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Old 04-16-2013, 09:09 AM   #1
vabmama
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Which dinner seating with two young children?

Our boys will be a month shy of 5 and a couple months shy of 3 when we go on our first Disney cruise. We live in Mountain time, cruise is on Central time. Any words of wisdom? Little guy still naps, and our normal schedule is lunch at noon, snack at 4, dinner at 6. Thanks!
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Old 04-16-2013, 09:17 AM   #2
disney minnie
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I think it really depends on your family. Before our first cruise I read all the reports that said with small children you REALLY wanted early dining. At home our children went to bed between 7-8, but they have never had a problem staying up late due to family events. Well, we REALLY did not like early dining. We tried to change it after the first night but it was going to affect the servers tips so we felt bad and stayed - we should have switched. We found that we missed so much down time during the day. We were always in a rush to take naps, swim everything, especially on port days. It was too early for us to have to start getting ready for dinner at 4:30.

For you one dinner will be earlier than your normal time and the other will be later. I would just talk to spouse and figure out what fits your children's personalities.
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:31 AM   #3
vabmama
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Thanks. This is very helpful
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:50 AM   #4
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This question gets asked alot on here and as the PP said, I think it really depends on your family and habits. On our last cruise, we had the early dining because we normally eat at home around 6:30 EST. My two DS (9 & 10) absolutely hated having to stop whatever it was that we were doing to go get ready for dinner. I don't know that they wouldn't have fussed about the late seating either though. For our upcoming Fantasy cruise in May 2014, we currently have the early dining booked but may change it to the late seating since they will be a little older. But then, I hate eating right before bed too. hmmm....decisions, decisions.
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:01 AM   #5
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5:45 is too early for me on vacation. That being said, my 9 year old dd was a pain in the butt a few nights at late seating whining that she was tired and asking why I would have signed us up to eat at 8:15. I wish 7 were an option (but obviously that is not possible).
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:06 AM   #6
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We are on the other side; my kid can stay up, yes, but not every single night for the length of a cruise. Also, she enjoys the shows much better when she's not cranky from being hungry for a full meal (snack can only go so far). I have never experienced that early dining means rushing for dinner; it's at 5:45. Maybe it's because I have short hair that doesn't require blow-drying or high maintenance styling, but even putting on a full face of makeup for formal night only takes me fifteen minutes. I can shower off the pool or beach in less than five. And whatever I need to do is staggered with what DH and the kids need. I don't think it's ever taken us more than half an hour to get ready. The only times I have ever felt rushed was (1) had late dining and my spa appointment went late because they started it late and (2) had early dining and DCL excursion ran behind schedule. Never felt rushed when it was within our control.
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Old 04-17-2013, 11:15 AM   #7
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We made the mistake of trying late dining for the first time in February and discovered our kids are still too young (6 and 3). We eat between 5:30 and 6 normally and my kids are in bed by 7:30 or 8 every night. Our idea was that the kids would eat a hot dog or hamburger by the pool, see the show, change for dinner, and then either go straight to the kids club or go do dinner with DH and I until the kids club picked up.

Why that didn't work:

1. My DD3 would ONLY eat mac-n-cheese so she HAD to go to the MDR to eat dinner.
2. The kids clubs didn't pick up until almost 9:30. WAY too late and left my kids in the MDR with us for 1.5 hours.

What we did to make it work:

1. We made sure we had some "down time" during the day so the little one (and often the older one) could nap
2. We asked our servers to bring out the girls' food immediately, which they gladly did. The kids were often done with their meal by the time we finished the first course. Then I ran them up to the kids club and returned to dinner.

Either way, you can make it work; however, we will be booking early dining until the girls are a bit older and can handle the longer days/nights!
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Old 04-17-2013, 03:55 PM   #8
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Agree, you know your kids best and what will fit them. On our first trip our son was 4, he actually fell asleep at the table the first night with late dining, and the whole cruise we ended up feeding him chicken strips or pizza earlier and then he sat and fidgeted while we rushed through late dining or we left him at the kids club. On our second trip we got main dining and it fit our schedule better, and even though a day or two we did find ourselves ending an activity earlier than we would like to get to dinnner, overall our boys do much better when they stay on their schedule for meals and bedtime.
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Old 04-17-2013, 04:08 PM   #9
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On our first cruise DS was 1 1/2 and we had late dining. That worked out fine for us, he would eat dinner and then fall asleep on the way to the Nursery I would take him half-way through dinner and then come back and finish my dinner and enjoy some adult time.

