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kristijones02
01-12-2009, 01:39 PM
I'm relatively new to all this. Last time we went, I only had an 8 year old. Now we are taking our 13 year old and his best friend PLUS our 2 toddlers; age 4 & 2.

I'm almost tempted to just have one someone here just book me and tell what to pay to whom!!! HELP!!! So many choices so few braincells!!!

The definites are as folows:

TRIP: Sometime between March 13- 22, 2009
TRANSPORTATION: Driving
ACCOM: We'd like to stay on property

MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY!!!! Wave your :wizard: and help me out!! PLEASE!! :scared1:

:thanks: :thanks: :thanks: :thanks: :thanks: :thanks: :thanks: :thanks: :thanks:

Leleluvsdis
01-12-2009, 04:02 PM
pixiedust: pixiedust: :welcome: :welcome: :welcome: pixiedust: pixiedust:

Can I just say WELCOME to the boards!!!

You will find lots of info here and PLENTY of people more than willing to lend their advise and help you out. To me and most of us here the more planning you do, the better the trip is!

WE went in 07 in March, and I loved this time of year. Although it was the first time i'd been anytime other than late July, it was wonderful weather, and the crowds were very light. I'm not sure when spring breaks start this year, so I don't know what the crowds would be like during this time of the year.

Staying on property IMHO is the ONLY way to go!!! It is so much more convient to use disney transportation, and not have to worry about how to get here and there. (Take into consideration, I don't have kids, and my husband and I are 22 and 26) The extra magic hours are def worth it as well. Plus, you are encompassed in the magic 24/7.

I don't know where you are driving from, but we typically drive (we are from VA). We haven't flown since about 8 years ago. I think the drive is part of the experience. I would def suggest tv for the kiddies!!! My mom has one in her van and it entertains all of us!!! (Even my 63yo mom who is a HORRIBLE back seat, passenger seat, and where ever else she is sitting driver)

Sorry this is so long, but I was in your seat about 2 years ago, and it's a horrible feeling to be so lost in such a big event.:hug:

Anymore questions??? Feel free to ask :hug:

MarkinNM
01-12-2009, 04:06 PM
:welcome:


And yes, sooooooo many choices and thing to do, but might I suggest to come up with a budget first, then go for it!!! Try the Disney web site, if not find you a travel agent....

JoanneNC
01-12-2009, 04:11 PM
Welcome

My first trip I planned was in March 2008 with an 18mth old and 6 year old. We stayed on site at the AKL and loved it. We were on the deluxe dining plan and really enjoyed all the wonderful meals and knowing that everything was paid for before we arrived.

We did a 2nd trip in Aug 2008 and knew there was one thing that we HAD to address from the 1st trip - and that was the sleeping accommodations. We hated sharing a small hotel room with a toddler who obviously needed to go to bed before us. We stayed in the Ft Wilderness cabins and loved it even more

I see that you are a party of 5 as far as Disney is concerned, with it really being 6. That party size will greatly limit the accommodations that can be booked. It's also part of their 4/3 special if booked within the next week or so and within the $200 gift card time frame so GREAT dates to book a trip. I highly recommend you check out the cabins - extra space - with a full kitchen - nice deck attached and a very safe place for 2 teenagers to explore the campgrounds.

In any case - Have fun planning

BenA81
01-12-2009, 04:17 PM
i agree with Joanne. Definitely find seperate sleeping arrangements. You can go for the FW cabins or there are family suites at ASM.

crazytp93
01-12-2009, 04:23 PM
Welcome to the community!

MinnieLove
01-12-2009, 04:49 PM
Kristie -- I feel your pain and excitement. So much to plan. As another member mentioned you will have some issues since you are a family of 5 or 6.

My family (me, DH, DD15, DS5, DS5 and my sister is joining us) had originally reserved a 2 bed villa at Saratoga Springs. Even with the 4/3 deal we were paying 6000 for vacation for 7 nights, dining and tickets. Given we were scheduled for a very nice resort. Still too much.

