Using the TouringPlans.com Tools – Part 2 – Touring Plans

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Last week, I talked about how I use the Crowd Calendar to plan out my trips far into the future.  I’m able to see which parks I want to go to each day, and decide where to book dining reservations or special experiences.  But what will I do when I am in those parks?  That brings me to the 2nd piece of the site I use while planning – the touring plans

If you want to meet princesses, you NEED a touring plan.

Based on some amazing math work by Len Testa and what I believe to be HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the touring plans that this site is famous for are the absolute best way and precise order in which to see attractions in each park.  There are permutations for every different scenario, from adults going solo and looking for thrills to people with kids who cannot handle such a fast pace.  Looking at the touring plans by entering your touring dates about a month out from your trip, you can get a good idea of what conditions will be while you’re in the World. 

I use the touring plans to confirm what I planned based on the Crowd Calendar, to make sure my dining reservations make sense and all activities I have planned will fit while allowing my family and I to enjoy the maximum number of attractions.  I print out the plans, but you can also access them through the Lines app. 

I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a planning freak, so the touring plans are perfect for me.  I always want to maximize my time in the parks, no matter how many times I have been there.  When you have kids, it’s especially important, because they can get frustrated with waiting in lines or not getting on rides.  I’ve written here before about my top 7 things plan that I do with my kids, but the next step is adapting that to the touring plans

Avoiding these lines is crucial with my kids.

Yes, I said adapt the touring plans.  The site gives you the ability to create your own touring plans, based on the original plans developed by the math geniuses in charge.  My usual way of doing this is to take the plan that fits best for a day, like the Magic Kingdom Touring Plan for Adults with Small Children, then drop things that I know my kids will not do.  For some reason, they are dead set against Snow White’s Scary Adventures, so I drop that from the plan and do the next thing on the list. 

A mid-morning treat sometimes helps our energy levels.

I also tend to add in things like snacks or pit stops in place of certain attractions.  As a religious listener of the WDW Today Podcast, I’ve heard our fearless leader Len Testa remark often that each step of the plan in the mornings should take about 20 minutes.  So, knowing my children well, I plan on skipping Snow White and substituting in a tasty treat to keep their energy up.  It takes about 20 minutes to grab a snack, and we continue right along in the touring plan. 

The touring plans help to keep our touring focused and on the correct track to touring the parks.  It keeps me from deviating to look at new merchandise or the latest cupcake at the Main Street Bakery until just the right time.  As someone who loves structure, the plans are perfect for me.  However, I also recognize that conditions can change quickly, which is when I use the Lines app.  But more on that next week. 

That’s how I use the touring plans.  But what about you?  How do you adapt the touring plans to your needs?

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Posted on May 23, 2011

11 Responses to “Using the TouringPlans.com Tools – Part 2 – Touring Plans”

  • Thanks for this article. I am taking my kids, boys ages 2 and 4, to Disney in September for the first time and am having an issue on which touring plan to use. I’ve never used one before so I am a little unsure of the approach I will need to take. We’re going when crowds are low (highest day is a 5 in MK) and have 2 1/2 days dedicated to the Magic Kingdom. I want to do all the kiddie rides for them and incorporate all the thrill rides I grew up riding for me and the other adults on the trip plus allow for repeats of our favorites. I am not fond of a few rides and know we will delete a few others because of their age and overall interest. Any suggestions you can give me would be appreciated! Thanks!

  • For kids that age, I would use the Two Day Touring Plan for Adults with Small Children (http://touringplans.com/plans/39). I’ve done it with my kids when they were younger, and really liked it. It doesn’t incorporate Big Thunder or Space Mountain, but ‘m not sure your 2 yr old would like those.

    However, if it’s crucial for you and the other adults to enjoy those thrill rides (and it sounds like it might be), then may I suggest the Happy Family Touring Plan (http://touringplans.com/plans/37178). This one does not include Big Thunder, but you could easily fit it in with FASTPASS during one afternoon or mid-morning.

    Hope you have a great time, and let me know if you have more questions. We’re here to help!

  • Since we usually travel when crowds are small, we start with a standard touring plan and adapt it so we don’t have to cross the park several times. We also use FASTPASSes to minimize waiting times – when crowds are low, using a pass at attractions with standby wait times of 20 minutes or longer means we can almost walk onto most rides and do everything we want to do before the day is over.

    This fall, we’ll be going Veterans’ Day week. We’ll face some of the largest crowds we’ve ever seen, although they’re only predicted to be moderate-sized crowds. This may be the year to stick with touring plans as they are written.

