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Remember your strategy when planning a trip to Disney World

31 March 2018

TODAY'S  REALITY CHECK... the very idea of heading into any park at Disney World or Disneyland on a whim and without a strategic plan in place is about as crazy and outdated an idea as hearing Michael Jackson 80 music played during Captain EO's ride. Unfortunately, if you know this ride and can conjure up my analogy in your head, then, get ready to cringe, because Digital Disney has changed the Magic Kingdom experience forever!

I might suggest a visit to America's favorite playground is very much like a Black Op — a fine tuned, well laid out operation — where serious planning begins a minimum of 6 months before your arrival target date. You see, 180 days in advance of your arrival date is when dining reservations within the parks are available to be reserved.  This leeway for choice dining spots inevitably leads to even more precision planning, because, now, which park you will play in each day so you can dine accordingly comes into play.

Unless you wish to spend your day  zigging while all the others are zagging, time management becomes of utmost importance. No one wants to waste time being waitlisted, shut out completely after walking all the way to a restaurant clear across the park,  or find yourself relegated to the fast food lines or the 9 p.m. open times?  Even worse, if you don't play by the 6 month advance rules, you will, without a doubt, be  "Frozen" out of a time slot with Anna or Elsa. I am telling you Disney's digital game cannot be overlooked; rabid fans are  your worst "enemy," and they cannot be underestimated.

Of course, meal planning is just the first aspect in our three-pronged Digital Disney  planning stage. After experiencing the often joyless and difficult task of pre-booking where you will eat 6 months in advance, The Mouse presents another challenge : you are given the opportunity to reserve FASTPASS + times.

Basically, this means each person staying on-site Disney is able to make an appointment for 3 rides per day for each park pass ticket purchased. Done 60 days in advance of your arrival date, the FASTPASS + is honestly about the greatest gift The Mouse is going to offer up from this point on.  Being able to choose which of the most popular rides and the time (within an hour span) is worth the anguish of advance planning and the long lines you will inevitably be facing during your stay. Sit down with the kids and secure a plan of attack that coincides nicely with your dining plans is my suggestion.  

Everyone has a different opinion of the best way to maximize the FASTPASS + and, without a doubt,  after reading books, listening to every friend, blogger, You Tube video, and Mickey fan on the internet, a daily itinerary should be set in stone--and, then, very nicely recorded on MagicBands.  These bands, ordered at least 11 days before your arrival date,  become the final --and, I might add, the easiest step--to a well planned, no suprises, park attack.

Basically, MagicBands are brightly colored RFID-embedded bracelets, which allow guests to enter hotel rooms, buy a Mickey Bar, or hop on Splash Mountain for a FastPass+ appointment with just a swipe of the wrist.  Everything you need from your dining arrangements, FASTPASS + reservations, and hotel room can be stored on these little band that, with your permission, have been linked to your credit card so the "magic" never stops!  That's pretty strategic planning on Disney's part if you ask me!

So, if the idea of committing to a plan to ride Space Mountain at 11:05 on the morning of June 22, after you’ve already booked lunch reservations six months out, sounds a little too structured for your vacation, then, perhaps, Disney World is no longer the place for you. Yet, you may be in the minority.  In our travel industry, the numbers show that attendance at Walt Disney World has been steadily rising and that is in spite of the competition from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando, the recent ticket price increases, and the need to strategize for a fun vacation!


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