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View Full Version : First Disney trip with kids - please help!


jessrowe
04-17-2008, 11:32 PM
I'm a bit overwhelmed with all of the planning! We are going 9/20-9/24 and staying at the Beach Club. We'll have our 4 year old PRINCESS OBSESSED daughter ;) and 1 1/2 year old son.

My biggest concern is the dining reservations (we have the dining plan). There are so many choices! Which do I pick? We are flying to Florida. Do we need to rent a car to get to all of the different places? Are the character dinings all at resorts. Aaahhhhh! I need a professional trip planner ;)

Thanks for any help. As you can tell, I'm new to this.
Jessica

myAAbatteries&aTD
04-18-2008, 12:11 AM
There are several character dining opportunities in the parks. For your princess obsessed daughter, you might want to try Akerhaus in Norway (at Epcot) for their Princess Storybook meal (we're going at lunch b/c we're not big breakfast people). There are so many choices! We like to try a new one every time, in addition to going to our favorites (my kids really like Chef Mickeys - we go the evening we arrive so we don't use up a day off our park tickets).... Of course, there is Cinderella's Royal Table (haven't been yet b/c I want to wait until ds is a little older for that one). Have fun planning!

Mommy2JulietJocelyn
04-18-2008, 02:16 AM
we went last time & stayed at all star movies - we used Disney bus transportation so we didnot rent a car, if you take into account travel time for the bus you can go anywhere in the World. There are quite a few character breakfasts - 1900 Park Fair has Cinderella at dinner. The princesses are also in Norway in Epcot.

chief19spixi
04-18-2008, 02:28 AM
I would suggest that you start with you ADR's! The sooner you call the more chances you have of getting the times that you want!

Aliceacc
04-18-2008, 05:30 AM
Hi Jessica, and welcome! THis will be our first WDW visit since 1990, and our first with kids. Here are the ADRS I made, and why:

- Chef Mickeys (in the Contemporary, easy to reach by monorail.) Character dinner with make your own sundaes at the end.

- Fantasmic Dinner Package at Hollywood & Vine. This is the only one I'm concerned about since my youngest hates loud noise. If I have to take her out, I'll do so.

- The Coral Reef in Epcot. One entire wall is an aquarium. We loved it in 1990.

-Le Cellier in Epcot. My son is a huge steak eater.

- 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian, easily reachable by monorail. Dinner with Cinderella and friends. The Stepsisters are supposed to be hysterical, and my daughters can get their princess fix.

- 'Ohana at the Polynesian. Easy to reach by monorail. The food sounds delicious and the atmosphere sounds very kid friendly and cool!

daisyduck123
04-18-2008, 06:11 AM
Since you are staying at the Beach Club...I highly recommend the character breakfast there. :thumbsup2

I can't remember all of the characters, but I know we saw Goofy, Dale, & Minnie there. They are dressed in their beach attire. Very cute!!

jessrowe
04-18-2008, 07:22 AM
Oh thank you so much! I never thought planning a trip to Disney would be so scary! :laughing:

Two questions (please don't laugh at me!)
1. Where is Hollywood & Vine
2. How do I get to the monorail from the beach club?

Bethy Lou
04-18-2008, 07:51 AM
We have princess obsessed daughters but they did not like the princess breakfast at Epcot because the food was not what they normally ate for breakfast. Maybe your daughter is less picky than ours, but there is also Cinderella's Royal Table in the castle at the magic kingdom. Our girls did not even know that you could go inside the castle until we told them right before lunch. They were SUPER excited and surprising them with princess dresses to change into before lunch and seeing how happy they were was the highlight of that trip!

eliza61
04-18-2008, 07:59 AM
Oh thank you so much! I never thought planning a trip to Disney would be so scary! :laughing:

Two questions (please don't laugh at me!)
1. Where is Hollywood & Vine
2. How do I get to the monorail from the beach club?


