Time to get geeky and talk about using a Planning Chart to plan your next Disney vacation! This will save you LOTS of time and you'll know just what to do and where to go while at Disney World... never having a dull moment of "what should we do next?"
I came across a publicly shared google doc [no longer available] by Gredel S. which was a great foundation and starting point for filling out a planning chart. It includes a daily itinerary of which parks to visit and where and when to eat (include those confirmation #'s!) I revised it to include with attractions to see (abbreviated), "must sees," park hours and the suggested "best parks" (least crowded) to visit each day. That's the beauty of this chart, you may add, delete and edit it as much or as little as you like to fit to your preferences. (Click on the chart below to view a larger version.)
Making a planning chart 'forces' you to look at the park maps and get familiar with the layout of each park. This ends up being a very good thing, as you'll know right where to go and you won't be standing around looking at a map feeling lost (which is a large waste of time). It will also solve the problem of "Where should we eat?!"
Plan as much as you can ahead of time, but don't try to plan every single minute of your day. Give some wiggle room. There may be a wait-time for an attraction that is just too long - skip it and come back to it if time allows. Also take time to look at the details; watch the "street entertainment," search for Hidden Mickey's, talk to Cast Members... don't rush your trip ~ you might miss something!
Did we stick to our plans? Nope! If we saw a restaurant we wanted to try more than what was scheduled, we scratched our plans and went with spontaneity! We also chose different parks to visit on our last day than what we had originally planned. These are just plans after all, it's okay to make changes along the way.
Bottom Line: Know ahead of time what park you want to visit, which attractions are a "must see" for that day, and where you want to eat. Let the rest of your day just "happen"... see Characters, enjoy other attractions/shows, and pay attention to the details.
Feel free to access our version of this Disney Planning Chart via Google Docs. When using Google Docs just go to File>Make Copy, give it a new name and you'll be able to edit it to your liking. If you would like a clean start, here is a copy of a Blank Chart.
UPDATE: Both of the Disney Itinerary Planning Charts were updated with improvements on December 4, 2012. It can now be downloaded as a Word document as well.