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Old 06-15-2009, 06:03 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Hole in the wall, Texas pop:6700
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Smile I'm a newbie, taking my 1st trip to WDW, and have a lot of questions, MORE ? added

DH, DD(11), and I are taking our first ever trip to WDW next month. We are driving from South Central Texas. We will arrive at WDW on July 12, but our tickets don't start until the 13th, that way we can rest up from the 2 day drive. We will be at WDW for 9 days, one day of that will be spent going to Cypress Gardens and Dinsaur World in Winter Haven. I bought the book The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2009, TONS OF INFO!!!!! I'm not sure if we want to get up so early on vacation to be at the opening of the parks, and then come back to the room in the late afternoon and rest, then go back in the evening, or if we should sleep in and then spend the rest of the whole day in the parks. DD and I both are people that if we don't get enough rest we are GROUCHY something terrible. I'm kind of leaning towards getting up early, and going back to the room in the afternoon when it's so hot. What are the pros and cons to going back to the room in the afternoon? What parks can you see it all in one day, and which parks need a couple of days? Which of the waterparks is the best, as of right now we plan to only go to one? For the parades and fireworks at each park, MK, EPCOT, AK, and DHS, where is the best place to see the shows, how early should you get a spot, and can you get great photos? I am a photo fanatic and will be taking TONS of photos, so I look at things in terms of can I not only see the shows, parades, fireworks, etc., but can I get great photos. I have already decided after looking at the not your average tourist thread, which fits me perfectly, that I will need a few more memory cards, the big ones, LOL. I have been inspired by the awesome photos on here and want to get some too. Is there anything else as a first-timer to the world that I should know? We are staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort, and of course we will have our own vehicle. Is it quicker to get to some of the parks driving ourselves rather than taking Disney Transportation? If we drive ourselves to a park will we have to pay for parking since we are staying at a Disney Resort? This is all I can think of right now, if anything else comes to mind, and I know it will, I will post here. TIA!!!!!


Last edited by MiaShella; 06-24-2009 at 11:58 AM. Reason: more questions added
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Old 06-15-2009, 06:15 PM   #2
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Already thought of something else. I have talked to a couple of people who have been to WDW in the past couple of months and they say the parks are pretty lenient about letting you bring in drinks and snacks, is this true? I bought a small insulated backpack that can hold six 20oz bottles of water plus a few small snacks. I would really like to do this since food is so expensive at theme parks. Also, we have tickets to Cirque Du Soleil on the 14, which park do you recommend that we go to since we would have to leave in the late afternoon and won't be going back to that evening?


EDIT: Thanks so much for all of the great info!!!!! DH and I have talked, and we will get up early on most of the mornings, then rest in the afternoon if we can, DD and I are pretty excited about the trip already, LOL. We also plan to use the Disney Transportation, everyone he has talked to that has driven there has suggested leaving the car at the resort. Can non-flash photos be taken at Cirque? My camera is a Canon Rebel XSi, will check the book for the memory card size limit, thanks for mentioning it! tawasdave I am PMing you, thank you! My DD who is 11 is tall enough for all of the rides and isn't afraid, though I think the Tower of Terror would get to her. What about getting character autographs? What characters are usually where? She really hasn't said much about getting autographs, but I want to be prepared before we go. We would really like to go to the T-Rex restaurant on our arrival day, should I make reservations now? I'm not sure what time we will be arriving, we're driving until DH can't drive anymore on the first day, then finishing up the trip on the second day. I can't think of anything else right now, but I will definately come back and post as soon as I do. You guys have been AWESOME with your info!!!

EDIT: Is there a list of characters available, and how do you find out where they are in the park? Can you get a list of showtimes before you get to WDW? Is there somewhere else to get free maps before you go to WDW? I tried gettting the ones on the WDW website and it printed really crappy, even when I retried it, and my ink is brand new. What are essentials to pack, that you wouldn't leave home without, my DD is 11. I also looked in my camera book and cannot find anything on max memory card size, it is a Canon Rebel XSi, does anyone know where I can find this info? Is there anything at WDW to do with the Narnia movies, my DD loves them. Ya'll have been so helpful to me, I really appreciate it. Thanks!

EDIT: OMG!!! What am I going to do?!?!?!? I gave DD the Unofficial Guide to look through all of the rides. i told her to read about each one and do a star system, 1 star maybe, 2 stars yes but there are others in front of it, 3 stars must do. She hasn't even made it through the MK section of rides yet and all of them are 3 stars except 2!!!!! How am I going to get her to understand that we cannot possibly do every ride at every park even though we are going to be there 9 days? I don't want her to be disappointed, but I do want her to see, do and ride as much as we can without being totally exhausted.

