One of the hardest things to get sorted for a Disney Trip is a park plan. Once you’ve figured out when you want to go and where you want to stay, you’ve got to sort out your wish list of things to do. If you’re doing a week-long, multiple park, family trip like us, then comes sorting out what days for what parks, what dining reservations to make, and what rides/shows/character meet and greets for FastPass reservations. If it sounds daunting, it absolutely is.
We’re approaching this trip like it’s the only one, so we were all in for a full 7 days, which we felt gave us a good amount of time to work with. Our flights were booked with that timing in mind, though we wouldn’t have a full day the first day. We figured once the kids saw the pool at the Art of Animation, there’d be no tearing them away, and I wanted Miss O’s first day in the parks to be a full day of non-stop, head-exploding, magic. We opted to let the kids freak out over the hotel and pool, then take Miss O and Mr. A to Disney Springs for dinner and whatever else we decided to do.
We purposely booked our return flight late so we could get a full day in Orlando to help ease the transition away from Disney. After a week of all that aforementioned head-exploding magic and early to the park for rope drop days, everyone is tired. I figured Miss A and Hubs could use a day to sleep in and maybe, by the grace of the Fairy Godmother, so could I. Honestly, I can’t sleep past 6 AM anymore, but I sure would appreciate not having to rush out the door for at least one morning. Mom vacations are sooooo different.
That left five days for park time. It was a no brainer for me from there. We knew the kids weren’t quite ready for water parks at 6 and 5 ½, no matter how much they think they are. With four main Disney Parks, that meant one day for each and the fifth day would be a return to Magic Kingdom, making that park a little easier to digest the first day knowing we’d be back.
Because we’re a party of eight for this trip, we had a lot of phone calls, emails and shared documents to move our planning along. We sorted our dining already and knew what days we were going to which park, based on the dining reservations I could get and a key character breakfast reservation I had to have for Miss O. That left three main questions for everyone’s wish lists:
- What do you want to ride?
- What do you want to see?
- Who you want to meet?
Once we knew everyone’s can’t miss experiences, our plan for each park started to take shape. I took those lists and headed to the internet once again researching park touring plans. Trust me, there is no lack of opinion, statistical analysis or plan of attack for any of the parks. I took what was applicable to our kids ages, keeping my in-laws in mind as well, and started putting together a rough schedule for each item on our wish list. I divided the Magic Kingdom into two parts, hoping to focus on one side of the park each day. It all looks amazing on paper. I can’t wait to see what 90+ degree humidity and two tired kids will do to it.
The tricky part comes when you get ready for FastPass+ reservations. It’s a good idea to have a timeframe for each of the rides in mind, so you know when you’d ideally like to get a FastPass for them. We embraced the rope drop strategy and opted to get to the parks before opening and try to do some of the more popular rides first thing in the morning without using a FastPass on them. We also opted for making our table service reservations for lunch time to get a break from the heat in the middle of the day. That meant we’d try to get FastPasses for rides during the early afternoon when the parks crowd were most likely to peak.
One of the hardest parts about traveling with the smaller kids is finding the balance between kid-friendly rides and the more big-kid or adult rides. Miss O is my sunflower and she’s tall and thin, making her able to ride those bigger kid rides, which would be great if she weren’t a fraidy cat like her mum. She took one look at a promo video for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and knew that was not for her. Unfortunately for us, everyone else can’t wait to get on that thing.
I’m hoping to using this to my advantage, though. I know that Mr. A has zero interest in meeting princesses and I’m not making the whole group suffer through those lines. I’m also not one for the thrill rides, so Miss O and I will have our special magic with the princesses while everyone else loses their minds on the big rides. That is, if I can line those Fast Pass+ reservations up…
We’ve got the important piece of the FastPass puzzle: who wants to do what and what things are recommended for FastPass reservations. No matter what we end up with, I know we’ll leave plenty of time for grabbing AC in some shops, maybe a few souvenirs, and plenty of water with random snack breaks.
What strategies do you use to sort out your Disney park planning?