On Capturing Magic, we like to focus the information on ways to CREATE and CAPTURE MAGIC while on your Disney vacation. But, when I did our recent survey, many of you asked what our favorite planning sites are. I thought it would be fun to ask our team members what their favorite Disney Trip Planning Resources are and share them with all of you. I will add this post to the main menu and update it with our favorite apps soon. 😉 Here are our the sites, books, and podcasts we won't go to Disney without:
Helpful Planning Sites
The TouringPlans.com site and Lines Apps are pretty popular amongst the team for Disneyland and Disney World planning. The site has great crowd calendars based on many years of statistical analysis. Whenever I am planning a trip, I always consult this site to check crowd levels. Disneyland is a more difficult park to predict because there are so many factors that can change and make a huge difference in crowds (school schedules for example). I've always had great luck with the Disney World calendar. The site and the Lines apps by Touring Plans have a touring optimizer where you can enter the rides you want to go on and optimize it and it will tell you what to do when in order to avoid crowds. You can re-optimize at anytime too. This is a great tool for first-timers. The apps also show predicted wait times and reported wait times by those that are in the parks.
Disboards.com is the forum portion of WDWinfo.com and have sub forums for Disneyland and Disney World planning. They have threads and posts on just about anything Disney you might want to know. I have been a lurker there since 2006. I have been registered since then as well, but I don't think I've actually ever posted there. Forums are a little intimidating to me sometimes. 😉 Almost all of our team members use this site.
easyWDW was another popular site among our team members for Disney World planning. I have used his crowd calendars as well his thorough posts on Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween and Mickey's Christmas Party for planning. Information on his site is easy to find by clicking the categories on the right or searching. He also has some smaller, less overwhelming forums. We tend to like his, “tell-it- like-it-is” approach. It's helped many of us make good decisions when we are planning.
There are a few of us on the team that plan our Disney vacations around FOOD! Disney Food Blog is a favorite among us for Disneyland and Disney World. Their ebooks are especially helpful when planning a trip to Disney World. I have used them and I was blown away at the amount of information and resources packed in those ebooks for such a little price! I can't say enough good about them!
We love MousePlanet for their weekly park updates on Disneyland and Disney World. They are also a great resource for the latest news about the parks.
MiceChat is a really great Disneyland planning resource. They do have information for Disney World as well, but MiceChat is one of my top resources for planning Disneyland trips. When I was in Disneyland in April, 2014 I ended up subscribing to their Twitter alerts via text. It was the weekend that DOSH started closing a lot of attractions and I wanted to be able to have the most up-to-date information at the time. I found I got it via the MiceChat Tweets that came to me via text.
I love reading Tom and Sarah Bricker's trip reports on Disney Tourist Blog (mostly WDW). Tom's photos are incredible and his posts are pretty funny too. I have found myself laughing right out loud many times. When I decided I needed a super wide angle lens for the parks, I consulted Tom's buying guide and rented the Tokina lens he suggested. I was super happy with the lens and was finally able to buy one after renting it three times. They have some really great posts that are helpful for planning a trip as well. They also have trip reports and reviews from Disneyland when Cars Land opened, Disneyland Paris in December 2012 and I hear they are headed to Disneyland Tokyo soon. I can't wait to see their photos. Sarah shoots mostly iPhone in the parks and I love following her in Instagram!
I love looking around the Disney Photography Blog for tips and great Disney photos. It's a really great resource with lots of equipment reviews and suggestions. They also have some Disney Photo a Day iPhone apps and ebooks.
If you are looking for a great deal (and who isn't?) MouseSavers.com is a great resource for any kind of Disney vacation planning (Disneyland, Disney World, cruises, any other Disney park, Vacations by Disney, etc.)! I love getting their newsletters and can often find myself looking through the latest deals and scheming about making reservations! Especially check them out if you are flexible in your travel dates.
I LOVE Kayak! I have email alerts set up by the month from my home airport to LAX, Long Beach, Orange County, and Orlando airports. I get a daily email telling me how much ticket prices are during that month. This is a great way to get a sense of what the market is doing as well as jump on any sudden price drops. Kayak doesn't check a few airlines such as Southwest (see the next site below).
On Airfarewatchdog I have alerts set up by city (it's ongoing, not based on calendar months like Kayak) and am notified by email anytime there is a special price. This site can check for Southwest Airlines as well as other budget airlines as well.
Helpful Planning Books
The Unofficial Guides for Disneyland and Disney World are a great source of information! They are honest in their reviews and do a really great job with their touring plans. These books are done by the Touring Plans/Lines people. Kim says: Not the most cheerful and upbeat guide book out there, but it will definitely help you form realistic expectations prior to your trip.
Team member Kim told me about PassPorter in 2005 and I have purchased one each year I've gone to Disney World since. It's a pretty amazing book. Here's what Kim says:Not just a guidebook, but also a journal you can use during your trip to collect your memories and memorabilia all in one place. I have the Deluxe version and just buy refills when we go, but there is also a spiral bound version if you aren't a frequent visitor. There is a cruise version available if you're a cruiser.
Kim is also a big fan of Guide to the Magic (and I can't wait to try it out on our next family trip to WDW). This is what Kim said: A must buy if you have elementary age children. My 12 year old loved this book on our last trip. Lots of information for kids about rides and shows, but also lots of space for children to record their own memories.
Team member Katie says that her son really loves the Imagineering Field Guide
s. They have one for each of the parks at WDW as well as one for Disneyland.
We have a lot of podcasts that we enjoy for Disney news and planning! Here are some of our favorites:
InsideTheMagic – Disney World and Disneyland news (other parks are covered a bit too)
Moustalgia – Disneyland
WDWToday – Disney World trip planning
3 Moms and The Mouse – (suggested by one of our non-mom team members, so it's good for all types of Disney vacationers)
PassPorter Moms Podcast
The Dis Unplugged
Be Our Guest