You’ve heard us say it a million times — plan your Disney World vacation in advance!
There are reservations for hotels, restaurants, and parks that you’ll need to snag, plus you’ll want to think ahead of time about how you plan to spend each day. But what happens if you book a trip later than usual? Or if you forget to do something until the last minute? Or even if you happen to want a last-minute getaway? Today, we’re talking about the times that it actually benefits you to procrastinate in Disney World!
Last-Minute Dining Reservations
Guests are allowed to make dining reservations 60 days out from their visit, and Disney Resort guests can reserve 60 days out, plus up to 10 days of their trip (so technically up to 70 days out). We highly recommend booking your dining as soon as that window is open to you so that you can get the times and restaurants you want, but things don’t always work out that way.
If you booked your trip last minute or missed your dining reservation window, don’t worry — you may still be able to visit the restaurants you want! Keep checking back, especially in the days leading up to your visit, and you may be able to book some popular restaurants at odd times or find reservations for spots you’ve never visited before.
In our experience, in the days before you’d like to dine — often within 48-24 hours before — we’ve found a LOT more reservation options than were available just days prior. Many guests book dining reservations early and, in the days before, decide to keep or drop some reservations. In order to avoid the $10 per person cancelation fee if dropped within 24 hours of the reservation, many will cancel plans the day or so before.
Also, if you don’t have any dining reservations on the day of your trip but you’d like to try some sit-down places, then make sure to check out the Mobile Dine Walk-up Waitlist. This feature in the My Disney Experience app shows which restaurants have day-of availability. You may have to wait a while to be seated, but you’ll be able to get in! (Check early in the day before they run out of walk-up availability!)
While we usually encourage you to buy the merchandise you want when you see it (it may only be available at that particular shop or it may sell out), there are a few instances where waiting may be beneficial. If the item isn’t something that you want right away, it might be beneficial to wait and see if the price drops.
OK, we totally get it. Sales seem to happen in Disney World gift shops once in a blue moon, but they DO happen — you just gotta be there at the right time. Don’t count on sales to happen during your trip, but they may be more likely if you’re visiting at the end of a holiday season or the end of an EPCOT festival. If it’s a seasonal line of merchandise, Disney World tends to run special deals to get rid of those items at the end of the season. However, if it’s something you want to use during your trip — don’t delay!
If you’re booking a last-minute trip, then there’s a chance that new discounts will be available that weren’t several months ago. This way, you’ll be able to craft your trip to ensure that you fit the qualifications of the special offer, and you can save some BIG bucks!
If you’ve already booked your trip, the good news is that you may be able to call Disney directly and get the discount added to your package. However, after you’re already booked, you may not be able to apply the discount if there are any restrictions. In that case, you would have to alter the plans to fit the deal. Check the fine print of the trip you booked and the discount you’d like and see if you can modify or cancel without a penalty.
When the FastPass+ system was operational in the parks pre-COVID, guests were allowed to book FastPasses in advance of their visit. If you were looking to hop on the most popular rides in the parks, it was generally recommended that you make your FastPass reservations at the earliest possible opportunity.
However, there were often several FastPasses available day-of as guests modified their plans throughout the day. We’ve found same-day, super hard to score FastPasses for rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom or Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom multiple times before! This tends to be more successful with smaller parties — if you’re a group of 6 or so it will be harder to find that many free FastPasses, but just for one or two? Yep, it happens. We’ve been known to find open windows for the most popular rides simply by refreshing the app over and over!
So there you have it — if you’re a procrastinator, it’s not ALL bad news! Last-minute vacations are totally possible, you just might have to shift your plans and, possibly, your expectations. Last-minute trips can be a great way to step away from the familiar and try something new. A new hotel, new restaurants, etc. Didn’t get that dining reservation you were dying to score? Great opportunity to try that lesser-known spot instead. And whether you’re traveling next week or next year, we can help you plan!
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Have you ever planned a last-minute trip?