(More) Disney World Questions--please help

Old Jul 28th, 2005, 03:11 PM
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(More) Disney World Questions--please help

Thanks in advance for any input / advice by seasoned professionals.

We are planning a long weekend at Disney for us (includes 6 yr old daughter). How should we divide our time? Maybe 2 parks over 3 days? Can you do the Magic Kingdom in one day?

What park(s) would be your recommendation for maximum enjoyment for our daughter?

Also, any insight on character (princess) meals greatly appreciated!
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 03:27 PM
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I would divide the day in 2. Go to the Magic Kingdom when they open,take a break around lunch time when it is most crowded. Relax at the hotel and hit the park again in the evening when most people leave for dinner. Do MGM or Sea World the following morning. I would not do more than two parks over 3 days. ALl disney resorts have theme dining. Usually around breakfast. Call the hotels for information.
Bring sunscreen and water!
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 04:25 PM
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For some great disney info go to http://www.disboards.com/, you can ask any and all disney related questions and get quick replies from avid disney travelers. I think it depends on what time of year you are going. If you go in the off season you can do Magic Kingdom in 1 day, but if you will be there when school is out it will obviously be very crowded and will take longer to go through the park. Have fun...we are going in Jan...when are you going??
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 05:22 PM
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We were able to do Magic Kingdom in one day, culminating with the fireworks show at night. Epcot will be appreciated by adults mostly.
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Old Jul 28th, 2005, 07:13 PM
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Depends on the time of year. Assuming that school is out for summer, the lines are longer and the need for using the FastPass is greater. MK is definitely for the kiddies. Is she too young to enjoy the Animal Kingdom? Not tall enough to ride some of the other rides? How about Typhoon Lagoon to keep cool?
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 05:20 AM
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thanks so much!

We are thinking about late Jan--hopefully this will help avoid crowds. This being said, I don't think water parks are doable.

Perhaps we should concentrate on MK and I think ANimal Kindgom might be good. ANy advice on when to do that park (hours, etc)?

THanks!
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 06:13 AM
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ceck out touringplans.com. This is the web site of the book "The Unofficial Guide to Disney World". It will provide you with plans to follow for the day you are going and help you tour the park most efficiently. Its somewhat anal but having followed the plan loosely on our first trip I can vouch for its ability to guide you to the best time to be at a particular attraction.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 06:35 AM
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We did a very similar trip to WDW with our 7 year old a few years back.

Stayed at the All Star Movies hotel for 3.5 days in late January. The hotel was a great value, very clean, comfortable, friendly staff. Like the rooms, the food court wasn't fancy but had plenty of offerings. We didn't have a car and relied on the WDW transportation. Never waited more than 10 minutes for a shuttle.

Crowds were very small and I don't think we ever waited more that a couple of minutes in lines for rides. The water parks were closed in late January. The pool at the All Stars Resort was open though. Can't recall if it was heated or not but I know my husband and daughter went swimming every night.

We managed to see everything we wanted in the Maqic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Epcot. Spent the least amount of time in MGM. Large parts of this park were closed at various times except to big school groups. Sports/cheerleading competititions I think. Given our daughter's age we spent the most amount of time in the MK and let her make the decisions about rides.

Seems to me that the "best" time to visit a particular park is when there is something there you want to see (show, character meal, whatever).

Our plan of attack was to get to a park early in the morning, return to the room for a break after lunch, and go back to the parks in the evening. We had parkhopper passes. We moved at a leisurely pace and did not feel compelled to cover every square inch of the place.

We used a number of the on line resources that have been mentioned here. Hope you do the same.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 08:10 AM
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Here are a couple of great websites with tons of information about the parks, rides, and dining options: allearsnet.com and wdwinfo.com. You can get nearly instant answers to any Disney question on disboards.com.

As for Princess meals - Cinderella's Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom offers a Princess Breakfast and a new Princess Lunch. These can be booked 90 days in advance and you need to call as soon as the phone lines open exactly 90 days prior to your trip because they fill - even during non-peak times.

Epcot also offers a princess breakfast in the Akershus Castle in the Norway pavillion. Both of the web-sites above give a lot of information on all of the character meals & one even has a "priority seating calculator" to help you figure out what day you need to call to make a reservation to a particular restaurant.

Your daughter will love the "Cinderellabration" that is held outside the castle (Magic Kingdom) at various times during the day - it is a show that tells about Cinderella's coronation as a Princess. Snowwhite, Aurora, and Jasmine attend. Little girls love it.

There is also "Storytime with Belle" at Magic Kingdom. It is an often overlooked attraction because it is a show in a quiet corner - not a big ride.

I would recommend MGM Studios for a princess lover - they have "the Voyage of the Little Mermaid" and "The Beauty and the Beast" show that are both fantastic. There is also "Playhouse Disney Live" Be forwarned that the Great Movie Ride has a scene from "Aliens" that surprises families and often scares little kids.

