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Old 12-16-2009, 08:02 PM   #1
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Does extensive planning take some of the enjoyment and magic out of a trip?

When DH and I went to disney in 2003 (before we had kids), we planed which parks we wanted to go to, so we could buy appropriate tickets, but didn't research anything about restuarants, available rides, attractions etc. So when we got to the parks, there were lots of little surprises, each ride was a surprise, we never knew what to expect for an attraction etc.

This time we are going with our kids, and obviously I'm doing more research because of the logistics and probably staying onsite. But already I'm a little disapointed that I pretty much already know all the possible rides and attractions, know what the hotel rooms look like, the pools, etc know all the mensu, etc.

Am I crazy for thinking this way?

I'm trying to not show the kids too many pics/videos of the parks so that things are more magical, less surprise element, but my kids are scared of everything so I'm trying to show them a few things (while leaving some for surprises), so that we can start talking about them and gearing up to try new things.
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:08 PM   #2
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The planning does the opposite for me, it builds up the magic and makes it even better. I anxiously await our trips and finding out new info just fuels that fire. Planning also cuts down on the stress for me while at the parks, helps avoid crowds and long lines and guarantees I'm going to have somewhere to eat for dinner. I also want to know what to expect out of my hotel before I book, for example I am not a big fan of certain themes and would not want to be somewhere that was a beach theme if I preferred more rustic atmosphere. I also like to know what to expect at the resturaunts so I don't have to worry about eating somewhere with a menu that has nothing appealing on it (mostly to my kids, I'm not that picky). I would hate to think I would not plan/reasearch and pass by on some attraction that just looked 'ok' from the outside (Soarin for example) and then learn later I missed out on one of the best attractions at the park.

I do not show my kids videos of rides they have never been on nor do I watch them b/c I would like to see them for myself the first time. I just am not into that and would think that would ruin the magic for the kids (and myself).
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:16 PM   #3
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Sometimes it feels that way but when you get there you will actually have a sense of calmness from the planning, especially when you are with kids.

We planned a trip with friends that had never gone before and they got there 4 days before we did. Now, I had either been on the phone or at their house every night for 6 months planning and the DH was getting ticked! The first night we met up for dinner at Chef Mickey's and the first thing he did was hug me. They had the best time, and everything went so smoothly they could just sit back and enjoy their kids. In fact they left their first trip as DVC owners, they are hooked.
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:47 PM   #4
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My DH thought I was crazy with all the planning I did for 3 months before our trip in Feb 09. It was our first trip with kids, and I wanted to make sure they enjoyed it without being pushed too much each day. I understand what you mean, but I found it more exciting as I planned because I felt more in control. My DH admitted it was expertly planned and he hadn't planned to enjoy the trip (FL native that is so over WDW). If only the temps hadn't gone to the 30s and 40s, which caused us to leave early, it would have been a fabulous week.
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Old 12-16-2009, 09:02 PM   #5
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I am an expert planner. So much that I already know what I'm going to be eating next December. The good thing about super planning is that all that info carries forward. We've been there so many times that I don't need to put tons of effort into each trip. It's even easier when we have annual passes. With APs I don't even plan which park we are going too.
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Old 12-16-2009, 09:05 PM   #6
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Nope. I look at it as a way to begin enjoying the trip ahead of time. Once you're there the time goes very quickly and before you know it you're back home. For me the planning process is part of the fun.
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Old 12-16-2009, 09:12 PM   #7

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The first time I visited, I didn't do any research. Imagine missing things like the Haunted Mansion! We did EPCOT that trip, too, we spend about 1 hour walking around World Showcase because of zero research.

The trips are more fun with all the planning. We do more and experience more. The tours are a lot of fun.

Planning, gotta love it!

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Old 12-16-2009, 09:25 PM   #8
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I plan like crazy. I watch videos and look at photos of resorts, rides, and restaurants. I even make a daily schedule. Just before we leave I make note cards out for my oldest DS (he's high functioning ASD) so he knows what the "plan" is for the day. It helps me build the "magic" before the trip starts.

Once we get there though I only go by our ADR's for the day and just do whatever I feel like doing.

For me it doesn't take away from the magic, since the magic for me is actually being there. All the planning does is help me pass the time until I actually get to GO!
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Old 12-16-2009, 09:35 PM   #9
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I can see where the OP is coming from. I think there's a difference between planning i.e., making room reservations, ADR's, choosing tickets, booking tours, etc., which you need to do, and being so obsessed with the planning that there's no way the real trip can live up to your expectations. For example, I've often wondered if some of the people who change their resort a dozen times before they check in really enjoy the final choice, or if they are constantly wondering if the trip would have been "just a little more magical" if they had stayed with choice 3 or choice 8. I have seen people with itineraries so planned that there was no room at all for those little spontaneous moments that just happen - and are often the best memory of the trip.

Personally, since I've visited WDW dozens and dozens of times, I do very little planning, other than the hotel room and an ADR or two. Although I recommend a little more planning for the first time or infrequent visitor, I like to just let the magic unfold. I just came back from a 10 day trip, staying at BC, and it was one of my best WDW vacations to date. Everything just seemed to fall into place - yet it was totally spontaneous (right down to the flexible date MVMCP ticket that gave me a choice of dates so I wasn't tied down to any particular night). I had no regrets of any kind - not with the hotel, my meal choices, my park choices, even my MVMCP choice. It was a totally magical Christmas trip. I don't think I could have planned most of the things that made it a great trip.

