First Timer's Tip List (LONG)


Earning My Ears
Feb 14, 2001
Posted this a while back but thought some newer folks mught find some of these helpful.

Things we would do differently:

No more connecting flights -- non-stop all the way. We were absolutely green around the gills for two days after the connecting flight home. I don't know what we would have done if we hadn't gotten there non-stop!

Stay at least a week. Although there are "only" four parks, there is far too much to do to see everything in four days.

As for our family, we won't do Chef Mickey's or Crystal Palace again: food mediocre at best, other places to see the same characters. Loved the Liberty Tree Tavern and Cinderella's and 1900 Park Fare, Hollywood and Vine pretty good, too.

In the winter, pack only a few cold weather clothes to layer; always bring the t-shirts and shorts, even if the forecast is supposedly freezing.

Unexpected surprises:

Our first night, before we ever hit the parks, we were headed to Chef Mickey's for dinner. The first blue flag ferry from the Wilderness Lodge was going by way of the Fort Wilderness campground, but we decided to hop aboard and enjoy the ride. Did we ever! Right after the stop at the Ft. Wilderness dock, just us and the captain, headed toward the Contemporary, the Magic Kingdom fireworks lit up the night sky over the castle and we had our own private fireworks show over the bay. This was right at 6:00.

We thought our trip to Orlando was going to be hellacious. When we arrived at the ticket counter the first leg had been delayed by hours, with no hope of catching the connection. Our agent switched us to a direct flight leaving within the hour out of Continental -- we even got lunch on the flight and were there in about 90 minutes! Tiffany Towncar was there two minutes after we called, even though we weren't scheduled to be picked up for two more hours. GO TIFFANY!

Our room at the Wilderenss Lodge was EXACTLY what we had requested through CRO (and we faxed the requests again the night before our departure). Room 6121, right wing, bunk beds, view of the Electric Water Pageant and the top of the MK fireworks over the roof of the lodge -- it was perfect.

The Lodge is gorgeous and breathtaking. It felt like home after a few days and we were sad to say goodbye. Treat yourselves to a deluxe -- the location and service is out of this world. Even if you don't spend a ton of time there, going back frequently is much easier and so comforting. I could spend days just enjoying the lobby.

We managed to catch the ferries and buses perfectly for most of our stay -- little waiting. From what we'd heard we'd been afraid the transportation from the WL would be confusing, but it was flawless. Many times we ferried to the Contemporary and used the monorail.

The stroller system is good -- they now have the name tags for the strollers and we also tied a purple handkerchief around the handle so we could spot it immediately. Worked great -- could pick ours out of a mass in a second.

Fantasmic was awesome. We arrived at 6:00, supposedly for the 7:30 show, only to discover there were two shows for the night -- one at 6:30 and one at 8:30. YIKES! We got to the line to hear it was standing room only but decided to make the best of it so we could get back to the Lodge at a reasonable hour. In this case, SRO was NOT standing -- we had great seats on the right side, and if you have a good view of a water screen, you have a good view, period. Almost every animated Disney film is projected on the water, to my five year old's delight. Other highlights: the whole lagoon is set on fire at one point, and all the princesses appear on floats at the end. A huge snake and the dragon are very cool, too.

Thanks to the tips on the DIS, my hubby got to be in the Indiana Stunt Show, and also was tapped to play the Beast in Belle's Enchanted Christmas. For the Indy show, jumping up and waving like a fool works! Do it the first time the casting director announces she will be selecting participants and then again when she starts looking. My hubby was the first one picked. We had picked up a fast pass for the next show, but tried the stand by line at 11:00 for the 11:15 show. Again, great seats, right down front in the center, behind the control booth. Don't be put off by stand by if fast pass doesn't work for your schedule.

Early entry is the only way to tour the parks. Make yourself get up and get to the gates 100 minutes before official opening time. You will have the parks to your selves, ride almost everything with NO waits, and get out of Dodge after lunch.

Take it easy. We abandoned several evening tour plans in favor of rest and relaxation so we could be on the move early the next morning in good spirits. Don't be afraid to abandon "must-sees" for the good of your group. No one can see it all -- don't try. You'll ruin your vacation trying. Seeing what you can rested and relaxed is more enriching and magical than anything else, especially the commando craze we saw in some families -- the adults were as ugly and fussy as the children (or more so!). Tell yourself, if you don't see it all, there will be some great surprises NEXT time. (Yeah, we're already planning another one, even though it will be two years before we can afford it!)

Do have a plan of which attractions to do in which order, but be ready to alter it frequently -- there is so much to discover just at a moment's notice. And be ready for your kids to have favorites that need repeating. My 5 yr. old had to ride the Carousel, Dumbo, Pan, and Pooh several times and thanks to EE and the Christmas party, we did them all without ever waiting more than 5 minutes.

My autograph book got lots of compliments and many wonderful reactions from the characters, which we videotaped. I had a picture of each character that is listed on the Character location spreadsheet (well, I did miss a couple -- more on that in a minute), each pasted on a 4x6 index card, each slid in the photo sleeve of one of those small Mickey photo books you can get at Walmart. Whenever we saw a character, I slid his or her picture out for an autograph. Captain Hook and Gov. Ratcliff were preening over theirs. All the characters loved seeing their own image and told us so, in one way or another. When we saw Captain Hook he was with Mr. Smee and guess which picture I didn't have? Mr. Smee was so sad he almost walked away for good, although we coaxed him into signing Hook's page, too. All of these will go in the scrapbook beside the pictures we took, and I promised Mr. Smee we would find a picture of him to include!

Sorry for the novel length!;)

[This message was edited by disneynovice
Novice no More! on 04-12-01 at 03:54 PM.]
Great information, DisneyNovice - but I think you're going to have to change your name now!

I want to hear more! Where did you get the pictures for the characters to sign? Sounds like a wonderful trip! I'm so excited for our 2nd trip ... we're starting to plan it now, and we're going in March!
Loved your post, and am anxious to hear more! :)


Offsite '78
ASMu 10/98
PO 2/99
ASMo/Poly/PO 9/99
Contemporary 9/00
ASMo 11/01
?? 12/02

I got the clip art from You can pull up the pics you want, save them, and then insert them into a Word document. I spaced mine so I got four on a page, then cut the page into quarters to paste on the index card.

<IMG BORDER="0" SRC="" WIDTH="150" HEIGHT="250">

[This message was edited by disneynovice on 12-23-00 at 10:53 PM.]

[This message was edited by disneynovice
Novice no More! on 04-12-01 at 03:41 PM.]
LOL- we must share a brain- we have the exact same autograph book, except mine is Pooh from Wal-Mart :D Cant wait to get there and USE it!

Poly & DCL May 2000
DXL, Poly, & DCL May 2001

WOW!! Thanks for the great tips. I posted a while ago asking about your super-cool autograph book idea. I think I understand better now. How about for this lazy girl to simply print off the characters' pictures and use that paper for signatures? Or is that too flimsy for their autographs? Again-excellent info!
Jen :D

Some great tips! Thanks for sharing!

Debi, co-moderator of the
<a href="">Disney Tips Board</a>
Cast Members Only board
<img height="200" src="">
Thanks for the wonderful tips. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Can't wait we will be there in 42 days and counting. :D


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