First timer: Can you OVER plan? How to balance


Seebee :slight_smile: your post made me giggle. I have definitely researched the fast passes and understand it, but is there a trick to refreshing? I cant imagine theres a way to “practice” refreshing before youre actually in that moment. Are you referring to literally refreshing in the app or is there some special refresh button I need to know about?

Luckily my husband is an amazing toddler rangler! Not so much a planner. He sits with me while I plan and high-fives me when I plan a new piece to the puzzle.

I feel pretty good about ADRs and I did schedule the dessert party. I also scheduled BOG before park opening to get a head start one day. Knowing my fam, my plan is to be early risers, pool/nap break around lunch, then back to the park. I love convenience and am wiling to pay to NOT find a spot for fireworks bc my 2 kids would drive everyone around them crazy. Another reason Ive researched the fast passes and rider switch- cutting back on waiting time is crucial! Other than AK and epcot having tiers and picking the additional fast passes as soon as you use your 3rd, any other fast pass tricks to pass along? Id like to itizlize the rider switch/fast pass combo since my 4 yr old wont ride certain rides but it seems like a daunting task to figure out hiw to pick them using that strategy.


Pod- I am so bummed about EMM! I was excited about it but Ive been getting the vibe its not happening as well. I will continue to check! I scheduled a BE Our Guest breakfast before park opening on the Subday I had hoped EMM would happen, so that’s our “back up” plan for that morning.

We are staying at French Quarter! (I liked the one bus stop and smaller feel for my kiddos). Monorail looks awesome and we hope to do Deluxe in a few years when we come back. We have a 9 month old daughter who will be staying with grandparents for this trip and we plan to come back for everytning PRINCESS for her once she’s older. How do you feel about French Quarter?


There’s no trick, just keep modifying as the pool of what’s available is constantly changing.

Good advice here.


We have never stayed at POFQ but it seems to have a good reputation. We stayed off-site in Marriott condo resorts for a few years, then OKW, then said “oh to heck with it” and have been at an EPCOT resort for the last couple of visits because we got tired of the transportation issues.

But except for me my family is not comprised of early risers. A midday break wouldn’t be feasible due to the time spent on the buses. We will close the place down, though.


POFQ is wonderful! It’s centrally located, only has 1 bus stop, even the furthest rooms are really close to everything, the pool is fun and I hear the splash pad is great for littles, they have beignets all day, plus boozy beignets in the bar. I absolutely love it. And it’s a 10 minute walk to Riverside and you can use all their facilities including the pools. And there’s the boat to Disney Springs.


You’re essentially hopping to the same park if you’re taking a mid day break at the hotel.

Hoppers might allow you to piece together the parks like a jigsaw puzzle. So - just an example: If you do emh at MK in the am, bug out for a break, then you can go to a diff park for fastpassses and light night “tour” and take in the fireworks there, especially if emh at the am park makes the crowds crazy, and the night park crowds are low. Just food for thought. You’re still hopping as it is, you’re just going back to the same park you started in.


I haven’t read the whole thread yet, so I may be re-stating what someone has already covered, but for me it boils down to “only plan to the level of detail your family needs” and “plans are worthless; planning is everything”.

For us, I knew that if we didn’t have a good plan we would spend a lot of time looking at maps or rushing around stressed out. That would make me angry and short-tempered and would exacerbate DS7’s crowd anxieties and attention-seeking behaviors and we’d all be miserable. So I spent an obscene amount of time planning our trip, whereas other families could probably get by with picking a handful of rides they want to see and then loosely following the touring plan.

If you’re like me and need to plan to a level of detail that most people find excruciating, then read on. If your family would be more comfortable playing some things by ear then consider yourself lucky, stop reading here, make a touring plan, optimize it, and go enjoy the sunshine :slight_smile:

There are 3 types of knowledge:

  1. Things you know,
  2. Things you know you don’t know,
  3. Things you don’t know you don’t know.

My goal, when planning something new, is to start by attacking bucket #3 and moving things into bucket #2. I have a hard time making decisions when I don’t understand the consequences of each choice, so the better I understand the limits of my knowledge the better I can start building that knowledge.

So, I started out with a lot of research and note taking. For instance, I created an electronic notebook and started reading ride reviews, and for each ride I typed out a short summary in my own words (because writing things down helps commit them to memory). I included a link to the review and a link to the “wait times” page for the day I’d be there so that I could quickly get back to that stuff.

I started perusing this forum and other Disney sites and listening to podcasts. My goal was just to passively soak up information. It was all a bit overwhelming at that point, but eventually I started to learn that there are strategies for getting on popular rides (rope drop, PPO ADRs), strategies for avoiding crowds (go early, midday break, come back), strategies for maximizing FP+ through day-of bonus passes, etc. That was stuff going from bucket #3 into #2.

Then I started researching the things we cared about most in more detail, moving them from bucket #2 into #1.

Finally I started a touring plan, letting it optimize a path for me. But since we were going to be using the disability card, I started making all sorts of manual tweaks. I had maps of the park open, and as I built up the touring plan I visualized the path we’d walk.

Then I iterated on that about a bazillion times. (Seriously, I probably spent hours of my life just waiting for the plan to refresh after changes, not to mention actually making those changes) I’d write down a version of the plan in posts here or in emails to my wife. Then I’d think about it, trying to imagine the day playing out, and I’d clone the touring plan and make changes. Then I’d talk through that plan in comparison to the first. (Often I was just talking to myself in my head, because no one in my family is a planner and their eyes had long since glazed over)

After lots and lots of tweaks I finally felt comfortable. I had a plan that I could visualize in my mind. I had backup plans. I knew how to revise the plan on the fly in the mobile app.

