The thing is as this is an expensive trip and we want to "do it right," there's a lot of planning to be done! We worked with a Disney Travel Agent named Samantha with Magical Vacations Travel. I cannot imagine trying to navigate a the world of Disney planning without a guide! Samantha did most of the pre-work for us -- gave us several options of where to stay on property, ticket options and made reservations for us for several Character meals and, of course, Jessie's visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. As we will be at Disney World over Jessie's 5th birthday, we decided we might as well give her a 5th birthday she'll never forget!
There are a million different sites, bloggers, travel agents/guides, etc who can assist you with putting together your vacation. Aside from Samantha, probably my biggest source of information came from a combination of the above in the form of Pinterest. I started my board over a year ago, before we had even really discussed it. It was merely an idea we had. I have to say the best part of this is the ability to take pieces from each blogger and figure out what works for us.
A few of my big takeaways:
- Planning ahead is SO important. Lunch at Cinderella's Castle on Jessie's birthday? Check. Meeting Elsa & Anna on Jessie's birthday? Check. Without planning ahead, these would not have been "easy" to get. Our travel agent made the dinner reservations the day our window opened (180 days out). And Rocky was online at 11 pm to get the FastPass to meet Elsa the day that window opened (60 days out).
- Make a schedule - how ever it works for you. I ended up creating an excel spreadsheet to compliment our schedule on MyDisneyExperience [mostly because the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reservation doesn't show up on MyDisneyExperience]. There are many options that people share on Pinterest, but for me, the spreadsheet seems to be working. I've got it saved on GoogleDocs and will print a copy before we leave.
- Don't plan by yourself. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement, but man, has it been fun talking about our trip with my family!! I love a good surprise and am not a present peeker, but I'm not sure how these parents can actually plan something like this without including their kids! I think I know the girls well enough, but I know I would be sweating over whether or not Maggie would want to do the princess make-over with Jessie or does Maggie even want to meet ANY princesses?
- Build in some downtime. I can't count the number of people who have told us this. We will be there for 6 full days (2 travel days) and I've built in a couple of opportunities for us to either hang at the pool or visit one of the water parks -- we purchased park hoppers and got a free day at one of the water parks of our choice. We'll see what the girls want to do. I've even blocked a night out for Rocky & me. Disney offers in-room babysitters or kid clubs. We are waiting until we get there to decide which. A good opportunity for Rocky & I to check out the Disney Brew Pub or try a few drinks through Epcot World Showcase.
We have 41 days to go. I did some countdown calendars for the girls, but they kind of fell to the way side. I have one in my office, just on post it notes. This is the first time in a long time I've taken 2 weeks away from work and I'm really looking forward to it. Feels like a great way to kick off summer! I know I'll update with more tips once we return!