Walt Disney World 2024 vacation packages, resort reservations, and tickets will go on sale May 31, 2023. Many fans will begin booking and planning next year’s vacations with that release, so we’re bringing you everything that you need to know before getting started.
This covers when to visit to avoid crowds, saving the most money via discounts or lower prices, new attractions, seasonal events, and more. Basically, we’re running through key info that could influence your 2024 travel plans and Walt Disney World trip dates. This includes reminders about past precedent and other info that’s consistent from year to year.
In other cases, what we’re discussing here is unique to 2024 at Walt Disney World. There are also still some unknowns–including pricing and return dates for certain things we’re hoping will be back–but by and large, a lot more is known for next year than what we’ve seen in prior years…
If you’re a Walt Disney World first-timer or infrequent visitor, it’s probably a good idea to use a travel agent. We recommend requesting a quote from Be Our Guest Vacations, a no-fee Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, ideally before the booking window opens. The agents there will book your vacation and help take the stress out of planning.
Their services don’t cost extra, they’ll reserve your room, help you with dining reservations and itineraries, and apply the best discounts to your reservation once they’re released. That’s especially valuable if you’re booking a 2024 Walt Disney World vacation package this far in advance, as discounts won’t be available for next year’s travel dates until around October 2023. Even then, deals are released on a rolling basis, so that’ll only be for the beginning of the year.
Using a travel agent is the win-win option if you’re overwhelmed by the complexities of Walt Disney World and don’t want to do all of the work yourself. Of course, as a planning resource, our official recommendation is that you learn at least some basics for yourself. This blog’s whole deal is teaching you to fish whereas travel agents will give you a fish, so to speak.
It’s good to know how to fish so that you can adapt on the fly and make changes when things inevitably don’t go as planned, which can be surprisingly often. To torture the metaphor, Walt Disney World is essentially the piranha of vacation destinations–if you’re simply handed one, it might bite off your finger.
In any case, we still like Authorized Disney Vacation Planners for the discount-monitoring, personalized planning, and having access to an expert to answer all of your questions. If you don’t use Be Our Guest Vacations, just be sure you do use one that actually has travel agents who are experts and visit Walt Disney World with regularity. Avoid the big-box travel agencies (Costco and AAA), as well as the thinly-veiled multi-level marketing schemes.
To that end, we’ll quickly teach you some fishing basics here before booking 2024 Walt Disney World vacation packages. You can decide for yourself whether to supplement that with the services of an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner…
Turning to the basic need to know info, bookings will be released on May 31, 2023 for theme park tickets, resort hotel stays, and Walt Disney World vacation packages for arrivals dates starting January 1, 2024. What’s currently unknown is the end date. Walt Disney World’s official announcement is silent about this, so we reached out but haven’t gotten any (actual) answers.
Normally, reservations can be made for arrival dates up to 499 days in the future on a rolling basis. If this rule is in place for 2024 vacation packages, it would mean that you can only reserve through October 11, 2024 when packages go live. The following day, that would move forward to October 12 and so forth. November 2024 would be bookable by late June, and all of December 2024 will be available by late July.
However, Walt Disney World changed the 499 day rule last year, at least as it pertained to booking 2024 room-only reservations early. So that could mean the 499 day rule is gone for good…or not. Basically, if you have problems when trying to book for mid-October 2024 or later, that will be why–it’s not user error.
Now let’s turn to relevant considerations when choosing your 2024 Walt Disney World travel dates…
When to Visit
Disney’s 100th Anniversary officially starts “later in 2023” at Walt Disney World, and will be celebrated at all four Walt Disney World theme parks through some point in 2024. Everything we know about the event is covered in our Guide to Disney100 at Walt Disney World.
Bluntly, our expectations are low for 100 Years of Wonder Celebration at Walt Disney World. The anniversary event is centered around Disneyland and began at the start of this year while Walt Disney World was wrapping up its own (underwhelming) 50th Anniversary. The Disney100 festivities in Florida feel very much like an afterthought–a way to market the conclusion of the EPCOT overhaul and things that would’ve happened regardless.
As such, we would not recommend taking into account the Disney100 celebration when planning your 2024 Walt Disney World vacation. The 100 Years of Wonder Celebration should be a non-factor. To the extent that anything actually is added for it (like the new EPCOT nighttime spectacular), it’ll almost certainly outlast Disney100. (At least, that would be the idea. Disney Enchantment and Harmonious only ended with the 50th because they flopped.)
There’s also very little reason to schedule around new attractions or other additions. Walt Disney World is in the midst of wrapping up one construction cycle, with everything major–TRON Lightcycle Run, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Moana’s Journey of Water, EPCOT overhaul–being open or finished by the end of this year.
