Its hard to know how much planning is necessary. I bet people go to Disney World all the time and never do any research, dont make any dining reservations, or get any Fast Passes and probably still have a great time. BUT, I believe with a little up-front research and planning, things can go a lot smoother. I think you’ll spend a lot less time waiting around, walking aimlessly, and feeling overwhelmed with just a little planning!
My husband would rather just wing it. He doesn’t always see the value is knowing where you’ll be eating, and which rides to tackle at which time to eliminate time waiting in lines. His touring style is very different from mine. I am not saying its wrong, just saying its different. When I go places with him, I dont plan anything. We just go wherever we feel like it and hope for the best. It drives me nuts, but makes him happier.
My family has been to Disney World 6 times I believe, and my daughter actually worked there as part of the Disney College Program. So, we are not newbies, but things change all the time! In fact, our last trip was in 2009 – 8 years ago. I bet there are many areas that will feel brand new to us. My daughter took a trip a couple years ago, so she had Magic Bands and used the Fast Pass+ system, but I have never done it.
As soon as I knew we wanted to take a trip to Disney World, I started researching things. Took notes and tried to visualize how things would affect our trip. I keep up on a lot of it normally for this site, but more as a casual Disney fan than an active Disney vacation planner! So my focus must change. This trip is a short one, only 5 days. We need to soak in as much Disney as we can. We go to Disneyland a bunch, but Florida is different. The parks are different – there is so much more to see and do! We are doing Disney World Commando Style – so more planning will go into it than normal. No down time for us during this trip – we can rest when we get home! I plan on packing our days full (of course we can skip things or change things up – but lets shoot for the moon!)
My planning / itinerary levels are probably a little more involved than most people, but certainly not as crazily planned as other people that I have spoken to. Some people plan every little part of every day – even to the point of of planning when the potty breaks are! I am not that anal about it. I do want a general idea of what the ‘plan’ is. So I pick my parks for the day, make any meal reservations, and fast passes based on that. Then as the trip gets closer, I map out how to get things I’ve planned accomplished.
For instance, yesterday I was able to get a Segway Tour reservation. I’ll continue with this Segway Tour example from my last post. It conflicted with the Bon Voyage Breakfast that I had successfully grabbed, but .. breakfast is breakfast. Yes, it would be a fun breakfast, but all in all – its food. I would rather have a really fun experience that we cant have at home – so I chose the Segway Tour over the meal. There are so many great spots to eat, I dont think we will be missing out. I change the reservation to the Trails End Restaurant after our tour instead. Have heard great things about that place, so its a win-win for us!
Because I had everything listed out in a very organized way in an Excel spreadsheet, I could easily see what my choices were and what I would have to tweak a bit to make things work. This morning I sat for a few minutes and tried to figure out transportation between the various things in our plan. I think I have it all worked out. We will use a combination of buses, boats and monorails to get around. I even have planned an Uber ride. Just gotta be flexible, and willing to change things up!
Even if we don’t get to half of what I have planned, the trip will be amazing. I’ll be spending quality Disney time with my daughter, doing what we enjoy most!