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Planning a WDW holiday | part 1

This week marked an exciting milestone in the countdown to our family holiday to Florida. I’ve been counting down the months since last July, but now we’re getting closer I’ve changed to counting down the weeks. We’ll also enter the double digit days soon, so I thought it was time to start planning a flexible itinerary.

This won’t be the first time we’ve been to Florida, and there have been times when we’ve ‘winged it’ in the past, but as there are six of us this time we need to be a little more organised. I need to build a holiday experience that caters to us all, ranging from my parents, who have been almost every year since 1996, to my daughter who will be making her first trip this summer.

I’m hoping this post, and the following parts will help anyone out there who is planning their own trip to Walt Disney World. Don’t hesitate to comment with any questions you may have and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.

Firstly, I have to give credit to the folks at TouringPlans.com, their books along with my own knowledge and experience have proved invaluable for making the most of our time in the parks in the past.

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There are going to be two groups of people when it comes to ways to plan a holiday to WDW. Those who are visiting for the first time, and those who have been before. I fall into the latter category, which makes writing this for those in the former a bit more difficult, but not impossible.

My main tip for first-timers is research. Reading blogs, such as this, and travel guides can help save you time and stress in the parks. Also, if anyone you know has been before, try to get their recommendations, but remember that you know your group better than anyone, and your own trip will be as individual as you are.

Those who have been before, have a distinct advantage. Time is a limited commodity, and you may not be able to fit in everything in a single trip. The first thing I’d recommend you do is to make a huge list of all the attractions and shows in all of the WDW parks. Then you should split them into three categories:

  1. Must see/do
  2. Give a miss
  3. If there’s time/a short enough line

Attractions in the first category will be new rides you want to try or new shows you want to catch. Also anything you loved on a previous visit and want to do again.

The second category can include attractions that either didn’t grab you the last time or rides that you know you won’t enjoy. If you’re not a fan of going upside down, you’d add Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster to this list. Conversely, if you’re more of a thrill seeker perhaps more of the family-friendly rides from Fantasyland will appear here.

The third category is a catch-all. I’ll be using this category in my own planning more than the second one. As the needs of our group are so varied, rather than completely writing off an attraction, we’ll weigh up the wait time with our previous experience and see if it’s worth it. An example of this would be The Haunted Mansion. The line for this can get long, especially during peak times. All of us, apart from my daughter, have ridden it before. While it’s fun, it’s not my favourite, so if the line is too long I’d be inclined to give it a miss. My son might want to ride it again though, so we’ll see.

Even if you’ve not been before you can still divide the attractions up into categories like this. The Unofficial Guide (by TouringPlans, link above) list all the attractions and give an in-depth description of each and their suitability for each age group. Using a guide like this you can make an informed decision about rides you want to pass on.

Another thing to take into account is height requirements. Yesterday I found some very useful graphics made by Disney on Pinterest, which list their attractions by height requirement. Obviously, if everyone in your group is fully grown, or at least over 48″ (122cm) then this isn’t something you’ll have to factor in. My son is around 48″, so is able to ride everything in the parks. He has a lower tolerance for rides than I did at his age though, so even though he’s tall enough, he may well choose to avoid some of the more adrenaline-inducing rides. My daughter, on the other hand, is much more fearless but is only 35.5″. She’s only just over the cutoff of 35″ on some of the rides, it could come down to a judgement call on each individual ride in that bracket.

Sorry, the text is so small in these images. You can find the full-size versions on my Pinterest board here.

I’ll go more in-depth for each park in the following parts. Remember, if you have anything specific you want to ask, you can leave a comment and I’ll either answer it in the next post or reply directly.

See you soon xx

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