Readers' Planning Tips
Our readers and fellow vacationers are a treasure trove of information! These tips were collected during our June, July, August, September, October 1999, and January 2000 Tip Contests. Our winning entries for the January 2000 contest (which focused on planning tips) were:
Family Fun Nights
Congratulations to our winners and a special thank you to all who entered this contest.
We will update this page monthly as we receive more planning-specific tips via our contest or just by e-mail!Updated 06/27/06
Readers' Planning Tips (over 70 and counting!)
I believe the most important tip is to consider the age group of the people you will be with. If you are with children, take consideration for tiredness and don't try to do too much. Get a park map, make a list of "must see attractions" and plan your day in advance beginning with the "must see attractions" first. Do those attractions and then Enjoy the rest of your day. Walt Disney World isn't a lot of fun if you are running the whole time you are there. Remember it's a vacation! - Contributed by Julia Thomason (January 2000)
Enjoy the process - the anticipation is ALMOST as fun as as the trip itself! - Contributed by Pam M. (January 2000)
Read, read, read - plan, plan, plan, and visit every message board you can find!!! - Contributed by Andrea (January 2000)
Design a plan sheet before you go because Walt Disney World is a very big place(as big as Manchester, England) and you wouldn't want to miss any of the magic. The best way to decided how to plan your hoilday is to go to your travel agent and ask for avice. - Contributed by Jenna McIvor (January 2000)
If it's your first time to Walt Disney World, and you're trying to plan your trip, remember you WONT be able to see everything the first time. Not unless you're staying for a long time. If you try, you will only end up burning yourself out and then you still won't see everything. Take your time, relax, and enjoy the magic. - Contributed by Michael O. (January 2000)
Book everything separately. Your hotel, airfare, tickets. This can save you a lot of money! The 'packages' tend to cost alot more. This way you can look for hotel discounts and airfare sales, whereas in a package it is all pre-set. - Contributed by Liz McKinnon (January 2000)
Make sure your trip plans are age-appropriate. Don't push little ones to do more than they can bear. It will make it a difficult and frustrating trip for all family members involved!! - Contributed by Robin Kaplan (January 2000)
Just go be yourself and make some memories that will last an eternity. - Contributed by Brian Cudnik (January 2000)
Plan in advance. - Contributed by Wilma Blase (January 2000)
Our favorite part of the planning process is having what we call "Family Fun Nights." All five of us gather together, pick out a Disney video, light a fire, pop some popcorn, and sit back and watch together, After the movie, we always end up pulling out one of the free Walt Disney World planning videos (which everyone should get a copy of 'cause they're FREE!) We'll watch the videos, pull out our PassPorter, and write down any new ideas anyone's come up with in the past week to do on the trip. It's a wonderful evening our family spends together each week getting excited about the trip. And as I always say, "planning the trip is almost as much fun!!" - Contributed by Lori Githens (January 2000) <-- January 2000 Contest Winner!
planning a trip for a large group, hold many meetings
ahead of time and ask lots of questions. Like...What do
you normally like to do on vacations? Do you want to stay
together, split up, or a combination? How much of a
budget do we have? What do you expect from this vacation?
