We’re about a month away from our Disney vacation, and as I alluded to in another post, this is the time when things start to become exciting for us. We start to fine-tune our plans, looking at the Crowd Calendar, Park Hours, and Evening Extra Magic Hours schedule, to determine which day we should visit each park. We cancel Advance Dining Reservations that we deem superfluous. Of course we’re model Disney Guests who would never book an extra ADR or two because we don’t know in which park we’ll be 180 days in advance–when even Disney hasn’t released its final park hours schedule–and don’t want to get stuck with slim pickins’ when we are finally able to finalize our actual schedule. We’d never do that!
In addition to the typical planning that I’m sure all our fellow obsessive planning brethren reading this also do, we start doing more Disney-related fun things. We ease into “vacation-mode” with the usual suspects. We watch more Disney Blu-rays. We look at old vacation photos. We sit our kids down and watch Little Einsteins with them (okay, since they’re a cat and dog, we don’t actually do this, although they could both stand do be a little more Einstein-ish).
As the trip draws nearer, we start to go into “Super-Crazy-Geek” mode. This usually hits at right about thirty days exactly. I fire up Photoshop and make a countdown calendar. This calendar has dual purposes: it’s a great way to remind us of our trip every time we walk past the fridge, but more importantly, it helps us get into peak physical shape before our trips. This is because we’ve made a “rule” that each of us can only cross off a day if we work out that day (too much information? sorry!). Since our daily 8 am until at-least 2 am schedule can lead to fatigue over the course of a longer trip, this daily conditioning prior to our trips is absolutely essential. Even the act of working out is infused with Disney, as we get caught up on back episodes of our favorite Disney podcasts during workouts. After all, what better way to get fired up for working out than by listening to Len Testa and Henry Work talk about Disney?! We also eat more vegetables and drink less chocolate milk. (Well, Sarah never drinks chocolate milk in the first place, but I drink less. I don’t endorse this portion of our conditioning. Never give up your chocolate milk, kids!)
Of course, we have to offset the exercise, so we also do some Disney gaming! Once upon a time, this was accomplished by playing Walt Disney World Magical Racing Tour on the Sega Dreamcast (remember that?). However, apparently I am too competitive and a sore loser when it comes to video games, so I mostly play that by myself these days. Instead, we play a number of different Disney theme park board games we have accrued over the last several years. In recent years, “Disney’s Magic Kingdom Game” has been the highlight of these games. Last week, we managed to find a rare game from 1972 called “A Visit to Walt Disney World.” We have yet to play it, but in looking at the box contents we’re already quite excited. Much like the father in Carousel of Progress, I dream of a day that there will be a Disney game so ‘awesome’ that we won’t even have to exercise. Oh yeah, that day is this fall, when Disneyland Kinect Adventures is released!
The pre-trip fun doesn’t stop there! Our Playstation 3 is loaded with old trip planning videos, resort TV footage, and Martin tribute videos we’ve collected over the years. It’s fun to watch these to see what has changed over the years, but it’s even more fun to marvel in awe at the outfits tourists wore back in the early 1990s! I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with neon fanny packs, knee high tube socks, and dalmatian print sweatshirts, but they sure are interesting to see!
The most played title on our Playstation 3, by far, is the Top 7 Must Sees with Stacey from 2007 (the Year of a Million Dreams version). These shows seem pretty divisive, as some people find Stacey grating, but we are definitely not in that camp. We absolutely love the corny humor and exuberance of Stacey. We’ve watched these shows so many times that we have a good number of her one-liners memorized. “Look at all the lazy people in the lazy river” happens to be my favorite line. We enjoy watching these Must Sees so much that prior to one of our trips, we actually counted down our Top 30 Must Sees via photos!
Obviously, the way we prepare for trips is a little crazy and perhaps over-the-top. But it’s fun. You could just as easily spend the full thirty days before your trip fine-tuning your plans, planning out your schedule based on the TouringPlans.com per-park crowd levels and other resources. As I mentioned above, we do this, too. We examine the per-park crowd levels to determine where we’ll start each day, and then we always head to the park that closes the latest at around 7 pm, with a possible stop at a monorail loop restaurant for dinner (since it seems at least 80% of the time Epcot or Magic Kingdom is open the latest). It’s also not a bad idea to call (or look online) to double check your ADRs, check out TripIt to make sure all of your plans are contained in the app, and make sure you have all of the supplies you need. I always make sure to do an early round-up of my camera memory cards, because I invariably seem to lose a couple of these between trips, and have to order new ones. I swear, memory cards are like socks–they just mysteriously disappear!
As you can see, getting ready for trips doesn’t have to be stressful or an annoying task that simply must be accomplished for a successful vacation. If you start early, and think of ways to make it fun, it can be more like a preface to the vacation itself! For us, the month before our trip flies by thanks to all of the fun “Disney” ways we fill our free time, and it really helps build anticipation for our trips. I think that this in turn makes us appreciate the vacations even more, and continues to make our Disney vacations highly anticipated and special even after we have been so many times. Every time we visit we are still no less excited when arrive at the airport, pass through the “Walt Disney World Resort” gate, or catch our first glimpse of Cinderella Castle than we were the very first time we traveled to Walt Disney World together thanks to the way we preface our Disney vacations!
So what do you think? Do these ways of building anticipation sound fun, or are we totally over-zealous Disney nerds who need to find some other hobbies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!