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Old 02-16-2014, 12:36 PM   #1
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First Trip Advice for Middle Aged Couple

My wife and I have booked our first trip to Disney World for this June. We've been researching and using My Disney Experience to plan for our stay. However, we could use any advise you would care to share. Here are a few questions to begin the discussion:
What shoes are the best for all the walking, and for getting wet?
Should we plan to have a backpack of some sort?
How do you keep electronics dry?
We will not enjoy our stay if we over plan. So how do you get the most from your week at the park, without planning every minute? We are not thrill seekers, so attractions like space mountain are out.
We will be in a villa, with a small fridge and microwave? Where can you buy snacks to have available in your room?
Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-16-2014, 01:12 PM   #2
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I will speak to the backpack part of your question. I would say not to carry one. We used to always carry a backpack into the parks, but particularly in June and July, it will just make you extra hot and sweaty. I hate to say it, but those little fanny packs are the way to go if you have to have a bag. They certainly aren't fashionable, but they won't make your back hot and sweaty. That's just been our experience.

This was hard to break my husband of because he likes to take a nice camera everywhere, but in the end, it's less frustrating for us not to carry the backpack. He would either put a smaller lens on his camera and carry it in his pocket, or just use his iPhone for photos.
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Old 02-16-2014, 01:23 PM   #3
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Hi there,
How exciting to be going for the first time! My sister and I have been many times and lately because of responsibilities at our home (a farm in Ontario) we are each going solo. This is not the first time we've made solo trips and while we always enjoy WDW, we really love sharing it together.
But to your questions:

We wear our trainers or good walking shoes on the plane because they are heavier and take up too much room in the luggage. We each take a pair of comfortable sandals for easy walking days or for a change part way through the day if we are going back to the resort.

We have tried taking no backpack and it works for us. We have small cases we can wear around our necks on a lanyard, enough to hold some cash, lip balm, and any Disney cards. They can be tucked inside our shirts too. However, I don't mind carrying a bag or pack which can be handy if you are going on water rides and want to put your electronics somewhere they will stay dry. We take freezer bags with a good seal and put the electronics in that and then in the bag.

We do mega plan but only because it provides months of fun even before the trip. The plans center around where we have dining reservations (if any) and now Fast Pass Plus availability. But they are not carved in stone, we often make changes on the fly, but don't want to miss out on anything.

We love to use all the types of transportation and find planning ensures we make full use of the boats and monorail.

Are you staying at a Disney Villa? I stayed at the Beach Club in 2012 and it was wonderful. All of the resorts have small shops that sell snacks and other necessities. If you wanted real groceries there are stores off the property and fairly close by for which you can get a taxi. All of the Parks have great snacks and we often buy something on our way out of a park to keep at the room. EPCOT has some great pastry shops in the World. (Norway and France)

I hope you have a truly magical time.

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Old 02-16-2014, 03:47 PM   #4
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Don't try and do too much. It sound like you are doing great research. Pick a few must do things and a few nice to do. We have had some busy trips where we came home exhausted but the better trips were when we slowed down. Enjoy your trip!
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Old 02-16-2014, 04:56 PM   #5
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Wow! Responses to my post already. Thank you for all your great suggestions. Keep them coming.
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Old 02-17-2014, 10:53 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by massmickeypal View Post
Don't try and do too much. It sound like you are doing great research. Pick a few must do things and a few nice to do. We have had some busy trips where we came home exhausted but the better trips were when we slowed down. Enjoy your trip!
We are building our individual park plans around our dinner reservations. We didn't believe all the hype about reserving table service early, until we gave it a try for Be Our Guest. There was only one reservation, in the afternoon, during our entire stay. So we scrambled to make our other table service reservations, including using one for a late lunch. We are now using My Disney Experience to plan events in specific parks around our meals. It's too early for choosing fast plus+ attractions. I'm so glad we decided on the park hopper.
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Old 02-17-2014, 06:57 PM   #7
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My dh and I have been there a couple of times without our son. We take it slow. We are both early risers so we are at the parks early. Our favorite park to do EMH is MK. We love to do fantasyland early since it gets crazy

We have left the park around 1 to go back to the pool or to cool off. Around 4 or 5 we go back to another park.

We have never been one to worry about where we are going to eat. We did on a large family trip a couple of years ago. I thought we spent too much time just sitting aroundbut it was mostly for lunch. Last year when we went we only did one table serve. We did the counter serve dining plan and that was plenty for us.

We stayed at BLT once and many other places and they all have great little food stores. If you want more take a boat ride to FW because their stores are a little biggsr. I also agree with the person who buys something on their way out to take back to their hotel room.

