You’ve Made it this Far
There you are. You’ve done a lot of hard things on this journey. You have started your My Disney Experience. You’ve opened a Disney Vacation Account. You’ve chosen dates, a resort and a plan for dining. You have your flights in place. A lot of the big stuff is behind you. Maybe your trip is even paid off or close to it. You even know which rides you want to FastPass, if you could ever figure out what days you’ll be in which park!
The next few blog posts will walk you through the process I take when I’m planning my trip. It’s not really as scary as it seems. It seems like you might make a wrong choice and be stuck in line your entire trip. And maybe if you did no research, that could happen. But you are already so ahead of the game! You know you need to learn more and that’s a great place to be.
This post is going to be about planning for your flights on Arrival and Departure days. I feel like this is important, yet sometimes overlooked.
So let’s dive in. In an effort to multi-task, I’m going to plan my upcoming trip, so this is real live info.
This is just how I do it. Feel free to follow it exactly, or veer off and do your own thing.
Lay the Groundwork
I always open a new word document, name the trip and put the dates of the trip at the top. I also put where we’re staying. This just helps me with my thoughts.
Next I add my flight information. Here’s a screenshot so far:
Arrival and Departure days are easy to plan for me because there are hard stops with the flight times. This also takes a lot of stress out of flying with kids. If I don’t do this purposefully, my brain resists thinking about the timeline of the flights. I have ended up the day of the flight thinking, “When do we have to leave the house?” This creates a lot of unnecessary stress. So I’ve learned to think it through in advance. Here’s what I do: I start with the departure time and back up. I put in everything that has to happen before that moment to get us there with no stress or hurry.
Control All the Things
I’m extremely extremely Type A, which means that I like to control EVERYTHING and I get a little crazy when I’m in a situation where there’s a deadline, like a flight time. Having this little chart of where we are supposed to be in the process at any given time calms me down. I know I’ve done the planning and I’m not in a hurry. When I feel pressure to hurry (like at security) I say out loud to my kids (but really to me) “We aren’t in any kind of hurry. We have plenty of time. If anyone nearby needs to go ahead of us, feel free. We can take our time.” Maybe I’m alone in this, but the airport used to make me crazy and this helps. I think this simple step can get your vacation off on the right foot.
Since I start at the end and work to the beginning, the list is upside down, which I guess you could easily remedy by copying and pasting it the right way, or by hitting enter and typing the next thing on your list on top instead of under, but I just leave it and read it from bottom to top. Kinda silly I guess, but I’ve been doing it this way forever.
Departure time: 7:30pm
Boarding: I’m estimating, but it should be about 7pm
Arrive at gate: 6:45pm (when more of my kids are with me, I like to leave about 30 minutes for diaper changes, bathroom breaks and a quick snack so my kids aren’t flying on an empty stomach. This trip is just me and the baby so we don’t need as much time)
Done with Security: 6:30pm
Arrive at Security: 6:00pm (Security is super fast for these evening flights. Most of the time there’s no line at all. But you might want to google your airport.)
Check bag: 5:45pm Note: I don’t usually check a bag, but I’m planning to this time because I need to clean up my Owner’s Locker (more on that in another post.)
Arrive at Terminal: 5:40pm
Arrive at parking area to ride shuttle over: 5:25pm
Stop at Panera to get food for dinner if the Food Court will be closed upon arrival: 4:40pm (We take Magical Express so we don’t have a car to stop anywhere. Nothing is open at MCO that late at night usually. I like to be prepared with a salad or sandwich.)
Leave home: 2:40pm
Departure days are even easier since I just need to plan to get to the bus stop whenever Magical Express is scheduled to pick us up.
With a flight time of 2:30pm, Magical Express will pick us up at about 11:30am. This doesn’t leave us time to go to the parks usually so my list only looks like this:
Arrive at gate: 2:15pm
Through Security 2:00pm
Arrive at Security: 1:15pm
Check bag: 12:45pm
Arrive at Airport 12:30pm
Magical Express: 11:30am
Leave room: 11:15am
Pack bags: 10:15am
Get everyone dressed: 9:30am
What If I’m Going to a Park?
The times when I’ve had later flights and was going to the parks first, I would have a specific time to leave and would include all the transportation needed to make sure that I had time to get to my flights. Something like this:
Magical Express: 6pm
Get bags from Bell Services: 5:45pm
Arrive back at resort: 5:30pm
Bus from Magic Kingdom: 5:10pm
Arrive at Bus Stop (40 minutes buffer in case bus is late) 4:30pm
Leave Magic Kingdom: 4:20pm
Start walking to front of park: 4pm
So that’s it for Arrival and Departure Days. If you are arriving early and have time to do more than just go to bed, don’t worry. I’ll address that in upcoming posts.
I hope this is helpful. It is something that helped me, but maybe I’m the weird one.
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