Me (over 50; two prior trips to WDW; many trips to Disneyland, including last October solo)
DS17 (one trip to WDW when he was in fourth grade, but he helped with a lot of the planning that time, as part of the educational plan I wrote for him to get him out of school for 8 days; two trips to Disneyland when he was 4).
I was working from home one day, and I said to my husband that I really wanted to go to Disney World. He said that I should. He has no interest, but I thought my DS17 would want to go. I looked at my vacation balance, my calendar at work, checked with my son’s baseball coach, and decided that late October would work best. My son plays baseball year round and September and October tend to be the best times to do something not baseball related. He is also in a GED program, so not tied to a regular school calendar. I booked at Caribbean Beach Resort later that day for October 22 to November 1. I purchased the Unofficial Guide that afternoon, after work. I joined Touring Plans, and looked at the Crowd Calendar, and looked into flights, because I wanted to use air miles. I decided it was all doable. I was thinking of keeping it a secret for a little while, but he saw me reading the book, and asked me a direct question. The secret was out.
I booked my flights soon after, using miles. I booked an overnight flight, because we come from Seattle, and there are two Alaska direct flights – one that leaves early in the morning and gets in around 4:00 pm, and one that leaves at 9:30 pm and gets in at 6:00 am. The last time we went, we were tired from flying, but we couldn’t go to sleep on our first night because of the 3-hour time change, and so I thought what better way to get on Florida time than to fly overnight, wear ourselves out in the parks, and get to bed early. So I booked it. Later that flight was canceled, but they had the same flight the night before, so I adjusted my dates, to October 21 to October 31.
Eventually I moved our resort to Pop Century to save a bit of money (to use on ADRs, of course). At a later date, I decided it was a stupid idea to leave on Halloween, so I added a night at All Star Sports, because I couldn’t get a room at Pop Century. Being persistent paid off, and ultimately, I was able to get a room at Pop for that night, and even later, I was able to add a night to my existing reservation. Yay! At this point, I made the official change to my flights, and we were all set.
Next, I looked at crowd calendars and roughly planned what parks which days. Then I started looking into Table Service so that I could be ready for my ADR day. We decided we wanted to focus on places we had not been before. The only repeat would be Yak & Yeti, because it was our favorite from our previous trip. And Mango Pie. Need I say more? There were too many I wanted to try. I narrowed it down to a decent list, over booked a little, and further narrowed as it got closer. I also eventually decided to add Coral Reef, a restaurant we had been to before, for sentimental reasons. I had been there both prior trips, my son treated me to lunch there on our prior trip on Mother’s Day, and the rumors of it possibly closing.
ADR day went well, and at that time, I purchased a pedometer, and set a goal to walk 10,000 steps 10 days in a row 10 times before the trip. That was a great way to set the goal for me, because there were a number of times that I might not have gotten to 10,000 steps if it wasn’t day 6 or 7. Having to start all over at day 1 was brutal, and I would do almost anything to avoid it. Spoiler alert: I reached the goal with 20 days to spare, despite having pneumonia in May. I was so glad I had done this training, because I was able to keep up with my son.
When they announced that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was opening before our trip, I considered cancelling for a while. I picked our dates to avoid huge crowds, and we are not big Star Wars fans. I decided to let it ride, and see how things were panning out, because I had enough time after it opened to still cancel before my 30-day payment date. Crowd level predictions for HS kept dropping, and the extra magic hours were a huge plus for me. I knew we could get up and take advantage of those, so I eventually decided to not cancel.
After ADR day, I mostly just followed the Lines Chat, the Forum, read trip reports, and read the Unofficial Guide to keep planning. At one point, I decided to do a Four Park Challenge. My son was totally on board with that, and I designed and printed t-shirts for us to wear that day. And before I knew it, it was FPP day. I was so glad to find the video demo of it on TP, and I also looked at the the DIBB Latest FastPass Plus Availability Report, to help me decide what to try for. FPP day went really well too. The only thing I didn’t get that I wanted (and I knew it was a long shot) was Seven Dwarfs Mine Train on day 1. I will include what I booked for each day in the “Plans” section of each day below, rather than provide that information here. I also planned more extras than I probably should have, but we did make good use of them all except a tour (which we ended up canceling during our trip).
About a week before our trip, I made a grocery order through Instacart. I ordered protein shakes, yogurt, cheese sticks, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, bananas, cheese its, bread, peanut butter, jam, and two 24 packs of water. I scheduled delivery for 1:00 -5:00, and the estimated time was 4:00. There was a $20 coupon, which I used, and the delivery was free. It was totally worth it, I found. I clearly over purchased, but we consumed all of the water, most of the protein shakes, most of the fruit, the cheese its, and some of the yogurt and cheese sticks. I brought powdered Diet Snapple packets, and filled the water bottles with those, so I would have caffeine in the morning that I could drink on the bus. We would also drink a protein shake early, and it would hold us until a later time in the day. DS17 also ate some of the cheese sticks and cheese its as late night snacks when he would get hungry.