Zipadeedoodah: 105 days to WDW

This week is a rough one...stressful and physically demanding. My shoulders and upper back are very sore thanks to my outpouring of elbow grease. Still, I'm in a fantastic mood because next week the WDW countdown is in the DOUBLE digits!!!!!

I've made a list of my autographs! Look how many I obtained in 2017 vs. 2015. Thanks anxiety meds!

2015: Duffy Bear

2017: Russell, Mickey Mouse, Sadness, Joy, Minnie Mouse, Green Army Man, Dale, Pluto, Goofy, Chip, Rafiki, Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, and Ariel.


I'm also making a spreadsheet (surprise!) with all of the places we've dined on the past two trips with rating from both Jimmy and I. I plan to use this to figure out which counter service places we'll be visiting (a mix of favorites and new places).


What's Next:

  • Book a Star Wars Dessert Party (sadly, the times aren't released yet)
  • Finish list of our "Must Dos" for this trip
  • Finish list of possible quick service places we are interested in trying
  • Review some of the preexisting touring plans to see if I want to create my own or modify
  • Make an autograph wishlist for this trip

Zipedeedoodah: 110 Days to WDW

My TA said that WDW has been recently releasing dessert party times about ~60 days in advance. So, I still have some time on that.

My autograph book is in my bag today, so I can take an inventory during lunch.

I also *finally* put my pick-a-pearl in the necklace I got for it:



Zipadeedoodah: 111 Days to WDW

Have I mentioned the sounds of the University buses when they drive by me on my walk fill me with joy because they remind me of Disney transportation?

It's possible I'm totally in love with Disney.

I'm trying to do a bit of planning everyday in what little free time I have. We'll see how that goes...

Still no dates available for the Star Wars Dessert party. What gives? I'm thinking of emailing my TA today to see if he knows the situation.

Duffy holds a light saber.

Duffy holds a light saber.

I'm starting a list of our must-dos. We have plenty of time to hit the stuff we love (Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Pirates, Spaceship Earth, etc...), so I'm focusing on some things we haven't experienced yet....which are more in the "diversion" category, but that's fine.

What's Next:

  • Book a Star Wars Dessert Party (email TA)
  • Finish list of our "Must Dos" for this trip
  • Make a list of possible quick service places we are interested in trying
  • Review some of the preexisting touring plans to see if I want to create my own or modify
  • Review autograph book and make an autograph wishlist for this trip


Zipadeedoodah: 112 Days to Go!


Wow! Only 11 day until Dalmatian Day! Dalmatian Day is considered a countdown milestone in the Disney planning community. Instead of marking 100 days, we mark 101 in honor of the movie 101 Dalmatians, of course!

I'm feeling rather excited for Disney this morning....I think it's because it's the beginning of October, the double digit countdown is in sight, and it's less than 4 months to my trip. October, November and December are my favorite the wait is even more tolerable now.

Where I'm at in the Planning


  • Agent chosen
  • Dates chosen
  • Budget estimated
  • Hotel chosen
  • Reservations booked
  • ADR's made

We are going during our normal time in January- nice weather, low crowds, value season, no holidays....just the way I like it!

We are staying at Pop Century! We've never stayed here before and I'm super excited. Pop is undergoing renovations, and the buildings I'm thinking of I believe were some of the first to be renovated. :)

Last year, we stayed at All Star Sports. I liked it, and would happily stay there again. My husband, however, wanted to try something the next step up (small step....still a value, but a better quality value). Hence, Pop! Lots of people LOVE Pop and consider it their "home" resort.

Our ADRs:

  • Chip n' Dale Harvest Feast Breakfast at Garden Grille (we loved this last time!)
  • Coral Reef Restaurant (it's a tradition....FISH TANK)
  • Rain Forest Cafe at Animal Kingdom (okay, this is just so we can check it off our list and then never go again); I love RFC when I'm NOT in Disney
  • Be Our Guest (DINNER this time...fancy!)
  • Mama Melrose
  • Rose & Crown
  • Tiffin's
  • The Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen

3 of these 8 are repeats. 3 are brand new to us. 1 is a chain we've been too before in other locations. 1 is a place we've gone to but for a different kind of meal. We like to do a mix of new and repeats.

