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By Carol Garcia
As a volunteer for several local organizations, I find myself with many meetings in the evening. On one such evening, I was met with a two-page agenda. After slowly realizing my parting words to my family of “this should only take an hour” were not going to come true, I began perusing the agenda.
I stumbled upon an acronym that I hadn’t seen before: KISMIF. After some thought, the meaning hit me: Keep It Simple, Make It Fun. Ever the vacation planner (and secretly hoping to leave this cold climate soon), it occurred to me that KISMIF would make a wonderful motto for vacation planning.
Now anyone who has ever planned a party knows that simple does not mean don’t plan. The same is true for a vacation. Keeping plans simple doesn’t mean showing up to Walt Disney World without a plan. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Spending some time doing your homework before the trip will ease much stress once you finally get to your destination.
The key is to make sure your plans are flexible. Often I find that once we slide those tickets into the machine at the gates, my best-laid plans go out the window. We do, however, start with a plan. If we decide that we’re having too much fun at the Magic Kingdom to keep that dining reservation at Epcot, that’s OK. We also know, however, that no one will be happy if we miss our reservation at the Crystal Palace the next day, so we give that a higher priority and organize our day accordingly.
We do make sure that we haven’t planned things so precisely that there isn’t time for flexibility. Yes, it is possible to make the journey through the parks unpleasant by overplanning. To go along with that, having so many Advance Dining Reservations that you have to change your plans and prioritize everything doesn’t make for a relaxing vacation.
Keep it simple. Plan enough to make your family happy by hitting the attractions, restaurants, or activities that are most important to you, but not so much that there isn’t flexibility if you discover an even better attraction.
Now onto the fun! Having fun at Disney World really shouldn’t be hard. Unfortunately, sometimes it is. We’ve all seen (or even experienced first-hand) meltdowns and arguments in the parks. I’ve found that there are three things that, when kept in balance, ensure an enjoyable experience for us all: food, rest, and comfort.
First off is food. If you have small children, you know how important the meal schedule can be. Your tot’s tummy will be hungry for lunch at noon no matter where you are, so eat before that hunger sets in. If you can’t be at a restaurant eating at that time, make sure to have some snacks on hand that will tide everyone over for that last ride through “it’s a small world.”
When you’re planning for food, don’t forget the time change. It’s much easier to reset your watch than it is your constantly-hungry-son’s stomach. If he’s going to be hungry at noon, but that’s 2 p.m. in Florida, you may need to adjust your meal times a little bit.
Sadly, you might also have to adjust your bed times. Getting to rope drop at the parks might be a priority, but getting up early on vacation might not be. Couple that with the time change, and it may be difficult to get up early. If you are able to convince everyone that seeing Mickey is more important than sleeping in, then don’t forget to plan some quiet nights hanging out at the resort.
Nap time might also help stave off the lack of rest. Of course, my children have declared themselves far too old for naps. At home, that’s true. But on vacation, we try to give ourselves some down time in the afternoon to recharge. I don’t tell my children that’s what we’re doing, but it’s amazing how willingly they will go back to the room with the promise of going out again later. Some rest on vacation is important, even if there are four theme parks right outside your door.
The last thing to remember is comfort. You will be outside walking a lot at Disney. Not too many of us spend our days at home like this. So make sure that you have comfortable shoes and clothes. Don’t throw that new pair of shoes in the suitcase if they aren’t broken in. Walk at home and find the shoes that work for you. And bring some things to help calm sore feet. Mole skin is probably one of my most memorable souvenirs from one of our first trips, and it comes back with us every time. Even our Mickey ears don’t have that kind of track record.
Don’t forget that a great majority of time will be spent outside. Where I come from, a 50 degree day in January is quite balmy, but when at Disney, it’s a little cooler. And conversely, it’s hot in the summer. Really, really hot. Prepare for that with cool clothes, lots of water (a squirt bottle filled with water goes a long way), and plenty of breaks in air conditioning. A hot child or adult has very little tolerance for anything, so plan for the temperature while you’re making your packing list.
So, my meeting agenda was correct. Keep it simple, make it fun. Following those two simple rules will help create memories that last a lifetime. (Even if it might not make for shorter meetings back home.)