EDIT: I GOT RESERVATIONS FOR T-REX FOR OUR ARRIVAL NIGHT!!!!! DD is so excited to be going, she is a HUGE dinosaur fan, we thought it was a phase, but it's been going on since Pre-K and she will be in the 6th grade come fall. Maybe she will be a paleontologist one day as much as she loves dinosaurs and science.

EDIT 6/24: I see you can chek in online now, has anyone done this? Do you recommend it? How far in advance can you do it?
Characters in Flight at DD, is it worth the money? What time of day is the best to ride? I would like to get some photos while on this ride, what all can you see? Is it overcrowded on the ride or do you have comfortable breathing room? Can you take a tripod on, will a tripod even work on the ride?

Last edited by MiaShella; 06-24-2009 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 06-15-2009, 06:29 PM   #3
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First thing that comes to mind is how old are your kids?? That could change everything....

#1 - get up early. Just do it!! Go to the parks for RD and then see how the day goes. Especially in the summer.

#2 - None of the parks can be experienced completely in one day, however, after reading the UoG you should have an idea of your top 5 and bottom 5 - that is how we planned (What are the top 5 things you MUST do in each park and what are 5 things that you can miss).

#3. - For younger kids you may want to plan at least 2 days at MK. For older kids it may be DHS or Epcot.

#4. - Epcot is HUGE and a lot of walking so plan to be there at least twice if you want to really see it all.

#5. - I took 3500 photos my first trip. I had 16G of memory with me but did not use it all. I do not know how much memory your camera uses, but I took photos of everything. (I did not develope all of them and even deleted many once I got home, but that just is an example.)

#6. - We drove to the parks ourselves and did not use the busses.

#7. - We took in water and snacks to the parks.

I do not know what else to tell you off hand. But this is where I would start.

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Old 06-15-2009, 07:46 PM   #4
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Hello Fellow Central Texan!

The PP answered most of your questions but I'll add a bit more:

I Totally agree-get up early!! You will get so many of the rides done and not wait in many lines. You'll be glad you did, you'll be way more grumpy when you're hot and waiting in long lines!

As far as riding the bus or driving: well you might want to try it both ways and see what you like. MK is better to ride the bus IMO, they drop you at the MK instead of when you drive you park at TTC, shuttle to Monorail or ferry, then to MK, then all in reverse when you leave.

The other parks are very easy to drive to so driving may be the way to go there. When you just get there for the first time driving might seem a little intimidating.

As the PP mentioned, what parks in how many days depends on your children. MK and Epcot, definitely not 1 day parks. If you have boys they might really like DHS so you'll spend some time there in shows, etc. Are you going to the water parks? AK I'd say is definitely a 1 day park and doesn't require an afternoon break, it closes early. AK might be good on your Cirque day. Since you have the UOG, log onto their website, plug in the text from the page they ask you, and they'll have the best and worst parks per day. Really helps with crowd levels, especially at a busy time like July.

Yes, feel free to bring in water and snacks, we always do! Just no alcohol and no glass.

Have a great trip!
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Old 06-15-2009, 08:54 PM   #5
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ok here we go on the info express:

#1 my family is not morning clan either but it is definitely worth it to wake up early and get to the park for some rope drops. You don't have to do it EVERY day but do it a few times. You will get 5 rides in before lines really start to build. It is better to be a bit tired then hot and bored standing on the lines during the day. You can go back to the resort and really enjoy the pools at CBR. They are among the best.

#2 All the parks really will require multiple visits to see everything. Trust me you won't mind. Go to the extended magic hours a few nights and mornings at different parks, work your meals around restaurants in different parks and hop between them. I always take a pen with me and I cross out the rides we have been on as we do them. I know when we have gone on everything that way.

#3 Fireworks and parades are incredible. For Illuminations any spot along the water is "good". In front of Italy there are some nice spots and at the entrance to the World Show case there are good spots. The great spots by Italy are taken an hour before the show so if you want them plan accordingly. The fireworks show in Magic Kingdom is done at the castle so Main st is the best spot. I found the bridge going to Future Land to be a great spot that doesn't fill up until about 20 minutes before the show. You have to stand the whole time but the view is great. The parade routes are long so any spot at the rope is a good one. I have always had a nice spot along the ropes of the parade routes without trying. Just start looking about 10 minutes before the parade begins. You'll actually see the cast members setting up.
**I rented a boat to go out on Bay lake about 30 minutes before the show and it was incredible. The view was awesome. A Wishes Fireworks Cruise is as easy to arrange as any other recreation Advance Reservation. Call 407-WDW-PLAY (407-939-7529) as far out as 90 days in advance to book your own cruise.

