9 Things You Have to Book in Advance of a Disney World Vacation

For some trips you can just grab your suitcase and go, but if you want to get the most out of your Walt Disney World vacation, you're better off planning ahead. Read on for some of the things that tend to fill up before you arrive at the park.

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FastPass+

Disney-World-VacationCourtesy Walt Disney World Resort
FastPass+ lets you reserve access to rides and attractions—including It's a Small World, Space Mountain, the Tomorrowland Speedway, and more—30 days in advance of your trip. Best of all, if you stay at one of the resorts in the park you can make plans 60 days in advance, with no extra charge. Three FastPass+ reservations per day are included in the price of your ticket. Then, when you're at the park, you'll have fewer lines to wait in and get to go on more rides, including all the fun ones in the new Pandora: The World of Avatar.

Character meet and greets

Disney-World-VacationCourtesy Walt Disney World Resort

At Walt Disney World you can pick your character and make a plan to meet them by rides or buildings that are related to the character's story, perfect for photo ops. Think Belle in Epcot's France, Chewbacca at Star Wars Launch Bay, and Ariel in her grotto. These can be booked via FastPass+ Find out more insider secrets for the best Disney World vacation.

Character meals

Disney-World-VacationCourtesy Walt Disney World Resort

Take the star-struck moment one step further and dine with a character, such as Cinderella's Royal Table in Fantasyland or Chef Mickey's buffet at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Both of these events cost from $35 to $60 per person and can be book 180 days out.

Holiday events

Disney-World-VacationCourtesy Walt Disney World Resort
Disney World hosts a variety of special events, from Halloween and Christmas parties to a Star Wars themed party. With everything from costumes to fireworks, you won't want to miss these holiday parties, which start at $90 per person. These are generally available for booking as soon as they're announced. Interested? Read on for more of how to beat the crowds in the park over holidays.

Backstage tours

Disney-World-VacationCourtesy Walt Disney World Resort

Disney World offers impressive behind-the-scenes tours of the parks. Lasting seven hours (and costing $275 per person) these full-day events include Disney's Keys to the Kingdom Tour, Disney's Family Magic Tour and more. These special tours include visits to the costuming area to meet with the designers as well as a peek at the park's massive laundry facilities, too. Most tours can be booked 90 days in advance.

Imagineer dinners

Disney-World-VacationCourtesy Walt Disney World Resort

Sure, there are lots of fun places to eat in the park. But true Disney lovers can dine with an Imagineer at the Mediterranean, wood-paneled Citricos restaurant in Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. You'll find yourself in a small group, eating a four-course dinner, and able to ask questions about the work. All dining options can be booked 180 days in advance for the length of your trip. Check out the list of our favorite new places to eat in Disney.

Dessert with a spectacular view

Disney-World-VacationCourtesy Walt Disney World Resort
Hate standing in a crowd looking up at the sky? Sign up for one of the park's fireworks desserts parties—held at Tomorrowland Terrace—and you can watch the show from the comfort of your own seats. For $79 per adult and $47 per child, you'll get a buffet of sweets and sweet non-alcoholic beverages (cocoa, cider, lemonade, coffee, and tea) and a chance to see the show light up the sky over Cinderella's Castle.

Dinner shows

Disney-World-VacationCourtesy Walt Disney World Resort

At Disney's Polynesian Resort, you'll find the Spirit of Aloha dinner show. The luau-style event costs $66 to $78 for adults and $39 to $46 for kids, depending on seating. You'll see hula and fire-knife performers and see traditional dancers from around the South Pacific, from Tahiti to Samoa and Tonga. Find out the 10 discontinued Disney rides we wish would come back.

The princess treatment

Disney-World-VacationCourtesy Walt Disney World Resort

In the Magic Kingdom, you'll find the unforgettable Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Here, kids age 3 to 12 can get a full princess makeover, complete with hair and make-up applied by a Fairy Godmother-in-Training. The hair package starts at $65 per child; the knight package (designed for boys) starts at $20. Makeovers can be booked up to 180 days in advance. Here's what it's really like to play a princess at Disney World.

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