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Old 01-13-2013, 11:04 AM   #1
sachilles
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How much time in each park 4 year old?

We arrive at wdw around 2pm on May 1, and depart the hotel by 9am on May 7.
We are staying at the CBR. Its my wife, myself and our 4 yo son.
I'm trying to figure out the best way to split up our time in the various parks.
This gives us five full days in the parks. It also gives us the last half of our arrival date for the parks.
We have 7 day park hopper tickets.

Our last day, Epcot has a morning magic hour......so that would be our only option if we even go into a park that morning.

On our arrival day, we plan to go to the Magic kingdom.
We'll likely nap shortly after lunch time at our hotel.

For the five full days, what does the consensus recommend? One full day at epcot, AK and studios, and the other two at MK?
That would be 2.5 at MK, 1 epcot, 1 AK, 1 studios.

Skip a park?
We'll be going at a pre-schooler pace, but a stroller will be used. No intention to rush things so that we "see everything". This is my sons first trip.
My wifes last visit was 10 years ago.
My last visit included a ride on 20,000 leagues under the sea if that tells you how long ago it was for me. I'm never seen AK nor the studios.
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Old 01-13-2013, 11:19 AM   #2
Marionnette
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sachilles View Post
We arrive at wdw around 2pm on May 1, and depart the hotel by 9am on May 7.
We are staying at the CBR. Its my wife, myself and our 4 yo son.
I'm trying to figure out the best way to split up our time in the various parks.
This gives us five full days in the parks. It also gives us the last half of our arrival date for the parks.
We have 7 day park hopper tickets.

Our last day, Epcot has a morning magic hour......so that would be our only option if we even go into a park that morning.

On our arrival day, we plan to go to the Magic kingdom.
We'll likely nap shortly after lunch time at our hotel.

For the five full days, what does the consensus recommend? One full day at epcot, AK and studios, and the other two at MK?
That would be 2.5 at MK, 1 epcot, 1 AK, 1 studios.

Skip a park?
We'll be going at a pre-schooler pace, but a stroller will be used. No intention to rush things so that we "see everything". This is my sons first trip.
My wifes last visit was 10 years ago.
My last visit included a ride on 20,000 leagues under the sea if that tells you how long ago it was for me. I'm never seen AK nor the studios.
You will not be able to visit a park on your last day if you expect to leave your hotel (for the airport?) at 9:00 AM. Even if rope drop is at 8:00 AM, you would need to be back at your resort by 8:45 for DME pick up. If you're taking a towncar they will also want to pick you up around the same time. With the time that it takes to get around Disney property, you would barely take in one Future World attraction before it would be time to rush back to your hotel.

If you are arriving at your hotel around 2:00 PM, there is a possibility that your room will not be ready. The official check in time at Disney resorts is 3:00-4:00 PM, depending on the resort. Sometimes, you get lucky and your room is ready early. But there is a chance that the room may not be ready and you will end up napping by the pool!

I would definitely do a full day at each of the parks. There's something for everyone at each park and I'm sure that your 4yo will enjoy all of them. Definitely go to MK for your arrival day and for another full day. For the 5th full day, why not play it by ear? Watch your child to see what delights him the most and go back to do it again. Or if you feel that you didn't get enough of one park due to bad weather, unhappy child or anything else that tends to upset plans, then you can go back to that park.
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Old 01-13-2013, 11:33 AM   #3
sachilles
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Arrival day we'll play by ear a bit. I'm not expecting the room to be ready on arrival. If my son doesn't nap on the plan or magical express, then we'll go without a nap for that day. The plan is to pick up our tickets, and have enough stuff in our carry ons to go explore MK. Our thought is the train ride around the park would be a good start, wander a bit and we have a dinner res on main street. If we are tuckered and approaching meltdown we'll call it an early day and get back to our room right after dinner. If all is going well we'll continue on with the fun.

What are the thoughts on splitting the day up between parks. If we are trying to nap after lunch, that means we are busing back and forth to the hotel, we can just as easily go with a new park.
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Old 01-13-2013, 11:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sachilles View Post
Arrival day we'll play by ear a bit. I'm not expecting the room to be ready on arrival. If my son doesn't nap on the plan or magical express, then we'll go without a nap for that day. The plan is to pick up our tickets, and have enough stuff in our carry ons to go explore MK. Our thought is the train ride around the park would be a good start, wander a bit and we have a dinner res on main street. If we are tuckered and approaching meltdown we'll call it an early day and get back to our room right after dinner. If all is going well we'll continue on with the fun.

