The Vacation Nazi

I admit that I am a vacation nazi, but I'm not going to change in the foreseeable future. I plan my guts out for weeks, sometimes months, before a trip or any big event in my life. I did it for my wedding, the births of my kids, birthday parties, family vacations...I have no control over it. The up side is that because of all this planning, I can really be chill once the trip, party, event begins. If I haven't planned it by then, there is nothing I can do about it. So far, this anal retentiveness has worked out for me.

We're preparing for our third trip to Disney in a few days. This will be the first trip with the Big Guy, as he's usually in classes for a conference during this time and shows up in the evenings or parts of days, to join us for dinner/rides. So, some of these things may be unnecessary, but I have to stick since I've done okay thus far.

1. Before the trip I purchase a subscription to Ridemax This is a God send for planning psychos like me. You can get lots of insider's tips about how early to get into line, when to pick up your fast pass, where to sit for the best view, the best plan of attack, etc... You can even choose the attractions you'd like to see each day and print up an itinerary that literally holds your hand through the park, saving you time, waiting, and walking.

This was so valuable for me the first time I took my three boys to the park alone. I was unfamiliar with the layout (I have no sense of direction) and didn't know where to begin. We followed it loosely for the first few days until we got the hang of it, then didn't need it for the last few days. I'm not really regimented about the itinerary, it just gives me some direction when we're all standing there going, "What do you want to do? I don't know, what do YOU want to do?"

I purchase the 90 day subscription for under $20.

2. I always dress my three boys in matching shirts and hats each day we are at the parks. It is easier for me to locate them and if one gets lost, and I don't have to think about how to describe their outfit to the security. I can just point to one of my others and say "he looks like that!" Disney Shopping has a great outlet where you can get cool licensed Disney T's that even my 10 year old will wear for under $5.

Some of my friends think this is overkill, but I also carry their most recent school picture and the student ID cards they get from school with their height, weight and eye color, and fingerprints on them. I just do NOT want to loose my kids, I'm a little paranoid about whack-jobs that prey on little kids.

3. If they wear a Star Wars t-shirt to Jedi Training Academy show, it will greatly increase their chances of getting called on stage. If they get called on stage, it will greatly increase your chances of not listening to them whine the rest of the day. Bonus.

4. Pack lunch in snack form and refill water bottles for the day - stick it all in a backpack. I made it through each day by spending less than $10 (for a snack) in the parks each day. We ate breakfast at home, ate our lunch on a bench and refilled bottles, then waited for the Big Guy to take us out for dinner at night. The kids didn't complain, because granola bars, gogurts, and goldfish didn't seem like boring home lunch.

5. Keep a master packing list on the computer. I add to it when I get home if I've forgotten something and print out the new one each year. I do this for vacation, camping, etc... It saves time and assures that you will remember everything, and you just check off items as you pack them.

6. Do homework in the morning before you loose all leverage. You can't go play until you finish a page of school work. No homework no Mickey.

7. Bring a couple pairs of shoes on the trip in case one pair causes a blister from walking, getting wet, whatever. For some reason, shoes my kids have worn for months with no problems cause blisters when walked in for 5 miles a day/3 days in a row.

To the park always bring bandaids, neosporin, moleskin, and children's tylenol. Trust me, one of them will spike a fever when you are there and that stuff costs a mint in the park.

8. Pay attention to the Magic Hours schedules and do NOT go to those parks on those days. I know it seems counter intuitive, but they will be the most crowded parks on those days due to that little "perk" they dangle in front of all the on-grounds guests. Stay away, far away!

9. Purchasing your tickets through AAA will get you up-front parking for no additional fee. Oh, and make sure to keep a pen and paper on you, all of those characters names and numbers begin to run together after about the 3rd day there. Were we in Pinocchio 17 or Tinkerbell 71?!? Wait, where am I? Who am I?

10. Collect fast passes all day long and use them when kids are the crankiest, and less able to wait, in the afternoon. In the morning when it isn't busy, you can usually get a fast pass every 15 minutes or so, then stash them for when the "magic" is wearing off, and the lines are getting long, from 3-6. There is a window of time when you are supposed to return, but they only check to be sure you aren't coming early.

11. Tips for the trip to and from Disney from home can be found in it's own post tomorrow.

Finally, we are trying an experiment this year to save us on the ticket prices. Rather than purchasing the "park hopper" option (this allows you to "hop" from one park to another in one day) we decided to purchase more days. The park hopper added $250 to the total ticket price, but adding 2 extra days for each person cost less than $50. Our thought is to burn a day if we decide to "hop". I'll let you know if it works when I get home.

If you have any tips you'd like to add, please add them to the comments section. Us moms have to stick together!


  1. You are awesome! A girl after my own heart! Such good ideas!

  2. We're going to WDW for the first time on Monday. Thanks for the tips.

  3. I am going with my two daughters for the first time in April, I will keep watching your blog for more great ideas, THANKS!

  4. Jennifer- I've just enjoyed the last several minutes catching up with your recent posts. How DO you DO it all? You humble me. This is a great post. I took 6yo grandson to west coast Disney almost two years ago. Bought a tip book. The only tip I remember following was "get there by 7:30 am and beat the crowds". Holy crap--I think the crowd that was already there when we arrived was larger than our town's population. Guess they all bought the same book. Here's what I'm doing next time; pull him out of school and go mid week!
    You sound totally on top of things so you deserve to HAVE A GREAT TIME! Thanks for a super read every time I come here.

  5. See you there, myonlysunshine!!! Thanks, Jen!

  6. your tips are great - I think you've pretty much got it all covered. :) safe travels & have tons of fun!

  7. Wow.. You are a plan-aholic. Thanks for putting up with fly by the seat of your pantsers like me.

  8. I have to admit that I commend your organization skills!!!

  9. We are season pass holders and go frequently to the parks, so saving money on food is essential. We buy the double cheeseburgers with fries for $8 and ask for an extra bun. Sometimes they give it to me free, sometimes they charge 79 cents. So for $8-9, I can feed two kids. I order the kids meal for me for $5 then use the plate that comes with it to make myself a salad from the table with hamburger fixings. Some places even have croutons and salad dressing. Even if the kids each get a drink (one comes with the kids meal), three of us eat our fill for less than $20.


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