Both Disneyland resort and Walt Disney World in Florida are referred to as the ‘happiest place on earth’. Engage cast members at either property in a good discussion and you’ll hear a lot about Disney magic. That is with purpose. Walt Disney wanted his properties to be magical. He wanted them to be places where people could go to enjoy a little bit of happiness without having to worry about the cares of everyday life.
So why wasn’t my vacation magical?
This is a question we travel planners hear quite often from people who don’t use our services. They return from what they had hoped would be a truly magical vacation terribly disappointed and vowing to never to return to the happiest place on earth. That’s a shame, because it doesn’t really need to be that way.
Little Planning Means Little Magic
Disney Magic is a very real thing. As annual pass holders and Florida residents, my wife and I experience it every weekend. So that begs the question of why some people don’t experience it. The answer is as simple as planning.
Planning is the key to Disney’s magic. We travel planners get the fact that some people don’t like to approach vacation with a tightly scheduled itinerary in hand. They prefer just to wander and take life as it comes. That’s a great strategy, but it comes with consequences.
For example, without at least minimal planning, there is little chance guests will enjoy all of the most sought after Disney attractions. Likewise, a lack of planning means guests might not be able to land a reservation at a key restaurant they have been dying to try.
Good planning is key to every aspect of your stay – even transportation. Planning answers the question of how to get where you’re going in the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of inconvenience.
The reality of a Disney vacation is that little planning means little magic. We wish it didn’t have to be this way, but it is. Disney is not the same property it was back in the 1970s. Things have changed considerably over the last five decades.
5 Reasons You Need to Plan
Let’s close out this post with five reasons planning is so critical to enjoying Disney magic. These are things you may not be aware of if you’re not a long-time, seasoned Disney expert:
1. Attendance Continues to Grow
One of the big things that surprises Disney guests is the size of the daily crowds. Maybe not so much in California, but attendance continues to grow here in Florida. My wife and I have noticed a big difference just in the six years we have lived here.
The fact is that there are a lot more people now trying to enjoy the same property. Planning helps you navigate the crowds and enjoy what you want to enjoy without having to stress over every little thing.
2. Waiting Is a Reality
Spending all day waiting in lines is a good way to kill the magic quickly. Here’s the thing: if you go into either Disney property without a plan in place, you’re going to spend most of your day waiting in lines. On the other hand, a good plan minimizes wait time. It also keeps you moving, giving you more opportunities to see and do more things.
3. Transportation Takes Time
Another reality that surprises the unprepared is that transportation takes time. Whether you’re traveling from an off-site hotel to Disneyland or an on-site resort to one of the Walt Disney World parks, you are not going to make the journey in 10 minutes. You have to plan 30 to 40 minutes for most journeys.
Unfortunately, not planning your transportation is a good way to miss a dinner reservation. It’s a good way to lose time when you’re trying to take advantage of Park Hopper tickets.
4. You Can’t Do It All
Next up, there is more to do in a single Disney Park than most families can accomplish in one day. That makes it easy to feel overwhelmed. Going into a park without proper planning can leave you feeling lost and frustrated. As you try to navigate your way around a huge park crammed with tens of thousands of people, that sense of being overwhelmed only grows.
On the other hand, there are no worries with a plan in hand. You’re not overwhelmed because you know exactly what you’re doing. Planning takes the edge off by making sure you get to experience the things most important to you. Every additional experience then becomes a delightful bonus you weren’t expecting.
5. Fast Passes Are Harder to Come By
Last but not least are fast passes. In both California and Florida, growing attendance is making fast passes harder to come by. California guests have a slight advantage in that fast passes can only be obtained at the park on the day of your visit. That puts everyone on a level playing field. In Florida though, things are different.
Crowd size and demand have forced Disney World to make fast passes available in advance. And believe me when I say that getting your fast passes well ahead of your actual visit is the way to go. If you wait until the day you arrive, you’re going to be left out.
I cringe whenever we’re on a bus or the monorail listening to guests talk about their plans to get fast passes in the park. I know they are in for a big disappointment, but there’s nothing to be done. They waited too long. If they had worked with a travel planner several months out, it’s very possible they could have all the fast passes they wanted.
Disneyland and Walt Disney World have both changed. But that doesn’t mean the magic is gone. It’s not. When someone leaves a Disney vacation and asks why it wasn’t magical, the answer almost boils down to a lack of planning. Plan it right and you will have the magical vacation of a lifetime. We vacation planners know. We experience it all the time.