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Thread: Trip Report Guidelines - Please Read Before You Post

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    Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix
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    Whoa! Trip Report Guidelines - Please Read Before You Post

    We would like to ask that trip report authors use a standard format for trip report titles so that readers can easily identify trip reports that interest them.

    The title of your trip report thread should include:

    Your Name
    You can use just your first name (Mickey M.) or your family name (The Mouse Family) if you prefer.

    (Don't forget to include the year!)

    (You can use the full name of the property, or an abbreviation (as listed below). If you stayed at more than one hotel during your trip, you can either list all hotel names, or you can say "Various." For Walt Disney World, some people use "Offsite" to indicate that they did not stay at a Disney-owned hotel, but you can always list the hotel name if you want)

    An example of a properly-formatted trip report title is:

    Mickey Mouse - February 1 - 10, 2008 - Disneyland Hotel

    Moderators reserve the right to edit your thread title if it does not meet these guidelines.

    MousePlanet does not have a set format for trip report contents, but there are a few things that we do strongly encourage you to include when creating and posting a trip report. These elements are designed both to make your report more useful to your fellow MousePlanet readers, and also to make sure that people can FIND your trip report.

    I've copied Brian Bennett's trip report article in the space below, and it's full of helpful tips and suggestions. Even if you do not follow the suggestions he provides, we would like every trip report author to consider adding this next block of info to the top of your trip report post. This info gives the reader a quick summary of what is in your report, to help them find reports that will help them in their own trip planning.

    Travel dates:
    Travel method:
    Ages Represented in Group:
    Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group:
    Cast of characters:

    Finally, please do not create a trip report thread and just link to another Web site. You may include a link within your trip report on another site (for example, you're hosting your trip report on your own Web site because you've included photos), but your trip report should appear here as well. "Trip Report" threads that include nothing but a link to another Web site will be moved from this forum.

    Thank you!
    Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix

    Why Should Anyone Read About Other People's Trips?

    I have found that reading trip reports to be the most entertaining and informative way of researching an upcoming trip to a Disney destination and keeping up-to-date on the many changes and additions to the "vacation kingdoms." One of the best features of any given trip report is that it brings a unique point of view to bear on the issue. It's great to see how the makeup of the family or party affects trip plans and goals. Also, since the Disney parks are so full of details, trip reports point out new ways of touring the parks, draw attention to out-of-the-way details, and provide fresh insight to old favorites.
    Another reason for reading trip reports is that many of the "golden oldies" can be a fun way to reminisce about Disneyland and WDW as they developed into the tremendous vacation kingdoms they have become today.

    Why do People Write Reports About Their Vacations?

    There are several great reasons for writing a trip report: First, a trip report is a wonderful way of documenting a family vacation. Re-reading your own report is a fun way to reminisce about the wonderful times you had on the trip. Second, re-reading your own trip reports are a useful way to prepare for your next trip. It's a great way to refresh your memory about what you did and didn't do, what you liked and didn't, what meals you enjoyed, and what you really wished you'd done that you never got around to. Third, you can share your own experiences and knowledge with others.

    How Can I Best Utilize This Trip Report Archive?

    There are many ways ways to use this archive, but here are some ideas:
    • If you've already made some of your trip plans, you can read reports of previous visitors to gain insight about the resort you'll be staying at, the conditions in the park (crowds, weather) during the time of year you'll be visiting, and so on.
    • You can read the reports to gain knowledge on specific issues...such as lodging options (offsite vs. one of the Disney resorts), trip plans when various ages are represented in your group, travel arrangements and critiques (of airlines, rental car companies, shuttle services, etc.), and other information.
    • Read the reports just for fun and to keep up with the latest and greatest at the Disney resorts.
    • Get ideas on report writing and apply them when you write your own trip report (I hope)
    • For Disney resort addicts, reading trip reports has been known to provide smiles, prompt happy memories, and even cause mild hallucinations of happy ghosts, pirates, space travel, alien encounters, jungles, night times filled with twinkling lights and fireworks, and hundreds of small singing dolls...
    Trip Report Format and Protocol

    There is no set format or protocol for writing a trip report. However, I would suggest a few things to make the finished report more useful to you and whoever reads it...

    Always include an introduction to your report. The introduction should include:
    A descriptive list of the various people in the group that you've traveled with (this makes the report (especially a "play-by-play" style report) more interesting because you know the characters) Appropriate summary information including the dates of your trip, the resort(s) in which you stayed, and other such pertinent information. This gives the reader "advanced warning" about what to expect from the report.
    Also, if you use some standard scoring scheme for your comparisons, make sure you explain your criteria for making judgment calls (and include this in your introduction, too).