Neither of our days went entirely according to plan, but I always felt in control. I knew where we were without needing a map. I knew what we could skip to “get caught up” and where we would enjoy spending additional time if we had it.

It’s very possible that my Type-A, OCD nature let me go a bit overboard. You may not need to spend quite so much time obsessing over the plan as I did. But definitely plan to the point that you can imagine life throwing you an unexpected curve ball and feeling comfortable that you’d know how to roll with it.


We will be checking in at POFQ in 22 days!!!


The “trick” for hunting when you’re hunting day of has a few folds:

  1. When you tap in for a fastpass, you can immediately start thinking about the next. Perhaps you are crushing it and everything is going great for time. Maybe you’d like to modify your next fastpass to an earlier time slot. Ditto for extra fastpasses. If you score a 4th fp, start hunting for a 5th as soon as you tap in for that 4th. Once you score, modify for something better if what you scored is not ideal.

  2. KNOW what fp you want. Pounce. Modify after. Don’t hesitate, just grab.

  3. If you aren’t having luck trying to get 4 ppl then try for sets if 2 with overlapping times. You can still tap in together during the overlap.

  4. Keep refreshing (checking different but similar time slots.) If you give up, you’ll get nothing. The hubby has to keep the kids occupied, while you attack your phone, and mad refresh every second and hunt.

The thrill of success…you’ll do some fist pumps, i guarantee it.

You have to keep refreshing, checking times like crazy.


Make sure you carry portable charger for the phone if FP hunting is on the agenda. :grinning: Fuel Rods brand seem popular if you don’t already have one. They sell them at the park, I believe.


Excellent point. The florida sun makes you turn the brightness up, killing tge battery. Have the charger ready to rock, and plug the phone in when you’re not using it. We have a dedicated pocket for phone and charger in our slings. Great point.


3 flavours!


It astonishes me that this is true, yet I’m sure that it is.

One of my students has been to Disney World many times (two or three times this year alone) and her mother is an expert planner of many of those trips.

Yet when I showed her my plans for my trip in 10 days time, there were lots of things she didn’t know. For example, she’d never heard of DAH. She’d never ridden FOP because the lines were too long. (I’ve ridden it four times and never in the SB line.) I’m not even sure she knew what MVMCP is: she certainly didn’t know about the Candlelight Processional.

This. A thousand times this.

You’re clearly insane. Which I find enormously relieving because much of what you describe is exactly what I’ve done in the past. For my first trip, it wasn’t enough to have a master spreadsheet in 15 min intervals, I annotated maps of the parks with times and routes and then did “walk throughs” to make sure they made sense. And I had a master list of all the attractions at each park, ranked by desirability.

This whole post gets it exactly right. And the part in bold is key.

Time spent in planning gives you the freedom to be spontaneous. You know what your priorities are, you know where everything is, you know how to get to it. If something knocks you off track, it doesn’t matter. You are the master of the parks.


I wouldn’t say I overplan an much as just researching different activities everywhere. Then to give myself a better idea of what is a reasonable expectation I use the touring plan and make sure to have a 3-4 hour midday break in case it’s needed. Our first trip it turned into a good balance of having some idea of things to do in the morning before FP times. If we decided to sleep in a bit no big deal cause we didn’t miss the FP I woke up waaaay too early to reserve. Mid days DH usually wanted a nap and DD8 wanted to go back to the parks or hop to another. I hadn’t planned anything in particular so she got to have her opinions, wanna walk around World Showcase again alright your leading lol. DH would either meet us later or we came back to him still snoozing.


I’d also add it’s important that you know the height restrictions of rides and your kids heights so there aren’t any surprises. And if you have been to a theme park or carnival so you know if your kids are thrill seekers or prefer tamer attractions. It can throw a wrench in your plans if you get there and didn’t know your 7 year old hates roller coasters for instance.


I concur with I think all of the above replies. Here are a few extra thoughts. Except your DS4’s favorite things to be stuff you can pretty much do anywhere. While my DD5 enjoyed lots of rides and meeting characters, her favorite things were swimming, playing in the sand and the carousel. I’d take a buggy too even if DS4 hasn’t used one in years, you don’t have to use it during the day but it’s priceless in the evenings and when leaving a park after a long day. I’m assuming you are coming from within the USA, the hastings in your name made me wonder, do you have a time difference?


My first trip back since high school, I did over plan. I am definately a “plan so things are easier when you are actually there” person, but what I did went beyond that.

Because WDW was such a magical place in my childhood and adolescence, I drank in everything on lines and somehow thought I could (and should) do it all. This made me anxious, as did the drive to get it perfect.

So if you find yourself getting anxious, you are over planning! Remember, WDW is like an anion with many layers. This trip is only the first layer. Use planning to pick the “must do” experiences and rides, so if things go sideways, you know your priorities. Good luck!


So much yes to all of this.

I struggle with navigation, and while I understand that the TP optimizes the order of attractions based on wait times, I knew that if I was zig-zagging and navigating all over we would be frustrated and wasting time. For me, it was best to reorder the attractions in my TP geographically. I kept a map of the park open in one tab while I ordered attractions in another tab. It also helped me to put the layout of the parks to memory. I repeatedly watched multiple walk-through videos of the parks on YouTube, often muted on 2X speed, just so park navigation would be more familiar to me.


You can select “minimize walking” and it will do this for you. Just a tip for future use.


Minimize walking doesn’t order attractions as specifically as I wanted them ordered. I used minimize walking and the fast walker settings both. I was really happy with the way the TPs worked out for us.