Some people may think it sounds outrageous to make a plan for vacation since vacation is supposed to be carefree and flexible. Your Disney vacation can still be all that with a schedule. Making a schedule just makes you better prepared. There are a lot of things to see and the parks can get very busy, and going in without a plan/schedule could lead to a lot of disappointment. If you even do just a little bit of planning, you can make sure you get in the important things and make sure you enjoy doing them and not waiting in long lines.
The most minimal amount of planning I would recommend is to at least map out the following:
- Decide which parks you will go to on which days
- Make Fastpass reservations for the rides that are most important for you
- Make dining reservations for all table service restaurants you want to eat at
Having the above 3 items planned out will already put you ahead of the game!
Choosing Your Days
Depending on how you want to tour, you will want to select which days you will go to which parks based on one of two factors:
- Select a park based on low crowd predictions
- Select a park based on Extra Magic Hours
The time of year will determine the level of crowds you can expect, but there are many sites out there that give you a prediction of what crowds will look like on certain days. You can consult these calendars and select your park days based on what they recommend. Generally, if you are looking to avoid higher level crowds, then you will want to stay away from a park if it is scheduled to have Extra Magic Hours that day. That always draws more crowds to a park. The two sites that I like to consult for crowd calendars are Undercover Tourist and Touring Plans. If you have park hopper passes, then you will have more flexibility with this as you will be able to change parks if you feel one is too crowded.
If you are staying at a Disney resort and want to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours they offer their guests, then you will need to plan your days around that. Disney often releases their park schedules about 6 months in advance, so you can consult their website to find out when Extra Magic Hours will be. Make sure to check on the calendar as your dates near, as Disney is known to make last minute changes to their schedule often. For a more detailed look at how to plan out your days, check out How to Use a Disney World Crowd Calendar to Plan Your Park Days.
**Quick Tip – another factor to consider are the different shows/fireworks at the parks. If there are particular shows that you know you want to see, then make sure to check Disney’s schedule to plan to be in the park on the day and time that those shows play.
**Quick Tip – the time that they open the park at Disney is what is referred to as “Rope Drop”. If you plan to go to a park first thing in the morning, then make sure you arrive at least 20 minutes prior to rope drop. If you walk in to a park as soon as it opens, you can get a lot of rides done in that first hour. That is always the least busiest time of the day and if you plan to hit some of the popular rides first thing, you won’t have to use a fastpass for them.
Once you have a rough plan to decide where you will be on what days, then you can start to work on some of the finer details, such as restaurant reservations and fastpasses…
Part 5: Deciding Where to Eat