Planning a Disney vacation can be overwhelming, even for the pros, and Walt Disney World is always changing, so whether you visited last year or last decade, things are going to be different this time around. In this article, we’ll give you advice about trip planning, as well as some of the important things that are new or different in 2024 so you can make sure you are armed with all of the knowledge to plan your trip.
If you get through this article (or even half of it) and are starting to think “Wow, I wish I had some help with planning this trip! I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars and mess it up!” — you’re not alone. That’s where we recommend contacting our friends at Be Our Guest Vacations. Their agents can help with all aspects of trip planning, answer your questions, give you insights about visiting Walt Disney World, and make sure you get the best value for your money, not to mention save you a lot of time and stress. And best of all, their concierge services are free!
What are the best times to visit Walt Disney World in 2024?
If you ask me, there’s no bad time to visit Walt Disney World. Certainly, some times of the year are better than others, but Walt Disney World is such a magical place, that with some planning and reasonable expectations, a visit to the Vacation Kingdom of the World will be fun no matter the time of year. That being said, if you have flexibility in when to visit, here are some tips.
If you are looking for the least crowded times to visit, target August, September, late January, and May. These also are usually the cheaper times.
If you are looking for the best weather and want to avoid the sweltering summer heat, look at February, March, October, and November. Note that on chilly days waterparks will often be closed so if they are an important part of your trip make sure you take that into account.
If you are interested in special events, EPCOT has festivals almost year-round nowadays (see our Full Guide to the 2024 EPCOT International Festival of the Arts), but there are also hard-ticket events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in August, September, and October, and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in November and December. The dates for these events change from year to year but your travel agent will have the most up-to-date information.
If you’re restricted to visiting during school holidays and breaks, you’re going to be facing more crowds and higher prices, but longer park hours somewhat mitigate those issues, and hard-ticketed events like Disney After Hours are also less crowded. Read on for park touring strategies that can also help during crowded times.
How much will a Walt Disney World trip cost in 2024?
Many factors go into your Walt Disney World budget, but the biggest factors to consider are the length of your stay and where you want to stay. Obviously the number of people in your traveling party will affect cost, but that’s not usually something you have much control over! Another budget item that could be much bigger for some people is the travel, but you’ve gotta get to Orlando somehow!
I’d always recommend making your trip as long as possible. As a kid, I would always tell my parents we should take an early Saturday flight and then return as late as possible the following Sunday, getting nine days at Walt Disney World.
Once you figure out where to stay and how long your trip will be, you should book your vacation as soon as possible. Booking as far in advance as you can will usually get you the best pricing, as you can lock in a price before Disney decides to raise prices again! And if Disney does release a promotion after you book, you can always apply that promotional pricing to your trip. If you book your trip with an agency like Be Our Guest Vacations, they have promotion monitoring systems in place to alert your agent when a promotion is released that could be applied to your trip. You can save money without having to do any of the legwork yourself!
In the next section, we’ll discuss pricing for the different categories of resorts, but this can vary quite a bit based on the time of year and if there are promotions available. Below that we discuss the ticket options available at Walt Disney World.
Where to stay in Walt Disney World in 2024?
Many factors go into choosing a resort to stay at for your Walt Disney World vacation. Each Disney resort has its plusses and minuses. Deluxe resorts will have nicer amenities than the moderate or value resorts. Certain resorts are located closer to the parks, so you can get to the park quicker. Disney resort guests also get extra park time, either in the form of morning Early Entry a half hour before regular park opening time, or special extended evening hours.
If you want to splurge, consider booking a club-level or concierge-level room, which grants you access to a special lounge just for concierge guests. Your travel agent can provide details about the benefits and perks available to concierge guests.
If you are primarily focused on the cheapest accommodations, the value resorts give you the best bang for your buck. Just make sure you understand that there will be a lack of amenities at these resorts, including no table-service restaurants, no interior hallways, no pool slides, etc. However for larger families, the Family Suites at the Value Resorts provide a lot more space at an attractive price point.
If you are looking for convenience and proximity to a park, the monorail resorts (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort) offer a quick ride to the Magic Kingdom, while the Crescent Lake resorts (Disney’s BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts) provide a quick walk or boat ride to EPCOT. The resorts along the Disney Skyliner route (Disney’s Pop Century Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, and Disney’s Riviera Resort) let you take to the skies for a quick jaunt to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
If you are looking for resorts with the best pools, the consensus #1 pick is Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts. Stormalong Bay is the premiere pool on property, and possibly anywhere in Orlando outside of a water park. Great pools are also found at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort.
