Thursday, April 2, 2015

Checklists: Preparing for Your Days in the Parks

Disney vacations can be a hectic time, making it easy to forget something important in the early morning rush to get your family out the door and get where you're going in a timely manner. As Disney parks lock more parts of the vacation into specific blocks on time, from your dining reservations to FastPass+ times for attractions, the stress to get out of your hotel room on time builds. Having a checklist of things to remember before you go to sleep and when you wake leaves less to think about during busy mornings.

I will present my checklists below, but let me clarify why I include so many things before I sleep each night. When I wake up it takes some time before my brain is fully functional. Life support systems are still intact, but more complicated cognitive functions aren't always running at a high level, so I strive to minimize the decisions I need to make first thing in the morning. If you're running on all cylinders as soon as your alarm clock buzzes, then you may wish to move some of the evening tasks to the morning. I also include a couple tasks related to photography and other electronics that may not be as important to others. However, whenever you choose to complete these steps, they'll help you get the most out of your time in Disney World.

Before Bed

  • Check Park Hours - sometimes these change on short notice, so make sure park opening and closing are still when you expect them to be
  • Agree When to Wake Up - EVERYONE in the group needs to agree on this
  • Set alarm(s) - taking into account how many snoozes you're likely to require in the morning
  • Check Weather Forecast - decide whether shorts and/or t-shirt are appropriate and how water resistant your clothing will need to be
  • Set Out Clothes for Next Day - this leaves one less decision for the morning and makes sure everything you want to wear is where you expect it to be
  •  Review Touring Plans - even if you don't follow a strict plan for each day, you ought to know where you're planning to start the day and what you'd like to see (even if you don't decide what order to see those things)
  • Change Reservations (if needed) - if plans change, because of weather or personal preference, then make new reservations or just check if a better dining or FPP reservation is available; also be sure to cancel extra provisional dining reservations you won't be using (to avoid Disney's no-show fee)
  • Note FPPs or Other Reservations - I write this on paper (either in a notebook that I carry or separate piece of paper),  while others will capture a screenshot on their cell phone; whatever you do, it's helpful to have these key times somewhere easily accessible
  • Charge Everything - make sure cell phones, camera batteries, or anything else that requires power is charging overnight (I bring this surge protector with USB ports to make sure there are always enough outlets)
  • Copy Photos/Videos to Laptop - in case I need to re-use memory cards + to have backups
  • Change/Clear Memory Cards - Make sure you're starting the day ready to save your pictures and videos (it stinks to run out of space in the middle of an interesting photo op)
  • Clean Camera Lenses - wipe away smudges while you're not rushed
  • Pack Backpack - remove anything extra stuffed in the bag during the day (receipts, souvenirs, etc.), have camera, water bottle, jacket, poncho, hat, and everything else ready to go (the only exception would be any items that may need to dry out from rain on the previous day)
  • Check Driving Directions - if planning to follow any routes I'm not already familiar with

After Wake Up

  • Eat - my typical breakfast includes orange juice, a cereal bar, a banana, and an apple
  • Drink Water - particularly important in the summer to hydrate early in the day
  • Check the Hourly Weather Forecast Again - to know when the rain is likely to come and/or know if sunscreen will be required
  • Check FPP or Dining Reservations Again - if hoping for a last minute cancellation someone else may have made for a favorite attraction or restaurant
  • Go - Grab wallet, phone, MagicBands, notebook, and watch and go!

What's on your list of things to do before bed and after you wake up?

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