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Old 03-02-2012, 08:09 PM   #1
CyberFey
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Question about 4.5 yo's first time in WDW

This may go better in the Disney for Families board, but here goes:

So we have been blessed with being debt free this year... and plan on celebrating in Disney World! (Let's hope Disney doesn't hear, or we'll be in debt again! ) We'll be staying at POFQ 9/19-9/25, in time for free dining and the MNSSHP.

It will be our son's first time at WDW. He turns four in April, so will almost be 4.5 at trip time. My question is: how do you tour with a preschooler? We'll be there 7 full days and 6 nights. I don't expect to go to DTD with him (DH and I have seen La Nouba, but feel he would rather see a character than acrobatic feats,) except maybe to eat once or twice. Do you hit almost every park twice? I don't want him to miss out on anything, and I'm trying to plan our ADRs so when I can reserve them, I'm all ready to go.

Any thoughts? I really appreciate it!!
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Old 03-02-2012, 08:31 PM   #2
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We took DS on his first Disney trip for his 4th birthday. We went for a week as well. We made sure to not hit the parks too hard and built in down time. Your DS is going to love the pool, probably more than most other things. Make sure you take time out for naps and swimming. We were very surprised to discover that DS was very into meeting characters, particularly, the princesses, so don't be too surprised if that happens. We made sure to book character meals as well.

I would highly recommend bringing a stroller from home or renting from Magic Strollers.

We did end up taking DS to TRex at DtD....he loves dinosaurs and really enjoyed it there, especially in the Build a Dino store. He also loved the Lego store. The boat ride from Port Orleans is really nice and relaxing....just something to think about.

For touring, we made sure to get to each park once and then revisit those that we needed more time at. I'd definitely consider more than a day at the Magic Kingdom.
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Old 03-02-2012, 08:33 PM   #3
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First of all measure him to see that he is tall enough to go on all the rides. You don't want to talk up a ride and have him get there only to be to short. I think you will probably spend most of your time in MK, but there are things to do in all the parks. Maybe he would like to do the pirate league, for the Halloween party. I would take or rent a stroller. They do get tired and if he is not always in it, it is a good spot for all your stuff. Make sure he has a autograph book. It will be a great trip for all of you. Just seeing it through the eyes of your son will make it very magical.
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Old 03-02-2012, 08:50 PM   #4
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Our girls were 2 & 4 on their first visit to WDW. This trip wasn't a surprise, and everyone warned me that touring the parks would take much longer with young children (i.e. you probably won't be able to do everything), so we did the following to ensure we hit the most important things...

1. We devoted 3 full days to MK since we anticipated it to be the park they loved the most. We split the rest of the week between the other 3 parks and no DTD or water parks.
2. I let the kids watch attraction videos on YouTube so I could create their own 'must do' list and coordinate touring plans based on all of this.
3. We brought a stroller...even though the older one walked quite a bit on her own, there were plenty of times when she was just beat and plenty of other times where she understood that the stroller meant we could get from pt a to pt b faster and ultimately do more.
4. We took (and still take) mid day breaks back to the hotel.
5. I hate to say we went in with lowered expectations- but we went in expecting to only do a fraction of what we'd normally do and anticpated not even being able to hit all of our must do lists. ex. in AK we missed Lion King and Nemo, in DHS we missed BatB, at MK we missed CoP, and at Epcot we missed a number of things...mainly b/c we planned too much dining for that day though.
6. I always make sure my backpack is packed well for boredom in lines, thirst, boo boos, and other things that may come up that could slow down the day.
7. Booked lots of character meals...I figure you have to eat, so why not kill 2 birds with one stone and get M&Gs and full tummies all at once. It saved us from many M&G lines in the parks which gave us more park touring time.

Hope this helps.
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:41 PM   #5
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Our first trip w/ kids were when mine were 5 & 2. We took a mid-day break EVERY day. It was HOT (June) and necessary, esp b/c my 2 year old still napped. We had 4 other adults with us so one adult would stay in the room w/ my daughter while she slept each day and the rest would enjoy the pool. We usually had a dinner ADR for right after our break time ended and then we'd hit a park for the evening as well.

IMO, a stroller is necessary for that age. In fact I'm taking ours again and my daughter will be 5 this year. It is way more tiring than you think. Even my son (who never runs out of gas) asked to sit in the stroller last time.

Try to do as many character meals as you can handle. First of all, they're fun IMO. Second it's a nice break and a way to avoid the lines to see the characters in the parks. We did 3 total on our first trip which were:
Crystal Palace breakfast (siggy pic from that meal)
Tusker House breakfast
1900 Park Fare dinner

I followed Touring Plans' Happy Family plans for the parks. We spent 2 days at MK and 2 at Epcot. Well actually more like 1.5 at MK (MK was CROWDED on our last night) and 2.5 at Epcot. My son looooved Test Track so that's why Epcot was so frequented. Touring Plans also has plans for families w/ small children that are awesome too. We went w/ Happy Family b/c of having so many adults. It worked great.