If you are looking for the most luxurious or largest rooms, you’ll want to focus on Deluxe Resorts or Deluxe Villa Resorts. Suites or club-level rooms would also fit the bill. If you are looking for a larger room for a larger group (more than four people) but don’t necessarily need the luxury, the Family Suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Disney’s All-Star Music Resort can sleep 6 adults (plus one child under 3 in a crib). These are the size of two standard hotel rooms connected together. Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort also has a few rooms of this type; here, they are called Junior Suites. Also worth noting is that select rooms at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside have a trundle bed that can accommodate a fifth adult. If you have more than six adults, take a look at the Deluxe Villa Resorts. These have 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom villas which can sleep up to nine and 12 adults, respectively.
Since resort pricing varies based on the time of year, and promotions can play a role in pricing as well, we’ll give you a starting point based on rack rates for each resort category. To get a more exact price breakdown, you can get a free quote on a vacation package from our friends at Be Our Guest Vacations. Their experts can tailor a package to fit your needs and pricing, let you know about any promotions available, and best of all, their services are free!
If you are thinking about the Deluxe Villa resorts, note that these are DVC resorts, although they can be booked for cash by non-DVC members. However you can also book these accommodations by renting DVC points and this is often cheaper than the cash price Disney charges. One of the easiest ways to rent DVC points is by using a service like DVC Rental Store. They take the risk out of the point rental process by coordinating the entire transaction between the DVC member and the renter.
- All-Star Movies Resort
- All-Star Sports Resort
- All-Star Music Resort
- Pop Century Resort
- Art of Animation Resort
These resorts start at approximately $175 per night in the value season. Family Suites will often be a bit more than the price of two individual rooms.
- Port Orleans Resort (Riverside and French Quarter)
- Caribbean Beach Resort
- Coronado Springs Resort
- Fort Wilderness Resort
These resorts start at approximately $250 per night. Fort Wilderness falls into this category for its Cabins, which are currently being transformed into DVC accommodations.
Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts
- Grand Floridian Resort and Villas at Grand Floridian
- Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower
- Polynesian Village Resort and Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
- Wilderness Lodge Resort and Copper Creek and Boulder Ridge Villas
- Yacht Club Resort
- Beach Club Resort and Beach Club Villas
- Boardwalk Inn
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
- BoardWalk Inn and Boardwalk Villas
- Riviera Resort
- Animal Kingdom Lodge and Animal Kingdom Villas
- Old Key West
- Saratoga Springs
These two resort types offer both standard hotel rooms with two queen beds, and villas, which are DVC accommodations that can be booked on a cash basis for non-DVC members. Rooms start at $450 per night and can get quite a bit higher in the busy seasons.
What tickets are best for Walt Disney World in 2024?
With the return of all-day park hopping, ticket options need a re-think in 2024. We recently posted an in-depth analysis of park-hopper tickets vs. one-park-per-day tickets, which is worth a read if you are undecided. If you do decide that park-hopper tickets are for you, we also posted an extensive guide to the new all-day park-hopping system.
In addition to park hopping, you also need to consider how many park days you’ll want during your trip. You can err on the side of caution here because adding more days to your package doesn’t increase the price all that much, and it may prove to be a more enjoyable vacation if you don’t feel you need to be at the parks from rope drop to closing to get your money’s worth. If you are arriving early in the day, you might want park tickets for your arrival day since everyone will be excited and want to get going! If your departure is late in the day, maybe you want park tickets for that day in case you missed anything on your must-do list.
After you figure out how long your trip will be, the next big question will be how many days you want to spend in the parks. Since the price of tickets does not increase dramatically after four or five days, you can have six or seven park days for not much more money. We’d recommend at least four park days for first-timers, but three is doable. Again, more is better, but it’s also very wise to plan for a midweek break to give you a bit of a recharge. On the break day, you can enjoy your resort’s amenities, visit Disney Springs, or maybe even try FootGolf. A travel agent can provide a plethora of suggestions depending on your travel party’s interests.
You may also want to consider the Water Parks and Sports option if you want to visit a water park. This is often a great activity on your midweek break day, because the water parks don’t usually open until 10 a.m., giving you a bit of time to sleep in. This add-on to your ticket also entitles you to FootGolf, a round of golf at Disney’s Oak Trail course, and miniature golf at Fantasia Gardens or Winter Summerland (before 4 p.m.). All of these are great ideas for your break day!
What about the Dining Plan? Memory Maker? Enchanting Extras?
Once you’ve gotten the resort and tickets figured out, there’s still more to consider. Dining plans make your trip feel more like an all-inclusive resort, where you don’t have to worry about paying for each meal separately. Dining plans were suspended in 2020 but have just made their return to Walt Disney World in 2024. Whether it’s a good deal or not really depends on what restaurants you visit. Note that for most of the table service restaurants, you’ll need Advanced Dining Reservations. If you book through a travel agent, they can make your dining reservations as well!