Hey Jess,
Of course we have to laugh at you, ;) Us old heads are getting entirely to cynically we need you neebies to every once in a while remind us how much fun planning a trip can be. but don't worry because we all asked these questions too. :)
Anyway
Hollywood & Vine is in Mgm (now called Hollywood studios). The beach club is a great resort. You can walk to epcot and MGM, although the walk to mgm is about 10 minutes. ther boat to mgm is right outside your door.
Now the beach club is not on the monorail line but what you could do is walk over to epcot. You will enter through international gateway. On your left is England, to your right is France (these 2 don't get along so they were seperated) bear left and walk through to the other section of epcot and you can catch the monorail at the main entrance.

jessrowe
04-18-2008, 08:01 AM
Okay, I'm getting some great ideas.

One more ? in addition to my other two above ;)
Should we go to Downtown Disney? I know there's the Bippidi Boppidi Boutique there, but anything else age appropriate? We'll be arriving in the afternoon of our first day and I'm not sure what to plan for that day.

Thank you so much Eliza61 :)

bear_mom
04-18-2008, 08:13 AM
I have two princess crazed dds. On our last trip we ate at Akerhaus for dinner and the girls were fine with their meals - standard kids food on the kids menu. Dh and I thought the food was pretty good. They saw Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Jasmie and Ariel.

This trip we are eating at 1900 Parke Faire.

We chose not to do CRT, because of it taking 2 credits.

Other meals we did on our last trip -

Chef Mickeys - doing it again this trip. We did/are doing this on our first night. Early dinner at 5, see the main characters and then early bed time.

Hollywood and Vine - fun interactive meal with JoJo, Goliath, Leo and June. They only have characters at breakfast and lunch.

Emily

Bethy Lou
04-18-2008, 08:36 AM
We went during free dining so the two credits did not bother us. I definitely think that CRT is worth the credits though, it is so gorgeous up there and an incredible experience.

The good thing about getting any of the character breakfasts at the parks is that they can get you into the park early. That is always a great bonus!

PEANUT1
04-18-2008, 08:46 AM
I would plan a few meals at Epcot and the Boardwalk so you can walk to them from your hotel. My kids also really had a lot of fun at the Crystal Palace when we went in October. This is a character meal in the MK and has pooh, tigger, eeyore and piglet.

We are going in 15 days with a 4 year old princess and an 18 month old too and are staying at the Beach Club Villas. We are not renting a car this time because we feel that the only time we will have to use the bus is to go to MK and AK. Whe we stay some other places, we do rent a car.

Enjoy all of the planning. Travelling with little ones can be stressful. Here is a good tip that I picked up on the boards....send a box to the hotel via ups one week before your trip. In ours we will put diapers, wipes, swim toys, toilletries, glow necklaces for the parades (they are so much cheaper at home), misting water bottle fans, ponchos, snacks for the kids, sunblock etc. You get the point. Put your name, reservation number and arrival date on the box and it will be brought to your room at check in. If you want to mail the box home , you can get a prepaid return sticker and drop it off at the front desk on your way out. I love doing this because there are lots of things I want to bring but don't want to pack and since now the airlines are charging for extra bags, this makes sense. The last trip it cost me 23$.

Good luck with the planning and have a great trip.:flower3:

If you have any more questions about going with little ones, let me know. This will be my 18 mos olds 3rd trip and my 4 yr olds 4th trip. We have DVC.:)

crisi
04-18-2008, 09:56 AM
Go out TODAY and buy a Passporter. And a Birnbaums. The Birnbaum's isn't the best book, but its an EASY book - not at all overwhelming and you sound overwhelmed. Take a good look at the maps. You need to have a concept of how far apart the parks are and what is where. Not expert knowledge, but a concept.

We are dependant on Disney transportation (and suppliment with cabs) for our trips. Other people like the freedom a rental car adds to the trip. That's up to you - you can certain do it all without a rental car (and without cabs), but you might find yourself wanting the freedom of being able to get in your own car and just go.

Then make a list of all the restuarants that interest you. As soon as you can (like tomorrow) - call for ADRs, particularly for that Princess meal. You are going during free dining, you will not be able to get into a restaurant without a reservation. Some meals will already be booked solid for September (yeah, I know, ridiculous, right). I'd stay away from restaurants in hotels not in the Epcot resort area - especially if you don't have a car. Resort to resort transportation can be difficult. With kids that age, consider doing your sit down meal at lunchtime - then returning to the room for naps. Lunch is less popular (easier to get reservations), and its more predictable that your kids will be awake. Then you can play evenings by ear.

