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Old 02-01-2011, 08:07 AM   #16
mjp12831
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We've gone 7/4 week the past two years - also have 3 kids (note ages in signature)


1. What are the best restaurants to eat at that are in areas best to watch the 4th of july fireworks from? I wouldn't advise planning to watch fireworks from a restaurant - it adds another layer of stress and planning that you don't need (where's the table, the timing of the meal, ...)

2. We're planning to do magic kingom (3rd and 4th), epcot (5th, assuming a slower pace to give kids rest), animal kingdom (6th) and then end with hollywood (7th). Does this make sense generally speaking for July 4th weekend or is there some secret Disney strategy I need to know about? We had hoppers - we plan to go to the parks with am emh, then we hop to the park with pm emh - note that this is generally advised against by a majority on these boards, but it's a strategy that we like. If I did not have ph, I'd just plan to hit the am emh park each day - you get a ton of stuff done in that first hour. I do agree with the advice you've gotten so far to try to miss MK on the 4th.

3. EMH, rope drops, fastpass, seems complicated...... I can't see why wouldn't we want to take advantage of the extra hours? The general belief is that emh parks are busier. My theory is that am emh are always worthwhile. pm emh can be pretty busy, but if you stick it out and stay late you generally can benefit from them - just don't expect to walk onto rides early in pm emh. Fastpass does seem complicated at first, but you will find it's very simple - get one the first thing you do when you get in a park. With 3 kids, have one of the adults go to a popular attraction with all of your family's tickets to get the FP for everyone, while the other adult chaperones the kids to the next attraction, then meet up at that attraction. You can get another fp 2 hours after that OR when your ride window opens - whichever is sooner. You do not need to use the FP during the ride window - you can use it after it closes. The best strategy is to collect 3 or so FP during the morning hours while riding other attractions standby before the crowds get huge. Then begin to use your FP in late am or early pm when crowds are getting larger. Just always watch for when your window opens and send out the runner adult to get more whenever you can.

4. animal kingdom and hollywood are real new for us, have ever gone. what would be the must do's for the kids in these, particularly animal kingdom? Rides in AK: Kali (which is great in July because you get soaked and it's so hot), EE is imo the best ride on property, Dinosaur is unique and fun and the Safari is also great (we always try to do it twice - each one is a different experience). Shows is really where AK shines - Fotlk and Nemo are great. Also alot of fun is the flights of wonder show. HS is my least favorite park - there's not a ton to do there, and the food is not spactacular either. The mermaid show, beauty and the beast and fantasmic are all great at HS. TSM is overrated, but still a must do. ToT is great - not just the ride, but the queue and the preshow are amazingly themed. You'll be able to hit the revamped Star Tours. The Indiana Jones show is good to see one time too.

5. Fantasmic! ...just what is it and is it worth it? We love it - it's a show based around Fantasia with Sorcer Mickey and features other Disney characters. It also has a neat water and fire show with fireworks. We have gotten the Fantasmic dinner package both years which allows you to attend the first show of the night without waiting in the line. You still need to plan to get there about 30 minutes ahead of showtime or a bit more. For us, it's very WDW and we like to go our first night (if it's showing) as a tradition.

6. with so much to do i'm worried we wont have some downtime to do some of the resort activities. Any thoughts on how to fit these in without eating up a day? We don't do downtime, so I can't comment - we max out on park time and don't take breaks. Many will advise here that you MUST take mid day breaks in order to enjoy it - that younger kids can't handle commando touring, especially in the heat of July. Our experience with our family and our kids was contradictory to this advice. For us, time spent at the resort is wasted vacation time, but I realize other families like to take a more relaxing approach. Do whatever you need to do for your family to enjoy it - if that involves resort breaks, go for it.

Thanks again for any help.[/QUOTE]
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:28 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Travelingdad View Post
We decided to take a weeklong family vacation to Disney, my wife and I not having been in over 12 years. Now we're going with our three kids, two are 8 and one is 5. I have a lot to cath up on and learn (besides all the abbreviations on the site! ) and have some basic questions i'm working on.

