Dear Chris:

I know it’s not even spring, but we’re planning a trip to Disney World during Christmas this year and have heard that  it’s the most crowded week of the year.  How early can we make hotel reservations?  We hope to stay on Disney property and do some extras like a behind the scenes tour or visit a spa. 

Thanks,

Kristina

Kristina:

Thanks for reading my blog and for your question.    It seems like we just took down the Christmas lights, but Disney World is such a popular destination at Christmastime, the earlier you can plan, the better, particularly when you consider all the other obligations you’ll have to worry about come December.

You can make your resort reservation 499 days in advance by calling Disney at 407-W-DISNEY.  Since it’s now well under the 12-month mark, you can also book online at this point.  For a room-only reservation, you are only required to pay one night’s room rate as a deposit; you’ll pay the rest when you check in.  You can cancel without penalty five days prior to check-in if you’ve booked over the phone.  You must cancel within six days if you made an online reservation.  Since Disney resorts tend to fill up quickly and Disney’s room-only reservation policy is so liberal , I’d book as soon as possible. 

Some other dates you may want to remember:

At 180 days out, make your advanced dining reservations.  This is probably the single most important thing you’ll do after making your hotel reservations.  If you have a resort reservation at this point, you can book at the 180 day mark plus an additional ten days, giving you a slight advantage over off site guests in getting your dining reservations.  At the very least, you’ll want to book special dining (such as Christmas day) and the more popular restaurants at this point even if you want to wait a bit longer to book the rest.  You can also book Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and special tours like the Backstage Magic Tour in the Magic Kingdom at this time.

At 120 days out, you can make appointments at the Grand Floridian and Saratoga Springs Spa.

At 90 days out, can book two unique Disney experiences:  Wishes Fireworks or Illuminations cruises.  If you’re staying at the Grand Floridian and want to spend a day relaxing in a cabana by the pool, you can reserve one at this point.  If you’re using an off site babysittting service like Kids Nite Out or making a reservation at one of Disney’s Kids’ Clubs, you may book up to 90 days in advance.

At 45-30 days out, place your order for your online grocery delivery and make reservations for crib/stroller rentals.  You’ll also want to call Magical  Express if you’re using it to give them your airline information.

At no less than 30 days out, order your park tickets if you’re buying them online from a  Disney-authorized Discount broker.  Ordering a full 30 days out means  you won’t have to pay extra postage to avoid the holiday mail rush.

If you’re adding the dining plan, you have up until 72-hours before check-in to add it to your reservation.

December is such a busy month for most of us that your to-do list can be overwhelming.  Don’t forget the little things back home.  Try to mail out packages/cards as early in the month as poissible so you’re not rushing around right before your trip.  If you have Christmas lights up outside your house, consider putting them on a timer while you’re gone.  Put in requests to stop newspaper deliveries or and the mail two weeks or so in advance.  Don’t forget to reserve your petsitter/housesitter early as she will likely be very busy Christmas week.

Good luck and happy planning!