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Old 10-08-2012, 08:26 AM   #1
DandSx2
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Our Disney World Tips

This is just my advice. Always do what is best for your family! We go in September, so this advice is geared towards hotter days
#1 If possible, take the kids out of school and go during Value Seasons. Stay at a value resort to save more. Anything Disney should be great! Look for FREE Dining.
#2 Get a Disney dining plan. We have used the quick service every time we have gone.
#3 Pack easy breakfast foods or use dining plan snacks for breakfast0 items such as bagels/pastries if you only have 2 meals on your plan (poptarts, donuts, cereal bars, oatmeal, etc...
#4 Take a backpack for things like passes, camera, money, sunscreen, bottled water, sunglasses, ponchos, needed medicines, hats etc..* (pack into ziploc baggies in case you get wet on rides or anything spills)
#5 Purchase ponchos beforehand (take larger ziploc baggies to pack them back into once opened). It can rain anytime in Florida. If you wake up and it's pouring, grab your kids and the ponchos and head to a park. Chances are lines will be shorter.
#6 Sleep in later to avoid crowds.
#7 Eat later or earlier than other people to avoid crowds in dining areas. Just ask and the staff will tell you their busiest times. Hotel restaurants are very busy when the parks close.
#8 Go to the pool in the mornings after breakfast and they won't be so crowded. BUT keep watch of each parks special shows, events, or parades that may be in the morning that you don't want to miss.
#9 Head to parks a little before or after lunch = less wait for rides/shows and less time in heat. Plus, many families with younger kids will head back shortly after dinner. Animal Kingdom has limited hours anyway so you may want to head there pretty early.
#10 We take a look at the bus lines. We don't go to the parks with extended hours that day or special events like major concerts. They are usually more crowded anyway. Watch out for early closing hours at MK due to Mickeys NSS Halloween Party as well.
#11 Discover FASTPASS and use it! For example, at Hollywood Studios, the Toy Story Mania ride always has a long wait. Go there first and get your fast pass. Maybe hang around and do One Man's Dream, Backlot Tour, The Great Movie Ride, or the Art of Animation while waiting.
#12 I could probably go on forever so I will sum it up with, just try to be smart with your time and money and remember to enjoy your vacation.
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Old 10-08-2012, 08:32 AM   #2
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I've been here for a while (and WDW a bunch of times), and all of your tips are on here, numerous times, with the exception of sleep in to avoid lines. One of the most popular tips here is to arrive at rope drop, get in all the bigger rides (those with the longest lines), and then head back to your resort in the afternoon for some pool time.

The last time we went, it wasn't a very busy time, but there was a significant difference in crowds between the empty park we experienced at rope drop, vs. the crowds coming in around 11 am.
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Old 10-08-2012, 09:20 AM   #3
Marionnette
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DandSx2 View Post
This is just my advice. Always do what is best for your family! We go in September, so this advice is geared towards hotter days
#1 If possible, take the kids out of school and go during Value Seasons. Stay at a value resort to save more. Anything Disney should be great! Look for FREE Dining.
#2 Get a Disney dining plan. We have used the quick service every time we have gone.
#3 Pack easy breakfast foods or use dining plan snacks for breakfast0 items such as bagels/pastries if you only have 2 meals on your plan (poptarts, donuts, cereal bars, oatmeal, etc...
#4 Take a backpack for things like passes, camera, money, sunscreen, bottled water, sunglasses, ponchos, needed medicines, hats etc..* (pack into ziploc baggies in case you get wet on rides or anything spills)
#5 Purchase ponchos beforehand (take larger ziploc baggies to pack them back into once opened). It can rain anytime in Florida. If you wake up and it's pouring, grab your kids and the ponchos and head to a park. Chances are lines will be shorter.
#6 Sleep in later to avoid crowds.
#7 Eat later or earlier than other people to avoid crowds in dining areas. Just ask and the staff will tell you their busiest times. Hotel restaurants are very busy when the parks close.
#8 Go to the pool in the mornings after breakfast and they won't be so crowded. BUT keep watch of each parks special shows, events, or parades that may be in the morning that you don't want to miss.
#9 Head to parks a little before or after lunch = less wait for rides/shows and less time in heat. Plus, many families with younger kids will head back shortly after dinner. Animal Kingdom has limited hours anyway so you may want to head there pretty early.
#10 We take a look at the bus lines. We don't go to the parks with extended hours that day or special events like major concerts. They are usually more crowded anyway. Watch out for early closing hours at MK due to Mickeys NSS Halloween Party as well.
#11 Discover FASTPASS and use it! For example, at Hollywood Studios, the Toy Story Mania ride always has a long wait. Go there first and get your fast pass. Maybe hang around and do One Man's Dream, Backlot Tour, The Great Movie Ride, or the Art of Animation while waiting.
#12 I could probably go on forever so I will sum it up with, just try to be smart with your time and money and remember to enjoy your vacation.
Wow! So many things that I would do the exact opposite from you! It just goes to show that there is no single way of doing Disney. It's a matter of finding what works best for your family and going with that.

