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Drinking the Kool-Aid: A Mom's Guide to Disney World

A Disney vacation should be memorable. Learn how to make the most of your Disney trip by staying ahead of the crowds.

When I tell people that I create personalized Disney itineraries and touring plans for a living, I often get the same response: “Why do I need a touring plan?  Why can’t I just GO to Disney World and have fun?”

The answer is simple: Disney vacations are unlike any other trip you will ever take.  They are a huge investment in time, money, and energy.  And for most people, they are emotionally charged, representing the innocence of childhood. As a Disney buff, it makes me sad when people return from a Disney vacation, frustrated because they spent most of their trip waiting in line.  I’ll never forget a conversation that I had with an old friend after his family vacation to Disney World.  He recounted a story of bitter disappointment, crying children, and gigantic crowds that prevented his family from experiencing more than one attraction per hour. 

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way, as long as you are armed with a good touring plan (a list of attractions you plan to visit, written in the order that will save you the most time).  On our Disney vacations, my family routinely experiences all of the headliner attractions (and some minor ones) before lunch, and we rarely ever wait more than 15 minutes for any ride.  The trick is learning how to stay ahead of the crowds.  With some planning, this is an easy goal to achieve. 

One of the biggest concerns I hear from clients is that a touring plan will consume their entire day, leaving little time to stop and enjoy the magical details that make Disney parks so special.  In reality, a touring plan does the opposite.  With a touring plan, you will experience more attractions and spend significantly less time waiting in line.  Then, while everyone else is spending hours standing in scorching hot queues, you will have tons of free time to explore the less-crowded areas of the parks, rest at your hotel, or just sit and people-watch! 

So, how do you stay ahead of the crowds?  Over the years, I’ve learned countless tips and tricks that help my family and friends avoid the crowds and enjoy memorable Disney trips.  I’m so excited to have the opportunity to share some of them with you on The Patch!!  For more information about my Disney experiences (and even more tips), you can check out my personal blog, “Drinking the Kool-Aid: A Mom’s Guide to Disney World” at http://drinkingkool-aid.blogspot.com.

Until next time, have a magical day!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ryan-Iver Klann November 12, 2012 at 03:54 PM
I went in 2006 and spent 2 whole days in The Magic Kingdom. We LOVED it! The kids had a blast, and I don't mind paying extra to have an amazing time with my family. That was the first family vacation we had been on EVER, and what a great choice (for us). We went back this year; this time with the addition of my Mickey Mouse crazed 3 year old son. This was in April, around spring break (yuck). We spent the first day in The Animal Kingdom, which was really cool! The prices on food and everything was really reasonable, and the park itself was very entertaining. The Tree of Life is a truly amazing piece of art! The live action Nemo was really cool, and I left truly amazed at what Disney can do. We must have went on the Everest roller coaster a dozen times! Now, the second day was a bit different. We spent day 2 at The Magic Kingdom only to find it under heavy construction. They were building the new princess area, which looks amazing from what we could see. The lines were dreadfully long, and the reliance on Fast Pass (or is it Fast Track) may have eliminated some longer waits, but also meant we couldn't navigate the park with any specific route. It felt like we were constantly back-tracking so we wouldn't miss anything. The autograph lines were so long, I was fearful that we wouldn't have time for anything else. Thankfully, the park stays open late during those busy weeks which helped a ton, and we didn't leave the park until 1:30am! We all had fun and can't wait 'til next time!
MRSPirateLarz November 13, 2012 at 05:10 PM
When my son started kindergarten it hit me, he was growing up and FAST! I had already been to WDW three times before, but had yet to get the opportunity to take my son. So I started to plan the trip... and plan and plan. I found out that if you booked a trip by a certain date you could arrange for Mickey Mouse to call on Christmas morning and announce the upcoming trip to your little one. So I arranged the call and waited anxiously on Christmas morning for the call to come in. Poor kid, he didn't understand why Mickey was calling him, or what Mickey meant that he was going to Disney World. My son spent most of that day telling everyone that Mickey had called him and told him that he was going to Disney World but he (my son) was here so Mickey was wrong. Ah well, the best laid plans right? However, when we boarded the plane for Orlando excitement did sent in on the poor kid. And it increased more every second until the moment my son had been waiting for arrived. Mickey's castle (Cinderella's Castle)!!!!!! My son must have jumped at least 5 feet in the air when he finally saw the castle. I will never forget that moment, nor will my son (probably). My son has since been lucky enough to return to WDW 3 times, with a 4th trip coming up next year. My husband and I even decided to go on our honeymoon at WDW! It is a magical place... Glad you are willing and able to help others make a dream come true with travel plans for Disney.
Meredith McCutcheon November 13, 2012 at 05:45 PM
What a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing!
Debra Kaszubski November 13, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Meredith, you have a wonderful idea. I've been to Disney more times that I can count throughout my lifetime, and despite my experience, I always have a plan prior to visiting. Unfortunately, I never thought to share planning advice with others (besides family). Like you, I've seen and heard from frustrated, unprepared Disney visitors who should have learned about: Fastpass, park hopping, dining plans, Magical Express and transportation, value resorts, Extra Magic Hours, advanced dining reservations, and other great options offered by the resort. Other helpful online planning tools, besides your website, includes the official online Disney Mom's Panel, Mousesavers.com, and Trip Advisor. Keep us posted when you visit the newest resort, Disney's Art of Animation and, of course, the Magic Kingdom's new Fantasyland. :)
Meredith McCutcheon November 14, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Hi Debra! I could not agree with you more. On our first trip, we were waiting in Fantasyland for "rope drop", and we noticed a family looking at a map next to us. The rope dropped, we rode two rides and were heading to our third when we saw the same family, still looking at the map, arguing about where to go first. I felt so bad that they were missing out on all of these attractions that were going to quickly build long waits. Right then, I started thinking about how I could share my ideas with others. We are planning (yet another) family trip to WDW in May, but I hope to get down there by myself for a quick visit before that. I can't wait to visit the New Fantasyland and Art of Animation Resort and report back!! We're combining this trip with a Disney cruise as well, so I'll have TONS of info to share!

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