Animal Kingdom is a fun park and has great character "meet & greet" areas through the park but I don't think you'll see many princesses. This is a great park for pictures because everything is just so pretty and colorful. The Festival of the Lion King is the favorite of all the Disney park shows.

Those are the safe recommendations -- but let me play Devil's advocate and say that my 6 year old daughter LOVED Epcot. We did the princess breakfast there and she loved the Kidcot stations at the various pavillions. The kids get a cardboard mask to decorate where ever they start. They add a decoration at each of the stations. We bought an inexpensive fan at the China pavillion and they personalized it for free - writing my daughter's name in Chinese on it. She absolutely loved the Candy Artist in the Japan pavillion. Get there about 10 minutes before her pavillion and wait next to the cart. Kids next to the cart get to pick a color & an animal and she makes a lollypop that they get to keep (free). My daughter was also mightily impressed with the Chinese child acrobats. Many of the rides were more her speed than the thrill rides. She also loved the glassblowers at the Mexico restaurant.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 08:21 AM
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This is really, Really important for your day at the Magic Kingdom. Be there at least 25 minutes before the park opens. They do a fun opening show for folks waiting to get in. Then go straight down mainstreet (ignore the characters - there will be other opportunities for them later) and go directly through or around the castle to Fantasy Land to ride Dumbo, if that is a priority. Dumbo is the slowest loading ride in all of Disneyworld and the lines get horrible as the day progresses. Going there first insures that smiling dumbo shot with a minimum of hassle. Then do anything else in Fantasy Land. Fantasy land is the center hub of the park so it gets crowded as the day progresses and it is surrounded by concrete so it gets like a reflector oven. Hitting it first insures the best experience.

I recommend the touring plans in the Unofficial Guide or the printable ones from tourguidemike.com (a subscription service that costs about the same as a guidebook). You're going at a non-peak time so the touring plans in Birnbaums Official Guide to Walt Disney World should work just fine too. I do recommend having a touring plan - just skip the things you aren't interested in but having a plan just reduces that amount of time lost by standing and asking "What should we do now".

Is your daughter very big? Is she used to lots of walking? If not, you might consider buying an umbrella stroller for the trip. You can rent strollers at the park but they're not cheap.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 08:24 AM
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Are you staying on Disney property? If so, take their buses to MK. You'll be dropped off by the gates. If you drive, you have to park by the Ticket & Transportation area and take either a ferry boat or a monorail in. Depending on crowds, you can start your day with an hour wait just to get to the park.

The other parks have parking close by although we love the bus system.

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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 08:56 AM
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WOW! Great advice --thanks to all.

At this point, we are considering staying at eitner Pops or the MOvies one--both Disney resorts.

Who do you contact in order to make reservations for the Cinderella breakfast?

Also, how outrageous are prices at food courts etc at the hotels?

Trying to do this as economical as possible...hard to do at Disney, huh?

Again, thanks for all advice. I am bookmarking all websites and have started looking at some--great info (but this forum is so much easier for me to use!)
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 09:54 AM
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If you're trying to be economical, stay in a hotel OFF Disney property. You will have easier access to the chain restaurants for dinner and most hotels should have a complimentary breakfast in your rate. Or, get one with a mini-kitchen and have cereal every morning in your room.

Make a commitment to arrive at the parks 20-30 minutes before they open, allowing time to get through the T&T center. Of all the advice you will get, getting into the parks right when they open is probably the best, simplest advice.

Disney has a dining phone # you can call. I don't know it off hand, but should be easy to find. Ask them to tell you where the princess meals are - I think one is in Epcot at "Askershaus (sp?)". They don't take reservations, but they do put you on the "priority seating" list if you call that number and if they have availability. You should ALWAYS have a priority seating booked in advance for a character meal. Never just show up at a character meal without one. You will wait FOREVER, if you get in at all.

You can do Magic Kingdom in one day if you plan ahead and target the specific rides/attractions you want to do.

Animal Kingdom and MGM can each be done in a half day, again if you only have 1-3 things you want to do at each park. We did 2 full days at Magic Kingdom, which was about a 1/2 day more than we needed to "do it all" with excellent pre-trip planning. We did MGM and Animal Kingdom all in one day and then spent a full day at Epcot, with a lunchtime break back at our hotel, and went back for more stuff and Epcot's evening fireworks.

Don't miss Mickey's Philharmagic in Magic Kingdom and Turtle Talk With Crush at Epcot. Two lesser known but very wonderful shows.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 10:06 AM
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Strongly recommend morning visit to Animal Kingdom. Animals are more active when it's their breakfast time. Also, you can beat the heat.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 10:09 AM
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I thought the food at WDW was spectacularly mediocre and not an especially good value for the money. Lunch routinely ran about $25-30 for three. Breakfast was slightly less, dinner slightly more. All at food courts, counters or very casual spots. This was the major disadvantage of not having a car.

To gauge the food quality, the best meal we had was lunch at the Rainforest Cafe and that was a freebie with the AAA package we purchased.

