Let's look at four different families for this example. While everyone is different, this is a good spectrum of the types of people who head to Disney World:
- The "Just wing it" family - they're heading to Disney with little or no knowledge. Maybe they visited Disney in the past, or learned a little from a Disney vacation DVD, or got some tips from a friend who "knows Disney", but for the most part they're going in blind.
- The "Some research" family - These people may have bought a guidebook, or looked around on the internet for advice. They've gotten some tips and tricks, and know the basics. They've probably made a few reservations for dining in advance.
- The "Obsessive research" family - these people have likely been to Disney many times before. They obsessively plan out all the details for their trips, researching park maps, guidebooks, websites, and web forums. They were up at 6am 180 days before their trip began to get their dining reservations
- The "Optimal Magic" family - while our customers all all sorts of people, for this example, let's assume they're a family with professionals as parents, who want to take their children to Disney World, don't have the time (or desire) to obsessively plan, but want to have the best trip possible, do everything they want, but avoid the lines and crowds.
So what are the pros and cons of each strategy? Let's look at four areas - 1) Preparation time, 2) Attractions visited, 3) wait time, and 4) stress level.
- "Just Wing It Family" - almost none. They want to enjoy Disney "spur of the moment" - they may not even decide which park to go to each day until they finish breakfast!
- "Some Research" family - Maybe 3-4 hours, skimming a few books and visiting websites. They will usually at least have an idea of which park they want to visit each day.
- "Obsessive Research" family - 30-40 hours or more. They read all the sites. They listen to all the podcasts. They build spreadsheets to determine their plan of attack each day.
- "Optimal Magic" family - 1-2 hours. One conversation with me to learn exactly what they want to do, and their constraints. Perhaps a few emails back and forth. Then, I build their park plans based on this information and send them along. It takes maybe 30 minutes while on the plane to fully understand the plans, and then there's an easy guide for each day of the trip.
- "Just Wing It Family" - very few. They're going to be either standing in line all day, or going from attraction to attraction trying to find one with a wait shorter than 45 minutes.
- "Some Research" Family - A handful more - they know not to visit the big-line attractions in the afternoon, for instance, and can add in a few more attractions.
- "Obsessive Research" Family - Lots of attractions. All the research pays off! They will know several good touring strategies, and generally get on most of the attractions they want.
- "Optimal Magic" Family - Lots of attractions. This family will get to go on everything they want, often multiple times (if that's what they want to do!)
- "Just Wing It" Family - extreme. These are the poor people waiting 45 minutes for Splash Mountain, 60 minutes for Peter Pan, 75 minutes for Soarin', or 120 minutes for Toy Story Mania. They'll come back with the horror stories of extreme wait times.
- "Some Research" Family - high. Hopefully these people won't be in too many of the extreme lines, but they're going to be waiting for most attractions. Some Fastpass usage will decrease it a little, but still, they're going to be spending hours in line each day.
- "Obsessive Research" Family - low. Once again, the research pays off. They've learned many of the tips to avoid lines, and will avoid most of the longest lines, and use Fastpass in a smart manner.
- "Optimal Magic" Family - very low. The Optimal Magic plans are designed to help you avoid ALL the long lines. Optimal Magic families simply don't wait in any lines.
- "Just Wing It" Family - extreme. All the long lines, the heat, and the heavy crowds lead to cranky kids and crankier adults.
- "Some Research" Family - high. Long lines, heat and crowds lead to the same issues as the "Just Wing It" family.
- "Obsessive Research" Family - Varies. Some obsessive planners stress out as their planning, but others enjoy it. some families are all obsessive planners, which can mean less stress because everyone is on the same page. More often, however, you have one obsessive planner with others who are not. This can lead to significant stress.
- "Optimal Magic" Family - none. Every day is laid out in a nice, simple to understand format, and custom-built for your group and your situation. And if you ever get into trouble (if, say, an attraction is down, or something else goes wrong), a quick call or text to Optimal Magic will get you going again right away!
So which is the right strategy?
First, let's discuss what is NOT the right strategy. The "Just Wing It" approach is a disaster waiting to happen. Sure, there may be some fun moments here and there, but these are the people who come back from Disney World with horror stories. You really don't want to be one of them! The "Some Research" approach really isn't much better. I call it the "know just enough to be dangerous" approach. Sure, you may know one or two tips, but you'll still encounter lines, crowds, and stress.
That leaves two strategies - "Obsessive Research" and "Optimal Magic." You probably expect me to say that Optimal Magic is appropriate for all families. However, that really isn't the case - there are cases where the "Obsessive Research" route makes sense.
If you actually enjoy the research, and if you are willing to put in the significant time to research the best touring strategies, and if all members of your family are on board, then being an "Obsessive Planner" can work pretty well for you. But you really need to commit to it. Visit all the sites. Buy (and read) all the guidebooks. Study the maps. Make the spreadsheets. You'll probably be able to put together a reasonably decent plan. But if you don't do the obsessive planning, you're just fooling yourself, and you're in the "Some Research" group, and going to be waiting in lines or missing out on experiences.
However, if the idea of spending 40 hours researching your Disney trip sounds awful, or if you want to ensure you have the absolute best plan for a Disney trip, with the least waiting and the most attractions visited, then you want to be an Optimal Magic family! The advantages are many:
- You get all the advantages of being an Obsessive Planner and more! (Obsessive Planners may tout their great park plans, I'll put my plans up against any other plan as being the best, easiest to use, most flexible, most personalized and customized, and most fun!)
- You don't spend 40 hours planning your days at the park. Doesn't 1-2 hours sound easier and more relaxing than 40+ hours?
- You can be assured that you will get to do everything you want to do without waiting, and without stress.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section of the blog, or drop me a line. Thanks!