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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!

Pretty much down to my hips on one side, but nice and perky on the other
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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 07-16-2009, 03:10 PM   #5
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Great advice it is the same philosophy I use when we go. Don't sweat the small stuff, have a lose plan and go with the flow. It's always great no matter what, if you follow this advice you will enjoy yourself.

DH: Me: DS: (7)
DS (5) DD (3)

DW - Port Orleans Riverside & ASM - 2009
DW - Animal Kingdom Lodge - 2008
DW - Caribbean Beach - 2007
DW - Cornado Springs - 2006
DW - Dixie Landings - 1997
DL, Paris - Off Property - 1995
DL, California - Off Property - 1987
WDW - Off Property - 1982 & 1976
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Old 07-16-2009, 03:12 PM   #6
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and you know what? When you look back twenty or thirty years from now, it will not be the tantrums, the rides you missed or what not that you remember. It will be the precious memories you made with those you love. I know because we took those trips as children with my mother (to DL) and my siblings and then my DH and I took them with our two children and are still taking them with our DD who has grown into such an wonderfultravel partner who is still as amazed by Disney as we are (our son, not so much ).

Last edited by ckdsnynt; 07-16-2009 at 03:12 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 08-07-2009, 04:41 PM   #7
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This is such awesome advice that I am making this a Sticky on the Welcome Board so our newbies can find it easily.


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 limit 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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Last edited by lovetoscrap; 12-06-2009 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:02 PM   #8
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
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That's great advice! People need to understand that their vacation can still be wonderful, even if you don't follow your plan. Sometimes you need to just skip the plan and actually experience the magic found throughout the parks.
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:27 AM   #9
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I can relate to this post 100%, my third trip to WDW, was long over due and I would literally count down the days and hours. We finally got there and to my GREAT diappointment in rained 7 out of the 8 days we were there, ALLL DAY, EVERYDAY great for FL but bad for me . None the less you can say I was pretty disappointed, but I made the best of it . Although my "PERFECT" vacation may have seemed ruined by rain, we still had TONS of fun, my wife and I just recently decided to go back in April 2010, this will be out fouth trip for 4 year aniv.
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:52 AM   #10
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Thank you...

Great advice for people like me! I am currently planning my family's 1st trip in November and am completely stressing myself out. Going with my husband, kids and in-laws. I've been to WDW several times as a child, but they never have, so I've pretty much been planning it myself, but still trying to please everyone. I'm finding myself obsessing about things I have no control over, like crowds, weather, and whether or not my in-laws will like the food at the restaurants I'm booking.
I will try to keep your advice in mind, and to not sweat the small stuff!

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Old 08-26-2009, 01:19 PM   #11
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Wonderful advice. After having visited the parks previously with out my family I found that going with the flow instead of a point blank schedule does everyone well. I search for tips and tricks to make things easier and to figure out ways to get away from crowds when needed, but overall we are just going to go and have fun!
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Old 09-02-2009, 10:44 PM   #12
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Just returned from our WDW family vacation 8-2009

These are all great ideas! My family and I just returned from our vacation to WDW, (sad to leave), we stayed at Saratoga Springs Resort it was fabulous! We drove and upon arrival and check-in we unpacked, went to the grocery store (Wally World) for supplies, food, etc... and spent the rest of the day relaxing at the pool. We hit the ground the next day, we went to one park a day, took advantage of the early hours and the extended 3 hours, we had such a FANTASTIC time and can't wait for your next trip! Take your time and enjoy your vacation, and the time with your family! There's always your next trip to WDW to cover the things you might have missed, and plan on some R&R time at the pool, then go back to the parks when it's less crowded, this is a great opportunity, while staying at one of the resorts.
2004-July, stayed at OKW-family of 9 (including extended family members)
2005-Oct.-Nov. stayed at SSR
2007-June, stayed at Yacth Club
2009-Aug. stayed at SSR.
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Old 09-03-2009, 09:00 AM   #13
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Heading back!

Some great advice, here.

Hubby and I went to Disney back in February, was his first trip, and my first, other than a brief high school trip back in... um... We'll just say there were only two parks back then. (And they gave us a half a day at Magic Kingdom, and a half day at Epcot, we missed a LOT of stuff.)

Timing seems to be everything. In seven days, we did just about everything we wanted to do, minimal lines. As it was just the two of us and no kids, we could schedule for during the school year to miss most of the crowds.

The best bit of advice I can offer is to watch for discounts. We'd planned ten days at Pop Century this upcoming October, had everything booked, decent price... And the deal for free dining at a moderate resort came out. As I hadn't yet paid, I was able to call, ask them for a price if we moved to a moderate resort with the free dining... and swap, SAVING nearly a hundred dollars. Coronado Springs, here we come!
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Old 09-04-2009, 11:42 AM   #14
Earning My Ears
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My DH and 2 daughters went to WDW back in 2007. It was their first trip but I am from Florida so needless to say it was not mine. At the time my girls were 10 & 11 and the happiness that showed on their faces were priceless. I can still picture it after all this time.

Anyway, for any newbies out there be sure and check for discounts. We are a military family and this year the discount was 40% off a resort room. Needless to say we couldn't go this year to take advantage of it but I hope that it will still be available next year. I already have reservations at Shades of Green (military hotel around MK) just in case if we can't get a discount.A

Already looking forward to our trip next year
(me) (hubby) (daughter 13) (daughter 12)
1996 Carribbean Beach 2007 Yacht Club
2010 Shades of Green/Beach Club

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Old 09-18-2009, 01:36 PM   #15
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Wonderful advice. I also found, being a West Coast Girl, that I spent too much of my time comparing the MK with DL. On my 2nd trip to WDW I did much better at just loving it for what it is.

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