Thursday, July 5, 2012

Planning your Disney Vacation: Part 1

Hi Everyone!

I recently planned a visit to Disneyland after two years of being away, during a VERY busy weekend debuting a lot of new and exciting things (Cars Land! Buena Vista Street!). My traveling companions, my very patient boyfriend and my very patient friend from high school (Hi John! Hi Sarah!) gave me a bit of a hard time about all of the planning and prep work I did before the trip. Why plan so extensively when there are only two parks, we have a "WHOLE" 3.5 days there, and we've been before and know what is there and where everything is?

Well, I have several reasons for arguing that it's worth doing a little bit of advance legwork. But I'll come back to that in a moment.

On a recent post, Kelly commented that she is gearing up for a trip to Disney World with her four year old daughter. It sounds like she has a bit of time to plan it, but I still advocate planning, and why not start reading blogs now?

Whether it's your first trip in years (or, in Kelly's daughter's case, EVER), or if this is a semi-yearly occurrence, I advocate planning for the very same reasons. It's a way to extend the excitement of the vacation, and allows you to really relax and be in the moment on your trip without worrying that you won't get to all of the things that you really wanted to do. It's the surest way to make sure that you have the memories you want, without getting overwhelmed by crowds or confusion. These parks are big, and there's a lot going on! It's definitely a sensory overload. If you have at least a rough idea of what you want to do, you can put yourself on auto-pilot and just head to the next place on your list; instead of spending your trip with your head buried in a park map, trying to remember what you have and haven't done, or what you wanted to see next, you can enjoy soaking in the atmosphere!

Now, I know planning isn't everyone's cup of tea, and one of the great things about Disney parks are that they really allow you to just wander and explore in an environment where you know whatever you choose to do next will be fun. But I still think it's worth making a checklist of the top five or so things you want to see, just so none get overlooked, or if you do find making a decision of what to do next difficult, you can pull out your list and check something off.

Finally, I think making a list like this can REALLY cut down on your wait times!

This is the first in a series of posts where I'll take you through a few aspects of planning your trip. What makes me think I'm qualified to do this? Well, I've done it a few times, with different group dynamics going on, and my traveling companions universally thank me for acting as a "guide" during these trips, commenting that we got so much more done in a more relaxing way because I had done some legwork than we would have just going into it blind. I also think that, while I enjoy planning, I don't enjoy feeling like there's no wiggle room or time for relaxation in my vacation, so I think my version of planning will benefit a lot of people who don't normally like planning out a trip rigidly.

Stress-free, pre-planned ice cream enjoyment
Believe me, on this most recent trip, the advance work I did planning repaid us in spades; even with our planning, we weren't able to get on one of the rides I'd really wanted to do. That being said, it was so much busier than we counted on, and having some foreknowledge of where things were, what we wanted to see, what days we'd be in which parks and when, etc... all came in handy for helping us maximize our time AND to get in a few breaks without feeling like we were trading a rest with our one chance to ride a ride.

Let me know if you guys have any specific questions, I'll be happy to incorporate them into future posts!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Disney/Pixar Characters on It's A Small World

How do you guys feel about changing classic Disney rides? I am split on the issue. I think it's important to keep the rides and parks relevant for new audiences, and I understand that they can't simply keep adding new rides; besides prohibitive operating costs, there's the issue of space as well. I also look forward to looking out for little changes; it's one of the many things that keeps repeat visits feeling new and fresh. That being said, I wish they could keep certain rides the same forever! I don't mind the addition of Jack Sparrow to Pirates of the Caribbean, but I think I'd have been just as happy if they kept the ride the same, and don't even get me started on the People Movers and Carousel of Progress; if they brought those back to Disneyland, I'd be over the moon, and those are two of my favorite things to do at Disney World's Magic Kingdom. 

One of the new-to-me changes on my last trip to Disneyland (which was nearly two years ago!) was the addition of Disney and Pixar characters to It's A Small World. As one of Disney's most iconic rides, I'd come to think that It's A Small World was untouchable. However, I have to admit, it's never been one of my favorite rides, and I mostly get on the boat once each visit out of a sense of obligation. Therefore, I was delighted to realize that they'd incorporated some beloved Disney characters into the ride as figurines. I think it was done really well, and meshes nicely with the original ride's theme and style. Have you had a chance to see them  yet? Here are pictures of some of the figures I was able to take; I may have missed some, let me know of any other spottings in the comments! 

The Three Cabelleros! 


Lilo & Stitch!

Woody & Jessie! 
It's a cute idea, and looking out for the Disney characters adds a new element of interest for me. As of my last trip to Disney World (a year ago), it seems like that ride has been left untouched. I wonder if they will add these figurines into that version as well? Anyone know if any of the other parks have done this?

I hope Disney parks never stop evolving, as long as they remember to keep enough of the original elements intact that it doesn't start feeling like a different park. One of the best things about Disney parks are their connection to the past.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

To All Who Come To This Happy Place- Welcome!

Hi Everyone,

Not much to see as of yet, but welcome to my blog! Another Disney blog? Yup! I know there is no shortage of wonderful blogs devoted to everything Disney, but I felt the need to add my two cents. As a kid, I grew up loving everything Disney, but especially the theme parks. As an adult, my passion for the parks has just grown. I spend a lot of time reading about Disney parks, planning trips there, and daydreaming about what my next visit will hold. I finally realized that a lot of what makes Disney special to me-- namely, the small details that immerse you in the experience-- aren't really discussed on a large scale. Sure, nearly everyone who loves spending time at Disney parks notices these things, and many bloggers allude to them when writing about their experiences, but most of the things that get me really excited are things that you might not notice on a first or second look. So that's what this blog is for; a place to get caught up in all of the little things that make a visit to Disneyland (or any other Disney park, for that matter) a truly unique and immersive magical experience.

Until my next post...