There is a great divide among the Walt Disney World trip planners. There are those that obsessively plan every moment of every day to maximize the fun (or have others do it for them through websites such as Tour Guide Mike’s or Ride Max). There are those, such as myself, who fall in the I will make an outline of our days and what we would like to do at each park to cover the things we most want to do and the rest is left up to chance. Then there are those that do not believe in having any plans and just show up each day to a park and let their feelings and emotions for the day guide them to where they want to go.
Each planner has its pluses and minuses. An overly rigid planner may miss some of the spontaneous fun that happens at WDW. We have had a talking garbage can entertain the children for over 20 minutes in front of Animal Kingdom but if you are on a rigid time schedule of rides, shows and meals you may miss this little spontaneous moment that my children still talk about. If you make no plans at all you can let your family guide you to what they need that day. Hungry? Let’s eat now. None of the, “Our reservations are not for another hour you can wait to eat.” But, there is the chance that you will not get a reservation at a table service restaurant if you wait until the last minute especially during busy times or you don’t get to experience the one attraction that you really wanted to because the fast passes were gone for the day and the stand-by line is now 2 hours.
I am definitely of the make a plan but allow it not to be your soul guiding force in the parks. Personally, I make a spread sheet, in a program such as Excel, of the hours each park is open and when the special events such as Illuminations, Spectromagic, etc… are to be held. From that I am able to best decide which parks we should go to each day to see all that we wish to see during our vacation. Writing down which parks you will be in each day and the special events you wish to see can also help you decide which restaurants you may wish to make advanced dining reservations (ADRs) at too. You don’t want to be in Animal Kingdom and realize your lunch reservation in 1 hour is at Epcot. Make your reservations at the park you will be in, at a nearby hotel – when in Magic Kingdom for the day hotels on the Monorail are also great places to have a meal or if you are planning on taking a rest period during the day maybe having lunch or an early dinner at your own hotel may fit best into your schedule.
After I make my ADRs and write them into my schedule we each pick one or two attractions or shows we really want to see in each park and plan to cover those first so that we know we each have done something that is a do not miss for each one of us. After that, anything we do we look at as bonus time. We can leisurely travel through the parks choosing where we wish to go and what we wish to see without any rushing and just enjoying the ambiance that WDW is especially known for.