So many of us see Disney as a magical place where everything works perfectly, a bubble separated from the real world where dreams come true.

In some senses, that is true. You can leave behind the troubles of daily life and focus on having fun.

While there is an escape to be enjoyed and fun to be had, you still should do some level of planning before you arrive. If you don’t plan ahead on these six key areas, you will limit your fun.

Let’s take a look at these key areas for planning ahead:

1 – Picking The Wrong Season

We don’t all have the freedom to visit Disney World whenever we like. School schedules, work schedules, and other responsibilities limit our options. However, you should think about your touring preferences and what that means for when you should visit. If you love seeing the Christmas decorations around Disney World, you don’t mind crowds, and budget isn’t a concern, then, by all means, visit around Christmastime. If you like cool(er) temperatures and smaller crowds, consider January. Are you into humidity and have kids in school? Hello summer vacation!

Skipping these areas of planning?  You will be in for a rocky road.

Skipping these areas of planning? You will be in for a rocky road.

2 – Missing Advanced Dining Reservations

Many Disney restaurants book up far in advance. Without an Advanced Dining Reservation, you will either have a long standby wait, or you won’t get in at all, especially for the more popular locations. If you want to take in Le Cellier in the Canada pavilion in Epcot, a dinner show like the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue in Fort Wilderness, or basically any Disney character meal, be sure to call ahead. For most locations, you can call 180 days before your arrival.

3 – Skipping Magical Express

Who doesn’t like a free ride? Disney’s Magical Express is just that: a free lift from the Orlando International Airport to Disney World. Save yourself some driving and the expense of a taxi or rental car. Remember, however, that you have to book this service in advance. What happens if you just show up at the airport with no reservation? No ride for you!

4 – Skipping Extra Magic Hours

Disney offers an amazing benefit to those who stay at a Disney Resort Hotel:  Extra Magic Hours that give you early or late access to a park, but only if you stay at a Disney Resort. That extra time with lower crowds often allows you to see and do much more than you would be able to during normal operating hours.

5 – Sleeping In

Many people associate vacations with sleeping in. Usually that is a wonderful idea. At Disney World, it is a terrible idea. Those ambitious folks who are waiting for the gates of the theme parks to open get in early and can do more in the first few hours than they might otherwise be able to do all day. I always suggest that you arrive early, take a midday break, and then head back to the parks for a fun-filled evening.

6 – Skipping MyMagic+

MyMagic+ and FastPass+ allow you to reserve a return time to enjoy an attraction with little or no wait. Many people don’t take advantages of these programs, which are completely free. Do a bit of research and planning on how you will use these reservation systems, and you will save yourself hours of waiting in line.

Do you like planning ahead for your Disney vacation?