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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Help! Disney World Questions - Need Your Input!

So first I want to thank my travel agent/stress reliever/ Twitter friend @DailyJen who also has a very funny blog. I bought the Jet Blue tickets on a whim one day when talking with my friend Barb (otherwise known as my Flip Videographer from the Yanni Voices concert).

Anyway, Jen saw me tweeting about Disney and came to my rescue! That is, if everything goes sweat, right Jen?

But even after hours on the phone with her answering hundreds if not thousands of questions...I still have more.

I have decided to give Jen a rest and see if you, my faithful friends, readers, and advice-givers can help me muddle through the crazy World of Disney.

(PS: we are going Wed-Sat. but only Thurs and Fri at Magic Kingdom)

Explain to me again Le Fast Pass?

This really only pertains to Friday since I've heard we'll get some ultimate Fast Pass on Thursday which is the girls actual birthday and we'll be foregoing the FREE part of "free on your birthday" since we paid for the tix in the package, blah, blah, blah.

What rides should we stop at first for a Fast Pass?
How many can I get at one time?

Crocs or sneakers?

I'm going with sneaks but you tell me.

6-year olds in strollers??? Won't people make fun of me?

Apparently there are Disney issued strollers that look more like jogging strollers. Still, my kids haven't been in a stroller since they were 3. I'm not kidding. I don't even know if they'll WANT to sit in one. A wheelchair, definitely! A stroller? I'm not so sure.

But I've heard from people that especially since we've only got 2 days, they will be very long days and as parents, we'll appreciate cutting down on the crankiness by having one of these.

What say you?

Must-See places in Downtown Disney?

We have dinner reservations for the first night but what else should we see while we are there? It will probably be our only time since we'll be at Magic Kingdom the other two days and nights.

Besides the rides, what are other Must-Sees at Magic Kingdom?

Note - we are having lunch at Cinderella's Castle (eee! I just peed a little I'm so excited for that) and so we'll meet some princesses there.
What about places like Ariel's Grotto or other little hideaway places?
Whatever you can tell me....

OK, that's it for now. I welcome any and all advice! Thanks!
Dreaming of Mickey,

Related Posts: Our Disney Surprise Video


Musings from Me said...

In particular order:
Sneaker and socks for all -- lots of walking.

Fast Pass -- when you arrive at the park go immediately to the Fast Pass rides (MK Winnie the Poh ride). Put your Disney entry tickets in the Fast Pass machines to get a ticket for the ride. The ticket will show time you must return. Ride a ride close by and then do Fast Pass. Check WDW website for fast Pass rides. You can have one Fast Pass at a time.

My husband says the wait for Dumbo is so long that you might want to do the Aladdin Carpet Ride instead. Same ride. The wait for Dumbo is long.

If you are planning on doing Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom bring ponchos -- you will get wet. Take your shoes off and stow in the center section of the inner tube.

Stroller -- I would see how kids do for morning. If they are tired hire stroller. I got a double for a 3 + 5 yo. I insisted both ride so that we could get to rides quickly. The next trip I got a single stroller for 3 yo, but 7 yo was able to sit on the foot rest. Maybe get a single stroller and have them take turns. You can pay for a stroller at one park and then pick up another stroller at another park.

Monorail -- if you get there early ask conductor to let you sit in the driver's cabin. I think 4 people are allowed. My kids thought it was so fun to sit up with the driver.

Before you go to Disney or when you get there buy autograph books and bring a good pen so that you are ready for character signings. One book per kid.

For princess fans check out Storytime with Belle in MK near Carousel. We went in 2001 -- might have changed. Belle puts on the Beauty play with help from kids. My 5 yo was Chip the Cup.

My 3 + 5 yo were terrified on Pirates of Carribean. It was dark and loud. We purchased lightup necklaces for any other in the dark rides. My 3 yo son was fine on that ride. Kids are so different.

There's an area behind Tomorrowland called Toon Town -- Mickey and Minnie's houses, Goofy's roller coaster.