The only major project on the horizon is Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, which is the overhaul of Splash Mountain. Walt Disney World has indicated that this will debut by late 2024, so if that’s really important, we’d recommend booking as close to Christmas as possible. In our view, there’s a far greater likelihood that this reimagined ride opens late (Spring 2025) than it opens early (Summer 2024).
We don’t recommend planning around Disney100 or the opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, but seasonal events cannot be overlooked when determining when to visit in 2024, as those actually have substance and certainty to them. While there’s a lot listed on the Calendar of Seasonal Events at Walt Disney World, there are essentially two major events.
The first is Halloween, which is our second-favorite time of year to visit Walt Disney World. Halloween is mostly celebrated in Magic Kingdom and will run from mid-August through the end of October (or perhaps first day of November). Our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Guide offers info & tips for Magic Kingdom’s fan-favorite Halloween-themed event.
Christmas is our favorite time of year at Walt Disney World. If you’re thinking of a Walt DIsney World vacation in the second half of the year, make it during the holiday season. Our Ultimate Guide to Christmas at Walt Disney Worldis the best “sales pitch” for visiting in November or December.
Beyond these two holidays, the other major events are festivals at EPCOT, which also occur during the first half of the year. Here’s the lineup outside of Food & Wine, along with their approximate annual timeframes:
Although it’s a favorite among many fans, Food & Wine is our least favorite EPCOT festival. We prefer every single other event over Food & Wine. (Hot take: even the culinary component of the other festivals is superior to Food & Wine. Because the events are not as popular, their dishes can be more elaborate rather than easily and quickly produced.)
If you’re primarily concerned with avoiding long lines and high wait times, consult our Walt Disney World Crowd Calendars. That takes into account school schedules and breaks for major districts, conventions, youth sporting events, park hours, special events, and more to provide you with specific dates that are the least and most crowded.
The good news is that attendance patterns are one of the many things that has started to normalize at Walt Disney World, making crowd calendars more accurate than in the past couple of years. (Summer is the major exception to this, but that’ll change once we have wait times data from this year.)
As always, mid-August through late September 2024 will be the best time of the year to visit from a crowd perspective. That is, unless things take a crazy turn and the “abolish schools” movement gains significant momentum. Sadly, I don’t think the Rugrats have that kind of political clout.
Finally, lower prices and crowds coincide with one another. Meaning that if you book your trip around the cheapest dates, you’re more likely to also have lower crowds. Prices are higher and discounts are weaker when crowds are higher, meaning you get hit with a double-whammy if visiting during these times of the year. (Spoiler: the highest prices and crowds both occur when school is out of session.) Speaking of which…
Cheapest Times & Price Increases
This is often the second question readers ask, right after inquiries about crowds. Many people don’t realize it, but prices vary significantly based upon when you’re visiting. Here are the Cheapest Times to Go to Walt Disney World.
That’s an incredibly insightful post that’s well worth reading, but if you opt to skip it, a couple of things worth keeping in mind are that off-season is cheaper, and that the biggest price increases usually happen early in the year. Typically, food and ticket prices increase in February and/or October. As a result, January is usually the cheapest month to visit, all else being equal.
With that said, some of the same variables come into play with pricing as do with attendance and the economy entering a recession or some form of slowdown. Although prices have climbed steadily (and sometimes sharply) over the last several years, there’s nothing to say that can’t go in the other direction. In fact, we’re already starting to see precisely that this year–whether the trend accelerates or reverses remains to be seen.
As longtime visitors to Walt Disney World, we’ve seen exactly that scenario play out in the past. The Great Recession was the last big example of this, but there have been minor blips here and there since (most recently as people postponed trips in the lead-up to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening).
Still, we wouldn’t recommend waiting around for a downturn and the perfect deal to come along. If recent precedent is any indication, you’re more prone to grow old waiting for that to happen. Just like with Wall Street, you can’t time the (WDW) market. Nevertheless, see What Does Walt Disney World Do During a Recession?for an idea of what discounts and other incentives might be offered to entice people to visit.
The one exception to our market-timing sentiment is when it comes to the Free Dining promotion. We cover the likelihood of this special offer being brought back in 2024 Free Dining at Walt Disney World Predictions (which also contains historical dates for Free Dining for the past decade). Suffice to say, Free Dining will not be released at any point this year (for 2024 travel dates) and is highly unlikely to come out in early January 2024 for spring or early summer travel dates.
