Let the countdown and planning begin! I had no trip home planned in my future, and then suddenly I had a trip to plan. We are a group of 10 going home. Being the official travel planner, I am always in charge of reservations, fast passes, and anything else a trip entails, which I love. To add to the excitement, I also do a trip countdown. When my kids were little this was a written on a chalkboard in my son’s room, and I would excitedly update this daily, sometimes from 360 days! Yes, I was a little crazy… and maybe still am, but I digress. Once we hit around 40 days, I would make a paper chain that the kids could rip off each night before bed. I wrote something on the loop, to say what we are doing. Things like: In 35 days we will be flying on an airplane to Disney! Or, in 7 days we will be eating supper with Winnie the Pooh and friends! I listed all types of things to get the kids as excited as me.
Now that the kids are older, I have changed the countdown to an electronic one. I have a group text that I send out daily, with a similar message as the chain loops had. Now it’s a little easier, as I can add a photo, and I love getting responses back. Since some of my group already lives in Florida, and I don’t see them often, I ask questions about what they would like to do. This gives the other trip goers a chance to say what they would like to see or do while we are home. And this way no one can complain that they weren’t asked to contribute to the trip. Most are just happy they are going and just go with the flow. Some have suggestions and let me know what they want to do, which makes things a little easier. I am probably lucky that all 9 don’t come back with demands, as I am not sure I would be able to get all of them in, within the short time we are home. This is one of those cases of ‘be careful what you wish for!’
Some of the other messages I send are about what to expect, and I also include old pics of trips in the past. Since we traveled there together years ago, these are a hit as everyone is so little. These daily texts remind everyone of the trip coming up, bring everyone together, and create anticipation.
Some suggestions for a daily text:
1. Always announce number of days until the trip first, to be consistent.
2. Attach an image. Statistics show that posts with images get read more. And who wouldn’t want to see wonderful pictures of home?
3. Ask others what they would like to see, where they would like to eat, what rides they don’t want to miss.
4. Include older pics of people going on a trip to reminisce.
Now onto the planning part. Disney has a wonderful app called “my Disney experience”. This incredible app lets you do everything from your phone! I can be on my way to dinner months before, and be changing our fast passes to a more convenient time. Sometimes you need to have patience, as your reservations may need to be refreshed to show up. This app is also very handy while you are at the parks, as it tells you wait times for rides. We were leaving one night, at midnight, when we saw that Peter Pan’s Flight had only a 20-minute wait! We turned right around on Main Street and headed back to the ride, and then stayed till 2am enjoying the short wait times. Thank goodness for this app! It’s also helpful for getting dining reservations. When trying to get the rare Be Our Guest reservation, I have tried many different times throughout the day to get a coveted reservation. Sometimes I have been lucky, sometimes not. But it beats trying to call and waiting, only to be told its not available. How did we ever do this before an app?
Although I love the app, and use it immensely, I am still a paper girl. I like having a paper schedule to look at and hold in my hands. That being said, I always also have an excel spreadsheet color coded, with all this info at my fingertips. Yes, I admit it, I am an out of control planner. But I feel as though this is added fun to the trip, and am disappointed when the trip is over and I am done planning. I understand that not all feel this way, and my BFF is always thankful when I take these duties and she just shows up to enjoy her trip. Not everyone can be a compulsive planner – as I always tell me daughter, different people is what makes the world so wonderful. I honestly think some amount of planning is necessary as the parks are so busy. Fast passes are very necessary. I also think that fast pass selection is wonderful, but can ruin any spontaneity. I read an article a few years ago with the idea of playing a game at the bus stop, which always intrigued me. Go to the bus stop in the morning, and jump on the first bus that arrives and go to that park. I have always wanted to do this, and hope someday I can “let it go” and do it!
So what are your countdowns like? Do you do this at all? Have I inspired you to start one or are you just thankful you are not held hostage in my group texts? And are you a compulsive planner like me or do you just wing it? I would love to hear if I am alone, or in lots of company.
(Editor’s note: Here’s a countdown calendar you can print that we shared on an earlier blog post. Also, check out our Disney Countdown Calendars board on Pinterest. It has tons of ideas for different ways to countdown to your trip.)
Guest Blogger, Marnie Reynolds-Bourque is an accomplished artist who paints lovely Disney inspired scenes, as well as many other subjects. You can see her work at: http://www.artistmarnie.com/disney-gallery.html.