Are you over-planning your Disney World honeymoon? (+3 secret Disney World travel tips)

Guest post by juliegolick

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…

disneymoon alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

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.)

For instance…

Magic hours

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.

Dining secrets

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?

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Comments on Are you over-planning your Disney World honeymoon? (+3 secret Disney World travel tips)

  1. You are so lucky! And you sound like my dream best friend… Anyways…
    Thank you so much for sharing this. I think you’re suggestion near the end is perfect for working with the differences you and your husband have. You do the research you enjoy and he gets to wing it but you have the info to save yourselves from being ripped off and stuck in crazy crowds.
    This sort of thing works with me and my other half too (he’s the organised one).
    Thanks for the disney tips 🙂

  2. Brief update: Another thing I learned while doing research is that Disney World tends to change things up A LOT. So at least for now, Be Our Guest restaurant is only accepting FastPass+ for lunches, i.e. you can’t just walk in and wait to be seated. On the other hand, I believe that if you just want to check out the décor, you can do that without a pass.

  3. In this case, I think you are right on…Disney World is best when there’s at least some preplanning involved. And Marrakesh is one of my favorite places to eat! I love their brewat (sp?) rolls.

  4. With all this research you’re doing, I hope you’ve found Jen at So funny. She lives there in Orlando so goes very often to the parks. You can find so much stuff about DisneyWorld etc from her.

    • Ooh! I hadn’t! My main blogs so far have been EasyWDW, Disney Tourist Blog, Disney Food Blog, and All Ears. I’ll definitely check out Epbot! Thanks!

  5. Another good one: Epcot (just across the way) is where the bars are. You can do a “around the world” bar crawl through all the themed bars, with traditional drinks at all the “countries”. It’s kinda epic.

  6. “I’m learning all this so I can be spontaneous.” Totes! My hubby & I recently went to the Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orland, & I spent an insane amount of time pouring over blogs & online guides to the new Diagon Alley theme park to figure out what was worth doing & what wasn’t. We had exactly one day (we were visiting family nearby, that was the real point of the trip), & I didn’t want to waste any time. My hubby grumbled at first, but as soon as we got there, we were both thrilled & happy to see how we easily packed it all in, thanks to a little forethought. We had plenty of time & spent big chunks of it just sitting around marveling at the fabulous geeky scenery together.

    Go you, planny-pants girl! You’ve got it going on.

  7. Disney has taken the joy and even the ability to really “wing it.” I grew up in Orlando. I remember the days before Fast Pass and Pass+ or whatever it is now. Unless you do plan in advance and take advantage of those tools, you’ll spend all day in line and riding very little. 🙁

  8. We approached our honeymoon in Vegas similarly: a balance between overplanning and winging it. Overplanning meant we walked into the Bellagio and Wicked Spoon buffets at 1:30p rather than waiting in line for an hour at 11:30. It meant amazing pool chairs, strategic cab rides to avoid walking, and finding the best places to drink. And that meant that we could play the rest of the day by ear!

  9. Hopefully you are spending lots of time on the DIS boards! That’s where most of us certified (or is that certifiable?) Disney nuts are. 🙂

    My family loves to tease me about my “compulsive” WDW planning… but then they’re the ones amazed when they’re not standing in lines, when we’re having fabulous meals, when we’re sitting so close to the parade you could put a foot out and trip a float, when we’re standing in juuuuuust the right spot to have Tinkerbell fly right over our heads. Planning makes spontaneity look and feel effortless. And what did they say in the “Unofficial Guide”? To paraphrase, winging it with a Disney trip works about as well as winging it on your taxes, and both will end in tears, lol.

    Have a *fabulous* wedding and honeymoon!! And don’t forget to pick up your “Just Married” buttons free at City Hall. 🙂

    • Thanks! I’m planning on picking up the buttons when we check in at our hotel (Port Orleans French Quarter) and also hopefully getting the bride and groom mouse ears. I really want to wear the bride ones, though my fiancé has said he’ll need some convincing to wear the groom ones.

      I’m not on the DIS boards because there’s a limit, even for me, and I think those boards would suck whatever remaining wedding planning time I have left. 🙂

  10. It also helps to have a friend or family member with a Florida Resident seasonal pass, as they go so often that they know ALL the secrets – including little food kiosks that are hidden from the majority of tourists, the rhythm of the crowds, weather conditions on those crowds (rain), and other gems you’d miss or the official sites won’t mention. The creators really do reward the fan who spends a lot of time there, and those fans love sharing those gems with their closest family and friends.

    I am also an over-planner with my beloved being the spontaneous one (our trip to Toronto was his doing … made me decide to plan a few things out, like making sure the hotel had heat!), so I know where you’re coming from. Doing as much research as possible gives you a choice of options instead of settling for “this is all we could find right now”.

    Planning is what makes it look effortless and fun when you get there. And word of advice that I practice: don’t share your finds with the spontaneous one, they won’t appreciate your efforts. They want to be surprised. Be knowledgeable, and you’ll pleasantly surprise them. 🙂

    • Indeed! For those of us who don’t have those passes, though, there are some blogs out there who give a pretty detailed “inside scoop” with things like crowd rhythms, inside tips and tricks, etc. My favorite at the moment is EasyWDW, because it’s a little bit snarky and sarcastic and SUPER-USEFUL. But I’m sure there are others that are equally good.

  11. My two best tips for a Disney vacation are this: plan a rest break away from tbe park every afternoon and visit any non-Disney places you want to see first. Disney is a vacation, but it is also an endurance test. You will need a break where you are off your feet (even if you don’t actually nap). That way, you can be refreshed for more evening activities in the park. As far as non-Disney attractions goes–Disney will skew your perspective after a couple of days. A perfectly fine non-Disney place will seem dirty with a surly staff after Disney. You won’t enjoy it as much, and you will be more likely to fall into the grumpy, unreasonable customer zone.

    • Totally agree with Courtney. We loooooved our honeymoon is Disney World but planned for 5 days at the park. After the 3rd day, we didn’t even want to eat dinner there so we ate outside at Long Horn (where man, the manager is awesome and treats you right!). We had two more days of tickets but only had one more day in us and just scrapped the 5th day since we had no energy left. Granted, we did have Extra Magic hours and fully took advantage of it each evening. That was probably the best part of all the perks we took advantage of. It doesn’t seem like a lot – especially when non-Extra Magic guests are still lingering in the park – but you’ll be amazed at how many times you can go on Test Track in that extra hour. 🙂

  12. Going on a honeymoon especially during the touristy season can get really annoying sometimes, especially when you have to rush around with the other tourists, and not be able to get any quiet time with your partner. So on your honeymoon, I would suggest you to take it is a slow and relaxed pace. On my honeymoon with my husband, we want to Rome and Florence. We did all the regular sight seeing but it was getting quite tiring after a while. So one of the days we just spend the day strolling by the parks in Rome, and had a bike tour with one of the locals in Rome. She then suggested us to try out dining with BonAppetour.

  13. You sound exactly like me and my Fiancee! We’re going to Disney for our honeymoon and he keeps getting freaked out by all of my research and planning. But just like you, I want to be informed and make the most of our trip. Thanks for the post! It was super helpful 🙂


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