Have fun
Dona July 1980 with DH family Nov 1984 Last trip before kids Aug 1988 Poly 10th AnnvAug 1992 Port Orleans Other trips I can't nameAug 2002 POFQ, FW, AS sp with Sean and the girls Aug 2003 FW Our 25th Annv Trip Aug 2005 Camping with the Knotts Aug 2006 Twin Sister Trip Aug 2008 30 Anniv/grad Trip 2009 POFQ just us 2012 Grand Gathering with Sedlaks
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Old 02-18-2014, 07:26 AM   #8
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Around the WDW area are 3 Hess Gas Stations:
Across from the parking lot for MK.
Across the street from BWV.
Across the street from DTD.
These all have snacks and drinks at cheaper prices than the resorts.
OP, Let DISers know which resort you will be at and we can supply additional information on places to purchase supplies.
PP suggested taking a taxi to an offsite location and I agree with that. An example, if you are at the AKL/V, you can get to a Publix or Super Target about 3 miles away.
PP suggested plastic baggies for electronics and I agree with that.
Do whatever makes you and your family happy (From the Haunted Mansion DVD)
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Old 03-07-2014, 02:23 AM   #9
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Shoes: Whatever you normally wear that are broken-in and comfortable. Support, no support, I don't think it matters as much as just wearing whatever you're used to. I wear thin, cheap flip-flops around the parks without problem because that's what I'm used to wearing most of the time at home. (Flip flops are also a good option for getting wet and drying quickly.)

Backpack: I carry either a somewhat large purse or a small crossbody Baggallini and those have more than enough room for the few things we need to bring with us into the parks. I think a full sized backpack would be overkill and probably uncomfortable.

Electronics: Putting the electronics into the purse/Baggallini has always been sufficient for keeping them dry on the water rides. The only ride where you might get drenched would be Kali River Rapids and those rafts have a center console to store your things which has always worked well to keep my belongings dry. Having a ziplock bag on hand would be a good idea in case you got stuck in a soak-you-to-the-bone rainstorm.

Planning: I decide ahead of time which park we'll go to each day and make (generally) one meal reservation for each of those days. That way we have a break built into the day. The rest (counter service meals, rides, shows, etc.) we just play by ear. If you're going during a busier time of the year getting to the parks at rope drop will help you get a number of things done before the crowds show up.

Room Snacks: We've never gone off property to stock up on food but that's an option (as is bringing stuff from home if you're driving). We go to Babycakes in DTD the first afternoon we arrive and buy a box or two of doughnuts/pastries to have in the room for quick breakfasts/late night snacks. The resort gift shops will also have some snack foods on hand, not to mention all the places in the parks where you can grab treats for later.
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Old 03-16-2014, 09:04 PM   #10
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DH & I are a middle-aged couple who visit Disney pretty often. We're DVC owners, so it's the villas for us. Which villa are you staying at?

Neither of us ever carries a bag. We wear shorts with pockets and tuck the absolute necessaries in those. DH carries his wallet. I carry a lip balm and a spare hair elastic. If it looks like rain or we want to ride a water ride, we might carry a poncho. (If we're caught in a storm without a poncho, we just buy 'em.) If we need anything, we just stop and buy it. It's worth it not to have to fuss in a bag check line when we go in, then fuss on rides etc, and honestly, we don't need anything else.

For shoes, that will depend on you. There are all sorts of opinions on shoes. For me, it's either my high-priced New Balance running shoes with inserts or Toms. I'm an EE though, and both of those shoes fit my feet and won't rub blisters even if I walk 10 miles - shoes like that are a hard thing for someone with wide feet, high arches and the little Indian bump on top of her feet to find. YMMV.

We always have a car with us - we drive from Louisiana - so we usually make a stop at SuperTarget with dinner at Bahama Breeze beforehand, so we can pick up snacks and get replacements for forgotten items (and there are almost always forgotten items. Last time, DH had to get a swim suit. . .) However, you can definitely pick up whatever you really need at one of the shops, or you can order groceries delivered. I know there are two places you can order from - you'll have to search the threads, or get another poster to help you there.

For electronics, as other posters have mentioned, a ziplock baggie is plenty.

If you're not in good physical shape, get in good physical shape. Strap some shoes on, start walking. If you're an elliptical fan - start peddling! Seriously. DH tracked our walking with his Fit Bit this past trip. We did 7 to 12 miles of walking a day.
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Old 12-12-2014, 09:37 PM   #11
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Here is a blog dedicated to uniting middle-aged fans of Disney.
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Old 12-13-2014, 12:16 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by db57me View Post
1. What shoes are the best for all the walking, and for getting wet?

2. Should we plan to have a backpack of some sort?

3. How do you keep electronics dry?

4. We will not enjoy our stay if we over plan. So how do you get the most from your week at the park, without planning every minute? We are not thrill seekers, so attractions like space mountain are out.

5. We will be in a villa, with a small fridge and microwave? Where can you buy snacks to have available in your room?
1. There is no specific type. I'd take whatever shoes you feel most comfortable walking in. Tennis shoes, crocs, sandals, etc. Make sure you have more than 1 pair incase they do get wet. However, we've only ever had one instance of shoes getting wet from a bad storm and were able to use a blow-dryer to dry them out overnight. Also, make sure you take blister band aids or mole skin or both for any issues that come up.

