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Old 09-04-2012, 06:35 PM   #1
kaci
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Things You Wish You Knew As A First Timer

There are lots of great threads about 'Things you wish you knew' and 'Secrets of...' that are wonderful and offer *tons* of great advice (I've got the notes to prove it!) but we're going for the first time in December and I'm wanting to create the best, most magical experience possible, so am looking for tips specific to that.

If you could re-create your first trip, how would you do it? What did you do on your first trip that was awesome (create a tradition, etc...), what did you do that was not so awesome, what do you wish you did looking back?

DS is 5 and DD is 2 so everything we do will pretty much revolve around them
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Old 09-04-2012, 06:44 PM   #2
deesquared
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Research and planning! Lots of planning!

For our first family trip, I had a rough schedule for each day.
I checked the Disneyland website to see what time the parks opened and closed each day, when there were parades, fireworks, Fantasmic and other specific shows.
Then, if something was happening on only one day we were there, I would put that in the schedule for that day.
Then, I would work around that particular event, scheduling meals, then picking certain areas to explore.
For instance, one day was Princess day: the girls wore their Princess costumes, we had lunch at Ariel's, visited the Princess Fantasy Faire.

Always be ready to be flexible though. If everyone wants to go on the Teacups, but you wanted to explore Tomorrowland...just go with the Teacups. It's more important to keep everyone happy than to stay on schedule!

Just make sure you do catch those "one time" events such as fireworks or Fantasmic as early on in your trip as possible. If you leave it to the last night, it may be cancelled, then you are out of luck!
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Old 09-04-2012, 06:45 PM   #3
tiffjoy
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We only went one day the first time because we were out for an interview for my DH. But I wish we had park hopped. DCA is such a fun park, and we didn't go there until our third trip.

I wish we had gone to Napa Rose. I didn't know about it, but now we have kids and can't go. So I suppose I wish I had done a little more research for our trip.
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:40 PM   #4
julieheyer
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A fun tradition we created on our first DL visit was ice cream for dinner. It sounds silly, but my dd's brag about this to ALL of their friends!! We were waiting for Fantasmic and weren't really hungry for a real meal (late lunch, we like to eat at off peak times) . Anyway I threw sense and caution to the wind and a new tradition was born!!

I'm not saying its for everyone, but being flexible and spontaneous is as important as planning, IMHO.

The other thing we did, which I recommend, is allow each member of the fam to choose 1 ride/show that was their TOP priority that day/park. We had to get that item done that day. Made everyone excited to plan, and look forward to that event.

With little ones like you have, 2 strollers would be good too!

Have fun!! You can't go wrong!
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by julieheyer View Post
A fun tradition we created on our first DL visit was ice cream for dinner. It sounds silly, but my dd's brag about this to ALL of their friends!! We were waiting for Fantasmic and weren't really hungry for a real meal (late lunch, we like to eat at off peak times) . Anyway I threw sense and caution to the wind and a new tradition was born!!
I love this idea!! If we have a late lunch we just might do this too. We do crazy dinner at home a few times a month where we make breakfast foods for dinner and the kids love it.

Being WDW vets we like to go to Mr Toads first as it no longer exists at MK as it brings back childhood memories of being terrified that we were going to be hit by a train. On our upcoming trip we will now get to terrify our litte kiddos with this ride LOL.
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Old 09-04-2012, 10:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by julieheyer View Post
A fun tradition we created on our first DL visit was ice cream for dinner.

With little ones like you have, 2 strollers would be good too!

Have fun!! You can't go wrong!
Quote:
Originally Posted by princesscinderella View Post
I love this idea!! If we have a late lunch we just might do this too. We do crazy dinner at home a few times a month where we make breakfast foods for dinner and the kids love it.
ah then can i make a recommendation????

http://www.disboards.com/showthread....593650&page=23......10 scoops of ice cream and everything you can think of on it
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:09 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by disneegrl4eva View Post
ah then can i make a recommendation????

http://www.disboards.com/showthread....593650&page=23......10 scoops of ice cream and everything you can think of on it
OMG....thank you for sharing this! Guess we are going to start an amazing "supper" tradition too! We are going to be the "coolest" parents ever when they get to have this one night for supper! Wonder how much that costs.....lol....Hope they still have it!
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Old 09-09-2012, 09:32 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by lkperich View Post
OMG....thank you for sharing this! Guess we are going to start an amazing "supper" tradition too! We are going to be the "coolest" parents ever when they get to have this one night for supper! Wonder how much that costs.....lol....Hope they still have it!

