To Plan Or Not To Plan? A U.K. Perspective
Travelling to Walt Disney World from the United Kingdom requires a mammoth 8-9 hour flight, which means many, including myself, chose to spend at least 14 nights in Orlando to make the long trip worth it.
The question is should visitors, both international and domestic, follow a touring plan when on such a long trip or is it better to take a more relaxed approach to visiting the many attractions at WDW?
The first thing to consider would be what you want to get out of your vacation. Are you totally focused on Walt Disney World or do you want to visit some of the other attractions in the area such as Universal Orlando, Sea World and Busch Gardens?
Many guests coming from international destinations like to get the most out of their vacation, which means they chose to visit all of the eight major theme parks listed. Eight parks in 14 days is no easy feat, meaning it’s probably best to follow a touring plan, ensuring your time efficient on your trip.
What about if you want to focus on just visiting Walt Disney World in that time? Is it really necessary to follow a strict plan when you have so much time at your disposal?
Even when visitors to WDW give themselves upward of 14 days to make their way around the parks it’s still best to follow a touring plan.
Touring plans aren’t just good for fitting a lot into a small space of time, they also ensure that guests wait in line for as small amount of time as possible. It may seem more relaxing to spend your extra days not following a plan, but it means you may spend a lot of that time in line rather than enjoying yourself.
When I go to Walt Disney World I’m usually with people 18 and over, which means the adult 1-day touring plans for each of the four parks are ideal, or if we don’t want to see everything we’ll use the selective touring plans, which focus on the best attractions in the park and leave out the slightly less popular attractions.
My group may follow these plans for our first visits to each of the four parks then if we want to go back we’ll at least stick loosely to the plan in order to ensure that we avoid the long lines and big crowds.
The two-day touring plans for small children and the ‘happy family’ two-day touring plan for the Magic Kingdom are ideal for those on extended trips where you don’t want to be running from one attraction to another but still want to avoid long lines. The same can be said for the ‘not a touring plan touring plans’ at the other three parks.
Following a plan on a trip also offers other advantages. If you’ve covered all four parks with a plan then want to go back again you know what attractions are quiet at what times and when to go in order to avoid big lines.
Following a plan on my long vacations has allowed me to see so many other attractions in the Central Florida area I never would have done if I hadn’t had covered the parks so efficiently. It also allowed me to use my extra time relaxing by the pool or back at the hotel rather than stuck in lines.
Regardless of how long your vacation is it’s still beneficial to follow a touring plan for your visits to the parks and I know it’s something I’ll be doing on all of my upcoming trips.
Michael Owen is a blogger and UK resident who blogs regularly over at Theme Park Daily!
(photo #1 by Chris Harrison, photo #2 by Brissea)
10 thoughts on “To Plan Or Not To Plan? A U.K. Perspective”
Are touring plans required on a 14 day trip? My opinion would be yes and no. The more popular rides need to be done harmoniously using some sort of touring plan. The rest of the park can be done on a leisurely pace.
My last visit was 10 days and our group followed this type of touring an it worked out wonderfully. A 14 day vacation allows you the ability to slow down a wee bit more and take in all there is to see.
On our 2-week stays, we use a modified touring plan just to make sure we cover the biggies. Essentially, we follow the plan until lunch time, then thereafter we just follow our noses. Since we spend two weeks there every year, we don’t have a huge need to get on every single ride a maximum number of times. There’s always next trip.
For our trip in September, I’ve tried to implement some sort of plan, but since the arrival of Touring Plans 2.0, I can see that for most days of our stay, they are rated at 1 or slightly higher. So, plan or not to plan? A ‘loose’ plan seems to be the order of the day, I feel. Know what needs essential Fastpass, to gauge what is most important to the party (there’s only two of us) and see what else you can ‘wing’ on the way.
So glad to read this! I agree wholeheartedly. The only time you shouldn’t plan is when you really fancy waiting in a queue. There’s so much more time available to stop and smell the roses if you have a decent strategy.
I agree we travel from australia about 30 hour trip, so we like to get the most from our stay. I did a very in depth plan, and didnt always follow it, but having the info saved alot of line time, and provided insider knowledge that was very usefull
Hi guys, thanks for the comments.
