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  1. #1

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    Question Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    So, I am a planner. An obsessive insane planner who uses Ridemax, looks at all of the show times before our trip and makes excel spreadsheets. (yes, I know, total nerd).

    We always have fun at the parks, and I think the plan helps because It keeps us from standing in the mob of people in Adventureland saying "what do you wanna do next? I dunno? What do YOU want to do. I dunno??" I fear that if I don't plan our days, we will wander aimlessly into unnecessary lines, miss shows and starve because we missed our priority seating time.

    I know how to use fastpass, we get to the parks early and we are a pretty laid back crowd (four this trip).

    So I guess I am curious, what's life like as a Disneyland "freestyler" and how can I convert , or at least adjust...and enjoy the parks at a more laid back pace?

    Thank you for your wisdom...
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  2. #2

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    All I do is make a big circle around the park starting with Space Mountain, going through Toontown, to Fantasyland, to Frontierland, to New Orleans Square to Critter country, to Adventureland and back to Main Street for treats. Somehow, shows and food always get worked into the plan quite nicely. Its hard to explain without writng a couple pages on it but I highly suggest trying once or twice. Its the only way to go!

  3. #3

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    You mean there are people who don't wander aimlessly all day and then suddenly discover that they missed all the shows and and are starving?

    But seriously, I usually go with a plan on what attractions (and eateries) are highest priority. Being early and using FastPass are just a given, if you have the time. But I also like to be open to special happenings and street entertainment that may pop up too.

    When I go home, it's good to have checked off my A List (E-Ticket?) items, a few of the lesser ones, and discovered something totally unexpected.
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  4. #4

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    okay, well you print out the spreadsheet and head for Disneyland*. When you get there, exit your car, walk toward the tram station and then proceed to ball up the spreadsheet and throw it away in the nearest trash can (or hold onto it, and feed it to PUSH)

    now, you are free from the constraints of your planning. see, such energy wasted. In planning you lose sight of the Way.

    Now then, after exiting the tram, you can choose a park (flip a coin if this is too spontaneous for you). Then enter the park of choice and begin walking down main paths. See something that looks fun? Go do it. When you're done, you may have an idea of what sounds fun to do next. If so, then go do it. If not, keep walking, when you see something that looks fun, go for it. Do not forget to check the show schedules so you do not miss any fun show that day. This is the only "planning" allowed. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

    This is the Way of the spontaneous park-goer. I have passed my wisdom down to you, grasshopper. Please take these teachings with discipline and respect.


    *Note: to save a tree, omit this step.

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    Deeeep^^

  6. #6

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    I'm planner only when I have to take out-of-towners to the parks, and that happens at least twice a year. I also plan when I go with friends who are not APers since they insist on seeing every show and getting on every attraction! Otherwise, I just wander around and ride what I feel like it when I'm on one of my random trips to the parks!
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  7. #7

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    I think the trick is to spend enough days at the park (about a week works for us) so that you end up getting it all done without having to plan. If you live close by, get an AP so you don't have to plan because you can always do something the next time. If none of those work, let someone else in your group be the leader/planner. You be the mindless follower, or better said, the carefree floater.

  8. #8

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    If I'm spending a full day, open to close, I generally go in with at least a game plan. Said game plan usually consists of "Get Space Mountain FPs, then ride Peter Pan and anything else we want to in Fantasyland," but we usually decide at least the first hour or so before we get to the park. From there, once we start running out of game plan, we discuss and debate in line until we figure out what to do next. (This is about what we did for Gumball Rally, by the by.)

    When I'm on my own, I usually swing through the west side and see who's working, then head wherever my fancy takes me. Sometimes I want to ride lots of stuff, sometimes I want to chill in the Animation Building for an hour. I just go with it.

  9. #9

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    If i'm with people who never go, then I insist on the big rides sometime in the day but they can be at any order depending on the crowd.

    As an APer though, anything goes. Which sometimes means I don't get to ride on the big rides for long stretches of time since I usually only have time for a few hours at a time.


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  10. #10

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    That's the beauty of AP.no planning no rush everything is spontanious.after 100's of DL visits I finally took a look in the firestation.I set foot in the golden horseshoe for the first time last month.I still have to experience alot more things there,like mainstreet entertainment.I used to skip fireworks and parades,for rides.I didn't see fantasmic until 2005.

  11. #11

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    A lot depends on where you live and if you have APs.

    If you live far away and a trip to Disneyland is a big deal, then planning is a good idea. It may be awhile before you return and you want to be able to do certain things.

    However: If you live fairly close and have APs... forget planning. Just go. Wander around. There's so much more to Disneyland than the rides. If you don't do something today, who cares. Make a mental note to do that the next time.

    ...and you won't starve, trust me.
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  12. #12

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    I'm obsessively planning our trip to WDW. And I have the color-coded excel spreadsheets to prove it!! This is a huge vacation for us & I want to have a plan in mind, but I'm also willing to change and adapt once we get there. I would just rather be prepared since this is our first big trip.

    Disneyland is just so much smaller & intimate. Even throwing DCA into the mix, it's just not on the same scale as WDW. I have the luxury of having an AP as well, so I rarely feel rushed or pressured to stick to a schedule while I'm there. I love being able to go to a meet on a Sunday, lolligag around the hub for 45 minutes, have a 90 minute lunch and go on a couple of rides.

    It's nice to be able to experience the Parks as both a "day guest/tourist" and as an "AP/regular." I don't think either one is necessarily better than the other. It just depends on your situation.
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  13. #13

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Chaney View Post
    A lot depends on where you live and if you have APs.

    If you live far away and a trip to Disneyland is a big deal, then planning is a good idea. It may be awhile before you return and you want to be able to do certain things.

    However: If you live fairly close and have APs... forget planning. Just go. Wander around. There's so much more to Disneyland than the rides. If you don't do something today, who cares. Make a mental note to do that the next time.

    ...and you won't starve, trust me.
    Thanks Tom! We live in AZ and don't currently have APs. But we are fortunate enough to be able to visit the parks several times a year if it strikes our fancy. So, perhaps a chill pill is in order.

    I appreciate all of the suggestions, thanks! I think I will not feed my plan to PUSH just yet, but I will use it as a fallback plan to assist our freestyle visit. (Pixiechick will understand why this thought gives me a stomach ache, but I am willing to try! Color-coded excel spreadsheet girls UNITE!)
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  14. #14

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    Other than getting FPs for Space Mountain (because the line can be so long) and Roger Rabbit (because I don't love the ride enough to wait an hour for it), I'm an aimless wanderer. I've never left feeling like a missed something, though.

    If I tried to stick to a schedule, and rushed directly from place to place, I could end up checking everything off the list but still feeling like a missed some intangible aspect of a trip to DL. You know?

  15. #15

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    Re: Balancing planning vs. Spontaneity in the parks

    Quote Originally Posted by iluvdisney01 View Post
    I'm planner only when I have to take out-of-towners to the parks, and that happens at least twice a year. I also plan when I go with friends who are not APers since they insist on seeing every show and getting on every attraction! Otherwise, I just wander around and ride what I feel like it when I'm on one of my random trips to the parks!
    I'm exactly the same. When it's just my wife and I, we go without a plan and just enjoy everything as it comes. A ride here, a show there, check out a store, maybe grab a fastpass. Nothing urgent, just enjoy each others company in the Happiest Place on Earth.

    When we take friends/family who don't get to go very often, then I turn into Eisenhower planning the Normandy Invasion!

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