On our second cruise we did early dining and I loved it. It worked a lot better for him. The one time we had a problem was on our first port day when he fell asleep too late and we missed dinner.

For this last cruise, I decided to stick with early dining and it worked really well for us. He is now 3 1/2. We would stop activities at 5 to get ready and we were at the restaurant for our 5:45 dinner. We were done by 7:30 and then had an hour to spare before the Shows. My son won't miss a show so that was super important to me. Usually at 7:30 they had some sort of dance party so we would do that or do a character meet. My son won't nap so I did a mandatory "break time" at around 2pm or 3pm every day for at least an hour. It consisted of us being in the room, watching cartoons, having a snack from room service. He is also a night-owl and he wouldn't go to sleep until 11pm.
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Old 04-18-2013, 01:03 AM   #10
ScottFamily2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KPetty725 View Post
We made the mistake of trying late dining for the first time in February and discovered our kids are still too young (6 and 3). We eat between 5:30 and 6 normally and my kids are in bed by 7:30 or 8 every night. Our idea was that the kids would eat a hot dog or hamburger by the pool, see the show, change for dinner, and then either go straight to the kids club or go do dinner with DH and I until the kids club picked up.

Why that didn't work:

1. My DD3 would ONLY eat mac-n-cheese so she HAD to go to the MDR to eat dinner.
2. The kids clubs didn't pick up until almost 9:30. WAY too late and left my kids in the MDR with us for 1.5 hours.

What we did to make it work:

1. We made sure we had some "down time" during the day so the little one (and often the older one) could nap
2. We asked our servers to bring out the girls' food immediately, which they gladly did. The kids were often done with their meal by the time we finished the first course. Then I ran them up to the kids club and returned to dinner.

Either way, you can make it work; however, we will be booking early dining until the girls are a bit older and can handle the longer days/nights!
I really appreciate this perspective. We are going on our first cruise and struggled with this decision. My DD will be almost 8 when we cruise. At home, we eat around 7 and DD s awake until around 9. We won't be facing a time change because we are on the West Coast. I have planned all of our activities so we can sleep in - none of us are early risers.

We will definitely be stealing your tip about asking them to bring her food right away and then running her to the club. Great tip!
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Old 04-18-2013, 01:52 AM   #11
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My DS were 2 & 4 on our first cruise. We live in Mountain Time Zone and sailed out of Galveston. The cruise started in Central Time Zone but the majority was spent in Eastern Time Zone. I requested the second seating. An 8:15 dinner time was like a 6:15 dinner time at home. I kept my kids on their normal schedule as much as possible (except WDW day). They go to bed at 9:00 at home so they were fine staying up until 11. Then they slept in until 9 which was heavenly for us.
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Old 04-18-2013, 05:52 AM   #12
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In my family we always found it best to stay as close to a normal schedule as possible. I know "it's vacation"! But everyone seemed happier,especially during the younger years, when some things, ie meals, were at their normal times.
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Old 04-18-2013, 07:28 AM   #13
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We are Pacific time, and had early dining when we were in the Dream. My kids were almost 7 and 4 at the time. We all adjusted to the time change quickly, so sticking it was nice to have dinner at a "normal" time for us. Even with that, my 4 yo fell asleep at dinner one night just so tired from running around. We made him nap the days following so we could stay up later. BTW, my kids loved eating at the MDR. My older one just told me the other days that she missed our servers!
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Old 04-18-2013, 07:29 AM   #14
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My kids would never make it to 8:15 for dinner. Normally that's past bedtime for us at home. On the cruise they stayed up late and did the shows, but they definitely wouldn't have been able to wait that long to eat.

I'm used to eating fairly late at home... often after the kids go to bed, but with the length and size of the DCL dinners, I couldn't finish eating at 9:30 and then have any chance of falling asleep before midnight. Wouldn't work for me.
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