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Sometimes I think my favorite part of a Disney trip is the planning and anticipation. I can spend months getting ready for a trip. In fact, our whole family gets involved. We watch videos, listen to a podcast, and discuss all the latest Disney news. Disney really is our family hobby. Being together at the parks brings a certain closeness. When we plan together and talk about our past trips that closeness comes home with us. I want to share with you things we do to countdown to our next Disney trip.

I. Disney Trip Planning

First, go through my Disney World planning series. Even if this isn’t your first Disney trip, I think you will get some good tips from it. I talk about how to choose the right resort, how to spend your days, transportation, even how long to go for. When people hear how much planning I do for our trips, they usually say something like this, “That doesn’t sound like a vacation.” To which I respond, “Planning is not the vacation. Once I’m on vacation, I don’t make any decisions. I’ve already done all of that. ” It takes all the stress away for me.

Have you ever passed by the family arguing about what to do next? Or heard from your friends that they went to Disney, but hardly got to do anything because of the crowds? That was Shaun and me on our honeymoon. We had no idea what we were doing. We had a great time, but when I started to learn more about Disney I realized we had only don’t like a quarter of the park. I felt like I had missed out on the whole experience. I learned from that experience and the first time we took the kids, I was prepared. We’ve done trips to Disney World and Disneyland and never waited more than 30 minutes in line for an attraction during all sorts of crowd levels. Plan first; Party later!

II. Movie Nights

Before a trip is a great time to catch up on all the latest Disney movies. With Netflix streaming all the latest Disney movies, it’s easy and affordable to watch them. Don’t just watch the movies! Make it an event. Have a Mexican fiesta and watch Coco or dress the kids up in their superhero costumes to watch the Incredibles. One of the best things about Disney is that everyone gets to be a kid. Don’t wait till you’re on Disney property to start! Sometimes we’re worse than the kids. Find a night when everyone is together and go crazy. Have themed snacks, play a game,  sing along with the songs. There are no rules, just fun.

III. Favorite Foods

Cook a copycat Disney recipe. Do you have a favorite meal that you can’t wait to have on your Disney trip? Why not try to make it before you go? Many of us have strong memories associated with food or even the smell of food– Main Street Bakery, I’m talking to you. Imagine your house smelling like those yummy cupcakes. What about something for breakfast? Try some homemade Tonga Toast to start your Saturday morning off. Even dinner can have a Disney touch with Columbia Harbor House’s mac and cheese. Make one of your favorites or try something new because each meal you make gets you one day closer to the parks!

IV. Disney Store Trips

Make a trip to the Disney Store. It’s ok to be regulars. The cast members at our local Disney Store know us. They tell us about their trips, and we tell them about ours. It’s fun to see the new merchandise and they have one thing I’ve never seen a park store–SALES! We can often save a few bucks on vacation by pre-purchasing some of the kids’ souvenirs at the Disney Store. If you live near a Disney outlet, it’s even better because they have discounted parks merchandise. I have a Disneyland rain jacket that was originally $50 that I spent $15 on.

One way we save both in the parks and at home is by using our Chase credit card to get discounts at the Disney Store-10% off every purchase! Plus, reward dollars we use at the parks. Did you know that Disney Stores also has special events for card members? We’ve been to both Halloween parties and free giveaways. Sign up for Chase Visa credit card through my referral link and get a $200 bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months. That pays for a lot of meals at the Magic Kingdom!

V.Disney Clothes

Start deciding what to wear on your Disney trip. I love seeing the outfits, t-shirts, and accessories people have on in the parks. I’ve seen everything from cute Mickey shirts to elaborate Disneybounds, and what about all those groups with matching t-shirts. I have a whole section of this blog dedicated to showing off your Disney style. Why? Because I love to combine my personality with my love for Disney into a fabulous outfit. Disney clothes don’t just have to be for kids. I have tons of purses, scarfs, shoes, jewelry, and clothes that are perfect for going to the park or to the grocery store. Take a look at some of the outfits I’ve put together here. Start planning if you’re going to Disneybound, do a group outfit, or just need a new Disney tee for your upcoming trip.

VI. YouTube Videos

We watch a lot of YouTube. Seriously, like more than regular television. We love YouTube for Disney content for a few reasons. It’s more realistic than the Disney promos. Don’t get me wrong! I love the Disney promos, but somehow, those people are the only ones in the park, their kids aren’t crying, and their hair isn’t messed up after riding Splash Mountain. Umm, that’s just not how my typical Disney day goes. YouTubers can give you a better idea of what to expect. Want to try a new restaurant? Look up some reviews. Worried your kid might be scared on the Haunted Mansion? Let them watch a ride through a few times so they know what to expect. I can’t tell you how many times Disney Dude has watched Fantasmic on YouTube.

V. Podcasts

Similar to YouTube channels, we also listen to a lot of Disney-related podcasts. They are great for trip reports, tips, and news. A Disney podcast is actually what really started my love of Disney. I’ve always been a Disney fan, but Shaun started listening to a podcast called Mousetalgia that focuses on Disneyland and it’s history. When I realized how much history and tradition the Disney company has, I was hooked. Before I knew it, my phone was filled with Disney podcasts. I listen to them while I clean. The kids and I put them on in the car. It’s the happy version of talk radio.

VI. Disney Books

Read a Disney history book. The Disney company has a long history of innovation and imagination, and they are very proud of it. Disney was the first in many things including Snow White was the first full-length animated movie, Disneyland was the first theme park, and the first use of audio-animatronic figures in its rides. Whether you like the parks, the movies, or the man himself, find a book to dive deeper into Disney history and gain a greater appreciation of the people that make the magic possible. I especially like this book “It’s Kind of a Cute Story” by Rolly Crump.

Don’t forget your kids either. Not only are there tons of  Disney storybooks, but they also have books on Disney geared towards kids like this one “Who was Walt Disney?” Let them know how their favorite place got there. You never know it may inspire a future Imagineer.

VII. Countdown Activities

Finally, I have put together a free Countdown to Disney pack for you! When we get within a month of an upcoming trip, we can’t think of anything else. So why is this printable so awesome? I have four weeks of countdown activities for you including Disney games and a Magic Band scavenger hunt! Your family will be pumped up and ready to go when that magical day arrives so go ahead and print it and let the fun begin!