Disney Vacations

Old Dec 7th, 2004, 11:12 AM
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Disney Vacations

I have to plan a at-the-last-moment vacation to Disney Florida. We will be going wih our 2 sons(1 yr & 3 yr). We will be staying there for 4 nights..This being our first trip there..So I have no clue as to what parks would be appropriate for my sons..So any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 11:27 AM
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You may want to check Disboards.com for the most info. Definately the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom have the most for little kids. EPCOT is more geared for an older crowd as is MGM, but that's not to say that there is nothing there for them to do.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 11:38 AM
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We just returned from a four day trip with our 3 year old son and 20 month old daughter.

We went to the Magic Kingdom for two days and the Animal Kingdom for 1 day. I would suggest that two full days at the Magic Kingdom will provide you with plenty of time to go on many of the rides, see some of the shows, let them nap a bit, and run around in the park area of Mickey's Toon-Town.

In terms of rides, your oldest child will be able to go on most rides, except for the really big coasters like Space Mountain. Your youngest can also go on plenty of rides, provided you are willing to ride with them.

When possible, use FastPass. This will minimize the amount of time you'll need to spend on lines.

If financially practical, definately think about doing at least one of the Character Breakfasts. We did the Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort and both our kids had a blast.

We brought extra clothes and some drinks into the park with us and left them at the lockers. The cost is minimal and we found it easier to store in then carry it in one of the strollers.

Now, Disney states that children 3 and above require their own ticket. They generally will not ask a child who looks to be around 3 for ID. You can decide for yourself if a month or two difference between say 2 years and 11 months and 3 years, is worth the additional cost.

For our purposes, we found the Four-Day Park Hopper Pass to be the best option.

Please feel free to ask any questions.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 11:39 AM
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Be aware that Disneyworld is huge and sprawling, and parks and hotels are very far away from each other. Bus and monorail will take you around but it does take up some time. The Contemporary hotel is the oldest but it is also the nearest to Magic Kingdom. It has the monorail station within the hotel, and also a restaurant where you can eat with the characters (make reservations early). I say this because I know little ones will get tired, and you may want to go back to your hotel mid day and return to Magic Kingdom in the evening. The small kids will enjoy the theater-like Disney shows at MGM. If there's time, the safari ride with live animals at Animal Kingdom. I'd skip Epcot--better with older kids.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 11:40 AM
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For kids I rate the parks:

1. Magic Kingdom
2. MGM
3. Animal Kingdom
4. Epcot

However if you get to Epcot in the area near the entrance to the "World" just as it opens, a bus pulls up with lots of charcters. Great phot op and kids love it.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 11:45 AM
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I should add something about hotel options. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge as we thought it would provide the kids with the most interesting option - the ability to see the animals out of our window and on the balacony.

If financially practical, I'd suggest a suite. On our first night, we couldn't get a suite. The difference between the comfort level with the suite and in the standard room, for us was quite noticeable. Both our children slept better and we could stay awake a bit later. In a suite level room, you also have access to a private lounge which is great for a light breakfast or evening snack.

The downside of the Animal Kingdom is that you need to take a Shuttle Bus to all of the Parks. We didn't view that as the best option and simply choose to take our rental car to the parks. The 15 minute drive from the hotel to the Magic Kingdom, in our view was a far better choice then waiting for a bus and spending 30 plus minutes or more in route.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 06:25 PM
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My recommendation is to stay within the park borders if you can. We stayed at the Caribbean beach resort which is a moderate resort - it is easy to walk to the shuttle bus stops and look for the bus that is going to the park you want. There is a website called "allearsnet.com' that is an unofficial disneyworld guide - I found it quite useful. I've also stayed at the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian(which was overpriced IMO). Just depends on your budget. I found that you aren't in your room much anyway. Have fun!
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 06:55 PM
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Thanks for all ur prompt replies..U R AMAZING !!! Do you have any suggestions as to the onsite resorts ?? How is the Dolphin. Ryan, I am also going to look into the Animal Kingdon Lodge. Right now I think we will do 2 days at Animal Kingdom and 2 at magic kingdom ! Any more suggestions are welcome.
Thanks once again !
Ash
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 12:08 AM
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I'm going to play Devil's advocate and suggest that Epcot & MGM can be great for little kids, with a little planning...

Epcot offers a Character Ice Cream social with lots of character interaction that is less expensive than the Character full meals.

