bookings for vacation packages open up.
How To Book A Disney Vacation Package
The easiest way to do this is to contact a travel agent to do the booking for you. You can also go the DIY route and book your Disney trip on the Walt Disney World website.
Here’s how you do it:
- Go to the Walt Disney World vacation planning page.
- Choose the Walt Disney World resort where you’d like to stay.
- Add your party size and choose your travel dates when you’re planning on visiting Walt Disney World.
- Select your theme park tickets.
- Add other options to make the most our your trip!
Note that when you select your them park tickets, they are base tickets valid for admission to one theme park per day for the length of your stay plus one.
You can select a different ticket length or choose no tickets — totally up to you. The price of your package will reflect this.
Remember that the theme park tickets purchased as part of Disney vacation packages may only be used beginning on the check-in date.
You can also add options like Park Hopper, Park Hopper Plus, and Water Parks and Sports in the next step of the booking. You can also add the Disney Genie+ Service to your tickets.
Mandatory hotel fees, if applicable, are included in the package price.
How Far In Advance Can You Book A Disneyland Vacation In California?
Schedules can vary, but reservations for Disneyland Resort hotels can usually be made at least four months in advance. You can make theme park reservations at the Disneyland Resort up to 120 days or more in advance (subject to availability).
Keep in mind that the Walt Disney Company makes reservations available on a rolling basis to accommodate a diverse range of guests. Therefore, different types of admission tickets may have different availability.
If Disneyland is sold out for your preferred dates, it might be worth checking back later to see if anything opened up.
How Far In Advance Can You Book A Disney Cruise?
To get the best prices and a larger selection of staterooms, you should book your Disney vacations by cruise ship at least a year in advance.
A vacation with the Disney Cruise Line is a fantastic way to enjoy the Disney magic we all love and travel to destinations around the world. Remember, Disney Cruise Line is very, very popular. Many people (like me) love it because the cost of the cruise includes completely free dining and entertainment.
I recommend you get started on the planning process ASAP, especially if you are going on one of the Disney Cruise Line special itineraries such as their holiday cruises. They sell out in the blink of an eye.
When making your advance booking, keep in mind that Disney Cruise Line itineraries that sail from Port Canaveral can be booked as a land and sea package.
You get to sail on an iconic Disney cruise ship and visit Disney World. That’s double the fun!
Why Book Disney Early?
There are multiple reasons why I recommend booking early. Indeed, you should start planning and booking Disneyland and Disney World vacations as far out as available.
As mentioned, you can make room only reservations 499 days in advance and switch the first reservation to a package at a later date to include theme park tickets, a dining plan, and more.
Advantages of early booking:
- Flexible payment arrangements
Early bookings give you the chance to pay for your vacation a little bit at a time. Once your trip is booked, you can start looking at prices for air travel and applying payments towards your vacation.
- More room category choices
Another reason to book early is that many popular resort hotels in Disney World, such as the Animal Kingdom Lodge, sell out fast.
This is especially true if you want a highly sought-after room category — for example, a room with a view of the animals on the savanna from your private balcony.
You can maximize your chances of snagging it by booking as far out as possible. Highly recommended if you are going there for special events.
If you are traveling to Florida during a busy time such as Spring Break or the holidays in December, you will want to make sure you book early to get the resorts and room categories you want.
If you wait until October to book for Christmas, you might be disappointed. With Disney’s low deposit rates and generous cancellation policies, you really shouldn’t leave it that late.
You can cancel or modify your reservation up to 30 days before you travel without any fees or receive a full refund of your deposit if you need to cancel your trip.
- Easier dining reservations
Plus, once you have your arrival date finalized, you can start making dining reservations. If you’re planning to eat at a popular place like Cinderella’s Royal Table, this could make all the difference.
- Gets you more excited
The best thing about booking a Disney World trip early, in my opinion, is that it adds to the excitement. When I see upcoming trips in the My Disney Experience app, it’s such a thrill!
PRO TIP: I recommend using travel agents who specialize in Orlando and WDW vacations to get you the biggest discounts. You should, of course, also check the official Disney website for any special offers currently on sale.
Final Thoughts On Booking Disney Early
Of course not everything goes to plan all the time, especially if you have kids in tow. But planning far in advance definitely gives me and my family more time to prepare for our vacation, and the excitement is absolutely priceless!
How do you prepare for your Disney vacation in advance?