For instance, I wouldn't take the kids out of school for a trip. The crowds might be lighter and the resorts less expensive but there are other value you get from your dollar during other seasons. For instance, there are fewer attractions being rehabbed during periods of higher attendance. Show times are more frequent when there are more people to entertain. The attractions that use multiple tracks or pods work at full capacity during busier periods and Disney will close tracks or reduce the number of pods in use during low attendance periods. Off-peak periods also have fewer night time shows and shorter park hours. You might pay less for your hotel but you'll get less park time for your ticket as a result.

I also don't think that the dining plan is any real value and I especially feel that the free dining promotion is not worth it for most families. You pay the full rack rate for your room when you have free dining. For most families, you need to stay in a value resort room and fill it to capacity with Disney "adults" for the value of the free dining plan to exceed the cost savings you would have gotten on the room with a room-only discount.

I find that whoever ends up carrying the backpack ends up with a sweat-drench back and the added burden of carrying everything that belongs to the family. My motto is either carry it yourself or leaving it home! Everyone carries and is responsible for their own stuff.

Heading to the parks when it is raining makes sense only because you will already be there when the rain stops while others will be on their way to the parks. Once you arrive at the park, you'll find many outdoor attractions are closed while the rain pours down while the indoor attractions and shops will be crowded with poncho-clad people who had the same thoughts that you did.

I don't think that you avoid crowds by sleeping in. If anything, you set yourself up for longer lines and the possibility of exhausted Fastpass machines when you arrive. I'm not crazy about arriving at rope drop and rushing to be among the first on the most popular attractions but I have found that if you arrive about 10-15 minutes after the park has opened, you're not being pushed and shoved through the turnstiles and up the pathway to your intended destination.

Make ADRs in order to avoid long waits at TS locations. You'll get in ahead of any walk ups. If you are eating at CS locations, try to hit the one that is closest to where you are when the family gets hungry. Feeding kids too early because you want to miss the crowds can mean a lot of wasted food. And eating later can result in whining kids who just need food and a break.

The quiet pools are always less crowded that the main pool. If the kids just want to swim, head there. If they want to use the slides, I found that going in the evening serves two purposes 1)fewer people and 2)no need to slather on the sunscreen!

In order to avoid the heat, we would hit the parks early and then take a break midday. Then we would head back to the parks around dinner time, when people are heading out to get a meal and the sun is less intense. There is no way that I would choose start my day at a park as late as lunch time.

Yep. We definitely do Disney differently! But I'm glad that you found a method that works for you.
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Old 10-08-2012, 01:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Marionnette View Post
Wow! So many things that I would do the exact opposite from you! It just goes to show that there is no single way of doing Disney. It's a matter of finding what works best for your family and going with that.

For instance, I wouldn't take the kids out of school for a trip. The crowds might be lighter and the resorts less expensive but there are other value you get from your dollar during other seasons. For instance, there are fewer attractions being rehabbed during periods of higher attendance. Show times are more frequent when there are more people to entertain. The attractions that use multiple tracks or pods work at full capacity during busier periods and Disney will close tracks or reduce the number of pods in use during low attendance periods. Off-peak periods also have fewer night time shows and shorter park hours. You might pay less for your hotel but you'll get less park time for your ticket as a result.

