If you've been to WDW and DL ...

Discussion in 'Disneyland (California)' started by MulanFan, Aug 17, 2006.

  1. MulanFan

    MulanFan Mouseketeer

    Feb 24, 2006
    ... what would you recommend doing at WDW? We've been to DL once, and may end up going to Orlando to visit family. That's when I found out there was a whole lot more to do at WDW, and it's very overwhealming (WDW = DL on steroids or something ... :rotfl2: ). We have a DD who will be 3 at that time, and she likes the beach. ARe there waterparks with a beach feature (waves, sand etc.)? What are some great things to do? Are onsite hotels worth it? Meal plans? I checked out the WDW forums but they don't seem to have the same level of info on this board.

    Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!
  2. debloco

    debloco DIS Veteran

    Nov 14, 2003
    Hi there,

    Yes, there is a great place if your DD likes the beach. Check out this link for Typhoon Lagoon

    Typhoon Lagoon

    and since your DD is 3, I would highly recommend staying onsite so you can take advantage of the "Magical Beginnings" morning at the Magic Kingdom.

    Here's a review from a mom who took her kids on the first morning it was offered:

    ... from Heidi Sayut: "We are wrapping up an 11-day stay at our favorite place, and this morning we took advantage of the Magical Beginnings Extra Magic Hour for little ones. It was the first day of the program, and while we have been here many, many times, we have NEVER had such a magical morning! The crowds were light, the Cast Members were friendly, Fantasyland was glowing in the morning sun, and the characters were out and ready to play! In 60 minutes my 6-year-old son and 4-year-old princess played "Ring around the Rosie" with Snow White, had a wonderful game of hide and seek with Tigger and Piglet at Pooh's Playful Spot, played "Following the Leader," "Peter Pan Says," and "Wendy, May I" with Peter Pan, Wendy and Captain Hook, rode the Peter Pan ride in a pirate ship WITH WENDY!! and hit all the other Fantasyland rides. Even though we love this place and have tons of great memories from throughout the years, nothing can compare to the memories we made this morning! We stopped quite a few Disney management-types who were observing the first day of the program and told them this ranks right up there among their best ideas ever! We just wanted to pass along what a magical time we had and let other families know that we highly recommend the Magical Beginnings morning!"

    WDW can be overwhelming! ;) We've taken many trips over the years (but just got back from DL/CA :) ) and even so there are many things to do, restaurants to eat in, activities to try that we haven't gotten to yet. I'd highly recommend going to either the bookstore or your local library and getting a copy of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or the Birnbaum's Official Guide to Walt Disney World.

    The DISboards are great, but it can be very time consuming to sift through and find information. They're far better for strategies and details after you have a good basic working knowledge of WDW.

    You can also find good info at the "parent" site of the DISboards




  3. SamIAm21

    SamIAm21 Mickey's #1 Fan

    Aug 2, 2005
    WDW is DL on Steroids!! That's fabulous!

    I've been to both WDW and DL in the last year.

    Unlike DL, it's a good idea to stay "on property" while at WDW. It's not required, but it's a good idea. By staying on property, you can use the WDW bus system that will take you to all the parks. This makes it easy to head back to the hotel for naps or downtime. The Magic Your Way Dining plan would be a good idea unless your daughter is fussy or eats like a bird. Then it might not be worth it. If she's a good eater, it could come in very handy. I'm not sure what your budget is, but all of the WDW resorts offer something special. I can personally vouch for Port Orleans French Quarter and the Contemporary. I have also heard nothing but good things about Pop Century, which is a value resort and I'm staying there in November.

    If your daughter loves the beach, she might enjoy Ketchakiddee Creek (kids area) at Typhoon Lagoon. It's a very cute area for the kids with lots of sand and buckets for castle-making!

    Edited to Add:

    The Allears site mentioned above is a great web site, but the address is www.allearsnet.com

  4. Amy&Dan

    Amy&Dan DIS Veteran

    Feb 19, 2004
    Keep checking on the WDW side of disboards. Frankly my experience has been they have about 10 times the info the Disneyland side does, its just split up between various boards. It can be time consuming however. Sometimes its easier to just post your own questions, as many times as you need to, as opposed to wading through hundreds of threads looking for your own answer! There is one board, called Disney For Families here on the dis that could be really helpful to you. I have been to Disneyland about 10 times and WDW 6 times. And my experience has been that WDW does not have to be overwhelming as long as you do some planning beforehand. The most important thing to remember with WDW or DL for that matter, is that its impossible to do it all in one trip. Even with trips as long as 12 full days to WDW, there were things we just didn't get to. So research ahead of time (like you are obviously) pick what you want to do and get to those things first. If you see other things as well, great. But that also has happened on our trips to Disneyland! I also think WDW is a week or more type vacation. We have done three day trips to Disneyland on several occasions and had great trips. WDW however, we prefer 10 night trips or longer. Here is some things I have found to be true and helpful:

