Those with YOUNG kids; did the touring plans work for you?

We were in WDW for 15 days in late November/early December.
My youngest was 12 months, along with our 4 year old, 17 year old stepdaughter, DH & I, plus my parents.
I did a touring plan for each day and we ended up scrapping everything 2 or 3 days in.

I found that some days we just couldn’t get them ready to be at the park early enough - or they didn’t want to ride a certain ride - or the baby needed a diaper - etc. etc. etc. (And yes, I chose the slowest walking pace).
Do those of you with really young kids find you really just need to go with the flow more?
Is there a certain age your children were when this just started to work for you guys?

I found myself constantly referring to the touring plan; trying to figure out where to restart; it just really didn’t end up working for us at all and I’m so bummed because I’m a total overplanner and I really enjoyed creating and tweaking them!

It’s a while (quite a while) since my children were that age but we always did RD and relied on the two day touring plans, rather than the one day options. That seemed to work for us and meant that we were ‘finished’ in time for an early lunch . We came back to the parks in the evenings, maybe only for an hour and were ‘free range’.

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For my 3 trips my son was 4, 5 and 7 years old and each time, every day, there was at least 1-2 things on the plan that we couldn’t do. I knew that was going to happen so I’d already decided what were the things I was OK with not doing. Also, we were lucky enough to have many days for each trip and so we were able to do everything we really wanted to do but no matter how much ‘‘extra’’ time I planned there were always stuff that would happen and time always went by faster than I’d hope for. But again I knew it was going to happen and we just rolled with the punches and accepted it. I know how you feel though. :slight_smile:

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The first year I used TP my youngest was 2 and there were 8 of us total. We had 4 kids and 4 adults. We followed the plan exactly and everything was PERFECT! When I made the plan I allowed for some of the unexpected to happen but we always arrived where we had to be on time. The second year I used TP we were a little more relaxed. Things totally fell apart. We arrived late to the park one day and we got more and more off track. My sister joined us for that trip and she wants to be more laid back which basically ruined the plans for us. I will be back in WDW in a little over a month and I am going back to using my specific plans.

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We went last April with DS7 and DS-11mo (at the time). Going back again in Feb. I make my touring plans and set the pace to very low (using the slider) and add in a bunch of breaks one 15-20 min break every 2 hours or so). This allows us to generally keep to our plan. We had to drop an attraction here or there, but having those breaks scheduled gave us some buffer time to account for unexpected diaper changes, feedings, slowdowns, etc. If you don’t think you can make rope drop, don’t schedule it in, but still shoot for it. If you get there early, reoptimize in the park. I think the plans work well with young kids as long as you build in a lot of buffer into the plan.

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I was in WDW late November with a 13 months old and 3.5 y/o so similar situation as you. We had some of the same things come up … 3.5 y/o didn’t want to ride certain rides we had planned … diaper changes … etc. It’s frustrating when you a plan and then these things arise and through the plans off.

I ended up making adjustments on the fly to our Touring Plans based on whatever arose and cut out a number of rides/shows from my Touring Plan. I also adjusted the remaining days’ Touring Plans each night based on what did (or didn’t do) during the day.

I am very familiar with the layout of the parks and the general level of lines at each attraction at various times of day without looking anything up so I was able to adjust on the fly without spending much time on my phone or looking at maps. That helped a lot. Without that knowledge, adjustments would have been harder to make. I suspect next time it will be easier for you after having been through it already.

As for your question about whether there is a certain age of kids with which the plans worked better? Every kid is different, but I had similar type issues (except no diapers!) on a trip with my 3, 5 and 8 year old niece and nephews. Perhaps others can give you some insight with older kids.

We went in Dec. with a 3,5, and 7. We go to Six Flags and Great America all the time so I knew my kids’ tolerances for rides and they knew which rides they’d be sitting out. It was all baked into the Touring Plan. We did have a few hiccups here and there where we had to cut something out, but for the most part the plan was a very strong backbone and we improvised very small amounts.

That said, almost every day had some kind of flexible break, meal, or skippable activity. Our DHS day had a 2 hour in-park rest break in the middle (which we ended up using because we were behind schedule). Our AK days had a lot of time devoted to animal exhibits which we occasionally had to rush through to catch up. Our MK days had a lot of “in the next 3 hours, we’re going to try to do Pirates, Tiki, Jungle Cruise, and Aladdin based on FP and lines” and if we missed one, so be it. We had a lot of QS meals scheduled for 60 min and TS meals scheduled for 90 min which gave us time to catch up if we were behind.