I also don't think that the dining plan is any real value and I especially feel that the free dining promotion is not worth it for most families. You pay the full rack rate for your room when you have free dining. For most families, you need to stay in a value resort room and fill it to capacity with Disney "adults" for the value of the free dining plan to exceed the cost savings you would have gotten on the room with a room-only discount.

I find that whoever ends up carrying the backpack ends up with a sweat-drench back and the added burden of carrying everything that belongs to the family. My motto is either carry it yourself or leaving it home! Everyone carries and is responsible for their own stuff.

Heading to the parks when it is raining makes sense only because you will already be there when the rain stops while others will be on their way to the parks. Once you arrive at the park, you'll find many outdoor attractions are closed while the rain pours down while the indoor attractions and shops will be crowded with poncho-clad people who had the same thoughts that you did.

I don't think that you avoid crowds by sleeping in. If anything, you set yourself up for longer lines and the possibility of exhausted Fastpass machines when you arrive. I'm not crazy about arriving at rope drop and rushing to be among the first on the most popular attractions but I have found that if you arrive about 10-15 minutes after the park has opened, you're not being pushed and shoved through the turnstiles and up the pathway to your intended destination.

Make ADRs in order to avoid long waits at TS locations. You'll get in ahead of any walk ups. If you are eating at CS locations, try to hit the one that is closest to where you are when the family gets hungry. Feeding kids too early because you want to miss the crowds can mean a lot of wasted food. And eating later can result in whining kids who just need food and a break.

The quiet pools are always less crowded that the main pool. If the kids just want to swim, head there. If they want to use the slides, I found that going in the evening serves two purposes 1)fewer people and 2)no need to slather on the sunscreen!

In order to avoid the heat, we would hit the parks early and then take a break midday. Then we would head back to the parks around dinner time, when people are heading out to get a meal and the sun is less intense. There is no way that I would choose start my day at a park as late as lunch time.

Yep. We definitely do Disney differently! But I'm glad that you found a method that works for you.
I think I would follow with what you said. In my hundreds of hours of research, your tips make better sense from everything I've learned. After visiting the parks, I may have a vastly different opinion about what works for our family, but as a first timer I would follow a lot of your advice. Especially the dining plan thing. A lot of newbies and even veterans seem to thing free dining is a good deal, but you can save more by getting room discounts.
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:34 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Missy13d69 View Post
I think I would follow with what you said. In my hundreds of hours of research, your tips make better sense from everything I've learned. After visiting the parks, I may have a vastly different opinion about what works for our family, but as a first timer I would follow a lot of your advice. Especially the dining plan thing. A lot of newbies and even veterans seem to thing free dining is a good deal, but you can save more by getting room discounts.
The dining plan "value" really, really depends on the make-up of your travel party. All 4 of our kids are adults, plus we have a son-in-law. Buying meals for 7 adults would be hundreds of dollars a day. No room discount can make up for that (and we are eligible for the 40% off military room discount!) Free dining still saves us the most. You have to crunch the numbers for yourself!
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:37 AM   #6
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Oh, and we carry as little as possible, almost nothing really!
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Old 10-09-2012, 11:53 AM   #7
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When I see a post like this with only 5 posts in their history, I start wondering .......
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Old 10-09-2012, 12:23 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Marionnette View Post
Wow! So many things that I would do the exact opposite from you! It just goes to show that there is no single way of doing Disney. It's a matter of finding what works best for your family and going with that.

For instance, I wouldn't take the kids out of school for a trip.

Yep. We definitely do Disney differently! But I'm glad that you found a method that works for you.
Yes, we wouldn't have put -take the kids out school as #1 for advice. But everyone has their methods that work for them.
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Old 10-09-2012, 01:36 PM   #9
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I disagree about the free dining not being a good value but like a PP said, you do what's best for your family... I know when we went last month- just three of our meals were over 100.00... We would get ate alive with just food costs- so much that we really can't afford it without it... We would spend atleast another 500-600 just on food added to our package. YIKES
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Old 10-09-2012, 01:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
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#6 Sleep in later to avoid crowds.

