All it Takes is Faith and Trust! (And a Little Bit of Help from the Touring Plans Readers)

by on September 2, 2015 55 Comments

Filed under: Animal Kingdom, Epcot, FastPass+, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World (FL)

All it takes is faith and trust

“All it takes is faith and trust!” – Peter Pan

It’s no secret that I am a planner. A crazy-nutcase-super-planner (I admit it). I don’t take even a short trip to Disney World without planning FastPass + selections and Advanced Dining Reservations at the earliest opportunity. I mean, have you read my articles on planning for spontaneity? If my introductory and advanced courses in leveraging MyMagic+ didn’t paint a vivid picture for you of my planning love, I’m not sure what would.

As I was planning for our upcoming trip over Labor Day weekend, a wild thought occurred to me. What if, for one of the days of our trip, I didn’t pre-plan anything? (Cue intense hyperventilation.) I know that some people are critical of MyMagic+, citing that it “forces” them to plan their trips months in advance. I don’t share in that sentiment, and even though I don’t personally go the non-planning route that doesn’t mean I believe it can’t be done. (Did everyone follow that convoluted sentence? I plan because I want to, not because I believe that one must plan in order to have a good time at Walt Disney World.)

Now you might be asking yourself, “How would this type-A planner know that someone can enjoy a day in Disney without planning?! She probably doesn’t even know how to have an impromptu day at Disney World!” Valid points, dear readers, and those thoughts are precisely what have led me to this particular experiment. And YOU are the key to this experiment. Essentially, I need you to tell me what to do.

All it takes is faith and trust

“I have made the decision to trust you.” – Rapunzel

On Saturday, September 5th my husband and I will be in Disney World, and we have zero plans for that day. No FastPass+ selections, no ADR’s. In order for this to be truly spontaneous, it is crucial that I not actually know which park we’re visiting until that morning. And the only way for me to be completely in the dark is for me to not have a choice in where we’re going. Do you see where this is going? YOU have the power to send me to any (non-water) park in Disney World. All I ask is that you take to Twitter that morning and tell me where I’m going! The park with the most votes is the park we’ll visit. (If you don’t use Twitter please feel free to make your vote in the comments below.)

All it takes is faith and trust

“A horrible decision, really.” – Flynn Rider (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

Now to the rules. (Every civilized society has rules, why should this experiment be any different?) When we get up that morning I will post on Twitter the question of where we should go. I will not look at the responses until after we finish our morning routine and are ready to walk out the door. (This part depends heavily on people responding on Twitter, so make sure you follow me @Angela_Wilhelm!) If people voted in the comments of this blog article, I’ll factor those votes into the Twitter tally. If for some reason I don’t get any responses either here or on Twitter, we’ll write the four parks on slips of paper and draw one randomly.

We will be allowed to use MyMagic+ to book FastPass+ selections and ADR’s, but we aren’t allowed to do either of those things until we’re physically in the park. I’ll post updates on Twitter so that you know I’m following my own rules. Best of all, I’ll be looking for your input WHILE we’re in the parks regarding what we should do. Attractions to experience, places we should visit for snacks and drinks, and even photo ops we should take advantage of.

There is a single caveat for the audience participation segment of this experiment; I’ve got some back problems so I have some restrictions on attractions I can experience. For example, for me Space Mountain is akin to that scene in Finding Nemo when Darla violently shakes Nemo in the bag. That is not a good time for me. If I’m having a “bad” day, anything where I have to brace myself is a no-go. (I actually had a bad experience on Winnie-the-Pooh once because of the Tigger segment…) Most days I’m just peachy doing everything from Big Thunder Mountain to Star Tours to Test Track to Dinosaur, but in the interest of full disclosure for this experiment I wanted to throw the info out there just in case it becomes a factor.

All it takes is faith and trust

“No expectations. A day where anything can happen.” – Merida

The final rule for the day is that if we decide to park-hop, we’ll revisit Twitter and take new votes on where we should go, just so we don’t try to sneak in any covert planning. The purpose of this experiment? Aside from raising my blood pressure to critical levels, I want to see how valid the arguments against MyMagic+ are. Do people who don’t plan their vacations months ahead of time miss out on quintessential Disney experiences? Or can you make it up as you go along and still enjoy numerous attractions and activities? Those are the questions I’m here to answer!

