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The Best Tools to Help You Plan Your Next Disney Vacation

Character meet-and-greet at Walt Disney World

Let’s face it: Even for the seasoned pros of two-week family vacations, cross-country road trips, and crack-of-dawn Main Street candy cane runs, planning a trip to the Disney Parks is always a little more stressful than we’d like it to be. Aside from the usual rigmarole of finding cheap airplane fares and affordable rental cars (not to mention the bane of every traveler’s existence—packing), there are Flight of Passage FASTPASS bookings to make, Be Our Guest reservations to score, hotel discounts to finesse, and park-hopping schedules to puzzle out.

It’s enough to make anyone’s head swim. Thankfully, you don’t always have to fall back on a travel agency to make sure that everything goes smoothly. Whether you’re tackling vacation planning for the first time or the hundredth, there are a plethora of apps and websites designed to help you not only reduce your pre-vacation stress, but make the whole thing enjoyable, too. Here are just a few to get you started…

1. Countdown+ Calendar (Lite)

Countdown+ Calendar (Lite) app

Image: Ashley Varela

Price: Free

It can be a sweet kind of torture to watch the days tick down to your next vacation, but countdown apps actually have additional functions that can help you plan a more seamless Disney trip. While many free apps force users to upgrade to paid versions before they can create unlimited events or set specific reminders, Countdown+ Calendar (Lite) proves a rare exception in both categories.

Within the free version of this app, you can create dozens of events without hitting the $1.99 upgrade wall, giving you plenty of room to arrange those hotel, dining, and FASTPASS reservation slots. You can also set up reminders to ping your phone in advance, whether you need your memory jogged the week before, the day before, or half an hour before another crucial window opens.

As an added bonus, Countdown+ Calendar (Lite) gives users the option of opening a free account. This isn’t mandatory—you can still use all the functions of the app without signing up—but can be helpful if you’re coordinating plans with friends or family members, as it allows you to back up your events to the cloud and generate links to share your plans with those who need to be in-the-know.

2. Google Trips

Google Trips app

Image: Ashley Varela

Price: Free

Google Trips is an indispensable tool when it comes to planning hybrid vacations—that is, trips that don’t necessarily begin and end with a Disney resort. Using the info from your linked email account, the Google Trips app will consolidate flight information and hotel reservations and give you a sample of all the local tourist spots, restaurants, and discounts in your area. Not only is this great for those who prefer not to over-plan, but it can also give you some interesting activities and eateries to check out that you may otherwise have missed. Even better, it’ll give you immediate access to Google Maps so that you can give directions to your Lyft driver or figure out the best walking path.

The one area in which Google Trips falls short is helping you construct a straightforward itinerary for all of your dining, transportation, and entertainment plans. The “Day plans” section of the app lets you add certain map markers to your day (and provides suggestions in lieu of actual plans, should you leave it blank), but you’ll have a difficult time trying to add each individual Disney Parks attraction and restaurant as not all of them are immediately recognized by Google Maps.

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