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
There are 3 types of knowledge:
- Things you know,
- Things you know you don’t know,
- 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.