We will be heading down to WDW in just 2 short weeks and my WDW trip planning is well underway. For me planning our trips is as much fun as the actual trip itself. Maybe because there is so much time leading up to the trip, and planning helps to get and keep me in the magical Disney spirit. I have posted photos of my planning notebook, the red pocket binder with all of my info and Disney trip planning details. I carry it with me everywhere I go, just in case I need to check on something or add something to my planning. I have sections for everything from our travel arrangements, directions, and budget to ADR's, Disney Resort maps, confirmation numbers and Theme Park hours, parade and show times and our daily itinerary.
I'm reading blogs, searching websites and Facebook pages for tips and the latest resort and theme park details for planning the most magical trip. We have a countdown calendar and Disney holiday decorations all around the house to get us excited.
One of the great things about planning for a Disney trip is all of the resources that are available to help you. Disney itself has a wonderful website and very helpful Cast Members at Disney Destination and Disney Dining that can help you with any question you may have. I have made a few calls already to ask questions and make dining ADR's. Beyond that the wealth of knowledgeable Disney fans who have websites, blogs and Facebook pages is inmeasurable. There is a plethera of tips and planning help on the "world-wide-web". Most of the time I can just Google any topic and up will pop the answer and several sites to go to for info.
When I begin planning for a WDW trip the first thing I start with is where we will stay. We typically stay at one of the Value Resorts on property. Sometimes we will travel down a day ahead of the first day of our WDW resort check-in day, when we do that I also need to plan on what "off-property" resort we will be staying at. Our favorite is the Comfort Inn and Suites just outside of WDW. Once we decide on a resort and length of stay for our trip, it is right off to call the WDW Travel Co. at 1-407-WDISNEY, to book our trip. For our Christmas week trip this year we will be staying at the All-Star Sports Resort.
After all of the initial resort and travel details are taken care of it on to planning and booking dining reservations, known as ADR's or PS (Advanced Dining Reservations or Priority Seating). Generally we eat most meals at counter service dining inside the parks or quick service dining locations at resorts. We try to have a least one or two sit down/formal dining options during our stay though. Most likely we will always be dining at one of our favorites such as Restauraunt Marakkesh in EPCOT, Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge or 50's Prime Time Cafe at Disney Hollywood Studios. In addition we try to add a new dining experience which we have never done. For this I research locations and menus, an narrow it down to a few options. Then I present the options to our family and we put the final decision to a family vote. This year we will be trying a dinner at the Grand Floridian Grille and breakfast at the Kona Cafe at the Polynesian. And we can't wait to try the Tonga toast and Pinapple Macadamian Nut Pancakes.
When major dining locations and details are made and booked it is on to planning our daily schedule and itinerary. What parks we will visit and on what days, what outside the parks or resort happenings we will take in. Since we will be traveling over Christmas week we plan to make time to visit several of the resorts to take in and enjoy the Disney resort holiday decorations. We always have to make a trip over to the Grand Floridian to have a look at (and taste of) the giant gingerbread house there. While there we always stay for a while to enjoy some holiday music as well. This year will be a little different trip for us. We are not doing park hopper tickets or visiting all of the thme parks. We will be going to the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT for a day each. But this year we are going to have a few days "free" to explore the resorts and things we usually just don't have time to do.
Now when I say we will a few "free" days, what I mean is that they will be packed with things to do at the resorts. On our first day there we are going to enjoy lunch at our favorite pizza place, GIORDAN'S. It is located on Irlo Bronson Highway, just outside of the WDW compound. It is a "must-do" each trip. We are also going to be heading to the Polynesian resort to enjoy watching the Electric Water Parade and Wishes! from the beach. Another fun thing we have planned is to head over to Animal Kingdom Lodge for lunch and take in some animal viewing. In addition to these fun things we plant to head over to the Boardwalk resort and enjoy a day strolling around taking in the sights, sounds and activities there. Including renting one of the surry bikes and digging into 'The Kitchen Sink' at Beaches and Cream. And for a final treat we plan to visit Chip and Dale's Campfire Sing-A-Long over at Fort Wilderness for some special Disney fun, toasted marshmallows, fun songs and a Disney movie.
I'm sure in the next two weeks till we leave for our trip my planning will continue. I will most likely still be planning and researching while in the car driving down. Like I said, planning is a great way to really get into the Disney spirit. Maybe I go a little overboard with my Disney planning, but I enjoy it. And love finding that new little piece of information regarding a park, resort, or activity we can enjoy while there.