/ Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Extraordinary Magic in Everyday life

by Blake Taylor

Castle APRILIt happens once in a blue moon, but when it does, there is cause for celebration: I get the call.

“Hey, we’re thinking about planning a Disney trip. Do you think you could help us out?”

Hang on, let me consult the array of vacation-planning books sitting on my shelf and the display of WDW Guide Maps resting on my dresser. No brainer, of course I will!

Nearly half the fun of a Walt Disney World trip is counting down the days until departure with utmost anticipation and giddy dreams of what the adventure might entail. A big part of that is planning, and I know I’m not alone in admitting that I find creating itineraries for days spent in WDW actually fun. In fact, I get kind of sad when I’m finished planning every day of the vacation. That is, until a reservation or refurbishment inevitably throws everything out of whack and I have to get to start all over again. (Don’t even get me started on the dichotomy of when plans go awry once you’re inside the parks… coming up with a spontaneous plan like that is the most blissfully stressful feeling I think one can experience! Such torture, yet so adrenaline-pumping!)

Therefore, I’m always thrilled when someone I know asks me for WDW help. I do a little happy dance (on the inside) and then get down to business. I’ve done it for peers and family members, those seeking a budget-friendly trip and those wanting every ounce of princess pinkage that can be mustered.

I usually send them an email detailing an overall strategy and answering any specific questions they have, and then send them on their way. Sometimes first-time families ask for more thorough help throughout the whole planning process, which I am more than happy to do, occasionally even being on call during their trip. Let me tell you, it was the one of the highlights of my youth when a friend’s frantic mother called me in a state of panic because the family didn’t know what to do when rain soiled their Fantasmic plans, and I was able to steer them in a magical direction for fun substitutes.

As Disney nerds, we have a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of the parks, and it’s so cool when we can share that knowledge with others. There’s just something really neat about knowing that a family’s Disney vacation turns out better and more magical as a directly result of me helping them. To know that I am, in a way, spreading Disney magic… that’s just plain awesome!

So, let me ask you, WDW Radio reader and (likely) competent scholar of all things Disney: How do you handle helping friends with their Disney vacation plans? If there was ONE tip that you could give to a family headed to WDW, what would it be?

Blake is a college student focusing on Creative Writing and Media Studies. He enjoys making his family of six watch the parade on Main Street and then sprint to Frontierland in time to see it again. You can follow Blake’s random Disney ramblings on Twitter at @blakeonline, or at BlakeOnline.com.

10 Responses to "Finding Disney: Being a Go-To WDW Planner"

  1. Most of my family and close friends immediately come to me to help plan their WDW trips. “You’re such a Disney Trip Geek!” they say.

    When I hear others talk about upcoming trips, it’s hard for me to keep quiet! :) Most people appreciate the enthusiasm, some of them, well…can’t believe how excited I get.

    The one tip I always give first is get to the parks early. If your family wants to get the most of out of the parks, then WDW won’t be a typical “sleep in/relax” vacation. Those first 90 minutes are crucial!

  2. Blake,
    Yes I am one of those crazy people that eat, sleep and drink Disney 24-7. Just completed a trip
    (last Friday) at Wilderness Lodge and already have booked the Wilderness Lodge for ten days in October. (Already have flights)And yes, all my friends and family believe that I am all knowing (Disney)Therefore, I give my cell phone number to all and encourage them to call me at any time while they are on their trip, before the trip or even after. I think I have a lot to offer and I want everyone to Love Disney as much as I do. I feel bad for those that go to WDW for the first time and have not done their homework. Yes that first look at the Castle brings tears to their eyes and then come the DEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS. Keep up the good work and keep helping all you can. Giving back is great don’t you think.

    Regards,
    George NH

  3. Diane Jones says:

    I just went through this with a friend. Although I felt compelled to help my friend by giving details of what to do/not do in the parks, and what to see/not see with their extended family that was also going, I also felt the need to not overwhelm her. I knew that a family member was working with a travel agent who had already made arrangements for ADR’s, tickets and etc. So I just offered what I thought was THE most important advice (esp since I feared the crowds would be large while they were there): arrive at the parks early, earlier than the stated opening time. And use Fastpass when possible. The only other advice that I wish I had given, especially because they had 2 small children and 2 older folks going, would be to try to not do too much. Enjoy the trip, enjoy the kids and their reactions, and anything that was missed could be relegated to a future trip. And I understand that they had a lovely family time together at the World, which makes me very happy :-)

  4. Lorraine P.(strawberrylilacs) says:

    My goodness! Your fourth paragraph could have been written by my family. You are absolutely right about the planning fun. Right now we are planning for next year’s vacation and are nerdy enough to plan everything possible and love doing it. And after we make all the reservations there is a lull of regret that we can’t do more. But take heart other Disneynuts! I understand that soon we can spend more time planning on reserving fastpasses. Oh joy, joy the blissful agony!

  5. Glenn Briggs says:

    You said 1 tip and I usually give them the most important 1 word to remember, FASTPASS.

  6. Lizzie says:

    This was quite entertaining to read, because it’s very true how people come to ask questions about their Disney trip.

    Currently I’m a senior in high school, but back in my freshman year I had one of my teachers come up to me towards the end of class. At first I wondered what every student does, “What did I do wrong?” but in reality she was coming to ask questions about Disney. It turns out, her family was planning a trip to WDW around the Fourth of July, and she asked me a variety of questions that I was more than happy to answer. My Sophomore year I also got to play tour guide when my local FBLA chapter headed to nationals in Orlando and we planned a small sidetrip (Ok, for me it was more than a sidetrip).

    The tip I always give is to plan ahead…which is basically what we’re talking about. But I like to suggest they do their research and pick out a selection of must-do attractions. The other thing I advice (which goes along with this) is to not get too worked up about doing absolutely everything. I’ve been there so many times and haven’t done everything. Do the few things you determine as must-dos and space them out over your trip. Plan on hitting one or two of those attractions each day, and spend the rest exploring the world..because exploring often times leads you to some of your favorite memories.

  7. Only ONE tip!? um… I guess stay on Disney property, or maybe plan at least one day per park… oh I don’t know, I can’t pick just one!

  8. Paul C says:

    I help everyone I can that’s going.

    My one piece of advice? As silly as it sounds, it would be that BOTH sides of a counter service order taker are always open, even though everyone always lines up on one side.

  9. Becky says:

    Stay on Disney property – makes life so much easier while your there with the transport etc, plus you dont leave the magic at the parks!

  10. Joe says:

    My one tip? Well, maybe 2 or 3 rolled into one! Slow down, and enjoy. Having a good plan in advance helps to do just that but, especially for first timers, be sure to leave time in your plan for spontaneity, as you will surely encounter something you’ll want to do that isn’t in your plans. Take time out in the middle of the day to rest up, enjoy the pool, or just take a nap; you’ll be much better for it in the evenings. Enjoy!!!

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