We ended up renting a 3 bed, 2 bath condo at Windor Hills with a huge savings. I only share this because of my frustration level with the expense for a family of 5.

No matter where you stay I am sure your family will have the best time!

We will be in the house of mouse 3/6 - 3/13. I have been using the boards for a month and have learned so much. Enjoy the planning!

Disneyfan71
01-12-2009, 04:59 PM
I haven't been in fourteen years and have only stayed on site once (1980) at the Poly!!! So I'm like you..SO overwhelmed. So much has changed. My DW and I STILL can't decide where to stay but we're slowly choosing!!

Welcome by the way!! :)

2BoysMom
01-12-2009, 05:04 PM
Windsor Hills and offsite accommodations are good ideas, but if you have your heart set on on-site accommodations I will second the Ft. Wilderness cabin idea. As you can see by my signature, we have stayed there a couple of times when we, too, went as a family of 5 (MIL in tow). CANNOT BEAT the amount of room. Separate bedroom with full size bed and bunk beds and a sleeper sofa in the living room.

Also as mentioned, since you will have young teens, who might want to get away from the little ones (I have twin 4 y.o.'s), you might be more inclined to let the tweens explore the campground, than any other area around other hotels. Just a thought.

Ft. Wilderness still offers bus transportation to all the parks and resorts and they also have a boat launch that takes you right to the Magic Kingdom (MK). Very handy with little ones around.

With so many in your party, the full kitchen will save you money, too, being able to have meals at your cabin, instead of out to eat for every meal.

There's my 2 cents. Welcome to the Boards!:yay:

Metro West
01-13-2009, 06:53 AM
http://bestsmileys.com/welcome/10.gif

crazy4dizney
01-13-2009, 11:30 AM
I agree ...Check out the ft. wilderness cabins , maybe they still have the 4/3 deal for your dates..

2BoysMom
01-13-2009, 01:27 PM
...... Separate bedroom with full size bed and bunk beds and a sleeper sofa in the living room...... Welcome to the Boards!:yay:

Actually, I misspoke here.:sad2: It's not a sofabed, but a Murphy bed that folds down from the wall in the living room. Sorry. Much more comfortable than a sofabed, btw. (I'm surprised no one caught my mistake!)

mickeyluv'r
01-13-2009, 02:57 PM
1. There are many choices when it comes to WDW, but no wrong choices!(except maybe staying offsite or not having a at least one Mickey bar while you're there. :goodvibes :lmao: )

2. Begin with a budget. You've already decided on driving and onsite, so that is two big choices done.

3. Limit your trip to WDW property.

4. Food. Although there are variations in food costs, it's easy to set a baseline by looking at a few menus. (use WDWinfo.com) Compared to eating at home, eating at WDW is expensive, BUT compared to my experiences at other amusement parks, you get pretty good quality for what you spend. One easy option is using a package and the Disney Dining Plan. You'll get some savings off your meals, you'll get a mix of table service and quick meals, and you'll have everything prepaid. It's very relaxing, and your guest will be able to pick what he wants from the menu without regard to menu price. The only thing you'll have to spend oop, is a few small things here and there, and meal tips. I don't suggest either the QS or deluxe meal plans. (one has minimal benefit, the other too much food.)

5. Resort. Use WDW's website to see the options. Do not book via webpage, call. You get better terms. Look first at what's available with the discounts they are currently offering. (you have to look click on "special offers") Don't worry much about trying to find the best pool or other details...look at what appeals to you, what's in your budget, and most importantly what's available!
The end of March is a fairly busy and fairly expensive time to go, but that's because it's also one of the best times to go in terms of weather.

7. Length. It sounds like you have a length in mind. I suggest six full days as a good baseline. If you can afford more or less that's fine, but six is a good baseline. It gives you one full day for AK/HS, and two full days at MK and Epcot. That way you get to see mostly everything and get to keep a busy, but still doable pace.

