A Peak At Planning

Right, let’s get the stuff you aren’t so bothered about out-of-the-way. I wrote a chapter this week. I appreciate that is not in the same prolific league as James Patterson, but with everything going on in my daily life that is a step forward and hopefully a catalyst for more. What I really need if I’m honest, is a good chunk of time to re-read what I’ve written to date and then do the book plan. I know that I have everything in my head somewhere, I just need to formalise it into some sort of structure, decide on the outcome of the book (no spoilers here) and that should enable me to write more freely once I know where I’m going.

I feel better about the whole thing now that I’ve broken the ice again.

Sadly, that huge investment of time did not leave me much (any) time for the planning of WDW stuff. All my plans start in the same format and always have. As soon as I know our dates I create a simple template of those dates in Excel with blanks to fill in…

There are some givens that go in before anything else happens…like the travel days and the fact that we’ll be in Magic Kingdom on the first and last day.

Then, I make a list of all the eateries we want to do. I appreciate that this may seem strange to some, but the importance of the food on our Florida trips cannot be over estimated. The challenge with this list is fitting in all the places we have fallen in love with and want to do again, whilst also trying all the new places that I’ve heard good things about. For this trip, with Tom being a first timer it has more of a greatest hits vibe as we want to take him to all of our favourites….and it looked like this…

Next, I try to allocate one of those dining choices to a day on the plan, bearing in mind how I want the theme park days to flow. Over the years we seem to have established a routine as to how we tackle the parks. We of course start with Magic Kingdom as this is the law, we then do Epcot, Hollywood Studios and finally Animal Kingdom. I suspect that this being the order in which they opened was not an accident to my subliminal planner self.

Of course, tradition dictates that our first meal on arrival day is The Outback at Formosa Gardens if at all possible, so that goes in first and the rest follow like this….

For this trip, due to the touring party make up, it’s a WDW only affair so there are many more rest days than there may have been for an adults only trip. This means we can have two days in each park and if needed do extra visits on the afternoon of rest days. It makes for an easier planning experience. However, it doesn’t solve the issue you can see at the bottom of the plan. Where on earth do I put Sanaa? We may have to just eat more on some days! I do have a gap for dinner on our first day. I’m reluctant to put anything in there that we need an ADR for as there is no way to know how young Freddie will be adjusting to the time difference and long flight so we may need to be flexible. I know Rebecca would just be happy with some corn dog bites from Casey’s.

On that note, we are going to try something new on our last day in Magic Kingdom. I have it down as a snack day. We’re going to take the opportunity to eat all the stuff available in and around the parks as snacks and counter service, such as the stuff at Casey’s and a couple of things we’ve never had in all these years, a turkey leg and a dole whip. Funnel cake may also be on the agenda.

So this is where I’m at right now.The only other piece of the jigsaw tentatively in place is the intention to do MNSSHP on Wednesday the 4th of September. Having had glowing reports from all last week, it looks like we have no choice but to do it and much of the advice centred around not doing it too early after it starts and not to do it on a weekend.

What happens now? Well, over the coming weeks and months I shall tinker and mess about with the finer details. At some point I typically transfer it onto the Vacation Planner tool on The Dibb. I don’t use the forums over there any more but that tool is useful. It is helpful as somewhere to record all your booking references, ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations), flight details and that jazz.

What is bound to happen over the coming months is that I will come across some new dining experience that I desperately want to do and I shall wrestle with what to drop out of the plan….or of course there’s always the option of extending our stay! The latter won’t be a viable option this time due to the work/holiday restrictions of Louise and Tom so something will have to give should that be the case. I have already made the heart breaking decision to take Romano’s out of the plan and replace it with The Cheesecake Factory.

So there you go, this post turned unintentionally into a look at how I actually plan. I’m sure everyone has similar yet different methods. Let me know how you go about it so that I may shamelessly steal your great ideas.

Now, I must leave you as I’m off to a photo shoot this afternoon with Mustard. No, really, I am.

Till the next time….
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17 thoughts on “A Peak At Planning

  1. I am always amazed how you eat a meal on your arrival day:) After having breakfast at Manchester airport and eating food and snacks on the plane the only thing we can manage once we arrive is an Earl of Sandwich sandwich, if that!

    Maybe we should try Brown Derby again. In all our years of going we have only eaten there once and had one of the worse experiences ever at a Disney restaurant!

