What worked; what didn't

Discussion in 'Disney for Families' started by Aliceacc, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc <font color=royalblue>We had a wonderful time, but

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    WE got back last night from a wonderful Disney vacation, just ahead of tropical storm Fay. I thought I would give a rundown of things we did/brought to make this trip extra wonderful. FYI, it was the first trip for my kids, and my first trip in 18 years.

    - We stayed at the Polynesian. What a WONDERFUL resort. It was beautiful, and incredibly restful. The pool was a blast. My kids loved the waterslide, and I loved sitting under the waterfall getting a back massage from water. We stayed in Tokelau, and it was incredibly convenient-- an easy walk to the TTC for our Epcot days, and convenient to the bus stop, the monorail, and the pools. Our room, 2924, had a sideways view of the lagoon, although that wasn't as important as I thought it would be, as the view of the gardens was lovely.

    - My baggalini bag was wonderful!!! It was comfortable and held a ton of stuff!!

    - The kids really didn't use their fanny packs much. They found that they got in the way when they sat down.

    - We bought a Maclaren Volo stroller for my 5 year old. My original intent was to use it just for evenings, but that plan went out the window the second day. She was TIRED in the August heat, and we brought it everywhere. It was a vital addition to our trip!

    - Likewise, we brought 4 Mistymate misters with us. (We got them at BJs, for 3/$15) They were a Godsend!!!! They made the heat so much more bearable. They were lightweight; I normally brought 3 along with us when we went anywhere (2 in a ziplock bag in my Baggalini, and one in the stroller) Get them! You'll be soooo happy you did!!!!!! They would be a bargain at triple the price!

    - My kids really didn't get into the pintrading the way I thought they would. (Though my niece loved it on her trip last month.) I think the problem was the lanyards-- they were uncomfortable in the sticky heat.

    -The Photopass was great!!! I did a share with my sister, and just inputted my pictures a minute ago. Between the 2 families we have 127 pictures.

    - I brought bubbles to use in line, but never used them at all. We really only hit one line all week (the day we got a late start to Hollywood Studios-- 90 minutes on Toy Story Mania) and that line was indoors, so I didn't want to break out the bubbles. All our other waits were in the ballpark of 20 minutes or less, so we didn't need the distraction.

    - Dollar store rain ponchos were NECESSARY!! Even aside from Tropical Storm Fay, we hit rain almost every day. I brought 3 per person, plus 1 for the stroller. We never used the last set (though we would have, had the storm been a day earlier.)

    - The DDP was wonderful! We ended up with 14 extra snack credits we used yesterday. Again, with the storm coming, we thought we might get stuck at the airport, so we loaded up on hearty snacks-- rice crispie treats and stuff like that. (Though the airport was empty and we didn't eat them yet.)

    - We got the personalized menus and diver at the Coral Reef, and the kids loved them!! And the Mahi Mahi I had for dinner was delicious!!Dinner with Cinderella and the stepsisters at 1900 Park Faire was delightful (and my girls were happy to have their princess dresses) , as was dinner at LeCellier. We had some issues at Chef Mickeys, as one of my kids turned out to be TERRIFIED of characters. I wouldn't recommend doing that the first day for someone who is afraid they may face similar issues, though the food was great. Hollywood and Vine was good, as was 'Ohanas. We honestly didn't have a single bad meal there.Edited to add: The Coral Reef no longer does the divers or menus.

    - We ordered from Garden Grocer, and it was wonderful!! We got breakfast items, fruit, and 3 cases of water-- we ended up with one case to spare, which we gave away to another family.

    - The refillable mugs were great-- we used them each day for coffee and tea. (We didn't bother getting them for the kids, as we had water and juice boxes in the room.)
    - As far as spending money goes: we came down with $770 in gift cards and $301 in Disney Visa points. We charged all our restaurant tips to the room, bought pretty much anything we wanted, and ended up spending an additional $8. Some of our pricier souviniers were my $85 watch, my son's $80 monorail set (I think it's kind of like the Brio stuff) and my duaghter's Castle dollhouse. (We had the last 2 shipped home, since they were so big.)