8. Park tickets. I'd keep your park tickets basic. You might consider hopping, but you won't really need it. (You can use it to hop into a different park at night to take advantage of extended hours, but only if you'll still be up for that much going.) That's the only added feature I'd consider for this trip.

9. Begin booking, ASAP. CAll to book your resort first, then add dining.
As far as resorts, if you can afford a deluxe, you'll probably appreciate the convenience they offer in terms of location. You'll also feel slightly more taken care of at the deluxes. Of those, I'd suggest BC/YC/BWK. More pricey is the Poly, less expensive but still very nice is AKL or WL. Teh DVC rooms will give you more room and a kitchen , but they can be pricey for what youare getting. Two regular rooms might be a better option.

If that's not in your budget, the next choice would be a moderate. POFQ is compact, but all are nice. At the mods, you'll get a fridge in your room and a coffee maker. the others are large, but I really llike CSR. CBR is less streamlined, but the boys would probably LOVE the theming. POR has an extra murphy bed, but we liked it least of the mods. (The buildings in that part of POR have no elevators. If you stay there, request a first floor room!)

The values are also nice and clean, but they do have less amenities. You'll still get many onsite benefits, and the price is quite a bit lower. It sounds like you'll probale need two rooms, so this may well be a great option.

I've never stayed at FT. Wilderness, but given your party size, it might be a great option.

10. More: if you don't opt for a meal plan, then you'll probably eat mostly all QS, but then you won't have to pick any dining ahead of time. You have total freedom to eat when you want. The disadvantage of the meal plan, is that you'll need to select some dining. I'd eat breakfast mostly at your home resort's food court - or - eat alight breakfast in the room each day. I'd eat QS lunches and use the TS for dinner.

As far as dining choices there are many and no wrong ones. Use the dining finder to pick choices based on what kinds of food you like or are willing to try. If you are staying deluxe, I'd plan one dinner at your home resort, and a second one at a neighboring deluxe resort. (then you can go tothe room easily before or after dinner). At a mod you can also dine TS. I'd pick at least one character meal, try any meal at Crystal Palace in MK if you can get a table there this late. (Again, you'll be a little limited by what's available at this point, but that's okay.) If you find your dinner options aren't wide, try TS lunch availability. Honestly, we find at WDW we are easily able to eat at odd times. The only choice that doesn't work especially well is eating dinner VERY late or breakfast very early (though others love it). Eating an early dinner, late breakfast is no problem, since you can skip a meal that way.

I'd also keep your trip basic in terms of not trying to do tours, water parks, offsite parks.

11. Touring tips: Try to use the extreme park hours as much as you can. Try to start your days at the parks at 9am, and be in parks late at night. That is when crowds are lowest. Taking afternoon breaks is good if you can't go all day. But if you don't make it to every rope drop or stay until close every night, that's fine too, you'll just get bigger crowds. Use Fastpass for the big rides.

12. DO bring a double stroller for the little ones! Plus the stroller will give you a means to carry water. Do minimize what you bring to carry all day! but do bring alng bottled water and DRINK IT! Also try to drink water with every meal. Do encourage the kids to eat fresh fruit and vegetables sometimes. Do encourage the kdis to eat yogurt, if they will. All of the above eating tips will help prevent illness. Do bring moleskin. Do insist on two sets of walking shoes for everyone!

2BoysMom
01-13-2009, 04:57 PM
12. DO bring a double stroller for the little ones! Plus the stroller will give you a means to carry water. Do minimize what you bring to carry all day! but do bring alng bottled water and DRINK IT! Also try to drink water with every meal. Do encourage the kids to eat fresh fruit and vegetables sometimes. Do encourage the kdis to eat yogurt, if they will. All of the above eating tips will help prevent illness. Do bring moleskin. Do insist on two sets of walking shoes for everyone!

GOSH! I wish I had Mickeyluv'r to have helped me when I first started my Disney addiction...ooops, I mean trips! :rotfl: What great suggestions. I just thought I would at to his/her #12 point.