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We went with DD4 and DD 9 months in August. Our MK touring plans worked pretty well because we had allocated 2 days to MK, splitting it by Fantasyland/Main Street Day 1, and everything else Day 2. There were at least 2-4 things at AK and Epcot we did not get to do because things just took longer than I’d planned, whether it was rides on my touring plan being down, unexpected stops to cool off, or unplanned snacks. Next time I will definitely use the plans, but build more frequent short breaks into the day.

I have a 7 year old, 4 year old and 11 month old. We are going in May and leaving the baby with grandparents because I can only imagine what it would be like changing diapers and all that with the youngest while trying to have some sort of plan! Parents who take the younger ones (diapers, bottles, constant feeds or needs) I am in awe of your patience! Poor thing @mandi524 , I can picture you trying to get back on track with the TP! I would be the same way! I’m no help, just wanted to say You’re awesome!

We have been 3 times and our TPs have been incredibly helpful. We have always arrived at the park on schedule but I would imagine a late arrival might throw things off a bit. We didn’t totally stick to every plan but I use TPs as more of a visual map and agenda to loosely follow. I too choose the slowest walking speed and bake in a couple of 15 minute breaks. That way I know what we can comfortably see/do without rushing our family through our vacation. Every park day we would end up with a good amount of free time to pick up random fast passes and jump on as many additional rides (bonus rides!) before heading out! The last time we were at MK, we spent the last 2 hours jumping from ride to ride - taking whatever the next available fast pass was. We must have ridden an extra 10 rides.

That’s my dream scenario!

If you mean “could you follow them as planned?” probably most will say no… but did they work… yes- if people don’t get up in time for rope drop, look at what the item is on the plan for time you do arrive- everything before that is scrapped and you move on from there. Or, you decide the initial items were more important so you scrap a few others and hit ‘optimize’ for the time you arrive… does that make sense? I am in awe of anyone trying to juggle that range of ages and still have fun, I have to say you should give yourself credit and don’t feel like anyone else would have done any “better” :slight_smile:

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They worked super well for me with my 2.5 yo niece. I think why they worked is because I knew them inside and out and had all the research to back it up. That put me in a position to swerve when needed and not feel completely off track. I did build in about 2 hours of flexible time into each plan which allowed for stuff to be off without totally breaking the entire TP.

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Thank you everyone for all of the advice!

I think my biggest problem is the need to do “everything” and I end up getting frustrated when we need to skip over something in the plans. It’s a personality flaw :rofl:
We’ve been to the parks many times before my boys were born and my stepdaughter was older and able to keep up. We were totally rope drop to 3am EMH people.

It is SO different with little kids but it was so amazing seeing it from their eyes for the first time; I wouldn’t change it for anything!

I think I just need to work on pacing ourselves better and going with the flow more.

I DID have lots of issues optimizing in the parks, I couldn’t figure out how to have the plan optimize from current time instead of plan start time. I need to play with the app more before we go next time.

In the lines app, at the very top of every plan, there’s a link that says “select plan”. When you press that, it sets that plan as the active one. Then you mark each attraction off as done when you finish it. Then when you optimize it will use your current time and attractions remaining. But the key is to hit that select plan link.


There are many of us with this “flaw”. Fortunately I had my wife there to keep reminding me that it was about having fun with what we experienced and not whether we experienced everything. And I learned the lesson about half way through the trip. I have started making touring plans for our next WDW trip and they involve more break and less attractions than my plans for the previous trip (which was the first one with our kids).

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We took a 2 year old and I feel the same way. We had a large break built into each day, so we used our FP pretty early in the day and we got several rides in at Rd as well. Between fp we did the smaller shows and things. Then in the evening, we usually had 1 more fp (more on the MK day) and a few short wait things.
Because we missed the most crowded parts of the day, our tp were shorter and less likely to get off. I usually rearranged a few things and had at least 1 ‘just skip it’ ride.

I honestly didn’t feel like I needed a touring plan back when our kids were only little. DH and I never cared about doing rides without them (like Rider Swap, etc.); we stuck together 100% of the time and would be there for rope drop and not leave until after nightly entertainment. That left a TON of hours to just focus on those rides that the kids would like. We’d never ride POTC or HM or Space Mtn., etc. We’d spend oodles of time on Tom Sawyer Island and re-ride Pooh and Splash and Buzz Lightyear.

Tips like eating off times and being there for rope drop and when to queue for parades, etc., was all we needed to glean from any tips and tricks.

I have no tolerance for slowly walking through the parks, though… I was all about strollers and moving them along.


Me too. Though I did I feel a little bad when my 3 year old asked to walk at MK … “No, hop in the stroller. We have a touring plan to keep up with.”