I'm scrolling the forums as best I can but hope some folks can help out here. Thanks in advance.

1. What are the best restaurants to eat at that are in areas best to watch the 4th of july fireworks from?
You can see them from California Grill, and a bit from Narcoossee's--if you go outside.

2. We're planning to do magic kingom (3rd and 4th), epcot (5th, assuming a slower pace to give kids rest), animal kingdom (6th) and then end with hollywood (7th). Does this make sense generally speaking for July 4th weekend or is there some secret Disney strategy I need to know about?
We did MK 3rd, EP 4th & 5th. MK on the 3rd was less crowded than the 4th would be and they had the 4th of July fireworks preview that night. They were awesome! Then we slept in on the 4th, had a breakfast ADR at the resort and swam before heading into EP. We had an ADR in Germany and then found a spot outside to watch Illuminations with the special Salute to America ending. Fabulous! Epcot on the 5th (for future world, as we didn't do much/any of it on the 4th. was like a ghost town til late in the day)

3. EMH, rope drops, fastpass, seems complicated...... I can't see why wouldn't we want to take advantage of the extra hours? Because everyone else does. Seriously, we've tried them. The morning ones are a tad too early for us, usually, and the late ones don't work with RD the next day. And we've found we get more done in less time when we avoid EMH parks.

4. animal kingdom and hollywood are real new for us, have ever gone. what would be the must do's for the kids in these, particularly animal kingdom? AK has Lion King and Nemo shows, the Safari, and EE. We love Kali on a hot day--dress in something quick-drying and non-transparent when wet! And Dinosaur is a must-do, too.

5. Fantasmic! ...just what is it and is it worth it? I love the show but it's not worth the extra crowds at HS--for us. I'd consider HS for the 4th with a Fantasmic! dinner package. I heard the fireworks there were great, too. It was considered a "lower" crowd park because more people tend to head to MK and EP on the 4th.

6. with so much to do i'm worried we wont have some downtime to do some of the resort activities. Any thoughts on how to fit these in without eating up a day? Go for RD in the morning, til about lunchtime or 1pm, go back to your resort and rest/swim. Then head back to the park after dinner. The heat will force you to go slower, I think.

Thanks again for any help.

My replies in red above. Don't let the 4th scare you . It's wonderful!
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Old 02-02-2011, 07:29 PM   #18
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Thanks everyone, this was really helpful.
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Old 02-02-2011, 07:56 PM   #19
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We'll be there the week of the 4th too. I am so excited. The responses on this thread are very helpful. Thanks!
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:51 PM   #20
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We had a great week during the 4th last year. It was actually fairly pleasant temp-wise- mostly high 80s a bit cooler than normal for that time of year. I honestly did not think it was as crowded as everyone made it out to be. yes, crowded but use FP and get there early for EMHs and it will be manageable. We made lots of dining reservations to have cool breaks during breakfast or lunch and dinner everyday and it worked out great.

As has been said, MK will have special fireworks on the 3rd and the 4th so if doing 2 days there, i would do the 3rd and then a day other than the 4th so you can also see the regular show/fireworks. I'd stay out of the parks late on the 4th. We did Epcot early, had a nice lunch and then hotel activities/DTD rest of day. An option might be to plan a dinner time at California grill and watch the fireworks from up there on the 4th (call tomorrow first thing to try to get a reservation)

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Old 02-02-2011, 11:43 PM   #21
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Don't miss AK

