Disney has been leading the way in new technology designed to make your vacation seamless from beginning to end. Disney introduced the Fast Pass system, designed to help guests experience more attractions with shorter wait times which became popular quickly. Most recently, they’ve introduced Magic Bands to guests which multitask as room keys and payment while holding your dining plan information as well. By the time most Disney guests arrive to their resort, they know every detail of their vacation…down to the hour.
While most guests prefer this method so they can maximize their trip, it also makes me wonder if a last minute Disney vacation is even possible anymore. Even travelers who pass through Disney World drive by signs with a 1-800 number on them for resort availability information. With all of the new technology that Disney provides guests to plan their trips, it seems next to impossible to just show up for a Disney vacation.
In 2013, I trained for the Run Disney Princess Half Marathon race and didn’t miss a single mile. But it happened to be that we closed on our new home just days prior to the race. Regardless of my training, there was a huge chance I couldn’t run the race with our home purchase overlapping. Since we didn’t know the dates of our closing, we didn’t book our trip until two weeks prior to the race weekend!
Two weeks! Most Run Disney racers book immediately after receiving confirmation of race registrstion.
That year we learned you CAN book a Disney trip last minute and enjoy it. But there are a few things to know:
- You need to be flexible about where to stay. This could mean it’s harder sticking to a budget. Our only choice was a club level room at The Contemporary Resort.
- You might be eating at odd times. Since guests staying on property can book dining 180 days before their trip, prime dining times are already booked. You might be eating dinner at 4pm or 9:45pm. This is especially true for popular restaurants.
- The Fast Pass system won’t give you access to the best options. Choose the Fast Pass selections that seem best and they can be changed at a park kiosk.
- Your Magic Bands can’t be customized. You’ll need to pick them up upon check-in at your resort too.
- Use Extra Magic Hours. You’ll have a better chance to experience the popular attractions.
- Download the My Disney Experience app for updated ride wait times for planning while in the parks.
So it is possible to book a last minute Disney vacation as long as you’re flexible. I think flexibility is key to enjoying an unplanned Disney trip. In 2013, my husband accompanied me on our last minute Run Disney trip and we had a great time with just the two of us. I can’t imagine attempting a last minute Disney trip with my toddler. He has needs that need to be met at required times, like his meals. I would decide if all members of your travel party can be flexible prior to booking.
I’ve never driven through Disney World and booked a spur-of-the-moment vacation, but I’m sure the same rule of flexibility applies. While it is feasible to book your trip with little notice, you definitely have a greater advantage by using all of the vacation planning tools that Disney provides.
As true Disney lovers though, it is nice knowing we can leave anytime for our “home away from home”.