Two sisters who saw our Disney World guide wondering what to do next
International Flower and Garden lifestyle shoot. April 2013. Photographer: Chris Sista

Planning a Disney World vacation just right takes a lot of thought and preparation, but the outcome will end up leaving you with the magical memories you’d hoped for. For those just beginning their research, the wide variety of options when it comes to lodging, dining, and entertainment can seem like information overload. Realizing that there are actually four amusement parks that make up the Walt Disney World Resort (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios) is a good place to start. From there, it’s best to focus on the basics and get ready to have the time of your life.  The Disney World guide below will give first-timers visiting the world-famous theme park resort some helpful advice and direction on making the most out of their Orlando getaway.

Where to Stay at Disney World

Wondering where to stay at Disney World is likely the number one question asked by everyone who visits. Though you’re sure to come across several different Disney-owned and operated housing choices, take care to consider all the benefits of Disney vacation rentals before booking one of the more expensive and populated accommodations of the resort. These vacation home alternatives tend to provide families and friends a better overall experience with more space, privacy, and amenities for their money. Many Disney World houses are located only minutes away from the park’s gates and give guests access to a myriad of other attractions and activities in the region.

Planning Ahead: Theme Parks/Transportation/Dining/Tickets

One of the first steps to planning a Disney World vacation is deciding whether you will be going to more than one theme park, and if so, which ones. This will have a big impact on the type of tickets you’ll need to buy and the number of total days you’ll want to arrange to have dedicated to exploring the parks. Next, you’ll want to think about your vacation transportation – how you’re going to get there and how you’re going to get around the area once you’re there. Depending on where you’re traveling from, you may choose to arrive in Orlando by airplane, train, or road trip. Once you’ve reached your destination, you might want to rent a car if you plan to venture to surrounding towns, otherwise, taxis, private car services, and sometimes shuttles from the Disney vacation rentals can easily get you back and forth to and from the resort. Another thing you want to plan ahead for are your meals: if you wish to be part of unique dining events that feature Disney characters, or have a nice sit-down dinner at one of the popular resort restaurants. These book well in advance, oftentimes months, so it’s best to make reservations as soon as you pick your trip dates. When it comes to buying Disney World tickets, preparing in advance can save you quite a bit of money. There are Disney authorized ticket sellers that offer discounted admission. In addition, purchasing a FastPass+ before getting to the resort is a great way to avoid long waits in lines and save hours at the park that can be better utilized having more fun. These tips will help you ensure you’re planning a Disney World vacation your family will never forget.