Last Updated on December 6, 2022 by Heather
With each year, it becomes increasingly difficult to save money for a family vacation to a Disney theme park. A Disney vacation can be expensive, with the average family having to save for more than four years to afford a week there. But we all still want to go and experience the magic right?! Thankfully, there are ways to cut costs, and most would advise you to book in advance. Is it cheaper to book Disney in advance? Let’s find out!
Booking 7 to 8 months in advance is not unusual for visitors to Walt Disney World. Disney’s Vacation Club members can access special rates and benefits if they book their vacations 11 months in advance. You can always find a better deal online, whether for a hotel room or a plane ticket. Keep an eye on both to ensure you get the best prices!
Now you know why everyone recommends booking your Disney trip in advance if you have a tight budget, so you can pay for it over a longer period of time. But that’s not all the benefits you’ll reap if you start preparing ahead! I will talk about it all in detail below and pass on some of the tips and tricks we use as a family when we were booking our vacations. Additionally, I will share all the rides you must experience during your visit, how far in advance you can book them, and more!
Why Should You Book Your Disney Vacation in Advance?
If you are here reading this, you are probably like me and dream of your next Disney Vacation on the daily. Of course, preparation ahead of time is highly recommended. Especially during the summer or around the holidays, pre-bookings are a must! Overall, there are many reasons to book your trip in advance, but here are the top three for booking your Disney vacation in advance:
1. For the Best Rates and Availability, Book in Advance!
The lack of a guaranteed vacation spots at Disney World is the first reason to book as far in advance as possible. Walt Disney World is so large and has so many attractions that it can accommodate virtually any visitor. But as the most visited US tourist spot, hotels and other lodging options in this area tend to fill up quickly.
Need a room with a view or near some public transportation? Since you’re probably not alone, it’s best to plan to ensure you obtain the required services. And don’t forget that if a better deal comes along later, you can call Disney and they will apply that rate to your existing reservation!
2. Spend Less!
Did you know you may save thousands of dollars by planning and booking a vacation to Disney well in advance? You can get more out of your trip if you try to prepare in advance. Disney often offers seasonal discounts throughout the year, especially during less busy times. These are time sensitive and will only be available if you book your trip before a specified date.
You can save as much as 30 percent on your trip if you book in advance. Additionally, if you book with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, they will keep an eye out for any available deals. These deals could reduce the total cost of your trip and result in significant cost savings or even an upgrade in accommodations. If you use a Disney Planner it will not cost you anything extra! They are paid through commission directly from Disney, you just get the benefits of their service!
If you plan ahead, you can also find the most affordable flights to your Disney destination. If you’re looking for cheap flights, try sites like Expedia and Priceline, or search for flights directly on Google Flights. The best deals are usually available between two and four months before departure. Certain Airlines like Frontier have amazing deals on flights into Orlando on the regular. I have found with airlines like Frontier, if you can be flexible with your travel dates you can really find amazing deals! This is where planning ahead pays off because you can start with your flights, booking the cheapest dates and then building your Disney dream vacation from there.
3. Greater Flexibility
You can quickly become tied into your trip’s specifics when you make a last-minute reservation. Booking in advance will allow you to tailor your trip to your preferences and save money. For example, you can avoid waiting in long holiday lines. As much as that s possible these days!
If you can, try to schedule your trip on a weekday instead of a weekend or avoid visiting during a major holiday. Even if some new event is announced, early booking will ensure you can move your vacation to the optimal dates.
Want to stay an extra day for relaxation? Booking in advance also helps with this! You can make any necessary adjustments until 30 days before your scheduled arrival.
How Far in Advance Can You Book A Disney Vacation?
Disney World holiday packages for arrivals in 2023 are currently on sale. As a general rule, you can book Disney World vacation packages on a rolling basis for arrival dates between 365 and 499 days.
In the past, you could make reservations for Room Only up to 499 days in advance. However, beginning in August 2022, this policy is no longer in effect. The new procedure for Room-Only Reservations is that they can be made as long in advance as package reservations. That implies you can make a reservation for a room with no extras through the end of the year 2023.