I have twin boys who I have been bringing to WDW since their 1st birthday (not including when I was pregnant with them), and the double stroller is very important. My husband and I, b/c of the stroller mostly, prefer to drive to the parks, as opposed to taking the bus. It also allows for a fast getaway if they needed nap or downtime. Did you know that if you stay on-site that parking at the Parks is free? There's another tip!

I love the WATER, yogurt and fruit/veg. suggestions, too. Baby yogurt cups are easy to pack and satisfy most little ones quite nicely. Especially if you can't find any TS or CS food fast enough to keep them happy.:thumbsup2

My only differing suggestion is our family members wear CROCS! Even grandma when she comes. We all wear Crocs from the littlest to the biggest. We have never had any blisters, our feet aren't tired by the end of the day, and if your feet get wet from a ride or weather, they dry instantly instead of staying wet all day. Crocs are my footwear suggestion, kids & adults.

KeepSwimmingDory
01-13-2009, 05:11 PM
:welcome:

We had 9 awesome stays at Ft. Wilderness cabins with our family of 6 since 2000 and love the activities and space at the campground to balance out the theme park part of the WDW vacation. It is a little tricky with one bathroom, but I loved so many aspects:

having a full kitchen and refrigerator
a separate bedroom for the kids
our own cabin so we weren't worried the kids being too noisy
the deck to relax on
the picnic table outside
our grill which we used most nights
the campfire sing-a-long and outdoor movie
watching the fireworks from the FW beach
the electrical water pageant
playing tetherball, volleyball, playgrounds, basketball
walking trails
a separate tv in the bedroom for the kids


I'm sure you will have a wonderful vacation. There are lots of choices, but I would figure out budget and get a room booked first. Then start planning what you want to do each day. We love to have a non-park day in the middle and just relax.

Happy planning!

Rylee
01-13-2009, 07:14 PM
:welcome:

Disney is currently offering a discount... buy 4 nights and 4 days worth of tickets, and received 3 nights and 3 days worth of tickets for FREE! :yay:

Plus... Travel before March 29 and receive a $200 gift card.

*To get this special, you must book by Jan. 24. (The 24th, I think, but it's ending soon.)

To price out this offer, go to the WDW site, and click on special offers... you must go through the link to get the special, or call and ask.

__________________________________________________ ______________

Disney doesn't count children under 3 for room occupancy, so you're considered a family of 5.

You could stay in any room that allows 5. That said... it would be tight.

Here are the options for 5 plus 1 in a crib. Lowest going up in cost...

Port Orleans Riverside - 1 room, 1 bath, 2 double, 1 trundle bed, plus crib.
Value Resort - 2 rooms. - 2 baths, 4 doubles.
All-Star Music Family suite - 1 Queen, pull-out sofa & chairs, includes mini fridge and microwave.
Fort Wilderness - Cabin (described in previous post.)
Deluxe Resort - Most deluxe resorts have rooms for 5 - 2 Queens, 1 daybed.
Jr. Suites at a couple of resorts - quite pricey
Villas - quite pricey.

*I hope you stay on-site. It is so convenient. Plus you can easily take breaks in the afternoon, to "nap" the little ones, or for a swim. Plus, you'll have the benefit of the Extra Magic Hours. You or your hubby could stay with, or take the older kids back over in the evenings to ride the bigger rides.

__________________________________________________ _____________

The Disney Dining Plan is $40 for Adults, $11 for Children (ages 3-9) This plan includes 1 snack, 1 Counter Service meal and 1 Table Service meal for each person, for each NIGHT of your stay.

Regardless if you choose to purchase the DP or pay out-of-pocket, if you want to dine or experience any of the Table Service meals, (popular restaurants, character meals, etc.) you need to schedule Advance Dining Reservations.

Disney also offers a Quick Service Dining Plan, $30 for Adults, $9 for children ages 3-9. This plan includes 2 Counter Service meals, 2 snacks and 1 refillable mug, (mug can only be used at your resort) per person, for each NIGHT of your stay.

*You must book a "package," (room and tickets) to be able to purchase a dining plan.

