Planning a Disney Vacation Today Rivals a Full-Time Job

Let the Magic Begin, but Leigh wonders if there will be any spontaneity in the vacation with all the pre-Disney trip planning that is needed these days.
Let the Magic Begin, but Leigh wonders if there will be any spontaneity in the vacation with all the pre-Disney trip planning that is needed these days.

Planning a trip to Disney World is like having a full-time job these days.  Seriously! 

After I select a hotel, then I just want to be done with it and have everything fall into place. 

But noooo!!!  That would be too easy.  

These days you have to decide if you want to eat Mexican food on a Tuesday, a whole 180 days before that date is in front of you.  How do you know that you want Mexican on that Tuesday? What if you wake up wanting Italian that Tuesday?  And heaven forbid if you decide to go to Disney on a whim, say like a month in advance. You may be eating in Epcot’s Germany every night or at 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon.

Not that there is anything wrong with food in Germany.  But a person can take only so many pretzels and bratwursts. 

I jokingly say this about the restaurant in Germany because as I keep checking the dining reservations this week, the Biergarten Restaurant in Epcot always has openings at every time of the day, even for the next day.  Boy, Disney must be able to pack them in for that buffet. 

I wonder if Walt would like it that today’s Disney guests are so wrapped up in the planning of their Disney vacation by scheduling almost everything these days, even down to their bathroom breaks.

Where’s the spontaneity in that magic? 

My husband loves to tell me the story about the time his family went to Disney World in the early ’70s. His Dad drove up to the Polynesian (this was the time long before it was priced at more than $650 per night) and went inside the hotel while the family stayed in the car. 

My father-in-law came out and immediately gave a “two thumbs up” sign to his family. 

The Polynesian had a room.  Their spontaneous Disney magic was about to begin. They ate when they were hungry. They rode rides when they wanted. They lived in the “Disney magic” moment.  Nothing was planned like it is today. 

No one can even fathom going to Disney World now without a hotel reservation.  I wouldn’t do it. Well, hotels are extremely important to me, so I certainly wouldn’t do it.  Food is also important to me, so as soon as I knew we were going to Disney World, I got online to book my dining reservations like a million other people. 

Whether we are in the mood or not, we’ve got Mexican on Sunday, American cuisine on Monday, Norwegian royal dining on Tuesday, and Canadian steaks on Wednesday. 

We also were granted Disney Bands, which means even more preplanning.   I went online and customized our colors.  Cinderella blue for the Princess in our family, my son chose green, N.C. State red for Will, and I chose pink. 

These bands give us access to our room, park admission, dining plan, and Fastpass options.  I’ve now learned that we can even schedule a Fastpass for some rides before our arrival.  

Talk about giving me a planning headache. I went online to plan our time to visit the princess area in Magic Kingdom because we HAVE to see Cinderella.  If we don’t do anything but stand in line the whole time, we’ve got to see Cinderella.  Of course, since we didn’t book our trip 180 days in advance, there was no chance eating in her castle, either. 

Like every mother of a preschool daughter, I put in a request to visit the Princess house in FantasyLand, and the website kept telling me there were no times available. 

Say what?  We skipped the Princesses on our last visit because my son had no interest. He was interested only in the Clubhouse gang.  This is our first Princess quest. 

I’m just hoping that this means that a Fastpass is not available for this Princess attraction, and we can see the Princesses.  It’s the only thing I wanted to schedule in advance because I didn’t want to schedule a Fastpass for the Space Mountain ride at 11 a.m. and still be on the other side of the park at that time. 

Gasp! We could even decide we are on vacation and take it easy in the morning. 

To me, a vacation is not spent running against a clock and a time schedule. 

But, the way Disney is these days, you almost have to do so. 

I miss the days of spontaneity. 

Find out if we see Cinderella, and follow me on Instagram

I wish everyone a very magical Thanksgiving. I will be back here with a new column on Dec. 4.