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Old 11-14-2012, 12:39 PM   #1
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First trip with a kid! Help!

I have been to Disney more times than I can count. But I just booked a week long trip mid January with my niece who will be five the end of March and her mom, neither of whom have been to Disney.

What advice do I need for travelling with first timers, and more importantly a kid?!

What table service restaurants are best for kids?
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:00 PM   #2
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Can you give a little more insight?

Does the child like princesses or Cars? Chicken or fish? Coffee or tea? Naps or late-risers?

It's really hard to say what sit down is best. My kids like them all, in one way or another. However, they prefer the CS simply because they want to get back out in the parks quick.
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:10 PM   #3
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Awww, that sounds like such a sweet trip for you all. We still enjoy Disney completely with kids but it was a big adjustment for us after many years of adults-only trips.

We found that it became a quality vs. quantity thing.... without kids we rarely missed an attraction. With kids, we focused on the things/characters/events most important to them at the ages they were at rather than obsessing over everything else we weren't getting to do. Rolling with it works for us, if she wanted to play in the water-spray areas for 30 minutes we let her. Like you, we'd been there so much that there was little that we hadn't seen so it was an easy sacrifice for us (but likely different for families visiting for the 1st time.)

At 3 DD was a princess fanatic, so even though it hurt my wallet & insulted me utterly to spend hours at a MEAL (lol) we sucked it up & did the Princess lunch in Norway at Epcot (Akershus?) so that she could meet many of them at one time. She loved every.stinkin.minute. of it & that made it all worth while. We aren't ADR kind of people on vacation - I find it too restrictive to keep reservations when there is so much to choose from, but we did a bunch when she was younger because meeting the characters was really important to her at the time. Same in the parks - she didn't care a thing about how long it took to wait in all of the character meet & greets so we waited for every single one. Now? She could care less - she is still a fan, but considers the wait time for characters "lost ride time" so on this last trip she was only concerned with meeting Merida.

I do think that rest time is uber-important, even at this age for DD8. Disney is so overwhelming that even the most adjusted kid has moments of hyperstimulation from all that their little senses are trying to take in.
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:19 PM   #4
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I think one of the first things you (and your niece's mom) have to decide is whether or not your park touring will center on the child's interests or be more general. Touringplans (or the book version- the Unofficial Guide to WDW) have some great touring plans for people touring with young children. Give your niece's mom a list of web sites to visit, and perhaps suggest she pick up a guide book to read, so she has some idea of what lies ahead.

You'll also need to determine if the niece will walk or be in a stroller (or you can just keep the idea of a stroller as an option if she needs it). This may also have an effect on estimates of how long she can go in the parks without taking a break/nap.

Will you be staying at a Disney resort or offsite? This will also influence whether or not you take an afternoon break and how long you stay in the parks in the evening (bearing in mind the shorter park hours and cooler temps)

When our girls were your niece's age we often visited the parks in the winter or very early spring and found that the kids could handle fairly long days even without a stroller or an afternoon break. When the kids are having fun it seems like they're the Energizer Bunny- they just keep going and going and going....But when they run out of juice then, bang, they're done and it's time to head out of the parks. Be prepared to abandon any late day plans.

Our kids were great when it came to dining. They weren't picky eaters and ate whatever we ate. We would make a point of selecting one character meal for each trip as a special treat, but other than that we just picked restaurants that had a menu that appealed to us and were in close proximity to the park we were going to be in that day.

Touring with kids doesn't have to be hard. And there's just so much to see and do at WDW that you really don't have to bend over backwards to please the littlest Mickey fans. I hope you all have a great trip.
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:30 PM   #5
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i can tell you my first experience with my 5 year old grand daughter.

