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Old 02-19-2013, 01:45 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by GillianP1301
If you don't enjoy a lot of pre-planning and it stresses you out, then you don't have to do it and you will still have a very enjoyable vacation. OP, you can still take your old approach and "wing it" and have an idea of what you really want to see and make decisions the day of and everything else, including your dining. With the exception of a few of the really hard to get ADRs (i.e. BOG, Cellier), you'll be able to get a reservation same day for your dinners, if you want to do a TS.

Personally, I really enjoy all the planning and figuring out itineraries and where/what I think is best for each day. It's what helps me get through the waiting period until my next vacation. That being said, I also have no issue what so ever in dropping my plan once I'm actually on vacation and if that ADR I made 6 months ago is no longer appealing to me that day, I just cancel and/or change it. The only caveat is the ADRs requiring either pre-payment or CC guarantee, those ones I know I have to finalize a day or two before. But honestly, even if I did miss a CC guarantee meal because we changed our mind last minute, the $10pp charge is a risk I'm okay with taking.
We planned our ADRs three months in advance, because we decided in November to take a February trip. I made the "must do" reservations then -- including breakfast at CRT on DD's 5th birthday. Everything else I made and changed over time. While we were on our trip last week, I canceled several ADRs the night before they were scheduled, and added different ones on the fly. As said above, even paying the cancellation fee for a last-minute change would not be the end of the world.
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:50 PM   #17
I may have to rethink whether or not I want to do this
I LOVE anything with goat cheese. Actually, I'm thinking about getting a goat!
My aunt would give me coke and some pecans to keep me quiet
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All the planning is my favorite part
and YES..I'm a Disney nerd
Once we have our dates it's off to Touring Plans for me to see which parks are recommended. Then it's just a matter of plugging in our favorite restaurants based on where we will be. For instance, an Animal Kingdom day is a great day to do dinner at one of the resorts or Downtown Disney because the park closes fairly early. We just go back, get cleaned up if we need to and go have a relaxing meal, maybe take in late hours in a park after if we feel up to it. A Magic Kingdom day is a great day to hop the monorail for a mid-day lunch at Grand Floridian or the Contemporary. Enjoy! You will have a great time!

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Old 02-19-2013, 01:54 PM   #18
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I don't have kids, but we still take nap breaks.

I only make an ADR if there is a must-do or some place we really want or for something special. Other than that we are happy to eat at CS places or just try a walk up at TS places at off times & see what is open. It works with our touring style & we aren't picky. Don't get me wrong--I like to plan! But planning meals at certain times each day is too much for my mom & she draws the line.

I will say this last trip as a surprise for my parent's I had a lunch ADR at LTT. It really was a pain trying to keep them on that side of the park as the ADR approached & then trying to not get in lines where we would miss it. I finally gave up & said "here's your birthday surprise...we are eating there (pointing at LTT) in 30 minutes so quit whining, quit trying to eat snacks & quit trying to go in a complete opposite direction". Daughter of the year I am not.

For us at least dinner ADRs are easier to plan around than lunch. We like to tour around the park & trying to be at a certain place at a certain time for lunch was harder than going somewhere for dinner.
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:19 PM   #19
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On our first family trip our two youngest were under 3. our oldest was 8. We went over Easter Break. THe youngest was just a year. We did not plan the park we were going to based on crowd calendars. I did not know they existed. We did make ADR's due to the fact that we bought the Dining Plan and the travel agent at AAA told us the date we needed to call and make reservations. It wasn't that difficult. We just looked at the restaurants online and looked at the menu for each online on the WDW website. I picked 2 to 3 for each day and hoped for the best. Pretty much got 1st and 2nd choices. Again we did not know there was so much other information out there. So in a sense we had a "plan" We knew what park we were going to each day because we based it on the ADR. That was it however. We did not know whether it was a "park to avoid" and such. We would sit in the room the night before with a pen and paper and the map and talk about the rides we would like to get on the next day. I have to say it was "much" less stressful and confusing then being "in the know" about how to plan around the crowds.

ON our second trip about a year later, we went in August during the 3rd and 4th weeks, I discovered DIS boards had a lot more information and advice then I initially realized, and then the stress and confusion began. I found myself trying to plan just about every minute of the trip. I was knitpicking every single detail about the trip and spending way too much time on DISboards. It got me stressed out. I was actually nervous on the flight down as I read over my "plans" in my phone and on the sheets of paper I had printied out for each day. Now the time we went was not supposed to be a highly crowded time and it certainly wasn't compared to the first time we went. My plans started off great however went downhill as the vacation went on. Having to have ADR's due to the dining plan wasn't good for our family. We realized that our kids and how much they could handle dictated how the day would go not the "plan" or the ADR's. So having an ADR in a park at a certain time was a little bit difficult when our kids were worn out and needed a longer break at the pool or in the room.

We are going again in August this year and we are staying 10 nights. We have 3 ADR's the entire trip at places we really enjoyed the first two times. THe rest of the time we will wing it with food. NO dining plan. As for parks and when to visit, we ARE using the crowd calendars and we are using the advice of people on this board, because it is awesome. We will also use the touring plans. So we will have a plan for which days we visit each park for the first 5 days. The rest of the days we are going to pick out of the ones that are not "parks to avoid" and then get a touring plan for it. DW and I have decided to give this a try. If it doesn't work then we will go back to super planning for next trip.

I guess the point of my long post is you have to do what is best for you. I think as long as you have a "plan" whether it be a minute-by-minute or even just day to day, you are ahead of others. I feel a lot less stressed this time about our trip. I find myself starting to feel like I should plan more, but I resist and breathe. I hope I make it to AUgust without trying to plan more.

