The Sloneckers’ January Trip to Disney–Conclus., Off-season, Suggestions, Part 8 of 8

Obsessed w/Disney in OH

With hope, the imagination soars.
Sep 25, 1999
The Sloneckers’ January Trip to Disney–Conclusions, Off-season touring, Suggestions, Part 8 of 8

Slonecker Family:

Russ-DH, a converted Disney fan after trip in summer of 2000

Lisa-the compulsive planner–fanatical DIS fan; been dying to go back to Disney since summer of 2000

Holly-13; wants to set a new record for the number of times on Rock n Roller; definite list of “have to’s” and “can skip” attractions

Emily-10; Has enough energy and curiosity for all of us! Ready and raring to go–most excited about missing school to go to Disney

Jana-6; Says she is ready to go and see Mickey and Minnie again. Thinks she’s brave enough to try Rock n Roller!


5 nights, 5 days at Port Orleans Riverside. January

The Second Time

We had a WONDERFUL time on our trip. It’s Disney, after all!!! :D :D :D I was a little worried that we would be disappointed in our second trip, since our first trip was soooo fantastic and magical. However, I worried for nothing. This time, the whole family was able to participate and plan for the trip because they knew what to expect. We were able to better choose how we wanted to spend our time rather than wander around just getting acclimated to the parks. We spent more time seeing the out-of-way, small detail things that we skipped the first trip. We tried some new things and one of those, “Hoop Dee Doo” ended up being the kids’ favorite thing to do!!

Off-Season Touring

Because of a matter of circumstances, we found that an off-season/winter trip to WDW would work for us this time. The last time we were there–it was blistering hot. It was a good thing it was our first trip, because the anticipation, novelty, and excitement made the heat more bearable. So, the thought of going this time in January was very appealing. We were extremely lucky this trip–January, 75-80 every day and no rain. It made us all so much happier and we felt we could tour at a more leisurely pace. :)

Advantages of going off season:

Prices: We were able to pay so much less for our room than we did when we went in the summer. In addition, although the hours of the parks were shorter, we were able to do almost as much in 5 days with shorter hours than we were able to do in 7 days with summer hours. In the summer, you absolutely have to go back to the room for a break. In the winter, we were able to go straight through and have time in the evenings for other things.

Crowds Obviously, the crowds were much smaller in the winter. Many times, the fast pass machines weren’t even open because there was no need. We had minimal wait or walked on to most rides.

Relaxation Not having EE certainly forced us take more time in the mornings and having shorter park hours forced us to do something else in the evenings. We certainly got more sleep than we did in the summer!

Attitude What else can I say?? What makes for happier children, husband, and me? 100* vs. 80*–...easy answer. Hot, sticky weather make for grouchy, grumpy, tired people.

Characters We saw so many more characters this trip. They seemed to be out more frequently–maybe less heat. Or maybe not so many children clamoring to see them made them more available. After 5 days, my youngest daughter only had 1 page left in her autograph–that’s a lot of characters!!


**I missed my EE. :( Something about the EE made us feel like we were “ahead” of the people who slept in. It made us feel like we were really efficient and smart and were leaving the parks with a sense of accomplishment while people were just pouring in. There was an energy and excitement about this that we missed.

**Longer hours. I missed having the ability to make day plans and evening plans. I missed not have many choices for going to the parks in the evenings. Everything was closed!!

**Things just aren’t as efficient. The shows aren’t shown as often. Some attractions are only showing certain days of the week. Some rides are down for repairs. I missed the energy of the young, college-age CMs(no offense meant to anyone!;) ). The stores and restaurants weren’t running at peak and everything seemed to be at a slower pace. This is OK, but sometimes it drove me crazy!!

**We were lucky–the weather could have been lousy, so we can’t guarantee this ideal winter weather the next time.:sunny:

**I missed the crowds a that crazy or what?? There’s something about crowds that makes the excitement and energy build. It was strange to watch shows in half empty theaters. It was strange to not wait in lines and grab that fast pass. It was strange to ride on empty buses.

