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Does a touring plan really make a difference when visiting Walt Disney World?

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2016-10-25 06:51:44
2016-10-25 06:51:44

While you specifically asked about Disney World, I can say that for Disneyland, just having a plan will help you get more done, especially if you have children. You don't have to spend any money; there are plenty of free websites with maps, descriptions of attractions, showtimes, and restaurants (not least of which is Disney's own: Disneyland and Disney World).

For Disney World, you should sit down with your family and decide what everyone's "Must Do/See" list is more than 30 days prior to your trip (more than 60 days if you're staying in a Disney hotel or resort). The reason for this is that you can reserve Fast Passes up to 30 days in advance of your ticketed date (60 days if you're staying in a Disney-owned hotel). Do a little research and find out what the most popular attractions are; use your (limited) Fast Pass advance reservations for those, and don't bother booking a fast pass for things that typically have standby wait times of 20 minutes or less. If you have a smart phone, you can download the Disney app showing you the current wait times for every attraction; check it a few times a day to see what the wait times are running for the attractions on your Must lists, and get Fast Passes for those which consistently have the highest wait times.

For Disneyland it's less crucial to plan quite so far in advance since you can't book advanced Fast Passes there; a few days before your trip should be fine. You should still download the mobile app and check out wait times, though in this case you'll be using it to figure out your first target of the day as soon as you get into the park (you should be in line at least 15-30 minutes before the park opens, because the more you can get done first thing in the morning the more ahead of the game you will be). You should snag Fast Passes for a popular ride and/or for a show (you generally can't have Fast Passes for two rides at a time, but you can usually have one show/parade Fast Pass and one ride Fast Pass with no problems), then go ride a different popular ride (or even the same one, if you're pretty sure it's going to be a favorite) before the lines get long as more and more people arrive.

Even knowing what food is available where (and how much it costs; all of this is on the website and in the app) can be a big time saver, since you don't have to tramp over to the restaurant to find out that one of your family members has a hatred hotter than a thousand suns for every single thing on the menu there.

The first time my family went to Disneyland I had a loose plan based on information I had gathered from websites, and I would estimate we probably got to do at least four or five more things than we would have without it. You don't have to have things planned to the minute; even having a rough "order" (Billy's ride, Sally's ride, Mom's ride, one that everybody thought sounded good, lunch at the place Billy wanted, another of Sally's rides since it's right next to the lunch place, then one of Billy's again) can help avoid long arguments/tantrums over what to do next.

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2012-04-04 21:06:57
2012-04-04 21:06:57

Objective studies were conducted of family groups using the touring plan in the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. When park attendance is over 48,000 a good touring plan saves almost 5 hours per day of waiting time. Over five days, that's about 25 hours. It's like adding three extra 8-hour days in theme parks to your vacation - for free. Well, not for free. The book costs about $20.

If books aren't your thing, access the Unofficial Touring Guides online. This site features over 100 touring plans customized for small children, seniors, adults and cruise guests. The $7.95 12-month subscription also offers updates on best ticket prices and best days to visit each park during holidays and other high-traffic periods. http://www.touringplans.com/

If you'd prefer, there is software available to let you create your own touring plan. It's called RideMax. It's more expensive, and some say less effective, than the Unofficial Guide.

For more about the Unofficial guide touring software, visit http://www.mouseplanet.com/mike/ms030718.htm. For updates on closed attractions, opening times, etc. for all Disney locations - Disneyland through Disney Paris - check out http://www.mouseplanet.com/mp/tripplanning.htm. It's updated for the week every Monday morning.

***Although I have not personally tried the official touring plans yet I have been in the parks twice during the week after Easter which is a very busy time. The first time we had no clue and no strategy and walked into the Magic Kingdom mid-afternoon on Easter Monday. It was crazy busy and we waited in line more than anything. The second visit, we had come up with a strategy that includes some elements that the touring plan stresses, particularly getting to the parks early and heading straight for the headliner rides first thing. There are a lot of tips in the book and on the web site that I intend to try the next time we visit. What I will say is that for a busy time at Disney, having a plan and some dinner reservations and some rest time built in to the schedule will make your trip much more enjoyable.

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