#9 Head to parks a little before or after lunch = less wait for rides/shows and less time in heat. Plus, many families with younger kids will head back shortly after dinner. Animal Kingdom has limited hours anyway so you may want to head there pretty early.
I get that everyone is different, yadda yadda yadda, but #6 and #9 are just wrong, no matter who you are. There is no way that you avoid crowds by sleeping in. There is no way that heading to the parks around lunchtime means less wait and less heat. Unless there is something I am missing.
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Old 10-23-2012, 01:09 PM   #11
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WOW, I am shocked by the responses. I started my post stating this was simply my advice and to always do what is best for your family. Our family travels to Disney World in September which I had mentioned previously, so we have found this works best for us. I thought I would share what helped us after 3 years in a row because I was just hoping to help other families. We have 2 school aged children. We sleep in and have found this works the best for us because when we start early in the parks we finish early. We found our kids get way too tired to go back during the day after walking all over. September is generally pretty hot all day at Disney World so going later for us does save time in the heat as well and we tend to get more rides in by staying until the park closes. Taking our kids out of school and doing the free dining has really payed off for our family of 4. We went this year in Sept. for 8 days, 7 nights at a Disney Value Resort, including passes, and all our food for $1,827.00 total. I love Disney World and I am pretty sure most of the people on here do as well. I am definately not an expert and will prob not share my advice again.
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Old 10-23-2012, 03:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DandSx2 View Post
WOW, I am shocked by the responses. I started my post stating this was simply my advice and to always do what is best for your family. Our family travels to Disney World in September which I had mentioned previously, so we have found this works best for us. I thought I would share what helped us after 3 years in a row because I was just hoping to help other families. We have 2 school aged children. We sleep in and have found this works the best for us because when we start early in the parks we finish early. We found our kids get way too tired to go back during the day after walking all over. September is generally pretty hot all day at Disney World so going later for us does save time in the heat as well and we tend to get more rides in by staying until the park closes. Taking our kids out of school and doing the free dining has really payed off for our family of 4. We went this year in Sept. for 8 days, 7 nights at a Disney Value Resort, including passes, and all our food for $1,827.00 total. I love Disney World and I am pretty sure most of the people on here do as well. I am definately not an expert and will prob not share my advice again.
You didn't want people to respond in your thread? Maybe you need a blog instead. On discussion boards people do things like ((gasp)) discuss the topic that an OP introduces! Sometimes they agree wholeheartedly. Sometimes they disagree vehemently. And most of the time, they fall somewhere in between. No one was mean, snarky or rude. Believe me, it could get that way when people have passionate views.

I've been to Disney more times than I can count on both hands. I find your advice to be counter-intuitive in many cases. I won't be following it. Don't be upset because of that. It just means that we won't be running into each other at Disney!
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Old 10-23-2012, 03:12 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DandSx2 View Post
WOW, I am shocked by the responses. I started my post stating this was simply my advice and to always do what is best for your family. Our family travels to Disney World in September which I had mentioned previously, so we have found this works best for us. I thought I would share what helped us after 3 years in a row because I was just hoping to help other families. We have 2 school aged children. We sleep in and have found this works the best for us because when we start early in the parks we finish early. We found our kids get way too tired to go back during the day after walking all over. September is generally pretty hot all day at Disney World so going later for us does save time in the heat as well and we tend to get more rides in by staying until the park closes. Taking our kids out of school and doing the free dining has really payed off for our family of 4. We went this year in Sept. for 8 days, 7 nights at a Disney Value Resort, including passes, and all our food for $1,827.00 total. I love Disney World and I am pretty sure most of the people on here do as well. I am definately not an expert and will prob not share my advice again.
You should cruise around the boards and see how they work before you make any decisions to "not share advice".
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Old 10-23-2012, 03:20 PM   #14
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Thanks Missy. I just didn't expect responses like that at all.
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