What's the order in which you plan your trip?

DisMJ

Earning My Ears
Joined
Feb 21, 2015
I'm struggling a bit with plans. This will be our first trip (DH, me, DS6, DD4). Both kids will celebrate a birthday on this trip. Staying on site at hopefully POR in Oct 2015 for 6 nights. Was contemplating renting a car but may rely on DME and park transportation instead.

I've been completely obsessed with these boards, but struggling to actually put a plan together. :-)

Airfare is not great right now, so I'm tempted to book WDW reservation first as I don't want to miss out on making ADRs. Bad idea?

Wanted to do character breakfasts for each of the kids birthdays, but that puts us at Epcot Akershus on our first full day and Ohana / MK on our second day.

Do you plan your park days based on where you eat? The park hours (will they be listed yet for October)? We wouldn't be doing the MNSSHP.

Is there lots to do at Epcot for little kids? I think I am more excited about Epcot than they will be, but I would be interested to know, if you have kids around my age, what types of things they like to do at Epcot? I've been trying to scope out the rides and other attractions to see what they are all about and what might appeal to my kids, but Epcot strikes me as being a bit different in that regard (for little kids anyway). Am I wrong?

Sorry, this is all over the place... but any help for a first timer would be very much appreciated!

Thanks!
 
I look at EasyWDW and plan which parks on what days first. Then I book my ADRs, and my FP+ times, in that order.

As far as airfare goes, figure out a price you can live with. And once the flights you are ok with hit that price, buy. Don't get caught up in getting a great deal. You may not ever get one, and miss out on a price that you could afford.
 
1. Airfare is not great right now, so I'm tempted to book WDW reservation first as I don't want to miss out on making ADRs. Bad idea?

2. Wanted to do character breakfasts for each of the kids birthdays, but that puts us at Epcot Akershus on our first full day and Ohana / MK on our second day.

3. Do you plan your park days based on where you eat? The park hours (will they be listed yet for October)? We wouldn't be doing the MNSSHP.

1. If you're sure about what dates you're going to be there, there's no reason not to book your hotel now. If you think you want to adjust your dates based on airfares, I would definitely wait until you see fares that you're happy with. (Unless you're booking with Southwest, which doesn't charge a change fee.) You don't need to have a reservation to book ADRs, but without one, you would need to book each day separately at 180 days out, while with an onsite reservation, you can book everything at 180 days out from your arrival day.

2. Why is this a problem? Do you think you should do MK on your first full day.

3. The park hours for October are out:

http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_october.pdf

I would actually plan my park days on the recommendations at easyWDW here:


http://www.easywdw.com/site-news/october-2015-walt-disney-world-preliminary-crowd-calendar/


But yes, I wouldn't do 'Ohana on an Epcot day, for instance.
 
I also recommend using easywdw crowd calendar to pick your parks for each day then book your ADR based on which park you will be at.

As far as Epcot goes it is a great park for little kids. My DD loved it both at ages 3 and 5. Not a lot of rides but a lot of running around in the countries, doing the kidcot stations and picking up various souvenirs like the little fans in china and a little purse in mexico. Definitely hit up the boat ride in mexico and if they are tall enough and not afraid of heights Soarin is great, my dd was tall enough at 5 and loved it. I would recommend starting with Mexico as it will probably appeal to the kids the most since it has the boat ride and the neatest shopping area with all the carts.
 


It can definitely be overwhelming planning your first trip! So much to consider!

I usually pick my week first. Then I pick my hotel. After that I look at airfares, if they seem really high, I wait a while. I'm not one to get overly concerned about booking air fares super early. I know we'll get there :-)

After that, I would come up with some kind of itinerary for the week. I play around with which park to visit on which day and where we will dine. It takes a while usually to sort this all out and I always, always change it many times before it's actually "set." You also never know when your ADRs open up what you will have to be flexible about. Sometimes the breakfast you wanted isn't available so you might have to do that on another day or switch it to lunch or dinner. So keep that in mind. I usually try and plan dining around which park we are at and what is reasonable considering Disney transportation (which we always use and I would recommend, I wouldn't bother renting a car).

There is a ton to do at Epcot and it's always a favorite for us. When you first get into the park, that's where most of the rides are. Once you get into the countries, there aren't really "rides" and it's more meandering around through the countries. They do have "kid cot" which is activities set up for little ones at the countries.

One last thing is that MNSSHP is absolutely AWESOME! If you've never done it before I would absolutely consider it. We did it for the first time last year and it was the total highlight of our trip. Just food for thought.
 
Hi and welcome. There are lots of different approaches to planning, but here's how I've approached it. Note, I don't have kids (all my recent trips have been solo), so that puts a different spin on things.

1) Narrow down my dates. I look at a mix of crowd predictions, pricing, weather, and most important, when is the least inconvenient time for me to take a week off work.

