Since TouringPlans.com is a site with a basis in numbers, I thought I’d throw some basic ones at you to get the ball rolling:
- There are more than 6.5 billion people living in the world today.
- Approximately 50 million of those people visit Walt Disney World each year (0.77%).
- There are 18.5 million people living in the state of Florida.
- Using 0.77% as a basis, at least 143 thousand of those visit WDW each year (likely more due to proximity).
- Approximately 900 thousand of those live in the Central Florida area.
- Again, using 0.77% as a basis, at least 7 thousand of those visit WDW each year (likely much more).
And I am one of those few. Those of you that follow me online (tperlmutter on both Twitter and Facebook) know that I head to WDW at about once a week, sometimes more though I occasionally miss a week. This is not as frequently as some locals, but it’s what fits with my schedule. Believe me, if I could go more, I would.
There are locals that go maybe a half dozen days all year long. For them going to the park, works the same as anyone else who’s coming down for a family vacation from out of state. And they fall into the same three groups: the planners (yay!), the ones that don’t know what they missed, and the ones who know exactly what they missed (aka “the miserable”). The planners use the same resources as a non-Local: tour books such as The Unofficial Guide or websites like TouringPlans.com. I actually have one co-worker who will sit me down and plan her park days for her.
When I lived up North and was coming down three to five times a year, I was a complete commando. Rope drop to lights out every day with the sore feet, aching back, and sleep deprivation to prove it. Park map and pen in one hand, tour guides in the other. I wouldn’t be satisfied on any trip until most, if not all, of the rides in a park were checked off on that map before I left. Every minute not spent in a park was, to me, a wasted minute. (does this all sound familiar?) Today, I’m fairly certain that if I tried to do that on a weekly basis that I’d slowly go insane.
But when I first moved down, and my schedule was more flexible because I was working from home, I tried to do this three or four times a week. I literally wanted to be in each park once a week. Within a few short months I did get burnt out a bit. Going this often, trying to do all the rides each week, it was crazy. Inside of 3 months I’d been to WDW many more times than I’d been in my entire life prior. Looking back I realize now that this was the wrong approach. It was overload.
My wife (cherylp3) and I decided to take a break and rethink our approach. And the new approach came down to one simple thing: moderation.
That’s really what works for us. We pick a park, maybe two if we’re going to get an early enough start. We may book a dinner, or we’ll just go with a counter service. We’ll pick just a few rides here and there, sometimes based on weather or crowds (Crowd Calendar). We might “call an audible” depending on how things look when we get there and change our plans on the fly. There are some days when we’ll got to a park like Epcot and just walk around, never even riding a ride. Just enjoying the scenery, the people, and the atmosphere.
Planning? Generally the most important things for our weekly visit come down to two things: crowds, and parking. Crowd levels found on the Crowd Calendar are often the best way to go, and these days I do this using Lines (my addiction!). Whereas crowds dictate where you’re going, parking can very often be about where you’re going to end up. For example, if you know you’re going to start your day in Epcot, but finish up in Magic Kingdom (yes, we do hop) then parking at the TTC rather than Epcot is, to me, the better choice.
You’re also probably wondering if we ever stay overnight at WDW? You bet. For starters, we’re still Disney Vacation Club members, and just two weeks ago we stayed in Bay Lake Towers for our Anniversary Weekend. And had a fabulous time, despite the quirkiness of the BLT Studio rooms. This past weekend with it being the first Star Wars Weekend, and the StudiosCentral events as well as Lou Mongello’s 24-hour livecasting event, we decided to stay over, spending one night at the nearby Sheraton Safari (worlds largest pyton waterslide!!!) and one night at the Boardwalk Villas.
These “staycations” are a lot of fun for us. All of our vacations prior to moving to Central Florida were to Florida to see family and WDW anyway. So just taking short trips down the road serve the same purpose well for us. Disney is a very self contained place, once you get in there, it really doesn’t matter where you’re coming from, or how you got there. All guests are treated the same by castmembers. That specialness is applied equally to all. It’s easy when you’re there to forget that you live just down the road.
But you’re probably wondering what keeps drawing me back? For starters, I just simply love being there. The sights, the sounds, that unmistakable feeling that I get every time I arrive in the parks, that music that makes me bounce and dance during IllumiNations or SpectroMagic. There’s the fact that once you have an Annual Pass being able to go to the parks becomes just a matter of getting there. And very often it’s you. My wife and I are constantly making plans to meet up with others in the parks. Talking to you online is a lot of fun, but taking those online friendships and translating them into real world ties, seeing you at a meetup, talking with you in person. It strengthens the bond of our Disney addiction, there’s a tremendous about of value in that for me.
Enough about me though, what about you? What keeps bringing you back? How do you Plan your trips? I’m looking forward to seeing what you have to say, and to maybe meet you in person one day if I haven’t already.