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Congratulations! You're going to Disney World, the Happiest Place on Earth! Now what? Do you have a plan? Do you know what to expect? Are you determined to 'see it all' - or die trying? Lesley Sawhook has been there, done that so many times that in her sleep she counts marching Mickeys, not leaping sheep. Her years of experience as a Disney mom, a Disney planner, and now a Disney Certified Travel Agent uniquely qualify her to dispense the Happiest Tips on Earth. Learn from Lesley how to have the Happiest Time at the Happiest Place on Earth.

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FROM: Happiest Tips on Earth Published Fridays

Organizing for a Disney Trip

Quick! Which takes more careful planning: a trip to the Moon or a trip to Disney World? If you answered 'Disney World', you are correct. To get the most happy from the happiest place on earth, you have to plan for it. Lesley Sawhook has some great tips.

I'm a type A personality, especially when it comes to Disney planning. For us, an average Disney World vacation lasts 7-10 days, and that requires a lot of planning about what to pack, how to budget, and so forth.

Here are some of the things we do in advance to stay organized in the parks:

Happiest Tip: the Baggie System

We typically do the regular Dining Plan and plan on one sit-down Disney meal per day. With the Dining Plan, I don't have to calculate the cost of those meals, but I do have to plan for tips, etc. To do so, I work out a budget on paper for what I think is a reasonable amount to spend each day on souveniers, snacks, tips, and so forth.

I put that cash into a baggie, label each baggie for a different day, and include a note card with details. Those details can be as simple as "6/15 Magic Kingdom morning reservation at Crystal Palace at 8:30 a.m. Res #ABC. Evening at Epcot Teppan Edu at 6:30 Res #XYZ."

Now that I am more of a Disney veteran, my note cards have become less detailed, but they can still contain very detailed park touring information, as well reminders about when/where to grab FastPasses, catch parades, etc.

This budgeting system helps me to stay organized throughout the trip.

We use a 'rollover system' with our baggies. If all the money allocated for one day wasn't spent, we transfer it to the baggie for the next day. We hope, on the last day of our trip, to have some extra money available for take-home souvenirs.

Not only does this system keep me organized, it's very easy to organize the baggies themselves. When we arrive at our resort hotel, all I do is put all the baggies in our room safe, then transfer one each day to my purse before we leave for the parks.

Happiest Tip: Organize Your Park Bag

I don't know about you, but I hate lugging lots of things into the park each day. When my kids were younger, this wasn't a big issue because we would put everything in the stroller and then just carry the necessities onto each ride. Unfortunately, now that my kids have gotten older, I no longer have that luxury.

Nowadays, I find that the best type of bag to carry into the park is a backpack (I prefer Vera Bradley). The contents of my bag include a baggie with park plans/money (see above!), park tickets and ID, band aids, hand sanitizer, autograph books with pens for the kids, baggies for our cell phones and small camera to keep them safe on water rides like Splash Mountain, a small pack of wet wipes to clean sticky faces covered with melted Mickey bars, and a small camera.

The kids take turns carrying a small mesh-type backpack that contains a small snack/juice box for each of them, a bottle of sunscreen, and 1-2 bottles of water which we freeze the night before in the hotel fridge so they stay cold in the parks.

Happiest Tip: Plan Ahead to Save Some Money

If your kids are like mine, they want everything they see when they're in Disney. If it sparkles, spins or glows, they want it!

There are a lot of ways to make some simple purchases ahead of time to save some money during your vacation. We typically travel to Disney in the summer, so spray fans are a must. Instead of buying them in the parks for around 20.00 each, we buy them at WalMart before we leave for about $4.99 each - big savings!

My kids also love the light-up spinners sold by Disney vendors. We bought some years ago at a local Disney store (they have them in Target stores, too) for 1/4 the Disney vendor price and now we just put new batteries in them each year and take them with us.

You can also purchase glow sticks cheaply in dollar stores and give them to your kids to play with and wear as necklaces during night-time Disney parades and fireworks.

You can save more money by not buying Disney ponchos (which sell for $10-20 each) but instead bringing your own - you can find them in most dollar stores - or packing umbrellas.

Happiest Tip: Plan Ahead for Happy Feet:

I'm often asked what I wear on my feet to the parks. A Disney vacation requires a lot of walking and you want your feet to be as comfy as possible.

Our family has found that Crocs footwear is the best for park touring. Not only do Crocs keep your feet cool and comfy, but if it starts to rain suddenly (which it often does in Orlando), or if you decide to brave a water ride, you don't have to deal with wet socks for the rest of the day.

You can buy Mickey Crocs in the parks, but they're very expensive. I recommend buying them in advance, for less, online at Shoe Buy or at your local Crocs outlet. My favorite is the Cleo type. I wear them year after year, day after day, in the parks. I love them!

All of the above takes time to plan, but once you get to Disney it'll save you time, money, and headaches, and let you concentrate on what's really important: having a Magical Disney vacation with your family!

Lesley's Exclusive Food & Wine Festival Vacation Deal

The Happiest Tips on Earth can only get you partway to the Happiest Place on Earth. For the rest, you need Destination Magic. Drop Lesley a line and see what magic she can make for you when you're planning your next Disney trip!

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