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Old 07-14-2009, 07:46 AM   #1
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Advice for Newbies

My wife and I decided to take our first family vacation when our DD (Disney Daughter) was 5 in 2002.

When I was kid, my family always drove on vacation because we couldn't afford to fly. I have an affinity for driving because I love to see this amazing country. My wife never went on a family vacation so she was up for whatever.

We're very easy going people.

We chose WDW as it is the quintessential American Family Vacation and the #1 destination.

In six trips, we've learned alot. First and foremost is that we NEVER had a "bad time" at WDW. I think some people get wayyyyy too concerned about having the "perfect" vacation and they get very anxious and cause themselves too much anxiety.

One of the main reasons for this is the cost. When you're spending a considerable amount of money for a family vacation, you can get a bit nutty about wanting everything to be just right, perfect even.

Step back. Take a deep breath.

I've learned that WDW is too big to cover even 40% during your first trip. You cannot do it all. Don't even try. You will love it so much that you'll go back again. Maybe the next year, maybe you'll have to save a bit more and wait two years. But you will go back.

Remember during your first trip that you can log things in the back of your mind that you want to do next time or try next time or plan for next time.

Some people obsess over which resort to pick (we like movies so we'll stay at All Star Movies, but my son really likes sports so maybe we would be better off staying at All Star Sports, but my daughter loves music and playing the violin, will she be shattered if we don't stay at All Star Music?) but we've found they're all wonderful. We've stayed at all three Moderates and we love them all equally. We picked the Caribbean Beach for our first stay because we had honeymooned in the Caribbean. We chose the Coronado Springs because my wife likes southwest theming. We stayed at Port Orleans because it was the third Moderate and we hadn't tried it yet.

Don't get caught up in:

"Is it too hot in Florida?"
"How far is the walk to the bus stop?"
"How long did you wait for a bus?"
"How close is our resort to this or that park?"
"Which is better, the Hoop Dee Do or the Polynesian Luau?"
"How long is the line for Space Mountain at 2:30pm on a Wednesday?"
"Where is the most perfect possible location to see Wishes"?"
"If you order a hamburger medium-well at this restaurant, is it really medium-well?"
"Will there be enough time to park hop between all four parks in one day?"
"Should our daughter wear a Belle dress to Cinderella's Royal Table since Belle is her favorite character or should I force her to wear a Cindy dress because we're at the castle?"

See where I'm going with this?

Your vacation will be wonderful if you just take it easy.

Plan some ADR's but don't make reservations for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day. Plan a park per day. Try to work with the Extra Magic Hours but don't get crazy about hitting Early Entry at MK and then park hopping to AK for Extra Magic hours and then doing it again the next day and the next.

It will be a wonderful vacation if you just...go...with...the...flow.

I typed this out because I've advised about 10 people at work and they all said it was the best advice they got. They didn't adher to all of it and they still got a little bit out of control, but they tried to reign themselves in when they thought back to my advice.

"Why would you dress your daughter like a little rat?" (Cruella DeVille to me at MGM - now DHS - while taking a picture with my DD5 who was wearing a Minnie Mouse outfit!)

2014 - Disney Dream 4 Night Cruise /Port Orleans FQ
2012 - Port Orleans French Quarter
2011 - Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort
2010 - Caribbean Beach Resort
2009 - Carnival cruise out of Tampa, but after, we drove to WDW and spent a full day at Magic Kingdom.
2008 - Coronado Springs Resort/Disney's Vero Beach
2007 - Wife Earning her Masters Degree/No Vacation-
2006 - All Star Movies/Royal Pacific Resort (Universal)/Disney's Vero Beach
2005 - Port Orleans Riverside/Animal Kingdom Lodge/Disney's Vero Beach
2004 - Royal Pacific Resort (Universal)/Disney's Vero Beach
2003 - Coronado Springs Resort/Disney's Vero Beach
2002 - Caribbean Beach Resort

Last edited by mm6mm6; 07-14-2009 at 11:12 AM.
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Old 07-14-2009, 08:05 AM   #2
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This is great advice!! We haven't booked yet,but I have found that we were discussing many of these exact things and I feel we could have saved a little stress if I heard this earlier.

I am not that far into the planning stage... basically we narrowed it down to the week we are going, how long we are staying and we are still deciding between 3 places to stay.

From a first time planner I feel that you really need to figure out these things prior to deciding what else you want to do. Once you hammer out these details I suggest making a list of 5 important thing each member wants to experience while there. This way you can decide which parks and ADR's you need to focus on.

Just a Newbie in the begining stages 2 cents worth. Thanks again
First Disney Experience CBR 4/2/11 -4/5/11 and fun was had by all.....
Now onto planning our next stay!!
Spring/Summer 2013 ... Waiting
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Old 07-15-2009, 09:38 AM   #3
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Good points!!!!

