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How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?


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  • How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

    I am getting so excited about my WDW trip at the end of next month! I have done a lot of research this time around. My husband tends to ask a lot of questions about things when we travel, so I figured I would find out everything I could ahead of time.

    I have all of our days roughly scheduled, depending on Extra Magic Hours at the parks. We have a day set aside for resort hopping, and each day I have planned rest time. All our ADRs are booked.

    How much do you plan when you go to WDW? Do you have a set itinerary that shows which rides to go on each day? Do you take the more laid back approach of going to whichever park you feel like visiting when you wake up? Or do you fall somewhere in between?

    What about planning resources? Do you subscribe to the park guides or websites that are more geared toward WDW? Are you the type to have a library of WDW books to help guide your planning?
    Anything listed on the park maps as an attraction is fair game for inclusion in the Rally.
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    May the Gumballs Be with You...Always.


  • #2
    Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

    Generally, I start to feel a twitch, it's like a withdrawel of sorts that tells me I haven't been there in a while. At this point, I start thinking about the week ahead and pondering to myself what would be a good day to blow off work. Eventually, I find myself sitting at my desk saying "I don't want to be here today", so I tough it out until lunch break and then don't bother returning from said break. Unless there's something new or specific that i have a yearning to see, I just go wherever.


    • #3
      Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

      I look at the schedules of the parks- see what I want to do, which ones have EMH and try to organize my days so that I get the best bang for my buck.I usually start 2 months before my trip. Meaning if Magic Kingdom has EMH on Friday and EPCOT has EMH on Saturday - I go to EPCOT on Saturday. I have all dinner reservations booked. Breakfast and lunch is grab as you go. I keep detailed spreadsheets of all my reservation numbers, what parks I am hitting which days, their hours of operations. :geek: I don't know how to go on a vacation "free form" I need a game plan But- than I get a bit flustered when I am thrown of schedule :rant: Its often a joke in my family when someone says they need to use the bathroom and they ask if it is in my schedule. Also - I usually can use a vacation after my vacations
      Fratsor Sister - Delta Mu Chi Alpha



      • #4
        Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

        I am a compulsive planner. I usually schedule at least one special meal on each day of my trip. I do this for the dining experience, and also as a planned rest period during what is sure to be a busy day.

        Mostly, I decide what I want to accomplish during a trip. Say, I want to take a tour. Play mini golf. Go fishing. Whatever. I plan those "must do" things first. I then plan my parks, and my meals around those things.

        I don't schedule rides exactly. I do try and ride my favorite rides first thing when I get to a specific park. Other than that, I don't. I always plan one "early entry", at Magic Kingdom. I love doing that one.

        I do like to see each of the parks parades, and fireworks, so I plan that into my itinerary. I check the calendar for these events ahead of time, so I am not dissappointed if I am not able to do those things.

        Now that I am older, I move a little slower, so I take my time. I like to get up early on vacation, and get to a park when it opens. I have the most energy then. I can then be satisfied to go a little slower the rest of the day, and be spontaneous.

        The best advice that I can give is to check the calendar before you leave. Know the park hours. Have an idea where you want to eat, and/or make your ADR's. Plan your meals close to where you are going to be, so you limit the time you spend on buses, boats, and monorails.

        Then relax, and have fun. Don't get too stressed out by what you haven't done, and enjoy what you are doing.


        • #5
          Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

          After many many trips to WDW I'm come up with a system that works for me and my family as well as other's I've helped book and plan vacations.

          I simply make an Excel spreadsheet with the dates across the top and for rows I use the following format:



          Park Hours:

          I then fill in the park hours and EMH from the web site and then decide which parks to do on which days, usually avoiding the EMH's as my wife is a late sleeper and they tend to get busy faster.

          Then I add the flight info on the travel days and then call for the priority seating and block out which days based mostly on when I can get the reservations we want that week as well as park hours and EMH's. I add all the details including the PS numbers etc.

          Next in the notes row write out the "must do's" for that park for the tings we have not done before, or info like cell phone numbers of Micechatters we will meet in the park that day, etc.

          I usually color code the days based on the park we plan to do etc. I also include the emergency numbers etc just in case, lost and found, the hotel desk, priority seating, etc.

          Finally I print out multiple copies including a few to keep in the luggage in case the old ones get destroyed in the humidity or lost, etc and carry a copy on me as well as one for my wife at all times.

          The result of all this is a "loose" plan of what to do each day which makes it very flexible but also has all the information we need for the entire trip in one place.

          Then all you need to do it relax and enjoy the trip.
          Hi I'm Jerren and I'm a Disneyholic...


          • #6
            Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

            When I went last year I planned many months in advance, particularly for dining reservations. In my case, I had the dining plan and really wanted to make sure I got the best possible use out of it. Some of the best times get booked up quite early. One thing I did was I scheduled dinner at the Contemporary to coincide with the Halloween party fireworks. I got to see the Halloween fireworks, which was nice as MNSSHP didn't interest me. Being spontaneous and deciding things when you get there can be okay, but things like the example I just gave do require some thought.