Then take a deep breath, the stuff that needs to be done now is out of the way. Now choose what parks you want to be in (try to plan parks near your meals or meals around parks). You have months to figure out Dumbo needs to be ridden first and judge whether Haunted Mansion is too scary for your kids.

jessrowe
04-18-2008, 10:16 AM
Wonderful information Crisi! Thank you :goodvibes Going to the bookstore today. That's exactly the direction I needed! I had no idea where to begin.

Bethy Lou
04-18-2008, 10:23 AM
the passporter book you order online is FANTASTIC! I totally forgot about it, but Crisi is absolutely right. There is so much information in there!

wdwgypsy
04-18-2008, 11:49 AM
Yes AKerhaus in the Norway pavillion at EPCOT is a must for the Princess obsessed. Usually get Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Jasmine, and an other. We got Cinderella at ours but it's not that common.

Other princess hunting tips are as follows (EPCOT) Snow White shows up at Germany, Mulan at China, and I heard Belle would show up at France but never saw her there.

1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian) had Cinderella, Prince Charming, and the fairy godmothers (take the Monorail from Epcot or MK)

Pocahontas has been known to hang out at the Conservation Station in Animal Kingdom. Take the train in the park.


Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom (MK) has the Pooh Characters.

This might help
http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/dining/diningFinder?id=DiningFinderPage

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/resorts/benefitDetail?id=BenefitDisneyDiningPlanDetailPage

"Reservations can be arranged by calling (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463). It is recommended that you arrive at the dining location five minutes prior to your seating time. Your party will be seated at the next available table that is able to accommodate your party size."

All resorts and Disney resturants are connected by bus, boat, or monorail no need for a car unless you want to go off WDW property. Even then you can just wait till the day you want the car and rent one from the WDW car center or all the other car rentals in the area. They pick up.

I prefer to take Magical Express to the parks and rent the car as we need it. Not take one for a full week.

crisi
04-18-2008, 01:18 PM
BTW, you have very few days and a toddler. Keep in mind what you are there for (not sure what that is, but if it were me going with a toddler and a preschooler, it wouldn't be restaurants). You'll have short days and won't be able to do everything - or even almost everything - at Disney. I'd skip BBB and DTD or any thoughts of waterparks, myself.

dmccarty
04-18-2008, 01:42 PM
Do we need to rent a car to get to all of the different places?

Of our last four WDW trips we only had a vehicle one trip and once we parked it at the resort it did not move until it was time to go back to reality.

One of the things we like about WDW is the transportation. I don't have to drive anywhere. Between the buses, boats and monorail you get really get around pretty easily. We just stayed at AKL. We took two trips up to the California Grill at the Contemporary. Its pretty easy to do once you see how the buses work. One trip to the CG we just took the bus from AK to MK and just walked over. The second trip we went to AK and then hopped the bus to Contemporary. We got lucky on that trip, our bus pulled in just went the bus to Contemporary was leaving. :banana:

We wanted to take the kids to the pony ride at Fort Wilderness. One day we where leaving MK and saw the boat arrive from FW, hopped on board and had a wonderful trip to FW. The kids rode the ponies, we had a nice boat ride back to MK where we got the bus back to AKL.

The only reason I can think of to have a car had WDW is to go offsite for something.

Its pretty easy to get around WDW without a car. Likely easier to do than with a car.

trennr
04-18-2008, 01:51 PM
Okay, I'm getting some great ideas.

One more ? in addition to my other two above ;)
Should we go to Downtown Disney? I know there's the Bippidi Boppidi Boutique there, but anything else age appropriate? We'll be arriving in the afternoon of our first day and I'm not sure what to plan for that day.

Thank you so much Eliza61 :)

Yes DTD is cool.
You can find lots of interesting stuff in the Marketplace section.
The World of Disney Store has something for almost everyone.
There's a LEGO store and a "Once Upon a Toy" Store.
Team Mickey has Sports themed Disney attire.
Not sure if the Rain Forest Cafe participates in the Dining package...but that's pretty fun for the kids.

