There are very few things in the Disney community I am more passionate about than today’s topic, and if I’m doing my job well you’ll understand exactly why by the end of this article.
When it comes to planning a Disney trip, I have one piece of advice that I tell guests time and time again as they head out on their Disney vacation. It’s a simple piece of advice but one you’ll find reiterated in my various articles here on the site time and time again. It’s just that important to me.
So, what is that one piece of advice? It’s simple, do not over-plan your Disney vacation. Just don’t do it. I know, if you’re reading this you’re likely a first time guest or simply someone looking to get the most out of your future repeat Disney vacations, but avoid the incredible temptation to plan every tiny little thing.
While that may not be immediately clear peace fo advice, here’s what I mean. You’ll find scattered around online some good (and some not so good) planning guides for Disney vacations. I even have a few of my own. While that is a slight shameless plug, I will tell you that planning guides are just that… guides. They’re not something you have to follow step by step, and truthfully if you do, you’re going to do your vacation experience more harm than good more often than not. I’m not ashamed to admit that even mine exhibit that same fatal flaw sometimes as well, but here’s why.
When you follow a guide, our minds are so conditioned to look at that guide as a checklist of things to do, or “must do’s” if you will. The reality is that every single person reading this has slightly different goals when traveling to the parks and slightly different expectations as to what they want out of their individual vacation experience. As a result, if you follow a guide, you’re going to miss out on what you want to do in favor of chasing someone else’s dream vacation.
Don’t get me wrong, I highly, highly, highly, recommend using guides to get an idea of what you want to do, and highly recommend learning from those that tend to be more experienced or visit more frequently (it’s one of the reasons why I do all this anyway lol). At the same time though, don’t treat these guides as checklists. Build your own vacation experience based on their tips or my tips, and then craft your dream vacation.
Here’s where this gets a little tricky though. You have to avoid the over-planned disaster and it’s easier than ever to make that disaster a reality. Obviously my “over-planned” wording may be a bit extreme because every Disney vacation is going to be fun if you’re at Disney World. There is one huge disservice you don’t want to wish upon yourself and that is the ever present evil of trying to do too much. Yes, it is that simple. In the world of My Disney Experience and Disney encouraging that you plan every waking moment via an app, it’s easier than ever as well.
People tell me all the time, “I want to do everything I can while I’m there.” Please, do not go into your Disney vacation with this approach. 1. Seeing and doing everything is impossible. I’ve been touring the parks my entire life and still haven’t done everything and never will. I know experts in this space and none of us have seen or done it all. 2. Value the quality of your experiences over the quantity of experiences. In many ways this site/blog/whatever you want to call it is my tribute to that statement. So much of what you’ll find here isn’t about attractions, instead it’s about the details and the multifaceted experiences you can have at Walt Disney World that more often that not aren’t about attractions, and aren’t about dining, but rather about the memories this place helps us all create.
The truth of the matter is, the memories I have of family and of friends and our trips to the parks are never about what we’re doing, but rather who we’re with. Value that time more than anything else. Re-read that last sentence. Value your time with family and those memories you’re creating more than anything else. I kid you not, the best days and the best nights I’ve had in the parks, I never had to step foot on an attraction to create those memories. The attractions may be involved but it’s not the point. It just isn’t the point.
The point is, the moments you remember the most are the ones you expect the least. It’s that joke your waiter tells you at dinner, that perfect quiet meal you spend with family, a moment when you see a dad tear up as his little girl meets her favorite princess, and it’s those moments you create that are the only thing that ever matters.
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again. Look around you next time you’re in the parks. Ask yourself, who are the people here that are having the most fun? The answer, more often than not, is that family that showed up to the park that morning, booked no fastpasses, had no dining reservations, and simply had a one day ticket in hand and a huge smile on their face because they knew that no matter how little time they have in this park, they’re going to soak up every single moment and enjoy it like it’s their last day on the planet. They are simply happy to be there. Nothing else matters. That’s the reason we all keep going back. It’s that kind of joy that makes everything worth it.
So, I say all this because too many people go in with this massive commando style list of things they have to get done. They have times blocked out and have every day of their trip planned to the minute. Do not do that.
As I always recommend, book your fastpasses, book your park days, and book your dining. Figure out the rest when you get there and just go have fun. The more you plan, the more complicated it gets, and the less spontaneous you become. Enjoy the little things, enjoy the big moments, but more than anything enjoy every single second you can because those moments are the memories you’ll share with the people you care the most about for a lifetime.
We never know what tomorrow holds, so make every effort to make today count no matter what the day involves. We’re never guaranteed tomorrow, so make today the best day you’ve ever had. That challenge just gets far easier when you let go and enjoy life on your Disney vacation. Go with the flow, have fun, be a dork and dance in the streets, shed a tear during the fireworks, and just enjoy life. Those moments and those memories are all that matter. No itinerary can create those moments for you.
While it sounds a little sappy from a guy like me, this sentiment seems like the perfect way to end out the article. As the holiday season draws closer, make sure to tell the people in your life that you care about them and you love them more than anything. Life is way too short to forget to show people that you care. No matter if it’s on a Disney vacation, or just another day, it’s important to share those things. Hope you all are having an incredible Christmas season and from me to you, no matter if this is the first article you’ve read or the 300th article you’ve read, I appreciate you more than you’ll likely ever realize. You all are incredible and really bring a lot of joy to my life each day. Thanks for being here and you are never taken for granted.
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you’re there, and we’ll keep the conversation going in the future. We’re not the largest Disney community, but we’re one that’s here and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!
Need a Travel Planner For Your Disney Vacation?
If you want or simply need a little bit of planning help to make your Disney vacation dream a reality, check out the quote request form below this article for our friends over at Destinations to Travel. They’ll let you do as much or as little of the planning as you’d like and may even save you some money along the way! As always, thanks for supporting those who support us.
Ready to Plan?
Last but certainly not least, if you’re starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2019. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2019 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2019 are a great place to begin!
Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2019 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You’ll probably even save money along the way!