I do agree that you don’t have to strictly follow one of the plans provided, making a modified touring plan can suit your needs and as long as you have a good grasp of when attractions are busy and when they’re not it should work out fine.
Ransom, I also like your idea about touring before lunch then taking a more relaxed approach after, especially when some in your party aren’t quite convinced by the idea of touring.
Thanks for all the feedback!
You really have to plan at least the major rides in any park, unless of course you can pay for quick access like at Universal/IOA and (I believe) Seaworld, or get it as a perk for staying onsite.
Whenever my family failed to make and follow a plan, a crappy day was the result.
We brought some of the outlaws to Disney Studios for their first time ever and I don’t know how it happened, possibly because they weren’t keen on RnR and ToT, we ended up more or less randomly wandering around the park. It was not a very fun day, that long queue in Great Movie Ride is pretty annoying with the switchbacks and being cheek by jowl with 1000 other people, and the park was hot. We ended up leaving the park early and it’s too bad because the outlaws missed some fun attractions like Star Tours and Indiana Jones. They were unimpressed with the park and didn’t return for the rest of the trip.
The way we do it is this. We always do 4 parks (either the 4 WDW or the 4 “others”). We do the first 4 days commando style to get in every major ride at every park. Then a day off, which means sleeping in and then heading to the beach. We quit going to the water parks because they involve either getting up early once again to get on the slides, dealing with massive queues for the slides, or sitting out a massive thunderstorm, or all three in one day. After our day off we discuss from day to day which parks to repeat and which rides, what shopping to do, etc. and plan to either sleep in, or hit the rides early then relax, or whatever. We finish off the trip that way, usually ending it with a sleep in, then an afternoon and evening enjoying our favorite attractions in our favorite park right til closing time.
We’ve always found restaurant reservations to be superfluous to our fun. The cost and the lengthy planning required for Disney ADRs just isn’t worth it for us. We like to eat in the quietest and coolest counter service place we can find, and a couple of times on each trip we eat at a casual off-property sitdown restaurant like the Pizzeria Uno just off WDW property or one of the little Chinese or Vietnamese places located here and there in strip malls. I guess that eating in nice restaurants is a very huge thing for a lot of people however, and it’s clear that the popularity of WDW restaurants and places like Mythos in IOA, some extra planning is required to fit this in without having to lost time and wait forever for walkup seating.
Hope you have a great trip!
A couple more tips, I wouldn’t worry “too much” about the best day to visit each park, remember that the Touring Plans folks determined that following a plan is the most important thing of all, not the day of the week, the time of the year, or anything else. So other than either using or avoiding Extra Magic Hours parks according to your situation, and planning around Fantasmic showings, I wouldn’t sweat the daily park selection too much.
To help come up with plans for non-Disney parks, I think that Unofficial Guide does USF/IOA, and the Other Orlando book and website cover those parks, Seaworld and Busch Gardens. Note for those parks, the rides especially the coasters can be stupendous and we found out from experience that after you’re in your 40s, your tolerance for G force (zero or otherwise) diminishes. So it may be that coasters like Hulk, Manta, Kraken, Dragon Challenge, Gwazi, Kumba, Montu are not your cup of tea and this can affect your plans significantly. But if you don’t mind a bit of nausea and a slightly sore neck, they’re worth a laugh to ride once. Sheikra IMHO is a very smooth coaster and I think it is a lot more tolerable, but still incredibly thrilling. Manta is very smooth and thrilling, but has an unusually high upside-down G force at one point. Not the worst thing ever, but it’s fair to warn you. Rip Ride Rockit seemed pretty smooth and tolerable to me, just a bit of adrenaline thrill from the lack of shoulder bars.
The water rides at Busch I found to be not worth doing at all. They are nowhere near the class of Bilge Rat barges, Ripsaw Falls, Atlantis, Splash Mountain or Kali River and the next time I go to Busch I’m going to skip them and try to see more animals and shows.
You mention such an amazing things right here and it’s always pleassure to read. Hope to listen to extra and learn from you.
If you planning to go to Universal be prepared to spend at least 2 days. The reason being is that Universal in Orlando has 2 parks. Universal itself and Island of Adventures that features Wizarding Wolrd of Harry potter. These parks are huge and there is a lot to see. Make sure to get Speed pass in order to skip long lines. Also you might want to look into meal deal offer. It might make sense.