Recently, we embarked on a very last minute trip to Disney World.
When I say last minute, there were just two days between finding out we were going, and boarding our flight (You can read more info on how such a last minute trip to Disney World came about in my post here).
Now, I am a self-confessed planner. And so my initial thoughts (after all the excitement, of course!) was that this was less than ideal, because I hadn’t had time to read up on any Disney touring plan tactics, or to book in fast passes.
All Disney World bookings for things like fast passes and dining are managed through the My Disney Experience app. A quick browse of this app told me that there were no fast passes left for the very popular rides, and it was a similar situation at popular dining locations, unless we wanted to eat at very random times like 4pm.
Booking for dining opens 180 days before your trip, and fast passes open 30 days before your trip, or 60 days if you are staying in a Disney World resort. The popular attractions book out early, so I had an inkling that we would be at a disadvantage with our last minute trip to Disney World, as we would not be making use of this booking window.
Seasoned Disney World friends had told me that due to last minute cancellations and changes of plans, you can often find the reservation you want by checking the app 24 hours before, or even the morning of. So, with this in mind, I worked out which days we planned to be in which parks, and snapped up the remaining slots for any dining and attractions that I knew we wanted to do. They were mostly at very random times, but at least we had things booked in, and I reasoned that they could always be cancelled if a more convenient slot popped up.
The cancellation system via the My Disney Experience app is very simple, and many park goers adopt the same method I did, chopping and changing plans at the last minute – which means checking the app regularly gives you a good chance of finding a time slot that is convenient for you.
Disney World dining reservations at the last minute:
By checking the My Disney Experience app every evening and morning, we found it pretty straightforward to book in dining times that were convenient for us, even at the very last minute. We were able to eat at all our must-do restaurants, including the Crystal Palace character meal with Pooh and Friends, breakfast at Chef Mickey, and T-Rex at Disney Springs. We found available reservations at peak times like 1pm or 6pm. These times had been previously unavailable when I’d checked the app before our trip, but popped up at the last minute due to cancellations.
Last minute Disney dining reservations were absolutely not a problem. We had our pick of all of the restaurants, and if we were to go to Disney World at the last minute again, knowing what I know now, I would not worry at all about last minute dining availability at Disney World.
Disney World Fast Passes at the last minute:
Although dining reservations were relatively easy to secure, we did not find quite the same experience with last minute fast pass reservations. Before we left for our Disney World holiday, a look at the My Disney Experience app told me that last minute fast passes were few and far between. The ones that were readily available were for shows and very fast loading rides, and those are usually seen as a bit of a waste to use your fast passes on.
In general throughout our Disney World trip, we found that by checking the night before, or the same morning, we’d find available fast passes for most rides (bar the super popular handful of rides) from around 5pm onwards. Fast passes for the mornings remained blocked out no matter how many times we checked.
For new rides or extremely popular ones, like Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Avatar Flight of Passage, there were no fast passes available at any point, and this remained that way for the entirety of our trip. In order to ride those without waiting longer than an hour, we utilised the early magic hours, and made a beeline for those rides as soon as the park opened. This system worked pretty effectively for us, and it never felt like we were wasting more time than we needed to.
The fast pass booking system opens 60 or 30 days before your Disney World trip (depending on whether you are staying in a Disney resort or not). Planning a trip way outside this window did put us at a disadvantage compared to those who had booked in advance, but not enough to make a last minute Disney World trip unworthwhile. In fact, if another last minute opportunity to go to Disney World were to arise, I would be way more confident that we would be able to fit in everything that we wanted to do on our trip, in light of our past short notice experience.
Despite our Disney World trip being super last minute, using this combination of early magic hours for super popular rides, and afternoon / evening fast passes for other popular rides, we managed to ride every single attraction on our checklist with a wait of 45 minutes or less.
So, my answer to the question “Is a last minute Disney Trip worthwhile?” is a big YES!! If you’ve found a great last minute deal or have suddenly found yourself with the opportunity for some annual leave – do it! Going to Disney World at the last minute does not mean that you will lose out.
It turns out that a last minute trip to Disney World was absolutely the best thing that could have happened. Because instead of spending hours / weeks / months before our trip reading up on tips and tricks, and meticulously planning out every hour of every day with no room for any spur of the moment changes, I was forced to go with the flow, to experience Disney World on a whim. And without a doubt, we definitely had a much more relaxing trip because of it – and STILL got to do everything we wanted to do.
A last minute trip to Disney World absolutely can be done, without sacrificing any must-dos.
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