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Episode 50 – Planning a last minute trip to Disney World

Have you ever planned a last minute trip to Walt Disney World? In this week’s episode of Disney Deciphered we discussed planning a last minute trip using a real life trip as an example. In the post, we examine five things you need to know when planning a last minute trip to Walt Disney World.

If you like what you hear/read, please share the podcast and the site with others you think might enjoy it. Also, we’d appreciate if you subscribed on iTunesStitcherSpotifyTuneInPlayerFM, iHeartRadio, or Google Play, liked our Facebook page, or followed us on Twitter or Pinterest!

Planning a last minute trip to Disney World? It can be done! Tips for making last minute Fastpass+, hotel, and dining reservations. #disney #disneyworld #fastpass #disneydeciphered

Planning a Disney World trip can be stressful – this entire podcast and website is dedicated to it! (And we’re not the only ones, of course.) In Episode 47, we discussed your Disney World planning time for a trip far into the future. But what if you’re planning a last minute trip? Here are five things you need to know to plan a successful last minute trip.

1. Secure refundable lodging first

If you decide to go to Walt Disney World last minute, you’ll need to secure your transportation and lodging first. We suggest that you start with lodging, because you can usually find refundable rates – both on and off site (each of which has its own pros and cons).

The reality is, there’s a ton of lodging to be had in the Orlando area. You should be able to find something for your liking off site at a fair price point. By booking a refundable rate (so DON’T prepay), you will give yourself time to find a better hotel. For us, that usually means booking an off site hotel but searching for a last minute deal on site if we can get it. Priceline Express deals is a great way to do that as outlined on Touring Plans here.

Hyatt Place Lake Buena Vista
I snagged this room at Hyatt Place Lake Buena Vista for an affordable price two weeks before my trip

2. Airfare often remains affordable last minute

Obviously, this statement is very subjective, but in our experience if you’re not flying during PEAK times and can be a little flexible, airfare can be quite affordable. Normally, I try to pay $200-$250 roundtrip to get to Orlando. Booking last minute only bumped that price up by about $50.

While prices likely won’t drop at the last minute, if you’re not flying at peak times they also won’t likely spike at the last minute either. Most domestic airfare is cheapest one month from date of travel (again, non-peak periods). So if you’re booking at the 3-4 week window you have a pretty good shot at getting a decent price.

Make sure you account for the time to and from the airport in your planning, especially if it’s a short trip. Check out our Orlando airport guide for tips!

3. Prioritize your activities

When you don’t have the benefit of a lot of pre-planning, you’ll have to prioritize what you really want to do. If you are an attraction junkie, you might have to give up some sit down meals because you’ll be waiting in line. Or if you just love eating, you might need to spend some time waiting at your favorite restaurant instead of enjoying the “streetmosphere”.

The nice thing about planning last minute is you have to have a laser focus on what you want to do. That helps you when planning Fastpass+ and dining reservations. Speaking of which…

4. You can still get good dining and Fastpass+ reservations

Unless you decided to book a last minute trip to Disney World during school vacation or a holiday (why??), you’ll still have a good shot at Fastpass+ and dining reservations. Three weeks out you still should be able to get on the majority of the e-ticket attractions you’d like. And dining reservations open up all the time last minute, make sure to use our dining reservation tips.

Toy Story Land Fastpass
(Photo Credit | David Roark, wdwnews.com)

Even two weeks out I pretty much was able to get any ride I wanted besides Flight of Passage and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Still, I decided to forego some more rare Fastpass+ reservations in order to make all my Fastpass+ reservations earlier in the day. To me, that fourth floating Fastpass is much more integral to my touring plan.

5. Be flexible

I recognize we’re a Disney planning site and we plan a ton, but really, when planning a last minute trip: be flexible. Plans change, your kids might want to do things you didn’t plan on, etc. etc. Another nice side benefit of planning last minute? You haven’t invested as much into the planning so you should be prepared to be flexible!

But flexibility is the key to enjoying any Disney vacation. We always arrive at the parks with our touring plans, but go with the flow and change things up as necessary. You and your traveling companions will be much happier for it!

Episode Description

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Joe decided to plan a last minute trip to Walt Disney World. What does planning a trip to Disney World in a few weeks look like? We take a look at Joe’s planning process for last minute trips including flights, hotels, Fastpass strategies, dining reservations, and more!

Have you ever planned a last minute trip? We’d love to hear your experiences and tips, please share them by e-mailing us at disneydeciphered AT gmail DOT com.

If you like what you hear, please share the podcast with others you think might enjoy it. Also, we’d appreciate if you subscribed on iTunesStitcherSpotify, TuneIn, PlayerFMiHeartRadio, or Google Play (please leave a positive review if you’re enjoying the show), liked our Facebook page, or followed us on Twitter!

Connect with Leslie @TripswithTykes on social media and Joe @asthejoeflies.

Episode Notes

0:00 – Impetus behind the last minute trip

4:38 – Is a last minute trip to Walt Disney World worth it?

6:28 – Booking last minute flights

8:16 – Hotels and lodging

12:33 – Last minute Fastpass+ strategies

15:36 – Deciding on ticket types

19:00 – Disney dos and don’ts


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4 thoughts on “Episode 50 – Planning a last minute trip to Disney World”

  1. You mentioned that you were looking at Fast Passes, but hadn’t purchased your tickets yet. How does that work? I thought you had to register tickets before you could view Fast Passes?

    1. Oh right great point. Sorry I always forget I bought two 8-day tickets years ago (right before a price change) that I’ve never gotten to use. So I could search and book before buying my actual tickets. I really should get rid of them!

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