Also, little kids tend to like the Biergarten restaurant in Epcot...a lot of oom pah pah...

Pay attention to Epcot show schedule (http://pages.prodigy.net/stevesoares/). Your sons will probably especially enjoy the Chinese acrobats - they're children, the Matsuriza Drummers in Japan, the miniature train set in Germany, and Mickey's Tree Lighting I believe there is a chair balancing act in France... Specific to Christmas: Mickey's Tree Lighting Treat at 6PM and The Candlelight Processional at 5PM, 6:45PM, and 8:15.

Living Seas will probably be right up their alley. And they've just added "Turtle Talk with Crush" (Crush is from Finding Nemo). It's brand new and getting rave reviews from the small set.

MGM has "Playhouse Disney Live" and the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show that are perfect for little ones. Jim Henson's Muppet*Vision 3D is fun for young and old. Parts of the Great Movie Ride are neat... a few spots might be a little intense. The live "Beauty & the Beast" show is incredible and the parade has a all the recognizable Disney characters. Warning: Fantasmic is AMAZING - but kind of scary in parts... a lot of super-sized villains. There's also the "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" playground.

Just so you know: "Its A Small World" is closed in Magic Kingdom right now.

Have a great time!
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 12:15 AM
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Animal Kingdom is not a two day park...if you have a park hopper pass, do part of a day at Animal Kingdom - then hit the little kid highlights at Epcot or MGM. Do the same with your other Animal Kingdom day. I love the Animal Kingdom parade.

By the way, staying on Disney resorts lets you take advantage of the Early Openings. Each day has an early opening at a different park. It's a definate bonus at Magic Kingdom.
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 04:33 AM
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Agree that you can get away without spending two days at the Animal Kingdom. One day will be more then enough.

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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 04:43 AM
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You asked about the Dolphin. We loved it there. They have "Friendship Boats" that will take you to Epcot and MGM and busses for Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. It is a five minute walk from the Boardwalk where there are restaurants and some entertainment. The pools at the Dolphin are very nice. Go to www.disboards.com for LOADS of info on WDW.
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 05:13 AM
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We took our kids at those ages. The most convenient hotels are the ones on the monorail. We stayed at the Polynesian. It was very convenient. It was also very expensive. If you are renting a car, (I would recommend this.) Stay anywhere in a five mile radius(that is a million hotels of all price ranges!) WE always rent a car and than we are not at the mercy of the shuttles. We have stayed at the Port orleans (very nice) and also the Hilton in downtown disney. (we like staying here). The parks I recommend are the Magic Kingdom and the animal kingdom also. I would buy a park hopper and then you just go from place to place as you feel like it. You can have dinner with the kids in epcot, but not bother with the rest. Also, I would not pay for the three year old unless they were very large.
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 05:31 AM
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I would agree about the best parks being Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom is not hugem so if you got bored there you could take the kids over to another park if you wanted to. The other parks do have things to offer for children, as other posters have said, but yur kids are VERY little and even some of the sites recommended here will/might be too much for them. For example, by friend just returned from Disney with her 20 month old and he HATED the 3D movies because they were so loud. And, though he was tall enough to ride several rides, he really only liked the slow-moving rides like the People Mover and Carousel of Progress (if you can call that a ride). Even Winnie the Pooh got scary for him.

I am certain you will have a great time; kids just love being around all that action. Even the baby will love the lights and people. Just don't expect to be able to do a whole lot. Think of it as a way to entertain the kids between naptimes.

Also, not sure when you are going, but you indicated it would be soon. At Christmas time and New Years there is a lot of live entertainment and on-stage attraction. I'd suggest that you find out who is playing at which park and plan your itenerary so that you are at the park which is NOT offering much entertainment that day. That way you'll have less crowds, shorter lines, etc.

Ryan's locker and fast pass ideas are the best. And the tip about Epcot at opening time is good too--TONS of characters!!

 
Old Dec 8th, 2004, 05:41 AM
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As a counter to BamaKelly comments, I can see where some kids will find some of the rides a bit scary. However, many will not.

Of all the rides we went on, the only one where my daughter was a bit afraid was the "It's a Bugs Life" in Animal Kingdom. She quickly got over it when we went on the Flying Dinosaurs.

You know your children best and can judge the appropriateness of certain rides. I found that with my 3 year old if I refinforced the concept of "it's just pretend" he was fine with something as potentially scary as the Haunted Mansion.

