Blog Post,  Children,  Planning,  Tips

Taking a Last-Minute Trip to WDW! (Plus Tips and Tricks)

Last Minute Trip to Disney: Let me start this article by saying, in some of my past articles I have suggested booking your trip waaayyy in advance (like a year in advance if you can), so this post might seem a little contradictory. Although I still suggest booking your Disney vacation as soon as you possibly can, booking a last minute trip is still very possible! I know, because I just did it!

Nicole Ellington

It all started when my husband was going away to sunny San Diego for a business trip (we live in CT by the way). Also, business trips for him are very fun. I wanted to do something fun also that week because, hey, if my hubby gets to do something fun, so should my son and I (I promise I am not as spoiled as I seem here). Disney was always in the back of my mind, but I was never fully considering it. We just got back from a WDW trip about a month ago. Also, I felt like going to Disney without my husband would be wrong. I felt guilty even thinking about going there without him. So I pushed that idea out of my head and looked around New England. What could I do with just my son that:

  • was open. Lots of things around here close for the season in the winter.
  • wasn’t too cold. Again, my hubby was going somewhere sunny. I didn’t feel like freezing my butt off while he was off somewhere warm. March in CT is COLD.
  • somewhere that I would be comfortable going with just me and my son. It’s very rare that I travel alone. I have been to Disney once by myself and Lancaster, PA once with just my son and I. So I am not used to traveling by myself.

Honestly, I was coming up with nothing. Things like Hershey Park or Six Flags weren’t even open for the season yet. Driving up to Maine would be waayy to cold. Nothing was sticking out to me.

Then, it hit me. My son, who is 4, will be going to kindergarten next year. I am currently a stay-at-home-mom, but will be getting a job once he is in school. When else are we going to have this time just to run away to Disney? Next year, school and work will be getting in the way. Also, he is only little for just a little bit. I needed to go to Disney. When I told my husband this, he told me to book a trip to Disney right away! He loves Disney, but he knows how much Disney means to me and my son. To say we are obsessed is an understatement. Disney is our lives!

So I was off to book a Disney trip! The week I wanted to book was only a mere 17 days away! I went onto the website, put in my dates, and disappointment struck. The only resorts that were available that week were $400+ a night. Sorry Disney, I love you, but I am a Value Resort type girl. Don’t get me wrong, Deluxe Resorts are great! But I am working on a budget here. I kept refreshing. I would move the dates up or down a day or two. Nothing. I really thought my quick Disney getaway would be no more. But then I realized that I don’t have to go that exact week. I can do the next week if I wanted too. So I moved the dates over a week, and Value Resorts opened up! Success! I booked 3 nights at All-Star Sports with only 24 days to spare. Now for the planning…

Nicole Ellington


As a resort guest, you can book your Fastpasses 60 days in advance! All other guests can book Fastpasses 30 days in advance. So being that my trip was only 24 days away, I was already behind most people. I went into it knowing that most of the “hard to get” Fastpasses would already be taken. And I was mostly right. My son’s two favorite rides are Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Slinky Dog Dash. And of course, those were both unavailable. But, we were able to get the other rides that we wanted to like Peter Pan, Toy Story Mania, and more! But I knew my son reeeaallly wanted Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. So I kept checking, and checking, and checking! I would literally check the app 10 times a day, if not more, hoping I would be able to snag a Fastpass for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. And guess what, I did! With only 12 days to spare, I was able to get one of the most ‘hard to get’ Fastpasses out there. So the moral of this story is, keep checking the app!!

Side note: if you would like to read all about Fastpasses and would like a FREE printable cheat sheet, click here!


This was the first trip that I did not use the dining plan. We were trying to do it as cheaply as possible, so the dining plan was cut. (my thoughts about this will come in another blog post). But, there was one reservation that I knew my son really wanted… breakfast at Be Our Guest. That’s one of the things that he looks forward to every trip! So I knew I had to get it for him. This was something that was proving challenging for me because:

  • guest can book dining 180 days in advance. Here I was trying to get another ‘hard to get’ reservation at 24 days to go.
  • The week we were going was a big spring break week. So it was going to be really crowded, which means reservations would be even harder to come by.

But I was determined. Again, I would check the Disney app 10 plus times a day! It took awhile, but I finally found one! Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t great and during our Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Fastpass. I took it anyway because I figured I would be able to work something out. I kept checking the app. And finally, with only a couple days to spare, I was able to book a breakfast at Be Our Guest at 8:30 am, before park opening! Another success! Again, the moral of this story is, keep checking the app!