    • I always modify the touring plans, so don’t feel bad. There are some rides or shows that we just don’t want to do, so as mentioned, I skip ahead in the plan or substitute breaks or snacks in there.

      We also use the tactic of always having a FASTPASS in hand. It’s a good way to make sure that you have a ride coming up.

  • My husband and I looked at the touring plans for adults prior to our vacation in early Feb. We pretty much stuck to the plans, but the one thing we did add was more Fastpasses. Whenever it was time for a new Fastpass, we would grab one at a ride that was near us which we would be interested in riding later. We were there during a slow time so we did have the option of deviating if we wanted to. Overall, can’t say enough great stuff about touring plans!

    • Glad to hear it! The touring plans make a big difference. I say that as someone who used them long before I started blogging here. It helps me to keep my kids on rides and not complaining about heat or wait times.

  • Laura and Jan spoke about using the touring plans when crowds are low. Let me add how well they work when crowds are HIGH. We used to go the week after Thanksgiving, and didn’t use a touring plan. But for the last four years, we’ve been forced by school/work schedules to go the first week of August. When we first had to make this change in August 2008, we were nervous about crowds and decided to religiously follow a touring plan. We were amazed at how well they work! We never stood in line more than 20 minutes, usually much less than that.
    Like you, we pare and tailor the touring plans to suit our family’s special needs. Ours in past years typically involved splitting up, with one parent taking our teenage daughter on thrill rides and the other taking our pre-teen son on tamer rides, then regrouping for rides the entire family enjoyed. Now that my son’s older and braver, we have to do less of that. Instead of dropping rides, however, we have to add them. My kids don’t want to skip anything, especially in Magic Kingdom. It seems like the standard touring plans, except for those designed for young children, skip many of the “kiddie” rides, like Dumbo and the Carrousel. But the small children touring plans skip many of the thrill rides, like Space Mountain and Test Track. So we use the touring plans to identify the bottlenecks, schedule those early in the morning or Fastpass them, and work in smaller attractions that are nearby as we come to them. What I really like are the extended descriptions of some of the touring plans. These describe why the touring plan is set up the way it is. This background helps me to decide how best to merge two or more touring plans to suit our needs.

    • That’s a great way to use the plans. It’s the reason why we offer the ability to customize the plans.

      In your situation, I would definitely look at the Happy Family plans. They tend to offer the ability to split up and hit most major rides but also do some of the “kiddie” rides, too. I use them a lot, because even though my daughter is almost 5 (Lord help me), she still is a bit of a scaredy cat.

  • by Mark Simpson-Vos on May 24, 2011, at 8:45 pm EDT

    I would be another big advocate for the benefit of using the touring plans when crowds are heaviest! Our first trip as a family to Disney World was two years ago during the height of Spring Break. (I look back now at the crowd levels during our stay and see that they were by far the heaviest of the entire year.) We had five days and four nights with two parents, a six-year old eager to do everything (especially character greeting), and two grandparents with a low threshold for heat and crowds.

    There were at least three days during our stay where Disney closed entry at the parks because the crowds were too heavy. But we followed our Touring Plans to a “t” (mostly using the plans for families with small children). Even on the heaviest crowd days at Magic Kingdom, we managed to hit all the highly rated attractions and still fit in time for a good lunch break, a late afternoon break for swimming back at our on site resort (Coronado Springs), and some wrap up touring and parades in the evenings. I am a full convert to the Touring Plans gospel!

    We’re heading back with an even bigger family group this September, staying a full week. It will be great to have the luxury of more time and lighter crowds, but you better believe we’ll be using our plans–probably the Happy Family plans this time since we’ll have our daughter (now almost nine), a five-year-old cousin on her first visit, a thrill seeking uncle, and the same line-hating grandparents. Should be a great vacation.

  • Ryan…it seems you and I are made from the same cloth. I too am a planning freak.

    I went to the World for the first time (ever) in 2008 with my wife, 6 and 8 year old sons. We also went with my best friend and his family who have been to Disney more times than I can count.

    He thought I was crazy for all the research and planning I was doing. So on our second day, we visited Hollywood Studios and let him guide us through the park. It was miserable. We waited in long lines, ran from lunch on Sunset Blvd all the way to Lights Motors. We were able to see everything on our list but felt rushed all day.

    The next day we went to Magic Kingdom and I was in charge of the day. It was the most magical day. We walked at our own pace, rode all the rides we wanted and then some. And we were able to take in some shows, found great spot for the parade and fireworks.

    That night on the bus ride back to the resort, he admitted that all my planning was worth it. Even though to this day he picks on me.

    Great blog!! Thank you.

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