#4 I never drive to WDW so I never have a car. I have family in Florida so I have driven to the parks, but I prefer the bus. No gas money, you get dropped off at the gate, no stress in driving into the parks and I never have to remember where the car is parked. The buses run often and are air conditioned nicely.

#5 You can bring in foods and drinks but no rolling coolers, no glass at all and no alcohol. Snacks are a good thing but splurge and eat alot of WDW food. It is great and is almost half the fun.

Take advantage of the fast passes. When you get into a portion of the park that has a fast pass ride get the fast pass and then go on the other rides. When your done you're ready for the fast pass ride. Ride the monorails they are a unique WDW experience. You can even ask a cast member to sit in the front with the driver.
On the first day you get there go to Downtown Disney. It is free but will get you into the park mode. T-Rex is a great place to eat there as well as Wolfgang Puks express and Rain Forest Cafe.

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Old 06-15-2009, 10:07 PM   #6
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I do not claim to be a Disney expert...but alot of people think I am..and I have been there 6 times in the last two years...twice now I have had newbies ask me to help them plan their Disney World trip...the second time I developed what I think are simple hints and plans for each park and general info hints...they are in a Word document..if you, or anyone else, would like to see them I would happy to email them to you...just PM me here with yoru email addy and I will send them...Good Luck and have fun at the Happiest Place On Earth!!!
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Old 06-15-2009, 10:28 PM   #7
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If you think you will only want to go to the Water Park one day then a single admission is cheaper. If you decide that you might want to go more than once then add the Water Park and More option to your tickets (might be nice on your first day).

With a nine day park ticket you can go to each of the parks twice and then another one a third time. If you get back from one of your other non-Disney destinations and want to go to a WDW park that same day, you can add one more park ticket day to your 9 day tickets for about $3 each.

You are going when it is hot and crowded (summer). I would get to the parks before they open and get a few hours of rides and attractions in before it gets too hot and crowded. Then you can head back to the resort to rest. If you wanted you could hit a water park also. Don't forget about the EMH in the evenings.
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Old 06-15-2009, 10:39 PM   #8
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Go early and start the magic. When you get hot, head back and relax. Once you are refreshed you will be ready fo more magic.
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Old 06-15-2009, 10:52 PM   #9
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sleep in

There are those who believe in RD's (Rope Drops = get there the minute the park opens) and those who don't.

Those who believe in EMH's (Go when you have Extra Magic Hours) and those who don't.

I just happen to be a person who has never been at RD because - HEY - I'm on vacation and I want to sleep in! and we do EMH's. (PM - EMHs to be exact).

I gave WDW advice on another blog and she just got back...they slept in as well and saw everything they wanted to.

We've never gotten up extra early and yet we see everything we want to see albeit ....having been there many times...we know exactly what we want to see. Yet you have more days in the park than we usually have - we usually plan one park per day per visit. So IMHO you can see everything you want to without having to haul grouchy out of bed in the morning.

We drive in from Baton Rouge LA, so you'll be on our same path at some point...and we bring in plenty of stuff for the room....we eat b'fast in the room almost every day...(we always have a Refrig and Micro though)....that way we can plan a big CS or TS lunch.

I agree with ppl - take the bus - why drive and deal with parking, etc...if you're paying to be onsite....use their transportation....less hassle....

WDW is gorgeous so you'll have a LOT of fun with pictures...your rides/attractions will depend on DD11 - Height, scare factor, likes & dislikes.....

So just provide any info you think will help us....

Have a magical visit!

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Old 06-15-2009, 11:01 PM   #10
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Well, first off, Congratulations! The first family trip is SO exciting, you'll have a GREAT time, I'm certain!

Many of your questions don't really have right and wrong answers. What works well for one family may not work at all for another family, so all I can tell you is what our experiences were last year on our first family trip. In the end, you'll have to give some stuff and try, and see what works for your family, and what doesn't work.

