Like looking at wedding inspo, is there a time when you need to stop the honeymoon planning? Offbeat Bride reader juliegolick explores this question while giving all you Disneyworld geeks TONS of travel tips…
My future husband and I had a conversation last night about our Disney World honeymoon (“Disneymoon”). It wasn't an argument — there were no raised voices, it wasn't even that tense. But what we had here was a failure to communicate, and it stemmed from our different planning styles.
When it comes to vacations, he has a more general “wing it and hope for the best” attitude. He told me yesterday that the last time he went to Disney World, about a decade ago, he showed up, got his tickets, and then had a blast for three days.
This would drive me batty.
I'm a consummate planner. Some would say I'm an over-planner, and I'm willing to live with that label. When I start a new project or undertaking, I try to learn as much as I can so that I can make informed decisions. I'm willing to accept that I might not be able to get everything I want — but at least I want to know my options.
So for the last month or so, I've been spending a lot of time reading about Disney World. A lot of time. Probably more time than I should. I like feeling, if not like an insider, then at least as close to it as I can get.
I also like sharing this knowledge. In true geek fashion, I want others to know what I know and be equally excited. Last night I started telling my fiancé some of the stuff I'd learned, and his eyes glazed over, and then he got a kind of concerned look on his face that I'd seen before. My Man of Honor, however, thinks a lot like I do and is happy to listen to me prattle on about the interesting new tips or tricks I learned that day. (And believe me, I can prattle on.)
I like knowing, for example, that cursory research will reveal that Disney World offers “extra magic hours” (i.e. extended hours either before or after park opening) at one pre-announced theme park per day to guests staying on-site at Disney World hotels. Everyone who's spent five minutes on the Disney World website knows this. What they may not know is that Disney World maintains 85% occupancy year-round at over 25,000 resort rooms. If there are an average of three guests per room, that's over 60,000 people. And if they've all heard only one thing, it's “extra magic hours!” Most of them will only go to one park per day. That means there will be an extra 50-60,000 people all day in the park with extra magic hours, gumming up the works and doubling wait times for rides. Avoid at all costs! On the other hand, if you can “park hop” over late at night, in the hour or two before closing, the wait times come way down and you can practically walk onto a lot of the rides that had hour-or-longer lines in the afternoon.
I like knowing that cursory research will reveal that you can book advance dining reservations (ADRs) 180 days before your visit. Slightly longer cursory research will reveal that a lot of the very popular restaurants (Victoria and Alberts, Cinderella's Royal Table, Le Cellier, etc.) will sell out within minutes. But deeper research will reveal the best restaurants to go to when you don't have a reservation. It will reveal that if you want to go to Be Our Guest restaurant for lunch, you can wait an hour at 11:30 or walk right in at 2:00. It will reveal that many restaurants have attached lounges that are first-come, first-served and use the same menu as the place next door that's been sold out for six months.
I like knowing that you can watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach at the Polynesian for a great view and that you don't have to stand in a packed crowd on Main Street or spend a lot of money at ‘Ohana or California Grill to see them. I like knowing that some counter-service restaurants have little-used second floors. I like knowing that even when Test Track in Epcot may have a 50-minute posted standby time, going through the single-rider line might cut that down to 10 minutes. I like knowing about hidden Mickeys.
I know why my fiancé gets that concerned look on his face when I share all this with him. But I'm not learning all this stuff because I want to plan our days down to the minute. (Though if we wanted to show up for rope-drop, I like knowing that someone has figured out the to-the-minute best plan for doing the most rides in the least amount of time.) I actually don't want to do too much specific planning for when we're there. It's our honeymoon, damnit, and if we decide to sleep in one morning, order room service, and spend some “quality time” in the hotel room, then that's what we're gonna do.
I'm learning all this so I can be spontaneous. So that when we show up and it's 2pm on a hot day, I can say, “Dear God, man, what are you thinking getting into line at Splash Mountain?! That's where everyone's going! We'll be waiting for an hour! The Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor is air-conditioned and the lines are way shorter — let's go there instead!” Or when it's dinnertime in Epcot and all the headliner restaurants have long since sold out their reservations, I can suggest we go to Restaurant Marrakesh in the Morocco Pavilion, which pretty consistently has spots for walk-ins and features belly-dancing entertainers. Or cut across the Boardwalk to Beaches and Cream and get a ridiculously delicious sundae.
I want our honeymoon to be fun. Relaxed. Minimally structured. And while my fiancé might be able to just show up and “wing it,” I can't do that. I'll feel like I'm missing out, or that I don't know where to spend my precious little time. I'll worry that I'm spending an hour in line when I could have done three or four other rides if only I'd known what they were. I want to figure out my priorities and — just as important — the things that aren't my priorities and that I'd be okay skipping. (Half-hour wait for the 42-second Barnstormer? No thank you!) And then, when I have that knowledge, I'll let the chips fall where they may, knowing that I've done as much as I could to smooth the way to a great trip.
Am I over-thinking things? Maybe. But it works for me. I'll just have to try to contain my excitement at minutia when I'm talking to my fiancé. At least you other Disney World enthusiasts will listen to me.
Who else is dealing with honeymoon over-planning? How are you keeping yourself or your partners in check?