2. We never take big bags. I'm not sure what all you are planning on packing, but we have never needed more than our tickets, money, id, sunglasses, and phones. Anything more really just becomes something to haul around. You don't even need to take a water bottle. You can get ice water for free at any restaurant or cart that has a soda machine. You can send any purchases either to the front gate or back to the room. Anything else, jackets, first aid, snacks, etc, I would just store in a locker, and you can get them out as needed. So, if I did take a backpack, I wouldn't carry it around with me, I'd only use it to and from the parks, but we prefer a beach bag for that. Easier to get in and out of and for security to check. Plus they tend to cram better into a locker than a stiffer backpack does. We usually do a cross body purses for the women and small messenger bags for men. We use these to hold the few belongings we do need with us. This is because Disney will let you wear these while you ride as long as all harnesses can be safely shut with them on. This way our hands stay free while we tour, and we can't accidently leave the bag behind at a ride by mistake. Some types of bags you have to take off and store while riding making them easy to forget in the rush to get out.

3. I've never had an issue with anything getting wet. What type of electronics are you talking about and what type of wet are you worried about? There aren't very many rides at Disney that get you wet, and the few that do are nothing bad. A trash bag or disposable rain jacket is usually sufficient to keep you dry. If you are really worried, I'd just take a few zip lock bags, that should do the trick. Universal is a whole other deal. Everything soaks you there, but Disney is pretty dry.

4. If you aren't big planners, than these are my suggestions:

A. Familiarize yourself with the quick service restaurants. Just because you don't need a reservation doesn't mean it isn't good. This will give you more flexibility to not plan out every meal if you know of a few QS restaurants in each park that interest you.

B. Focus on non ride attractions such as shows, parades, meet and greets, shopping, the new interactive games they have at MK and the scavenger hunt at Epcot, the countries, Innovations, the Aquarium at Epcot, the animal trails at AK, and nightly fireworks. You are going during a busy time where planning is more important for rides, but all these types of attractions won't be as effected by crowds, so you can more easily experience them as you come upon them without planning as much. For instance, you don't really need to plan in the fireworks to enjoy them. You can see them from everywhere in the park, and there are fireworks or some type of end of night show at every park except AK. So little planning is needed for this, except the staying up late enough to watch them part.

C. Try to make RD or Morning Extra Magic Hours. This will give you an extra couple of hours where you basically walk around and can do whatever you fancy without encountering long lines. By 10:00am, sometimes earlier, forget it.

D. Take breaks, avoid rides in the afternoon, swim, visit DTD, enjoy the hotels, just get away from the crowds in the afternoon, 11:00am to 4:00 or 5:00pm. This will be the hottest most crowded part of the day. The part of the day most affected by not super planning.

E. Have a general idea of your must dos for each park. Do those first; then afterwards, you can go plan free and just see what you see. This way you don't run out of time, and you can still keep planning to a minimum.

Note: FYI, you are a bigger planner than you think or you wouldn't be here. The type of people that have a miserable trip are the ones who show up without a clue. They ask how to get to HP world. They try to take boats from MK to DTD. They get mad because they can't find non-existent rides they have dreamed up. They have no idea what an ADR or a FP is and expect to walk onto everything on a crowded peak day. They also expect to walk up to any restaurant and eat without waiting or having a reservation. Then they get upset because they waited 3 hours for 1 ride, never got to meet Anna and Elsa, and couldn't eat at any character meals or at Cinderella's Castle. I've heard stories of people telling their kids they were going to eat with Cinderella and just walking over to the Castle to go in. When you try to tell them you need a reservation, they just look at you like you are crazy. Those are the unhappy non-planners. You will be fine.

5. The Deluxe resorts, which I am assuming you are staying at if you have a villa, all have a pantry-like section in the hotel gift shop with food and basic household supplies. Expect these to be extremely overpriced and the selection to be limited. Don't go hoping for a certain a brand or anything. I find these shops are good for things I forgot or emergencies, but that I should not depend on them for my grocery shopping needs. You have a few other options as well:

A. If you have a car, make a run to a nearby pharmacy or grocery store.

B. Use a grocery service to deliver supplies.

C. Use Amazon, Amazon Pantry, or a similar online service to ship supplies direct to your hotel.

D. Shop at home and send a package direct to your hotel.

Note: Some of the deluxe hotels allow packages to be shipped to them and stored until your arrival for free; however, a select few do charge on a per package rate. So it is best to check on that with your specific hotel first before deciding.

When we go, if we do not have a car, we usually do a combination of the Grocery Delivery Service (for frozen / refrigerated items) and shipping a box (misc. supplies and dry goods / snacks) to the hotel. This way we can use the same box to ship back all our souvenirs that are too large to go in the luggage. Food down, souvenirs back, works well. Learned that trick here on the Dis. You just get a return label for your package before leaving home, and then drop it at the hotel desk upon leaving and are good to go.

I think that should get you started. Hope you have a great trip.
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Old 12-18-2014, 01:11 AM   #13
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It looks like the OP's trip would have already happened by now. How was the trip?
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Old 12-18-2014, 03:59 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by DaisyDuck001 View Post
It looks like the OP's trip would have already happened by now. How was the trip?
Our trip in June went very well. I was more enthusiastic than my wife. I've started a blog about the trip.
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