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!



  1. I am so glad you are a Disney fan. My first job ever was at The Disney Store. I have so many great memories of Disneyland trips with my family. <3 this!