We did buy the refillable mugs ($12 each) which made great souvenirs. Still have them.

I strongly recommend you look at the allears.net as I'm sure the definitive answers to your questions are covered there in great detail (including menu's). It's well organized and easy to navigate.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 10:11 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions.

I am battling between on and off property hotels. I think that, by the time you factor in parking, the extra time in the park, it will be worth it to stay at the Value Resorts. I figure we can request a refrigerator and stock up on sandwich makings, fruit, etc.
Is there a lot to do there during "down time"? It sounds like the Boardwalk area is nice.

Again, thanks.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 10:35 AM
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We debated the on/off the property issue too but ultimately decided that on the property was a greater "value" especially for our daugther. We weren't fond of the food but she loved eating pizza slices for lunch and dinner. We saw the Days Inn decor but she saw the magic of all the little Disney touches. And it just wasn't that crowded in January. I might not make the same during the high season.

Used to be that on property people got an early admission to some of the parks. Don't know if that's still offered.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 10:53 AM
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Ideas to make it more econmical (things we do):

Don't miss out at staying on Disney property, it just changes the whole experience and makes it really feel like being away. It's well worth the money!

1. Buy breakfast food and bring a cooler (or rent a fridge) and eat breakfast in the room. This will save time and money. Breakfast's are expensive and not that great. To get reservations for character dining call 407-WDW-DINE. They are great fun. Cinderella's castle is wondeful but call ASAP for any chance of reservations otherwise ask for other alternatives when you call.

2. Share lunch (portions are large) or what we like to do is have a big snack instead like ice cream or pretzel and then have an early dinner. Then if you get hungry later, pick up a snack to take back to your room in the evening at the food court.

3. Instead of buying bottled water (unless your a staunch bottled water person) go into any restaurant and ask for a cup of water, we've always been given big cups with water, ice, lids, and straws (except Animal Kingdom - no straws or lids there).

Hope some of this helps.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 12:42 PM
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The Disney World priority seating number is 407-WDW-DINE.

You can rent a refrigerator for about $15 per day. It can pay for itself, if you don't plan on eating out. We used a cooler and did fine. Every floor has an ice machine. The rooms do not have coffee makers. We brought an electric kettle that we used for Cup-O-noodles and instant oatmeal. Imagine "The Beverly Hillbillies go to Disney World" and that was pretty much us. Another option: bring cereal but buy a container of milk from the food court.

You're not going to have a lot of downtime but I really recommend spending a late afternoon & evening over at the Ft. Wilderness campground. Take the bus from your hotel to the nearest park or Downtown Disney, then catch the Ft. Wilderness bus. Once there, you'll probably need to catch the campground bus - if interested, I can give you more info. Pony rides are available prior to 5pm for $3.00 each. There are hayrides for about $8.00. There is a free petting zoo. You can also watch the electric water pageant (free) from there. But the best thing is that they have a free campfire sing-along with Chip & Dale. Well, a human leads the sing-along but Chip & Dale wander around. After the sing-along, they show a movie on a big outdoor screen. You can buy a s'mores kit right there for about $5.00. You can find out which movie is being shown in advance by going to disboards.com and clicking on the Camping forum. The month's movie list is always one of the top postings. Maybe this is something you can do the day you arrive - if you're not going into a park. You can also rent a canoe there and canoe the canals, if you so desire.

Ride the mono-rail loops - you can do this for free. If you ask, your daughter might be able to ride up front with the conductor. If you're on the resort loop, - stop and wander around the resorts (Contemporary, Polynesian, & Grand Floridian). The beach at the Poly is a great place to watch the Electric Water pageant and I highly recommend dinner at Ohanas. You'll want a priority seating.

The Wilderness lodge (not the campground) is cool looking and has a geyser that goes off every half hour from 7am to 10pm.

Take a bus to a park or Downtown Disney and then catch a bus over to the Animal Kingdom lodge. Wander around, see the animals. Check the time, but they do a fireside storytime - free. We enjoyed our dinner at Bomas there.

I love the theming at All-Star Movies but Pop-Century does have surry-bike rentals. Those can be rented at the Boardwalk area too.
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Old Jul 29th, 2005, 12:49 PM
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Kid meals are about $4.99 - not really much more than you'll pay at any fastfood place.

Cosmic Ray's at the Magic Kingdom has a reasonably priced family chicken meal.

We love Tusker House BBQ at Animal Kingdom, my husband and I buy the largest meal to share and add an extra side order.

Our usual model is to eat breakfast in the room, eat one large meal out (this might be lunch or dinner) and then eat a snack in the park or a sandwich type meal in the room. We take granola or cereal bars - unfrosted, frosting gets gross in the Florida heat & humidity - into the park. Honey nuts and those little cheese or peanut butter & cracker things travel pretty well too.

Disney food is not as expensive as 6-flags etc. You can check out prices & menues at the dining section of allearsnet.com.
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