Note from Estelle: I am beyond thrilled to welcome a new guest writer to This Happy Place Blog: the friendly, funny, Disney mega-fan, Alan, who tweets up a storm and chats about everything Disney with his buddies on the fantastic Enchanted Tiki Talk podcast. (Have you listened? Their guest list is so impressive!) I hope you’ll give him a warm welcome today! Take it away, Alan!
Hello, my name is Alan and I’m a compulsive planner. I’m not ashamed of the fact that I’m a Type A Personality. I’m organized and because of that, I generally accomplish things that I want to accomplish because I have a plan already laid out. This obsession with planning means that a Walt Disney World vacation is right up my alley. You mean I need to plan my meals six months in advance? Okay, that’s fine. Wait, I need to tell you which attractions I want to visit two months in advance? No worries, I got it. I’ve been on several Disney vacations and have always booked several months in advance and I’m on the phone exactly 180 days out to make my dining plans. Until recently that is.
For the first time in our lives, my wife and I “grabbed the bull by the horns” and did a Walt Disney vacation on a whim. On the night of March 6th, we booked three nights at Port Orleans Riverside for the weekend of the 7th-10th. You’re probably thinking we’re locals. No, we live in North Carolina, a good nine hours or more from Orlando. We decided to go to Disney World exactly 18 hours before our departure time. Right now, you’re saying to yourself “but Alan, I’ve been reading that spontaneity in a Walt Disney World vacation is dead.” I’m here to tell you that those stories are grossly exaggerated.
Not only were we able to take a last minute trip, but we were able to do so while still enjoying everything that we set out to do. We were able to book the resort of our choice one day before checking in. Bonus points are added since Riverside was a new resort for us! We were also able to book every FastPass+ option that we wanted including Toy Story Midway Mania and Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios as well as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom. Not only were we able to book them, but we were also able to change the times on the fly when our plans changed. “But Alan, certainly you weren’t able to eat at any table service restaurants since you didn’t book 180 days in advance!” Nope, that’s not true either! While it’s true that some of the extremely popular restaurants like Be Our Guest or ‘Ohana were long since booked full, there were still plenty of available restaurants to choose from. In fact, for both of our table service meals, we booked our reservation less than 5 hours before our dinner time.
I have to admit that we enjoyed this trip quite a bit. Since the decision to go was last minute, it felt as though we had stolen some much needed Disney time. We could have been at home doing our normal weekend routine. One or both of us would have been at work. The laundry room would have been getting a lot of attention and a run to the grocery store would have been in the cards like usual. Instead, we were strolling World Showcase enjoying food from around the world and watching the debut of a brand new Magic Kingdom parade. That’s definitely not a bad trade off. Having said that, I don’t think this will be a common occurrence. It’s not that we didn’t enjoy the trip. It’s just that making a last minute decision to drive nine plus hours to take a $1000 weekend trip is not something that can happen too often. No, I think this Type A personality will continue to book well in advance and savor the countdown and the planning.
It’s obvious that Disney wants you to plan in advance. And if you absolutely must have dinner at Le Cellier or Cinderella’s Royal Table, then it’s probably best that you book your Disney World vacation early so that you may take advantage of the early booking window. However, if you’re okay with missing those “must do” restaurants, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t still take a spur-of-the-moment Disney World Vacation. Sure, Type A’s like me will have a slight advantage in terms of dining reservations and FastPass+ time slots, but you still have the ability to go and enjoy a relaxed vacation without worrying about every detail of your trip. If a hardcore planner like me can enjoy a relaxed Disney vacation, I’m here to tell you that anyone can!