Planned Spontaneity: MyMagic+ for the Spur-of-the-Moment Vacationer

Share This!
Fastpasses
Ahhh, the good old days!

MyMagic+. Love it or hate it, it’s the reality of Walt Disney World vacations. Whether you are making dining reservations at 180 days or FastPass+ selections at 60 days, MyMagic+ is enough to make your average spontaneous vacation-goer break out in hives. Like me, I’m sure you’ve heard — an possibly participate it — talk of the good old days, where paper FASTPASSES were king and you could always find a walk-up reservation. Alas, we live in the now, and right now planning ahead is the name of the game. So, what is an impulsive tourist to do?

I’m going to preface my answer by first calling myself out as the type-A, uber planner that I am. I’m absolutely thrilled to have joined the Touring Plans team, in part because Touring Plans has fed my Walt Disney World planning obsession for years. It’s true, I think MyMagic+ is about as awesome as your average Disney cupcake, but I understand that I might be the minority on this one. (Don’t judge me!) But just because I am a planner, that doesn’t mean my traveling party is, so I’ve managed to develop a formula for leveraging MyMagic+ to its fullest advantage while leaving in room for those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants types.

Festival of Fantasy Circus Swing
Looking to fly by the seat of your pants?

At this point I’m sure you’re asking, “What is this magical Disney secret?! Open those gates so I may unlock your secrets and exploit your riches!” (Humor me, people.) Are you ready for the big reveal? My huge secret to Disney happiness? This is it: I PLAN FOR SPONTANEITY. Before you start calling me crazy, follow my train of thought on this one. I know that if I want to eat at the restaurants I want, I have to make the reservations far in advance. I know that if I want to ride the rides I want, I have to book my FastPass+ selections as soon as the window opens. No matter what, these two things hold true. So if I want to have an unscheduled block of time to do whatever I decide in the moment, I have to plan for it.

Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. I’ve spent the last couple of years improving my approach, and while it may not be perfect, it is pretty serviceable, if I do say so myself. I’ll walk you through my method step-by-step, and perhaps you’ll find some aspects that will work for your traveling party!

Whispering Canyon Menu
Whispering Canyon, anyone?

1) Get a basic idea of the restaurants where you would like to dine.

Do I really know where I want to eat 180 days out? No, but I can generally come up with a vague idea of the restaurants we’re interested in. I’ll usually start by polling the other members of my traveling party to see if they have any requests.  And if that doesn’t work? I start picking places we’ve never visited or places we absolutely adore to pad my restaurant list. My goal with the first step is to come up with about 10-15 places (for a week-long trip) on the potential restaurant list. Don’t focus on where the restaurants are located or which days you want to visit them; this is about creating a serviceable list you can pull from (make sure you mark your must-dos). This can actually be turned into a fun activity that will help build anticipation for your trip! (Stick with me – I promise we’ll get to the spontaneous part.)

2) Check the Touring Plans Crowd Calendar.

The next step is where I start to whittle things down. No matter how many times I visit Disney World, I always let the Crowd Calendar do some of the planning for me. (My Touring Plans subscription is a lynchpin in my planning process.) Start with a basic idea of how many times you want to visit each park. For example, if I’m going for a week and I know that we want to visit the Magic Kingdom at least twice on the trip, I look for the two least crowded days on the Crowd Calendar. Then I check the Epcot days based on how many days we want to visit Epcot. And so on. Sometimes I go in with no preconceptions whatsoever and pick the parks based entirely on the predicted crowd levels. Regardless of how I choose, I need to make a rough list of which parks are my best bet for each day of my trip. (Seriously – the spontaneous part is coming!)

Magic Kingdom 4th of July Fireworks
Thanks to the Crowd Calendar, I knew July 3rd would have the majesty of the 4th with fewer crowds!

3) Park + Restaurant = Decision

At this point I have a list of restaurants and I have a list of which parks I’m visiting on which days. All I do now is crosscheck, pulling restaurants from the list that coordinate with the park I’ve chosen for the day. Some of the restaurants will be at resorts, so I match those up with parks based on vicinity. (A meal at Beaches & Cream, for example, will be paired up with an Epcot day.) If I have must-do restaurants, I place them first. Then I fill based on what’s left. Sometimes my lists don’t match up very well, and I might have to pick one or two new restaurants to make it work with the parks I’ve chosen. Or I’ll have to move a park day around based on the restaurants on my must-do list. I’ll always have to eliminate restaurants, as the list I made was meant to include more restaurants than we’d actually visit.

