Making The Most Of A Disney Trip When Your Plans Suddenly Change

In all of my years as a Disney fan participating in the community, I've come to realize that in a way Disney has trained its regular guests to be 'Type A' travelers. It's not exactly our fault, it's just that as our favorite spot gained in popularity we learned that to achieve our ideal vacation we had to work harder, book earlier, and plan more than the typical tourist. Disney fans can have a competitiveness about us - a thirst to snag that prime reservation, get that optimal hotel room, and make sure to hit each vacation goal. The planning stage is immaculate and there's an urgency to make everything run right on time - rooms booked a year out, ADRs made 6 months in advance, spreadsheets, countdowns, apps and volumes of notebooks. But - what then do we do when things go awry? This article is here to help you first strategize, and the re-strategize, for when your original plans don't survive first contact.

Making The Most Of A Disney Trip  When Your Plans Suddenly ChangeMaking The Most Of A Disney Trip When Your Plans Suddenly Change

*Re-Strategize* Park Schedule Changes -

Like many other fans, I learned yesterday that my exciting night visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom would not be happening on my trip next month. While finding out you suddenly can't do what you had been planning on is disappointing, try not to let it get you down. First, take a deep breath and let it out. Next, head to and check out the Park calendar during your visit. Does another Park offer Extra Magic Hours? Is there something else that you had been waiting to try? Disney is always changing an evolving, so finding a new experience or falling back on a different old favorite is certainly an option. While my night at Animal Kingdom will have to end at 6PM - Epcot is open until 11PM and with some extra time, now I'll be squeezing in a few extra stops that I wasn't going to get to make with my original plan. There's always a silver lining.

*Strategize* Arrival Day Delays -

It's great to make the most of every moment you have on Walt Disney World property, I learned the hard way not to make that bucket list reservation for your first night. Flight delays are one of the top culprits when it comes to having to change your plans straight off the bat - this can set a loosing tone for the rest of the trip. Avoid making plans that you're emotionally attached to on days that offer elements you can't control, many popular first night experiences (like La Nouba) have a no exchange or refund policy, instead opt for a quick Park visit, recreation time, or shopping at Disney Springs. If you get in fairly late ask at the front desk what your Resort offers as far as getting a bite to eat or evening recreation, many of the Disney Hotels are great spots to spend the evening and regroup before hitting the Parks in the morning.

Disney Resort Pools Offer Great Arrival Night Fun, Even With DelaysDisney Resort Pools Offer Great Arrival Night Fun, Even With Delays

*Re-Strategize* FastPass+ -

The Fastpass+ reservations that you have made offer an hour window of time in which they can be used. If you shoot to be there when that window first opens up, it's unlikely that you will miss it. However upon occasion things happen (delays on other rides, transportation issues, lost track of time) and you realize that you'll miss your window. If your plans change on the fly and FastPass+ experiences are still available, you can modify your selections either online with your mobile phone or at a FastPass+ kiosk. Disney asks that you try to "make changes to your FastPass+ experience before the start of your arrival window time. If you miss your time due to circumstances beyond your control, you can reschedule your selections - if FastPass+ experiences are still available."

*Re-Strategize* Missed Dining Reservation -

Missing an Advanced Dining Reservation can mean penalty fees to your credit card, so even if you're late do your best to arrive at the restaurant as soon as possible. Explain to the hostess at the podium that you had an ADR and you were delayed, Disney will do its best to get you in. However, during high volume times of year, and at very popular restaurants there may not be much that they can do to get you a table. Never fear though because Disney has some truly wonderful quick service locations, and there's no reason you shouldn't be able to find something delicious to eat. Figure out where you are on property and choose a quick service close to you to eat at. For great dining decisions made on the spur of the moment, I always pull up the very handy to have DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining.