Since I've been known to "misplace" things, I'm going to take an envelope the size of the PassPorter and write my address on the front, inside, I'm going to put a priority mail stamp and then I'll stick a post-it note to the outside of the envelope explaining that if anyone finds this book, they can simply put it in the envelope, attach the stamp and put it in the mail...if they include their return address, I'll send them something for their trouble. (I'll also include where we're staying onsite, just in case!) Then I'll stick the envelope inside the back cover and hopefully if my beloved PassPorter and I become seperated, it'll find it's way home to me! - Contributed by Lori Githens (January 2000)
Remember your past trip(s) and plan in advance .- Contributed by Larry Smith (January 2000)
My planning tip is to go and just have fun day by day and don't worry about tommorow!! :) - Contributed by Jennifer Geiser (January 2000)
Go online and find out about the place you're going.- Contributed by Britany Vines (January 2000)
Plan far ahead of time. - Contributed by Jason (January 2000)
Do it yourself on-line -- book without agents. - Contributed by Deborah B. (January 2000)
The first step in planning a Walt Disney World vacation is to convince your husband that you deserve a reward for completing your Master's degree with a 4.0 GPA. Make him feel guilty as you remind him who sat on the couch for hours watching TV while the other person sat for many hours in class, in front of the computer, and in the library. Remind him that you did all of this while teaching middle school students how to play musical instruments. Once you have convinced your husband that you deserve this trip, start putting the research skills you acquired while writing your thesis to work. Use these skills to compile information about Disney World so you can write your new thesis titled "A Disney World Vacation to Remember." Write the thesis in a manner that your husband has no idea what you're saying. This way he has no choice but to agree with your plans. After confusing your husband with your trip itinerary, introduce him to the music of Disney. This can be accomplished by teaching your band and orchestra students music from Disney movies. After laying on the guilt trip, confusing him with your thesis, and introducing him to the sounds of Disney, make your reservations. (Don't tell your husband that NASA changed the date of the space shuttle launch you promised he could watch until you make your final payment for the trip.) When all of the planning is complete and you begin the journey, you will finally be able to introduce your husband to the mouse who helped create your favorite place. Only then will your husband understand what a magical place Disney World truly is. - Contributed by Robin Krening-Capra (January 2000) <-- January 2000 Contest Winner!
Before you leave on your vacation, arrange for a neighbor or family friend to pick up your mail and daily newspaper while you are away. This will deter thieves and keep the memories magical. - Contributed by Wendy Hall (January 2000) <-- January 2000 Contest Winner!
I set up a folder om my PC that tells all about our soon to be vacation- I have maps of the parks/a description and photos of our hotel (Swan)/decriptions and photos of each park with restaurants/rides, etc. This way when one of the kids or my wife want to look at something about the vacation they just go to the pc and look it up. I also have a spot set up that they can make a comment about what restaurant or ride they want to do. With a scanner, the internet and a little bit of imagination you can really have fun with this plus you can dream when you look at the photos! - Contributed by Tom Smith (January 2000)
Use a planner to organize all park trips to make use of time and money. - Contributed by Andrea W. (January 2000)
Having a son with medical problems, I was worried about forgetting all the doctor's number, etc. I listed them on the back inside cover of the Passporter under Important Phone Numbers. Very handy location in an emergency! - Contributed by Tamara B.. (January 2000)
If you haven't been to Disney, or not recently, pick up a PassPorter!!! Contributed by Lynda P. (October 1999)
Book your tickets before your vacation and get as much information as you can on the parks, that way you can sit down as a family and plan out each and every day so as to pack in as much as possible. P.S. with Disney, there is so much to see and do, SLEEP when you get home. -- Contributed by Lyn Evans (September 1999)
Before leaving home, buy one of those battery-operated fans that blow mist. You can buy these almost next to nothing at home, but if you buy one at Walt Disney World (when you discover you can hardly function without one), you will be paying around $25. -- Contributed by Dee Dee (September 1999)
I use a large calendar and start by putting the countdown in. This helps to mark the 30 day reservations things as well as add to the excitement of planning. I put in the Early Entry days, E-Ticket nights, special parties, water park closings, etc. on each day. Then, I plan where to go and what to do by using the PassPorter. This keeps my PassPorter in tip-top shape and "presentable" as a souvenir. -- Contributed by Cindy Hughes (September 1999)
I use spreadsheet software to create a "cheat sheet" for our trip. I put our Priority Seating #s, parks hours, early entry info etc. on it in a table format. Example:
I shrink it down to file card size and tape it to a file card. I then put clear contact paper around it so it's "laminated" and keep it in my fanny pack. This way there are no lost #'s and all the info we need is there in one place. -- Contributed by Cora (September 1999)