Beaches and Cream Menu
Anchor your day with a reservation!

Now this is the point where I get strategic with planning for spontaneity. I almost always plan for only one table-service restaurant a day. That is my anchor for the day. If I am eating at Crystal Palace, my anchor is in the Magic Kingdom. That means that a portion of my day will most certainly be in Magic Kingdom. The goal is to place that reservation at a time that keeps my options open.

The easiest way to do this is by making either a breakfast or a dinner reservation. Breakfast means that I’m going to be in Magic Kingdom that morning, but with no other reservations that day, my evening is wide-open. I can park-hop, chill at the resort, shop at Disney Springs, or simply stay in the Magic Kingdom for a marathon day. Dinner is the reverse. I can sleep in and decide what I want to do that morning, with no obligation to be anywhere until my 7:00 PM dinner reservation. Lunch splits the difference, but it does hamper one’s schedule a bit more than breakfast or dinner, so that is something to keep in mind. By anchoring either the beginning or end of your day, you’re making it possible to have huge, unplanned sections of time to follow your whims.

Toy Story Midway Mania Shooter
Toy Story Midway Mania without FastPass+? NEVER!

4) Don’t forget those FastPass+ selections!

Hypothetically speaking, you made your restaurant reservations quite a while ago, but your FastPass+ selection window doesn’t open until 30-60 days before your vacation. I always lean on my anchor; I know for certain I will be in the Magic Kingdom in the morning on a specific day because I have a Crystal Palace breakfast reservation. So I will make my FastPass+ selections based on that fact. My goal with this step is to book FastPass+ times that don’t obligate me to stay in the Magic Kingdom for the entire day. I want a wide-open window to do whatever I want, and clustering my FastPass+ selections around my meal reservation is extremely helpful in providing that window.

5) Be spontaneous.

You’ve made your FastPass+ selections, based on your anchor restaurant, chosen in part by the crowd calendar… what do you do now? Relax! You’ve planned a small portion of each day of your trip, and you did it based on places you want to go and things you want to see anyway. Embrace the fact that all of the planning is done. Think about all of the time on your vacation that is wide-open. You clustered your activities together each day, and you can do ANYTHING YOU WANT for the rest of the trip. Why? Because you planned for spontaneity. You built it into the foundation of the trip.

Figment Dress and Spaceship Earth
Elsa, who? What I REALLY want is a journey into Spaceship Earth!

6) Improvise, adapt, and overcome! (I knew I learned something in the Marine Corps!)

There is one thing you can’t forget, and that is that no matter how much or how little you plan, stuff happens and things change and you will inevitably find yourself facing the unexpected at some point during the trip. My mantra is always, “Improvise, adapt, and overcome!” It’s okay to have a beautifully thought out plan, but it is also okay to toss that plan out the window when you need to. MyMagic+ is not a prison sentence, and it is okay to say, “To heck with it! I WANT TO GO TO EPCOT!” (Keep in mind there can be penalties for cancelling restaurant reservations, so you have to decide if it is worth it to you.) FastPass+ selections can be changed as easily as moods, and just because you scored that Anna and Elsa selection at midnight 60 days out, that does not mean you have to use it.

The instant I start treating my Disney vacation like a checklist where I have to mark accomplishments off is the instant I’ve lost some of the magic. And if I decide that I want to buy 5 cupcakes from various locations in the Magic Kingdom and go back to my resort to gorge on them while watching Netflix instead of using my Wishes FastPass+ selection, that is okay! At the end of the day, I go on vacation because I want to be happy. So I plan what I can plan in the least obtrusive way possible, and I leave my options open. If circumstances dictate (like a strong desire to consume massive quantities of cupcakes), I’m willing to adapt. Yes, I schedule spontaneity for my trips to Disney. Scheduling spontaneity means that I’m less likely to go off-book at random times (like when I might get a penalty for cancelling a dinner reservation). But I also embrace the actually spontaneous spontaneity (yes, that’s a thing), by being willing to call an audible when circumstances change.

