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How do I stop over-planning?

by Lauren
(Gulf Shores, AL)

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“Hi there, Dad!

As a fellow planner, I burst out laughing at your story about “The Plan” on your first trip to Disney World. At the same moment, I saw my own version of “The Plan” go up in flames for our February 2020 trip.

I have been scouring Websites for tips and tricks, thinking about the best strategies for Fastpass+ reservations, and wondering if my two teen step kids will want to do rope drop. We aren’t planning to tell the kids about this trip until later in the year, so I’m not ready to get input from them yet. I want this to be a special trip for all of us.

My question is this: How do I balance my unbridled enthusiasm for planning (and all things Disney) with enjoying a vacation with unpredictable teenagers? Do you have any tips for the Disney over-planner?”

The Plan was Perfect

Hey Lauren,

Planning a trip to Walt Disney World is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. I could (and frequently do) spend every minute of the day thinking about and planning my next venture.

As you mentioned the first time I planned a trip for the whole family it didn’t go so well.

Dad’s What Happened the First Time Dad Planned page

It was awful and I tell that story to be sure what happened to me doesn’t happen to anyone else.

How not to have a PLAN Blow Up

I wish I had a great answer for you about how not to have a PLAN blow up, but like a good Dad, I’ll give it the old college try.

If I remember right, in the first draft of my book Dad’s Simple Fun Magic Guide to Walt Disney World Planning (shameless plug), right after I tell that story about my PLAN, I had a section that talked about the old Army adage that “a plan never survives first contact with the enemy”.

Planning a trip to WDW is a lot like that. Something is always going to come along and disrupt your beautiful, perfect PLAN. I can tell you right now that is going to happen. It’s going to rain, a ride is going to break, crowds are not going to be what we expected, something is going to happen to mess up your whole PLAN.

It’s not Personal…

When that happens, you have to realize it’s not about you. One of my favorite scenes in “You’ve Got Mail”, which is one of my favorite all time movies (don’t judge me) is when Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are talking about it not being personal, it’s business.

I’m pretty sure I even quote it in my book. That’s the one thing you have to remember about YOUR PLAN. It’s not you. It’s a PLAN. It’s not life. So you have to change it. So the kids want to run off and do something that’s not on THE PLAN. It’s OK.

My mistake so many years ago, was to make it personal. When the family wanted to change MY PLAN, I got upset because they were attacking me. No they weren’t. They just wanted to ride the rides in that building over there. Not scurry across the park.

If the PLAN blows up, it’s not personal. It’s just planning. That’s why…

It’s All About Being Prepared

One of the videos I put in the book is Scar singing “Be Prepared”. I think it’s very apropos. It’s what planning a trip to Walt Disney World is all about.

What you are doing right now, scouring the Internet, is getting prepared for your trip. Yes, you will write down a PLAN. Yes, at some point you will get those unpredictable teenagers involved with the PLAN (don’t skip this step). But when the PLAN goes south, and all plans do, you will be prepared. You’ll know what to do next, because you’ve thought about it. You’ve dreamed it. You’ve lived it out in your head already.

You might have to sit down some where and talk with the family about the next step, but that’s a good thing. It’s going to be fine.

Trust me.

Destinations to Travel

Dad’s Bottom Line

I’ve got to wrap this up, but let me say, since you are worrying about your obsession, you’ve taken the first step. As I say over and over, “YOU’RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!” Relax. Have fun. Yes, PLAN, but don’t obsess. If THE PLAN breaks down, since you’ve prepared, since the family is onboard, you’ll be ready. It will be fine.

You’re on a good track, just be sure to get the family involved at some point. It’s that Simple. It will be Fun and there will be Magic!

Trust Me!


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Comments for

Mar 13, 2019 THANKS DAD!
by: Lauren from Gulf Shores

Thanks for the advice, Dad. It was very…Dad-like. Exactly something my own dad would tell me. 🙂 I’ve been reading your book, and I know my “why” now: This is a bonding trip for me, my husband, and my two teenage step kids. As such, I realize that it is most important to get everyone’s input. It’s not just about having a PLAN, it’s about getting know what my step kids and husband like, and learning what we like to do together.

Dad Answers

Sounds like you are on a great track Lauren. It’s going to be AWESOME!

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