To the OP - do the research you need to do, but keep your expectations realistic. Don't go into it with the idea that you'll have the perfect family vacation - that's a sure way to set you up for disappointment. When reading posts, be sure to take everything with a grain of salt. Everyone has their favorites and the things they avoid at all costs - but those are different for every family, so what is horrible for someone else may turn out to be your favorite. This is especially important when it comes to hotels and restaurants. And if you find that your research and planning is taking some of the joy away, then don't feel guilty if you choose to back off a bit. Some people like to have every moment planned, some like to wing it 100%, and most people fall somewhere in the middle. It's not worth stressing over - really !

I think there will be enough new things there since 2003 that you will still find plenty of surprises, and seeing things through your children's eyes will make them new again.
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Old 12-16-2009, 10:03 PM   #10
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First off, I think you will get mostly "No" from this crowd as this is a board about planning for a Disney vacation...

That being said..I think I might enjoy planning more than the vacation itself. I know this sounds absolutely crazy...but it helps fill those months of waiting and gives me a lot to look forward to. There's something very gratifying about getting there and knowing what there is to look at and do. If it wasn't for planning and this site I'd never know about all of the little interesting things that often get overlooked. I'd never know about ADRs, MNSSHP or MVMCP, and so many more things that make my vacation great.

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Old 12-16-2009, 10:45 PM   #11
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I guess it depends on what you mean my "extensive" planning...

Months in advance, I look up park times and decide what park we are doing what day, and make ADR's. For some people, that would be too much planning.

Personally I would not want to pick out exactly what I am eating at each meal months in advance, or to follow a set ride plan schedule like suggested in some travel books.

I plan some, but I leave some up to chance and let it happen - That leaves enough room for me for suprises (hopefully all good! ) Every trip is a little different, and magical in its own way
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Old 12-16-2009, 11:29 PM   #12
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Planning is not really about being so anal that every second is not yours. It's more about the hype. Say you want to see U2 at MSG. You buy the ticket, maybe have to plan a flight or a drive, a hotel, and then...there's just the wait. Planning for Disney gives you info and insight where you never thought to look before. Coming here to boards makes it all so special. You're able to see your resort or the park or restaurant. You can almost feel being there; you can smell it. And then when you are there...it's a thousand times BETTER than when you where planning it. We took our first family trip back in August. We went with my sisters family (who've been about every year for the past 10 now). We planned for about 4 months out. EVERDAY on the phone, checking all the sites, it was nuts. She always would say "wait til we get there, photos don't do it justice" WOW was she ever right. To see a pic of the castle stirs up wonderful memories, but standing on Main St. jaw-droppin', eyes spinnin', It's a Wonderful Life we live in. You can't plan enough and feel that. I'm here everyday reliving the Magic. Can't wait to be able to start planning the next trip. I LOVE PLANNING!!!
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Old 12-17-2009, 04:01 AM   #13
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This was the first trip that I got to plan completely and I absolutely loved the entire planning process. I may be slightly biased because I'm a planner at heart In my opinion, I think you need to do a lot of planning for Disney! It's a huge place with so many things to see.. I feel like someone could get completely lost! I will say that I tried to stop myself from planning every second of our upcoming trip... I planned our meals (we're on the Disney Dining Plan) and based our basic schedule (what parks what day) on this and the Extra Magic Hours schedules. I was tempted to schedule what rides to do in what order each day but I think in the end it will be a lot more fun to just go with the flow on each day. Then again, we're going in the beginning of January so there shouldn't be HUGE crowds and we're going for a pretty long time (8 days) so we don't have to worry about fitting everything in.

Have a great time.. and enjoy the planning process.. to whatever extent you decide to take it
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Old 12-17-2009, 05:24 AM   #14
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OP, I think the first thing is, every trip you take to WDW is going to be different than your first -- there is nothing like being 'awed' by something new around every corner, and I am actually glad that our first trip was more of a "know nothing, let's just go discover!" type of trip. For our 3rd trip a few weeks ago, I planned which park/which day, ADRs for every day, researched which resort to stay at, and looked into attractions we hadn't seen yet. We were a group of 6, and it was just amazing to me to watch the magic unfold in front of us. Sure, I had done the booking, but the way I had it planned out, it just seemed like we'd show up someplace and, voila, there was a table waiting for us or a new experience to enjoy!

I think subsequent trips to WDW after your first trip start to have that feeling of coming "home" (as corny as that sounds)! You are back at this place that you love so much, and you start to feel like it's "your" place, the more times you go and the more you know about it. That's how it's been for me, at least!

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Old 12-17-2009, 05:41 AM   #15
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Planning is good, to an extent. At some point though, you really need to just let go and free wheel it. When I went in 2008 I had a plan. So much so that my family was not having that much fun because it was get here, do that, eat here, see that, now, now, now.

After about 3 days, I dropped it all. The only thing we stuck to was the TGM least crowded park calendar and of course fast passes. I let my kids make more of the decisions. When I just let go of the original plan, it was much more enjoyable.

Don't make your Disney vacation a 2nd job. For certain, you need to have some kind of plan but you don't need to plan out every day of the entire week or two you are there.

Here is the most important part of the whole thing. Relax. Have a good time.

Being a father of four, for me, it is all about the kids. I take a back seat and let them drive and they love it.
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