With that, you have my complete Disney World planning process. It has its flaws (like still being dependent on knowing 6 months in advance that you are taking a trip to Disney World), but I hope that it has provided you with some helpful nuggets that can be applied to your Disney adventures. (And don’t worry; last-minute trips are covered in my advanced course. Stay tuned!) Do you have your own methods for building spontaneity into your trips? Ways to improve upon my approach? Please share in the comments!

Mickey and Minnie Topiaries
Go forth and plan your spontaneity!

Angela Wilhelm

I am a confessed Disney World addict who will do anything I can to build up anticipation for upcoming trips and extend the magic after I return from my adventures in the World. This means I'm always crafting new accessories and outfits for my Disney Bounding, as well as editing photos (amateur Disney photographer) and creating photo books from previous trips. (It's not like there is anything else to do in Michigan!) My husband and I are subjects to three very demanding cats, who are benevolent enough to let us take several trips a year, as long as we pay them appropriate tribute. I work full-time as the Development Director for a local non-profit, which is something that absolutely I love. For random thoughts on Disney and geekery of all kinds, follow me on Twitter @Angela_Wilhelm!

41 thoughts on “Planned Spontaneity: MyMagic+ for the Spur-of-the-Moment Vacationer

  • July 17, 2015 at 8:00 am
    Permalink

    I’m trying some spontaneous travel planning this August. I decided to book lunch for daytime heat breaks & use my fastpasses for later in the afternoon or evening. My mornings are open for the most part. I’m interested to see how it works for me.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2015 at 9:38 am
      Permalink

      I hope it works well for you! The lunch idea is great for getting out of the heat. I was in Disney World last week, and the couple of days that I did the lunch ADR and late FastPass+ selections, my husband and our friends thought I was a hero for giving them days to sleep in! (I thought they were being sarcastic, but it turned out they were impressed with my planning!)

      Reply
  • July 17, 2015 at 8:06 am
    Permalink

    “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

    While I tend to be a bit more rigid in my planning, the core principles I follow are in line with the article above. While my family typically does go much further down to planning specific activities and times, we also do so with the understanding that the point of planning is not to have a Checklist-That-Must-Be-Followed-At-All-Costs, but to understand and internalize the principles behind the plans so that when reality does its stuff, it’s easy to re-plan on the fly without getting flustered.

    That’s not quite spontaneity, but I everyone is on the spectrum from planning every last detail to complete spontaneity, and we can all learn from each other’s styles and take the bits that work best for us.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2015 at 9:46 am
      Permalink

      I think you’re absolutely right! It’s great when families can find a formula that works for them, and it sounds like you’ve done just that. I used to be more aligned with your approach of planning specific activities and times (and I loved that!), but it didn’t always mesh well with my traveling party, which varies.

      Reply
  • July 17, 2015 at 8:55 am
    Permalink

    I love this 🙂 For the friends who chuckle at me making so plans ahead of time, I’ve tried to explain this and haven’t succeeded. I follow this same strategy, adding in at least one day where a reservation for dinner doesn’t tie us in to any park, for at least one rest day. (My kids are young.)
    Like Kevin said- it’s about having a game plan, but understanding and internalizing it more than anything. It feels like freedom – just having to slap on the magic band in the morning and heading off for the day with a general direction. Less worry and time having to spend discussing “what next?” in the park, but with openness of doing what we feel like doing. I find it so much more relaxing and vacation-like to do it this way. It turned me from a “Disney is fun every ten years” person into an annual vacationer and Disney enthusiast.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2015 at 9:53 am
      Permalink

      Thanks, Karen! I like the way you phrase it – “just having to slap on the magic band in the morning and heading off for the day with a general direction.” That is exactly how I feel about it! I also like the idea of building in an ADR that doesn’t tie you into a specific park. Even if we didn’t use it as a rest day, it would give an added dose of spontaneity!

      Reply
  • July 17, 2015 at 9:23 am
    Permalink

    I like your “anchor” method. I use “points” throughout my days….my FP+ and ADR’s are my “points”…they create a general itinerary for the day but not down to the minute. This is why I am HUGE FP+ fan….I know that, even if I sleep in or have a late arriving flight, I’ll get to do my favorite rides.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2015 at 9:56 am
      Permalink

      I also have a very deep love for FP+. I don’t miss the rope drop dashes to get paper FASTPASSES at all!