Breakfast at Garden Grille! Dessert = early access to The Land Pavilion. No wait for Soarin'!

Breakfast at Garden Grille! Dessert = early access to The Land Pavilion. No wait for Soarin'!

What's Next:

  • Book a Star Wars Dessert Party (sadly, the times aren't released yet)
  • Make a list of our "Must Dos" for this trip
  • Make a list of possible quick service places we are interested in trying
  • Review some of the preexisting touring plans to see if I want to create my own or modify
  • Review autograph book and make an autograph wishlist for this trip

141 Days to WDW!!!!

I made a free decal!


Please note, I am wearing a pin lanyard and carrying Duffy. Our cat Dixee is also on the decal because she's going to Disney with us!

I found this freebie on but, unfortunately, I can no longer find the exact post. If you do find it, please leave it in the comments!

Zipadeedoodah: 159 Days! Choosing your dates!

Only 159 days to go until our trip! So exciting!

In this post, I'm going to briefly discuss how we chose our dates.

Step #1) Check out a general crowd calendar such as WDW Prep's or Kenny the Pirate's. Make a note of the times that are low crowds. Low crowd times tend to be late January, early February, early March, May, early September and early December. You want to avoid anytime there is a school vacation (including summer) or a holiday, basically (if you want to avoid crowds like me).

Low crowds are the best!

Low crowds are the best!

Step #2) Consider what you you want to see Christmas decorations (early December)? Do you want to swim (summer!)? Do you like the heat (most of the year!)? Are you interested in the Halloween party (September)? We like Disney when it is cold out, so we chose late January.

Step #3) In your general date range, consider if you might have any conflicts. We like profession football, so we prefer the week in between the championships and the Superbowl, so we don't miss either

Weather can play a huge role in your trip, so research and be prepared!

Weather can play a huge role in your trip, so research and be prepared!

Step #4) Head to to check out their more detailed crowd calendar and to figure out exactly which days will be best. Hotels are more expensive on the weekends (Fridays included!), so if you are going for a week, aim to only have one weekend.

Once you book your dates, use the touringplans calendar to determine which parks to do on what days!


Zipadeedoodah: 189 days! Choosing an Agent

Only 189 days left: Time to start getting serious about planning!

Walt Disney World is an ideal trip for those who like to plan ahead, make schedules, and dream about their trip well in advance. Your WDW experience will definitely be better if you do at least some planning (unless you are someone who goes very often).

I have 189 days left in my trip, which means in 180 days I will need to make my Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs).  Since I'm going in value season with low crowds, making reservations this far out isn't necessary if you don't care about when and where you eat. However, I have a couple of places in mind that will fill up pretty quick and we like to eat during the typical dinner ours. Therefore, I plan to make most of my ADR's around the 180 mark.

Step 1: Choosing an Agent

Did you know that official/certified WDW agents are free? Further, they might help you save money. WDW already wraps up the cost of the agents into their pricing, so if you purchase from Disney directly, you are paying for an agent without using one.

If you have plenty of time, like to research and pre-plan, and don't mind making phone calls early in the don't need an agent. However, it wouldn't hurt you to have one in case you need trouble shooting.

I love planning and I intend to make all of my ADRs and Fastpass reservations online. Still, I got an agent. My main reasons were time and phone calls. I arranged my trip via email with my travel agent, which was way easier than dealing with Disney's site or phone system. Further, I want the best possible discount when they are released for winter packages. My agent will be up before dawn calling Disney to make sure I get the discount applied to my package, and will do the math to figure out the best possible discount for me.

Also, if I fail to get an ADR that I wanted, or if I have an issue with the Disney system, or want to book a tour (I do!). My agent can handle all that. Less phone calls and stress for me!