Here's the menu on the DIS. The price is $21.99:

PCH Grill Menu
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Old 09-04-2012, 09:53 PM   #9
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bibbidi bobbiddi boutique is my must!
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Calling it my first time, because I cant say i remember much going at 8 yrs old
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Old 09-04-2012, 10:29 PM   #10
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My biggest advise is be flexible. DD was 4 on her first trip. I had a great plan, lots of research. She hated dark rides. Even Winnie the Pooh. The plan went out the window.
*Be prepared for small kids to be drawn to the "carnival" type rides that they can see. It is hard to explain to a kid that they want to wait on line to go into a building because there is something fun inside when they can see dumbo.
*If you can do MM for Disneyland use it to hit Dumbo, the teacups ect.
*don't try to crisscross the parks to much.
*unless this is a once in a lifetime trip take it easy. If your kid wants to ride the same thing six times instead of trying something new don't sweat it.
*be prepared for a few not so magical moments. My usually picture perfect girl decided to have a spoiled brat tantrum in the middle of DL. I got everything from thumbs up to nasty glares as she got a timeout also in the middle of the park.
*character breakfast! You will get a million opinions about which one is best. Book one.
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:53 PM   #11
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*be prepared for a few not so magical moments. My usually picture perfect girl decided to have a spoiled brat tantrum in the middle of DL. I got everything from thumbs up to nasty glares as she got a timeout also in the middle of the park.
Oh, thank you for pointing this out! My DD is usually pretty darn well behaved. She has her moments like any child, but, overall, especially when out in public, she has her "game face" on and is a virtual angel. She's 8 years old, so we're well beyond toddler tantrums.

In the middle of Innoventions (that's the name of that building, right?), in the House of the Future, a full-scale meltdown occurred--we're talking about 52lbs of kid, on the flopping on the floor like a fish outta water, screaming at the top of her lungs. I had multiple CMs coming up to me asking what was wrong, parents looking aghast at me, and a few understanding nods/smiles. Indeed, in the middle of Tomorrowland, we had a time out. It's the happiest place on earth. Sooooooo didn't expect hard times! But, with long days, sleeping in an unfamiliar place, schedules off, meal times earlier/later/different than normal... if your child is prone to tantruming when things don't go their way, beware that the happiest place on earth isn't always happy!

(And for those who can't imagine a child tantruming in the middle of DL, or, worse, glare if they see it happen, please stop to remember children don't always have "visual" challenges--you can't see the autism, you can't see the asperger's, you can't see the fact that my DD was a meth baby [she's adopted] and is dealing with the effects of it still. I'd hope none of our Disfamily would glare at a child having a rough time, but it's always worth the reminder!)

Okay, off my soapbox now.

For the OP, the things I wish I knew for my first trip:

No CM will blink at you bringing in plastic soda bottles (no glass bottles allowed). A 20oz soda is $3.25 at DL, or $1.59 at 7-11. Even cheaper if you have Von's deliver! Bring your own soda and water into the parks!

You may need to "learn to like" a Dole whip. My first time, I thought, "Meh." My second time, I though, "Mmmmm." My third time, I let DD have 2 bites, and inhaled the rest myself! (She doesn't care much for them. Yay for me!)

You can plan all you want, but you may not want those plans once you are in the park.

Bring 2 pairs of shoes, at least. You will appreciate being able to change them each day.

Some of the "use the ART" motels are a very reasonable walking distance. We stay at the Super 8, which is in the "ART suggested" area. It took us 12 minutes (not counting our 7-11 stops) to get to the park. Hey, that $4 ART pass could be a Dole Whip instead!