__________________________________________________ ____________

Tickets - price will vary according to length of stay.

Example - If you purchase tickets for 4 days (or book the special, which will give you 7 days total... 3 for free) -

4 adults, 1 child (3-9) tickets for 4 days = $1,060 plus tax.
To add the Park Hopping option, it is a one time fee of $50 per person.
Water Parks & more option is also a one time fee of $50 per person.
To add both features it is $100 per person.

__________________________________________________ _____________

Our children are 20 years apart, currently ages 7-27. When we can all travel together (older ones sometimes have work/college conflicts) we tour the parks together for the most part. We "work" areas of the parks... for example, in Tomorrowland @ Magic Kingdom, while older kids are riding Space Mountain, we take the younger ones on Buzz. If both my husband and I want to ride a bigger ride, we swipe all our cards for Fast Passes. After one group returns, we switch kids, and use the remaining FP. The older kids get to go twice, while the other takes the little ones on something.

Happy Planning! :wizard:

Bricket
01-13-2009, 10:18 PM
I need help too. It's so overwhelming. I feel like I'm drowning!

mooneyda
01-14-2009, 12:26 AM
Welcome to honestly help you in planning what I would do is read these boards and reviews of trips dining and resorts I have found lots of useful information here. Second kind of decide what your budget is that kind of narrows down where to stay.next decide when you want to go( I prefer sept crowds are kind of low but still very warm and humid).(Then I go ahead and book the airfare)
Next what I do is sit down and start the dining planning . This for me is the most difficult part for me because there are so many great restaurants both in and out of the parks.and then pick the days and seating times.
I hope the information I gave will be helpful and gl in your Disney planning but what ever you choose I am sure your vacation will be magical because well you will be in a magical place.

kaylajr
01-14-2009, 01:29 AM
Welcome to the DIS:thumbsup2

You have gotten alot of great advice on this thread
This is the best place to find info and plan
and Planning is half the fun:)

P&B's Mom
01-14-2009, 03:55 AM
I normally do not look at this forum, but when I saw "overwhelmed" on the home page, I was intrigued because I was that person last year! I traveled for the first time, EVER, last June with a family of six, which included my family and my parents. I think your best option would be All-Star Music suites or Ft. Wilderness, if still available for your dates. If not, I would book two rooms at a value or moderate, depending on your budget. I am not sure if they can guarantee connecting rooms, though--I would check on this or let the experts chime in! If budget is not a concern, you can go for a 2-bedroom DVC, but this will be your most expensive option. BTW--this is what we did because my parents figured it was the only time that they would ever make it to WDW. It wasn't--they are addicted and now own DVC, but that is a completely other story and I am getting off-topic.

Some other things to consider have already been posted. Do you want to park hop? We hated this, but I think this is personal style. Our favorite days were to RD a park, take a break, eat at a table-service restaurant near or at the park for dinner, and then return to that same park in the evening. We used FPs from the morning (I know a lot of people don't like when people do this, but if WDW allows it, then it must be ok--don't flame me!) and stayed for the evening parades/fireworks. We also took a "day off" in the middle and stayed at the resort and enjoyed a table service restaurant of our choosing that was not in a park.

Another consideration you need to make is the dining plan. I think with kids under 9, it is a complete deal for approximately $11, but for the adults at approximately $40, it is a "wash". You will need to figure if this a "deal" for your family. You can check the menus and prices on www.allears.net to see if buffets, sit down meals, and character experiences are what you are looking for during this trip. If you do choose the DDP, you can still enjoy an easy breakfast in your room or use snack credits, eat CS lunch, and a nice TS dinner most nights. You will get more bang for your buck using your TS credits for dinner because that is the most expensive meal of the day.

