March 8, 2012

Tools, Most Necessary

For your viewing pleasure - the books I used to plan our vacation extravaganza.

My very first purchase was The Unofficial Guide 2010.  It joined its cousin, 2007, on the shelf.  It makes me a little sad that I got rid of old 1991.  If ever I re-enter the world of the gainfully employed, I've got to figure out a way to get hired by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa.  Gathering and interpreting all that data!

My second purchase was The Complete Walt Disney World 2010 by Julie and Mike Neal.  The glossy pages were full of color photos.  The kids really liked the pictures of souvenirs that were available in various shops.  One of them immediately started making a shopping list.  If you want lots of color photos, the Neals do it right.

I also purchased Steve Barrett's field guide in hopes of finding some new Hidden Mickeys.  Oh, to tour at a nice leisurely pace and enjoy the little things...

Not to leave the kids out of this obsession adventure, I bought them their own colorful guidebook, Birnbuam's 2010 Walt Disney World For Kids.  The ideas inside this guidebook sparked their imaginations and they started making their own countdown activities and must-do lists for each park.

On the far right you'll see my spiral notebook.  This was dedicated to the amassing of information, pricing, and estimating I do before we make any of the major decisions.  I just love figuring up all the possibilities - Magic Your Way package, room only, food, air transportation, water parks, Park Hopper.  Sigh!

On these pages I weighed the value of purchasing a full price package with the free Disney Dining Plan by estimating how much we spent on food on our last trip.  I used the menus from AllEars.  It was tedious, sure, but right up my alley.  Is it disturbing that I remember most of where and what we ate three years ago?  Yeah, I didn't think so either.

Then lastly, I made my own planning notebook.  This binder was a three-ring Wilson brand that I bought at Target.  The binder contained instructions on how to print the tab headings onto one sheet that you then slip into the clear pocket on the inside back cover. Since you don't write directly on the tabs, you can reuse them.

The Disney logo and Mickey decals are from the scrapbook section of my local craft store.  They're made from thread and they're heavy duty, like a monogram, except they have an adhesive backing.  I kept them on the plastic backing so I could use them later in a scrapbook.  In the top right corner you'll notice one of those Mickey Mouse paint chips.  I printed out the cover sheet and slipped it all into the front pocket of the binder.

Inside were custom calendars, packing lists, to do lists, confirmations, flight information - more than my little spiral notebook could handle.  I had tabs for these things:

Those five basic categories let me organize the five major areas of our vacation.

The Planning tab was home to my personalized lists - packing, to do, park hours, parade times.  It was a handy place to keep everything.  Rather than make little lists that end up all over the house (as I'm known to do), whenever I thought of something, I'd jot it down in my notebook.  The kids even enjoyed reading my lists from time to time to see the progression of our planning.

Under Confirms went our hotel booking info and dining reservations.  I printed out these pages straight from the website under My Disney Vacation.

Once I booked our flight, I printed out the receipt and flight information, three-hole punched it, and filed it under Travel.  Same thing for the rental car.

Flipping to the Maps tab would reveal maps of the Orlando airport (MCO) and how to get to our hotel from MCO.  I also included a map of our hotel property and a map showing how to get to the closest Target and Publix.  Although I had looked at Google Earth so much, the directions were permanently imprinted on my brain.  Sad?  Strange?  Yeah, I didn't think so either.

The binder also had a pocket inside the front cover for storing those things you'd need to access easily.  This came in handy at the airport when I needed to get to the boarding passes quickly and then put them away quickly.  It reminded me of getting through the bag check and turnstiles at the Parks all the while zipping up your bag, showing your tickets, then stowing them away.

For safekeeping of tickets, receipts, and little pieces of paper that I knew would accumulate along the way, I bought a three-hole punched 8x10 envelope made out of that poly-vinyl stuff.  I could stow those little pieces of paper in the envelope and seal it closed with the velcro flap.

Especially for this post, I looked in this envelope the other day and found several surprises - things I didn't know I kept.  I can't wait to show them to you!

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