Right at the outset, I am going to defer to the Disney Mom's Panel for in-depth planning when it comes to taking families to Walk Disney World. My notes here are just gathered from my personal experience and they are intended to just get you started.
- Start with the My Disney Experience Web Site, and create an account as far in advance as possible. You will be able to link all of the details to your account.
- Check flight, hotel, and ticket prices on various dates to figure out what works best for you. Sometimes you can save hundreds by moving dates around even one or two weeks.
- If you stay at a Disney resort, then either make your reservation through My Disney Experience or link your reservation to your account.
- Once you link your reservation, you can do your room check-in and order your MagicBands on the My Disney Experience Web Site. Why do you want MagicBands? They open your hotel room, let you into the park, let you into the FastPass line, etc. They will mail out your bands if you reserve your room early enough. If you don't stay at a Resort, you will need to buy a MagicBand at the gate or online if you want one.
- While you are making your reservation and checking in, sign up for the Disney Magical Express bus. It will take you from the airport to the resort. No need for a rental car. Your MagicBand will get you onto the bus.
- Buy your tickets online so they will be linked to your My Disney Experience account and your MagicBand. Now you can get into the Park(s)!
- Reserve your restaurants as soon as you make your room reservations. You can do this 6 months in advance, and dining reservations go quickly, so use the mobile app or Website to figure out where you want to eat and make your plan early. You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance if something changes.
- Now you should have a room and meals planned - take a look in the mobile app and you will see an itinerary forming under "My Plans."
- Once you are 60 days out, you can use the App or Website to book your FastPasses so you can skip the longest lines for the attractions that you most want to see. You can book 3 per person, per day. Earlier you booked dining, so you know which park you will visit each day of your visit. All of the FastPasses show up in your itinerary and are linked to your MagicBand.
- If you have linked your room, your bus, your tickets, and your Magic Band to your My Disney Experience account then you are set! You will get off of the airplane in Orlando, "bloop" your MagicBand to get onto the bus, bloop it again to get into your room, bloop it again to get into the park and bloop it again to get on a ride with a FastPass.
- The mobile app will show you your itinerary, tickets, reservations, the wait times for all of the attractions, maps to everything, and a lot more.