Quote:
Originally Posted by scschulla View Post
I agree with the AK is hot in July! The first time I ever went to WDW was in July and AK was the worst. But, if your children want to see it(which if they are really into animals its a must) I would try to do research on it and figure out what things you really want to do and try to do it a half a day in the morning and get there at rope drop that way when the hottest part of the day comes and everyone else who slept in stars coming, your ready to head back for a break or on to another park. Hope this helps!
No! AK is a big park and people talk about it being hot but it is a SHADY park! It is a wonderful park to take in a leisurely manner and get into the theming which is amazing. The Lion King and the Nemo shows are amazing and kids love them. Safari is my favorite ride in all four parks. There is a great Tusker House breakfast with characters and wonderful food. On a hot day the river cruise ride is wet and cooling. Nothing like tigers and monkeys and giraffes! The best coaster in all the parks plus a terrific parade. Dinasaur ride is terrific, too and they have a ride like Dumbo which doesn't have a two hour line. Best of all is the playground - my DGD almost 5 didn't want to leave - it is an incredible place. And - I love the bird show too - catch it every time. It is funny! Just take it slow and drink a lot of water - it is big and I think that is why people think it is so hot...
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:51 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redbudlover View Post
No! AK is a big park and people talk about it being hot but it is a SHADY park! It is a wonderful park to take in a leisurely manner and get into the theming which is amazing. The Lion King and the Nemo shows are amazing and kids love them. Safari is my favorite ride in all four parks. There is a great Tusker House breakfast with characters and wonderful food. On a hot day the river cruise ride is wet and cooling. Nothing like tigers and monkeys and giraffes! The best coaster in all the parks plus a terrific parade. Dinasaur ride is terrific, too and they have a ride like Dumbo which doesn't have a two hour line. Best of all is the playground - my DGD almost 5 didn't want to leave - it is an incredible place. And - I love the bird show too - catch it every time. It is funny! Just take it slow and drink a lot of water - it is big and I think that is why people think it is so hot...
I agree!

MK,Epcot and DHS seem just as hot to me.

HOT IS HOT no matter which Park.
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Old 02-03-2011, 08:43 AM   #23
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I know advice has been posted about AK in July. Just my thoughts about AK in July with your family's age groups. I agree about half day & be there early. I also suggest to check out AK's Rainforest cafe for breakfast. There are two locations on Disney property: one at downtown disney(doesn't serve breakfast) & the other outside the gates of AK. We really enjoyed the breakfast. For AK park on a HOT day I suggest Lion King show & Finding Nemo show. Both indoors. Be careful with the heat. Lots of water.

How exciting July will be for your children. Have lots of fun & enjoy the long summer evening hours after the sun goes down.
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Old 02-03-2011, 09:43 AM   #24
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AK's an easy half day if you just do the 3 best rides. Here's how to do it.... Get there first thing in the morning (rope drop). The family slowly makes their way back to Kilimanjaro Safaris while one person (choose the fastest and most responsible member of the group) runs to Expedition Everest with everyone's tickets to get fast passes for it. The runner meets the family @ KS and everyone rides together. Then, make your way to EE and ride it. If you want to get soaked, ride Kali River Rapids, then hit Dinosaur, and you're on your way out. If you don't want to see the shows or do the walking trails at AK, just spend the rest of the day at World Showcase at Epcot.

This deviates from the touring plans for one key reason: if you don't get on KS first thing in the morning, the animals will be completely inactive due to the heat. You'll get a better KS ride, and one person will get some extra exercise.
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Old 02-03-2011, 11:35 AM   #25
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At the Calif. Grille you don't have to eat dinner during the fireworks. You can eat earlier and come back up to watch from the roof. It is an unbelievable view and they do pipe in the music. One other option is to watch from the beach at Poly.

We go down during the 4th every year for 8 years and the kids love it. Try to experience everything because you'l never know what the kids will enjoy. Take breaks during the day(1-4 pm) and go back out at night.
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Old 02-03-2011, 11:41 AM   #26
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Your Animal Kingdom day could be a great day to spend some time at the pool later that afternoon. I'm one who thinks that this park is hotter than the others but that's just one opinion.

If you decide to walk a trail I recommend the Maharajah Jungle Trek. The theming is lovely but you might find some of the animals resting inside or in the shade when it gets really hot.
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Old 02-03-2011, 08:49 PM   #27
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Thanks everyone, a lot of information and tips. It is great to see so many willing to help. I’ve been adjusting and tweaking and with months left to go I am sure I will do so again. But for now here is how it is shaping up.