Okay, it’s time for your input. What do you think of the structure of this experiment? Are there any additional rules you’d like to add? Or would you like to amend any existing rules? If you’re not able to chime in on Twitter, feel free to tell me now which park you want us to visit. I’ll be reporting back after this experience with everything I learned, and I need your help so that I’ll have something to report!

Posted on September 2, 2015

55 Responses to “All it Takes is Faith and Trust! (And a Little Bit of Help from the Touring Plans Readers)”

  • As an UBER planner myself I am excited for this experiment. I have long maintained you don’t have to plan months in advance to have a great vacation. We kinda did something close a couple of weeks ago for one day ( my heart couldn’t handle anymore)But we decided the day before where we were going. I’ll be following. I would vote for the Magic Kingdom just because that absolutely stresses the experiment to the limit. 🙂

    • by Angela Wilhelm on September 2, 2015, at 12:45 pm EDT

      I’m 100% with you on it being a one day thing! Even though I don’t believe you HAVE to plan, I like it. I take a lot of enjoyment out of the process itself. I also have to ask – is Magic Kingdom the park that stresses the experiment because it is the park with not alcohol? 🙂 Because I’d have to agree with you on that one!

      • LoL. I’m not a drinker. But, I do think that is the park most effected by a local crowd on a random day. Also I think for the casual park goer, that’s going to be their first stop.

        • by Angela Wilhelm on September 2, 2015, at 4:08 pm EDT

          That is definitely true! Particularly for a Saturday.

          And I just couldn’t resist the alcohol crack because, even though I know it will be a great day, the fact that I have no plan raises my blood pressure just a smidge (or 10)! 🙂 My husband has already been teasing me about whether or not I’ll need a drink or two to get through this experiment!

  • Hey, my vote would be Magic Kingdom! I think there are so many attractions there that it would be fairly easy getting same day fastpass selections. Have fun!

  • Can’t vote on Saturday so I’m voting here. EPCOT!
    Can’t wait to read all about it! Have fun!

  • I don’t know how much planning is necessary these days. But the *perception* is that it is required. Which takes half the fun out of vacationing, which is supposed to be relaxing. We’re supposed to go later this Fall and I’m up in the air about ADRs and FastPass+. We have never used FastPass in any form and we have done OK. Though our last trip was September, 2011. I did make some ADRs in 2011: CRT at about 90 days, Chef Mickey’s, Crystal Palace and Coral Reef at about 60 days. No problems getting any of them and a pretty good selection of dates/times. So I am really debating our moves on our next trip. All these things conspire to make WDW less attractive.

    • by Angela Wilhelm on September 2, 2015, at 12:57 pm EDT

      I can see your points here. Since I’m someone who enjoys the planning aspect, Disney’s system really works well for me. But of course there are many people who would prefer to not have to plan in that much detail. I would recommend that you take advantage of FastPass+, but split the difference; don’t make your FastPass+ selections ahead of time, but instead wait until you’re in the park. It’s a nice way to skip some lines, and you won’t feel handicapped by having everything scheduled months in advance. And if there are places you absolutely want to dine, make ADRs for those, but leave some gaps in your schedule to make some other ADRs while you’re in Disney based upon availability. Just a suggestion! If you have any questions about MyMagic+, please feel free to let me know. As an uber-planner I’ve got the system down pretty well. 🙂

  • Regardless of park, are you guaranteed to get there at rope drop?

    • by Angela Wilhelm on September 2, 2015, at 1:04 pm EDT

      Valid question, but one I don’t actually know the answer to. 🙂 Truth be told, we’re going to be up before 4am on Friday for our flight to Orlando, and we’re doing the Illuminations Sparkling Dessert Party on Friday night. So while I ideally would like us to be up for rope drop the next day, I’m not sure how feasible it is. Being honest with myself, that is. 🙂 So we will be going to a park in the morning, but I can’t make the rope drop promise. I will be aiming for rope drop, though!

  • Nice idea, but for a true test, I think you should not be allowed to make any ADRs or FastPasses, period. Just use Lines to determine ride wait times, and try to find an opening at a table service restaurant with no advance reservation.