Last minute trip to Disney
Nicole Ellington

Tips for booking last-minute trip to Disney World:

  • My first tip is something I have said before and I will say it again… Keep checking the My Disney Experience App! This app will be your best friend. Not only should you keep checking it before your trip to try to get all of the Fastpasses and dining reservations that you want, but keep checking it while at the park. On a busy spring break week, I was able to make 7 Fastpasses at Magic Kingdom in one day. We hardly waited on any lines, even though it was very busy. Check that app!
  • Be flexible. The resort I wanted to stay at had no openings, so we booked the resort that I least wanted to stay at, All-Star Sports. I am not a sports person at all. It just did not appeal to me. But, I booked it anyway. And I was very pleasantly surprised! (Update: Here is my blog post all about our amazing experience at this resort!). Not only should you be flexible with where you stay, but be flexible in all of your planning. With last minute trips, it’s best to just go with the flow.
  • Get to the parks early/stay late. Even if you are searching the app 100 times a day, sometimes you won’t be able to get the Fastpass that you want. That’s when getting to the parks early or staying late comes into play. We were not able to get Slinky Dog Dash as a Fastpass. So an hour before the park closed, we decided we were going to wait in line for it. The wait time said 60 mins (which was the shortest wait time I saw all day for it), but we really only waited for 35! That gave us enough time to ride Alien Swirling Saucers with only a 10-minute wait!
  • Relax! With a last minute trip, things might go exactly as you plan them too. And that’s okay! Just try to go with the flow.
  • Your trip could possibly be cheaper! You won’t necessarily get cheaper park tickets or room rates (unless you book one of Disney deals they have throughout the year) because of booking last minute. But, if you are flying, plane tickets could be cheaper! We got our flights for cheaper then what we usually pay. This is not necessarily the case all the time. But if you check travel sites like Priceline and others, you might get lucky and find a good deal.

If you want to make the planning process even easier, check out these FREE planning printables! These are perfect for a last minute trip to Disney, or any trip!

Last minute trip to Disney
Nicole Ellington

Have you ever booked a last minute trip to Disney World? Do you have any tips? If so, let me know in the comments down below!

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Last minute trip to Disney

I'm a lover of all things Disney! I have an adorable son named Andy (after Toy Story), and an amazing hubby named Aaron. For my family and I, Disney isn’t just a hobby or someplace we casually go when on vacation, it's a way of life. We try to go back 'Home' twice a year. My hope for this blog is to help families navigate their crazy, magical times through Disney and reach their Disney Dream!


  • Lauren

    We have only ever taken last minute trips to Disney before! Once for our honeymoon (the other plans didn’t work out, so Disney was plan b– that’s the trip that started the obsession) and again to take our 2.5 yo daughter before her brother was born (we delayed because we didn’t think we could swing it financially, but then we were able to find decent flights and just went for it).

    I would only do a last minute trip if it were for a short stay (where you know you can’t possibly see everything anyway) and for a small crowd (because you can get some decent last minute reservations, especially if you can be flexible on time). These last minute trips have been great, just enough to give us a taste and to get us excited to go back. With our 2.5 yo, we were happy to get to the parks early, but still left around 2-3 pm and did naps and pool before dinner. Neither of these trips were about seeing all the big attractions/rides, so it was perfectly fine to just swing a last minute trip for us!

    Our next trip is a BIG weeklong trip, so I have been neck deep in planning for the last year or so, LOL. We’ll be traveling 8 deep and want bibbidi bobbidi boutique reservations and Cinderella’s Royal Table reservations, plus time for saving up and coordinating with extended family.

    • Nicole Ellington

      That’s so awesome! Last minute trips can be so much fun! It sometimes seems like it can be less stressful then the trips you book far out 😆. Is your 180 days coming up soon for your big trip? If so, make sure that you book Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Cinderella’s Royal Table as soon as you can! They go fast! Good luck! And let me know how it goes!

  • Brittney

    We planned a last minute moms trip for next week. When we made our fast pass reservations, a few were unavailable. How do I use the app to check for available times? When I try it tells me that I already have my 3 fast passes for that day. I don’t want to cancel what I have, I just want to see if anything came available since I booked.

    • Nicole Ellington

      Hey! With last minute vacations, not every ride will be available for booking a FP. But here is a good trick! Let’s say you booked 3 FP, but one of those FPs you don’t really want. You were looking forward to riding another ride. Go to that FP and click “modify”. It will tell you whats avaiavle. If nothing catches your eye, then just cancel out of it and you still have your FP. If you see something that you prefer, then click on it to snag that one! The key is to constantly keep checking! Let me know how it goes! 🙂

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