Many will tell you that it is perfectly fine to sleep in, and I suppose it is, but if you sleep in, you'll be getting to the park during the hottest time of the day, when the crowds, and the lines are at their worst, and that will limit how much you can get done.

I suggest getting to the parks at rope drop, or as close to it as possible. By getting to the park first thing in the morning, you'll be there before the heat builds up (well, it is ALWAYS hot in Disney, but it is worse later in the day) and before the crowds really build up. You can accomplish more in the first two hours the park is open than you can in the next five hours.

The mid day breaks at the hotel didn't work at all for our family, though many others swear by them. We tried, then gave up on them. We have a leisurely lunch, and try to have it in an air conditioned dining room, and we have a leisurely supper as well. One of the two meals is a Table Service. We also try to schedule longer shows for the afternoon hours, when it is hot and crowded. Those long shows in air conditioned theaters are a nice rest. Basically, the shows, and meals are our mid day break. We get to the park at opening, and stay either until the park closes, or until we are too wiped out to stay any longer.

The con to the afternoon break for us was that we could never get everyone to settle down for any kind of rest, so we were basically just burning up a few hours wasting energy at the hotel, and on the transportation instead of burning up that energy in the park going on rides, and seeing shows. If, however, you are able to get some actual down time during that afternoon rest (with only one DD, you might stand a chance, DW and I had DS4, DD13, DD19, plus my mother (59) and cousin (55), and it was impossible to get anyone to settle down for a rest), then you should be able to return to the park around supper time, rested and ready to stay until park closing.

If you really want to see everything that there is, you can't truly see any park in one day. That being said, most people will tell you that DHS, and AK are single day parks. The important thing to remember is this: You aren't going to see everything! Once you understand that, make a short list (like 5 or so) of attractions that you really MUST see, and another short list of things that you'd like to see. Hit the MUST see attractions first, then work in any of the others you can as time permits. The stuff you don't get to see becomes a great reason to plan your second family trip to Disney World.

The bridge to tomorrowland is a great place to stand for Wishes, as Tinkerbell flies directly over your head there, and you can get a picture of her if you are lucky! Many suggest that Frontierland is a good vantage point for most of the MK parades, as it isn't nearly as crowded as the central hub, and Main Street USA area's.

As for which transportation method is faster, it's probably 50/50. If you drive, then you have to deal with getting into the parking lot, getting out of the car, taking a tram to the front of the park, etc. then doing it all in reverse. If you take Disney transportation, you may have to wait for a while, and you may get stuck standing, but you are picked up, and dropped off directly at the park entrance, and don't have to deal with the delays in the parking lot, or the tram, don't have to worry about finding your way around, save gas, don't have to keep track of your keys while in the parks. We used the Disney transportation last year for every park.

I really can't give any recommendations on the water parks, as we didn't visit either of them.

My understanding is that Disney is very lenient about food / drinks. No glass / alcohol, and no straws in AK, but other than that, you should be fine.

Let us know how you like La Nouba! We'll be seeing it for the first time in August. If you have to pick one park to leave early, I guess I would go for
AK, as that park closes the earliest, so you'd be missing the least amount of time.
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Old 06-15-2009, 11:15 PM   #11
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Just a couple of suggestions.

I 8th the suggestion to get there early for all of the reasons covered by previous posters.

It sounds like a hassle, but if you want to eat at table service restaurants, then make reservations before you go.

Spend some time on http://allears.net/index.html , a very thorough, user-friendly site.

Don't forget to enjoy your vacation!

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Old 06-16-2009, 08:04 AM   #12
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I suggest turning in early at night and getting up early in the morning.

Leave the resort car ID sheet in the car, visible through the windshield. It also gives you free parking at the parks.

Even with a car, I think it is too much hassle to go back to the resort for a siesta. Instead I would find some reasonably quiet place in the park to relax if I needed to.

I would choose a different park from the one that opens early for Disney's resort guests (extra magic hour) unless I actually go that early. By the time the normal opening hour arrives, crowds have already built somewhat and tend to build larger on that day.

I suggest buying and bringing enough memory cards for your camera for the entire trip. Yes, burning onto CD is recommended -- as a backup -- if you wish. So you can keep the memory cards intact until you get home.

Caution: Memory cards bigger than your camera is rated for may give unpredictable results even though they seem to work. At any rate don't fill one up more than the amount a card sized for your camera can hold. You could run into such things as the 501'st picture wiping out the first picture, the 502'nd picture wiping out the second picture, etc.