    Headings by Day or Category

    Use the date and day as a heading to each new day of a play-by-play report. This is more important than you might think. For example, if you visit Typhoon Lagoon and notice that the crowds are huge on a given day, it helps for the reader to be able to note the day of the week. Perhaps the crowds are due to the locals that visit the park on Saturdays and Sundays and swell the ranks of the vacation visitors.
    Use appropriate headings for a summary report, too. Of course, days and dates are not appropriate, but if the next few paragraphs of the report discusses your meal experiences at Epcot, make that clear. Such headers will clarify a summary report significantly.

    Highlight Hints and Tips

    Hints and tips can be handled nicely two different ways. First, you can describe them in the text of the report (a play-by-play) as they come up. If so, use some appropriate heading so a casual reader can pick out those tips. Second, your summarized hints and tips can be listed at the end of the report. Frankly, I like to do both -- I mention them as they come up (but I don't highlight them in any special way), then I include a summary list at the end of the report to capture the "lessons learned" on the trip.

    Writing the Text

    Some folks like to write their report day-by-day and even post the report from WDW as they on their trip. Others take handwritten notes (and even carry a notebook in the parks on their trip). You might wish to consider that, as an alternative.

    However, my personal preference is to take my laptop computer on the trip with me and write the report as I go (but without posting it daily). This can be time consuming, but helps me to capture details of our trip that I fear I'll miss if I write the report after the fact.

    The reason I don't personally like to post daily is two fold. First, I don't want to take the time or deal with the hassle of being online when I'm on vacation (although I admit to checking my email periodically when I'm away). Second, I'd rather the posting be done all at one time so newsgroup readers can pick off the entire report at one time and enjoy reading it at their pace...not necessarily in daily pieces. The added advantage is that the report pieces will likely be all together when others are browsing the newsgroup.

    I suggest that you write the final text of your report using whatever word processor you normally use. If you use WordPerfect, use WordPerfect. If you use Word, write your report using Word. This will make using the tools for your writing the most familiar to you and simplify your task. Then when you're done you can copy and paste the entire thing as a post to the archive. It is best to avoid trying to write a trip report directly in your browser since the risk of losing it all before submitting is too high.

    Two general styles of trip reports predominate: First, the play-by-play style tells exactly what happened in chronological sequence throughout the trip. Play-by-play reports tend to provide a "story" atmosphere to the report, usually cover minute detail, and take a long time to write (trust me, I know!). Second, the summary style covers highlights, hints and tips, opinions, impressions, and so on in a list format.

    Chose a style that suits you. For on thing, consider your own personality...don't write a Play-by-play report if you tend to be bored with details. Also, if you didn't take copious notes during the trip and tend to be forgetful, writing a Play-by-play report several days or weeks after the fact can be frustrating (I know, I've tried). On the other hand, if you tend to be a detail person...the Play-by-play style might be perfect for you.

    As you write your report, include details that are appropriate. It is fun to read about your first impressions of Main Street, but you don't have to regale your readership with a sweeping description of Main Street every time you go to the Magic Kingdom throughout a two-week trip. You should especially include details that readers seem to most appreciate:
    • Travel hints and tips
    • Resort information (including hints and tips about room locations, restaurant and other amenities, transportation details, etc.)
    • Overall WDW transportation lessons-learned
    • Park touring tips (and experiences with crowds, etc.).
    • Restaurant reviews (in the resorts, parks, and offsite) -- and especially character meals
    • Non-Disney side trip information
    Other suggestions about your writing are:

    • Make it readable! Typographical errors, misspellings, incomplete sentences, run-on sentences, excessive abbreviations, and other grammatical errors make trip reports tedious and difficult to read. Also avoid the tendency (especially in the play-by-play style) of writing in lengthy paragraphs. Break up the text into appropriate chunks.
    • ACAtmPWNU (Avoid Cryptic Acronyms that many People Will Not Understand). At the minimum, make sure you identify your acronyms when you first use them (in the worst case, you can include a glossary). Some of the ones I've had trouble with in the past include: PoTC (Pirates of the Caribbean...and I don't know why the O is not capitalized while the T is either.) HISTA (Honey I Shrunk the Audience), IASW (It's a Small World), SM and SM (Space Mountain or Splash Mountain...depends on the context...and you have to figure it out as you go), GF, GRBR, YBCR or YCR or BCR, Poly or PR or PBR, CR, WL, OKWR, BWVR or BWR or BVR or BWI or BWIR, CBR, DL, PO, CSR, ASSR, ASMR, FWC. Just for fun, see if you can figure these out (answers are below): SFRT, WS, UoE, FW or FW, EEC, WSL, TZToT, GMR, TLS, LwtL, NLC.
    Acronym Answers from Above (AAfA):
    SFRT -- Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse
    WS - World Showcase
    UoE - Universe of Energy
    FW or FW- Future World, Fort Wilderness
    EEC - Ellen's Energy Crisis
    WSL - World Showcase Lagoon
    TZToT - Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (ok, so this was an easy one)
    GMR - (The) Great Movie Ride
    TLS - The Living Seas
    LwtL - Living with the Land
    NLC - Neverland Club (a childcare facility located at the Polynesian Beach Resort)
    Resort Acronyms:
    GF, GFBR- Grand Floridian, Grand Floridian Beach Resort
    YBCR or YCR or BCR - Yacht and Beach Club Resort, Yacht Club Resort, Beach Club Resort
    Poly or PR or PBR - Polynesian Beach Resort, Polynesian Resort, Polynesian Beach Resort
    CR - Contemporary Resort
    AKL - Animal Kingdom Lodge
    WL or VWL- Wilderness Lodge, Villas at Wilderness Lodge
    OKWR - Old Key West Resort
    BWVR or BWR or BVR or BWI or BWIR - Boardwalk Villas Resort, Boardwalk Resort, Boardwalk Villas Resort, Boardwalk Inn, Boardwalk Inn Resort
    CBR - Caribbean Beach Resort
    PORR - Port Orleans Resort Riverside
    PORFQ - Port Orleans Resort French Quarter
    CSR - Coronado Springs Resort
    ASSR - All Star Sports Resort
    ASMR - All Star Music Resort
    PCR - Pop Centry Resort
    FWC - Fort Wilderness Campground
    SSR - Saratoga Springs Resort
    Comparisons are valuable.

    If you've had experiences at one WDW resort in the past, compare it to the ones you had on this most recent trip. If you liked Dixie Landings better than Port Orleans, explain why! Someone else that had previously enjoyed Dixie Landings might read your report and decide to try Port Orleans or not based on your comments. Summary lists are valuable, too, but document your reasons. If you list the "greatest hits" attractions of everyone in the group, explain why Grandma LOVED "Alien Encounter", why junior LOVED "Pirates of the Caribbean", and why most everyone just hated "It's a Small World."

    Posting to MousePad

    If you want to post your report here, you can do so just like you would post in any discussion forum. The old days of having to email the text (sometimes in pieces) to an editor (like me or Alex) are long gone. Instead, you can now post the report by day or section yourself without dealing with a middleman. If you don't already have a MousePad account you can register here, you will need to get one before you can post a trip report or comment on others. With this account you'll also be able to participate in the rest of the message board as well as provide restaurant and hotel reviews for our User Review system. Click here to begin the process of getting an account.
    However, I would ask that you provide the forum readers with some information that you should add to the top of each post when you submit a report:


    Travel dates:
    Travel method:
    Ages Represented in Group:
    Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group:

    Cast of characters:


    For "Travel Method" you may want to give one of these standard answers: Personal Car, Plane, Autotrain, Rental Car, Shuttle Service. The resort you stayed at can be identified by acronymn, or you can spell it out if you prefer.

    The Accommodations are basically the type of room you stayed in: (i.e. Standard Room, 1 Bedroom Vacation Home, 2 Bedroom Vacation Home, Villa Vacation Home, Suite).

    You don't have to list everyones exact age, but a breakdown of the age groups (i.e. Infant/Toddler, Elementary, Teen, Adult, Elderly) can help readers understand how the likes and dislikes of the various group members (of restaurants, attractions, and so on) vary by their age and interest levels.

    Finally, providing some idea as to the experience in the group of visiting the Disney resorts (i.e. Veteran, Frequent, Infrequent, Rookie, DVC Member) can give some perspective about the trip, too. A group of veterans, having visited WDW annually for twenty years will look on the parks much differently than a young family visiting for the very first time!

    Speaking for the whole MousePlanet team (and especially those that worked so hard to "migrate" all of our old archive reports to this new forum) I hope you enjoy this new archive! Post long and post often!

    Brian Bennett, March 2007

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