Disney Dining Plan
This is the more expensive of the two dining plan options. It provides, to each member of your party, the following entitlements for each day of your stay:
- 1 Table Service Meal
- 1 Quick Service (Counter Service) Meal
- 1 Snack or Non-alcoholic beverage
Each member of your party also receives 1 Resort-Refillable Mug. Note that you don’t have to use all of the entitlements each day; you can have 2 Table Service meals in one day, or 4 snacks in one day. Your allotment is given in full at the beginning of your stay and can be used whenever you wish.
Quick Service Dining Plan
This is the less expensive of the two dining plan options. It provides, to each member of your party, the following entitlements for each day of your stay:
- NO Table Service Meal
- 2 Quick Service (Counter Service) Meals
- 1 Snack or Non-alcoholic beverage
Each member of your party also receives 1 Resort-Refillable Mug. As above, your allotment of entitlements can be used whenever you like.
This add-on provides you with photos taken by the PhotoPass photographers in the parks, as well as on-ride photos, throughout your stay. If you add this when you book your vacation package, it is cheaper than purchasing it once you are at the parks.
This is a catch-all for many other special experiences you can do during your trip. Get a makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, build a lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop or a droid at Droid Depot, go on a behind-the-scenes tour, a fireworks cruise, and much more! Your travel agent can recommend different options for your group and book them for you as well.
What strategies are best for touring parks at Walt Disney World in 2024?
There are three things you need to know about before we get into touring strategies. They are the Disney Genie Service, Genie+, and Lightning Lane.
The Disney Genie Service is a free trip planner that can give you guidance about how to tour the parks. It is built into the My Disney Experience app, and it’s pretty much worth what you paid for it. It may be helpful if you have no idea about a touring strategy, but its advice is often hit or miss. We did a full overview article when the service launched.
Genie+ is something completely different. Remember the days of FastPass? Its replacement is called Genie+ and now it costs money. Whether it is worth the price is a discussion for another time, but many guests opt to purchase it to save time in line. Although it’s been tweaked since its introduction in the fall of 2001, the basic premise is the same. Our overview and full guide were just updated to cover the latest tweaks to the system, and should be required reading for anyone considering paying for this service.
Whether it’s a good idea to pay extra for Genie+ or not depends on how you want to spend your vacation time. There are basically four strategies:
- The Old-Fashioned Way – Before Genie+ and before FastPass, everyone just waited in line. It is free but obviously takes up a lot of time, depending on the season you visit.
- Rope-Dropping – This strategy requires the most discipline. If the park’s posted opening time is 9 a.m., you need to be at the park entrance by 8 a.m. Usually, some amount of the entrance of the park (Main Street U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom for example) is accessible, but beyond that is roped off. At exactly 9 a.m., the Cast Members will drop the rope and allow guests to access the park. If you are at the front of the horde, you can ride at least one, and likely two or three, attractions with minimal wait. This can save hours of waiting in line.
- The Night Owl Way – Lines are often short in the hour or so before the park closes. If the park’s posted closing time is 9 p.m., you can get in line for an attraction at 8:59 p.m. and regardless of the wait time, you’ll get to ride. Additionally, especially for Magic Kingdom, the time between the fireworks and park close is when everyone else is leaving and you can hop on many attractions with little wait.
- Pay Money – Disney has figured out how to monetize almost every aspect of your vacation, and you can pay money for Genie+ and Lightning Lanes to save time. This can almost be a necessity when crowds are high, but on the flip side, the more people that buy into the system, the less useful it becomes. Check out our full guide to Genie+ and Lightning Lane for all the details and pricing, and a list of which rides at each park are included.
Getting the Best Deal on your 2024 Disney Vacation
We’ve covered the basics of planning a Disney vacation. Now the last thing (and maybe the most important) is to make sure you are getting the best deal! Should you book resorts and tickets separately or as a package? It’s always a good idea to price out each option and compare. It is worth noting that if you buy tickets separately and have to cancel or postpone your trip, you can run into trouble because tickets are non-refundable. However, a vacation package often has more a lenient cancellation policy as far as park tickets because they are part of the package. This can get really confusing really fast, but this is where the experts at Be Our Guest Vacations really shine. Your agent will know all about the current promotions being offered, can price out dozens of different options, and will even keep an eye out after you book if there happens to be a new promotion that comes out later, which they can apply to your existing reservation. And best of all, their services are completely free!
While this seems like a lot, we’ve actually just scratched the surface of trip planning. Your agent can also help out with booking character meals, transportation to and from the airport, and more! Let our friends at Be Our Guest Vacations help you plan your dream vacation, and save you time and money in the process!