2) I LOOK at flight schedules to help firm up my dates (but don't buy yet). I decided to go Saturday to Friday this year so I'd have a weekend off at home before I had to go back to work. I considered Saturday to Saturday, but there was not a convenient return flight on Saturday (there is now, of course, but at the time there wasn't - oh well).

3) Book my resort. I always do this before my 180-day mark so I can make ADRs when my window opens. If you know where you want to stay and are pretty sure of dates, I would always book the resort as soon as you're ready; you can always make changes later.

4) Apparently, airlines handle their pricing fluctuations differently (I always hear about Southwest fliers jumping on tickets as soon as they are available). I fly American (best schedules and connections from my home airport), and I pretty much never buy a plane ticket farther out than about 90 days - I always feel like the plane ticket is the one thing you can't change once you're committed (well, not without a lot of hassle and probably expense). I watch AA fares go up and down and up and down... I decide what I hope the price gets down to, and when I see it get down to something I'm happy with, I jump on it.

Like a lot of people here, I like the crowd calendars at easywdw. I am not a slave to the crowd calendars, but I do use them for guidance. I learned from experiece on my very first trip in 1999 that I don't ever ever again want to go to Magic Kingdom on a Saturday, even in a "slow" time of year. I plan my park days first THEN my ADRs based on where I plan to be - but again, I'm solo, and I haven't had issues getting the ADRs I want. If there's something you have to have and you can only get it on a certain day, I'd rearrange park days as needed, or Park Hop.

I'm a big fan of Park Hoppers, wouldn't go without them. Even if you use them just to enjoy a meal at Epcot and spend the rest of the day elsewhere, or to go back and hit some favorites or missed priorities in a couple of parks on your last day, I'm pro-Hopping. Of course, the good thing is, you can add hopping while you are at WDW if you decide you want it.

About transportation: I am not driving on vacation, so I'm perfectly happy with DME and WDW transportation. Again, however, I don't have kids or strollers to consider, and I don't mind a reasonable wait for a bus. You'll get lots of advice on both sides about having a car, but only you know what's going to be more convenient for your family.

I know it's daunting, but planning is half the fun of going to WDW! You're in the right place. :goodvibes
 
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I always check flights for the basic time period we want to travel first. We usually fly Southwest (I check the other airlines but between bags fees and connecting flights Southwest usually wins). Even on Southwest the cheapest flights are not always the best. I like to get early morning non-stop flights for arrival and afternoon flights for return. They have a price calendar so you can pick the best fares by day. Once I know our travel dates I look at resorts. I'll book our accommodations the best way, sometimes a package, sometimes room only. I know that we can make changes if other things come up. We don't do a bunch of table service meals so when our window opens up I get the ADRs that we want. Then we will plan our park visits around the few ADRs that we have. We don't plan our parks days too strictly. If there are attractions that we really want to do I'll book FP+ for them. I have had pretty good success in changing the FP+ times the day before or the day of once we know where we are going to be. If it doesn't work out it's no big deal. We don't really sweat the attractions because we have been a lot and if we really want to do something we can find a time to ride stand by.
 
We have small kids and don't try to plan out the entire day. We travel in October and the crowds are lower, so I don't even look at crowd calendars for that month. Here's what I do:

1. Pick week and book hotel
2. Plan which meals I want and try to book them
3. Select park and FP+ based on meals I booked
 
I'm struggling a bit with plans. This will be our first trip (DH, me, DS6, DD4). Both kids will celebrate a birthday on this trip. Staying on site at hopefully POR in Oct 2015 for 6 nights. Was contemplating renting a car but may rely on DME and park transportation instead. We have rented a car and used Disney transporation and enjoy using Disney transportation more than driving ourselves. I like leaving the driving to someone else, if possible. We have taken a taxi at WDW several times.

I've been completely obsessed with these boards, but struggling to actually put a plan together. :-)

Airfare is not great right now, so I'm tempted to book WDW reservation first as I don't want to miss out on making ADRs. Bad idea? This year we booked our hotel first and just got a great deal for our Oct flights. I had to modify my hotel reservation by adding a day, no big deal.

Wanted to do character breakfasts for each of the kids birthdays, but that puts us at Epcot Akershus on our first full day and Ohana / MK on our second day.

Do you plan your park days based on where you eat? The park hours (will they be listed yet for October)? We wouldn't be doing the MNSSHP. We do try and plan our park days and eating together. We go early AM for rope drop, take a break and then back out for evening touring. A daily break for us is a must.

Is there lots to do at Epcot for little kids? I think I am more excited about Epcot than they will be, but I would be interested to know, if you have kids around my age, what types of things they like to do at Epcot? I've been trying to scope out the rides and other attractions to see what they are all about and what might appeal to my kids, but Epcot strikes me as being a bit different in that regard (for little kids anyway). Am I wrong?

