Hi, I've been reading your boards for a couple of months, but this is my first post. You are all an awesome resource and I've spent so much money buying your recommendations!! (hand mister fans, crocs, glow sticks, the list goes on) We leave on Thursday and we are so excited!! I guess I should say who "we" are. First there is my we, which is myself, hubby, 7year old son, and almost 5 year old daughter (one month till her b-day). Then there is the extended we that we are traveling with, which is my parents, my sister, and her family which is her hubby and 7 year old daughter and 5 year old daughter. We are all traveling out there together, but will pretty much be going separate ways once we get there (I have some issues with that but that's neither here nor there I guess). This will be the first time to WDW for all of us, although hubby and I, my mom, and my sis and her family have been to Disneyland assorted times. One thing I would like some help with. I've read the books, and the websites, and many of the posts on this and other boards, and I know it's recommended that you get there before the park opens so you can ride more with less lines. I also have read about the afternoon break to cool off, rest some, and avoid the crowds. So I have some questions about the times of coming and going and breaks. Oh, and I should add that my family is going to MK, MGM, AK, and Epcot, where as the other two families are going to other variations and only 2-3 of the parks. My parents do NOT like the rope drop. They saw that on one of the videos we watched and the idea of being corralled like cattle and then pushed in a rushing stampede does not apeal to them at all. What time would you recommend we try to get there that we would still be early, but miss the rope drop? Should we just try to get to the parking lot by 9 and then by the time we get through the transportation to the gate and into the park the rope drop part will be over? Should we still try to get there about 10 minutes before 9 to allow for the time it takes to get to the gates, through the turnstiles (at least 1-3 of us will have backpacks and or bags, so we will have to do security check), or what would be your recomendation to get there early but miss the corralling? We want to take the afternoon break to let the kids rest and cool off at the pool and rest those dogs. Assuming we get there at or shortly after opening (9am), when should we plan to take the break? And how long of a break should we plan to take (two hours, four)? Would it be a good idea to take a snack for midmorning, then eat lunch at the break? Also if you leave to take a break and more people come in the park, can you be denied re-entry because they are at capacity, or since your ticket has been read are you still counted as part of the capacity and allowed in? I mean we don't have park hopper tickets, so we were told when we use the ticket, it's "locked" to only allow entry to that park for that day. So would we be able to get back in, or not? And is this something I should worry about for this time of year? Also, I wasn't going to do the autograph book thing, but I decided to break down and prepare for it because I'm afraid that my kids seeing other's do it would make them want to do it and we would end up buying a book there. I bought a book that is 6x6, is this an okay size for it? I don't want something too big because I have to lug two of them all over the place, but I want it to be big enough for the characters to be able to use. I also bought fat sharpies and the retractable sharpies. We are not doing any character meals, and I would like to avoid spending all day standing in line to meet characters other than a select few "must sees". Will we see several characters just out and about that the kids can meet, or do you really need to submit to the lines or the meals in order to see anyone? I know we will have to do Ariel, and probably Mickey or Donald, and if Buzz or Woody require lines we will have to do that too, but I would like the rest to be chance meetings if possible. And is the Toontown Fair the best place to meet Mickey, or are there good places to meet him at other parks? And what is the deal with the "busload of characters" at Epcot? Hiow do you know where/when they stop? And besides toontown fair and Ariel's grotto, is there any definate areas that characters will be? Or a website with the info? I found a spreadsheet from a link I think was listed here, but it was last updated in 2004 so I don't know how accurate it is. I also read you can get character listings and times from services, are these a printout you can carry, or they just tell you the time/place? I just mainly want to get an idea of if there is anywhere we need to make a point of going while we are there, as I know we won't see it all. We've decided to let the kids lead the way and do what they want. I had all the touring plans and tips on avoiding crowds and everything, but I remember when I went to Disneyland with hubby and his family. It was a group of 12-16 people, and I was the only one who hadn't been to DL before. Everyone was rushing me from one place to another and telling me what to ride and where to eat and when I could shop and wouldn't let me look at anything I wanted to. It was so frustrating!! I don't want to do that to my kids, even if it means we miss half the park. As long as they are having fun, I'll be happy. I know we would miss a lot of line time if we did more planning, but I figure thinking about what we missed will help motivate us to go again. And this is our first real vacation since hubby and I went on our honeymoon, as he is military and all our vacations were always to go home and visit family. We are looking forward to our trip and this board has been a blessing in helping me plan and prepare. Thank you for all of your tips!! Take care!! Tina Rod.