Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Finding the “Fun” in the Wait

By Rebekah Coley

It goes without saying that counting down the days until your next Disney trip can be…. painful. The days, weeks, months leading up until your departure seem to last an eternity that can’t be calculated by any measure of time. On the other hand, half of the fun in taking a Disney trip can be found in anticipating the adventure! Contributing writer, Rebekah Coley, is no novice when it comes to planning a Walt Disney World visit. Check out today’s article to see what her tips are for savoring the joy in a vacation countdown...

Movie Night:

Before every trip, I always make it a point to watch some of my most treasured Disney films. As a lover of lists, I write down a “wish list” of movies, and have at least one “Disney” night each week.  When I make it a point to re-watch the films, I find that I am more aware of the Imagineered movie-inspired details once I’m actually in the Parks. Recently, I have started theming these movie binges. For instance, I have been watching all of the Pixar movies in chronological order. The possibilities for themes are plentiful! For example, you could consider watching all of the classic live action films, every princess film, every beloved 90s film… whatever happens to satisfy your palate at the time. Plus, hosting movie nights is a great way to bond with your future travel companions. If you’re really ambitious, you could even provide themed snacks (dumplings for Mulan, birthday cupcakes for Sleeping Beauty, etc.)

Planning Your Fastpasses:

If you’re planning to stay on property, you will have the benefit of making Fastpass reservations 60 days in advance. (Please note that Fastpass rules have changed somewhat over time. Rides are now categorized into different tiers, so make sure you know how many “tier 1” attractions can be booked ahead of time.) Unfortunately, this feature is not available quite as early to other guests, but don’t fret. If you are staying off-site, you can still make reservations 30 days in advance. In the meantime, you can write up a dream list of attractions and shows to see in each Park. (P.S. If you don’t cross off every item, don’t let this dampen your trip! Planning anything, even a fantastic WDW trip - can be overdone.)

Making Advance Dining Reservations:

Yes, that’s right. No task is more delicious than planning and making your Advance Dining Reservations. These reservations can be made 180 days in advance. While many tasty Disney World treats can be found at Main Street vendors, you will need a reservation to eat at one of the coveted sit-down options (e.g. Be Our Guest). Reservations aside though, I still like to dream up a to-do list of quick lunch spots and snack stands to visit. The countless choices for food can be overwhelming so many Disney fan sites (like this one!), have articles and reviews that can help steer you in the right culinary direction. Just read with caution before lunch.

Fashion Show:

Whether you make a trip to the mall or go shopping in your own closet, you can have a blast planning your vacation outfits! Specifically, Disney Bounding seems to have become more popular each season. Since adults cannot wear costumes into the Parks (with the exception of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party), many folks choose to go “bounding” and create character-inspired outfits instead. For example, a fan that loves Snow White may wear a blue shirt, yellow pants, and stick a red bow in their hair.  If this isn’t your style, you can still have fun planning ensembles or picking out fun Disney graphic tees. Many non-Disney clothing stores sell unique character t-shirts as well, so keep a sharp eye out when you are running errands.

Tune Into a Podcast:

Thanks to the Internet and an endless slew of Disney fans, there are many podcasts to enjoy on a weekly basis. Not only are the hosts’ extremely knowledgeable fans, they usually have connections in the Disney community and will often have former Imagineers and Cast Members on their shows, like Keith Mahne right here on the Disney Avenue Podcast. Plus, this will give you an opportunity to impress all of your friends with the little-known facts you’re going to pick up.


Every time I’m feeling homesick, I can always count on YouTube to have endless videos of my favorite rides, nighttime shows, and other attractions. Also, this is a great place to find rare music loop tracks that are played throughout the parks just like you find here on Disney Avenue. (For instance, I’m still in love with a loop called the “Animation Courtyard Loop” that is still played near the Little Mermaid attraction in Hollywood Studios.) As I mentioned before, you can also find many of these mood-setting playlists on this very site and you can find more information on that by clicking HERE! Similar to a pleasant aroma, nothing “brings me back” quite the way a Disney musical arrangement can (and nothing else can make my day at work go faster.)

Online Community:

Thanks to the various social media platforms, you can join many groups that were started by Disney fans for Disney fans. If used properly, Facebook offers a convenient way to connect with Disney fans from all over the globe! Daily posts with pictures, news, and helpful articles can be just what you need for a daily dose of Disney. Be warned though, don’t be too jealous when you see someone else’s countdown may be much shorter than yours ;) And, if you aren;t already, be sure to join the Disney Avenue Facebook page for daily Disney goodness!

(Free) Vacation Planning DVD:

Every year, Disney releases a new addition of the vacation planning DVD. This item can be ordered directly from Disney’s website, and will be shipped to your home at no cost to you. Although this DVD is geared towards the novice planner, I still order them every year so I can glean any new tips or info on new attractions/offerings. Plus, I can’t help but get chills when I watch the montages of happy families strolling through the parks. Click HERE and grab yours today!

Become a Bookworm:

If you’re a reader, you can rest assured that there are countless books that can help set the tone for an upcoming visit. From biographies about Walt Disney to books on Imagineering, there are many options to feast on. Specifically, my fiancé and I enjoy reading the newest additions of the Birnbaum Official Guide to WDW books...

Similar to the vacation planning DVD, the additions only vary so much year to year. Despite that, this book in particular is an excellent planning resource and is a must-have for any first-time visitors.

Seasonal Tips:

Depending on the time of year you are visiting WDW, you are going to need to plan and pack accordingly. Although Florida has a reputation for hot, humid weather, weather in December is still going to be vastly different than weather in mid-July. Make sure your suitcase is packed accordingly. Also, WDW has many different holiday offerings and themed events throughout the year. Do your research ahead of time and don’t miss out on special events like the Food and Wine festival or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party!

Start a Countdown:

Whether you start a countdown on your smartphone, or throw together a snazzy, looking poster board, keep some kind of visible countdown in sight. Take pleasure in watching the number get smaller and smaller with each passing day. Celebrate the milestones with family movie nights, fresh cookies, or spontaneous dance parties. Enjoy the journey.

Take Breaks:

While anticipating a trip is great fun, it would benefit everyone to occasionally step back from the Disney mindset. Remember to still chat about non-WDW related topics, watch non-Disney movies, and enjoy other hobbies. It is extremely tempting to immerse yourself in preparations, but don’t forget this undeniable truth - Disney depression/withdrawal after a trip is guaranteed to some degree. Keeping this in mind, you will reduce this period of sadness afterwards if you are enjoying the magic in moderate doses… then you start planning the next trip.

I wish you all a happy wait until your next stroll down Main Street, USA!


Rebekah Coley is a Pittsburgh native who has been obsessing over Disney films (and the corporation in general) for her entire life. Starting with a childhood of constantly dressing up in princess costumes, memorizing songs, and watching the newest Disney VHS tapes on repeat, her love and passion for Disney magic has not faded over time.

In addition to loving the most popular Disney movies, Rebekah has a soft spot for underrated works that didn’t receive the same fanfare (e.g. A Goofy Movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc.) It is a passion of hers to remind other fans of their existence and excellence.

By day, Rebekah works in professional development and holds a Bachelors degree in Human Resources Management from Point Park University. By night, she performs in community theater musicals, reads and exercises compulsively, and strives to stay on top of any Disney-related news. As a lover of entertainment, Rebekah’s blogs focus on reviewing Disney’s theme park productions, stage adaptations, films, and books.

You can find additional examples of Rebekah’s work on her personal blog- https://toeachhisownblog.wordpress.com/.

You can find all of Rebekah's articles here.

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