Thrifty Thursday: Creating a Disney Trip Cheater Book

I have not yet decided whether I am extremely organized or just uncertain of my ability to remember things but, either way, I compensate by always being prepared. I like to be able to put my hands on whatever I need whenever I need it.

Several years ago, when we first started visiting Walt Disney World, there was so much information about so many different things that I wanted to have a method of keeping track of things specific to our trip at any given time. I decided to create a Disney Trip Cheater book by using a set of colored 3X5 index cards, hole-punched and held together with a loose-leaf clip, like this.

The cost of my cheater was $2.49 for a 100-pk of ruled index cards in assorted colors plus 20 cents for the clip. So, for only $2.69 I had a priceless tool for our trip. You could also use the cards with a colored edge as in choice 2.

I used the colored cards to color-code my tips, hints, confirmations, reminders, etc. For instance, pink was Magic Kingdom so information about Magic Kingdom rides, hints, tips, etc. were listed on pink cards. I had different colors for Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios; one for transportation; and one for locations outside the parks. It was invaluable to helping me stay organized. Using this homemade version, one could also create a front and/or back cover and could also punch 2 holes and use 2 clips instead of 1.

As with so many other things I have begun the hard way, but never tried to patent, you can now buy already-made versions of my cheat book such as the one here.

The RingDex is $2.42 for 80 pages. You will need to purchase extra dividers and may need to hole-punch them.

In fact, they now have so many options, you don’t even have to use a makeshift one unless you want to or you are trying to get away as cheaply as possible. Options today include this 3X5 size poly index card D-ring binder for $4.76, a very wise investment for anyone who is new to Walt Disney World. Here is a look at mine:

The spiral-type index books do not work, however, as you can’t move the cards to different categories so it stifles the intended usefulness of the book.

I would like to take you on a journey through my current book in hopes that it might give you some ideas for organizing your own trip.

In my cheater, I have two main tabs: ITINERARY and TIPS. Behind the TIPS tab, you will find: Dining Plan, Transportation, General, MK, HS, EP, and AK.

Behind the ITINERARY tab:

For my itinerary, I take the Word file I have created for our trip and shrink it down to fit on 3×5 cards, and then tape or laminate onto the cards. I then hole-punch the cards and place them behind the itinerary tab.

There is an itinerary card for each day of our vacation, and each includes the park(s) for the day; where meals will be enjoyed and the ADR confirmation numbers, if applicable; extra magic hours; scheduled events; etc. So, if anyone asked me when we were going to go to this park or that restaurant, I could look at it and tell them when we had planned for it. Here are a couple examples of my itinerary cards:

Behind the TIPS tab:

As I said above, there are several categorical tabs located behind the TIPS tab. Each serves as specific purpose:

Dining Plan tab: this section contains note cards about how to use snack credits, etc. There is one filled in card for dining plan tips at each of these locations: resorts, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney (for a total of 6 cards).

Transportation tab: this section contains note cards about the monorail path; bus system hints; getting from park to park; getting from park to resort; getting from park to Downtown Disney, etc.

General tab: this section contains note cards with “Don’t forget” lists for items to take to the park; timing tips; locker locations; Monorail Mania Meal plan, etc.

MK tab: this section contains note cards specific to the Magic Kingdom park, such as the location of favorite rides; fast pass information; timing tips; hidden secrets in the park; parade times, etc.

HS tab: this section contains note cards specific to Disney’s Hollywood Studios park, such as hints about crowds; best places to sit for shows; hidden secrets of the park; best snack credit and counter service locations; etc.

EP tab: this section contains note cards specific to Epcot park, such as fireworks times; hidden secrets of this park; timing tips; best places to eat, etc.

AK tab: this section contains note cards specific to Animal Kingdom park, such as where to find DiVine; best times to ride certain rides; best places to sit for shows; hidden secrets of the park; best snack credit and counter service locations; etc.

The great thing about the cheater book is that it is a personal tool that you can create in any way that best suits you. You can include any and all information to help make your trip better. Another great thing about these index card books is that they fit into any backpack, fanny pack, or messenger bag that you are taking to the park.

Infinite information at your fingertips without the bulk of a book sounds magical to me!

Brenda is a native Texan born and raised on the Gulf Coast. She visited Disney World twice as a teenager and always dreamed of growing her family Disney. She took her first-timer husband and their three children to Disney World in 2000 and they now spend every Thanksgiving there. Brenda writes with a comedic twist on various Disney topics. She will be sharing tips she has learned during her travels and also hopes to enlighten people on little-known freebies that Disney has to offer. She wishes she could have met Walt Disney and considers herself to be a student of Walt. In parallel to his dream it is her wish that everyone would take at least one trip to Disney World in order to share in its magic with their families.

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16 Responses to Thrifty Thursday: Creating a Disney Trip Cheater Book

  1. Whitney says:

    I think this is absolutely BRILLIANT!

    • Nancy says:

      Yes, Brenda has designed a wonderful way to stay organized, hasn’t she? Being organized is an important part of the process if you’re trying to save money, and while there are many “electronic” tools to do this, they aren’t for everyone. Sometimes, old fashioned binders with everything color-coded work best….and I think Brenda’s system works very well! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Beth says:

    love it!! I get so excited about organizational tips and tools!! :)

  3. Brenda says:

    Thanks a bunch, Whitney! I have found it to be very handy and, like Nancy says, electronic tools are not for everyone and I am old-school. I can’t imagine trying to type all my cheats into my phone — but I know there are many people who would be comfortable doing that. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

  4. Kelly says:

    I too create a book but your book looks much nicer than mine. I actually make one for family and friends before they travel to WDW. I love it!! Thanks for the great tips!!

  5. Brenda says:

    Thanks, Kelly. That is a wonderful gift for you to give them. I love sharing tips with everyone; isn’t it fun? Have a great day!!

  6. Brenda says:

    Thank you, Beth! I know just how you feel!
    Have a great weekend.

  7. Drew & Dutch says:

    That’s a really great idea – and it looks small enough to take into the parks, etc.

  8. Brenda says:

    You are right, Drew! It is very handy and it will more than likely fit into whatever bag you take to the park. Thanks for reading!!

  9. Melissa Ash says:

    This is great. I have a big binder, but I think I will condense all my most important info to a little book to take to the park. Thank you for the great idea!

    • Brenda says:

      Hi Melissa,
      I am so glad I could help. Good luck on your condensing mission. Let me know if I can be of help. Have a magical day!

  10. Janey says:

    I love this! We are going for the first time and I feel so lost! I’m having a hard time finding times for parades and shows and, thus, having a hard time knowing when to book ADR’s never mind all the insider tips and tricks that everyone seems to know. I would love your cheat book……like, your EXACT cheat book minus your itinerary…..lol. I have 3 months left before we go so hopefully I can make a pathetic attempt at a cheat book….8)

    • Nancy says:

      You have plenty of time Janey! :) It will all come together I promise. Please feel free to let us know if you have any questions: we’re happy to help in any way that we can. Thanks for stopping by and happy planning! :)

      • Brenda says:

        Thanks for writing in, Janey. The easiest thing to do is to find the info you need, print it and paste or tape it on a page in your cheater book. It seems as though there is info posted everywhere all the time. Just make the cards as you need them and then you can organize them into their categories later. Let me know if I can help. Take care and have a great day!

  11. Pingback: Disney How-To: My Disneyland Cheater Book | Ideally Disney

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