Regular readers will know that, over the weekend, I somewhat impetuously booked a trip to WDW for next July. With only 275 days to go, the planning starts now.
The first step is probably to think about what my goals for the trip are. Unfortunately that’s now what I spent last night doing. Instead I put a simple grid together. Unlike my usual, detailed 15-min daily breakdown, this grid simply had: park, breakfast/lunch, dinner, FPPs.
You can’t really get started on your planning until you’ve allocated parks to days. How will you know where you’re going to eat and what rides you’ll want FPPs for until you know where you’re actually going to be.
Most of the choices of park-to-day are arbitrary, but a starting point is to look at crowd calendars. I’m not a huge fan of these. I don’t really understand them (what’s a 6 compared with a 4?) and I don’t really trust them. If you subscribe to the TP updates, you’ll get a number of changes to the crowd predictions, which as often as not will mean your allocation of park to day is now hopelessly wrong.
But it’s a start.
Another way to proceed is to look for things that don’t happen every day. For example, next year I’d like to try the brunch at CG. Since this is only on a Sunday, that places me near MK on a Sunday. As it happens, I have rather different ideas about what I’m going to do after brunch, but you can see how this might work.
Perhaps before all this you need to think about how many days in each park. I have eight full days, plus arrival day and departure day. My flight arrives at about 4pm, so I may not get to my hotel much before — what? — 8pm, so I think I’m just going to go straight to the hotel and stay there. I’m staying at Pop — I’ve never been there before and I figure there’ll be plenty to explore to fill my first evening. There might even be a chance to walk round the lake and visit AOA. My flight leaves at around 8pm on departure day, so I’ll have maybe five hours of park time before I leave.
My initial thoughts were: 2 days MK, 2 days AK, 2 days Epcot, 2 days UOR and 1 day DHS. (I only have 8½ days, but you get the picture.)
I started to worry a little about how I’m going to fill the time. For example: two days at AK? Days are long and I’ve done most of the attractions before. But one benefit of two days is two sets of FPPs: so six rides with short lines and, at parks with FPP restrictions (like AK), you can have (for example) both FOP and Na’vi. Two days also gives you one day as insurance if the first day is rained off.
I’ve tried to keep costs low, but I did, perhaps naughtily, sign up for the deluxe dining plan. That’s 27 table credits to spend in ten days. Most days I figure a big breakfast, a couple of snacks, and dinner will be enough, so that implies signature restaurants are very much on the menu.
My choice of restaurants has allowed for some creativity. For example, for my two UOR days I’m going to have breakfast at WDW first — thus saving some expense at UOR. Which brings me back to brunch at CG. From there I’ll head off to UOR.
Also I enjoyed the character breakfasts I did this year and a few of these are in hotels. So one of my Epcot days will start at the Poly, where I’ll have breakfast at Ohana. One of my MK days starts with breakfast at 1900PF at the GF.
Turning to FPPs, these can help decided the allocation of parks to days. Both FOP and SDD are premium FPPs. I’ll have booking at 60+9, so I’ve pushed (at least) one of my AK and DHS days later in the trip to give me the greatest chance of getting the FPPs I want at the times I want.
After a few hours I had a first iteration of the plan.
I decided to top-and-tail with MK. So Day 1 starts with lunch at CRT, and ends with dinner at AP: a short walk and boat ride away from MK. Day 8 starts with breakfast at 1900PF and ends with dinner at BOG.
I thought I’d keep departure day simple: I’m going to AK — an early FOP, followed by lunch at Tiffins.
I have two more AK days scheduled: one is a full day that starts at Boma and ends at Jiko. The second is another short one: an early FOP followed by lunch at Satu’li, and then off to UOR. Altogether this gives me three bites at FOP / NRJ.
I’ve allocated a full day to Epcot, which will start at Ohana and end at Le Cellier. And then a mixed day: half Epcot, half DHS. Epcot will start with an early GG breakfast and then straight into the standby line for Soarin’. Then off to DHS for FPPs at SDD, TOT and RNR, with dinner at HBD.
That leaves one last day: half DHS (breakfast at H&V and a second bite at SDD) and half at Disney Springs.
There will be a temptation to book the dessert party for HEA on my last night, and the FEA dessert party to get the FPP for FEA and a good view of IllumiNations. This is strictly against my rules, but I’ll see how my finances look nearer the time.
So that’s the first iteration of the plan.