If There Is A Table Available They Might Still Be Able To Get You InIf There Is A Table Available They Might Still Be Able To Get You In

*Re-Strategize* Lightning and Hurricane -

No really, Florida is the most lightning prone state in the nation and can be a significant reason for entertainment schedule changes at Walt Disney World. Your safety comes first, and when those fabulous Florida storms roll in, it can often cause delays, cancelations, and even closures at the Parks. While you don't need to let it spoil your fun (toss on a poncho and truck right through) you'll want to focus on the many indoor rides, shows, and restaurants until the storm passes. On the rare occasion that the Parks are closed due to Hurricane, the Disney Resort Hotels usually offer additional entertainment and programing to keep guests busy while they ride it out. If traveling during Hurricane Season is a concern for you, read this article by an expert in disaster management, Traveling to Walt Disney World During Hurricane Season.

Be sure that you have the MyDisneyExperience App Loaded on your mobile phone before you go. This is a must-use tool during your visit that will allow you to check show-times, wait-times, character appearances, and schedule your FastPass+ as well as dining options. Having everything right at your finger-tips allows you to overcome obstacles with flexibility and grace. Check out this article on the Top 5 Apps for Your Next Walt Disney World Vacation.

Tracking Tropical Storm Irene From Wilderness LodgeTracking Tropical Storm Irene From Wilderness Lodge

*Re-Strategize* On-Site Illness -

Most of the time being sick at Disney just means you take an OTC med and you're on you way to the Parks. Once in awhile though someone getting ill while traveling means they are going to have to stay behind in the hotel room. Leaving someone behind due to illness is heartbreaking, both for the people who are well and the person who has to stay behind - but getting the rest they need one day, might just mean that they're ready to go the next. If someone in your party has to stay back at the hotel due to illness, make sure you check in with them throughout the day, and maybe make an afternoon stop back on the room to see them. Last February when my husband had to stay behind due to illness, we were sure to buy him a couple of special souvenirs so he knew we were still thinking of him. Read our previous article for tips on Staying Healthy While Traveling.

*Re-Strategize* Never Say Cancel -

Sometimes, no matter how carefully planned out you may be serious real life issues come up that make you have to cancel your trip. It's depressing, and I understand completely that when this happens it is usually just adding insult to injury. Try your best to never say that you are "canceling a trip," you just need to "postpone it." Disney will be there once the immediate problems are resolved and this small semantic mind game will allow you to regroup while still giving you something to look forward to in the future. Read our previous article on Changing and Canceling Your Walt Disney World Reservations.

Rest For One Day Can Mean Fun The NextRest For One Day Can Mean Fun The Next

*Strategize* Travel Insurance -

You did pre-buy travel insurance right? I can remember one year that I was in the ER at 3am the morning we were leaving for Disney swearing at the doctor that he had to fix me because I didn't buy travel insurance. If for some reason postponing it is just not going to work and you need to cancel completely, and on short notice, this is where you want to fall back on that investment. While it can seem to be a hassle up front, it will allow you to recoup the monetary losses if it's needed.

It's All About Your Attitude -

It occurs to me after writing this, that Disney may have turned me into a "Type-A" traveler, but dealing with unexpected changes has done a great deal to teach me the importance of being flexible with my planning. We all put a lot of time and effort into planning our vacations, and we want them to be great, but sometimes things are simply beyond control and you can't let it get the best of you. If you're reading this, you're probably the planner in your family, and everyone in your party is going to take their cues off of you. Stay up-beat, go with the flow, and you'll be sure to have a fantastic Walt Disney World vacation - even if you had to change your plans.

The Missing Husband In This Picture Was Back At The Room, SickThe Missing Husband In This Picture Was Back At The Room, Sick

Have you ever been hit with sudden changes on vacation? Share your story in the comments below!

Mary wrote on Wed, 04/06/2016 - 21:29:

Mary's picture

Yep. Definitely the last one ...Go with the flow!!!

Miss Mikki wrote on Sun, 04/10/2016 - 17:41:

Miss Mikki's picture

Great article Kristen

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