Saturday, December 4, 2010

This is my confession.

Channeling my inner Usher here, apparently.

So, I know that this may come as a bit of a shock to everyone, but I'm a bit of a planner.  I'm kind of a control freak.  Stop laughing at me.

Disney vacations are really an OCD planner's dream.  So many options, so many details, so many variables ... of course, all must be researched and discussed.  It can be very overwhelming to some people, to the point to where they ask random people their opinions (or trust a travel agent that doesn't specialize in Disney travel).  This logic is flawed because most of the information that's given will be that of conventional wisdom.  You know ... Christmas is the best time to visit, make sure you hit those extra magic hours, and sleep in as much as possible. 

To quote my daughter: Oh noes, mommy.  Oh noes they didn't.

When planning my first trip, I scoured the interwebs for information.  There are literally thousands of Disney planning sites out there - some are based upon the books you'll find in the stores, some are web-only resources, and some are provided by travel agencies or those that have some other sort of "skin in the game".  Understanding each site's "angle" or philosophy is key, because if the site's philosophy doesn't match yours, then it's a waste of your time to even review its most basic information / guidance.

Personally, I am a pretty seasoned traveler.  OK, that's an understatement.  Travel is my drug of choice.  And my daughter has had her own frequent flier account since she was 3 months old.  My kid is better at navigating the TSA checkpoints than most adults!  So I don't need basic travel advice - I need location-specific guidance, and to-the-point facts. 

This is why I'm a devotee of TourGuideMike.  Now, many people will say "why should I pay for Disney planning advice when I can get it for free some other places?"  Well, although places like The DIS are wonderful ... sometimes the quality of the advice that's given isn't the best.  As registration isn't well-controlled (anyone can join), you will get basic and publicly available advice.  TGM, on the other hand, is a wealth of information from "the best of the best".  Not only staffed by Mike himself, the forums are a group of Disneyphiles that visit often. 

Mike (and his staff) analyze the park calendars, known group outings (such as Pop Warner, Wide World Of Sports / Disney Endurance races, etc), and other pixie dust.  They then assign each day a "color", and tell you what parks are the best to visit that day (and why).  Now, you could likely do this yourself.  But honestly, once you're paying thousands of dollars for a Disney trip, the meager TGM subscription price (approximately $20) is worth every penny.  And since I've used TGM for my last two trips, I can honestly say that he's yet to steer me wrong.  Also ... if you look around on the internet, you can find discount codes published by partner sites (one of which is the DIS), to even make it a more economical purchase. 

I highly recommend TGM.  Give them a try.

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