How to Plan a Disney Day + FREE Planning Tool

While planning your Disney vacation, you've probably heard other Disney bloggers talk about the importance of having a plan. Crowds, hot weather and the sheer size of the parks can make any Disney vacation daunting, especially during peak season. But when you enter the parks with a plan, you can conquer your day at Disney before most people even enter the parks. Sharing my tips for how to make the most out of your day at Disneyland is for another post, and there are many great bloggers out there with awesome tips who keep up with the latest crowd flow trends (like DLR Prep School, The Happiest Blog on Earth, and Trips with Tykes). Today I'm excited to share with you a method I've been using for many years, along with a tool to keep you organized.

Planning your Disney vacation

When I was a little girl, planning our Disney vacation was a six month process. I would print out the latest Disney map (or hand-draw it from the computer screen... before the days of good printers) and literally draw out our path through the park. I would highlight which rides we would target first, and which dining locations we wanted to stop at. Yep, at the ripe old age of 8, I was dragging my poor family through the parks at an alarming rate, getting in all our favorite rides before lunch.

I still use the same process, but a little refined. Whenever I'm planning a full day at the park with someone, I lay out the latest park map, picking out the "Must Ride" attractions from each land. I will plug in any existing reservations we have, and make a rough plan for the other meals (counter service and carts don't require reservations). We also check the entertainment times and decide which showtimes we want to catch.

From there, I can draw a rough picture of what our day will look like. The most important time to have a plan is the morning, so you can make the most of lower crowd levels and cooler temperatures. Know which ride you want to hit first, second and third, then a rough plan of the direction you want to move in the park. The rest of your day will be dictated by FastPass distribution times, entertainment times and reservations, so be prepared to adapt according!

This method works great for planning a day at the park with any type of group. For example, my mom can't ride anything that whips around too fast, so we focus on the slower rides and entertainment. When my best friend was in town, she's a ride junkie, so we made sure to hit up rides like Tower of Terror early in the day in case we wanted to double-back for a second ride. And if I'm visiting the park with my little nieces? You bet our day will be filled with character meet-and-greets and storyteller shows.

To help me plan a Disney Day, I created the Disney Day Planner! I'm a planner junkie, so this is a totally normal thing in my world. Using this tool has helped me feel way more prepared and confident when in the parks with a new group of people. I can easily refer to the schedule to remember which rides we still need to fit in and make sure we don't miss any showtimes. I can even hand off the planner to the group if I need to step away for a bit (like to run home and check on the pugs). It definitely takes off the pressure as the go-to Disney planner person!

Remember, all free downloads are for personal use only. Any part of the design may not be sold or used for commercial use of any kind. But please share it with your friends!

I would love to hear about your Disney vacation planning! How do you plan a Disney Day? Do you go to the parks with a plan? Do you think this planner will help you?