You will get great advice here and you might also consider buying a WDW guide book. My favorites are the Unofficial Guide and Passporters. IMO--the others are good "fluff" material to sustain my addiction to planning my trip, but that is about it. I was completely overwhelmed by this site and decided to join "Tour Guide Mike", which is a sponsor of the DIS. For the $20, it was money well spent. I will warn you, though, you will not get a personalized plan like many people think based on his slogan. You will need to read his information and there is A LOT of it. I like the forums there because they are smaller and not so big/intimidating for a newbie. I was able to create my itinerary based on his "rules" with the help of the people over there. If this is not a concern of yours, you might think of skipping it.

Good luck and don't be afraid to ask for help.

Mich123
01-14-2009, 03:45 PM
You're in the right place! I did the same thing that you did, watched the disboards for a year or so and finally, recently, joined.

Two years ago, we split our stay, staying a week in an offsite condo that was about a mile away and a few days at Port Orleans Riverside. It was much more relaxing to stay onsite and I don't think I'll ever stay offsite again. Even though we were relatively close, we spent a lot of time driving and parking and lost on International Drive! It seemed like a waste of time and it was tiring. Sure, Disney is a busy trip, but it was a lot more work to be offsite.

We're headed back in a month and this time I have requested adjoining rooms with my parents. We're booked at Port Orleans again and we're trying the DDP--the disboards dinner reviews are a great help. You might want to consider making some dinner reservations soon if you're interested in sit down dinners. I'd recommend Ohana's dinner, which is great fun for little ones and even if the 13 year olds think it's corny, at least there's tons of good food to fill them up. We also liked Garden Grill at Epcot which is a fun, but quieter, character meal with Chip 'n Dale, Pluto and Mickey. My kids liked the restaurant descriptions in Birnbaum Guides Walt Disney World: "The Official Guide" and were able to pick character and other restaurants they thought they'd like (of course, we have veto power!).

We have a DD12 and DD9, last time we traveled with my niece and nephew, so we had kids ages 10, 7, 4 and 2...I kind of have an idea of what you're facing with the spread of ages. It actually worked out pretty well and we did split up at times so that the little kids could do little kid rides (a la Dumbo) and the big kids could do Space Mountain, etc. There are lots of rides, though, that everyone can enjoy. There are some good strategies for Disney with kids in The Unofficial Guide to Disney. One thing that surprised me last time was that the kids just loved Magic Kingdom and Epcot, so we spent tons of time there (3 days at each park) and less time at Animal Kingdom and DHS (1 day each). We did have a lot of time, but that worked well because we never felt frantic. We also did park hopping, which is convenient for dinner choices and fireworks shows. We didn't park hop too much during the day, but I still purchased the options because you just never know.


Hope this helps and hope you're enjoying the planning part of the trip! You really can't go wrong...everyone is happy at Disney!

mickeyluv'r
01-14-2009, 06:25 PM
I forgot to add - share food!

You can't really 'share meals' at buffets...and to some extent it can be difficult to share entrees at Table service places (Especially if you have DDP, you will really generally be expected to each order an entree), but oftenthe snacks, treats, drinks, and Quick service meals are plenty big enough to share!

There are so many fun treats to try at WDW, that sharing allows you to taste a wider variety.

Just keep your hands off my Mickey bar though, and nobody will get hurt! :tinker: :mickeybar :mickeybar :mickeybar :maleficen :eeyore: :dumbo:

deverzs
01-15-2009, 07:56 AM
Welcome.

mickeyluv'r
01-16-2009, 10:39 AM
In addition to the DIS, here's another website I LOVE when it comes to all things Disney. It's mousesavers.com It tells all about discounts and the like.

Mary is also a DIS member...she has a great planning section for first timers.

noahdove
01-16-2009, 06:53 PM
Welcome to the most helpful boards around:) Do you belong to AAA? I just booked my trip today and paid the deposit for August:) I knew the basics, and then after she had some figures, I gave her the rest of the details..dates, dining info, tickets, and resort wanted:) All painless and I am so very happy with her:) She is a gem as I have emailed back and forth several times!!! and I do mean several times. This is a surprise trip for my little great niece:) Good luck with your planning and you will receive so much help here you will be beyond belief:) Be sure to check out the other boards, resorts, transportation, dining etc. Have a very magical time:)