            Of course, making dining plans early did mean scheduling days in the park early, but I found it pretty easy. I tended to avoid EMH, which I think was a good idea. I noticed the lines for the busses during early hours for the park affected were terrible. I remember the line for the AK busses looking like three bus loads, and EMH were already half over. Just didn't seem worth the effort, the extra hour might be nice, but then the park is just busier anyway. I did go to evening hours at the MK and was surprised how busy it stayed. Again, not a huge benefit. I'm not sure what the current operating hours are, but at the time evening magic hours was the only way to see AK at night, which might be worth your while.

            I read the Frommer's guide, which was useful (and fun), but I don't see a need to read a lot of books. This and other online forums should provide all the info anyone needs.

            I've never used a daily ride schedule at any Disney park. I just try and target the most popular rides early, make good use of Fastpass, and be flexible. For example, when going to AK common sense dictates riding or grabbing fastpasses for Expedition Everest or Kilimanjaro Safari's first. Someone being "spontaneous" might decide, "Hey, Dinosaur looks fun, let's ride that first", but the result would longer lines for everything else later. Just planning that first hour in the parks can mean huge time savings.
            My Micechat cruise trip report, Part 1:


            • #7
              Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

              I start reading guidebooks months in advance myself. I make my ADRs on the 180th day prior to going.
              Celebrating Disney's Animal Kingdom



              • #8
                Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

                Originally posted by Jerren View Post
                After many many trips to WDW I'm come up with a system that works for me and my family as well as other's I've helped book and plan vacations......
                HAHAHAHA I second this, it's almost what I do to a T!

                Anywhere I ever go I read up as much information as possible and get all my options set in my head with a "loose" idea of what I want to do. WDW I do have my own spreadsheet but if it's other travel destinations I just read all the books/internet sites I can, print any maps if I need them and then we wing it when we get there. So when they say, "What do you want to do next?" I can usually tell them all our options and we go from there.


                • #9
                  Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

                  well enough to get rest and visit all the parks hehe...and get into the best attractions...or the ones that you really like..because the lines are very long lol
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                  • #10
                    Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

                    I book the hotel as soon as I find a good deal and just wing it from there. The only constant is going up a day early, lunch & shopping at Downtown Disney, dinner at the hotel food court & then watch JapanTV all night (if staying on property)


                    • #11
                      Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

             all depends on the kids you know hehe if you go with family gotta have everything figured out haha..
                      Hotels .nl - The best Brussels Hotels guide online


                      • #12
                        Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

                        Meh. I don't go during busy times, so obsessive planning is not needed. We will change which theme park to go to that morning, if necessary. However, we were last there in 2003, before ADRs were required for any special restaurant. We were walking up and getting seated.

                        Here's my planning:
                        1. Two days at MK
                        2. Two at EPCOT
                        3. One at MGM.
                        4. One at AK.
                        5. One day (possibly two) parkhopping.

                        We tend to avoid early magic hours, because we're on West Coast time, and the crowds make them and that park for the day worthless.
                        One nice meal per day. Can be any of the three. Fast food or snacks for the rest of the time. Depending on where the hotel is, we'll eat there later, after parks close.


                        • #13
                          Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

                          OH MY WORD - planning for WDW is intense. My daughter and I go to DL every year, no big deal, very little planning, can put a trip together in a week, with special events. Occasionally, my parents come with us (both in their early 50s)...and the fun begins. My mother is a diagnosed obsessive compulsive bi-polar type. She needs a schedule. Takes at least a month to put together a trip to DL.

                          So, here my daughter and I are, casually talking in October about a trip to WDW - for November. Parents mention wanting to take us on a trip to DL and we end up inviting them to WDW with us - and the trip gets pushed back to April.

                          In less then a week, we have 4,,,yes, 4 books - WDW for Dummies, the Unofficial Guide, Birmbaums, and an e-book. Then, once the new year came, we had to get the 2008 versions of the books. We made the spreadsheet forms for me to fill out, printed the reservations sheets, and found a gazillion websites and phone numbers. I turned into the official planner and she my secretary.

                          Fortunately, in the end, as long as I provide my mom with a rough idea of a daily plan and she can see it on the calendar, she can cope pretty well. I've prepared her for possible chaos, made a schedule that allows for lots of rest periods (i'm even viewing park hopping as a rest period rather than a frustrating bus ride between parks), sit down dinners every night and pool time. My daughter and I on our own tend to be 'commando vacationers' - always on the go, up at dawn, bed at midnight - we're awake and ready to pounce on the phone when Mickey calls to wake us up. I had to remind myself of the lessons I learned when I traveled with my daughter in her toddler days and from then on, I was good.

                          I've found though, that despite the frustrations, the many deep breaths, I have a new closeness and admiration for my mother. I begin to realize just how much planning and effort goes into her days to cope with her illness and I start to realize that counting to ten is worth it to give her a (nearly) stress free trip.

                          Sheesh, didn't mean to ramble...we do a lot of planning.:blush:


                          • #14
                            Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

                            I plan ahead alot. I use Tour Guide Mike and the Unofficial Guide. I plan on sit down meal per day and make an ADRs as soon as I can.


                            • #15
                              Re: How Much Do You Plan Ahead for WDW?

                              Originally posted by Iluvdisney View Post
                              I plan ahead alot. I use Tour Guide Mike and the Unofficial Guide. I plan on sit down meal per day and make an ADRs as soon as I can.
                              Me too. But I also read a few other guides. And have never tried Tour Guide Mike
                              Celebrating Disney's Animal Kingdom



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