    • by Angela Wilhelm on September 2, 2015, at 1:15 pm EDT

      I thought about this, but ultimately decided that FastPasses and ADRs would be allowed once on site. My reasoning for this is that anyone who visits a park on a given day has access to FastPass+. It isn’t a special feature, its included. If people don’t want to use it they don’t have to, but they CAN, regardless of whether or not they planned anything out. I also think that it isn’t unreasonable for a person to make an ADR once they are in a park for the day, just like you’d make a same-day reservation on vacation in any city. MyMagic+ is the system Disney gives us to work with, and that includes FastPass+ and ADRs. I want to experience what it is like going into a park with no plan and making decisions on the fly while using the tools Disney provides. I do agree that a no FastPass/no ADR experiment would be interesting, but that isn’t quite the aim of this particular test. Perhaps that will be another question for another day!

    • It can be pretty difficult these days to walk up to a restaurant that takes ADRs. You may be able to see that they have many open tables and there may be ADRs available on the app, but sometimes they still won’t take a walk up (no idea what the reasoning is behind this).

      I also agree with using fp once at the park. I could see not wanting to use the old paper fp system due to the extra walking and often hours before you could use the fp. But now why not use a fp if you can schedule on the app for a time that works.

      • by Angela Wilhelm on September 2, 2015, at 3:47 pm EDT

        I agree! I might not be planning, but I’m still going to be efficient. And I think that people would want to hear about what kind of availability I can get day-of, since that will be useful to them in planning their own non-planned day. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Anne!

  • by Rebecca Fenaughty on September 2, 2015, at 1:17 pm EDT

    This is such a great idea!! I want to un-plan a visit to MK in November, so I vote MK!!

  • We’ve do this every trip for a day or two. Just take the first bus that comes.

    • by Angela Wilhelm on September 2, 2015, at 3:50 pm EDT

      That was our original plan, which became thwarted by a VERY long story regarding us ending up in a Downtown Disney hotel with a rental car… But I LOVE the first bus idea!

  • I’d really like to see how Epcot goes without planning. I’ve been trying to fit in everything in my plan for later in September. I can’t manage to get all the rides plus the pavilions into one day. We’re coming from Australia so I’m trying hard as this will be our third visit in 25 years. Have a great day wherever you end up.

    • by Angela Wilhelm on September 2, 2015, at 3:57 pm EDT

      Epcot is a hard one to do in one day, just based on the sheer size of it. Plus there’s just so much pavilion-based entertainment at different times that it is very easy to get side-tracked from a Touring Plan. I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming trip! If you need anyone to bounce your planning off of, just let me know! 🙂

  • I think this is a great idea! I am an uber-planner myself, who has always felt that planning is half the fun of the vacation. I’m already planning my WDW trip for next June! I’ll be curious to see how you fare with knowledge, but no advance prep.

    I think the Magic Kingdom would be the easiest park to visit, because of the large number of FP attractions, such that you will be able to get same day FP relatively easily. As such, it would be a ‘waste’ of the experiment. I want to throw you in the deep end *evil grin* so I’ll vote for DHS. With many fewer attractions, I think that will be the most difficult to navigate without planning and rope drop. I’d love to see how you fare!

    • by Angela Wilhelm on September 2, 2015, at 4:02 pm EDT

      HERE IT IS!! I’m laughing to myself because I genuinely thought that people would be interested in stretching the experiment to its limits and sending me to Hollywood Studios. Or possibly Animal Kingdom, which (for the record) I am in no way saying is like Hollywood Studios. For some unknown reason I just thought those would be the lead contenders.

      I also love the way you put it – I’ll be armed with knowledge, but no advanced prep. (I might be borrowing that phrase in the future…) I’ve got to say, I appreciate your thought process behind DHS. That’s where I’d send someone!

  • Since I love Animal Kingdom, that’s my vote!

  • Well, since you would send someone to DHS I guess it is fair for me to send you! DHS it is. My daughters and I are meeting in Orlando January 2016 for wedding dress shopping and then to Disney for a princesses and queen mother celebration. I am having more difficulty planning two days then two weeks by far! Enjoy your quick trip and unplanning day! Might as well have a happy unbirthday while you are there!!!