Being a huge Disney fan unable to contain myself while I impatiently await my next departure to the World, I use every moment from conception to departure to plan, plan, plan. I spend hours each night scouring the net for any tiny bit of info I may have missed or new info (this is how I found your book). I pour through message boards reading everything I can and ask questions of everyone on the boards. Asking others what their experiences have been and how they handle things is one of the best ways to plan. I read as many books as I can find on touring WDW and go through them cover to cover, highlighting things I feel will pertain to my upcoming trip. Myself and members of my touring group get together as much as possible to discuss what we all want out of our trip and brainstorm. Once I have a draft itinerary, I put it on the computer adding pictures of parks, hotels and attractions to make my itinerary shine. I add menus and flyers acquired from the wonderful people at Disney. I make a copy for each. To assure our trip goes as smoothly as possible, I call ahead for priority seating reservations, special requests and any and all questions I can think of (there goes the phone bill). My friends and co-workers think I'm crazy, planning a trip a year in advance, but they are always the one's who come to me with questions and for suggestions for THEIR trips to the World. In my opinion, the vacation begins at conception. Whether it be a year or a week before departure, planning is part of the adventure and can only enhance a vacation. It also gets everyone involved and eliminates nasty surprises. Living in California, we always try to get on the red-eye to arrive as early as possible so we can make the most of our time. We research where the best places are to watch show and parades and try to make reservations at places that allow us to view while eating. A great way to beat the crowds and be comfortable. We investigate the best way to get where we're going and try to stay at a hotel with as many transportation options as possible. Boardwalk is our favorite, offering boats, buses and the ability to WALK to a park. Buses can get crowded fast and SRO is often what we find, so we try to stay away from the buses, choosing alternate methods of transportation whenever we can. Some new things we're going to try this year. We're renting a car for the first time and our goal is to never get on a bus. I'll let you know how that worked out. We're going to bring the 2-way radios with us to keep in touch, as we have found simply choosing a meeting place in the event of separation is not enough. -- Contributed by Michelle Boothby (September 1999)
Use the daily trip pockets in the PassPorter to accumulate your dining receipts, purchases, ticket stubs, etc. Then, when you get home, you have an effective and easy way of remembering where you ate and what and when. It's a great way to organize your scrapbook of the trip and to take notes for that all-important trip report to R.A.D.P.! Example: On Friday, after a day at Busch Gardens, and a trip to LensCrafters!, we saw Cirque du Soleil and had dinner afterwards at Fulton's Crab House where we had . . . ! - Contributed by Don Bartholomew (September 1999)
My favorite tip that I always tell anyone who asks is "PLANNING". Some vacations go along fantastic when they are spontaneous. A trip to Disney World does not. Before going decide which park you will visit on what day. It saves arguments later. Build in a little flexibility though. If you wake up and it's raining on the day you were going to the water parks you change to one of the amusement parks. When we first started going (many, many, years ago) we were a family of 2 parents and 4 children. We needed a plan. We discussed what rides and parades were an absolute must see and saw them first. That way no one went home disappointed. Anything else they saw was a bonus. One year due to pressure from the munchkins we went without a plan. It was the only miserable trip we have ever had to Walt Disney World in the 26 years we have been going. We would wake up in the morning and have a six sided argument over where we would go and what we would see that day. Everyone went home disappointed bec have -- Contributed by Dot F. (September 1999)
Read, Read and Read... everything from the Internet discussion boards to all possible guide books! -- Contributed by Jennifer H. (September 1999)
We are in the planning stages of our first trip to Disney World. The one thing I've found to most helpful is to purchase a little palm sized notebook and make a page for each park. On each page I write not to be missed rides and restaurants as well as the times of any p.s. reservations we have made. I also have a page for important phone numbers, including the numbers for our resort. -- Contributed by Christine Hamilton (in July 1999).
GO TO HAVE FUN!!! Too many people have such a negative attitude!! Everyone loves Disneyworld!!! -- Contributed by Cricket Smith (in July 1999).
Don't get caught up in the "once in a lifetime" idea. It will put too much pressure on your vacation, and end up giving you a lot of stress. Pick a few things as "must do" and a few "if we get the chance", and relax. -- Contributed by Anonymous (in July 1999).
Plan way in advance and always be willing to listen to others advice. If not, we may never have found out about PassPorter. -- Contributed by Paul Moran (in July 1999).
My tip is not to over do it. Take an extra day to relax and do nothing while you are down in "the World." This way the next day you will be refreshed for the next day. Or take that extra day at the end of your trip and do laundry, it may sound awful, but when you get home you don't have to worry about washing those stinky clothes all you will have to do is unpack the fresh clean clothes! -- Contributed by Sherry (in July 1999).
Let everyone in your party, no matter how young or old, choose an event of the day. This will give everyone a chance to be involved! -- Contributed by Kendra Thornberg (in July 1999).