    Lodging: Stay onsite at WDW! You will get to take advantage of Extra Magic Hour (EMH) that is only available to onsite guests. And you will have transportation to each and every park as well as DTD right outside your door. Each day a park will open one hour early or stay open 3 hours later. Every day at least one park will have extra hours for onsite guests. Sometimes more than one park per day. For example one will open early, another will stay open late. Unlike DIsneyland that offers Early Entry at least one day per park hopper, EMH is only for onsite guests. And since there are four levels of resorts/pricing it can be very affordable to stay onsite. Given the age of your daughter and the fact you only have one child, the value resorts might be fun and with AAA rates you can score a clean, nice room for under $100 a night. My family has stayed at all four value resorts and we love Pop Century the most, but only by a hair. We have also enjoyed the All Stars as well. The moderates are also great and unlike the values have full service restaurants, pool slides and hot tubs. I would check out the slideshows on www.allearsnet.com to see all the resorts. They have literally thousands of pictures for you to view that really help you get a feel for the resorts and what is worth it for you to pay for.

    Dining: The Dining Plan is great if you like sit down meals. You get meal credits for sit downs, counter service and snacks to use as you see fit. If you opt for the meal plan or even if you want to just pay out of pocket as you go, make ADR's (advanced dining reservations). Its getting harder and harder (in fact almost impossible) to get into the popular restaurants at Epcot, MK and any character meals. Advanced planning is critical. You can make ADR's 180 days in advance beleive it or not. See what I mean about advanced planning? There are about 10 character meals at WDW I believe and they all fill up, both in the resorts and in the parks. Again, allearsnet.com has menus and pricing for every restaurant in WDW. Also, the restaurants board here on the dis can tell you plenty and give you valuable information on the Disney Dining Plan (DDP). Restaurants/dining are much more of an emphasis at WDW than Disneyland. And they are all kid friendly so even the expensive restaurants at Epcot such as Le Cellier cater to kids and you won't feel a bit funny having a nice sitdown meal in your shorts and sneakers with your toddler present. Incidentally the DDP is part of a package. Meaning you can only get it when you stay onsite and order your park hoppers all as part of a package. Another reason staying onsite can be very important. Because if you decide you want to do quite a few sit downs the dining plan is the way to go and its only for onsite guests.

    Weather: Hurricanes and humidity are part of Florida. But even during hurrican season, WDW operates just fine and the parks close rarely and only for a short time if one passes over Orlando. The good news about hurricane season is that can be a great time to go to WDW. For instance this year and last year, they offered free dining during hurricane season. So you pay for your room and park tickets but the DDP is literally free. Its great if you can travel during the late summer when schools are back in and hurricanes are a possiblity. My personal favorite times to go to WDW are in October and late April into early May. If you can go off season do so, you'll avoid crowds and if you go anytime during October to mid May you'll avoid the worst of the heat and humidty as well. Christmas week and Presidents week should be avoided if possible, crowds are insane! Also spring break times, especially the weeks prior and following Easter are nuts. If you go to www.touringplans.com you will see graphs on the projected crowd levels for WDW all year long, day by day.

    I would also suggest you buy a guide book such as the Unofficial Guide or subscibe to Tour Guide Mike, www.tourguidemike.com Mike is a former WDW VIP tour guide and he knows his stuff. His website is around $22 I think, its constantly updated and has so much information and he can really help you design a touring plan that works for your family. He has a money back guarantee so you really have nothing to lose. WDW is less of a "wing it" park. But you don't need to stress about having a plan, just buy a book or subsribe to TGM to get some information ahead of time. I also suggest a Disney travel specialist like Dreams Unlimited. They can get you some great deals and help you with your dining reservations etc. Even after 6 trips to WDW and two more pending, I never book my own travel to WDW. Disneyland however, I always do myself and have never used a TA one time.

    You mentioned water parks. Typhoon Lagoon is great. They have a wonderful lazy river, a huge wave pool and bunches of other things to do. You can swim in actual shark reef. Blizzard Beach also has a wave pool but I don't think its as big as Typhoon Lagoons. Blizzard Beach is more about the extreme slides (Summit Plummet in particular) your daughter would be too young to do anyway.

    I hope this helps you a bit. WDW is wonderful. It doesn't have the same feel as Disneyland, its not as compact obviously and it doesn't have that Walt factor. However for a total, immersive, resort, vacation it cannot be beat. Good luck!
  5. MulanFan

    MulanFan Mouseketeer

    Feb 24, 2006
    Thanks for all the info! Amy&Dan, thanks for writing all that out.

    I'm glad to hear that searching the WDW boards IS time consuming, I was starting to wonder about what I was doing wrong (I guess I'm just too used to this board). Besides, the server often seemed to be "too busy to process my request" when I did the searches. I'll do some more research and get the books (I got the Unofficial Guide for DL and I like that book). Good to know about the importance of staying onsite.

    Thanks again to everyone! I knew I'd find the answers here!

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