Disney World Planning 101: Index Cards for the Win
A lot of Disney visitors carry their favorite guide book (like a Passporter) or a print out of their intended Touring Plan into the Parks, but I just can’t be bothered with carrying all that stuff. I like to move quickly through the crowds and don’t want anything to slow me down. But even though I prefer to travel light, I still have to be organized!
Fueled by my need for an orderly plan in a small package, I’ve figured out how to get all of the important information from my planning spreadsheet onto several easy-to-scan, convenient-to-carry 3×5 inch index cards. This fool-proof system has served me well over the course of four Disney trips (and hopefully will continue to serve me for many more).
Anatomy of an Index Card
To start with, I make an index card for each day, writing the day and date in the top left of the card. On the top right of each card, I write out the opening and closing times for every Park, as well as the times for any evening entertainment being offered.
Why include information for all of the Parks instead of just the one I plan to visit? Because things change! If the Park I’d planned to visit is overcrowded, I can easily hop to another and be fully prepared with the hours and entertainment schedule already in the palm of my hand!
In the main body of the card, I write out the plan for the day. I’m not a huge structured planner, so usually I just write the rides and attractions I hope to hit that day separated by land, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t put a whole touring plan onto the card. Along with the rides and attractions, sometimes I also list a snack I really want to try—a new cupcake in Hollywood Studios or savory waffle sandwich in the Magic Kingdom.
If I have any Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) or Meetups planned, I’ll note the times and locations under the to-do list in the main section of the card. If I’m hoping to see any of the daytime parades or shows, I also include the times for that.
I often also include instructions for getting from place to place. For example, if I’m planning to go to Trail’s End for lunch, I’ll say, “blue flag launch to Fort Wilderness.” Or if I’m going from lunch at the Grand Floridian to a Meetup at Wilderness Lodge, I’ll write, “Monorail to MK > Boat to WL.”
If I plan to visit multiple Parks on the same day, sometimes I’ll make one card for each Park, especially if one of them is Epcot. There’s so much to do and see in Epcot, it can be hard to fit everything onto just one card!
I also make a couple of “bonus” index cards. On one card, I list all of my flight information, including airline, flight numbers, confirmation numbers and times. I’ll often paperclip our Disney Magical Express vouchers to this card, and if there’s a layover involved in our flight plan, I’ll include a list of highly-rated restaurants and food carts in our expected terminal.
On another card, I list all of my ADRs for the trip, along with the full confirmation number. When you walk up to a check-in counter and are faced with a hostess who “doesn’t have” your reservation, this card comes in big-time handy.
If we’re planning a seriously commando trip, sometimes I’ll even make a card that lists what time we need a wakeup call each morning. As soon as we check into the room, I put that card next to the phone, so as we fall into bed each night, we can set the alarms on our phones AND set up our Mickey Mouse wakeup call. (Yes, three alarms. It is totally necessary when you get to bed at midnight and want to get up at 6 a.m.)
And I always pack a few extra blank cards, so I can add anything that comes up or make a new plan on the fly if the weather changes or we make an unexpected change in plans.
Each day, I take only that days card (or cards), the ADR card and a blank card—that’s four, tops. Four index cards fit perfectly alongside my ID and Key to the World in the Park bag, but they also fit perfectly into a pocket or my husband’s wallet if I decide to go bagless.
Is it nerdy to whip out a series of cards in the middle of the park? Maybe. But it’s such a great feeling to know that I have all of the information I need right at my fingertips, no flipping, no mussing, no heavy guide book.
And, certification training in project management (PMP) was not necessary in order to be this organized!
Do you swear by your own Park planning system? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
- Disneyspeak: Do You Speak Disney’s Language? (chipandco.com)