I have 3 young children, current ages 4, 2, and 8 months. Our last trip to WDW was in Dec of 1997, my oldest was 2.5, my middle child 1. We spent many hours before hand preparing my kids on what to expect. We watched videos, Sing along song Disneyland fun and the Disney vacation planning video offered by WDW. We played on the computer with the WDW explorer, which allows one to "visit" the park on your computer. We listened to the theme park music. My kids had such a great reaction when we finally got to the park. We also brought their glow worm dolls, which light up when squeezed, for times when rides were dark, which seemed to help. The last thing we did was to prepare them for the waiting. We brought bubbles (like you see at weddings, very small jars) and MagnaDoodles for waiting periods at parades, shows, attractions. -- Contributed by Elise Dillon (in July 1999).
My favorite tip for a vacation to Walt Disney World would be to do research prior to your trip. That can be achieved through reading WDW travel books, reading Internet sites devoted to WDW, and go to Internet sites where people post their personal experiences. You don't want to waste your time trying to figure out what you want to do once you get there...so advance planning is extremely important so you can relax and enjoy the magic! -- Contributed by Sherry H (in July 1999).
Remember that you can't do it all. WDW is huge and has so much to offer. So, get the family together, get a great travel guide, and let each person pick what's most important to them. Then plan around that. Anything you miss this trip will be waiting for you the next time you come! -- Contributed by Thea Cassetta (in July 1999).
I like to make my own personalized pages for a 3 ring binder, which I take with me to Disney. Your book makes a WONDERFUL beginning, and on top of it, I do a personalized itinerary with photos, clip art, and personal information. The clip art I get for free from the www.disneyclipart.com site or other "official" and "unofficial" web sites. Each day has my personal travel plan (with maps, attraction listings, touring plans, dinner reservation times and confirmation numbers, etc.) I also bring a 3 ring hole punch with me to punch out maps, etc, and add them to my book as I go along. The pages also make great photos or video shots for my Disney home video. -- Contributed by Daniel B (in July 1999).
To get the kids excited, try dressing their allowance money with Mickey ears. Cut out the sticky part of a post-it note in the shape of mouse ears, color it in all black, and put it where appropriate on Mr. Washington on a dollar bill... Much more versatile than Disney dollars... -- Contributed by Daniel B (in July 1999).
Pick out a few things that you NEED to do. Then LOOSELY set up a schedule around these things, make PS where recommended. Then be flexible. -- Contributed by Vicki (in July 1999).
Relax - while pre-planning is good, too much rigidity to a schedule can leave one feeling more exhausted after vacation than before. Make sure there is time to go with the flow!! -- Contributed by Christine (in July 1999).
Check out all the web sites for hints and ideas and definitely purchase a PassPorter! The best hint so far for us has been to pack a suitcase with snack things, juice boxes and water for the park and when you come home, you have something for all the souveniers! -- Contributed by Jennifer (in June 1999).
When trying to plan your days, plan at least one EVENING at the early entry day park. We were traveling with young kids & did not do early entry but we ended up at the Magic Kingdom (MK) on Thursday evening (which was early entry day for MK) I guess all the young'uns came early and finished early because we did 90% of Fantasyland in a little over an hour!!! -- Contributed by Amy Miles (in June 1999).
Buy a travel guide like PassPorter and start planning your trip early. At least a year in advance. Make your reservations for a Disney resort at least 6 months in advance. Also sign up for a mailing list like the ones offered by PassPorter and ask lots of questions. Don't wait until the last minute. -- Contributed by Teri W (in June 1999).
If you don't have a Magic Kingdom Club (MKC) Membership, inquire about a AAA discount (if you belong to AAA) when you call CRO. I have found the discounts to be about the same at MKC, when available. -- Contributed by Kathy Jahr (in June 1999).
When I get really antys about the trip, I call and talk to a CRO. I'm not crazy, but I get to make sure everything is okay, please see what is new. I write everything down, and then have my husband go over what I want to do. Then I let our oldest daughter tell us what she wants to do. Then we each have an idea what the other wants to do. (Of course my list is always the longest.) -- Contributed by Linda Buckley (in June 1999).
