August 9, 2013

How we do Disney Part 3: Planning our time!

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Hello!  We've been on sort of a staycation this past week since my husband's brother and his wife are in town.  There have been lots of dinners and a trip to six flags and a late night PJ game night - I haven't really been doing much else!  I have worked on a few this & thats for Ashley's room - we are in the final stages now of finishing it up.  Things have to been put on the walls, blinds & curtains need to go up, etc.  Can't wait to share!

In my final installment of "How we do Disney" I want to share how we actually do Disney, once we get there!  We operate this way almost every time we go, with a few exceptions that I will talk about.

First, in planning our time during a trip, there are a few resources that I always use to get information, get ideas, and help us get ready for a big trip.  The first is obviously the blog that I write for, The Affordable Mouse.  There are a TON of articles there about what to do, hidden gems, where to eat, new things to try, etc.  For instance, planning go to the the Food & Wine Festival in October...we have never been and there is a wealth of information on our site that helps us decide what we MUST try!

Second, I always always always use Tour Guide Mike.  This guy...he is crazy.  He and his researchers have Disney and the crowds there down to a science.  You have to subscribe to his website for your trip, but the cost is low and worth it.  I look at the "least crowded days" for the time period we travel in.  He has the stats for the whole year!  We've traveled over the Christmas holiday and have hardly waited in any lines when we heed his advice!  When all of the crowd is headed to Magic Kingdom, we head to one of the other 3 parks.  Sometimes we veer off his path, because something may work better for us, but we usually regret it because we end up being in a huge crowd, or a long line, or are trying to beat that huge crowd to the bus or monorail or boat...believe me, this guy is worth the money!

Third, I almost always buy the updated "Unofficial Guide" book.  I could do without this expense but I really love reading all about Disney:)  The "readers" in this that send in letters make me spit, they are too picky and snobby - so if you buy it and read their stuff, ignore it.  The writers have great information in there, especially if you are a newbie!  Trust me, the negative readers are wrong and they writers tend to sarcastically make fun of them;)

These 3 things really help me plan our trip.  I usually have an idea of where we are going to go on what day.  This last trip we did things a little differently and just went day by day and picked (out of the least crowded parks per TGM) which park to go to each day...I didn't really like doing that though.  I like to have a plan!

Our daily plan is something tried and true that we practice on every Disney vacation, save for a rest day here and there.  It looks something like this....

7:00 - 7:45:     Wake up, shower, get ready (this time changes depending on when park openings are)
7:45 - 8:15:     Breakfast in hotel market, using snacks for bagels and muffins and refilling our mugs
8:15 - 8:45:     Head to parks by bus, boat or monorail (you may have to leave earlier depending on your resort and how far away the intended park is)
9:00:     Park opening!  You want to be here BY this  time!!
9:00 - 12:00:     Tour the park.  You will literally WALK onto the first few rides you come to.  Make sure you use the Fast Pass system for your favorites.  For instance, we may head to Frontierland in MK first and we will ride Big Thunder AND get a FP for it before we get on, then ride Splash Mountain, then head over to Pirates or Fantasyland, then come back for Big Thunder.  Other than that one, Splash Mountain and Space Mountain, most rides in MK will be no wait or under 20 minutes for those first few hours (unless you are there during a holiday)!!!  SAAAAWEEEEET!
12:00:   Counter Service lunch in the park
12:30 - 1:30:     Head back to hotel
1:30 - 5:00:       Swim at hotel, rest in room, water parks (in summer we may leave the AM park earlier to do this), get ready for evening
5:00 - 6:00:        Head to dinner wherever our reservations are.  Allow up to an hour for dinner in another resort hotel since you'll have to take transportation to a park and then switch to get to that resort.
6:00 - 8:00:    Eat dinner, see resort if reservation is in one, head to park for the night (Park Hopper ticket is WORTH it!!)
8:00 - right before park close:       Get on as much as we can, use time to see shows or fireworks or parades, but we usually ride rides since we have a teen.  We try to leave the park 30 minutes before closing or the last show/fireworks/parade to beat the crowd to the bus!
Park close - 12:00:       Back to hotel, straight to bed!

That's our Disney Day in a nutshell. We do a LOT!!  That mid-day break is SO golden though!  What we also do is have a day to sleep in, because after just 2 or 3 days of this, we are TIRED.  We just skip the morning part in a park, and do the rest.  Sometimes we may go over to AK again on that morning since there doesn't seem to be a big crowd there, ever, unless it's a holiday.  This really helps recharge our batteries and enjoy the rest of our trip, tempers seem to be less inclined to flare and we aren't nearly as cranky as we should be;)

The point is, you have to enjoy yourself.  If you feel rushed around or that you HAVE to DO everything, you will look back on your trip and be like..."Well that sucked"...Disney is so lovely and magical but it tends to bring out the worse in kids if you go, go, go all day and expect them to be happy about it.  Kids and even teens can't adapt to that.  They really want to be in a pool somewhere at some point during the day so if you get used to that idea now, you won't be disappointing yourself or them when you go.  The break works swimmingly, haha, that way.  You get to put your feet up, enjoy the day, cool down, and be out of the hustle and bustle of the parks.  YOU ARE ON VACATION you know, and you don't want (nor will probably have time for) a vacation from your vacation once you get home;)  We feel we are there at the BEST times doing our schedule this way - in the morning when the thickest crowds aren't awake yet and in the evening when Disney magic really comes ALIVE!!

Make it work for you!  It may not be our schedule, it may be...but listen to your family and your feet and do what is best for all of them.  You may need to take a few trips to get it right!  Always remember that you will probably miss some things (I missed 2 or 3 of the things I thought I absolutely HAD to do...) and that you WILL be back.  Plan a trip for a a year or two once you get home to prove it!

That is how the BLANDS to Disney.  I told you, we aren't so bland after all, right?!?!

See Part 1 here 
See Part 2 here