When I first got home, I was convinced I would NEVER go in the summer again. However, I can’t say that for sure now. I am so glad we did this time–we were very lucky with the weather and it was fun to go when everyone at home was experiencing less appealing weather. But, as I said above, there are advantages and disadvantages and I’m sure it could be debated endlessly. I know for sure there WILL BE a next time, but I can’t say for sure what time of year that will be. I guess we’ll wait and see!!!!! Until the next time, here’s a few suggestions/things we’ve learned! ENJOY!!


1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. I did not regret any of the planning time I spent getting ready. It really does pay off to have a plan in place. We didn’t stick rigidly to it, but when we entered the park, we had at least the morning planned and prioritized.

2. BACKPACK. Take more than one backpack. We took only one back pack and one pouch into the parks. Consequently, we had almost everything in the back pack. It was a pain to stop, unload things to get what we wanted. We need to split things up more and spread things out–less for one person (usually DH :) ) to carry around.

3. CHARACTERS. Always be prepared to meet up with a character. I was caught a couple of times with Jana wanting her autograph book when it was with Russ in the back pack after we had split up. Also, please look around to see where the line is for the character and wait in it. ;)

4.DISPOSABLE CAMERA. As with the autograph book, there were times I wish we both had had a camera. The next time, I would throw a disposable camera in my pouch and even if Russ had the good camera, I would have one available for that unexpected encounter with a character or something I just had to photograph.

5.ZIPLOCK BAGS–need I say more?? I bagged up everyone’s underwear and socks in giant ziplocks–this sure helped when we were getting things organized for the day. We used them for tons of stuff–leftover pizza, hair barretts, ice, wet swim suits, etc. etc.

6.CHART/SCHEDULE/ITINERARY. We made a schedule on Excel on our computer. It was a chart that listed the days we would be there, any p.s. reservations, and our tentative plans for the day. We made it the size of a large index card and mounted it on one. We carried it with us constantly to mark things we forgot or to glance at it when plans were altered.

7. FILM. Bring plenty of film. One day, we had 3 rolls with us–we thought that was plenty but we used all of it in one day! Luckily, we had more in the room–didn’t want to pay Disney prices. :cool: We went through 10 rolls of film in 5 days in the park!!

8. FASTPASS. Some days we did not need this–in fact it wasn’t even available some days. But, on the weekends–we used it faithfully. Keep in mind that once your hour time slot starts(before you even use the current fastpass)–you can get another fastpass to something. This was very helpful to us.

9. SNACKS/BEVERAGES. We ate breakfast in the room if we did not have a character breakfast. We carried in snacks and bottled water which we bought at our grocery stop provided by the towncar service. It’s fun to snack at the park, but expensive. Bottled water is even more expensive!!

10. DREAMS UNLIMITED. We were once again so pleased with the help provided by Dreams Unlimited. I loved having someone else worry about our reservation and our priority seating. They were prompt and helpful in answering questions and providing reassurances.

11. BIRNBAUMS GUIDE FOR CHILDREN. If you have children--this is a great book for them to review what’s available and help make plans. :bounce:

12. WRITE IT DOWN. At the end of the day, I would write down the events of the day. Things become a blur after a while–these notes helped with my trip report thus documenting for us our trip memories. Also, it helps when it comes to compiling those photos into the scrapbook!

13. NUMBER YOUR PHOTOS. As soon as I got my photos back–10 rolls in all–most 36 exposure, I numbered them on the back according to the day they occurred, ie. Day 1, Day 2, etc. Once you share photos with people a couple of times, the pictures get mixed up and what a mess.

14. CHARACTER MEALS. These meals are expensive, but worth it in our opinion. We didn’t do one every day, but we sure enjoyed them. It was nice to have one decent meal a day, fun to see the characters without everyone else crowding in, and a fun, relaxing, family time. :earsgirl:

15. REFILLABLE MUGS. We love this feature of staying on site. We definitely got our moneys worth out of our mugs.

16. AIRPLANE CARRY ON. We carried on as little as possible this trip. Russ and I both had to be searched at some point, and I was glad I had carefully scrutinized our bags ahead of time to be sure we had only things we were allowed to have. It’s a pain to have them take everything out of your carry-ons if you have tons of stuff packed.

