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Written by Tonga Princess Diva

I start a countdown as soon as my next Disney trip is booked! It gives me hope, gets me through the rough days,

and makes it feel real. It also helps to keep my trip planning on track and not get away from me. I use a countdown app for my iPhone to help me. Do you start a countdown too?Trip Planning Countdown iPhone apps

There are three stages of a Disney trip countdown in my experience and ways to make the most of each. 

Stage 3: When I am in the three digits the days seem to drop away quickly. Mostly because I do not check it daily. Partly due to perception – I think I tend to focus on the last two digits and feel great satisfaction when I drop 5 or 10 days! There are also milestones or countdowns within the this stage that help break it up. Here is how I make the most of this stage:

Countdown App

XXX – 180 Days – Valuable Research Time: 

  1. Review crowd calendars, weather, and special events during your trip and begin setting expectations . This is key for newer visitors! Crowds slow us down, even with the best park plan strategy! Crowds and weather wear on our disposition, special events may free up normal park touring, and do not forget you are on vacation with your family!
    Diva Tip: Undercover Tourist has great crowd calendars and special event calendars for free. Touring Plans has extensive trip planning tools for a modest subscription price. Touring Plans photo thanks to Jolly Frogger DivaUnder Cover Tourist Crowd Calendar
  2. Review food and make a plan! The “plan” spans reviewing quick service, table service, snacks, beverages,
    and tips! Do not forget beverages — whether you talking about coffee and juice or adult beverages they add up! Decide if you will be leveraging a dining plan and review what is included/excluded — like tips, refillable
    mug, snacks. Possibly ordering cases of water, snacks, or other foods from a delivery service like Garden Grocers.
    Packing Lunches at WDWDiva Tip: A budget is imperative to  prevent stressful moments during your trip or post-vacation regret. Disney Food Blogs has great tools to compare dining plans and help decide food budgets and plans. Touring Plans also has food plan tools for paid subscribers. The result of this exercises will prepare you for the all important Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) days on 180. Where we anxiously log in and make our dining reservation for any table-service restaurants. Check out Passholder Diva’s 7 Tips for Dining on a Budget at Walt Disney World (quick service edition) for ideas on budget planning. 

Narcoossee's Signature Dining


179- 60 Days:

  1. Review Parks and make a plan! Reference your crowd calendar and special events research, ADR’s and start developing a park plan. This starts with deciding what park(s) on what day and moves into detailed plans for the day. Detailed plans include what rides are must-do’s, ADR’s, breaks/naps, lost in time, and special events.Diva Tip: Lost in time is a combination of time spent traveling to and from the parks, walking around in the park, waiting in lines, and meal time. This time adds up quickly and can throw a tightly knit plan off course quickly.
    Your park plan will inform the all important Fast Pass (FP) picks on day 60. Touring Plans has a very sophisticated tool to help optimize a park plan and the best FP choices to make for those that are newer to the trip planning game and have subscribed to their service.
    Diva Tip: This is the time to be the most nimble with your plans. Adjust ADR’s and/or park plans based on what is available and is of the highest priority. I have changed the day of a park completely based on a must-have ADR! 

Between 59 and 30 I’m generally fine tuning plans and the days tick by quickly due to the accomplishment on a success plan. This is a great time to customize your magic bands on My Disney Experience too!

Magic Band with DVC slider

Disney World's My Disney Experience and resort online check-in.

My Disney Experience pic from Military Diva

Stage 2: It’s so close yet so far away — better know as the 30 day mark. We have reached the snail-paced days…………Ugh. The natural reaction is do a little happy dance and squeal. This moment is fully earned and take in every drop of excitement you can. The next 29 are going to drag by. — feeling like 3 days for every 1. Why? We are generally strung out and in desperate need of a vacation by this point. While it may seem like there is not much to break up these 30 days there is a lot to do! Here is how I make the most of this waiting-game time:

30 – 1 Days:

  1. Monitor the weather conditions and dust off my packing list! Update your packing list to make sure it has everything needed based on your plans and weather conditions. Need help with a pack list? Check out Memory Maker Diva’s Disney Pack List! Pull our your luggage and carry-on bag and give it a check over making sure it is travel ready.
    Diva Tip: Start packing items if you can. This will help pass the time, minimize forgetting items and make the day before your trip far less stressful. Need a packing list? Here is a link to Disney Diva’s list
  2. Check travel methods — this includes making sure flights and/or rental car reservations  are all set. If driving your own car make it is properly serviced, trip route is planned and programmed into your map app and roadside service information is readily at hand. Along with toll money.
    Diva Tip: I always include a printed copy of the road route as a back up. 
  3. Home and pets are safely taken care of! This can be very different from family to family but may include: pets boarding, house-sitter, stop mail and/or newspaper, set up automatic timers.  

Stage 1: Day 0 – THE day has arrived and you are heading to the bubble. YAY!! You made it!! 

What is your favorite countdown tips?

Do not be overwhelmed or intimidated! Travel Agents are a wonderful resource to make your trip planning that much easier – Travel Agents will help through each of these stages and do a lot of the work for you. Let Patricia from All For Dreams Travel help you plan your next trip to Walt Disney World!