Sorry, this is all over the place... but any help for a first timer would be very much appreciated!

Thanks!

I hope you enjoy your trip!
 
My kid has been loving Epcot since our first trip when she was 7. But I think there's lots of stuff your 4 year old would enjoy too - Innoventions, Agent P missions (with a bit of help), Livin' with the Land, Three Caballeros boat, riding the ferry across the lake, Illuminations fireworks show, meeting the Fab Five at Character Spot, special characters in the World Showcase, Figment, Spaceship Earth, etc. There's tons for little ones to enjoy! The candy in the Japan store is really cool, and the shop in China is loaded with toys and souvenirs that are pretty reasonably priced for a theme park. The miniature train village in Germany, etc. There's so much to see..

One of my main regrets is that we didn't take our daughter to Disney World before she was 7 because we wanted her to "remember" it. That was really dumb of me. If I had to pick an age now to start Disney World, age 4 would be it.

You are going to have so much fun :)

Also, I'm very frugal so I didn't want to pay the $$$ to do a hard ticket event like MNSSHP, but one year I decided to go ahead and do the Christmas Party on our arrival day as it was a day I didn't have park tickets for anyway. We got to the park about 5pm and they let us in with our hard ticket. I was able to schedule FP+ for the pre-party hours we were there. It was one of the BEST times we've every had. Walk on rides all night, loads of special things going on. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was worth every penny.
 
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We generally have a week narrowed down to what will work, but with some flexibility for airfare. By plugging in your dates now, even if airfare isn't great, you will get an idea if there is much a difference for flying weekend to weekend or flying Tuesday and Wednesdays. It's generally cheaper to fly Tuesday and Wednesdays, so I just tend to plan that. If you can determine that now, I would book the hotel and ADR's asap, at least a couple of the big ones. You could always switch them around if needed, and would be no worse off than if you waited to book air anyways.
I know others say their kids love Epcot, but at age 6 and 8 (my kids' first trip to WDW), they liked Soarin' and Test Track, but they did NOT like the countries. We just went back and they are 11 and 9 now and I made them go through, because I love Epcot. They didn't love it, but are old enough to deal with it;). My kids were used to Disneyland though, from very young, and there is no Epcot. I think their expectations were set on what they knew, which was rides and characters.
For my DD's 6th Bday in WDW, we planned the day in MK with BBB for her hair and makeup (took our own dress), and then did a late breakfast with Cinderella in the Castle, and that was a highlight for her, as there were lots of princesses not just Cinderella. We made it a surprise and had a fancy invitation sent to our room, aka, pretend it was left on her pillow while we were out. This being from Cinderella directly inviting her to the castle for breakfast the next morning. Kids Birthdays at WDW are the best:)
 
1) Figure out which week we'll be there
2) Determine how many days we want to be in each park
3) Check out touringplans.com and easywdw.com to help figure out best park days
4) Set park schedule
5) @180 days Make dining reservations
6) @60 days Make FP+ reservations

Dan

This is basically how we plan as well except that we don't always use a crowd calendar type site to pick our days. We generally go during low/moderate crowd times so we will sometimes use a crowd calendar just to double check our plans and make minor tweaks.
 
1) Figure out which week we'll be there
2) Determine how many days we want to be in each park
3) Check out touringplans.com and easywdw.com to help figure out best park days
4) Set park schedule
5) @180 days Make dining reservations
6) @60 days Make FP+ reservations

Dan

THIS ... exactly.

My daughter loved Epcot on our first trip (I think she was 6), and she still loves it (at 13). We took the advice of some guidebooks and went with Epcot for our first day. It's funny - it almost always works out to be our first day. At any rate, if you do Epcot first, they haven't seen the MK yet, and are more accepting and excited about what Epcot has to offer.
 
Epcot was our daughter's very first park as well. It probably helped her love it, heh
 
I choose which parks to visit on each day based on crowd calendars from TouringPlans. Then I choose my ADRs. Lastly, FPs. After everything is set, I write a step-by-step plan including what time we'll wake up, where we'll eat, and all of our FPs so I can double-check that we've got enough sleep and rest built in for our kids. (I even choose exactly which counter service places we'll stop at. That way I can make sure our diet can stay varied rather than burgers and fries over and over again. I like to avoid that greasy feel you get by the end of a week of eating out!) I pay for a yearly subscription to Touring Plans and they plan my days for me based on short lines. I could never plan a trip without them. I've got kids around your kids ages and they don't get bored during a full day at Epcot. In fact, we did 1.5 days there last time and are repeating the same on our upcoming trip.
 