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Old 06-16-2009, 10:16 AM   #13
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I agree with most everyone else, you have to find what is right for your family. For us, my kids were 4 and 6 and an afternoon break did not work. They never took naps and swimming was great but took a lot of energy. The breaks just seemed like a waste of time that we could have used to see more in the parks. We ended up just finding a quiet spot somewhere and having ice cream.

If you are on the DDP, the table service restaurants were a great time for the kids to sit and relax in air conditioning. That seemed to be all the rest my kids needed. Also, be sure to make your reservations before you go. There are many restaurants that will be full and you won't be able to walk up and get seating.

We drive down, so we do have a car but found that Disney transportation is easier and more relaxing especially in the evening when you are tired. Let someone else drive you around.

It's your vacation so remember to relax and have a magical time.
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Old 06-16-2009, 10:37 AM   #14
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Hi Fellow Texan! or should i say hi ya'll!

first off - decide what this vacation is to you. Is it a 'sleep in, relax, lay by the pool, people watch, walk slow, relax vacation? Or is it, a "i want to ride tower of terror 3x and see all the parades" vacation? If it is the latter- you better GET UP EARLY. There is nothing wrong with either approach. But just know, if you choose to sleep in, you might miss out on key attractions or if you do get to do them, you will be waiting in long lines. That is fine with many folks and they are okay with that. I am not. I paid a lot of money to be there, and I plan to ride everything I want without waiting in huge lines. It can be done if you are up early, use FP and other techniques.

you are there during the heat and crowds of the summer. You will miss out on many of the big attractions if you don't do them early. The lines for them will be 90 minutes plus later in the day and you will not be able to get a fastpass. So plan on having a day or two to sleep in if you want, but plan your other days to be there at rope drop and hit the big attractions with little lines. You get so much more done this way.

Believe me- I LOVE sleeping in. I am one of those people that could sleep all day, but at WDW, i feel like i get the most accomplished in those first few hours the park is open. Then we come back for a midday break- when it is the hottest part of the day, we are relaxing at the pool or in our nice A/C rooms taking a rest.

This way you get to ride all the big rides without waiting in hour plus lines, and you avoid the heat of the day. it is worth it for us. You just have to decide if sleeping in or hitting the big rides with less line is more important to you.

IF you do sleep in, make sure you hit the headliners first thing when you get there late morning and get fastpasses if they aren't gone already. fastpasses for Soarin and Toy Story Mania have a reputation of being all gone by lunchtime in high crowds.

On the car- we enjoy having a car- we usually rent one. I know the property inside and out and getting around is a breeze. Keep in mind- you will usually park in a large lot, have to take a tram to the front of the park (or walk far). At the MK- you have to park at the ticket and transportation center, then board either the monorail or boat to get to the MK. there is no parking at the MK itself, since Bay Lake sits in front of it. So it can be a 'trek' to park at TTc, then take monorail or boat. So sometimes, a bus is easier for MK, you get dropped off right at the gate. beware- DTD parking is a nightmare- you can be driving around for 30 minutes waiting for a spot to open. at the same time, bus transportation to DTD isn't great either.

So here's my final advice:
  1. get up early
  2. have a plan- discuss with you family what rides as a MUST for each of you- then map out a plan of when to hit each one on which day
  3. review park hours in advance- know which days are extra magic hours and whether you will take advantage of them or not. i highly recommend using the extra magic hour in the morning- we get SO Much done in that one hour.
  4. take lots of pictures- if you scrapbook- take pics of the signs, food etc.
  5. Take a break in the heat- save the air conditioned in door rides and shows for the hottest parts of the day
  6. take a break in the room!
  7. become a fastpass expert and USE THEM!!
  8. use photopass- you can also upload your own photos using photopass
  9. BREATHE, you are on vacation!
  10. have fun- don't stress and don't sweat the small stuff. it is july, just be prepared- it is going to be HOT and crowded. go in knowing this and just have a good time- try not to stress about it and remember you are on vacation making memories with your family!
have a great trip!!!!
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Old 06-16-2009, 11:07 AM   #15
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 747

Welcome and congratulations from a fellow Texan (we are from San Antonio)

I agree with going early and taking an afternoon break each day. You win both ways because you get alot of attractions in before the crowd hits and you're in the AC in the heat of the day. I can't imagine staying at the parks all day without a break especially with you being there 9 days.

Also, a tip I have for when you are going is to hit a Walmart and pick up some mister fans. It really helps with the heat.

Have a great trip
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