View Full Version : Don't know where to start
03-22-2007, 07:16 PM
I've been reading posts in all the different categories of intercot discussion and am finding them very informative, though the more I read the more questions arise. It seems that most people really make a day-to-day itinerary for their family including parks, meals etc.. My all-encompassing question is this - where does one start? I was in WDW in 1980 as an 8 year old and the choices weren't nearly so vast. I'm just boggeled by having to figure out ADR's because the restaurant choices seem very exciting, but also dictate how and where you spend your day?? I should also mention we have a 2 and 5 year old, so what if 180 days from now "this" seems like a good idea, but when we get there (FEB 08) "that" is better? So, short of becoming a drill sargeant on our vacation, is there a way to be organized and spontaneous all at once? I just can't seem to wrap my mind around the whole thing. Thanks for everyone's patience and help!!
03-22-2007, 07:33 PM
A great place to start... Get an idea of where you might like to eat by checking out each park and its dining options, and once the theme park hours come out for the month/days of your vacation, then begin to plan which park you might like to do on which day. Most "WDW expert vacationers" start by planning either for or around the Extra Magic Hours. (*The parks with the EMH's will be more crowded- since those who do not have the hopper option will select those parks.) Once you know which park you will be at on which day, then you can begin to "build" your dining choices into your plans.
A great place to start is to visit WDW online- where you can "ride" rides and view attractions. You can also use their great tool to customize a map of each theme park for your family... Add your favorite must see/do rides, shows and dining, and Disney will send a customized, keep-sake quality map to your home FREE. How neat is that?
Once you're there, you can stray from your "plan" a bit- to whatever suits your family. By then you'll have a pretty good idea of what's out there to see and do- and what's important to your family.
Hope that helps! :mickey:
03-22-2007, 07:48 PM
What you should do is have a game plan, but be flexible! Planning in advance for WDW is essential. The place is too large with too many options to just go in blind.
It would be a good idea to know which parks you'd like to visit on certain days. Figure out which attractions are most important to you. And as much as all spontaneity at WDW is gone, you really need to have some ADR's if you want a "sit-down" meal (thank the DDP for that one).
Overall, you need to be flexible - if things don't work out on certain days or in certain parks, so what? You're still in a great place in WDW!
Additionally, if your family prefers to fly by the seat of your pants, that works too (although not too well during busy times).
Good luck with your planning - Intercot here has the best info to meet your planning needs! :thumbsup:
Mickey's Pal - WELCOME TO INTERCOT!:clappy: :clappy:
03-22-2007, 07:51 PM
:welcome: to Intercot!!!
Another helpful way to begin is to read all of the trip reports in that forum. You can see how others planned out their trips and get a general idea of things you might like for your own trip.
im alone and dont plan a min by min itinerary..i even hated to make ADRs for this upcoming trip as i like to walk up as i decide.
just read what u can. decide where u might want to eat...leave time to freelance. dont rush, enjoy.
03-22-2007, 08:28 PM
It seems that most people really make a day-to-day itinerary for their family including parks, meals etc..
So, short of becoming a drill sargeant on our vacation, is there a way to be organized and spontaneous all at once?
If the majority make a day-to-day itinerary, then consider what follows to be The Minority Report.
Before our trip with our 5 year old and 2 year old in May 2005, our last time at WDW was in 1990, so we were "born-again Newbies."
Starting about 6 months in advance, I studied the Unofficial Guide cover-to-cover like the Bible. And then I discovered most of what the Internet had to offer. I read everything I could, and asked as many questions on message boards as I could think of. I became a walking encyclopedia of WDW knowledge.
We are NOT the types who want to make plans for our vacation and then feel that we HAVE TO stick to those plans ... sounds too much like real life to us. We can't relax on vacation if we have to stick to a schedule.
So from all the reading I'd done, I was able to decide at a moment's notice what would be both most fun AND most efficient for us to do in any given situation. "Hellooooooooo, spontaneity!!!"
I know this will give a lot of people the heebie-jeebies, but we had NO PLANS OF WHAT PARKS TO DO ON WHAT DAYS. Wanna know how we decided which park to do every day? WE LET OUR 5 YEAR OLD DECIDE THAT MORNING OR THE NIGHT BEFORE! We provided a little guidance, but we really did let him decide.