We are more a go with the flow family! We do not park hop because thats just too much time wasted "hopping"........
I also am not an ADR chaser, I made our park plans based on EHM's then made ADR's according to which park we are in or a resort close by. I also scheduled 1 day for non-disney adventure, in our case we are going to the beach! My only advice is to research WDW as there is ALOT to do!! Oh and most importantly HAVE FUN!!!!
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Old 07-16-2009, 06:02 AM   #4
We had a wonderful time, but did have our moments!

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Also, give up the idea of the "perfect vacation."

We had a wonderful time in Disney last year, and we're anxiously awaiting our return in 3 weeks. But all the pixie dust in the world won't change my family into a Stepford family. My son will still tease his sisters; my older daughter will still get cranky when she's hungry, and her sister will still whine when she's tired. (my husband and I, of course, are practically perfect and never tease, get cranky or whine )

Do what you can to head off the tantrums and crankiness- lots of rest, lots of water, lots of breaks. But don't be stunned when the "happiest place on earth" becomes a little less than magical every once in a while.

Probably the best advice I've ever seen along these lines is this: No one attraction, no one parade or restaurant or ride, has the power to "make" your vacation. Be willing to forego whatever you need to for the greater good. Last year, we arrived on the last day Spectro was showing before it went on hiatus. My kids were up before dawn to get to the airport, and they were going on very little sleep due to the excitement. By 7 pm, they were DONE. So we skipped Spectro, went back to the resort, and got everyone to bed. Sure, we missed what I'm sure was a great parade (one I'm looking forward to this year.) But we gained a family that was well rested and willing to take on Disney World the next day.
DH: me: DS (16) , DD (14): DD (11):

I've been BOO'ed by pigletgirl!
numerous trips in college and one together in 1990 August 2008 and August 2009: Polynesian. August 2012: Beach Club Yacht Club in 2014!!
(Thanks, Disney Destinations, for your past generosity. And to the Beach Club staff for all their assistance in our 2012 medical crisis.)
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Old 09-19-2009, 05:20 PM   #5
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Thanks for the great advice!! I am starting to calm down now, lol...I have been stressing so much over our planning and making sure everything is "perfect" but I need to just focus on having a good time and not worrying about seeing and doing every single thing there is to do, and eating at all of the best reviewed restaurants (after all, someone elses opinion is not our own, right?) It will be great as long as we just go with the flow, take our time and enjoy!!
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Old 01-22-2010, 06:23 AM   #6
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100% agree with all the great advice. Getting ready for our 3rd trip. Try to plan a little but go with the flow as much as possible. Sometimes there is an attraction you considered skipping but there is no wait, you go and that ends up being a favorite. My favorite tips are taking full advantage of the FastPass and the Child Swap opportunity when riding most popular rides. When you just read about it, seems confusing. But once we had accomplished it a couple times, we became masters and got to do everything we really wanted several times!!

Remember not everyone's tips are going to work for you. You could make a full time job out of finding tips and discounts! Plan like you would for any other vacation, but then get ready for lots of great fun and surprises!
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Old 01-31-2010, 11:00 PM   #7
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Great advice! We are going on our 8th trip to the world on Feb. 10th! We do plan our park days in advance (sometimes for the early openings, sometimes to avoid them, if we wanna sleep in a bit), but we really give ourselves alot of freedom to go with the flow...

We like to make only two or three ADR's prior to arriving on vacation. This year we made one for LeCellier, because we've been shut out the last two times down there (Teppan Edo is a pretty nice 2nd choice though).

I'm getting excited just typing on here....
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:21 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Minnie321 View Post
Have a great time - I will be right behind you in March-April for Easter. I have been at this time of year before and the weather was great! Only going with two ADR's this time - one for Hollywood and Vine - simply to get the easy seat in Fantasmic and the other for a birthday at Chef Mickey's. We did the dining plan the past few trips, so we ate at most of the big restaurants - Liked it, but we are staying off property this time.
We went mid-march last year and the weather was terrific!

We just made another ADR today. My son wants to go to Ohana for dinner. Didn't have to ask twice!

I skipped the dining plan this time. There are savings, if you eat large expensive deserts with every meal (which we don't), plus, my son (9) got really bored with the basically same selection choice at every restaurant. Hey, it works for alot of folks...
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Old 10-02-2009, 04:54 PM   #9
Earning My Ears
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great advice! I think the most important thing to remember about planning a trip to Disney is it is YOUR TRIP! It is best to plan the things you know you and your family will enjoy most And take advantage of all the free entertainment Disney has to offer! My boyfriend and I fortunately live about an hour from Disney, so we will frequently spend the day just walking around downtown disney (where we met!) and then have a nice dinner at Rainforest, or the new exciting T-Rex!! It's a full day of the Disney atmosphere without the hefty ticket price!
My name is Brittany
I met my wonderful boyfriend at Pleasure Island in 2006
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Old 10-02-2009, 06:52 PM   #10
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This is a great thread with helpful advice. If you have some great advice to share to help out those just starting on their trip planning please post!