What are the thoughts on splitting the day up between parks. If we are trying to nap after lunch, that means we are busing back and forth to the hotel, we can just as easily go with a new park.
We park hop all of the time, especially when our first park is closing early. AK often closes at dusk so we usually go there in the morning and do fireworks at another park at night. As long as you've paid for park hopper tickets, you'll have no worries.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:01 AM   #5
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I wouldn't try to hit a park on that last day, as the PP stated. Just too hectic. I mean, how early would you have to get up to get everything packed and to bell services? To try and fit in a park there may be too much chaos for the last day.

The first day is doable, especially since you've set your expectations so reasonably. Plus, the difference between a 6 day ticket and 5 day ticket isn't so much, so if the flight turns out to be too much, you're only out a few bucks.

We did park hop after the naps, and it worked great. It did make for late nights though. Bear in mind that if you're going to be out late one night, hitting RD the next morning might be tiring.

We found that 4 hours in the park was about when we would all start falling apart and need to hit the resort and just relax. Every family is different, but for us, we were happy to see the few things we could fit in, and know that we'll be back to see the rest someday.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:59 AM   #6
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We never do mid day breaks. If someone gets tired they just nap in the stroller. Usually it is right before a parade so we just find a good spot and rest. We do full days at each park. Since AK closes early that gives a nice early break. if you finish a park early you can always check out a different one. I know some people say by noon they have done what they want to do at HS and then you could finish the rest of the day at MK or Epcot. I think like you said 1 AK, 1 Epcot 1 HS and 2 MK days are good. Mostly play by ear. The last day when you leave I would avoid a park and rushing. Take it easy.
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:12 AM   #7
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I would plan on doing each park and give the extra day to Magic Kingdom. I think skipping anything your last day is best. Rushing around with a 4 year old can be exhausting (I have one too!) we plan on doing stroller naps in Feb. when we go, that's something to consider if your little one is tired but you guys aren't ready to head back.
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:57 AM   #8
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We have 5 days for the 4 parks so we are doing one each day and the 5th day will be for whichever our boys liked best.
Looking at the rides/attractions that will appeal to them we are probably looking at 1/2 days at Epcot and HS so if they are up to going somewhere else we will, if not we can go back to the hotel or for a stroll in DTD - we're taking strollers so they can nap if they need to.
I'm trying very hard to plan everything at the boy's pace and not worry about missing anything (not easy!! Lol)
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Old 01-14-2013, 09:36 AM   #9
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We last went in June 2010. DD was 3 and DS was 18mo. Most days we got up early (well, normal time in our house, which is ~6am CT), ate breakfast at the condo, got to the parks when/before they opened, went back to the condo between 11 and 12 for lunch and nap (or quiet/cool off time, depending on how your kids are), then around 2:30 we headed back out to the parks until about 6 or 7.

This worked pretty well for us. Honestly, I think I was a bigger crab on the days that we didn't take a break than the kids were. I find that the break is good for everyone. And if your kids are wired differently and have more energy, have them hit the pool.

In terms of splitting park time, I'd recommend the following:

2 at MK. Tons for a 4yo to do there, plus it is classic.
1.5 to 2 at EPCOT. I think we spent the most time in that park doing the World Showcase. Lots of walking and looking around. (May have been my least favorite part of the trip, honestly :lol: ) But there's plenty more at EPCOT to see or do.
.5 to 1 at AK - IMO there's more for adults to do here than kids. This could definitely be a 'half day park' and you could go to another park in the afternoon.
.5 to 1 at HS - This place can get really cramped and crowded. Wish I had park hoppers for both AK and HS days. I would have just gone there in the morning and then hit another park in the afternoon.

I would never say to skip a park, especially since you have hoppers, but I think you'll just have to play it by ear. You may get bored at MK or EPCOT after a day and a half, so take advantage of the hoppers to maybe hop to AK or HS. Keep your options and mind open to change.
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Old 01-14-2013, 09:41 AM   #10
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Not your question, but there is no way my 4 year old could've gone without a stroller so that is something to think about.

We don't do mid-day breaks but my son was finished with most parks by dinner time. No late nights for us! I, personally, do encourage rope drop for us because of that, though.

I think I am in the minority, but we would have a hard time spending 2 full days at MK, even though that is what most pre-school parents seem to suggest. If you have hoppers (which it sounds like you do) we prefer a day and a half at Epcot and MK. Also, AK is barely a half day for us, we're not stop and look at animal people, nor are we show people (actually, we are not wait for a show to start people, lol) so it doesn't take us long to do.

