Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Walt Disney World: Planning, Packing and More
Shhhh. I have a secret. We're going back to Walt Disney World.
I decided I needed some sun. Hubby decided he needed to hear the Epcot music. We both decided we will not tell our munchkins about this trip....yet.
We are advocates of telling kids when they are able to count down within reason. If we tell our kids too soon, they ask hundreds of thousands of questions and ask how long until we leave every. single. day.
It's rather exhausting.
While I have been to Disney every year since I can remember, I know most families are overwhelmed with planning the trip. Here, I want to outline how I prepare. It's nothing fancy, just some tried and true tricks that save us money and keep us sane.
The money jar is ongoing in our house, so there is no timeline for this little beauty. The money jar, simply put, is a jar of money. This jar is the home for all our lose change and dollar bills we have laying around at the end of the day.
It all goes into the jar.
When we have extra cash we toss in extra.
This jar usually adds up to $150-$300, depending on how long we have to save. If we don't do the meal plan, this money is used for our big vacation dinner. The one we plan with princesses or characters. We set this money aside for something we would cringe at paying with money from our checking account.
If we do the meal plan, this money helps pay some of the bill. It takes the edge off the price come payday.
Three Months Away or More
Make dining reservations. I cannot stress this enough, especially if you have the dining plan. Choose where you want to eat, and reserve your tables. If you wait too long to make reservations, you will be eating at 9pm with Chef Mickey.
Even worse, you won't be eating with Chef Mickey at all.
Do yourself a favor and take time to think about where you want to eat, and reserve your tables online. I have a separate folder in my email for all trip related confirmations.
Two Months Away
Around this time, I finalize plans. I buy park tickets (we stay in a timeshare so we do not purchase packages) and check park hours. I make an outline of what time each park opens and where our meals are for the day.
Remember my folder full of email confirmations? I make an itinerary with the tentative plans for every day of the trip. I list the day, what park we are going to, what time it opens, and any dining reservations WITH the confirmation number.
On my itinerary I also add flight information for beginning and end of stay, and hotel reservation confirmations.
This becomes our guide for the trip, and keeps us sane. Every night of the trip, Hubby asks where we are going the next day. He asks what time dinner is and what time we have to leave the villa.
Having an itinerary is essential for us to function at Disney World.
Disney's website has an excellent "My Disney Experience" tab that will keep track of your family, reservations, desired attractions and more. This is quite possibly my favorite planning feature on any website in the universe.
One to Two Months Away
Tell the kids. Make a calendar to countdown and get them excited. We watch Disney movies and share our "must do's" for the vacation.
On Disney's website there is a link for your kids to customize their own maps. You can search by park, and narrow down attractions by age and preference. These maps can be mailed right to your child (how exciting) or printed right from your own computer.
This is a great activity to keep your kids out of your hair while you prepare for the trip.
One Month Away
Shop. If your kids will be pin trading, check ebay for pin sales. While pins in Disney are $10/piece and up, you can buy sets online for a fraction of the price before the trip.
Every time I am at the supermarket, or Target, or Walmart I check for sales on dry goods we take on the trip. When cereal is on sale, I buy an extra box to set aside. I buy granola bars, fruit snacks and any other item that will travel well in a suitcase. I pack these items in tupperware to prevent crushing.
Even with the meal plan, you will need the extra snacks for breakfast or moments your kids cry they are starving. You will be thrilled for your small cooler of granola bars at the Magic Kingdom when you see you'll be paying $5.50 for a churro.
At the end of your vacation, your empty tupperware (and suitcase) will be perfect for souvenirs. You will thank me for the extra bag, I promise!
Lastly, keep your eyes open for sales on tees, flip flops and sunscreen. Purchase any items you'll need for the trip. Most importantly, buy plenty of gum and hand sanitizer. Gum is not sold in Disney (this helps keeps the parks clean) and hand sanitizer is a must for the parks!
Two Weeks Away
Give your plans a once over. Double check your itinerary. Cash in your money jar and start getting excited.
Two weeks away is when I start to pack. I make piles for every child, double checking there is enough underwear, shirts, shorts and socks.
Pack good walking shoes and a sweatshirt for chilly mornings if you are going during the winter months.
Pack your dried goods in a suitcase, and set it aside.
A Day or Two Before
Check in online, and help your kids count their money and budget their spending. Explain how much is in their wallet, and that they will need to only buy what they love because mommy and daddy's money is being spent on tickets and food.
Be clear. Be serious. Stick to the spending plan.
On vacation, keep their wallets with yours, and allow them to shop at the end of the day. If you don't make this rule, you will be wasting much time in gift shops.
Much, much time. Every ride dumps you into a shopping zone, I am warning you now.
Have a fabulous trip, and feel free to cruise my other posts for more information!
Shared by Jodie