You must reserve a “package” if you wish to book a room and tickets simultaneously. Release dates for next year’s packages vary, although they often occur in the late spring or early summer, around the middle to the end of June (though they have been known to slip into early July).
How to Book Lightning Lanes for Your Disney Vacation
Lightning Lanes are fantastic since they allow you to skip the massive lines for popular attractions. Getting your Lightning Lanes in advance would be nice, but unfortunately you cannot do that with the new Genie+ system. If you are unfamiliar with Lightning Lanes and Genie+, follow these instructions:
Step 1: Create a Disney Account
First, you’ll need to create a Disney account. You might already have a Disney account without realizing it, given how interconnected all of Disney’s sites are. Sign up for an account or enter an existing one on Disney’s main website.
Step 2: Get the My Disney Experience App!
Next, get the My Disney Experience mobile app. This is where you will access the Genie+ service to book your Lightning Lanes.
Bringing your phone into the parks is a necessary evil at this point and time. As much as we would like to completely disconnect while on vacation, using the My Disney Experience App while in the parks is a must right now!
Step 3: Link Your Tickets
If you buy your tickets from Disney, they will automatically be associated with your account. You’d have to connect them if you made your purchase elsewhere manually. Get the ticket number ready to go before you begin. If you’re doing this on a computer, select “My Profile” from the menu when you click the “My Disney Experience” icon in the upper right corner.
In that section, you’ll have the option of including the contact details of your invited friends and family members alongside your own. You can still link accounts for Genie+ access if a member of your group buys their ticket using their Disney account.
To confirm your permission to link/plan with someone, Disney sends them an email to verify your Friends’ and Family accounts. If you’re having problems with this stage, Disney’s tech assistance is available via phone to help you through it.
Step 4: Purchase Genie+ For Your Party Each Day
Unfortunately, Disney has changed this system again and you can no longer purchase Genie+ service in advance. You will have to purchase day by day every night at midnight or at 7am each morning when the booking window opens.
You will purchase the service for each member of your party each day. Effective October 11, 2022 prices vary by day for the Genie+ service. Prices can range from $15-$22 per day per guest.
Step 5: Reserve Your First Lightning Lane
You can reserve your first Lightning Lane selection for your party at 7am each morning. You can only book one selection at a time and as soon as you have scanned into that ride you can immediately book your next selection.
To book your selection you will enter the My Disney Experience App and tap the three lines in the bottom right corner. From there you will click the Tip Board tab and make sure the correct park is listed at the top of the page.
Next you will choose the attraction you would like to book and click the Lightning Lane bar to book your time!
Keep in mind that some of the more popular rides like Star Wars Rise of the Resistance and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will not be available as a Genie+ Lightning Lane but rather as an Individual Lightning Lane at a separate price. You don’t have to have Genie+ to purchase these rides. Prices for these Individual Lightning Lanes range from $12-$22 per person depending on the day.
Step 6: Making Changes
If you need to change or cancel your Lightning Lane, you can do so easily. When you are in the My Disney Experience App you simply click My Day on the home screen and you will see your selection and have the option to change or cancel.
Change the time, ride, or experience, transfer to a different guest in your group. It’s worth repeating that the MDE app allows you to do this even while within the parks if your day doesn’t go as planned. This is much easier than trying to use your internet browser.
Disney World trips have a reputation for being pricey, but that doesn’t mean you have to go into debt to enjoy yourself. Most people would recommend making reservations. But is it cheaper to book Disney in advance?
It may not always save you a ton of money, but it will give you more options and more time to pay and save for your trip. You don’t want to be stressed about money while you are on vacation so planning ahead is a wise choice!
Either way you are going to have a magical trip once you are in the parks and hopefully feel that it was worth every penny!!
What about you?! What has your experience been with booking far in advance versus last minute? Let us know below what your experience has been and any disney trip planning tips and tricks you have used!