3rd of July. Magic Kingdom. Character lunch at Crystal Palace, crab dinner at Cape May. No planned breakfast on grounds. Watch the fireworks, not sure from where yet.
4th of July. Epcot. Character breakfast for the girls at Akershus, the boys are winging it. Lunch at Nine Dragons (my son is very interested in China) and dinner at Les Chefs (my daughter loves Paris). See Illuminations that night.
5th of July. Hollywood Studios. Lunch at 50s Café. Nothing else scheduled yet.
6th of July. Animal Kingdom. I have to say this is the one I am most excited about. New for the whole family and kids love animals. Character breakfast at Tusker House. Lunch at Yak and Yeti. Dinner at Boma (I am really eager to try this one!)
7th of July. Magic Kingdom and last day. Character breakfast at 1900 Park Fare. Not sure of the rest yet.

I have put days and days researching, planning and working a schedule out. And so far its all been just on what park and where to eat! I haven’t even started the shows or rides yet! My wife is laughing at the database I am making (yeah, I get way into organizing and data analysis), just wait until she sees my rating system!
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:01 PM   #28
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Glad you are making progress on your plans.

Just wanted to say I think you might want to rethink your dining plans. Based on what I see so far (up to three table service meals a day) I think you are going to be disappointed in the amount of time you spend eating and missing out on the parks and honestly, I don't know if you will even be hungry for lunch so soon or dinner if you did eat lunch!

We've been in July the last three years and will be back again. It is a busy time so you are right in that you need to have a plan. We usually hit the parks at opening. Stay through lunch, head back for a break, swim and shower and return to the park for dinner or eat at the resort and then head to the parks to watch the night shows.

It looks like you plan on being in the parks all day instead of returning to Riverside. If you are, I suggest having a great sitdown lunch. We were at MK last year from 8 am - 11 pm one day, had a late lunch at Crystal Palace and it was just the break/refreshment we needed to get us through the rest of the day. We hit Columbia Harbor House later that night for dinner but after so much at the buffet lunch, we weren't overly hungry.

Also, since you haven't been in awhile I am not sure you realize how long it actually takes to eat at Disney anymore. There is usually some wait time ... could be 10 minutes or up to 30 ... yes we have waited that long for Crystal Palace before. Than you can plan on the meal taking an hour or so and then checking out seems to be slow as well. We definitely allow at least 2 hours for sitdown dining. You can see how that can start to take away from time you could spend on rides/shows.

Instead of Cape May on July 3, how about eating at Narcossee's at the Grand Floridian? You can see the firworks from there and eat seafood. Nothing against Cape May but that is a lot of travel time to go from the Magic Kingdom over to the Beach Club and then return back to the MK area to watch the fireworks. Will you have a car to drive yourself or were you planning on taking Disney transportation (busses)? If so that is A LOT more time to add on for that trip!

It may not be available any more, but if you can schedule the princess breakfast before Epcot opens that will give you more time to see things. It is an early start, but definiately doable. This meal shouldn't take 2 hours, but will take at least an hour to eat and be sure to see all the princesses. or ... you could schedule a late breakfast for the girls and an early lunch for the guys at Nine Dragons. Don't think the ladies will be ready to eat another big meal if they do the breakfast so you may need to make that a guy meal only or plan on counter service at Lotus Blossom instead. Chefs is a good meal .. try to check the times that Remy is making the rounds and schedule your meal for then. My kids got a kick out of that.

Again, at AK I don't see how you could eat 3 table service meals in one day assuming you meant sitdown Yak & Yeti and not counter service. Maybe eat counter service and share meals?

Certainly these are just my thoughts and changes I would make for our family based on our tourning style and eating habits. The breaks in the air conditioning are great, it is always good to know we have a meal planned and a break coming, we enjoy trying the new foods but we also LOVE hitting all the attractions so it is a balancing act to get it all done.

Good luck with your planning. Have a happy 4th of July celebration!
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