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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Monday, February 20, 2012

Packing, Planning, and Purchasing--Being Prepared for a Walt Disney World Vacation

What gets me excited about a Disney vacation?  The husband would say “everything.”  He’s mostly right. (Don’t tell him I said that!)  Yet, there are a few specific things that I especially look forward to.

Packing—I know.  Most people would say “yuck” to this specific task, but I actually enjoy it.  I make a list and then cross off items as they go into the bags.  And, I even include which bags get which items.  For example, one of the carry-on bags will have swimsuits, so that we can swim at the resort upon arrival—if we want to do that—as it will take a few hours for our checked bags to arrive in our rooms from the airport.

We take 3 bags to check at the airport—one for each of us, 3 carry-on rolling bags, and 3 personal items.  The boy has a backpack as his personal item and it contains his toys, books, and electronic items and it is his responsibility to pack his backpack.  It’s fun to watch him think about what he will need and then plan accordingly.  I have no idea where he gets that!  The rest of the bags are my domain.

Once everything is packed, I inform the husband where certain items are located.  For example, the fruit snacks are in your backpack.  This saves him asking me and when the boy requests a snack, the husband knows where they are and can find them in case I am busy doing something. . . say driving.

I must also confess that we have bags that are perpetually packed, which does make this task easier.  We have a luggage stand, like you would find in a hotel room, in our spare bedroom and it holds our suitcases that already have our sets of matching Disney shirts.  All I have to do is pack the ones we are taking, add in the rest of the stuff and we are pretty much ready to go.

Planning—yep, one of my favorites.  I think it has something to do with the dreaming and visualization of the vacation as I plan that provides such pleasure.  Planning can take considerable time and research.  Due to our familiarity with the destination—it has become easier to make decisions.  There are still some decisions that give me fits, but only temporarily. 

While on the phone with our travel agent the other day (planning our December after cruise Walt Disney World stay) it went something like this. . . “3 nights at Port Orleans French Quarter, 1 day tickets, no hopper, add the dining plan.”  It almost sounded like I was ordering a sandwich.  Now, our plans may change later, and there is flexibility to make that happen.  But as of right now, we are set.

Another part of planning a trip to Walt Disney World, that I actually love, is the 180 day window to book your Advanced Dining Reservations, or ADR’s.  Some people consider knowing where and when you want to eat 6 months ahead a little constraining.  For me, it is a relief to have those decisions made and details taken care of.  I have watched families struggle to make decisions in the middle of theme parks about dining when they are hot, tired, and hungry.  It’s not a good use of vacation time and most likely, they are not going to find availability, without a long wait, to eat where they would like.  I also witnessed a man whose family had the Deluxe Dining Plan—3 table service credits per person per day—and they hadn’t made any ADR’s before arriving.  He was a bit peeved that they weren’t going to be able to use all of their purchased dining credits at table service restaurants, but instead were using them to purchase counter service meals.  He was seeing it as a waste of money and he was right.  A little planning would have eased his dilemma. 

Purchasing—While I don’t go overboard and purchase a whole new wardrobe before a Disney vacation, I do take stock and see what we might need.  For example, I just picked up a clear backpack for us to take with us to the parks.  The thinking was that it will breeze through the bag check stations at the front of the park.  We have gone through two other backpacks during our Disney travels, so a new one was in order.  I’ve picked up juice boxes as they were on sale at the grocery store the other day.  We put these in our checked bags, and then keep them in the refrigerator in our resort room for breakfast on the go.  Poptarts were also on sale and I had a coupon, so they are ready to be packed.  I have a coupon for fruit bars that I will pick up this week-end.  Granola bars, Mountain Dew, and small cereal boxes are also on my list.  We mostly eat breakfast in our room or on the go when visiting Walt Disney World.

The husband got a new pair of tennis shoes for Christmas, but the boy needs a new pair before we go.  Mine are on their last leg and will most likely not make the return trip with us.  Oh, well, I’ll have to get a new pair when we get home!  We are set with sandals.

We also pre-purchase our Disney PhotoPass CD before our trip.  The cost of pre-purchasing is $50 less than if we bought the CD at Walt Disney World or upon returning home.  I’m okay with paying $99 to get all the PhotoPass photos from our trip!

I try and spread the pre-trip purchasing out over time, as not to take out a huge one-time chunk of the household budget.  When I was younger, I worked at Wal-Mart in various positions, but as a cashier I would ring up pre-vacation purchases that had whopping totals.  You could tell by the items. . . sunscreen, camera film (pre-digital era), books, magazines, over the counter medicine items, as well as clothing, and of course, I would typically ask.  It is less painful to spread the pre-trip purchases out over time, which is the benefit of planning and packing—or at least making your list—early.  It gives you plenty of lead time to prepare for needed items.

The three “P’s” –packing, planning, and purchasing—get me revved up for a Walt Disney World vacation.  How about you?  What trips your vacation excitement trigger?

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