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Old 01-06-2015, 11:42 PM   #1
michelles1987
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Single parent with 2 kids, first trip advice

I have been trying to plan a trip for myself and my 2 kids for a couple yeas now. Have booked before and then have had to cancel due to things. This year I am determined to take my 2 kids no matter what. It would be myself, my 8 year old daughter and 4 year old son. I was thinking of letting them miss school for a bit in late April/ early May to go when it's a bit cheaper and less crowded than the summer months, but the summer is still an option. Thinking about 5 nights at a Disney resort, probably a value, possibly a moderate. Still ununsure of dining plan. I know for a fact my son wants to eat with Mickey and my daughter Ariel. I am thinking the down time every night for a sit down meal may be nice since I am doing this as a single parent. Any suggestions or tips? I really need all the help I can get.
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Old 01-07-2015, 12:31 AM   #2
Disney Khaleesi
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April and May are usually just as busy as a the summer months, just with better weather. The problem is with scheduling now in April or May is that dining reservations can be made at 180 days out, and 180 days has passed for those dates. Now, you can schedule early July or late August.

If it's possible, I would actually look into going in late August or sometime in September. While it's a little later than you might like the crowds will be low, it's just the heat that's a concern. Going in August or September would give you plenty of time to plan your dining reservations and make sure you're able to book them in time. Now, if you do still decide to go in April or May you certainly still can scheduling dining reservations, but it will be harder as you might not find any reservations for the day you want or a decent time.

My favorite value resort is POP Century. It's cheap, fun, and it's connected to the other value resort, Art of Animation, so you can walk over there to look at the cool statue!

MY favorite moderate would have to be Port Orleans Riverside, however you might like Port Orleans French Quarter as it's a lot smaller than Riverside.

The dining plan doesn't work for every family, however if you want to do a lot of character meals and would like to have a sit-down, it would be a good option. Plus, everything is paid for up-front and you don't have to worry about paying out of pocket for everything. If your son wants to eat with Mickey, I highly recommend eating at Chef Mickey's. It can be loud, but it's also really fun for kids and you get the meet the Fab Five! Plus, Chef Mickey's is located in the Contemporary Resort, so you can spend some time at the Magic Kingdom, monorail over to the Contemporary, eat, and then monorail back!

If your daughter is really looking to eat with Ariel, I'd look into Akershus, located at the World Showcase in Epcot. It's a princess meal and oftentimes really fun! It doesn't have the same appeal as eating in the Castle but it's cheaper and all the main princesses are there.

Some other places I like to eat are T-Rex (if you stay at one of the Port Orleans resort, you can take a boat to Downtown Disney, where T-Rex is located!) T-Rex can be very loud though, so make sure your children are okay with that. I also like Crystal Palace (which is a must-do for most families!)

My advice would be to have a daily plan, but take it slow and don't try to do everything! Planning can be overwhelming but if you do your research you can really have a great trip. Good luck!
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:43 AM   #3
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Single mom here, too, though with just 1. If you're looking April/May time frame, just be aware of spring break times - it can be crowded.

My son and I have stayed at POP several times and we like it a lot. The downside is that it's BIG and if you have to go to the front desk, or restaurant or whatever, dragging kids there can be a bummer. You can request rooms (or book a room) closer to the main building though. You'll hear complaints about the Disney bus system, but personally I've never had any problems.

I'd have a stroller for your younger one, even if he doesn't usually use it at home. The hardest thing about Disney for me, alone, was that I had to be pack mule for EVERYTHING. No one else could share the load (when my son was younger). Having a stroller to put stuff in/hang stuff on, saved my back.

I know Ariel was at CRT a few years ago. I know it's closed for renovations now, not sure when it's opening up again.

You can check the numbers, but for us, Dining plan isn't worth it. Often times we'll share lunches and snacks so that we can try more things! allears.net has menus with prices.

