I can so clearly remember planning our first vacation to Walt Disney World with my own family. Having been once, 25 years before as a girl, I only vaguely knew that Disney World was BIG. And it would be CROWDED. And we were going in July, so it was going to be HOT. And since we just knew that we were probably not ever going to visit again, it was important to SEE IT ALL.
This trip was A BIG DEAL.
As I began to think it all through, I pretty quickly became overwhelmed. After all, having a successful vacation with all of that in mind, is a tall order. My Mommy reputation was clearly on the line. And so was my Planner-in-Chief reputation. So, like any good general, I prepared for battle. This was serious business!
I poured over the Walt Disney World website. I ordered the free vacation video that Disney World offered (which they still do by the way, only now it’s a DVD). I read every newspaper and magazine article I saw, cut them out and put them in my expanding file, and then read them again. I went to the library, where I found, oh joy of joys, books on Disney World!! Checked out the ones that appeared to offer valuable information, and then went out and bought the ones that I liked the best. I actually bought one for our daughter as well, so that she could also get an idea of what to expect. Had to start training the next generation of vacation planners early. =)
(You might wonder why I didn’t just surf the net. Well, this was 1998, and doing a Google search was just not an integral part of our life at that point, as it is now. I was still doing things the “old fashioned way”, lol…I read books.)
In any event, two interesting things occurred from all of this research:
- I realized that the more I knew, the more I needed to know.
- And I also realized that we needed a PLAN.
It was evident from reading the advice of those wise souls who had been there before me, that a Disney World vacation was like no other. There was not going to be any relaxing on this trip! We could not just “go with the flow” (well we could, but were likely to end up frustrated, hot, and cranky if we did). I realized that truly the best way to plan a Disney vacation absolutely involved knowing waaaaayyy before we walked onto Main Street USA, what we wanted to see, when we wanted to see it, and how much we were going to pay for it.
So, I became Disney obsessed. I admit it. My family really thought I had taken leave of my senses. It was all I talked about for months. Looking back, I am amazed that they didn’t say, “Hey, never mind, we don’t really need to go to Disney World”. I am sure that they thought I was over the edge.
Until we got there. And I whipped out the daily planner I had created for us, showing what rides and attractions everyone wanted to see. I knew when the parks opened, when we could go early or stay late, where to go for some peaceful, air-conditioned moments, where to eat, where NOT to eat, etc. etc. etc.
The trip was a success. We all had an absolute blast, and the Planner-in-Chief was thanked time and time again. And we began to think about going back again. Which we have done, more than 10 times since. Yup, we’re all Disney fanatics now.
The moral of this story? Well, I would have to say, do your research, and have a plan. You will NOT regret having a plan.
Now some folks are like me and looove to do hours and hours of reading and researching. And the internet can be a big help to folks like me, since there is always something new to learn!
But not everyone has that kind of time, and I get that. Which is one reason why I started The Affordable Mouse, to help folks plan affordable Disney vacations, by having the very best money-saving tips and ideas in one place. If you don’t have the time to scour the internet, staying up until 3 a.m. reading message boards, and drilling down through Disney vacation planning websites that have hundreds of pages, that’s ok. I am doing that part for you.
And don’t worry, I love doing it. As my husband says, I am happiest planning a Disney trip. If not mine, then others. =)