Q: How far in advance should I book my Disney vacation?
To get through the winter, most of us our setting our sites on sunnier climes and perhaps even a visit to one of Disney’s amazing destinations. So when should you start planning and/or booking your Disney getaway? It varies a bit from destination to destination but when it comes to Disney, I generally advise clients the earlier the better. However, for those looking for a few more specifics, here’s some general guidelines on booking at Walt Disney World, with Disney Cruise Line or at Disneyland in California.
Walt Disney World
Let me first preface this by saying that there is no “wrong” time to book a Disney stay. I have booked last-minute visits for clients who had just as much fun as those that booked months in advance. However, if I were to pick the best time, I would say AT LEAST six month ahead of time. Especially during peak periods like Spring Break, Summer Break, Food and Wine Festival, Halloween and Christmas, Walt Disney World resorts can fill up fast. This means that you may not get the resort or room category that you were looking for.
The other main reason to book this far out is that guests have the option of booking their Dining reservations 180 days before you are due to arrive at Disney and onsite guests have the extra perk of being able to book dining for their entire stay all at once (rather than having to call each day that hits 180 days like offsite guests). Dining reservations, particularly at popular locations like Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table, can book up very far in advance. So, the earlier you have your package in place and know what days you’ll want to be dining where, the better shape you’re in.
Walt Disney World packages are currently available to book through until the end of 2017.
But Walt Disney World isn’t running discounts that far in advance. Does that mean I’ll have to pay full price? Absolutely not. Though Disney may not release discounts until closer to your travel dates you can still nab them as soon as they become available. If you’re working with a travel agent, they should automatically do this for you. Disney World also has an amazing policy when it comes to making changes or cancellations. You can make alterations to your reservation up to 31 days before your vacation without any penalty. So if you need to change your dates, resorts or tickets to qualify for a discount you can go for it. Or, if you didn’t get the discount you were hoping for you always have the option of cancelling. I typically advise not to wait until the day a discount is released to book. Not only is it pandemonium, but resorts sell out fast on offer days. Booking your package well ahead of time means that you can go into a discount already knowing that you have the package that you want and that you just need to apply the savings!
Disney Cruise Line
When it comes to Disney Cruise Line you have the option of booking even further out than Walt Disney World. DCL will usually release sailings over a year in advance. For instance, guests can currently book through until the Spring of 2018 with dates for the rest of 2018 expected to be released during the first half of 2017. When it comes to nabbing great cruising rates with Disney, they buck the trend of other cruise lines that offer crazy last minute discounts. The earlier your book your Disney Cruise the better your savings. Disney will rarely offer deep discounts on its cruises. Due to the popularity and limited sailings they don’t really have to. Instead, they will offer the lowest rates as soon as a sailing is released for sale. As the ship begins to fill up for that particular sailing the prices go up. This means that waiting to book until the last minute could mean paying a lot more than those who booked over a year in advance. For this reason, many Disney Cruise Line -regulars will book on release date.
When it comes to a Disneyland stay, packages can currently be booked through until the end of 2017. On the one hand, when I make bookings for a Disneyland vacation, they tend to be closer to the actual travel dates then with Walt Disney World. At Disneyland, dining can only be booked 60 days beforehand and Fastpasses are something you arrange on the day. This means that most guests don’t feel the need to book incredibly far out. Because there are only two theme parks rather than four, it is also rare that Disneyland guests will stay for a week. Usually Disneyland vacations are enjoyed over long weekends and consist of a 3 or 4 night stay. However that doesn’t mean I’d wait to the last minute. I am still a huge advocate of booking as early as possible for one important reason. You have to remember that when booking a Walt Disney World vacation, you have 25 onsite resorts to choose from. At Disneyland there are only 3 hotels. This means that at popular times of year, resort rooms can be a bit tricky to come by. It’s worth booking early to ensure that you have the hotel and room category that you want and then making changes later if you need to.
So remember, there’s no bad time to book your Disney vacation, however a general rule tends to be the earlier the better! If you’re thinking about a Disney getaway in 2017, start by filling out the form below to receive your FREE quote.
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Images copyright Disney.
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