The night before the solar eclipse I was bombarded. Everywhere I looked, email, texts, any sort of social media, even to my own front door people were coming asking about solar glasses to watch the eclipse.
“Where can I buy glasses?” “I meant to buy them, then I forgot.” “I wasn't able to get glasses.” “Who has glasses? Can my kids and I come over to watch the eclipse with you?”
It was crazy. That's what got me thinking how a Disney vacation is just like the 2017 Solar Eclipse. You know it's coming. You know what you need to do, and then that's where you fall into one of two groups. The Ants and the Grasshoppers.
Remember that old story? The Ant worked hard all summer while the weather was nice to be prepared for the winter. The Grasshopper played and put it all off til the last minute, then when winter came, had nothing to keep him warm or feed himself.
Back to the Eclipse. The first email asking who sold glasses still, (It was a group email, so I didn't feel the need to respond again after suggesting a few store to try). Then came the reply all from a mom with 6 kids to everyone in the email, “We weren’t able to find any, can we come over and watch with someone? It's not fair that my kids have to miss it.” That's when I got a little bit mad. Though she wasn't asking me specifically, I thought, how would it be fair that ANY kid would have to miss it, because YOU didn't plan? Because that's what “I wasn't able to find any,” usually means. It means you didn't look or think about it until the last minute. Then another email came, from another parent, “I know, it's not fair that some lucky people have them and others don't.” A third email, someone saying they were going to be making their own and had more than enough supplies if the others wanted to join in. The reply from those anxious to find glasses moms? No, that's OK. We'll just find them somewhere else. But it's not fair how lucky some people are. That's when the idea for this article came to me.
How is it not fair, and how are some people lucky for being prepared? The Eclipse has been in the news for months. Magazines, newspapers, TV news, radio news, in the stores, online, it's absolutely everywhere. Glasses were sold starting about 4 weeks in my area, and I didn't buy any the first two weeks because it just wasn't in the budget. I did get some the following week, so how is it not fair that those who got ready ahead of time have what they need?
The same thing goes for Disney. How often do you hear complaints about people who had to wait in long lines? Or maybe they just walked around and didn't do anything because the lines were so long? The lines were that long because they were full of people who either didn't plan, or didn't really mind waiting in lines. The “lucky” ones who got to use Fast passes or walk right onto lines aren't necessarily “Lucky”, they were people who planned.
On a Disney forum I like to visit, I see a lot of complaints. “I couldn't get fastpasses for Frozen,” one said recently, complaining about an Epcot trip where they had to wait in line and couldn't walk right into table service restaurants. No less than ten people replied immediately with varying versions of: “That's because you didn't plan out anything until the day of. Of COURSE you aren't going to get reservations or fastpasses for headliners.” The person tried to argue that they shouldn't have to do that, and sure, at some of the smaller parks there isn't such a long wait, but visiting Disney World is an experience, and it is a place where tens of thousands of people go every day. At Magic Kingdom alone, data suggests that the average daily attendance is 53,000. That's an average! Holidays can shut the place down where it reaches capacity and people are turned away. Of course you are going to be waiting in long lines if you don't have a general idea of what it is you are wanting to do!
Our first trip we were in line to meet Mickey at the Magic Kingdom. This family was behind us, griping the whole time about waiting. We finally get up to the Cast Member, about to enter, and the family asked what this line was for. Surprised, the Cast Member said, “To meet Mickey!” The family turned around and started to go. “We don't want to do that,” one said. “What a waste of time.” Baffled, the CM said, “But you've been in line so long. In just a few minute’s it's going to be your turn!” The family didn't care, and walked out, complaining they had wasted their time. And I guess they had, because they didn’t pay attention to what they were doing, and had waited in line for a half hour just to walk away.
If you aren't going to plan ahead your trip, that's totally fine! Some people like to be spontaneous, or maybe have to go last minute and don't have time to plan. Others don't like details and just cross their fingers and hope for the best. Whatever kind of person you are, that's fine! But a little bit of planning, even just a general list of the rides you want to go on will give you such an advantage over a large number of visitors, isn't that worth it?
It's not luck that some people (like the Disney Magic Family) don't wait in line for more than 15 minutes, even in peak season. It's not luck that some people get to eat at all the best restaurants that are hard to get into, and it IS fair that those who do a little bit of planning get rewarded.
This blog is full of great information on how to make the most of your trip, and if you don't see if here, Google will find it for you. Everything from how to make the most of your meal plan credits, to how to do Ten Attractions in 3 Hours at Magic Kingdom, or follow the links in that article to find similar plans for any of the Theme Parks, as well as other little tips and tricks to make your trip smoother.
Just an hour of reading could save you hours of frustration at Disney, and make your moments memorable, not miserable. Don't you deserve to be one of the “lucky” ones too?