And we did the same thing when we went again in November 2006.
Part of our ability to do this was the fact that we aren't really interested in table-service meals while on vacation with our kids. We did Hoop Dee Doo Revue and we did a character dinner at Crystal Palace, and both times we were very uncomfortable with the idea of having to be a certain place at a certain time. It detracted from our enjoyment of the things that came before those reservations.
It all worked really beautifully, both times. We did everything we wanted to do in an efficient yet stress-free manner. It was fun for me, kind of like solving a puzzle, to find ourselves at X park at Y time and and deciding how to get done what we wanted but doing so in the easiest, most efficient, most fun manner.
So, what I'm trying to say is that there IS hope, you don't have to plan your trip like a small military exercise!:thumbsup:
03-22-2007, 09:30 PM
Our family planning falls somewhere in the middle. I do plan ADRs because we do the dining plan and I'd hate to waste TS credits.
Since we have little ones, we do go to the park with morning emh. We find that, for the first 30 minutes or so, we have the place to ourselves. It does get more crowded as the morning wears on, but because we got an early start, we are ready for an early lunch.
I break our days into segments - morning, midday and evening. I make out a grid with the columns being the days we are going to be there and the rows being the segments. I then jot down emh info and look at it from there. I talk with DH and DD about places they would like to eat (try to include at least a couple of new ones) and prioritize them. Then I call to make ADRs, starting with the highest priority so that I can be the most flexible with the day/time. Then, I go down the list.
Our typical day involves going to am emh, having lunch either at the park or the resort, then going back to the resort to veg, explore, swim, or nap. We typically don't head back until 4ish, and then go to the park where we have an ADR.
We don't always stick to the plan, but it usually serves us pretty well. I'd also recommend a Birnbaums for kids as a great way to let your kids get involved in the planning. It is also good for autographs once you get to the park.
Don't stress too much, and be sure to take things easy - there's no such thing as a bad trip to WDW!
03-22-2007, 10:04 PM
First off, you will know how many days you have - that's usually set in cement.
Next, get a Birnbaums for you and DH, and two different colored hi-lighters. Get a Birnbaums for Children for the 5 year old, plus a hi-lighter.
You and DH go through the book, hi-lighting what you think are "must do's" in your respective colors. Help the 5 year old with her's.
Make a sheet for each park, listing what you want to do. Prioritize. Have a MAKE TIME list and a NEXT TIME list, just in case.
We don't get crazy over ADR's. I'd rather get CS part of the time instead of planning every single meal. It's just too stressful to "be somewhere" at a specific time, wait to be called, wait to be seated, wait to be served, wait for the bill??????Ya know???????? We "plan" two maybe three meals and get the required confirmations.
Schedule breaks with little ones. Over tired children are almost as cranky as over tired old people. :(That's us).
Keep asking questions here, be excited at home, but mostly be flexible and loose. It will probably rain some, lines might be longer than expected, you might even get a headache or a blister. Be willing to say, "I have to stop and rest a minute". Get a cold drink, and watch something interesting around you. Don't stress. Just have fun, and report to us when you get back.:thumbsup:
03-22-2007, 10:44 PM
I am a planner and enjoy thinking ahead, for me it is great fun. I was also overwhelmed, however, by contemplating my first trip to WDW last year. When I arrived I was SO glad I planned ahead. If you enjoy the planning: buy the Unauthorized Guide to Dw and spend time on Intercot, make ADRs for every day, and follow the UGto WDWs plans for how to spend your days. If you do not want to do that much planning I would strongly recommend hitting the parks at opening each day, and heading first for the attractions you most want to do. For example in Magic Kingdom, head immediately to Fantasy land so your kids can do all the great little kid rides like Dumbo and Pooh and Peter Pan etc. If the adults want to do certain rides it is best to do them early or get fast passes. After that you can be flexible and spontaneous. If you will be disappointed if you miss things you will have to plan, but if you are strategic first thing in the morning you can still have great time!
03-23-2007, 08:42 AM
I've been often enough, now, that the amount of planning that I do for any particular trip varies from trip to trip.
Generally, though, my planning consists of:
1. Planning which park(s) I plan to visit on which days taking into account park hours, extra magic hours, special events etc.