If Free Dining is offered at all in 2024, it’ll likely happen later in the year. We wouldn’t necessarily plan your travel dates with the expectation of Free Dining–but if you are going to do that, aim for July 2024 or later. August and September, as well as November and December are much more likely to offer Free Dining than June or earlier (or October).
On-Site Resort Perks & Add-Ons
Speaking of which, Walt Disney World is bringing back the Disney Dining Plan in 2024! That’s the paid version of the Disney Dining Plan–a necessary prerequisite for Free Dining making a comeback. Walt Disney World hasn’t released prices, but we do know that two tiers are returning for 2024. Here are all of the details and changes for the 2024 Disney Dining Plan.
Next up, Walt Disney World confirmed in the announcement that Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours would stick around through 2024. It’s our expectation that these are offerings are the permanent replacement for Extra Magic Hours.
Conversely, it still comes up a lot, but there is absolutely no reason to believe Disney’s Magical Express will return in 2024…or ever. Never say never, though. Enough of an economic downturn or Universal siphoning off attendance could change the equation. That probably won’t happen until Epic Universe happens, so we’re talking several years down the road.
Free FastPass+ also is not coming back next year. Again, never say never…but if you think Walt Disney World is going to give up the revenue stream of Genie+ and Lightning Lanes without its hand being forced, you’re truly living in Fantasyland.
What you can expect is incremental improvements to the Genie+ service to address the guest satisfaction scores and the usability of the system. This is precisely why Walt Disney World announced advance booking of Lightning Lanes is coming to Genie+ at Walt Disney World. It’s assumed that pre-booking Lightning Lanes will start in January 2024, but that’s not official. It could happen this year or at a later date in 2024.
When to Book
We started this with “When to Visit,” so let’s bring it full circle…back to the beginning…with when to book your 2024 Walt Disney World vacation. This is really only relevant if you’re reading this on May 30, right before packages and resort reservations go live bright and early tomorrow morning.
If you’re wondering what time 2024 Walt Disney World bookings will go live online, officially, no one knows. Walt Disney World has not yet announced an official start time. It could be as early as midnight, but outside of party tickets, that’s a pretty uncommon start time. Unofficially, our expectation is between 5 am and 6 am Eastern, if not slightly before then. That helps spread out the demand, and prevents Walt Disney World’s systems from crashing when people get online to book ADRs and Lightning Lanes at around 7 am.
As with most Walt Disney World “drop days,” the phone lines will be jammed and the online system will likely slow to a crawl at peak times, with Stitch eating the occasional page here and there. There might even be the infamous “We’re Almost in Orbit” virtual queue page if demand is really strong.
If you’re just looking to book a standard room at Pop Century or Coronado Springs, there’s no real reason to rush into a reservation. There’s enough supply for those rooms that–even with a ton of demand–zero 2024 dates will sell out during the entire month of June. When one person books a standard room at Pop Century, there are still (literally) over 2,000 more.
If you’re trying to book a rare room or some special suite that is one-of-a-kind, it’s a totally different story. When one person books that for specific dates, it’s gone. So, if you have great taste and thus want to treat yo self with a stay in the Yosemite Suite at Wilderness Lodge, then you should probably endure those long hold times on the phone.
However, that’s not going to be relevant to 99%+ of people reading this. (Not that you don’t have great taste–you definitely do if you’re booking any room at Wilderness Lodge, and might if you’re booking anywhere else.)
Ultimately, that should cover everything you need to know about booking 2024 Walt Disney World vacation packages…for now. Obviously, with next year still ~7 months away, there are many unknowns. Hopefully, we’ll have clarity on most of these in the months to come, but if the last few years are any indications, plenty of question marks will persist several months from now.
Even with all of the above said, our advice is to book Walt Disney World vacation packages within a few weeks of when they go on sale to lock-in ticket and component pricing as a safeguard against the inevitable price increases. There’s really no downside to that approach, as discounts (also an inevitability) can be applied retroactively. If you’re already certain that you’ll be visiting Walt Disney World in 2024, booking between now and late September 2023 is our strong recommendation–and a smart hedge.
If you’re not certain, and are waiting to see if Walt Disney World gets its act together in any number of ways, improves the guest experience/satisfaction, brings ____ back, or stops/slows down the nickel & diming, you should probably wait. While we’re hopeful that the worst is behind us in that regard, you couldn’t be faulted for having skepticism.
Will you be booking a 2024 Walt Disney World vacation package? Notice anything interesting about hotel room or package prices? Anything surprise you? Is there anything you must have–Free Dining, all-day Park Hopping, or something else–before you’ll book a 2024 trip? Will you be booking soon, or taking a wait and see approach? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments here? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!