I had a plan-- this plan told me where to go when to go and how to go.
We went to ropedrop before the park opened.

we walked in and the GD saw snow white walking to her meeting place. The childs mouth gapped opened and she whispered--- snow white-- she IS real.

we had to go meet her. by the time that got done she saw the other characters in that hub-- daisy, pluto, someone else, then saw Pinochhio.
before we knew it it was 10:45. so we started walking down main street and wouldnt you know it-- here comes a parade--- our first parade.

we follow it down to that hub and the characters are moving it and shaking it and kids are dancing in the streets.

its now after 11am and we still never even "SEEN" a ride let alone ride...lol
with the 5 year old= go with the flow be opened for changed.
this past trip we went for one day as a surprise and she told me before that when she goes again she wants to see more charaters.

we arrived at rope drop- honey and GD made a bee line to go meet Merida and I got Fast Passes for Princesses in TOwn Square along with Mickey Mouse meet and greet.
They were 3rd in line for Merida who comes out at 9:15.
we got done-- she shot a bow and arrow. colored a page-- we had to go see tinker belle. as we were heading there-- we saw the Fairy GOdmother, Peter Pan and Tiana got in line to see Tinker Belle, got in line to see Ariel. Headed back to main street to town square to do the Princesses and see Mickey using out Fast Passes. Its now 10:30 and we go those all done out of the way.

we headed to Frontierland-- got a FP for Big Thunder. Rode Splash stand by. Stood in line to see Woody and Jesse. got aother fp for Splash, Rode Big Thunder, Rode Haunted Mansion and went back to ride splash for the second time. it is now 12:30pm

our GD does not nap at home. she did nap this day. (and she did nap when we went before) because we were only going the one day Magic Kingdom had extra magic hours and was opened until 2am.
we ate at Cotempo Cafe napped and was back at the park by 5:30
Epcot passports -ebay- Joephila1
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:40 PM   #6
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I would pick up a copy of Birnbaum's Disney World for Kids. It outlines every attraction and the suitability/ popularity for kids of various ages.

At the very least you'll be able to guide her away from scary things like Stitch's Great Escape!

As for the "best" restaurants - hey, you're at Disney. Almost all of them are geared towards kids. Who are her favorite characters? Pooh & Friends are at the Crystal Palace, Lilo & Stitch are at 'Ohana for breakfast, Princesses have both Cinderella's Royal Table (MK- in the castle) and Akershus in Norway at Epcot, the classic characters are at Chef Mickey's. And there are a ton of others. Check them out on the Disney website or visit allears.net and look them up on their "Rate & Review" section.
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:43 PM   #7
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I did something similar in 2008. The wife and I brought her brother, his wife, and their 2 yo with us to WDW. I'm the guide. BIL, SIL and niece are all first timers.

We had a meeting a few months before we went. We watched the planning DVD, I brought park maps, and a list of restaurants on the DDP I printed out. Basically I presented info and asked "what do we need to do," and, "what do we want to skip." In this case I was told we needed to eat in the castle (CRT) and spend a day on the beach (we went to Cocoa Beach). Besides that it was all up to me.

I picked the park for each day, made the ADRs, and for each day I had highlighted 2-3 attractions the grown ups might like, and 2-3 attractions the niece would like. We just sort of went from there.

* My advice is to be flexible.
* There might be something you have seen and now skip that first timers will want to do.
* Let them sit on a bench or wait in a line to meet a character if they want to. If that's chewing into your ride time, take everybody's tickets and go get some fast passes while they are resting or greeting Mickey.
* Do not be afraid to split up. Just because its a family vacation doesn't mean you can't split up. If they take the 5 yo to the hotel for a map and you want to stay in the park, just arrange a time and place to meet back up.
* Do your best to make their first visit awesome, but do not forget to have fun yourself.

Donald is my favorite, sorry Mickey.
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Old 11-14-2012, 01:59 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Disneybride2386 View Post
I have been to Disney more times than I can count. But I just booked a week long trip mid January with my niece who will be five the end of March and her mom, neither of whom have been to Disney.

What advice do I need for travelling with first timers, and more importantly a kid?!

