Can I do Disney without planning months in advance?


Disney World is a planner’s dream. It is possible to make a reservation for up to 190 days in advance. Fast pass reservations open 60 days in advance if you are staying on property and 30 days in advance if you are staying off property. While I understand the desire to lock in all your activities it can create a lot of stress.
If you don’t get to schedule your trips 6 months in advance the ability to plan can be very concerning. Will you get on the rides that you want? Will you be able to sit down for a nice meal at lunchtime? I recently set out to find the answer to these questions.

I booked a hotel off property but it is treated like a Disney property for the sake of making reservations. I booked about a month in advance of my trip and purchased 4 days of tickets. The tickets gave me one park each day and one visit to each park. There was no hopping between parks or visiting the same one multiple time. This meant that if I wanted to see or do anything at a particular park, I had one day to do it.
When I got my reservation and tickets, I did what most people do and jumped into the MyDisneyExperience app and started making reservations. To my dismay, all the major attractions were already filled or were not offering FastPasses. To be honest, this is the main reason that I decided to find out how much I could see if I did not plan more than a day in advance.

Just in case you don’t want to read on, you can have a great time and see the major attractions without a lot of advanced planning.

The Falcon

The Falcon

There are a few very popular attractions that take some time or effort to get to see. The Rise of the Resistance attraction at Hollywood Studios is one of the most challenging. If you want to experience this attraction be sure to get to the park before it is open so that you can be inside the park gates at the official open time. You want to have your smartphone with you and the MyDisneyExperience App open and ready just before park opening. I hated getting up early enough to be at the park at 6:30 am but at least everyone has the exact same opportunity to get on the ride. It does not matter if you are staying for a month on Disney property or just stopping in for the day. I got my boarding pass within seconds of the park opening and still had to wait until after noon to get on the ride. The queue was short when I was called and only took about 15 minutes to get on the ride once my time arrived. It is actually a pretty good system in my opinion.

This is a unique experience and a must-try for ride. It is unlike any other experience at Disney. There are elements that you are familiar with, but the entire attraction is new and immersive.
The line for Smugglers run was longest in the morning but got shorter in the afternoon. I was able to experience the ride multiple times. The first time I stood in the regular line the second time I went to the single rider line. The single rider line was much quicker. You don’t have to be alone to use the single rider line, but if you go as a group you will probably get split up.
The theming in the new Star Wars land is impressive but I’ll keep that for another day.

Storm Troopers

Storm Troopers

Avatar Land in the Animal Kingdom had the longest line of the week for me. The Flight of the Banshee had the longest lines in the morning but did get shorter in the afternoon. There are fast passes available, but they are hard to get.

I found that the hardest park to see everything was the Magic Kingdom. Fantasy land was the most challenging. Many of the rides had lines of about 90 minutes. I personally find it difficult to wait that long for something like “It’s a small world”. The longest line was for the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. It was running about 2 hours most of the day.

I checked for dining on multiple occasions and was able to get a table service meal at any park, on any day. This does not mean that all restaurants had availability at any given time or that they even had any tables available. It means that I had the opportunity to get dining someplace.

Floating mountains of Pandora

Floating mountains of Pandora

If you have the personality where you need to know exactly what you are going to be doing and when you are going to do it, be sure to plan as far in advance as possible. If you can go with the flow, then don’t panic, you don’t need to plan in advance.

Some of the lines were long some of the restaurants were full, but I was able to see every major attraction in each park in a single day. Some I even went on multiple times. I ate well and met some great new people. You will have lines to stand in unless you purchase some of the special guided tours that are offered, but most of us are not working with that kind of budget. You may not see everything, but you will see a great deal. If you miss anything it just gives you a reason to go back. There is a lot of construction going on around the parks so I am sure that there will be plenty of new things for you to see on your next visit.

Where will you be going next?


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