Doing Disney right means more than just booking a flight and snapping up a pair of Mickey ears. You need to do a bit more homework to really knock the trip out of the park. So we turn again to our resident Disney expert to answer the real life questions that can make all the difference. Put it this way, would you rather leave with "It's a Small World" stuck in your head or with photos of you and your loved ones dining out Disney-style? Think about it.
Want to ask our Fodor's Disney expert a question? Shoot her an email:DisneyExpert@fodors.com.
What are the best meal-inclusive packages at Disney?
A: The meal-inclusive package at Disney is called the Disney Dining Plan.This is an add-on offered to all guests staying at a Disney resort. For a set price, guests will receive a certain number of meals per day that can be used at Disney restaurants. The meals are divided into three categories: quick service (to be used at fast food restaurants), table service (sit down restaurants), and snacks (for kiosks around the park). The number of meals per day depends on which plan you choose.
The basic is called the Dining Plan, and offers one quick service, one table service, and one snack per day. This plan is best when traveling with older kids who can handle visiting a sit down restaurant every day or if your family is big into character meals. The Quick-Service Dining Plan offers two quick service and one snack per day. This plan will be best for parents with younger kids who don't eat a lot at one sitting and won't tolerate a full sit down meal. (The other packages—The Deluxe Dining Plan, Premium Dining Plan, and Platinum Dining Plan— all offer three meals per day with snacks. These plans are generally too much time spent in restaurants for kids.) All packages include a refillable drink mug to be used at your hotel.
Bottom line: Each quick service meal will run about $10-$15 per person, with sit down meals running over $20 on a regular basis. Crunch some numbers to see if the Dining Plan makes economic sense for your family.
We will be at Disney for five days and are planning on one day where we don't visit the theme parks. What should we do on our day off?
A: Disney can be a tiring place so it's always a good idea to take a "day off" on any stay over four days. It gives the entire family a chance to recharge and hit the parks with renewed energy. A good place to start relaxing is the hotel pool—Disney has added kids activities pool side, so your little ones will have a chance to make new friends and play games while you relax.
This can also be a great day to enjoy a character breakfast at another hotel. 1900 Park Fair at the Grand Floridian features the Supercalifragilistic breakfast with Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh. And older kids will love the antics of Stitch at the Best Friend's Breakfast at 'Ohana in the Polynesian.
Another good spot is Downtown Disney. Shopoholics can get their fix here, visiting the largest Disney Store in the world as well as a bevy of other stores. Kids will love the Lego Store and teenage girls will find fashionable clothes at Tren-D. And the perfect way to top of the night is with Cirque du Soleil's show La Nouba.
We're visiting Disney with young kids but want to stay in the parks all day. Is it possible to get a nap inside the parks?
A: It may seem impossible but there is always a quiet spot in the parks for little ones to take a nap. At the Magic Kingdom, visit the Hall of Presidents to give kids a 30 minute break in the air conditioning. If it's not too hot, visit the Tomorrowland Transit Authority in Tomorrowland. If it's not too crowded most cast members will let families stay on the continuously moving vehicles, whose soft sways will rock everyone to sleep.
In Epcot, Impressions de France in the French pavilion is a great show, and one of the few in Epcot with seating. The Universe of Energy, one of the longest attractions at Disney World, is also a great chance for kids to sleep.
Hollywood Studios has a number of shows, but since most are geared towards younger children or are very loud stunt shows, there is less opportunity for a nap. However, check out the movie at the end of Walt Disney: One Man's Dream. It rarely fills up, so sitting through multiple shows should not be a problem.
Disney's Animal Kingdom has few shows, but as long as it isn't too hot, the train to and from Rafiki's Planet Watch is sure to lull kids to sleep. It isn't a very long journey, so just relax and enjoy the ride a few times.
Photo credits: Courtesy of Walt Disney World