Have an agenda (days/times in which park) planned before arriving in Florida. Also have contingency plans for bad weather or unplanned events. This agenda will cut down on wasted time since everyone has an idea of what's going on before that day arrives. -- Contributed by Lisa Berrodin (in June 1999).
Make all necessary reservations well in advance (hotel, rental car, airplane, restaurants) - at least 6 months to a year. Also - purchase tickets for the various parks in advance via on-line or through the Disney store nearest you. -- Contributed by Lisa Berrodin (in June 1999).
Get every current guidebook you can find, and read them all. "Experts" will try to tell you what the best book is, but really, they all offer different things, and only you can decide which guidebook suits you best. When you've gotten them all read, highlighted, noted, and cross-referenced, you can always use your knowledge as a party trick! -- Contributed by Beth L (in June 1999).
Be Creative. -- Contributed by Stacy Sage (in June 1999).
When My family started planning we went to Barnes and Noble and puchased "Birnbaum's Disney World " and a Mini Guide, Each member -- my sister (50), son (15) , daughter (7), and myself (37) -- picked out what was most important or what we were looking forward to the most regarding about where we stayed, where we ate, the most important attraction, character, the park we thought was the most important. Then my sister and I compiled a list of each's favorite. From that list we created our basic itinary and schedule, Can't wait to go. Plus the Passporter has been a great help, We just got it. -- Contributed by Bennea Steed (in June 1999).
I went to our local library and reserved most of the WDW travel guides they had available to use to plan what attractions we want to visit with my young daughter. They also had a file on WDW that contained many brochures and maps from the park which were helpful to see while planning. By using the library and only buying the PassPorter for reference, I saved myself quite a lot of money. I made notes in my Passporter from the books I had borrowed and also made copies of the maps to put in the pockets. Very helpful and cheap! -- Contributed by Shawn K (in June 1999).
My favorite planning tip is the great Budget Worksheet in the PassPorter. It was very helpful in detailing our expected expenses. The Money Saving Programs list was also very useful. -- Contributed by Lillian Saturria (in June 1999).
Allow everyone in the party to plan a day while vacationing. This includes where to go, what and where to eat etc. Allow them a certain alloted amount of money then let them plan away. This gives you a chance to try things that you might never have considered before. I would have NEVER dreamed that I would like Norwegian food. It was great. -- Contributed by Jill Harrell (in June 1999).
Plan! Plan! Plan! There is so much to do and always so little time - take time to relax and enjoy this wonderful World we call Disney. -- Contributed by Pam Enri (in June 1999).
Start a Walt Disney World file, with sub-files such as resorts, restaurants, parks, etc. or any other sub-files that would apply to your trip. Then every time you see something that you want to remember or incorporate in your trip write it down, or print it our if from the internet and place in the appropriate file. There is so much info about DW it is impossible to remember everthing. Then as your trip date approaches, you can go through your files and finalize all the details and you won't forget anything. -- Contributed by Mercy (in June 1999).
While I plan our trips to walt disney world, I keep a accordian style file folder handy. I give each folder a subject, such as: reservations, menus, calendar, priority seatings, itinerary, etc. I place the appropriate papers in the corresponding folder. when the time for the trip comes, I have everything at my fingertips. on one trip I just took he entire folder, but on another, I condensed what I needed into one smaller folder, which was less bulky. keeping everything in one place is the key for me! -- Contributed by Madge H (in June 1999).
Make your own reservations. Call directly for hotels and tickets and airlines. Don't purchase any preset vacations deals. They are MORE money than if you book each portion seperately. -- Contributed by Laurie Hoffman (in June 1999).
I think the biggest planning tip for a trip to WDW is the use of the internet. This has been a wonderful new tool for everyone to try. It has helped me out tremendously with all of our future Disney plans. I know for a fact that many, many people have starting searching the web for Disney sites. There is tons of info out there for anyone that is interested in Disney. Web sites that have any kind of Disney info is greatly appreciated by all of us web surfers. I can't believe how much of a difference it makes when touring Disney to have this vast knowledge beforehand. After all, that how I found Passporter! :^) Thank you Jennifer & Dave for coming up with such a brillant brainstorm and following your dreams till they came true! -- Contributed by Julia (in June 1999).