      Reply
  • July 17, 2015 at 9:57 am
    Permalink

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think you can use the word spontaneous with a WDW vacation. I know this is what Tom Stagg’s and WDW is trying to sell, but it’s not the reality. Even the suggestions you make are not born out of spontaneity, since you are still working within a ride reservation system.
    Between FP+ and ADR’s, it feels as if all spontaneity has been sucked out of a WDW vacation. I am paying more and experiencing less. If I want to be scheduled throughout my days, I can stay at work and at least get paid for my time.

    WDW is just not worth the thousands of dollars I used to pay to visit, thanks to FP+.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2015 at 6:09 pm
      Permalink

      I’m with you Andrea. I haven’t planned a WDW vacation since FP- came into effect. Since my last WDW trip in the spring of 2013, I visited DLP in July 2014, and just came back from DLR. Might I suggest a DLR trip? Paper fast passes, Lower crowds, better climate, and less need for ADR’s.

      It might be three or four years before my next trip to the Mouse, and it will probably be DLR.

      Reply
    • July 19, 2015 at 8:16 am
      Permalink

      As a local, I tend to only do spontaneous trips at this point. This morning, while I’m out of town, my husband got up, picked a few FP+ reservations (and he found even things like A&E available for today), and may do a walk-up meal. The only times we plan well in advance is for something that becomes a must-do (like Victoria and Albert’s for my husband’s birthday, or Candlelight Processional where we have to have it on a Saturday and want a specific narrator).

      I think that’s what happens with most people–they have a larger-than-in-the-past list of MUST DO meals and attractions, and so they feel that they have to force that to happen. In the process, it is easy to forget to just have fun. Check day-of to see what’s available to eat at. (For today, for a party of 4 at dinnertime, there are 60 restaurants with availability compared with only a dozen that don’t have availability–some of which are either closed for refurb or always have walk-ups.)

      Grab FP+ selections when you get to the park if you feel the lines are too long, and don’t worry about booking in advance for most attractions. There’s usually fewer than 10 attractions at all of Walt Disney World where you can’t get same-day FP+ options. When I visited Magic Kingdom on July 4th, there were only two attractions without any FP+ options available (7DMT and A&E) when we grabbed selections at 11 AM.

      For me, the new system means I don’t have to get up and rush to the parks to make rope drop (which, let’s face it, is the antithesis of spontaneous to know you have a set time when you have to “clock in” for your vacation). If you use the system correctly, it encourages spontaneity.

      Reply
      • July 19, 2015 at 8:23 am
        Permalink

        And just for the sake of completeness, I just checked what FP+s were not available for today. Here’s the list:
        Anna & Elsa meet and greet
        7 Dwarves Mine Train
        Festival of Fantasy
        Main Street Electrical Parade
        Mission Space
        Toy Story Midway Mania
        Kali River Rapids
        Disney Pals Meet and Greet at Animal Kingdom

        Everything else had availability for parties greater than a solo traveler. (For the solo traveler, the only one showing up as not available was Mission Space, which makes me think there’s a glitch in the matrix. Everything else was available.)

      • July 19, 2015 at 12:59 pm
        Permalink

        Spot on, Julie.

      • July 19, 2015 at 12:59 pm
        Permalink

        *Julia. (Sorry, I hit post too quickly.)

    • July 21, 2015 at 11:48 am
      Permalink

      We love MM+/FP+! My wife and I flew down last Friday for a quick weekend trip, 2 days at the water parks or DisneyQuest/Downtown Disney (to use up some WP+M Non-expiring credits). First day at TL was great. That evening, we talked about wishing we had more “Disney” than want’s in the water parks. We talked each other into getting a one-day pass to MK (which goes against every ticket/planning strategy I’ve ever believed in). Touring Plans predicted MK to be a 7. I linked the tickets to our existing Magic Bands, then went looking for reservations at Be Our Guest. I first searched for breakfast, found 3 openings and picked one. Then went to FP+, picked our 3 must-do rides, and found all three had availability before 2pm. That morning we watched rope drop (always brings tears to our eyes), then walked to BOG. After breakfast we hit up 2 rides before our first FP+. Then got a snack, another ride, then next FP+. After the third FP+ we went back to hotel. 90 degrees + about 110% humidity level necessitated showers, took a quick nap, then went back, got another FP+, rode it, then rode other rides until Midnight and went back to room.