Not much on the West Side for your kid's age though.

jessrowe
04-18-2008, 02:24 PM
You all are FABULOUS! Thank you from the bottom of my heart :lovestruc

Crisi - you are so right (that dining shouldn't be our focus) but my daughter saw the Jon and Kate Plus 8 episode where they eat at Chef Mickey's and has been talking about that ever since.

Here are the reservations I could get:
@MK - Crystal Palace lunch
@Epcot - Princess Lunch at Norway
Cape May Character breakfast @ our hotel
Play N Dine lunch @ Hollywood & Vine

NO Chef Mickey's or Cinderella's Table and I have to say that the woman I spoke to on the Ding Reservation line was one of the rudest people I have ever talked to :sad2: Oh well! Now I can relax a bit and get excited.

Can I ask one more ? We'll be flying in Saturday around lunchtime and don't want to do a park that day. Chef Mickey's is totally booked until 8:25 that night (no way with a 1 year old) and 1900 Park Fare the same. Any other character ideas for that day without going to a park? Are there any characters walking around @ Downtown Disney? (and thank you Trennr for the great DTD ideas!) I'd be happy just to hang out at Beach Club that day and play there, but my daughter will be desperate to see some kind of character :)

daisyduck123
04-18-2008, 03:19 PM
Can I ask one more ? We'll be flying in Saturday around lunchtime and don't want to do a park that day. Chef Mickey's is totally booked until 8:25 that night (no way with a 1 year old) and 1900 Park Fare the same. Any other character ideas for that day without going to a park? Are there any characters walking around @ Downtown Disney? (and thank you Trennr for the great DTD ideas!) I'd be happy just to hang out at Beach Club that day and play there, but my daughter will be desperate to see some kind of character :)

You might get lucky & see them in the BCV lobby!

We spent 8 days at BCV last summer. About a week after we got back, some DISers were posting that in mid-afternoon, during their stay, Stitch (I think it was him) was hanging out in the BCV lobby greeting people. I had seen NONE of that :confused3 ....but then, we were NEVER in the lobby at mid-afternoon. We were always at the pool from about 1:00pm-4pm or 5pm.

Maybe someone else can chime in with info. about this.

crisi
04-18-2008, 03:31 PM
Honestly, we've never travelled with children where the kids were desperate for anything but a nap. Travelling is exhausting. Plan on a nap and a late swim and dinner. Your daughter will wait, most kids do - and with surprising patience. Mine are older now, and we still fly in and don't intend to do much but swim, MAYBE we go into the parks for a bit.

You are unlikely to see characters outside the parks, it happens, but not very often. Nor in DTD.

libinatorsmom
04-18-2008, 03:46 PM
Hi - Welcome to the boards... I was like you just months ago... and now with the help of disboards, passporter, ultimate guide, bierbaums guide, and the disney planning dvd - I think I am ready for our trip... Watch the boards and ask questions!!!! you cant go wrong.... Get your adr's if you dont have them... you can use Disney Magical Express since you are staying on site and dont need to rent a car - we arent - we figure we will take a cab if we dont have time to use the disney transportation.... I hope you have a wonderful trip...

My DD4 is also princess obsessed - which is what prompted the WDW vacation... Have you looked into the Bippity Boppity Boutique

wdwgypsy
04-21-2008, 06:09 PM
There are cast members that go with the characters I think I heard them referred to as character wranglers. The ones I saw were in yellow shirts. If you see one of them they can usually tell you where a character is going to be. The ones we ran into were very knowledgeable about characters other than the ones they were escorting.

Can a current CM confirm the shirt color?

MousekaMaddi
04-21-2008, 06:25 PM
Hi, and welcome, many of us LOVE to help plan, it gives us a "fix";)

I have a DD 5 princess lover.......heres some IMHO valueable input..
There are two types of characters, full head characters(Pooh,Piglet,Mickey Minnie etc) and face characters, with a FACE character you are able to SEE their actual FACE(all the Princess', Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins,Alice,..........)
For a FIRST EXPERIENCE, I found it MUCH better to do EPCOTS Norway breakfast(french toast,croissants, muffins, fruit,juices,coffee) than Chef Mickeys, altho I HIGHLY recommend Chef Mickeys---but the full head characters are HUGE when your 4 yr old approaches them for a first experience................HUGE!!
I suggest EPCOT for first meetings.
Have fun planning:dance3: