There are a lot of frequently-asked questions about Walt Disney World, and in this FAQ post, we’ll try to answer 10 of the most common questions we receive about Walt Disney World. We understand that a vacation to Walt Disney World is complicated, and some information about it is hard to find and regularly changing.
This is why we try to regularly update popular posts as soon as new info is available. Given the organization of this blog (or lack thereof) those updated posts are not always easy to find. Despite our best efforts to avoid them (our ‘Contact’ page is meant for lucrative sponsorships, such as Totino’s Pizza Rolls; gotta keep my options open so I can cash-in and leave this blog behind! ), we receive numerous emails per day from readers with questions.
So, my goal with this post is to further reduce those emails by answering some frequently asked Walt Disney World questions. The idea is to make this a growing ‘database’ that I can revise based upon new questions, which we can then direct readers towards when they have a question that someone else has asked. To that end, you could say this post is a bit selfish, but hopefully it’s also helpful to you!
Let’s dig into the Walt Disney World questions and answers…
When will Free Dining be released for 2018?
Slow down there, Free Dining was just released for 2017! Free Dining is no guarantee for 2018, but it has been offered for fall and winter travel dates every single year since 2005. There are two “waves” of Free Dining: the bounce-back offer which is available for guests while at Walt Disney World this year (which will give some insight into Free Dining dates for next year), and the general public dates that should be released in Spring 2018.
For the last two years, Free Dining has been released to the general public on the last Monday in April (April 28 this year and April 25 last year). Next year, that’d be April 30, 2018. It’s probably a safe bet that Free Dining for 2018 will be released +/- 2 weeks of that date again next year.
Want an exact date? We’ll go with April 23, 2018. That date has no basis in rumor or any inside information–it’s just a guess based upon what has happened in the past. If you want information that is not just plucked from thin air, subscribe to our free email newsletter. We offer regular updates about Free Dining in that so readers are apprised of the latest (legitimate) rumors.
Every year, we send out details about Free Dining rumors we receive from insiders, and give our subscribers a heads up the day before it’ll be released. The last 3 years, we’ve correctly predicted Free Dining dates in advance of their release.
What refurbishments are happening during my trip?
Check out our regularly-updated Walt Disney World Refurbishment Calendar for info on that.
When will Halloween or Christmas Party tickets go on sale?
2017 Walt Disney World Halloween and Christmas Party tickets just went on sale, so we have a temporary reprieve from this question. Many of you are still asking about Disneyland, though.
Disneyland is a bit more…let’s say “relaxed”…when it comes to releasing dates and selling event tickets. At least in part, this stems from it being more of a locals’ park that does not necessitate nearly as much planning. Last year, Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland tickets went on sale to the general public on July 28. We’d expect them to be released slightly earlier this year, but we’ll keep you posted either way.
Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland tickets can sell out within days (much faster than its Walt Disney World counterpart), so purchasing early is highly recommended. Disneyland does not (yet) have a Christmas Party.
When will Star Wars Land really open?
This is a variant of a question we received a lot in the months leading up to Pandora – World of Avatar, and has likewise been asked about every significant opening (and also attractions reopening from long refurbishments).
For our Pandora – World of Avatar Soft Opening Predictions post, we did a ton of research about past attraction previews and soft openings, and used those examples as the basis for a prediction that Pandora would begin soft openings by May 7. Disney flipped the script on how previews would be done, and we were totally wrong. So much for that.
It remains to be seen whether this is the new normal, or a one-off. On average, new attractions offer soft opening periods ranging from 2 weeks to 2 months, with one month being about the sweet spot. Refurbished attractions generally have no soft opening at all.
It’s way too early to make any reliable predictions with regard to Star Wars Land, but already there are rumblings that Disney is considering an extended period of paid previews. This makes a lot of sense given the Star Wars fan-following. We shall see.
When will park hours be released?
The answer to this is tricky, and depends upon whether you want the short answer or the long answer. Short answer: about 6 months in advance on the Park Hours page of DisneyWorld.com.
Long answer: about 6 months in advance, but usually sooner via the official calendars Disney distributes to travel agents. Here’s a current example, showing the entire month of November 2017, despite only a portion of the month being available on DisneyWorld.com.
The monkey wrench to both answers is that sometimes the hours on those calendars are “wrong.” Those calendars regularly get released with tentative hours, and park hours are extended as the dates approach. (Park hours rarely, if ever, are reduced once released). In other words, don’t freak out if Animal Kingdom is currently scheduled to close at 7 p.m. every night of your visit 6 months from now–there’s a very good chance those hours will be extended.
The travel agent calendars are the best source for park hours if you need to know as soon as possible. We check these regularly, and will notify our subscribers when new hours are released, so subscribe to our free email newsletter for Walt Disney World park hours updates.
All of this can be frustrating because Disney allows guests to make Advance Dining Reservations 180 days in advance, a point at which the official calendar often has not been released. If it makes you feel better, this also frustrates us. It’s not exactly guest-friendly for Disney to expect guests to plan out their itinerary at a point when Disney has not even released its own schedule.