2. Deciding if I want any meal reservations for any of the days and then making them in restaurants that are convenient to my park plans - for example, dining in an Epcot restaurant on a day I will be visiting that park.
3. Adding any special activities that I want to participate in - sometimes this = none.
I don't make any minute by minute plans and am always agreeable to changing plans.
I do recommend making advanced dining reservations at any restaurants you have your heart set on. Again, I've sometimes "winged" it as I know that I can put anything I've missed on my "to do" list for my next trip.
03-23-2007, 08:52 AM
It's a vacation! Enjoy it. If planning isn't your thing, don't worry. All you need is a working knowledge of the parks. It helps to study a map in advance and decide what you may want to do.
Next, just read some information on which parks are busiest on which days (avoid those days) and check the park schedule to work around parade and show times. Or just jump in- look at brief descriptions of restaurants and decide where you want to eat. Make ADRs and work around them.
It's better to have ADRs in place so that you won't end up with no place to have a nice dinner. With little ones, it can be aggravating to rely on counter service for all the meals. Sometimes, you want to sit down and have a nice rest over a meal. It's okay if you're not sure if you want to be in that park on that night or change your mind once you get there. It's easy enough to call Dining and try to switch things around when you're there, plus park transportation is really efficient.
Just have a basic plan, a general idea, a few ADRs, and go with the flow.
03-23-2007, 09:51 AM
I am also HUGE on planning out my trips. I always start by finding out what parks have EMH and finding out show times (when possible). Because we get park hopper passes, we do take advantage of the EMH in the morning and will head to that park first. We then will plan a break in the middle of the day and then head to whatever park we have an ADR for in the evening for dinner.
ADRs are necessary, especially if you are on the DDP and you want to get your money's worth. Especially having young children, you want to make sure that you have a reservation so that you don't have to sit around and wait forever to be seated!! A couple ADRs that I would recommend would be Crystal Palace for breakfast (its a character breakfast with the Pooh characaters & you can make your reservation for before the park opens and thus get in to the park while it is officially closed). O'Hana is another favorite of the kids for dinner or breakfast (character breakfast with Lilo & Stitch).
So, once you have made out your plans for parks and ADRs, then you can remain flexible other than keeping those. And, should something change that keeps you from those reservations, so what!! Just make alternate plans and keep on going! :thumbsup:
03-24-2007, 01:12 AM
I'm so glad to see so many other planning fanatics like me! I LOVE the planning part! I do like so many others on here have said:
I start jotting down things like :
1. tentative schedule of parks by day
3. events - parades, fireworks, etc.
4. I try not to schedule 2 evenings in a row with nightime events - so we can rest up!
5. plan for some free time
6. call for ADR's
7. make index cards for each park - each day w/ all pertinent info - hours, parades, night time events, and adr info,& other attractive meal options, and a "loose" plan for touring the park and what we have "planned for the evening.:write:
We often deviate from this "plan", but then we can decide if the things we chose not to do are important enough to "plan" for another day, without forgetting to do something we really wanted!
I love the planning & this way we don't ever feel overwhelmed when we're there! Or feel like we might miss something that's important to us!
Some of my friends think I'm a lunatic, but I go all physco when I hear about people going with no knowledge and no planning!:bang:
03-24-2007, 12:10 PM
So, short of becoming a drill sargeant on our vacation, is there a way to be organized and spontaneous all at once? I just can't seem to wrap my mind around the whole thing. Thanks for everyone's patience and help!!
Try thinking about it this way:
to have a great WDW vacation, planning is essential. BUT following that plan to the letter isn't.
DW and I are both planners - she by nature, me by profession. When we plan for a WDW trip, we start with the handful of things that are really important to us (total of maybe 5) and build from there. We take into account park hours and EMH, which usually detirmines which days at which parks. We also "plan for spontaneity". We set aside whole chunks of time that we use do something completely unplanned (and often silly).
As for ADRs, as has been said, if you have your heart set on eating at a particular place, you will need to have an ADR, and with small kids, it's probably even more important. But even here, you don't have to let the system control you.
If you decide one morning NOT to go to Epcot as planned, call WDW-DINE and ask what they have available for that day. I've never found them booked solid everywhere - even when calling at 4 in the afternoon. The timing could be odd (and might not work for you), or the restaurant could be at one of the resorts. But we've found that some of our favorite experiences came about that way.