    • by Angela Wilhelm on September 2, 2015, at 5:26 pm EDT

      Touche, Cindy! 🙂 A short trip is SO MUCH harder to plan for than a long one. Give me a week and I’m a lot more chill than I am when I’ve got a limited window. I guess that’s what makes this experiment a lot more realistic than if I did it on a 7 day trip!

      Added note, a princesses and queen mother celebration sounds AMAZING! And with wedding dress shopping – how fun! That’s pairing two of the best activities possible together in one weekend! I wonder if you can find a celebration button for that… 🙂

      • That is a great idea Angela. I will be on the lookout for that button!

        • Our daughter was proposed to right in front of Cinderella Castle last January so our January 2016 trip is a very special trip. The castle show had just finished and her fiance’ stood right in front of the PhotoPass photographer to propose, one knee and all. The crowd caught on and joined in with cheers and whistles! He picked our family reunion and I joined in with tears of joy! So did her dad, brother, and sister. Very wonderful memory!!!

  • I cannot wait to see the results of this. I’m a planner. I have been planning my first Disney trip since July of 2014. We go in December. I am feeling so overwhelmed its stupid. Neither myself or my husband have been before – its a really huge trip for where we live. I want to see if not planning (I can’t get any of my reservation options I want 🙁 ) will still lead to a great day at the park (I know it will anyways) where we get to experience a lot of attractions and festivities and not feel like we missed out on something important.

    • Also I vote for Magic Kingdom as our trip is only two days and we are going to do the heart of Disney at least day one. Leaving day two tentatively floating. I’m beating I have plans for each park with me though LOL

      • by Angela Wilhelm on September 2, 2015, at 7:05 pm EDT

        That’s amazing! And I can also see how it would be overwhelming for a first time trip with just two days for it. For Christmastime, I would say you’re right on the money with Magic Kingdom! Epcot is also so great at that time of year because of the holiday storytellers… but then so is Hollywood Studios with the Osborne Spectacle of Lights… I’m terrible at this game! 🙂 When in December are you going?

        • We will be there December 10 & 11. We will be doing Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party as well on December 10 to squeeze in a few extra hours. As this is such a huge trip for us (just me an my husband) and having never been but being a true Mickey Mouse fan I’m having a hard time not hyperventilating. I’m super sad I can’t get reservations for Be My Guest or Crystal Palace, but I shall keep trying.
          I am secretly hoping we will feel that we have seen enough if not all we want to see at Magic Kingdom on the first day that we can go to a second park, but my husband doesn’t want to be rushing around like crazy.

          • by Angela Wilhelm on September 2, 2015, at 8:03 pm EDT

            That’s such a great time to be there! We’re getting there December 14th, and we traveled at that time last year, too. It was a blast! Smart move on the MVMCP! Definitely take time for the party offerings. Since last year was my first year attending the party I made a full fledged touring plan with all the party offerings I wanted to do in it. I highly recommend that! Actually, as much as we visit and as well as we know the parks, I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll be doing a touring plan for the party again this year. You guys are going to have such a great time!

            And don’t worry – hyperventilation is normal. I’d be worried if you weren’t hyperventilating!! You should definitely keep trying for Be Our Guest or Crystal Palace; all it takes is one cancelled reservation and you’re in! I’ve scored some awesome reservations at the last minute thanks to my determined continual checking. 🙂

          • If you really want one of those dining reservations try googling Disney Dining Buddy. I used this site and paid a one time fee of $8 to monitor the Disney World site and notify me of available reservations. I got a Be Our Guest reservation about one week after I signed up. Good luck!

  • I vote for Hollywood Studios, just because I find that park to be the most difficult to navigate, especially with a crowd, and hard to do everything on your list because of all the showtimes to work around. I planned well in advance and had a plan but still had trouble hitting everything we wanted to do.

