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Winging It at WDW – Heading to WDW Without a Plan

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Yes! It can be done. I do it all the time. Sometimes I just want to go, relax, enjoy the location and not have to worry about where I “have to be.” I can be in the parks from morning to night without ever going on a ride or going into a table service restaurant. I’ll be visiting again in a couple of weeks with only one planned activity (Behind the Scenes at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto). The rest of my time will be spent enjoying my time with a friend, roaming through Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival and being in the moment! 

Winging WDW Without PlanNow I realize that those of you who will only visit Walt Disney World Resort once or twice in your lifetime want to get the most our of every minute you are there. But there are lots of us out there that visit often. Sometimes several times a year. If you are a frequent visitor let me ask – why do you make yourself crazy making lots of reservations? Have you never been on Dumbo before? Will you never go again?

The only time I make lots of dining reservations and FastPass+ reservations is when my kids and grandchildren are with me because I want them to have a great experience (especially the grandkids). That is the time I make reservations for special events and special things to do. When I go alone or with friends I rarely worry about it. I travel to Walt Disney World with many, who like me, visit often. Yet, I’m always amazed that those that visit often worry about making FastPass+ reservations like they have never been on an attraction before. Why? You were just there a few months ago or will be back again in a few months.

I will admit I will go along with making some dining reservations to be part of the group but frankly, I don’t really worry too much about it. I’ve eaten in just about every restaurant there is to eat in and I have been on every attraction – many times. If I don’t get to ride this trip, I’ll ride it next trip. I really would like to just enjoy being at Walt Disney World.

I honestly believe if you are worrying about getting from place to place – reservation to reservation – you can’t just enjoy being there. The My Disney Experience app is a wonderful tool. If you feel like riding an attraction, use your app to see what FastPasses are available last minute or what the wait time is. Use your app to see what dining reservations are available last minute. Try something new based on what’s available while you are in the park.


How to Enjoy WDW Without a Spreadsheet Full of Reservations

Once you have your resort reservation, you’re all set. I will admit I sometimes decide to visit last minute so can’t always get an on-site reservation. No problem. There are lots of hotels in the area that offer free transportation to the parks. The Swan and Dolphin, the 7 Disney Springs area resorts come to mind quickly. To stay on-site, I often take what I can get. Because of that “take what you get” attitude, I have been able to stay at every WDW property.

Over planning can sometimes kill the fun! If you plan every second of your visit, you just might find yourself missing the magic that can’t necessarily be planned. Jumping from reservation to reservation, from FastPass to FastPass, doesn’t leave any time to soak up what’s going on around you. If you are determined to plan because of everything you’ve read or experienced before, find a mid-way point – plan some – leave some to chance. Leave a little wiggle room for some of the magic that only comes with being in the minute.

Adjust your attitude. Be positive – you’re at the most magical place on earth! Stay positive and take joy in just being there. Don’t let yourself get upset over lines, wait times or weather – you can’t control any of it so just focus on the positive. If you start to feel a wee bit stressed – sit back and look at all the happy families and kids around you – hundreds of little princesses and pirates with huge smiles on their faces.

Go knowing you may have to wait in line. I have a rule that I follow when I go without FastPass+ reservations. If the wait time is 60 minutes or less, I’ll wait in line. For attractions with single rider lines, I will go into that line. Or – I don’t ride the attraction. I’ve ridden each attraction so many times since the 70’s that missing an attraction this trip doesn’t mean I’ll never ride it again. If you have the right mind-set, waiting in line can be fun. You get to meet lots of new people. I try to have a few stickers or small trinkets in my bag that I can share with little ones waiting in line.

Go knowing you most likely won’t be able to eat at a table service restaurant. So what! Many of the quick service locations offer so much more than hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza. You can have some really good meals at the quick service locations and for a fraction of the cost of a table service restaurant. I’m not a big breakfast person so as long as I have coffee, I’m good to go. Every Disney resort has a food location where you can get something to eat.

Enjoy your resort. They all have great pools, a great atmosphere and great grounds to roam through.

Take it all in. There is nothing more frustrating than walking around the park and coming upon a show, some street performers, a character, etc., but you can’t stop to watch because you’ll miss your dining reservation or your FastPass+. Stop and watch. Stop and interact. Stop and enjoy the moment! Pick up a schedule of show and parade times when you enter the park and try to see ones that you haven’t seen before.

Be in the moment. How can you be in the moment and enjoy your surroundings if you’re worried about getting to your next reservation? There is so much to see and do that doesn’t require a reservation that you end up missing if you are following a schedule.