When can I book a 2018 Walt Disney World room?
Right now! Well, sort of. Walt Disney World resort hotel reservations can be made up to 499 days in advance, but only via phone by calling (407) 939-1936 or via an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Pricing will change for those bookings, though, if you end up turning it into a full package (tickets and/or Disney Dining Plan) once vacation packages are released.
If you’re wondering when a vacation package can be booked, it’ll likely be in late June or early July 2017. If historical trends from the last couple of years hold, vacation packages for all of 2018 will be released the third week of June. (As with the above, we’ll alert email subscribers when vacation packages are released.)
To be frank, I don’t recommend booking prior to the vacation packages coming out unless there’s a very specific suite you must get (say you want to treat yo self with a stay in the Yellowstone Suite at Wilderness Lodge). Otherwise, there’s little gain by booking so far in advance and you’re essentially giving Disney an interest-free loan vis-à-vis your deposit.
What will crowds be like on X date?
I don’t know. While our Best & Worst Months to Visit Walt Disney World post offers guidance on when to visit, it does so from a holistic perspective based upon our experiences. While we’ve spent over a year of our lives visiting Walt Disney World at this point, we are not locals and I am not qualified to comment on day-by-day crowd trends, especially as crowd patterns are constantly changing.
For that, we recommend easyWDW’s crowd calendar and TouringPlans crowd calendar. The former is based largely on observational first-hand experiences of a dude I’d describe as a ‘Walt Disney World crowd savant’ (that’s praise), while the latter is based on complex statistical models. We recommend using both, in tandem. On the occasions that they contradict one another, in the words of philosopher Tupac Shakur, TRUST NOBODY.
I read your post about X, but my trip is really important, so what other advice do you have?
“I’m pretty indifferent to the trip that cost me thousands of dollars,” said no one ever. Walt Disney World vacations are really important to everyone. They are also fairly high-stakes as far as vacations go: a lot of planning goes into them, parents stress out that things won’t go according to plan, and there’s the fear that the rite-of-passage trip that is so important to their kids will be ruined.
I totally get this. If I didn’t, I would not have hundreds of thousand-plus word blog posts on a site devoted to helping people have better visits to Walt Disney World and other Disney Parks. In this collection of posts, I don’t hold back any “secret” tips. This site is not a ploy to get you to buy an eBook or pay a membership fee for the “best” tips or hidden ones you won’t find anywhere else. Everything I know, I share with you freely. Sometimes, you might disagree with my advice or my tips not be the easiest information to find but whatever I have is here on the blog…somewhere.
I understand that some readers might benefit from personalized advice. Unfortunately, that’s well beyond the scope of this blog. My time is finite–updating and writing new posts here consumes almost all of my free time and that’s the best I can offer. (I joked about it at the beginning of the post, but I do not respond to reader emails. Time literally does not allow. I hope you understand.) If you want advice tailored to your party’s needs, preferences, etc., I’d recommend requesting a quote from a fee-free Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. They will book your trip for you, and provide myriad customized pieces of advice.
What kind of camera did you use for that photo?
This used to be the #1 question we received by far, but now it’s barely on the list–I guess I’m losing my photographic touch! In any case, there’s really no easy answer to this question. I use a variety of camera and lens combinations, and what I used for a particular shot also depends upon when it was taken. If you’re wanting to learn more about taking better photos in the parks, read my Ultimate Guide to Disney Parks Photography. That’s a long, rambling post that contains a ton of info.
If you’re more of a beginner and want a succinct/easy answer, the point & shoot camera I recommend is the Sony RX100. I’ve been recommending this line of cameras for the last ~5 years. It’s on its 5th generation, with each new version offering additional features and improvements, but the original is still excellent. (With that said, get the best version your budget allows.)
If you’re curious as to what camera settings I used on a particular photo, I recommend installing an EXIF data plugin for your browser. (Here’s a list of various options.)
Where did Sarah get her outfit in that photo?
I rarely know where my own clothing comes from, let alone Sarah’s. You’re welcome to ask about a particular item she’s wearing via the comments section in the pertinent post, but the easiest way to get an answer is probably via a message on her Instagram.
If you’re looking for more generalized ideas of what she wears, why, and whether it’s actually comfortable, she has a What to Wear to Disney post that goes over a lot.
That covers the 10 most frequently-asked questions about Walt Disney World that come to mind right now. If you have other questions to which you cannot find the answer elsewhere on the blog, please feel free to post them in the comments below.
Even if you do not have a question, but know of a particular common question that is not (yet) addressed by the blog, please feel free to pose that below, too. I’ll pull the best/most common questions up from the comments and add to this post, or I’ll write entirely new blog posts to address other questions.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Whole whole point of ‘growing’ this as a Walt Disney World FAQ ‘database’ is you asking additional questions, so please, post anything else you think we don’t cover below in the comments! Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Think a FAQ is missing? Share any questions, tips, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!