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Before You Go

Before you go you need a plan. We have broken the process into three steps to try to help you out.

Part I: Create a rough plan

Part II: Implement the plan

Part III: Sell the plan


Part I: Create a rough plan

Now that you have booked your Disney World vacation the real work begins. You need to come up with your gameplan. Every person is different and the vast amount of activities and options at Walt Disney World make this a non trivial task. In addition to your theme park plan that should include the attractions and entertainment you wish to experience you need to consider dining, special tours, as well as recreation options.

The way we go about filling in the days is to make a series of lists. The first is a "wish list" of things we want to do. The second is a list of the attractions and entertainment we want to experience in the parks. The final list is of where we want to eat. Once you have this information for everyone in your group you can begin to map out the days. Your schedule may be very simple (go see a theme park one day, and then go do something another), or if you are on an all-inclusive package you will end up with a jigsaw type scheduling job.

Things to remember when scheduling: a) You want to make sure to optimize location. Meaning if you want to spend time at the Studios and want to eat at the Sci Fi diner be sure to do it on the same day. If you are going to take the Steam Train Tour at the Magic Kingdom and want to go boating try to do it the same day since Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon are right next to the Magic Kingdom.
b) You will also want to try to balance your schedule. Meaning if you have several people all with different interests make sure you plan a variety of individual and group activities to include all members of your group.
c) Pay attention to the day of the week. Certain days have early openings at a specific park. Others have late closings. Try to optimize your time in the parks. Also make sure you understand Disney's FastPass system. It can save you time if used properly.
d) Remember to take into account traveling time. It takes quite a while to get from place to place (especially if your on a tight time schedule it seems to always take longer).
e) Discuss with the group and come to an agreement on how long you want your days to be. If you are a true tourist diehard you can go from pre-dawn to well after midnight for a week straight, but very few people can handle this, especially on vacation. You will probably want to have a mix of early and late mornings. We have found that if you schedule a variety of activities in the morning it makes getting up easier than just saying you will get up and go to a park (after a few days of this people begin to wimp out and use the snooze button).
f) Remember to plan in free time (or make-up time). This is time to do whatever you want. Whether its go back and see an attraction you missed… or your favorite one again… or maybe its just time to sit around the hotel pool.

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Part II: Implement that plan

Now that you have a rough plan its time to start getting serious. You need to make some phone calls to Disney and start making reservations. It is best to prioritize what you want and when you want it. We have found if you call early on in the allotted time there is usually no problem getting what you want (what I mean here is if you can make tee times 30 days in advance do it at least 25 days to get what you want, depending on the season of course and what you want). There are two types of reservation types to be aware of. One is as soon as you book you can make the reservation. The second is based on the number of days till you go. There are four big dates you need to remember. They are 120, 90, 60, and 30 days before you go. Most Disney reservations fit into one of these categories and it changes so check with Disney when you make your reservations (or there are some other websites that keep this information up to date, its hard for us being on the opposite coast to follow all the details of WDW that change frequently).

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Part III: Sell the plan

Once you have the plan confirmed and have all the reservations together be sure to talk it over with the group you are going with. This does two things. One it makes everyone a little more excited about going. Secondly it makes sure you do not leave anyone out or plan things that no body wants to do. This will save you headaches later on. Nothing is worse than getting into major debates/fights over what to do next once you arrive.

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