Don't forget to leave time for swimming and exploring the resort, too! And my son LOVES downtown disney (I think he could spend the entire trip at the lego store).
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Old 01-14-2013, 09:42 AM   #11
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I got to the hotel before noon and the room was ready. Bring a pair of clothes to change into and at worst if room isn't ready the hotel can hold any extra bags. Go to a park when you get there is very doable. Lets be honest when you get there you will be itching to go to the parks. I was!!
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:23 AM   #12
sachilles
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I don't think our departure day will result in any park time now that I think it through. We do have 7 day park hoppers, and it's only $30 more than a 6 day, so I'm content to hang on to them in case of flight changes or anything. We are debating adding another nights stay, as the latest discount offer free'd up some budget.
We are usually play it by ear type of people. The thing that kills me is being on the table service dining plan, everyone seems to suggest that we make our table service reservations now. I'm not a big fan of that. Given an early may visit, is it unrealistic to find ourselves in one area, decide we are hungry and walk up to a table service place? As long as we are content to wait an hour can we wonder around a bit and come back to that spot?
I still plan to make reservations ahead of time, but have my phone to call and change/cancel(or the my disney experience app).
Knowing my child, I don't see a stroller nap happening especially with all the new eye candy for him. They only way he usually naps is in a semi quiet semi dark place away from the excitement. We are now in that stage where we are debating the whole nap thing anyway. I'm not going to lie, the naps will be as much for the wife and I as it is for the little guy. Perhaps we won't nap every day. As most of you know sometimes if you aren't proactive with that stuff you pay the price later at the most miss-opportune time.

We are staying at the Caribbean. Geographically speaking it looks like we are pretty close to Epcot and the studios. I'm guessing those are fairly short bus trips compared to MK and AK?

My son will like rides, but he'll enjoy the edu-tainment options as well. It's going to be close to see if he gets to the 40" which is the cut off for a bunch or rides I know he'd enjoy. With shoes on he's at 39+ right now.
On this topic, the grand prix cars in tomorrow land, he'll be able to drive them with a parent in the car right. I realize his adult co-driver will have to operate the gas pedal, but they'll let him behind the wheel right? Being racing fanatics, that'll be a heart breaker if he can't take the wheel.


We are country folks, so if there is any place that might not be as "new" and exciting to him is Animal Kingdom. I know it's not a zoo. However we've been to a few zoos, and seeing wildlife is an everyday occurrence here. So I don't see it as having the wow factor compared to the other three parks.
I could envision us taking extra time at Epcot at the expense of AK.

Last edited by sachilles; 01-14-2013 at 10:24 AM. Reason: missed an important word or two or three.
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:43 AM   #13
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When we went last January with our 2 year old at the time we did 6 day. We didn't plan on a park the day we got there which was good thing since our plans didn't go as planned with delay and etc. We did 2 days in MK, 2 day in Epcot ( which he loved) 1 day in Ak and 1 day in HWS. We didn't get to the parks at rope drop but, we got there by 9 and it was a lot rushing. Once we left the hotel we didn't go back we stayed in parks or went to visit one of the hotel close by if we need a rest. I thought Ak was a waste for us not much for the little one to do. Were going Back this Saturday and this time were only doing 5 days since we want a little more down time. I will say that last time we did parks sun - Fri and when we saw how much more we were able to get done during the week vs the weekend we decide this time to just do the parks mon - fri.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:04 AM   #14
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We do two full days in the Mk. I like to start out our trip with a full day at the Mk on our first day in the parks and I like to end our trip with a full day there also...if its doable for us. We then do a day each at Epcot, AK, and HS. On our next trip however, we are skipping AK. We have a full week at Disney, so time isn't an issue. AK just isn't our favorite park, so we are using what would be our AK day as a second or at least another half Epcot day. Not saying that any park should be skipped, they are all nice and each deserves a chance, it's just what we've decided for our next trip.

We don't do a park on our arrival day. We drive down and it takes roughly 12 hours to get there. We like to drive it straight through and there is no way that we could manage a day in the parks after driving all night long

I definitely wouldn't skip a park. I think your plan to set aside at least two days for the MK and then one day each for the other parks sounds fine. Once you get the gist of what your family enjoys and what suits you best, you'll be able to tailor your trips to suit you best. A suggestion would be to start out your trip at the MK, then visit the other parks and leave your second MK day for your last day in the parks. This way, you've had a chance to visit all the parks. Your kids might surprise you and like another park just as much as the MK and you might want to re-visit it instead....but that is up to you. We love the MK. It is hands down all of our favorite parks, but everyone is different and many people end up liking Epcot (or even HS/AK) just as much as the MK.
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:14 AM   #15
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We do both - I make ADR's well in advance, create a schedule of what parks we'll be at on which day based on the ever-changing crowd calendars, find a touring plan or two that looks like it would work, etc. etc. But when we get there, the main goal is to relax and have fun. If a reservation gets missed or needs to be cancelled, so be it. The worst thing you can do is - on your vacation - be stressed out and constantly trying to make deadlines. We *do* get to the parks early and we do try to follow a plan that will allow us to fast pass and child swap our way onto rides fairly quickly, but other than that, we always stay flexible.
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