As you know (because I just can’t stop talking about it!), we leave oh-so-soon for mine and Tim’s annual anniversary week-long vacation in Walt Disney World! We have been busy, busy, busy planning, getting ready, and getting excited about our getaway to The Happiest Place on Earth. We have been so many times now, though, that the getting ready has become almost like clock work. Today I would love to share a few of the things that the Elrods do before we arrive and very soon after we arrive, to make the most of our Disney vacation.
Maybe you are not a list person, but when it comes to productivity and remembering every little detail, the Elrods love lists. Tim tends to make them on his notes app on his phone, where as I’m a pen and paper kind of girl. We make lists for everything from “Things to Buy Before We Go” to a simple “Packing List”. In fact, we love lists so much that we have posted a few here on our site for you to use if you like! Click on the What to Pack link above to see those for yourself.
Buy It Here, Not There
Although Disney does have many simple things like toiletries, personal items, diapers, baby formula, and common medications available in many of their gift shops, the Elrods give a big thumbs down to buying those sort of things on property. I know opinions are just that, opinions, but in reading some Disney Goer’s advice to pack light and buy there, we shout out a resounding, “Aghh!” Yes, Disney has those things for sale, but they are so expensive! We highly recommend buying anything and everything you think you are going to need before you go! And if you are planning on going super thrifty, an Elrod WDW Tip is to buy even souvenir t-shirts and such before you go. I’ve seen super cute, authentic Walt Disney clothing and shirts at Walmart for little more than $5! By buying such items before you go, you can look cute and themed in your vacation pictures without having to drop the dough while you’re there.
Make a Vacation Packing Pile
I don’t know why this pile, that would probably look like a pile of clutter to any outsider, makes us so happy, but it just does. Admittedly, we are last minute type of packers when it comes to clothing and toiletries, but a couple weeks before we leave for our WDW trips, we start what we call our Vacation Pile. We pick a corner of counter space in the kitchen, a dresser top, or the dining room table and slowly add things to that spot that we intend to take with us on vacation. What is in our pile right now? New, unopened bottles of mouthwash, our favorite scented hand soap, dish soap, Gerber meals for Jack, a box of Teddy Grahams, and more! Things we don’t want to use before we go, and don’t want to forget to take. Passing by our pile and adding to it over the next couple of days just reminds us of the fun to come! We love it.
Pre-Plan Your Meals
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: If you have a Disney Dining Package, or plan on enjoying any sit-down meals while on vacation, make your reservation ASAP! Disney accepts reservations 180 days out from the day of your arrival. Take advantage of that because many of the restaurants book up quickly. This week, Tim and I are looking over our confirmation numbers and making sure we have them saved in a place where they can be handy when we arrive for our reservations.
Decide on Vacation Must-Do’s
Want to get your picture with Mickey Mouse? Ride the Tower of Terror? Eat a Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar while watching the Wishes nighttime fireworks display? Well, write it down! Or at least tell somebody; say it out loud. Make a list of all of the things that you feel like you must do while there; the things that you would regret and moan over not being able to do on the car ride home. That way they will be tangible, you will be more likely to remember them, and you will have made the most of your Disney vacation. Tim and I have made ours! In fact, we dedicated a whole post to that!
Pre-Plan Your Souvenir Spending Budget
Nobody likes to come home with an arm full of souvenirs and buyer’s remorse. I will be the first to admit that when in Disney, I want to buy up everything! Everything is just so darn cute! When I walk into the kitchen store in the Marketplace I always wish that my entire kitchen was decked head-to-toe in everything Mickey Mouse. Then I get home and realize, “Yeah…that would be a bit much.” Tim and I are budget-conscious people as it is, but even if you are not, I always think it is a great idea to decide ahead of time what you want to spend on souvenirs. That way you don’t over-spend, and you don’t go overboard. We have found that souvenir buying is even more fun that way. It makes you excited to find something you really want, or look for the better deals. It also makes the t-shirt that you can wear over and over look a lot better than the lolly pop or balloon that will be gone by the end of the trip.
Consider a Preferred Room
This is something that you can ask for initially when you book your reservation, or once you arrive upon check-in. Either way, Disney says it is never a guarantee to get a preferred room (although we have gotten one every time we’ve asked for one), and unless you get it as a free upgrade upon arrival, these rooms do cost a little bit more. However, the Elrods say that it’s worth it! Preferred rooms are commonly considerably closer to the eating areas, pools, and transportation areas of the resorts, which means a lot less walking. I don’t know about you, but after a long day in the parks, when I get back to my resort I don’t like having to take a ten minute trot to get to my room. I want to be there quickly so that I can shower, kick my tootsies up, and relax as soon as possible. We’ve already requested ours for this trip! Here’s keeping our fingers crossed! Of course, like we’ve said, we’ve never not gotten it.
Check In Early
Like way early! Like a week early! Yes, that’s right. You can check-in online up to a week early to your resort! We highly recommend this because it speeds up your check-in process once you arrive, and often we get our room earlier than expected, as well. Disney will often tell you that your check-in time is somewhere around 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. We usually arrive somewhere around noon! Once we check in they hand us our room key and take our cell phone number with the promise of sending us a text message when our room is ready. We have never waited longer than about half an hour before receiving our text. Often times it is around 10-15 minutes! What do we do while we are waiting? Browse the gift shop. Change into our swimsuits in the lobby bathroom and take a dip in the pool. Hop a bus to Downtown Disney. You name it. You’re in Disney World! There is plenty to do! Just leave your suitcases in the car.
Plan on Purchasing a Resort Mug
I’ve talked about how great of a deal these mugs are before. If you plan on drinking something other than water your whole trip, and think you will buy more than three or four drinks at your resort, then go ahead and spring for the resort refillable mug. It’s worth it.
Whatever you do, before or during your Walt Disney World vacation, don’t stress out! If making packing lists stresses you out, don’t do it! If you want to skip the budget and buy what you want when you’re there, do it! The whole point of vacation is to get away, enjoy time with your family and friends, and relax. Make memories. Savor the sweetness of life. You may have noticed that I did not blog this past Friday on Fun Facts ‘n Trivia Friday, but it was because I had just lost a dear friend of mine. An unexpected death is something that will always make you count your blessings and slow down to smell the roses a bit. It is so easy to get caught up in life’s busyness and routines. Vacation, Disney or not, is a great time to break away from all of that. So don’t stress out about it. Make the most of it.
Thanks for reading along! I am having so much fun in the getting ready, but I am so excited about being there, and sharing our trip reports with you when we get back! Happy Blogday Tuesday, friends! See you tomorrow for another [Almost] Wordless Wednesday.