There is no doubt that FastPass+ and advanced dining reservations can save you time on your Walt Disney World vacation. That does not mean that you have to use them. Many people complain that both of these take away some of the spontaneity from a vacation. I can’t argue with that. A vacation is supposed to relieve stress, and booking a table or getting a coveted FastPass+ reservation can have the opposite effect. If you’re the type of person who would rather play things by ear, you can still have a great time at Walt Disney World. In fact, you might be a step ahead, because you’ll already know that you won’t do everything.
If you want to wing it at Walt Disney World, I would still suggest that you familiarize yourself with the park maps ahead of time, as well as read basic ride descriptions. Just because you don’t have a set plan in place does not mean that you want to spend your day backtracking or trying to decide which rides you want to hit.
I have a couple of suggestions if you don’t want to plan too far in advance. As far as rides are concerned, download the My Disney Experience App so that you’ll be able to check Wait Times in the parks. That will help you to be able to plan your next move.
You can still enjoy full service dining, even if you didn’t make a reservation 180 days in advance. Out of curiosity I went on the My Disney Experience App at around 2:00 this afternoon, just to see if there was anything available for today. Much to my surprise I discovered that there were plenty of open times for both lunch and dinner. The choices included character meals and signature restaurants. All four parks, Disney Springs, and the resorts had openings. Snagging a last minute reservation for a fantastic meal is usually possible.
If you don’t have or don’t want the My Disney Experience App, all is not lost. Eat at counter service restaurants, or ask at the check in desk if there are any openings for full service. I’ve been seated almost immediately at restaurants without a reservation. As far as the rides are concerned, ride what you want. Wait Times are posted outside of each ride, so you can decide whether or not it’s something that you want to wait for.
What is nice about spontaneity is that you have better control over your time. You don’t have to scarf down your meal because you are worried that you’ll miss your Mad Tea Party FastPass+ window. (I wouldn’t recommend eating right before riding the teacups anyway!) You don’t have to rush through Disney’s Animal Kingdom because you’re running late for your reservation at Tiffins. If you want to leave one park and head to another one, there’s no reason why you can’t; unless you don’t have Park Hopper. It can be nice to not be tied down to a schedule.