      I think TP was about right with its prediction but after 9pm crowd level dropped a lot.

      Normally we are a “plan ahead 180 days” kind of family but for our spur of the moment trip it went fantastic!

      Reply
      • July 21, 2015 at 12:17 pm
        Permalink

        That sounds like an absolutely perfect day!

  • July 17, 2015 at 12:27 pm
    Permalink

    I’m going to WDW for the first time in late summer and after researching this to death I’ve settled with this exact strategy, with anchor reservations at dinner and FP+ in late aft or early eve when headliner attractions are still busy. I’m not going to mess with additional FP selections or kiosks blah blah (I know I will miss the paper system from several D-Land trips) but I am going to get my princesses up early for rope-drop in non-magic morning parks to get as many rides in before the crowds. Afternoons are left wide open for pool, hotel, waterparks or whatever they want to do. About as spontaneous as possible for a trip to the land of the mouse.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2015 at 12:49 pm
      Permalink

      It sounds like you have the perfect plan of attack! Rope drop is the way to go when you want to get the most attractions done in a short span of time. Are you using a Touring Plan? Even as a veteran park-goer, I still create Touring Plans for rope drop days. Last December we traveled with my brother and his family, and it was the first time we had a little one in tow (3 1/2 years old). Our Magic Kingdom rope drop morning was a breeze!

      Reply
  • July 17, 2015 at 12:35 pm
    Permalink

    Love this! I am a type-A planner too while my husband is not. There are a couple days in our upcoming trip where all I have planned is dinner ADR. The rest I am going to leave up to whatever the family wants to do. We got hopper passes so after dinner they might want to go to a different park, which will be fine with me.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2015 at 12:53 pm
      Permalink

      As much as I love my planning, there is something really exciting about making your mind up in the moment! I hope you and your family have a great trip!

      Reply
  • July 17, 2015 at 12:50 pm
    Permalink

    With 9 kids we prefer to stay off Disney where we can get a 2000 square foot 4 or 5 br house with private pool for $600 a week versus thousands a week on Disney for a cracker box place. This of course makes us ineligible for fast pass +. Doing anything with our gang, especially with the addition of a little one who is disabled and has complex medical needs is a lot more difficult then for the average family. There are many times we can’t eat anywhere because they don’t have a table big enough for us, just for example. Most attractions require baby swapping etc therefore taking twice as long and requiring much standing around. We’ve not been back to Disney since December 2012 so we’ve not experienced the new fast pass system. I know that even arriving at parks at opening (in September the slowest time of the year at Disney) we waited hours just to fast pass the toy story attraction at studios and the fast passes we got weren’t until 30 minutes before closing that night. So it costs us way more (and the price increases every year) and I fear that under the new system with resort and packages guests having an advantage we will be able to experience much less. I am an amazing planner, you have to be in my world, but I’m not sure how to work around that.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2015 at 1:08 pm
      Permalink

      Anyone with a ticket is eligible for FP+. The only advantage to staying on-property is that you can book 60 days out, whereas people staying off-property have to wait till 30 days out.

      Reply
    • July 17, 2015 at 1:27 pm
      Permalink

      Hi Kat! You definitely have a lot more variables to work around, and I can see why you might be apprehensive about the feasibility of a trip. Staying offsite certainly sounds like the right choice for you, and I just recently stayed offsite for the first time myself. Even though staying on property does let you make FastPass+ selections 60 days out, if you’re staying off property you can still make your selections 30 days out. Yes, there are some selections that will most likely run out of availability (Anna and Elsa in particular), you can still score some awesome times and attractions at 30 days out! We traveled the week of 4th of July and even with only having access at 30 days we still managed to get FastPass+ selections for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I was shocked! I guess the thing to note is that you shouldn’t feel like you won’t have as much access as those staying on site. They do get an advantage, but it isn’t a make-it-or-break-it type of thing.

      The great thing about MyMagic+ over the old system is that you won’t get “stuck” somewhere waiting for your FastPasses to become valid. When you schedule your FP+ through My Disney Experience, you get to choose from the times they have available, and it makes it much easier to plan your day. That’s probably the thing that I love the most about MyMagic+.