    -Fantasmic was too intense for my girls; my husband took them out in the first 15 minutes. While Brian and I loved it, it is loud and can be frightening.

    -Eveything you read about getting to the parks early is true!!! The one day we got to Hollywood Studios at 12:30, we had a miserable time. (I had let everyone sleep in, then did laundry at the Poly.) We waited 90 minutes for Toy Story Mania (fastpasses were all gone by the time we got there) and hit crowds everywhere we went. Everyone is right: get to the parks at rope drop!!!!!

    -We didn't follow a strict touring plan, but did have an idea of what we wanted to see and in what order. So, for example, when we got to the Magic Kingdom for rope drop, we went right to Splash Mountain and fast-passed Thunder Mountain on the way. Likewise, for Epcot, we went right to Soarin' ( a MUST SEE, honest!!!) then headed over to ride Mission Space after fast-passing Test Track. It worked like a charm; we hit very few big lines.

    -Yesterday, the parks opened early, anticipating the tropical storm. We were there for 8 am rope drop, and had the park to ourselves. We walked right onto rides all day long, from Dumbo to Peter Pan to Indy Speedway. We were the ONLY ONES on Small World!! Do NOT let the forecast keep you away from the park-- pack those ponchos and get there early!!

    That's all that occurs to me at the moment, though I'm sure I'll add as I wake up.

    edited to add:
    -something I just thought of: I was pretty sure I would wear sneakers all week, but LOVED my Teva Mush flip flops that someone here recommended. With the weather kind of wet a lot, it was great having something that would dry quickly.

    -Also, park hoppers were a GREAT investment for us!!! The day we started at Animal Kingdom, we did the safari and Kali River Rapids and got soaked. Ten minutes later it started to pour-- a cold, windy rain. We were cold and wet and miserable. We went back to the Poly, changed, and headed to Epcot. Several days later, we hit Animal Kingdom again, saw what we had missed, then got to Epcot for dinner. The park hoppers gave us valuable flexibility.

    -I was so glad to have trip insurance!!! Tropical storm Fay wasn't even on the radar when we left NY last week, and it could have had a major effect on our trip and our finances without the insurance. From this point on, trip insurance is a must for my family!!!

    -My kids LOVED getting autographs!! In fact, Kira had a meltdown in Hollywood Studios when we wanted to see a show and she wanted to get Handy Manny's autograph. (He was on a break but due to return soon.) There were tons of chances for autographs without standing in line for more than a few minutes. And our autograph books were about $6 each at www.thelaughingplacestore.com

    - I invested in some glow in the dark bracelets through Oriental Trading. They made it a lot easier to spot each other once it got dark out. (We were the ones with one green and one blue bracelet.)
     
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  3. Momerath

    Momerath Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for the tips. :thumbsup2 I am going with 2 y/o in January and it will be the first time I've taken him. First trip with a child I'm sure is going to be very different than just me & DH. Happy to soak up any and all tips about family travel that I can from these boards!
     
  4. cjackearl

    cjackearl DIS Veteran

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    Thanks Alice!! This info will be put to use for our next Disney adventure! Did you have the Baggallini messenger bag or the uptown? I think I want the giraffe print!
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc <font color=royalblue>We had a wonderful time, but

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    I had the messenger bag in red. I wanted something pretty gender neutral in case my husband ended up carrying it. (He didn't he got himself a backpacky thing right before we left. )
     
  6. PrincessKsMom

    PrincessKsMom <img src=http://photopost.wdwinfo.com/data/500/tlk

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    So glad to hear your trip went well. Thanks for all the tips. I will be going in 3 days and need all the tips I can gather. I was trying also to remain positive about the storm, figuring if Fay hangs around, most people will stay away and I'll have the park to myself! Any chance you remember if they were offering a bounceback offer this time?

    Thanks and welcome home! :cool1:
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc <font color=royalblue>We had a wonderful time, but

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    Yes, there was a bounceback flyer in the room, but all the dates were 2008. And Disney was a budget buster for us anyway, so there's no way we were going to bounceback.

    And there was NO ONE in the park yesterday!!!! We got onto 5 rides in the first 45 minutes!!!
     