To find an agent, I went to what I consider my most trusted Disney resource on the! They write the "Unofficial Guide" which has to be in the top two most popular Disney guides. They have been collecting LOTS of data for years. And as a scientist, I love going by the data!

I went to the above link and I scanned all the entries in the best agents list. I selected my favorites based on their specialties and how they sounded. I selected my top 15 candidates, and then emailed them this:


I'm getting ready to go to Walt Disney World in late January and I'm looking around for a travel agent. I'd like to be up front and say that I am e-mailing multiple agents in an effort to find one that matches my needs.Thank you in advance for reading my long e-mail, I know your time is valuable.

I'm not in need of a quote just yet, as I'm still working out the exact details of the trip. Further, in the past five years, I've gone to WDW twice, during the same time period, and have stayed at two very different resorts. So, I have an idea of what to expect price-wise

I'm a planner, and part of the reason I love Disney is the planning involved. I wish to book my own fastpasses and plan most of the dining. I also love making touring plans so I am set on that front. My main reasons for getting a TA are to make the phone calls for me (my job makes phone calls challenging during the day and I don't really like phones anyway!), getting the hard-to-get fastpasses and dining reservations, and giving me some extra ideas to make my trip a little bit more magical and different than the last one (perhaps a tour, dessert party, etc...)

My party consists of two adults and no kids. However, you should think of us more like an adult plus a kid. I love childish things and I can easily ride It's a Small World five times in a single trip, and I have no desire to spend anytime on the Boardwalk or Disney Springs. I trade pins, collect tsums and will wait in line to hug a character. I go to Disney to be a kid again. My husband is fascinated by the customer service, quality and magic of Disney, and loves seeing me so stress-free. We are planning on staying at a value resort, but we'll be there for awhile (8 days?).

Now that you know a little about me, here are some questions for you:

1) Do you mind if your clients handle their own fastpasses, touring plans, etc...?

2) Do you wake up super early for clients, or check repeatedly when needed, to get discounts or good Fastpasses/reservations?

3) Do you think we'd be a good match?

Sorry for the third-degree grilling, and thank you so much for your patience reading this. I appreciate your time, and the hard work you do. 


One of the things that mattered most to me was their response time to the email. I want a TA that will respond quickly. I appreciate that they all have lives, but I need someone who will be there promptly when there is a problem.

Other than that, I looked to see how well they read my email....if they were just spewing the standard bits, or if they actually addressed what I wrote personally. As well as how they answered the question.

I crossed out people on my list when I wasn't liking the vibe, and added stars next to their name when they responded in a way I approved.

It came down to two Amanda from Small World Vacations, and Mike from Magic for Less. The thing that tipped it was the fact Mike hosts a podcast that I've listened to on many occasions, and I like this personality on the podcast. His enthusiasm really shines through. That ultimately tipped the scales in his favor.

So far...

Mike has been great! Friendly, fast, efficient and thorough! I'm very pleased with my decision!

Here is his travel agency:

And his podcast:

You can also read his description on the touring plans site:

Zipadeedoodah: 37 Weeks!

Only 37 weeks (roughly) until our 2018 WDW trip (which I'm calling Zipadeedoodah)! And I really need to get planning.

I have done very little planning so far. All I know is where we plan to stay and that we are going sometime in late January.


My core resource for all my Disney vacation planning is I use the WDW Park Hopper policy of never waiting more than 20 minutes for a ride, and there is no way I'd be able to achieve this without the Touring Plans website.

Based on that site, I need to work on the following things as soon as possible:

  1. Establishing a budget
  2. Figuring out when to go
  3. Staring to look at the crowd calendar to choose park days

Also, figure out my hotel, but that's already done! We are staying at Pop Century. While I was very satisfied with our stay at All Star Sports, and would gladly do another All Star, Jimmy wants a tiny bit of an upgrade. So we are going to give Pop a chance.

More updates on planning coming soon!