Hmmm....what else can I tell you? Any specific questions? When we were there it was HOT AND CROWDED and I felt like we did a pretty good job at touring. The only day/park we screwed up was Animal Kingdom and some of that was b/c I made the mistake of making an 8:45 ADR which then pretty much messed up the entire rest of the day.

One of the highlights of our trip was the show at the castle. It was highly recommended here and I was so glad we caught it. It was very good!
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Old 03-03-2012, 12:56 AM   #6
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Our experience has been a little different. My DD (almost 6) has never been a napper. She had no use for afternoon breaks and wants to do EVERYTHING she possibly can at WDW, so we get there at rope drop most days and stay until 9:30 or 10:00. We've offered her the chance to go back to the hotel and swim or rest, but she would much rather ride rides and see characters. She says she can go swimming anywhere, but she can only ride Soarin' at Disney.

We do some character dining (O'hana breakfast and Akershus are our favorites), but we are not big buffet people at all. DD would much rather have a steak at Le Cellier than some waffles at Chef Mickey. Makes for happy parents as well.

I guess my advice is that you know your child best. If you think he'd benefit from resting in the afternoon or wouldn't want to get up early, go with that. If he's a kid who likes to be on the go all the time, follow his lead.

When DD was 4.5, we did not bring a stroller. We hate trying to maneuver it through the crowds, parking it, loading it only the bus, etc. She did ride on DH's shoulders a few times, but that was much easier for us than lugging the stroller.

We do hit every park at least twice on most trips, especially if we'll be there for seven days. There are things we love about each park, and even though MK is probably the favorite, rides like Soarin' and ToT are very high on DD's list of things to do.

It's such a great age for a first trip. I am sure you will all have a great time!
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Old 03-03-2012, 09:07 AM   #7
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That's a great age for WDW! First family trip my dd was 4, 2nd family trip my ds was 5. For both trips, we did very little in the way of nighttime entertainment. (One parade/fireworks each trip.) Our park days were mostly RD - 4, then back at the pool for a few hours. My kids never napped at WDW, but they sure loved their rental strollers!

Both my kids pretty much did every ride at age 4, but they're both tall so height wasn't an issue.

My kids loved MK, obviously, but it was never their favorite park. DS has always preferred Epcot and DD Animal Kingdom. Everyone is different, but I think I'd plan on 2 MK days, 2 Epcot days, 1 HS, 1 AK, and 1 rest day. If you're going to do MNSSHP, make the next day a "break day" or else make it your 2nd Epcot day w/an 11 start. That party is fun, but it messes w/two days of your trip. You have to make sure you're well rested when you go in at 4, and you have to make sure you can sleep in the next day to recover. I might be tempted to skip it on a first trip. My dd (4.25 at the time) passed our in her stroller right after the awesome parade. Also, we found long lines for everything, and it wasn't even near Halloween!

Are you going to do pin trading? Both my kids really enjoyed that at 4.

Last edited by Rosebud123; 03-03-2012 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 03-03-2012, 11:03 AM   #8
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We have taken DS twice while he was 4 - and both times for at least 6 days.

For our late September trip, we arrived on Saturday and toured EP. We toured AK on Monday. Took a morning rest then went into MK for MNSSHP at 5pm on Tuesday. Toured EP and MK Wednesday and Thursday, left Thursday night.

We didn't push ourselves and had a great trip!
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:14 PM   #9
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Thanks guys!

My little guy isn't a napper, but does get cranky around 3-5 if I wake him up around 6 or 7 am. In fact, we got up at 6:30 today and he's passed out next to me right now.

I really appreciate the advice. We're back and forth on the stroller. Gav likes to walk almost everywhere, and at 3'8" he's difficult for me to lug around. I think we may focus on having a meal and break midday to see if he wants to rest. He's been talking nonstop every time he sees us use our Disney Visa "Me want to go to Disney world and see Mickey!!" I don't think I'll get to surprise him!

Thanks for the advice about MNNSHP. I didn't anticipate going rested... I figured we'd be tired the next day. EP would be a good late in the day park, I think.

You guys are the best!
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Old 03-05-2012, 10:41 PM   #10
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We're at POFQ for my 4 year old DGD's first visit and it has been an eyeopener! Our mornings have been pretty much a disaster--our nights have been much better. We had a horrific time this morning at the MK-did the princesses at Exposition Hall plus Jasmine and Ariel and made it onto the magic carpets and the Tiki birds--that's it! To anyone at POTC this morning, I sincerely apologize for dragging a screaming child through the most crowded line I've seen at POTC in years! We were there less than 3 hours when she had a total meltdown.