      In regards to dining, the restaurants at Disney World are pretty great at accommodating big parties now, and I think the biggest help to you would be scheduling your Advanced Dining Reservations as early as possible. Another thing you can do is call the restaurants directly and speak to them about how they accommodate large parties. It adds some extra steps, but it could give you some additional piece of mind.

      Of course having a little one with complex medical needs is also a big factor in your trip planning. Walt Disney World does have some great resources for guests with disabilities, including their Disability Access Service. I would encourage you to call Disney World’s Disability Services line and they can provide you with information specific to your needs. That number is: (407) 560-2547.

      I wish you the best of luck, and if I can answer any more questions, please let me know!

      Reply
    • July 18, 2015 at 1:35 pm
      Permalink

      Can I ask you how you found a rental house? I’m planning to spend a few weeks down in the Orlando area.

      Reply
      • July 18, 2015 at 3:12 pm
        Permalink

        I used VacationHomeRentals.com. That was the first time I’d used them, but I had a really good experience and they had a fantastic inventory. I’m sure a large part of the experience is dependent upon the actual property owner, but there are a lot of renter reviews on there, which made me feel comfortable about the property we ended up choosing.

  • July 17, 2015 at 2:44 pm
    Permalink

    I tend to figure out roughly how long I’ll stay in a park on a given day – I usually don’t hop because my youngest is 6 and I find it to be too of a day. Then I’ll make my touring plan for the park, based on rezzies and fast passes, but I make sure I leave about 1-2 hours open for each chunk of my day (morning, evening and afternoon – or whatever I’m staying for). In the TP, I’ll list a 90 minute break here and there which allows for us to stop and visit a character or shop or ride a favorite ride a second time, etc. It seems like a good balance for us between planning and spontaneity.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2015 at 4:42 pm
      Permalink

      It sounds like you’ve worked out a great formula for your family. I like your planned break times as another way to build in some unallocated time!

      Reply
  • July 17, 2015 at 3:08 pm
    Permalink

    We do our spontaneity quite differently.

    For our two week trip last December 1st to 15th, my three kids and I each chose one new restaurant and one favourite, for a total of eight ADRs. Most of the time we enjoy hotel restaurants over park restaurants (with le Cellier being the exception last trip), so we aren’t tied to a park for that day. So half of the days we have ADRs at hotels, half we eat wherever/whenever we feel like it.

    As for fastpasses, we try to book them for between 10AM and noon, so we’re not rushed to get up, and we can be in and out of that park before lunch if we choose to. Remember, it’s okay to miss your fastpasses if you don’t feel like going. Some days we just sat at the hotel pool and relaxed, or hit Typhoon Lagoon.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2015 at 4:47 pm
      Permalink

      I’m loving the 50% new restaurants/50% favorites approach! That is a fantastic way to keep from getting caught in a dining rut. And I completely agree with you on missing FastPasses. I’m just saying, my cupcakes/Netflix example does have a basis in fact… 🙂 And random thing of note – we were also in Disney World the second week of December last year! Wasn’t that a great time to be there?

      Reply
  • July 17, 2015 at 3:59 pm
    Permalink

    We usually do an early breakfast either in the park we’re going to or at the Resort closest to the park we’re going to. Then I plan our FP’s for right after breakfast, one right after the other. We’ll do the first one closer to the ending time so we can go to the second one right after and by the time we’re done with that, the time for the third FP is just beginning. And since we usually go to each park twice during a trip, I make sure the FP’s I get are for rides/attractions are in the same area of the park so we aren’t crossing from one side to another. Backtracking is a pet peeve of mine, lol. Anyway, by doing it that way, we’re usually free to just wing it after 12-1pm.
    I do have spreadsheets of each day that I carry with us though, lol. I love planning (that’s one of the most exciting aspects of the trip for me) and while I don’t plan every single second of our time, I do like to have all the parade/fireworks/show times on my spreadsheet so I can just glance at and see if that’s what anyone wants to do next.
    I also swear by the lines app. I really can’t commit to waiting in line for something for more than 20-25 minutes…no matter what it is. Using the lines app, I’ve never had too and we have always managed to ride every ride we wanted to on every trip…often several times a day.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2015 at 4:53 pm
      Permalink

      The Lines app is my best friend! I also love getting breakfast at resorts close to the park I’m heading to. Whispering Canyon is a favorite on Magic Kingdom days, even if it isn’t at a monorail resort. And Captain’s Grille is great on an Epcot day. We don’t do a lot of Animal Kingdom rope drops, but when we do, half the reason is just so we have an excuse to get breakfast at Boma!

