If you’ve been following the World of Walt site or really any other Disney fan site or book for a while, you often hear about the importance of planning.
Since Disney is big, expensive, and, some would argue, a little complicated, it is important to make plans for your Disney vacation. After all, you wouldn’t run off to a foreign country without doing some level of research and planning, would you?
Learning and gathering information is an important part of planning, but how do you then organize, track, record, and make decisions? In other words, how do you nail down your plans?
I recently had a chance to interview Kathleen Logan Wolfe, the author of a Disney vacation agenda book. As a published author on Disney planning, Kathleen has some great insights into planning for your Walt Disney World vacation.
Let’s take a look at what she had to say:
Question: How important is planning for a Disney vacation?
Answer: Imperative. Some may disagree, but you asked ME. 🙂 Especially if you are a first timer, planning out your days is essential. Although, I recommend planning as much as you can (learning park hours, coordinating your meals and/or special experiences with the park you will be attending each day, etc.), even just knowing what parks you will be attending on any given day is better than winging it.
Question: Why do you think people don’t plan for their vacations?
Answer: Many people, including myself, like spontaneity. The thrill of just stumbling upon magnificent things and experiences is intoxicating and adventurous. It’s very unlike the everyday of most working individuals where the clock is ticking and time management is essential. Guests who don’t plan may be simply seeking a break from that. I get that; I truly do. I just don’t think it works at Walt Disney World unless you attend often.
Question: Do you have some tips about Disney vacation planning?
Answer: A good place to start is by ordering the free Vacation DVD from Walt Disney World. It’s a broad overview of what they offer, but it sure does get you excited! Then, plan early. The earlier the better! Walt Disney World allows you to book your dining reservations and certain experiences up to 180 days in advance. For the more popular restaurants and experiences, it’s a must. Also, investigate online and get a preview of what is in store at the WDW Resort. There is a wealth of information on the Internet covering just about every question you can think of: food allergies, height requirements, special needs, celebration options, refurbishment schedules, you name it. The World of Walt forums is the ideal place to get answers.
Question: What are the most common Disney vacation planning mistakes?
Answer: I think people underestimate the size of the parks, underestimate the time it takes to get from point A to point B, and find themselves late, stressed and rushing around often. Hot, tire, and stressed is a recipe for vacation disaster. Be sure to allow ample travel time when park hopping or trying to be on time for a reservation. Also, plan for some down time at your resort pool. It’s easy to get caught up and just want to spend all day every day at the parks, but you will be glad you gave your family that midday break.
Question: What would you say to folks who like to “wing it,” or think that too much planning takes the fun out of a vacation?
Answer: To each their own. In the interest of travel planning science, my family and I did “wing it” on our last trip. I’ve been to Disney World many, many times and know the layout of each park very well. Even WE spent way too much time deliberating and double-backing after decisions were made, then minds were changed. Of course we had fun, but time was definitely wasted. More than that though, planning is half the fun! Imagining what your days will be like and what you will be experiencing, seeing, eating, and enjoying is such an excitement builder and gets the magic started before you even step foot in the house of Mouse.
Question: You’ve written a Disney vacation agenda book. Why did you do that?
Answer: Yes, I did! I started using the phrase “Get Down to Disness” back in 2000 when I was charged with planning my family’s first extended family Disney Vacation. Nine people each with different ideas of fun, dietary needs, and sleep habits; it was a job! So, I created itineraries for everyone that included fulfilling individual wants and needs, as well as “family time”. It worked out great. I’ve continued to do it for years for family and friends. Fast-forward to 2012, and we are now a family of 16, with the same challenges. I am a graphic designer, so I used my design skills in tandem with my planning skills and Disney knowledge and created a book to make things even easier to manage with a party of that size, and so the Get Down to Disness Daily Agenda Book was born. Everyone knew what everyone else was doing, at what time, and when we all needed to be at the same location. I believe it was my brother who said: “you should sell this.” So I did. 🙂
Question: How does your agenda book work?
Answer: The Get Down to Disness Daily Agenda Book is designed so all pertinent trip details, park hours, tips, and “must-do’s” are at your fingertips in one neat, easy to carry, light, organized and fun to look at place. A trip journal that your entire family or traveling party can review to get in the know about the details and really get pumped for the magical vacation ahead of them. It is designed so that you can glance at any given day and know exactly what you’ll be doing, where you will be, and at approximately what time. With so much to see and do at Walt Disney World, the Daily Agenda Book is essential to keeping things straight and manageable, so everyone, even the trip planner, has a magical time. There is even a comprehensive packing list to ensure you don’t forget a thing and maybe give you a few ideas of things you didn’t think to pack. 🙂
Question: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Answer: Walt Disney World has been my “happy place” since my very first visit back in 1978. Since that time, Walt Disney World has evolved in ways I could not have even imagined, and it continues to do so year after year. Walt himself said when referring to Disneyland, it will always be a work in progress; it will never be finished. The same philosophy applies to Walt Disney World, so in terms of planning, please don’t take for granted that what WAS five years ago, still IS today. Do your research, get in the know before you go, join our Disness Meetings Facebook Chat Group and ask questions. Even just a little pre-planning can exponentially improve your vacation experience and make it that much more magical!