There are as many variations of vacation preparation as there are attractions at Walt Disney World. Some people just show up and wing it; others schedule nearly every hour of the day. Me, I’m something right of center since I do create a summary spreadsheet, make my ADRs well in advance, and compile a list of the “must do” things for my trip, which I carry with me and check-off.
For this year’s trip I’ll also be bringing along a new tool, which is “Lines” from Touring Plans, a smart phone app. But that will be for a post-trip article.
TODAY I’d just like to list out seven recommendations which I feel will help others, particularly newbies, in preparing for their visits. What about yours? Remember to add your comments, but please read read the articles that follow from this month’s Magical Blogorail Red collection.
1. Of course my next trip is not my first, so I’ve learned to begin planning just after my last trip. We'll prepare some notes of what we had planned to do and didn’t, such as restaurants to visit, or back-stage tours, events or activities to attend, but weren't able to. And then we begin to think about what time of the year my next visit may be since that affect the "to do" list. I’ll create a word processing document to keep running notes.
2. During the pause between visits, which could be a year or more, I purchase my recommended Guidebook, The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World. I get lots of ideas that are added to the new planning list I’m maintaining. Recently I purchased a second book but this one is digital, the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining. Restaurants and foodie events are becoming very important during our trips.
3. I enter contests. That's why I started Disney Contests and Sweepstakes. I used to just watch for the contest ads on the various websites out there. As I was maintaining my own list of Disney vacation contests to enter (and re-enter), I thought I'd share it with everyone... which was why the new website. Hey, you never know!
4. I check out a lot of websites in between visits. It’s one of those ways to keep the Magic alive. I love to read about Disney and WDW, and I like to hear what others have to say. Although I didn't mean for this article to be a link-back to my sites, but that is why I started the Disney Blogger Collection; as my list of sites grew, I thought why not share this with others as well. Now I don't read every one of the nearly 500 websites I've collected, but I do regularly check out the most recent posts since they are always on the top of the page (especially the wonderful bloggers of the Magical Blogorail).
5. I've also signed up for several newsletters, like from AllEars, MouseSavers, The Disney Dish and the Disney Food Blog, which come through e-mail and are quick to review to find out what's new, what's good to eat and about any new money-saving tips. Then of course, there are the half-dozen Disney fan Podcasts we listen to like those from WDW Today, WDW Radio, BetaMouse and many more (check I-Tunes for free downloads).
6. We do make our restaurant ADR's beginning 180 days in advance. Maybe not all of them, since we do try to visit during the less than full park seasons. But as we review menus and make list of our favorite and new restaurants, we will make dinner reservations (and sometimes breakfasts) well in advance. Of course, these can always be changed as we get closer, but if the foodie stop is important to us, we don’t want to take the chance of not getting a table during the visit. The Disney web site is best for searching and making online reservations.
7. We do over pack; it’s something that we seem to accomplish every trip. But even then, we don’t always remember all that we should, so we use MouseSavers Ultimate Packing List. I have gathered up a bunch of other planning resources created by other Disney fans, and are always looking for more suggestions. Let me know if this selection of tools is missing something important.
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