Monday, June 17, 2013

Disney Vacation Planning: Live and Learn

Disney Vacation Planning: Live and Learn
By: Rebecca Farrell (Follow me on Twitter @RMZFarrell)

Readers, as you likely know from my previous posts, my husband and I have made 10 trips to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida since 2006. You also know that I plan events as part of my job and greatly enjoy spreadsheets and PowerPoint.

I’ve also learned a lot from Disney trip planning and visiting that I thought you might benefit from. Different from past articles, these aren’t recommendations so much as they are the thinking behind why we now do things differently at Disney (pregnancy, etc., aside).

What has changed about your Disney experience over the years? Would love to hear from you!

Purchased the deluxe meal plan (3 table service meals per person, per night plus 2 snacks per person, per night)
Purchase the regular meal plan (1 table service, 1 counter service and 1 snack per person, per night)
With the deluxe meal plan, we spent a lot of time waiting around in restaurants for ADRs, food, etc., and not as much time enjoying the parks. The regular meal plan more than suits our needs, frees up times in the parks and is more cost-effective.
Purchased a Park Hopper ticket for every day of our trip (except departure day)
Purchase a Park Hopper or a base ticket for 6-7 days of a 9-day trip
Having fewer days tied to the parks is a cost and a sanity saver; it frees you up to explore the water parks and Downtown Disney, too, or just resort hop.
Went commando to all of the parks without taking a break in the middle of the day
Try to hit rope drop at Magic Kingdom once, as schedules permit
When it’s just the two of us, it’s kind of nice to sleep in a little and then meander to a resort restaurant for breakfast before heading to the parks. Also, taking a break in the middle of the day for a swim and a nap is very refreshing for the soul and the soles (of your feet).
Lugging a huge bag or purse to the park each day, loaded down with every imaginable item one could ever want or need in the event of a zombie apocalypse
I put a few credit cards, ID and cash in a plastic baggie and zip that along with my lip balm and glasses into a case that hangs from a belt loop on a hook. NOTE: This is NOT a fanny pack.
The lines at bag check can be a real pain, especially if they’re long and you’re running late for an ADR. I love cruising right up to the entrance gate!
Not dressing up for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
Finding fun costumes that won’t make you melt in the Florida heat
It’s even MORE fun to be dressed up at the party and to have your picture taken with Mickey and Minnie in costume
Taking pictures of every single animal at Animal Kingdom
Taking about half as many pictures at Animal Kingdom (and overall)
I’ve seen it and done it; now I look forward to being in the moment and taking it all in!

Things that have never changed (and probably never will):
1.     The creation of a comprehensive spreadsheet with a tentative plan the MOMENT that Disney releases dates for our travel
2.     The revision of said spreadsheet with a concrete plan the MOMENT that Disney releases park hours for the dates of our travel and updates their site with crowd level information
3.     Waking up at 6 a.m. ET on day 180 to book advanced dining reservations (ADRs) 

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