  8. PrincessKsMom

    PrincessKsMom <img src=http://photopost.wdwinfo.com/data/500/tlk

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    I cannot tell you how much this one post has brought some sunshine back into my dreary outlook! You have definitely spread some pixie dust for me! :worship: :worship:
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc <font color=royalblue>We had a wonderful time, but

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    I tell you-- it was amazing!!!!! We were the ONLY ones in the entire Small World building who didn't work there. We went on Peter Pan's flight twice in a row, none of the 90 minute waits we had walked by all week. My kids got on the Indy Speedway 3 times!!! The longest of the 3 waits was 10 minutes! We walked by Splash Mountain at about 1 pm (we didn't want to get wet, since we had checked out of the Poly)-- there was a 10 MINUTE wait!!!

    Storms and inclement weather are MOST DEFINITELY your friends at Disney!!! Just stock up on ponchos!
     
  10. scrapperqueen

    scrapperqueen Earning My Ears

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    how many ponchos did you bring ? I just bout one of each for us at the dollar store. I need to go back again this week and get more

    Thanks for your list...great hellp:woohoo:
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc <font color=royalblue>We had a wonderful time, but

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    I got us each 3 for the week, and an extra (orange one!!)for the stroller. We ended up with an extra set at the end of the week (we kind of set those aside, knowing the tropical storm was coming.)
     
  12. boardom

    boardom Mouseketeer

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    Fantastic tips! Thanks for sharing. :)
     
  13. nikkers

    nikkers Mouseketeer

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    Thank you for all the great info. I never thought of having a poncho for the stroller. I am definately going to add that to my list!
     
  14. bellaprincess98

    bellaprincess98 Mouseketeer

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    Was it because of the rain or do you think it generally is getting better crowd wise as the days go on?

    I'm glad you had a great trip. Thanks for taking the time to write to us. We are leaving on Saturday and I hope all goes well for me and family's first Disney trip.
     
  15. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc <font color=royalblue>We had a wonderful time, but

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    I'm sure it was the tropical storm. The media was playing it up to be a bad one, and in fact it WAS bad to the south. I was pretty sure our flight would be cancelled. But I think the storm veered off track; it was a whole lot less intense than the weather we had in NY the week before we left.
     
  16. dogodisney

    dogodisney DIS Veteran

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    Aliceacc, Thank you for the report. Nice to hear that the weather didn't ruin your trip.



    Have a safe and magical trip! :tink:

    I go down 13 days after you! :yay:
     
  17. K and K's Mommy

    K and K's Mommy <font color=blue>WISH Biggest Loser/Blue Team</fon

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    Thanks for the tips! We are staying at the Poly in October. I am thinking about a baggalini as this will be the first trip without needing a diaper bag!:banana:
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc <font color=royalblue>We had a wonderful time, but

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    TRy to get one in a bright color, so your stroller is a lot easier to spot. THe orange worked well for us. I also invested in a dozen bright bandannas from Oriental trading; I tied one around the stroller handle for the times we didn't use the orange poncho.

    (The other bandannas went onto the handles of our suitcases. They came in really handy at JFK last night, when our suitcases looked just like all the others. Also, someone in the Poly bag room left 1 of our suitcases off the luggage rack, so it never made it onto Magical Express last night. When I called today, the bandanna made it easy for the guy to spot; they're shipping the suitcase back to us.)
     
  19. thegrimdwarf

    thegrimdwarf DIS Veteran

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    Great info - thank you for taking the time to type it all out! I'm glad you had what sounds like a great trip, and that you got out of there before Faye settled in.

    I keep meaning to hit the dollar store for ponchos, and keep forgetting. I'm putting that on my errand list for tomorrow, as well as a BJs trip for the fans you mentioned.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc <font color=royalblue>We had a wonderful time, but

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    If not the dollar store, try the camping section at Walmart. I found theirs to be smaller (and easier to carry around the parks) than the ones I got from our dollar store.
     
  21. vettechick99

    vettechick99 <font color=purple>Why do I open these threads?<br

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    Really great review - simple format and very informative!

    So glad you had a good time and didn't let Fay ruin anything. You are right, when it rains, 90% of people hit the road. Some of the best times to see the attractions.
     

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