Tonight we spent 4 hours at Epcot and did Spaceship Earth, Soarin, Nemo(twice) Turtle Talk and the Garen Grill character dinner. I'm finding that we just can't spend long stretches at the park during the day-we were at HS Sunday and did only Beauty and the Beast, Ariel, Toy Story and face painting. That was it! But at night we did all the characters at Exposition Hall, the wishes dessert party, fireworks, and most of Tomorrowland. Nights are better-the days just sap her energy, whether it's the crowds, the noise level or what.

Every kid is different-take your list of what you think you'll get done, cut it in half and then cut in in half agian. Someone told me that a long time ago and I wish I'd listened! I'm learning the hard way on this trip.
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Old 03-05-2012, 10:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by appleorchard View Post
We're at POFQ for my 4 year old DGD's first visit and it has been an eyeopener! Our mornings have been pretty much a disaster--our nights have been much better. We had a horrific time this morning at the MK-did the princesses at Exposition Hall plus Jasmine and Ariel and made it onto the magic carpets and the Tiki birds--that's it! To anyone at POTC this morning, I sincerely apologize for dragging a screaming child through the most crowded line I've seen at POTC in years! We were there less than 3 hours when she had a total meltdown.

Tonight we spent 4 hours at Epcot and did Spaceship Earth, Soarin, Nemo(twice) Turtle Talk and the Garen Grill character dinner. I'm finding that we just can't spend long stretches at the park during the day-we were at HS Sunday and did only Beauty and the Beast, Ariel, Toy Story and face painting. That was it! But at night we did all the characters at Exposition Hall, the wishes dessert party, fireworks, and most of Tomorrowland. Nights are better-the days just sap her energy, whether it's the crowds, the noise level or what.

Every kid is different-take your list of what you think you'll get done, cut it in half and then cut in in half agian. Someone told me that a long time ago and I wish I'd listened! I'm learning the hard way on this trip.
I think she enjoys being able to be out at night!
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Old 03-08-2012, 11:38 PM   #12
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Thanks apple!

Our little guy seems to peak in the evenings. I think I will build in nap/rest time midday!
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Old 03-08-2012, 11:52 PM   #13
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character dining

We are going on our first family trip with our 4 year old daughter who will be 4 1/2 when we arrive. We are only staying 4 nights but have booked 6 character meals. Our daughter is going to have a blast meeting all of those characters and a bonus is that we won't have to wait in line at the parks to see her favorite characters. We are so excited!
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Old 03-08-2012, 11:58 PM   #14
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Our son will be five in April and we took him for a week last fall when he was 4 1/2. We did five park days plus MNSSHP and a day at Blizzard Beach. He LOVED the party, especially seeing other kids dressed as the same character. He was Peter Pan, I was Tinkerbell, and DH was Captain Hook. Even my husband loved the parade, and I had to talk him into coming on this trip. There was a dance party with the Toy Story characters and he got lots of time to see them there.

We did take a stroller, and used it alot. None of us are morning people, so we didn't try to make rope drop, but did two character breakfasts (Tusker House and Crystal Palace). Other than that, we would get to the park between 10:00 and noon and stay til closing. No naps necessary, but that's his normal routine anyway.

Do make sure to measure ahead of time so you won't have any meltdowns if they're not tall enough. YouTube videos helped our son get over his fear of some rides, and his two favorite ended up being Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mtn.

We did go to TRex at DTD and the Lego Store, but had tried Disney Quest on a previous trip and found it to be for older kids. We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge, so we had a down day to just enjoy the resort, plus we tried to do several of the free activities they had there. We didn't do a park the morning of MNSSHP, but you can get in starting at 4:00.
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Old 03-09-2012, 09:58 AM   #15
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The good thing about that age is they are overjoyed at just being at Disney and don't really expect all the must see's and must do's that us (mommy) wants to make sure that they don't miss!! Our first trip with our dd was when she was 3. She woke up in the morning eager to go to the parks since she was so excited. We planned on getting to the parks at rope drop or near opening times. That beat so many crowds and it was so nice in the mornings, weather was perfect, not to hot yet. We'd spend about 4-5 hours at the park, riding the rides and did some ADR meals. We'd always head back to the room for a nap from around 2-4. We even took naps with her because of being tired too. Then we'd head back to the park that evening until nearly closing. This plan worked perfect. DD never got too overwhelmed or tired, She stayed well rested.

Plan your days out before you go. Months ahead of time we got a lot of the Dinsey movies and watched you tube videos of Disney and their parades. We tried teaching our dd all of the various characters that she'd get to see at Disney. We also wanted to make sure she wasn't afraid of them. Through the movies, we learned what characters our dd loved the most. When actually getting to Disney, she wanted her picture with nearly every single character that she saw!!!

Good luck and enjoy the planning. You will be a very happy Mommy seeing the light on your son's face during his first Disney trip. We are planning our second trip with dd this fall and she'll be 5. I love Disney too but I'm the happiest seeing her joy and face during the trip!!!
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