      Reply
  • July 17, 2015 at 5:47 pm
    Permalink

    I often follow a similar strategy with restaurants / FP+ (not always, sometimes there are other variables). I really like to make the times so that one FP+ overlaps the meal, while planning on using the other two around their endpoints.

    For example, Jungle Cruise at 10-11, BTMRR at 11-noon, ADR at 11:30, Splash at 12:30. With these times, you only have to remember to show up at Jungle Cruise at 10:40, when you’re done your BTMRR window is open, and when you get off of BTMRR it should be right about time for lunch. If you’re a little early, you can always use the time for a bathroom break. When you’re done with lunch, your Splash window is open.

    I’m also an uber-Type-A planner, but I find the feeling of only having to remember the first timepoint and then having the domino effect is nicer than ending up with what seems like scattered appointments.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2015 at 6:02 pm
      Permalink

      I love it! 🙂 There are so many like-minded planners out there that I never knew about!

      Reply
  • July 17, 2015 at 11:45 pm
    Permalink

    Love the article and the responses. This gives me so many ideas. Using the Touring Plans did actually feel like I had our days planned down to the minute. I felt as though the magic has been taken out of the vacation. Definitely need to schedule in more breaks. I’m really concerned that with the heavy crowds around Christmas time, the lack of a structured plan will leave us missing a lot. Any advice?

    Reply
  • July 18, 2015 at 8:00 am
    Permalink

    I would suggest trying out some half-day Touring Plans, particularly if there are days that you’ll be doing rope drop. It is a good way to split the difference between structure and spontaneity. When I visit during peak times, that’s usually what I do. I make a personalized Touring Plan based around my ADR and FP+, but I keep it limited to a partial day. That way I can get a lot of attractions in, but also have freedom to do whatever I want for half the day. I love this during the Christmas season in particular because there is so much ambiance to experience. Scheduling in time to slow down and take it all in works really well for me. If you are looking to get away from a structured plan entirely, I would say that your two best friends will be rope drop and the Lines app. When I’m not in a Touring Plan kind of mood I depend on the Lines app – being able to see the wait times for every attraction is HUGE! I hope that helps! 🙂

    Reply
  • July 18, 2015 at 1:36 pm
    Permalink

    “I think MyMagic+ is about as awesome as your average Disney cupcake”
    I agree, but probably not in the way you mean. I’m “meh” on both.

    Reply
  • July 20, 2015 at 10:56 pm
    Permalink

    With two kids who constantly change their minds about what they love and what they hate, there is just no planning our days at the park. So rope drop it is! My boys are up at sunrise so why not. We took a mostly empty ferryboat this morning to be there at an 8 am opening, rode 12 different rides (including multiple rides on Buzz and Barnstormer), had a sit down lunch, climbed the Treehouse and took an empty ferryboat back out, and were at our car by 11:10. Absolutely nothing was planned and no FastPasses were needed. I looked at the hordes of people sweltering in the sun and waiting just to get on the monorail and ferryboat to get over to the park to wait in the longest lines of the day in the hottest part of the day and was thankful I have kids who like to get up early.

    Reply
    • July 21, 2015 at 9:38 am
      Permalink

      That’s great! I wish my group consisted of early birds…

      Reply
  • July 21, 2015 at 7:03 am
    Permalink

    I tend to plan the mornings – park, FP’s and possibly a lunch reservation and then leave the afternoon and evening free for whatever we fancy doing. Also as we are travelling from the UK and our trips are always 2 weeks – every 3rd or 4th day is a ‘rest day’ and we decide there and then what we fancy doing – which if my daughter has anything to do with it is usually ‘shopping’ 🙂

    Reply
    • July 21, 2015 at 9:44 am
      Permalink

      That’s funny, it’s always my husband who wants to go shopping at Downtown Disney! Not that I object. 🙂

      Reply
  • Pingback: MyMagic+ and Last-Minute Trips: Planned Spontaneity Advanced Course - TouringPlans.com Blog | TouringPlans.com Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *