Need advice about staying calm about Disneyland planning

This is mostly just a vent, so I’m looking mostly for consoling words.

So my niece (18) and my SIL are visiting next week, and I, the resident Disneyland expert, am taking them for two days (8/22 and 8/23) at the parks, and I’m getting anxious about making sure they have a great time, because this is a once-every-10-years type trip for them. I’ve been researching my itinerary for literally weeks, and I think I have a good handle on it, but it will also be hot while we’re there (88 and 84, respectively), and potentially pretty crowded on the first day (8 and 5, respectively), thanks to the D23 Expo.

Despite all the best laid plans, it’s bound to be exhausting. We’re rope dropping both days (I have to wake up at 5:30am each day to make sure I’m awake enough to drive at 6:30am…I’ve been getting up at 6am daily in preparation), and staying until WoC and fireworks, respectively. I’m hoping that having them with me is going to energize me, and I’ve told them that I may need to slink off for a nap somewhere, but I’m still worried that I’m going to be overwhelmed with being Magic Coordinator on a crowded hot, and incredibly loooong, day.

I’m prepared for just about everything. We will have frozen water, plenty of snacks, and I know where all the best air conditioning/napping places are. My itinerary is more rigid in the morning while lines are short, and a lot more flexible and room for plenty of breaks as it gets hotter and we potentially get more tired.

I seriously have all bases covered, even making egg muffins and regular muffins so we can eat breakfast on the road. So how do I get rid of this pressure I’m putting on myself? The first thing that comes to mind is, no matter what, pretend to be calm, even if I’m not, because most likely everything will be fine and we’ll have an amazing time. And my husband says, that even if my niece and SIL had to bumble around the parks without a plan, they’d still have a great time, so me organizing everything will let them be able to relax and enjoy even more (and they’ll most likely get to ride all their chosen rides too, if my plan goes accordingly). And the reason I do all this planning is so that I, too, can relax and just follow the map I’ve laid out for the parks. So maybe that’s my plan. I can stress all I want right now about making sure all my ducks are in a row, but as soon as I pick them up from the airport, the stressing stops, I’ve done all I can, the rest is up to the Disneyland gods, and I should just focus on enjoying myself and the company of my family. :slight_smile:

But if anyone else has any words of wisdom, go for it. :smiley:

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THIS ^^^
You are obviously doing a great job with this and will be able to roll with any punches. They will have a great time. You will have a great time. And even if everything doesn’t pan out “perfectly” according to plan, it will still be a great time. So as long as you are enjoying planning, go for it, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself!


Get Maxpass. Basically adds 10% to the cost but is worth it. We went yesterday and used 6 Fastpasses over 10 hours.

But learn how to use Maxpass in advance; it is rather unintuitive. For instance, on the DL app you select FP rides under “My Plans”, not “Tickets and Passes”. Also, when you get a FP, the app will tell you when you are eligible for the next one. But you will have to remember this time, because the app doesn’t list it anywhere else. (I think it used to).

Take the crowd calculators and line estimates with a grain of salt. I think Touring Plans must average the crowds over the entire park; Galaxy’s edge was a bit of a ghostland which I guess brings down their crowd estimate, but the rest of the park I would have called a 7. They called it a 5. Also note that you are quoting their average for both DL and CA. If you are looking at just DL on those days the estimates are 7/6 not 8/5. I would still plan on higher crowds anyway, hence Maxpass is essential IMO.

For the line estimates, I think an eyes-on estimate is better than either DL or Touring Plan’s estimate. Trust your instincts on that, I would say. If the estimate is ten minutes, but you see a long line, don’t assume the estimate is accurate. Again, I think that averaging over the whole day is what allows Touring Plans to claim they are so accurate. They often aren’t.

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Your SIL and niece are so lucky to have you as their Magic Coordinator! Those are some incredible details you’ve planned in advance and I am 100% positive that your research/time/worries now are all going to pay off in the long run!

Those are definitely some long days but your plan to be in cooler/more relaxing areas during the hottest parts of the day will definitely help! Even if it’s just with your own snacks, frozen water and each other in a shady out of the way spot can be re-energizing. And I think your joy of seeing them experience this once-in-a-10-year experience will help with that energy as well.

And then as for any advice… don’t be afraid to go off plan or worry that things are going off track from the plan you’ve laid out. You’re an expert who’s got an incredibly detailed plan and that gives you the wherewithal to change things as we all know in Disneyland things are so subject to change & last minute unexpected differences. And having a plan I have found has always allowed me to stay more flexible & to adjust for & allow spontaneous moments to happen that are a huge part of the magic of Disneyland.

Actually, I LOVE the planning aspect, so this is, for the most part, very fun for me. I think I just got a little nervous because they wanted to do things that I didn’t know anything about, like character interactions and shows (I am now very well versed in these things, ha!). I was hoping to just plunk everything into TP and have it spit out our itinerary, but for the most part I had to create a custom plan by hand (but still used TP for a TON of my research).

Thanks for the encouragement!


Welcome to the world of forum posting!

MaxPass is great advice if in budget. As for the time you are eligible for the next one: I do believe you can click under “Important Details” and that will pull up the time you are next eligible for a FastPass. We don’t purchase MaxPass for our passes but the one-off times we’ve had it that’s where it’s been and I believe even when we pull paper FPs from the kiosks that information is visible on the app still by clicking on “Important Details” from the FP screen (not the Redeem FP screen that has the code, but the screen before that) that lists the ride, FP window and guests and then after at the very bottom says “Important Details” that you have to click on to see & it then filters down to show the time the people on the FP are next eligible for a FP.

Great advice also to eyeball the lines! Because yes, I find that TP line estimates in a plan are pretty much always low, I think a lot of their issues are related to the fact that they use historical data & in the last couple of years DL has seen a lot of changes to their annual pass holder structures that affects the trends of crowds as well as an increase of crowds so it makes the historical data less useful.

Oh yes, I’m buying everyone Maxpass and am very familiar with it. And I’m even treating them to advanced-purchase Park Hoppers (instead of the annual pass holders half-off special going on right now–which is actually the reason they planned the trip–because you can only get the discount tickets from the ticket booths on the day of the visit, so no way I’m adding another 30 minute wait to our schedule just for tickets).

I agree with the crowd and line estimates. Personally, I’ve been to the parks a lot lately and they always seem busy no matter what TP says. And, yeah, we’re doing CAA on the first day, which is an 8 and DL the second day which I think is a 6 (we’re doing that order to avoid the EE/MM folks). As for lines, basically, I’m going by tried and true observations: The first 2 hours has the shortest lines, get Fast Passes where possible, ride during meal times, water rides will be longest when it’s hottest, etc. I’ve also been looking at line patterns over the course of the day, but I know that we will have to suck it up and just wait sometimes, which is fine. I had my niece prioritize her ride and character requests so that we’ll have plenty of time to get her favorites done, and then we start chiseling away at her second choices.

Eyeballing a line is sometimes difficult cause you can’t always tell if they’ve opened their auxiliary queues, which are often out of sight. I think I’m comfortable enough with the posted DL times, and when in doubt, I’ll ask the CM at the entrance and they’ll usually confirm or deny as much as they can. :slight_smile:

Your exactly right about flexibility. It’s pretty much my niece’s reward trip for having not missed a day of school all year, so she calls the shots if we are to deviate from the plan. Since she wants to do character interactions, she has the option to pause the itinerary and go greet a character if she sees a random one walking around that she really wants to meet.

And I’ve built my plan to where if there’s a delay, everything gets pushed back. The lower priority rides are at the end of the itinerary, so if they fall off entirely, it’s not a big deal, because all the favorites got done earlier in the day.

My niece and SIL get a kick out of watching me trying to hack the DL system (I text them almost daily with packing tips, my favorite being to bring light flip flops to wear on water rides so your shoes don’t get soaked). :smiley: But, no, I have no intention of running a totally strict itinerary. I don’t want to be one of those people. :smiley:

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Good point. As we try to game the DL system, they game ours too. :smiley:

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You’ve SO got this! I also plan all the lower priority rides at the end of the day/trip and on this last trip got really organized and made a Must-Do list, Nice to Have list & If There’s Time list. By the time we got to our last morning in the park before driving home, we only had If There’s Time left un-done & since they were lower priority, decided instead to repeat favorites from the Must-Do’s rather than focus on that list. It was a nice trade-off and amazing to have the option. And it sounds like you’ve totally got that same plan going!

I hope you all have an amazing time celebrating your niece’s spectacular accomplishment and I hope you report back on how the plan goes!!!

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I am feeling the pressure as well. We’re taking my oldest back to college (in Redlands) and spending a few days at DLR first. We’re bringing three of her high school besties who have never been. I really want them to have a good time and I think I’m a little worried they’ll be turned off by long lines and crowds and not feel the magic. We’re having a planning meeting next week to discuss, among other things, what types of rides, shows, and attractions are most important to them. Besides SWGE which is the big draw for at least two of them. Sounds like you will have an amazing time. We’ll be right behind you the week after you’re there. :):smile:

Good luck, Julianne! With college kids, I imagine you’ll have a lot of E Ticket rides to organize :cold_sweat: Luckily my niece doesn’t do roller coasters, which eliminated a lot of that, but since she wants to do a lot of character interactions, I had a whole new challenge to figure out. I love these forums. I’ve gotten so many wonderful pro tips!

Yes, definitely, if Must Do’s want to be repeated and Would Like To Do’s sacrificed, that’s totally an option. I think part of my stress is that I’m determined to do everything on their list. And, personally, I think we can, but unexpected circumstances might slow us down, and that unknown part is what’s bugging me (but that’s just the control freak in me, ha!). I should’ve made them stay for THREE days :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

And, yes, I’ll try to remember to report back how it goes. I want to confirm that I was worried about nothing. :crazy_face:

Expect that something might go sideways despite your planning and try to have a sense of humor about it. They will have no idea. Just slip into the lounge at Carthay Circle if you need to restore your perspective. That fixes everything.

Ha! Very true, Marsha. My SIL asked me if I know where they have alcohol at the parks, and my response was, “Yes, and I know what time they all open” :smiley: We have the formerly-known-as Cove Bar scheduled for day one in CAA. Day two will be in DL, so we might have to check out Happy Hour at Tortilla Jo’s (not a fan of the Cantina) :smiley: But seriously, my family is absolutely amazing. They are so thankful that I’m putting them up and showing them around in the first place. And Auntie D (me) is known for having a great sense of humor, so I will be sure to entertain if DL fails in any way. :smiley: I think the highlight will be when I pull out my plastic rain shorts (which are cheap clear rain pants that I’ve cut into shorts so I don’t get my shorts/underwear wet on water rides, but so the rest of me can get wet cuz it’s going to be hot). I’m sure I will be batting their phones out of their hands as they desperately try to take pictures. :smiley:


My best advise is once you get through the turnstiles is to try to relax as much as possible. Your relatives probably don’t realize all the time and effort you have put into planning, but they will notice that you are stressed the day of. It is such a shame that all this effort has to be done. To be honest, our family goes to DLR once a year in October (not on a week end) and I’ll plan is the hotel, one ADR, and using MaxPass. I think as of now you’ve done all you can, and just concentrate on having a good time with your family.

Plan to the max with proper breaks. Then just relax qith whatever hsppens.

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I really hope you have time after to write a trip report. It sounds like the three of you will have so much fun. And I hope they get pics of your rain shorts! #sorrynotsorry :grin:

Exactly. I decided that basically that on the way to the airport to pick them up, all stressing stops. I have a good plan made with a lot of flexibility and we should have a great time. Thanks to everyone in these forums who’s given me amazing pro tips that I never would’ve figured out on my own, and thanks for all the emotional support too! It’s amazing how Disneyland can make a lot of us feel so…desperate. :astonished::stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: I guess I need to build more magic into my everyday life so I don’t pin all my hopes and dreams on a very expensive theme park. :thinking:

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Ha! Maybe I will get a picture of the shorts. I hope they work. I want all of me to get wet except my shorts and undercrackers, cuz it’s so uncomfortable walking! My niece and SIL will be doing garbage bag skirts for the same purpose, so maybe we’ll get a group pic. :laughing:

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