What table service restaurants are best for kids?
As a veteran who has traveled with first timers, almost first timers, and also with kids, the one thing you will need is patience. Is the mom going to turn to you and say "whatever you want to do"? Or is she going to have the necessary knowledge to say "I want Cindy Loo Who do experience this, that and the other thing"? If they are looking at you for your knowledge then start now to suggest a game plan. I've found with first timers, they are totally overwhelmed with just how big Disney World is. Most first timers equate Disney World with a visit to their local theme park so that's the first barrier I would break down. When my daughter-in-law we preparing for her first trip (with us), I did a comparison to the area of Disney World to her hometown and she was astounded to find out Disney World was bigger. Seriously. Also make sure they know you will either have to drive, walk a distance, take a monorail, take a boat or a bus to get to any park from another one.

For the five year old, ask the mom about a stroller. Some kids need one, some don't. Since it's the first time, I would recommend one but whatever the mother (and child) is comfortable with. Plan on bathroom breaks when the child needs them. Plan on the possibility of picky eating. Plan on time outs and when (if) that happens, just take a bench and let the child get things out.

As for table service restaurants for kids, anything goes at Disney World. I wouldn't recommend Victoria and Albert's but any other place is fine. Make your choices based on what the child and the adults eat and forget about everything else.
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Old 11-14-2012, 02:38 PM   #9
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We took DS4 to WDW for the first time in August. My advice is to go with the flow and follow the lead of your niece. I did lots of planning and had been to Disney a few times before so I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to see and do and what I thought he may like to see and do. In some cases I guessed right and in others he surprised me with what he wanted to spend time on, but I just let him do what he wanted. We spent 2 hours looking at sharks in the Seas pavillion, for example, where I would've normally been in and out in half an hour. Stuff like that.

I had to take a much more relaxed approach than I would if I didn't have a child with me. I'm the type that can go from rope drop to closing with no problem, but with him, we would leave mid afternoon or sometimes earlier, if he was getting too tired or cranky and just spend time swimming. He loved the pool just as much as the parks.

I would highly recommend character meals, my son LOVED them! So much so, that he was getting a bit upset when we ate with no characters. One of our favourites was Garden Grill, you get way more character interaction there than any other meal. We had each character at our table about 5 times. I guess because it's on the smaller side, they can just circulate more. Everywhere else, it was one time with each character. Still fun, but always felt a bit more rushed.

Have fun! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Disney through my son's eyes. I learned really quickly that it wasn't about how many rides you can get on and sprinting to get Fastpasses. The smallest of things can mesmerize a little one and those seem to make the best memories of all.
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:06 PM   #10
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Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility.

That doesn't mean not to plan, just to have a lot of wiggle room and not to be afraid to go off plan. The most important thing is to be familar with the rides. I'm presuming you have the knowledge of what rides to do when, since you've been before. But now I'd get familar with the height requirements and potential scare factor.

With my kids, we hit rope drop and have a good idea of what we want to start with. We have a rough plan after that. Commando-style actually does work well for us - to a point. After lunch, we switch modes and don't have much of a plan at all. We found that a mid-day break never worked for us. Instead, leaving the park when one child acted like it was time to go worked better. If she's nearly 5 and won't nap, then staying up late at night is going to be tricky. For that reason, I'd stick to earlier times for ADR's. As for character meals, two of my three aren't into characters at all so it wasn't worth the cost. Ask her mother if that's something she thinks her daughter would want to do.

Pre-kids, we were commando from RD to closing. And did a lot of the higher height limit rides. With kids, we find commando still works for the morning, but then we need a more relaxing afternoon. And then play it by ear then to figure out when to leave. We also have to plan night time entertainment more carefully due to bedtimes. We don't get to do as many thrill rides as we used to. (But we have three kids with two adults, so we're outnumbers). DH and I pick just one attraction that we really want to do at each park that the kids don't want to do. It's easy for us to schedule one in and still keeps the focus on the kids. (However, I'm not sure how many adults/kids you have. But even with two adults, you're not outnumbered so you'll have more flexibility).
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Old 11-14-2012, 04:01 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by kohlby View Post
But now I'd get familar with the height requirements and potential scare factor.
YES!!! I assured my sister-in-law the great movie ride was OK for a 2 yo. "It has Wizard of Oz!"... I forgot about Aliens.

Donald is my favorite, sorry Mickey.
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