17. RELAX AND ENJOY. Don’t forget this important feature of vacation!! :earsboy:I am a commando personality tourist. However, I forced myself to slow down, notice the little things, and relax. (The park hours helped–forced us to shorten our days!) One of my favorite memories was the day we just meandered around the Epcot world showcase, eating a selection of goodies. We sat for a while and ate and then moved on. We just looked in the shops if the kids wanted to, and everyone got a turn to suggest where they wanted to go. We were all very, very happy that day. Take in the little things and notice the details. ENJOY, ENJOY, ENJOY!! :wave:
Bravo! I love trip reports, especially when they're detailed and well written like yours! They get me through until October! Thanks so much for sharing.:D
loved each of your 8 are so have convinced me to "write it down" at each days end......thanks for taking the time to write it all out.

Thanks for posting such wonderful trip reports, Obsessed! I can't afford to go to WDW for awhile but reading about other's trips cheers me up so much!

I'm glad you had a wonderful time and hope you're planning on going back soon! :D

cause it certainly gets me in the mood to do DISNEY........I will remember some of your hints especially with the security.....I really appreciate it.........thanks again

Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip report! I appreciate your suggestions!
Your trip reports were great.Thanks for sharing:)
Sounds like a great trip! thanks for the report.
Lisa, thank you SO MUCH for posting this! :D I loved reading all the details of this trip and am so glad that you had so many magical moments, and that the girls all stayed HEALTHY during the trip and had such fun. :earsgirl:

I hope that writing this report helps you to relive those wonderful memories and helps to cure some of the post-trip blues...until you're ready to start planning the next trip. :)

Thank you for taking the time to write this!
Thanks again for these excellent reports! I was going to make special comments about a couple of your suggestion #s, but realized they are all GREAT.
All I can add is we actually pack many empty baggies of at least 2 sizes. I put receipts & paper momentos in them. Also the cheap ponchos are a must in the bottom of the back pack.
Yes, I also try to document everything including expenses just as you advise!
I appreciated your honesty & telling like it is!

Also a suggestion (I know this is a bad time for the DDs) for a compromise on crowds vs. value vs. weather is May. We've been twice, and find it fairly hot but less crowded (not dead),
and I think Disney still has better rates than after Memorial Day.
What a trip! I enjoyed your report. Thanks for posting.
I really enjoyed your reports!!! Were you there MLK weekend??? we were there the following weekend and it wasn't crowded anywhere. We live in South Florida and I really do prefer going in the off season- I wouldn't dare in the summer!!! Going again in May-planning on spending lots of time in the CBR pool!!!!! I'm so glad you had fun!!!!! We usually all carry fanny packs and put our ponchos in a backpack that we hang on my Ds' s stroller. Next time I would have Jana carry her own fanny pack with her book, pen and camera, so she's ready-no matter who she's with!!!! I have never been to WDW for more than 3 days at a time- I get wiped out then. And we do take breaks in the off-season!!

So.... are you already plannign the next trip??????
Thanks for all of your nice comments!! It is so nice to get such great feedback!

Yes, Susy--we were there MLK weekend. It was wonderful.

DH and I were discussing our next trip--right now, I am saying a couple of years because of $$$, but also in the back of my mind, I'm keeping my eye on flights and if they ever go down in price again! ;) ...maybe a loooong weekend sooner. Crossing my fingers...

Good idea for Jana's book, etc. We'll do that next time!!
thanks for the great reports. i know what you mean about going to the parks when there are no or few people: it is a bit strange. but i dont think my wife and i will ever do the summer madness trip again. for the past two years, we have had wonderful weeks at the end of october. the weather is great, the waits are minimal, but there are still some people (mostly a lot of folks from england) in the parks.
I really enjoyed the way you posted and named your reports. I don't have as much time as I would like to read reports and finding one I can follow all the way from beginning to end is great. You did a superb job. Thanks.
Thanks so much for the great trip report! Your family and style of planning/touring sounds very similar to mine and your report really got me excited about our trip in March. I'm so glad you had good weather. A friend of mine went in January and had to buy gloves and hats for everyone!

Thanks again for the report.



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