  2. You seem to have planning down to a fine art. I tend to use the busy day guides. I print off several from various sites then compare them. The days on each that concur compiles my own busy day guide and I go off that. MK is a must on the last day regardless of crowd levels but the rest of the time is down to the busy day guide. It seems to work for me. After that I add any ADRs/must-do restaurants to tie in with the park/activity of that particular day. Having a 2 year old with us this year made for more careful planning to tie in with her UK sleep patterns (as opposed to clock times) as that is all we could go off but we were very lucky. She settled well into the time difference and from day 1 naps tended to be US portion of day same as the UK rather than using her UK body clock. At home, she naps late afternoon…in the US she tended to want to nap late afternoon so we avoided dinner at those times. It worked out very well even though she stayed awake much later at bedtime in the US than she would in the UK. Too much going on to want to sleep. We were lucky…I’m sure not all kids are the same. Glad to hear you are progressing with the book :D. Happy planning both holidaywise and bookwise.

    P.S. I can’t believe you haven’t had a dole whip :O .

  3. ✨some of us aren’t so bothered about this next book in the way ur not so bothered about ur next wdw visit✨ speaking of, holy shit. my only disney plans ever r to be first into a park, & last one physically removed by security when they’ve closed. ✨ i respect the disney passion of u all who show it thru planning✨ i sense a running theme of templates; first; creativity to be bounced around inside safe structure; second. ~ ´but where to put sanaa?’ sounds SO funny for some reason 😆 (!!) well, we’ll see what happens to sanaa~ major character, after thought, or edited out of the book this trip ✨

  4. Our planning technique is a mixture of yours and Carol’s (above). travel days aside it is MK first and last day as far as is practically possible … if we are there longer than the ticket dictates MK is dropped (sacre bleu) from the beginning as it is law to be there on the last night! Next comes restaurants like you then We fit everything in around the Busy Day Guide 🙂

    One restaurant I can’t get my head around is Cowfish … do you promise me it’s worth it??

    1. We like Cowfish very much but I can see it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s a bit quirky but some of the unusual stuff they do is excellent.

  5. Always enjoyed your blogs and trip reports and must say that this weeks blog content was aptly timed. Having just returned from a trip to DLRP, the decision has now been taken (by those that control the budget) that the next visit to Disney property will be to WDW in 2021 – I believe they have an anniversary happening that year! So, planning can now begin and your method is a great guide which can form the basis of “The Plan”. I had forgotten about the Dibb planner, so will also have a peak at that (when I can remember my login!). Looking forward to your future musings.

  6. Long time reader of your work (Dibb originally), first time commenter (is that even a word??).

    You introduced me to Teak & the famous Donut Burger, so my expanding waist thanks you for that!

    My planning is very similar to yours. Excel spreadsheet with the dates, park(s) for the day, dinner plans & anything additional like which mall we are visiting or sporting event etc or if we’re going out for breakfast rather than having it in the villa.

    MK is also always a must for us on our opening & final day although I am often a fan of doing 2 parks in a day especially if one of them is a water park. I use the quite day guide on the Dibb – for the first week & then the kids chose after that although it’s normally MK or DHS in the main.

    Love the idea of snacking on your final day at MK & a Dole Whip is a definite must although I would have one on your first day so that you can have at least two during your holiday as otherwise you’ll regret it come the final day when you try it. It’s my favourite Disney snack.

    Have fun planning / juggling.

  7. High five for adding in the Cheesecake Factory.
    You mention having a snacking day at MK but if the Food and Wine Festival has begun at EPCOT by then, that would be a great place for a snacking day. (Just do NOT miss out on a Dole Whip!). Also, don’t forget to check out the Eat to the Beat concerts if the festival has started by then!
    Have you ever thought about signing up for emails for your favourite restaurants? Many places will give you something (free appetiser, dessert or money off) when you sign up, something for your birthday and the same on the anniversary of you joining up. It’s tantalising when emails comes through though, telling you of a new menu item or a special deal and you’re months away from getting there!
    Lastly and unrelated to food; have you used the OLCI or “skip the line” with Alamo? We use the Brits discount code and the luxury of bypassing all the car hire desks to pick up a car of your choice (within the category you’ve paid for, of course!) and driving out with it, is one of our Florida pleasures!

      1. It’s great. To check in I had to go to the US site as there was no link I could find on their email (which I’d previously done) nor on the UK site.

  8. Thanks for reminding me about the cheese cake factory. It must be 6 months since we last visited and it’s jusr around the corner 🙂

    Happy Planning !!!!

    PS enjoyed your last trippie and especially the beach section. Next time you decide to do some time at the beach you should consider the Florida Panhandle area. We were there last week and it’s absolutely amazing !!!

  9. Ooooo – we’ll be there next year, albeit overlapping your trip for a couple of days, but no doubt we’ll be in MK on our last day, as you are starting your first. I’ll look out for you and wave from a distance! What a lucky grandson – he’ll have a most wonderful first trip to the magic.

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