Planning your itinerary is something that can be quite time consuming, but it is something that also helps people get excited about their upcoming vacation. Below we are going to cover some of what we like to call “The Nuts & Bolts” of a good Disney World itinerary. These principles will filter down into almost all of the advice we give in all parts of the planning process. These are not necessarily steps in making your itinerary, those will come in following posts, but these are simply the big ideas that should be the goal of any good itinerary.
- Standing in Line is No Fun – This is the first principle that we like to base everything off of when it comes to planning park time. The simple fact is that not one person who goes to Disney World enjoys standing in line for more than 15 minutes or so. The steps taken in planning an itinerary should reflect this. You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a vacation only to spend a majority of your time standing in line. By using the tips we are going to give you it is possible to go on a trip where the longest lines you have to stand in are around 20 minutes.
- The First Two Hours are Golden! – The next main principle we advise is that the first two hours that theme parks are open in the mornings are going to be by far the best time of the day to tour. We have tested this numerous times and you will be able to get more done in the first two hours of the park being open than you can the rest of the day combined due to shorter lines during that time. We will get more into this principle as we go, but just keep in mind to avoid lines you must use the first two hours after park opening.
- The Hourglass Principle – This refers back to #2 above but it is an important principle for you to understand. The crowds in theme parks are just like an hourglass. As time goes on the pile of sand at the bottom grows and grows without there being a way for any of the sand to get out. People are going to pour into the theme parks after park opening and no one will be leaving until the afternoon causing ride wait times to just climb and climb the longer the park is open. When you get to the parks and understand this principle you will see that you have over half of the park done by lunch time and other people will still be pouring into the park to start their day. The bottom line is you MUST be ahead of “THEM”.
- The TRE Method – The TRE method is something we will refer to throughout many of these articles. This refers to our suggested daily structure of Tour a park in the morning, Rest & Relax in the afternoon, and Enjoy the evening as a family. This is not the structure we would use every day as we definitely recommend having some mornings to sleep in and enjoy your resort, but for most days we think the TRE method is the best way to tour the parks effectively and keep everyone happy, well rested, and having a great time. We suggest your tour the parks from rope drop to around noon or 1 PM before returning to your resort for a break. Here you can take naps, swim in the pool, get out of the heat in the summer months, and enjoy that resort you paid so much for. Then you can enjoy your evening as a family. This may mean taking in a parade or fireworks or having a nice meal. We can speak from experience that these afternoon breaks will be the best thing you can do on your vacation, especially if you have younger children with you.
- Cranky People Don’t Have Great Vacations – Think about it. When do you have the best moments on family vacations. I’ll bet it is not when family members are cranky and tired. Our entire planning process is built around getting you into the parks at the best times of day so that you don’t stand in line, because standing in line breeds tiredness and crankiness. So yes, we are going to recommend you get out of bed and get to the parks early, but we are also going to give you some built in rest time in the afternoons as you get to head back to your resort, take a nap, swim at the pool, while “THEY” are still standing in 60 minute lines inside the theme parks, getting cranky.
- Enjoy Your Evenings – The evenings are some of our favorite times at Walt Disney World, not because we are riding attraction after attraction, but because we are making great memories with the ones we love. There is a lot to be said about a nice meal with your family or spending time watching Wishes at the Magic Kingdom. You will definitely be able to fit in a few attractions, especially with the FP+ system, but the focus of your evenings is not completely on riding rides. It is on making magic for your family.
We hope you are seeing the big picture for planning a Disney World vacation. Please let us know if you have any questions below and a “MouseDreamer” will stop by to help you out.