    • by Angela Wilhelm on September 2, 2015, at 8:10 pm EDT

      I think the show times are the biggest challenge, too. Funnily enough, I was just filling my husband in on the early votes and he told me he’d be happy with Hollywood Studios because he enjoys walking around there so much. I have a strong suspicion that we’d be park-hopping at some point if we started at DHS…

  • Looking forward to following along on Twitter! I’m voting for DHS!!! PS- I’m a planning nerd too, and my back hurts sometimes also 🙂

    • by Angela Wilhelm on September 3, 2015, at 7:40 am EDT

      Thanks, Scott! 🙂 Its fun to be a planning nerd, isn’t it?!

      • I really thing planning is a major piece of my fun! WDW is so big and complex and full of moving parts so I feel like I need to know EVERYTHING to make sure I’m getting my money’s worth. Plus living so far away, I don’t get to visit very often so I need to make every moment count. Wouldn’t have it any other way! 🙂

        • by Angela Wilhelm on September 3, 2015, at 8:42 pm EDT

          I’m still questioning my sanity for attempting this. 🙂 Not because it’s not possible, but because I cheated myself out of some planning fun. Who knows – maybe this new adventure will be right up my alley, too! (But let’s not hold our breath…)

  • I do not like this experiment, but am voting for Magic Kingdom because it is my favorite park.

    I too am a planner. My struggle this trip is I am staying in two Delux resorts and want to make sure I hang out in the resorts. I want to play in the pool at Polynesian and Beach Club. So now I have scheduled pool time.

    • by Angela Wilhelm on September 3, 2015, at 7:43 am EDT

      Thanks for the vote! I’d love to hear what it is you don’t like about the experiment, if you’d be willing to share.

      You’re right, staying in deluxe resorts is tricky because you want to make sure you take full advantage of the resort offerings while also spending time in the parks. Polynesian and Beach Club in one trip sounds AMAZING! Scheduling pool time for those two is definitely the way to go. Sounds like you’ve got a great plan!

      • We did a split stay with Poly/Beach Club. We stayed at the Poly first , then BC. In hindsight, we DEFINTIELY should’ve flip flopped the order. We felt like sardines for the second half of our trip, and walking to Epcot pales in comparison to the monorail/boat options of the Poly.

        FWIW, my vote is HS. Fastpasses are scarce (day of) and the timing of shows adds a layer of difficulty. Worst case, you’ll end up people watching while sipping something delicious at the Brown Derby lounge, and that would be a fine vacation day in my book. Good luck!

        • by Angela Wilhelm on September 3, 2015, at 8:22 pm EDT

          Your vote just created a tie between Magic Kingdom and DHS! I’m definitely okay with taking it easy and enjoying some atmosphere. Funny thing is (and I’m just now realizing it) that I think a part of me is so convinced that DHS is going to win that I’m kind of prepared for it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not cheating or planning or looking at FP or ADR options, but I am mentally prepared. But at this point it is any park’s game! 🙂

  • I think this is a great idea and look forward to the results. However, I have read repeatedly that vacation planning actually effects our happiness more than the vacation itself. Is Disney forcing more planning on people to cause them to be happier about the experience?

    • by Angela Wilhelm on September 3, 2015, at 6:11 pm EDT

      That is a fascinating question! Thank you for sharing that, because I am exactly the type of planning nerd (to coin another commenter’s phrase) who will now be compelled to look into research in this area. THANK YOU!

  • Definitely Animal Kingdom!!!

  • I’d like to add one additional rule if it’s not too late. I vote for NOT using the MDE app to book anything while in the park but rather try to only use the kiosks. That would better simulate the true “non-planner” that just shows up at a park and tries to make the best of it.

  • I think Magic Kingdom or Epcot would be the best choices since the other parks are about to change a lot in the coming years.I think you would probably be able to do almost everything in Epcot even without advanced planning/FP+. Magic Kingdom is good because there are so many rides with FP and also plenty of things you never need a FP for. Mine Train would be the only big attraction you would probably have to miss (unless you get there super early, or get on line right when the park closes).

  • This is a great experiment. I would also love to see with no ADR and wing it like back in the old days. 🙂

    • by Angela Wilhelm on September 4, 2015, at 3:48 pm EDT

      I’ll split the difference – if we want to make an ADR, I’ll CALL Disney and speak to someone rather than use MDE. 🙂 That’s pretty old-school, and something even the tech-averse would be likely to do. Plus it adds a little bit of (gasp!) human contact back into the equation! Thanks, Carla!