Have fun!!
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:33 AM   #4
CaoilinnsMom
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I would go in May. Spring breaks are over and it's not unbearably hot or crowded. If you want to plan dining and other activities I would really get on it. You can book dining 180 days in advance and some people are up at the crack of dawn 180 days out just to make reservations. Planning ahead will make your vacation easier. Look up early park days and crowd predictions make dining and other reservations and choices accordingly. Read the unofficial guide, it is very helpful.

A good value resort is Pop Century, they have their own bus service and they are also the best priced. My daughter loves the theming there. You will probably not spend much time in your room, the pools are good for kids, and the food courts are a definite bonus.

If I were you I would avoid to many sit down reservations, the values have great food courts and I like to go to buffets with a little one. Character themed buffets are a great way to do both. There is greater chance that my daughter will find something to eat at a buffet, the food courts are similar in that there are a great many choices laid out. I don't like the dining plan so much with a little one, I don't like to be locked into the kids menu which often does not appeal to my daughter.

I love Disney World and all it has to offer single parents. There are so many activities and things to do, you won't be rested after this vacation but you also don't have to stress about being a single parent so much. There will always be something to do:-) Have a great trip!
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Old 01-07-2015, 11:55 AM   #5
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If you aren't completely set on that time I'd second going in mid-late September. 1) it will be much less crowded 2) much more likely to get free dining plus it is far enough out where you don't have to worry about missing out on reservations for anything and you have some time to plan. 3) you might even be able to catch Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party

I haven't stayed at a value resort but I'm not opposed to it. You could do Art of Animation which is like a Value+. My kids watched the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels program when we came home and asked why we didn't stay at AoA (it is actually on again next Tuesday night on the Destination HD channel, it is 286 for us with DirecTV, I would bet it is on YouTube too) We are considering All Star Music next time, you really don't spend much time in your room to justify the more expensive resorts.

We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside and loved it. Only reason we aren't going back is because we have too big of a family now, someday I'd like to go back
Two things to take into consideration if you decide to wait for fall and free dining. 1) not all resorts are included, Port Orleans is one that isn't sometimes. 2) if you stay at a value the dining plan included during the free dining is the quick service plan, if you stay at a moderate you get the basic. For that reason if we stayed during free dining we would consider a moderate again because for *us* (a family of 6 = lots of food) the price difference would probably be worth it.

We saw Ariel at Cinderella's Royal Table (the castle in MK) and at Akershus (Norway in Epcot), you likely won't be able to get are reservation at either unless you book 180 days out. Mickey is at several restaurants but the most popular is Chef Mickey's. My favorite character meal was Tusker House and mickey is there in safari gear
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Old 01-07-2015, 11:58 AM   #6
michelles1987
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Thank you for the replies so far. I am really leaning towards a value resort and then just paying OOP for meals. My son doesn't eat alot and I feel like the two of them or even at times the three of us can split meals.

I will definitely bring a stroller and backpack. My son watched the Disney planning DVD today and wouldnt stop talking about everything he wanted to do.
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Old 01-07-2015, 09:34 PM   #7
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We just stayed at All Star Music and my 3yo son loved it. We've also stayed in some moderate and deluxe resorts but I'm perfectly happy in a value when that's what the budget allows for. Kids do not care and are so happy to be there, I'd save the money on the room for a character meal or two.

We have cereal in the room for breakfast and I pack some snacks. The resort gift shops sell milk, juice, cases of bottled water, etc.. I stopped getting the dining plan a few years and just pay OOP now. Some good OOP table service meals are Sci Fi dine in, Via Napoli, Beaches and Cream, and the Plaza. I like to do two character meals during a trip and then a couple of less expensive table service meals.

I also pick up some items during the year on sale at the Disney store to bring along, a couple of Mickey t-shirts, stuffed Disney character, small toys, etc., and just buy one or two things there. I also get some glow sticks for the parades at the dollar store.

I am a single mother but have family members that also like to go to Disney so have only gone once with just us. We did fine though and I would happily go just again but once my family hears we plan to go all of a sudden it becomes a group trip.
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