Between starting a new job, traveling, going to weddings and the excitement of my Mets being in the playoffs, I’ve been very busy and had to take some time off from the blog. But now we’re entering a pivotal time. If you’re traveling to Disney World during the month of December, chances are that your 60-day FP+ window has already opened. If you’re heading to Disney for Christmas week, however, your FP+ window opens in just 6 days!
Over the course of the next week, I’ll cover each park and hopefully guide you in the right direction in choosing and planning your FP+ selections. For now, here’s some tips for securing your FP+’s Christmas week:
Upload all your reservations to MyDisneyExperience
Start with your hotel reservation – it’s the most important information. By importing your hotel reservation, it tells MyDisneyExperience when your 60-day reservation window opens. If you already booked your ADRs, chances are that your hotel reservation is already linked.
If you’re staying off-site, link your tickets to MyDIsneyExperience. Once the 30-day window opens, you can go ahead and book your FP+.
Next, make sure your dining reservations are linked. If you booked your ADRs through MyDisneyExperience, your reservations are already linked. If you booked them over the phone, you’ll most likely have to import the confirmation numbers. This helps in two ways. First, it allows you to see your all of your reservations when booking your FP+. Second, MyDisneyExperience will take your other reservations into account. It’s not perfect, but say you have a 7pm reservation at 50’s Primetime Cafe; well, the FP+ reservation system will work around your current ADRs and avoid that 7pm hour.
Plan your days
I know – you’re on vacation and it’s time to relax. While you can certainly go to Disney and relax, you need to plan if you are going to the parks! It’s hard to plan your days without all the park hours. Looking at the Disney site now, it looks like they still have generic park hours posted. Most parks will open by 9am. Animal Kingdom will be closed by 7pm most nights; EPCOT will be closed by 10:30pm-11pm; Hollywood Studios will stay open until around 11pm; and Magic Kingdom will usually stay open until 12am.
Start by looking at your dining reservations. Obviously if you’re eating breakfast at Crystal Palace on Christmas Day, you’ll probably spend the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom. If you’re eating dinner at Hollywood Studios on December 26th, you’ll probably spend your evening there.
After sorting out your dining reservations, try and envision your days and use some strategy. For my family, we love going to Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day, so that day is set. After traveling Christmas Eve and waking up early on Christmas, we need to sleep in. We’ll usually save EPCOT for the day after Christmas as you can arrive at EPCOT late and still enjoy the park.
Reserve your FP+ for the Popular Days First
My family vacations in Disney from December 24th through January 2nd, meaning we’re there for Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. We don’t visit the parks during the day on New Year’s Eve. We usually hang out at the resort or go to Downtown Disney (Disney Springs) and then head to EPCOT in the evening.
It’s normal human nature to book your reservations in chronological order. Instead, start with the popular days, such as Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. These will be the most crowded days at Walt Disney World. Secure your FP+’s for Christmas Day, followed by your NYE FP+’s, and then target the rest of your days based on the park and attraction. After the main holiday, look to book December 26th and 27th. With Christmas falling on a Friday, I think a lot of people will do 3-day trips for the holiday. This will lead to an increase in crowds and a higher demand for FP+.
Book the Popular Attractions Later in Your Trip
You can start booking your FP+ reservations 60 days ahead of the day you check in, plus 13 days thereafter. Most guests visit Disney for Christmas or New Year’s Eve – rarely both. You’ll have a much better chance of securing a FP+ for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train later in your trip, as you’ll be competing against far less people.
Use Your Computer to Make Reservations
It’s 2015 – why not use the MyDisneyExperience app to make your selections? Well, the app has been glitchy. Even Disney Cast Members recommend that you make all your reservations using a computer and save the app for in-park reservations and changes to your itinerary.
*I will say this – the past two years I’ve been traveling when the 60-day window opens. Because I’m the planner in my family, I usually book all of our reservations and I’m very hesitant to pass on the duties. I’ve used the app to book the FP+. It’s not as fast as a computer, but we’ve had no problem securing the attractions we want.
While on the topic of the app’s glitches, don’t stress out if you don’t see your reservation. Two years ago we were all set to redeem our FP+ for Toy Story Midway Mania. Suddenly, it was gone. I stressed and panicked. This was our only FP+ for Toy Story Midway Mania and I refused to wait two hours for the ride. About 20 minutes later it re-appeared. I’ve heard horror stories of people not seeing their reservation and then switching to another ride – thus losing their FP+. Don’t let it happen to you! Wait, breathe, and if you continue not to see it, call Disney or ask a Cast Member.
Don’t Worry About the Times
You want to plan the perfect day – it’s understandable. But trying to secure the best FP+ and the perfect time can leave you out of luck. After making your FP+ selections, the system will give you a few different combinations to choose from. One may have all of your choices in the morning; another may have all of your choices in the afternoon; and the third may have ⅔ of your choices at another time. Take the first combination with all of your rides. You can always change the reservation time to better suit your itinerary after you’ve secured your FP+. Once the ride is gone, it’s gone – and it’s always better to have a FP+ in hand, even if it’s not your first choice.
Wait for More Park Hours to be Released
It’s a blessing in disguise that Disney hasn’t released the park hours just yet. Let’s say you had your heart set on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but couldn’t get a FP+. At the moment, Magic Kingdom is set to open at 9am on Christmas Day. Suddenly, the hours are extended to 8am. Boom – a FP+ for 8am just became available. If you’re quick enough (and keep checking the hours) you may just be able to snag your coveted FP+. Jump into your MDE account and swap out one of your rides for your first choice.
Have Second and Third Choices Ready
This tip mostly applies to Magic Kingdom, as the other parks’ tiered systems and amount of attractions don’t really provide a ton of choices. Be ready if your first or second choice isn’t available. MyDisneyExperience will usually provide you with recommendations, should your first choice not be available. You need to be quick once your window opens. Secure the best possible choice, then – after securing all your reservations, go in and swap out your rides for your second and/or third choices.