Touring plans, particularly the kind generated by touringplans.com, spark a lot of debates in the Disney planning community. Some podcasts (sadly, including one of my favorites), openly disparage that kind of touring plan and people who use them.
However, from what I have heard and read, most of the arguments made by the critics are not actually valid and simply prove they have never really tried to use one nor have they done proper research.
Touring Plans generated by touringplans.com may seem intimidating at first primarily because they have *times* listed. The times are what I think turn most people off:
People think the time means when you “need” to get there by and are concerned with getting off schedule. That’s an entirely wrong way of looking at it.
Times are there: 1) to estimate what time you are going to be there…not to tell you when you must be there….by listing the time, they can estimate your wait (they have years and years of extensive data on this); and 2) to know how long it’ll take to complete each action, they can better estimate how long it will take to complete all the things you want to do. The times aren’t even a suggestion, they are just information for your benefit.
You can customize your walking speed, wait vs. walking, and add as many breaks as you want.
Slow walker? Have kids? Need frequent bathroom breaks? You can let touring plans know ALL of that, and it’ll adjust your times. Prefer more lines and less bouncing around the park? You can add that too.
You can customize exactly what attractions and shows you see.
Not a fan of the pre-made touring plans? Good! They are just a starting point. You *should* customize them (or start from scratch) to match your preferences. Don’t want to ride coasters? Take them all out! Want to ride Nemo six times? Add 6 Nemos in! Want to spend longer exploring a particular pavilion of the World Showcase? Add multiple instances of that pavilion.
Would you prefer to visit space mountain in the evening because it makes you nauseous and you’d prefer not to feel that way all day? Drag it to the bottom! Want to visit all of Frontierland at the same time in order to experience the theme better? Drag and drop to re-order the rides! Done.
OH NO! We went off plan!!
Got distracted by some streetmosphere? Walked by your favorite attraction and saw the line was lower than expected? Had to stop for a churro? Running behind (or ahead!)? NO PROBLEM. You are using the app in the park that let’s you check off the steps you’ve done, delete steps, and re-optimize. You can even tell it where you are, and it’ll suggest the best plan from that starting point.
Finished the plan and want another ride?
The app tells you where the shortest lines are, as being live reported by fellow app users- way more accurate than Disney’s listed times.
But you’ll miss the details!
A common argument is that people will miss all the extra details and magic if they are sticking to the touring plan. Wrong! We saved so much time by using the touring plans, that we had extra time in the afternoons to meander and take everything in. Waiting in lines doesn’t help you take in the details (though some queues are awesome).
Animal Kingdom is Not a Half-Day Park
One of my favorite podcasts, focused around the Animal Kingdom, berated touring plans because they felt people would miss a lot of the extras AK has to offer. While I am with them that AK is NOT a half-day park if done properly and that many people skip or rush through the best parts of AK, touring plans can HELP with this, not hinder it.
When I added all the attractions, shows, exhibits, etc…that I wanted to see to my touring plan for AK, I needed TWO DAYS! Actually, even with two I still have to miss some things because of timing on shows. Obviously, the touringplans.com mechanism for generating plans agrees with my assessment of how long it takes to do AK. And optimizing when I hit the rides and shows, will allow me to spend MORE time appreciating the animals.
The touring plans I generated from touringplans.com for our last vacation made it so the longest line we were in throughout our entire vacation was less than 30 minutes. The vast majority were less than 10 minutes. However, we SAW waits of more than 90 minutes many, many times. The plans didn’t stress us out AT ALL. They are super flexible, and can be modified easily in-park. By allowing us to tour efficiently in the mornings, our afternoons were free to relax (or to ride Nemo three times in a row!). The information on timing is solely for your reference and it’s not required that you follow it.
I’ll be posting my plans on here as I finished up all the major changes.