BTW, one last suggestion - if you stay for the fireworks, you might want to position yourself near the main entrance. The lines for the monorails and the boats back to the resorts, from the Magic Kingdom, were both quite long as the park closed.
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 05:42 AM
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Oh I forgot all about the holiday stuff! As the previous poster mentioned, there is a ton of holiday stuff going on. Go before Christmas. Not during the holiday break. It will be very crowded during the holidays. But, the month of Dec. is notoriously quiet. You can purchase tickets for events in advance. There is Mickeys very merry christmas party at night. It snows on main st. and they give you hot chocolate and cookies and sing carols all around the park (more to get mom and dad in the spirit of things!) If you do not celebrate christmas, this would not be the thing to go to since it is geared all around that specific holiday. It is slower during the week. The weekends will be packed by locals for the holiday events. We have gone twice during Dec and my girls loved it. (They were older than yours when we went to these events).
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 08:03 AM
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One of the biggest perks gotten by staying Disney Property is that you get to use the transits, early entry etc. etc.

The Animal Kingdom Lodge is the only place that I've ever stayed in Disney that had a long commute/ shuttle time. If you are staying "Disney" and especially with the very little ones- I can't imagine why you would want to have your own car and go through that whole driving/parking/walking thing from the huge lots. It's like being saddled with a car in NYC or SF. If you are also going to Sea World, Universal etc. that's another thing. But besides the cost reasons, with the very little ones you want to go back to pool or whatever very often- and you don't want to be doing in/out car seats that many times a day. By car or shuttle, Animal Kingdom is time/ commute/ far.

I've been about 10 times in 30 years and with very little grandchildren once. If you stay at one of the properties that backs up to EPCOT- ie.
Boardwalk, Yacht Club etc. or even at Port Orleans, Caribbean Beach etc. you will not need a car and you can go back to the room to swim or whatever and do partial days in all 4 parks much easier with small children. AND it might be much, much cheaper. My Animal Kingdom Lodge stay was the most "user unfriendly" stay of 7 places I have enjoyed at Disney. Lovely place, but not close to much of anything else but the Animal Park which we did in less than a half day.

My little ones are very adventurous. No one was scared of everything. But then we are from Chicago, and I think most are scared of us. LOL
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 08:18 AM
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JJ5,
I generally agree with you about the Animal Kingdom Lodge and the issue of driving and parking in the main lots. Certainly, anyone who stays there with young children needs to consider the additional travel time on the bus to and from the hotel.

However, I'd also suggest that for those who understand that money talks, a tip to the right person provides you with an option that makes driving the best option and doesn't require you to park in the main lot. An option that is perfectly acceptable, just not widely advertised.
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 09:00 AM
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Ryan, when we stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge, ironically it was the time we DID have a car, because we had driven all the way from Illinois. But we never considered moving it. My guy won't go the extra $$$ route, too frugal.

What I missed staying there was that you couldn't just walk out at night to the Boardwalk or Disney Downtown or much of anything but the one restaurant. Swan, Dolphin etc. you can and that is so nice to do with strollers / little ones especially. Yacht club and Boardwalk areas are super because you have such variety to walk by water, do water sports etc. and the restaurants are numerous.

The whole issue of kids getting scared isn't one to be laughed at actually, but in my family it really isn't an issue/more a moot question. I don't think any of us carries a gene for shyness or caution either. If it's buried in there somewhere, it certainly hasn't ever revealed itself.

At the end of a Bug's Life- I had a two year old- looking under the seat and telling me to "do again."
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 09:15 AM
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JJ5,
Believe me, I understand that kids can sometimes become afraid and wouldn't joke about it. (My oldest had bouts of night terrors until he was about 18 months old.)

I do think however that some parents play into that fear and accentuate the negative possibility, reinforcing the fear. I should know, that's how my mom was. My sister is exactly the same way with my nephews that my mom was with us. With our kids, we've found it to be far more effective to reinforce the upside and not the "I know you're probably going to be afraid but it's a quick ride" that I heard one parent say to their child on Snow White.

BTW, I consider myself far from the perfect parent.

In terms of using a car from Animal Kingdom, I'd merely suggest that their are some real benefits to using the Valet Service and taking care of them.

We went for a relatively short trip that was tacked onto the end of our beach vacation. Had we stayed in Disney for more then 3 nights, I could see where the Animal Kingdom wouldn't be the best on property lodging option.
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