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Old 02-19-2013, 02:56 PM   #20
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FP+ will add a whole new level of planning

FP+ will make for even more planning. Planners will love it, others hate it. Seems to require us at the 60 day mark to pretty much know roughtly what part of the park we will be in for the time periods of our FP+s. We usually plan out are early morning rides and after that just follow general strategy without a touring plan. I can imagine FP+ making it very difficult for a large group that is diverse in age and interest to stay together without some serious planning. Hope I'm wrong.

Also, no shame in booking a TS ADR even if you aren't 100% sure you will make it. Just make sure it is one without a 24hr cancellation policy and be polite and call to cancel same day as soon as you know you won't make it. After all, you are spending thousands on this vacation. This is more than fare game in my opinion.
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Old 02-19-2013, 03:58 PM   #21
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To be honest

when Disney changed the timetable for booking ADR's from 90 days to 180 there were dozens of threads bashing it and calling it senseless.

We love it but the battle royal is there to get prime spots. I was 178 days out booking 'Ohana and the only table available was 8:30 at night!

Now we do mostly lunches for our big meal and an arrival night dinner. It's much easier to get lunch ADR's than dinner at the "Hot' spots

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Old 02-19-2013, 04:57 PM   #22
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I'll admit it. We're more than 300 days out for our trip (arriving December 29) and I already have four schedules made in excel, with park days, restaurants, approximate dining times, and special stuff like BBB all penciled in, and a few extras on top of that just in case we decide to go for the upgrade to deluxe dining .
Between now and our ADR date (July 2, not that I have it memorized ) I will probably make 20 more, and discard/add as necessary until our entire group feels like they're happy.

We don't mind planning our days around restaurants at all. The kids love being able to look at menus in advance and KNOW they will like the food. I love planning and the other adults in our group all say they like having me make plans and give them concrete choices. So long as their input is considered and they all get their "must do's" they seem to think it's more relaxing to have their days planned out - no worrying about whether or not we'll get a table or have to wait for 2 hours, or get in an argument at 5:30 about what we should eat for dinner.

Our first trip to WDW we had zero reservations and managed to get 3 or 4 walkups, but mostly we just ate in our condo off-site. I don't know if the level of dictatorship I hold over our reservations is necessary in the off-seasons, but you'd need to be flexible (and happy settling for counter service just in case )
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Old 02-19-2013, 05:49 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by ses1230 View Post
I actually plan for 180 days out, that is when you can make ADRs. I look at the park schedule and Touring Plans and/or easywdw.com to plan park days first, then I pick what restaurants we would like to go to. We are RD people since the kids are up early anyway, so we either do TS for pre park opening or dinner.
Same here !!! Planning is 75% of the fun !!!!
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Old 02-19-2013, 06:25 PM   #24
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Caution: Disney planning is so addictive!!! I love it. My husband and kids just laugh at me.
It's kind of fun to do the impossible.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:22 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by JeannieKY
Caution: Disney planning is so addictive!!! I love it. My husband and kids just laugh at me.
AGREED! Planning is so much fun...you always learn something new especially from these boards. It just never gets old!

Me, DH, DS (6), DD (4)
June 2011 OKWJuly 2012 Hilton Head Island Resort August 2013 BC CL November 2014 WL
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:25 PM   #26
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I am so into the planning, I started thinking about our next set of ADR's on the plane ride home from our last trip. I am also one of those people with the spreadsheet, lol!

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Old 02-19-2013, 08:35 PM   #27
I've discovered I don't need to be a control freak...and like it!
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I look at the resort we are staying at, I often break up my reservation into 2 to 3 resorts over a two week period of time. I do this because I like to do MK first and prefer walking over the busses. So, usually 4 nights BLT, 4 nights BCV, 6 nights OKW. I create a list of where everyone would like to eat during the course of the vacation. Next, I look at park hours and then I choose restaurants that are easily accessed from where I am staying at the time. At 180 I make my reservations, at 60 I check park hours for changes, and then I see if I want to make adjustments to my reservations. Sometimes I make switches up until I leave for the vacation. I also leave some days empty and get on my smart phone and reserve for what is available where I am at the time. I have made reservations for within an hour while at HS for MM, for several world showcase restaurants and for places in DTD in July and August with no issues.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:44 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by goherdibg

This is exactly what we do and it really irks me. During our last trip in Dec 2011, I had everything planned out using published park hours and park recommendations using a combination of easywdw, TGM, and Touring Plans. Everything was pretty much set at the 180 day mark. Then it started happening....

Park hours changed.....
Park recommendations changed.....
MVMCP dates came out......

In some cases I had an ADR in a park with short hours or in a park that was "to be avoided in the evening".

While it didn't ruin our trip by any means, it did frustrate me when my plans went awry.
That's what drives me insane too! Along with DH and two little ones, we travel with my 75 year old father. I really miss the days of calling for resides the day before since everyone looks to me for "what's next".

Thanks for making me feel like I'm not the only one...
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:50 PM   #29
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Ok. After reading all of the posts, I've decided I need one of you to plan for us! We'll be there in June and November. Any takers? Lol!!

Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:26 AM   #30
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I think the planning and agonizing over every little detail is the best part about Disney for me. It's like a project and it's always a work in progress. Just when you think you've got it all figured out, park ours change and then you have to rethink your park days and tweak your ADR's.

I've been planning since I booked a bounce back in Aug. 2012 for Aug. 2013!

Just wait till they roll out fastpass plus.... Yowzer! I'll be back to the drawing board trying to figure it all out again!
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