Bottom line: Make an outline - identify the really important things to you (rides, shows, fireworks, visits to resorts) and then fill in around those.
Above all, enjoy!!!!
03-24-2007, 12:56 PM
we start with a few "cant miss" things we want to do on the trip.
rides are tops.
space mountain,everest,rock n roller coaster, etc.
we go to the MK first day.
its still the real disney to us.:blush:
time of year counts too.
when the sun sets and it gets chilly would help me plan for a feb trip.
my number 2 rule is plan less later in the trip.
we start out on schedule and get the top deals done then relax the deeper into the trip we get.
on the last day or so we do as written above and ask buster jr "what do you want to do today?"
its fun really because kids come up with odd stuff and it makes me feel like a kid to do stuff that doesnt "make sense".
number 3 rule is make adrs!
if you dont you will end up eating whatever there is not a line for.
in feb though it may not be as big a deal.
just make folow rule numbers 1 and 2 for help.
pick a few "must try" places like CRT or a WS deal your resorts restaurant and make a ressie for early in the trip.
wing it after that.
you will see places and want to try them so its nice to be open to those type whims.
my only other deal is personal as i like to eat nice on our last night.
just somethin special or new or wild.
this trip its shulas!
good luck and really just have fun no matter what.
03-24-2007, 02:55 PM
Oraganized and spontaneous is very possible as long as you realize one thing...you can't do it all in 1 trip. That being said, I can only speak from our own experiences. Planning your WDW vaction is a wonderful and somewhat necessary thing. We start w/accomadations. Once that's decided, we move on to dining. We usually choose a dinner show, a charcter meal, and 2-3 other restaurants and book our reservations and ADRs when we book our trip. We try to plan our park days around the dining plans if possible. If we decide on another place after we arrive, we can usually call from our resort for ADRs. The rest of the time, we just kinda go with whatever we feel like at the time. Flexibility is key when at WDW. Don't overplan and assume that you'll be able to stick to the letter of your plan. With some proper planning and a little bit of :pixie: , you'll truly have a "Magical Journey". And remember, whatever you miss this trip, you can do on your next trip...and your next trip...and your next trip. After all, this is Disney, and no one can go just once!!:mjump:
03-25-2007, 10:51 AM
I agree with what's been posted so far, want to mention that when DH and I went the first time back in 1996, we had no plan and no knowledge of what was available. The only reason we got what we wanted to do done was that we had 9 days there and began to get a handle on when things were about day 5.:blush:
In 2005, I had discovered Intercot. And we did what many have suggested, made up the Must Do, Want to do, and Would be nice list per park. ADRs were not an issue as we didn't do the dining plan and preferred to eat only one, maybe two TS (which both ended up to be Biergarten, just because DH loved it). We had five park days and covered everything with a minimum of effort and a maximum of time to just enjoy being at Disney. And as we go in September the afternoon swims were an absolute necessity, as were parkhoppers! :D
This year, we are still not doing Dining Plan but will make two contingency ADRs. Mind you, if we decide we don't want to use them, we won't. We have a broad plan of where to go at what time based on when Spectro (which we've never seen) is and the fact we both plan to do Divequest on different days. We're on site and so plan to take advantage of the EMHs in the evening, and we know more or less which rides we want to do in each park (and in the single case of Mission Space, when we want to do it...if we do the Orange version we're toast for the rest of the day, so that happens last thing before we leave the park:thumbsup: ). And that's more or less our schedule.
But there's nothing sadder than a family stopping just inside a park gate and just then beginning to realize "how huge this place is" as I heard in passing last time, "what do you want to do first? I don't know, what do you want to do? I don't know, what is there?" I felt for them, because that was us in 1996. :(
And I've done four touring plans for friends and family since, based on the fact I don't want them to be us twenty years ago, or that family in 2005. (PS - we stopped and chatted for about twenty minutes and gave them some hints and tips. They were very grateful.):mickey:
I guess what I'm trying to say, in my long-winded manner, is don't micro manage, but have a basic game plan, and you can't go wrong. Read the tips threads for how to make it easier to travel the parks with munchkins, and above all if you find yourself getting tired and stressed, STOP. Find a shady bench and a couple of cool drinks and just watch the world go by. It's a Disney holiday, after all, not a Disney marathon:) .
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