Don't miss Aladdin! Yes, the line-up can be a pain in the butt, but it is so worth it.

Use the lockers. Don't fight it. Just do it. It's so freeing not having a backpack to carry around. We did the carry-the-pack our first and second day, and on day 3, we did the locker, and never looked back!

As above, if you're child is sensitive to changes in routine, make sure to have a plan in place. 6 months out from our trip, I feel like I failed DD, because I didn't think to account for her needs--her needs to know when/where we're eating, when/where we're sleeping, and clear expectations. DL was a "free for all" for us at the beginning, and I wanted to be a kid as much as she did, which meant schedules were out the window. Not a good thing for a schedule-sensitive child!
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:16 PM   #12
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We went for the first time when ours were 4and 6. DS4 was not quite 40 inches so we concentrated on all the little kid stuff. We planned to go back when they were older to do bigger kid stuff. I had done lots of research on the Dis and had a trip plan before arrived so we had some direction. We used EE, did the Fantasyland rides in the recommended order, did Nemo first one day etc. so as to avoid line ups as much as possible. We were there at rope drop everyday and in the early/mid afternoon we headed out of the parks for lunch and pool time. We watched the fireworks from our room each night except the Trick or Treat party night so the kids could go to sleep around 8:30pm. We did not use a stroller at all. We had an amazing time and look forward to returning next month now that the kids are 7 and 9.
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Old 09-05-2012, 12:32 AM   #13
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We just took a trip to Disneyland back in February, 2012 and came to realize that the park had a different feel then our last trip in September, 1998. For all intents and purposes we were Disneyland newbies.

First, the amount of locals armed with Annual Passes seemed to be the rule and not the exception. Second, I have since learned that there really isn't an off season, at least when compared to the years prior to 2000. Third, we were completely naive about FastPasses and how they could help or hinder the Disneyland experience. And fourth, we were totally clueless to the fact that seemingly unimportant holidays were catalysts for exaggerated crowds.

If I were to offer the advice to a person like me I would tell them to avoid ALL holidays, not just the big ones. I would also tell them to find out when the local schools have time off, not just the Spring/Fall breaks but the occasional teacher planning days as well and avoid those like the plague. Lastly, I would emphasize the importance of using the FastPass system.

I wish someone would have enlightened me to these tips because I would have avoided the President's Day holiday like it was the second coming of The Black Plague. Never again will I put myself or my family through that experience. From now on I will arm myself with the knowledge of when every single Annual Pass holder has the opportunity to visit the park and I will avoid those times.

Spring Break? Nope. Fall Break? Nope. Teacher Planning Days? Nope. State Government Furlough Days? Nope. President's Day? Nope. Columbus Day? Nope. Martin Luther King Day? Nope. Ground Hog Day? Nope.

Maybe there's a week or two in the year where the out of state tourist can visit Disneyland without the onslaught of locals.
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Old 09-05-2012, 12:56 AM   #14
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good planning tips here! Definitely have a rough schedule but build in extra time and be flexible. Go back to your hotel for an afternoon rest if you can. You can bring Disney puzzles or coloring books for quiet time if they aren't napping. Good time to replenish the backpack if you carry one so that you don't have to carry too much. (heavy backpack gets old faster than you think!)

DCA has little kid rides in Bugs Land. There is good stuff in DCA around Animation Academy when you need a cool off time (inside with A/C, not too crowded).

Some areas are especially pretty at night (tea cups is one of my faves at night because of the lights). I also love the Mexican restaurant by Thunder Mountain RR.

Musical chairs with Alice in Wonderful at the Coke/Refreshment corner was great fun (but takes at least 30 minutes). It always started at 2:30 but I just saw another thread that said it may have changes to 1:00. It was a big hit for my 6 year old.

Ask the PhotoPass photographers to take picture with your camera, even if you are purchasing the disk. It's great to have pics right away!

take the train around the park. It sure helps with walking and it counts as a ride!
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:04 AM   #15
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Know how to use FastPass!

Use the Single Rider and kid swap if you have little ones.

Make sure you go over a weekend if you want fireworks and Fantasmic during slower times.
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