My son and niece have always loved EPCOT from the time they were 3&4 to now at 11&12. However I actually do think it's a great idea for the whole family to start at EPCOT, especially on a first trip because you can enjoy & appreciate it for what it is without feeling like you're missing certain rides etc. It's not the Magic Kingdom but has a lot to offer even younger kids. Many previous posters have listed great ideas for you and I really think this would be a magical first day for you. The ONLY exception MIGHT be if this is during Food & Wine on a weekend. I haven't had any issues but I know some people say it can be a bit too much of adult over indulgence. Even if it is a weekend day you could probably avoid any negative effects of that by touring the world showcase after breakfast in the earlier part of the day before the masses decend on the Food & WINE. I would also consider the Halloween party as it features probably the best fireworks and parade that Disney offers IMO
 
For sure read easywdw blog. For resorts (POR is awesome in my book), best days to go and touring plans.

From there book six days and decide on park hoppers or not. I would recommend park hoppers. Perhaps keep the ADRs to a minimum for the first trip.

Once you know the number of days and actual dates you can look at Easywdw for best parks for each given day. (Some parks are better on Monday then Tuesday for example).

I would plan on something roughly like:

2 MK days
2 Epcot Days
1 DHS day
1 AK Day

You can mix this up a bit with hoppers. However I would suggest two full days in MK without hopping. Other than that. With hoppers you can consider:

2.5 days in MK (Three rope drops with two full days and then hopping to Epcot
1.5 Days in Epcot (One rope drop and one hop from MK).

For the above split day you can Rope Drop MK without FP+ and arrive in Epcot with FP+

1 DHS day and try and watch Fantasmic (However DL version is IMO better)...

1 Day in AK that will likely end around 4 or 5. The you can either hop to another park of your choice. Or return to POR and take boat to DTD (Which is a tad overrated in my book. But if you are staying in POR the boat ride is convenient and fun.)

We often add a day to the ticket and rope drop AK for three hours and leave at noon for the airport on the last day

Once you do this book your ADRs and then at 60 days book FP+

ADRs are best IMO at Epcot because of the variety of table service restaurants. Great Counter Service Choices exist here. SO ADR or no ADR you are going to eat fine...

DHS ADRs (I like at least one ADR a day because the counter service food is just OK.)

AK has the Flame Tree BBQ counter service and that is always my choice there. But an ADR would be nice to help fill out the day....

For me I wont let an ADR sink my touring plans. Happy to change them up.
 
We base ours off of any special events within the park (halloween/christmas party, bands at food&wine or garden festival).
If any of these events are happening during our visit, we base things off of that.
For food & wine festival, we refuse to go on weekends, so that helps.

If none of the special events are going on then we plan based on food :D

If you have a hard ticket event (like the halloween or christmas parties), I tend to not even schedule the day to visit MK cause we usually have plenty of time during the event :) This is done during short vacations though.
We don't follow crowd calendars.

Granted, it's just DH and myself, no kids.
If dining is an important part to your family, then base your plan off of that :) No worries about starting at MK, you don't have to (unless you or anyone in your family MUST do it lol) :)
 
When we travel, weare a family of three: me, DH, and DD now 13. We have been taking DD to the World since she was five.
I'm a little OCD when it comes to planning but it works for us.
1. I check airfare for around the time I know I want to go. We fly JetBlue, they have non-stop, assigned seating, and I have my choice of two local airports. I could fly SouthWest which is usually a few dollars cheaper but I don't fly well and not having an assigned seat, that I have selected, makes me anxious. If I end up on a flight in a row beyond 12 or so, it's not going to be pretty. I find fares I like, flight times I like (we almost always do first flight down, last flight home), and make sure they have seats I want and I book it (unless fares are outrageous then I will keep checking).
2. Based on what I see for flights, I book my resort especially if there is a special going on as rooms at that rate are limited. When I booked our upcoming trip, I was debating which resort. I finally decided AKL CL and booked it with the spring special. When I went back on a couple of days later, that room level was no longer an option.
3. I then look at EMH. We have always been ones to be at morning rope drop for EMH. And select my park days (I've never used a crowd calendar and only once did we leave a park due to crowds. I did not realize they were taping the Christmas parade that day in MK.)
4. I book my ADRs based on which parks we will be in. If there is a ressie I absol have to have (DD and Chef Mickey) I might have to shuffle park days to make it work.
5. I book my FPs.
As for Epcot - DD has always loved it there even at 5. We do all the rides, order depends on wait times and which FPs we have. She loves the Kid Spots in each country and we bought her a passport when she was younger that she would get stamped in each country. She loves to take in all the shows in each country though she was bored to tears with the movies. She loved the characters that were available there and often only there, Marie, Belle in the blue dress... With much shorter lines but you need to know the schedule.
Whatever you decide - relax and enjoy your trip.
 

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