Friday, July 27, 2012

Magical Blogorail: How I Plan a WDW Vacation

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Green. Enjoy the ride as we share with you the ways we prepare for a trip to Disney.

There are many ways one can plan a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland.  In the past, I have planned trips based around Run Disney events, school schedules, convention schedules and free dining schedules.  But, in an ideal world, I would plan my trip based on lowest crowds, cheapest rates and cooler weather!

The first thing I always do is choose a date.  Like I mentioned above, sometimes the dates are chosen for me and other times I get the luxury of deciding for myself when we will travel.  In choosing my dates, I look at crowd patterns, weather predictions and school calendars.  I try to stay away from peak times (the actual holiday and when schools are out of session) and when the temperatures are high.  

Once our date is chosen, we start making a budget.  Where will we stay- Value, Moderate or Deluxe? Will we get the dining plan or try to eat meals out of our room to save money?  Will we add park hopper or get a standard ticket?  How many days will we visit the parks?  All of these questions will help us determine our budget.

When our budget is set, we make our room reservations and order tickets.  We always stay on property.  That's a no brainer for our family.  It's nice now knowing all the resorts have mini fridges and wi-fi!  Since we spend so little time in our room, we usually stay at Pop Century or one of the moderate resorts.

Then, I continue to check the Disney web site and other blogs to see when calendars, hours of operation and extra magic hours will be.  Once I know hours, I start planning which park we'll visit on each day.  

Then, I wait until 180 days before the trip when I can make our dining reservations based on which park I think we'll be at that day!  While I do have a plan, we don't always stick to it.  I try to leave some wiggle room for those unexpected events and activities at the parks and resort.  

At this point, we know our dates, budget, hotel, "itinerary" and dining plans.  The next thing to do is start using our Disney Rewards Visa to rack up more points to spend on our vacation!  I also will buy Disney Gift Cards at Walgreen's or another drug/ grocery stores when we have extra cash at the end of the month.  I pull out my travel box and see what needs to be replaced or purchased.  

About a month prior to the trip, we get our countdown calendar and start counting down the days!!  I start working on our packing list and if we are traveling in the winter months (when it's typically cooler in Alabama) I pull out the boys spring/ summer clothes to see what needs to be replaced or what has been outgrown from the previous year's wardrobe!  I also start buying Disney goodies for the boys so we won't spend so much on souvenirs at the parks and they'll have things to keep them occupied on the ride down.
A week out, I start packing suitcases, buying snacks, and working on my spreadsheet with all the important times (parades, hours, shows, etc), confirmation numbers, weather forcasts and crowd patterns.  I start gathering email and mailing addresses so we can send postcards and e-cards to friends and family.  

Throughout this whole process, I'm continuously reading Disney blogs, Disney Facebook groups, Twitter feeds and watching Disney Pinterest Pins for new ideas and things to do and try!  I don't think I'll ever do everything I want to do at Walt Disney World!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Your Highway in the Sky.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard: 
2nd Stop ~  ~ Your Highway in the Sky
3rd Stop ~ Disney Living 
Final Stop ~ Pursuing the Magic


  1. We have a travel box too. I swear it's covered in pixie dust because when I pull it off the shelf each year, I hear Zipadee-Do-Day start playing in my head!

  2. Wow! You are so organized Beth!! I am very impressed, maybe I should consult you when I start planning my next trip...

  3. Really, we are one in the same, Beth!! I do a lot of the same things, but I have to admit, planning dining is my favorite part! Especially, trying to find a new restaurant that would appeal to all of us!

  4. Lol! Luckily I outsource all of this to my husband but reading this I could have sworn you two were the same person!!!

  5. 400 Miles to DisneylandJuly 27, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    Oh my gosh, my Excel spreadsheet looks so similar to yours! Great minds think alike! I bet Beth D. has something similar too since I know she's fellow Excel nerd. :-) Great post, Beth!

  6. Great blog, I am new to "PLANNING" our stay-cations, we normally just wing it and this always leads to craziness, so we have now started planning our days out. How do we find out the times for the shows parades and night time events like fireworks are?

  7. I use several different sites. Here are a few favorites:

    I hope these help!! Have fun planning! :)