But to keep the thread from becoming to long and cumbersome we are going to limits posts to those that offer advice only. It can be very difficult to wade through numerous "thanks" and "great advice" and "great thread" type posts to get to those offering helpful tips. I will be deleting these type of posts and just leaving those that offer trip planning advice.

If you have specific planning questions for your family or situation please post them in a new thread on the Welcome Board or on the appropriate Trip Planning Forum. We have quite a few topic specific boards to help you out:

Theme Parks Attractions and Stratagies
Disney Resorts
Disney Restaurants
Budget Board
Disney for Families
Disney for Adults and Solos
Disney Tips

and we have boards just for Disney Cruise Line and Disney Vacation Club.

Enjoy your Disney Trip Planning and we are so glad you found the disboards to help you out!
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Old 10-15-2009, 07:53 PM   #11
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We have spent many days at WDW....actually my husband was a seasonal part-time cast member working about six months in the winter. My favorite park is DAK with The Lion King Show, Safari, and Tough to Be a Bug being favorites. Next favorite park is EPCOT with Soarin' being a must. The fire works at EPCOT are actually fire, water and fireworks....an awesome display that is well worth planning on staying for one evening. MK fireworks, also excellent, include Tinker Bell's flight from the castle. A couple of pieces of possibly useful information. Christmas is not a good time to visit WDW as all parks are very crowded and when filled to capacity will be closed for a period of time during a very busy day. The week after Thanksgiving to mid-December is a slow time. Park hopping doesn't work well as you spend too much time traveling between parks even when using Disney transportation. To see as much as possible at MK you really need three days, AK is a 1 1/2 to 2 day venture, as is DHS. EPCOT is a full two days. It is best to get some of the park maps and study them so that you can decide what the family feels are must things to see and do. So that you have a great, memorable, "can't wait to get back to WDW" vacation, pace yourselves. Take advantage of the "fast pass" and remember that when you get a pass (one must be had for each person going on the ride) there will be a time on the pass when you can pick up your next "fast pass". Not every ride offers a "fast pass", just the very popular ones.
Have a fantastic WDW vacation.
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Old 11-09-2009, 11:19 AM   #12
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my experience with disney

I am a mom of 2 boys, they were 2 1/2 and 5 1/2 the 1st time we took them back in 2006. Everyone told me i was crazy for taking them when they were so young. However I will tell u that they still ask questions like" mommy remember when we ate breaakfast with mickey and goofy". Or my favorite was are we goona try to catch the ghosts again on the scary mansion ride." This goes to show they do remember, and I have scrapbooksthat we look atall the time. We are going back next month and they are more than excited! so go with your instinct, if you know your kids, you know what's best!
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Old 11-22-2009, 02:27 PM   #13
Earning My Ears
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I have been to Disney world 33 times in 16 years and if there is one thing I have learnt is best to go to the parks early, when you first enter go to get a fast pass for the long wait lines then get in one of the more popular attraction lines. Make sure you take breaks every now and then to gather thoughts and make sure you haven't lost anyone or anything. I wish you luck on your first trip.

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Old 02-06-2010, 09:59 AM   #14
Earning My Ears
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Spot on advise...Let the Good Times roll and Don't have unrealistic expectations of your or your childs behavior. It's Disney, Your kids are gonna be freaked out already without you micro-managing every moment. Take the pleasures as they come..They will come! Kindest regards. TS
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:30 PM   #15
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Stay at a "Disney" hotel

If your budget permits: stay at a hotel with "Disney" in its name

Our October 2008 vacation was split between the Disney's Swan and Dolphin and Buena Vista Palace. We stayed 4 nights at the Swan, went to Washington DC for a few days and returned to the Palace. The Palace was a hotel affiliated with a convention my wife attended.

This let us experience 2 types of bus service to WDW.

The bus service to the Swan was excellent. The bus stop at the hotel and each park is covered. Wait times were generally short. The bus stops at the parks are very clearly marked. There are thousands of guests leaving the Magic Kingdom at closing time, but the lines move quickly and are very organized. A bus dispatcher was on site, dynamically assigning buses to routes.

Contrast this to the bus serving the Buena Vista Palace. The wait times going to the parks was longer, but still acceptable. The return at closing was almost chaos. The bus stops for these "non-Disney" hotels are uncovered, and only have numbers not the hotel names marking them. The worst experience was Epcot at closing time. Standing in the rain waiting with a crowd, in what we thought was the right spot. The bus pulled up to a different spot, creating a mad rush to the bus. The bus was then filled (really overfilled), but the driver continued on to the next park.
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