I found that my kids got fidgety on lines so we let them run off steam at the Winnie the Pooh play area and the Toon town play area.

I'm not sure how strict Disney is about snacks, but we packed granola bars. Sometimes kids are hungry RIGHT NOW and don't want to wait. We also packed a water bottle or two.

Janine -- I am expecting the ultimate twofer interview with, of course, Chip & Dale!

Domestic Spaz said...

If you're going to Epcot, make sure to get Fast Passes for Soarin', Mission Space and Test Track. Soarin ESPECIALLY is a MUST DO... don't pass it up! Mission Space is awesome but be sure to tell the kids that it's OKAY if they don't press the right button. It sort of freaked my son out that he thought he was going to do something wrong and crash the spaceship. It's supposedly interactive, but it doesn't matter if you do what it says to do or not, the ride is the same.

I think you can only get one pass at a time but I'm not positive on that. For Magic Kingdom you'll want Space Mountain and Splash Mountain.

Sneakers, for sure.

Disney strollers are AWESOME and no one will blink if you have 6 year olds in them. I don't think anyone would blink if you climbed in yourself. We always get a stroller. Even if your kid doesn't ride in it, you'll still be glad to throw any bags you have in it.

If you have time for Cirque du Soleil at Downtown Disney, do it. Otherwise, we never have spent too much time there.

You're having lunch at Cinderella's Castle??! We've tried to get reservations there and NEVER succeeded! I'm so jealous. :) The best advice I can give you about Magic Kingdom is to take your time and enjoy it. You won't be able to see everything so make a plan to hit all the big rides and try to enjoy some other things along the way.

Domestic Spaz said...

We also always go to the back of the park and head forward. It's less crowded this way. So for the Magic Kingdom we'll go to Splash Mountain first and then Big Thunder Mountain and then the Haunted Mansion and work our way forward.

I'm not sure if you're staying on Disney property, but if you are check into the extra magic hours. Some days you can get into the parks early or stay late if you are staying on the property.

taupecat said...

i'm probably going to repeat a lot of what was said, but here goes...

if you're staying at a disney resort, make sure you know when the extra magic hours are. they're different every day for every park (schedules are available at the concierge desk of the hotel) and allow you to use the rides when non-resort guests are not. it's usually an hour in the morning or several hours in the evening. what's also great about it is if you can convince the kiddies to take a nap (or go to the pool) during the hottest part of the day, you can enjoy the park in the evening when it's cooler.

the best way to meet characters is a character breakfast, and the 2 best are chef mickey's (at the contemporary resort with mickey, minnie, donald, goofy, pluto, chip & dal) and the crystal palace (in the magic kingdom with winnie the pooh, tigger, eeyore & piglet). you don't have to wait in line to get your photo op with the characters because they come to your table. they follow a certain pattern so you know after one character has visited, you have time to grab some more food while waiting for the next (they're buffets). extra bonus for the crystal palace: get in as early as possible (before the park opens), and when you're done you're that much closer to the rides when the park opens and you'll be first in line!

i see you're taking a flight down, but for anyone else reading who lives in the northeast, i highly recommend the auto train. it's about the same price as airfare for a family of 4 or 5, but for that price you get to bring your own car (and not have to rent when you get there). now, you don't *need* a car if you're staying just at disney b/c they have a great bus system, but we found things were easier w/our own van when we went in march w/our 8mo, almost 4yo, & my mother, brother, husband & myself. with the stroller & assorted gear required for that many people, the bus would've been too difficult. plus, it's nice to be able to get off property if you want to (my mom, bro & 4yo went out to the coast to watch a shuttle launch!).

sneakers sneakers sneakers!!!

whether your 6yo's will want to ride in strollers is something you know, but my almost 4yo wanted to all the time (or be carried by his uncle). prob is, we only brought 1 stroller and that was for the baby. i also brought an ergo, so sometimes the 4yo could ride. the rental strollers are a little pricey (something like $18/first day, $15/day after that and the double ones are a little more than that even). my advice: pick up some cheap umbrella strollers that your 6yo's will fit into before you go. it'll probably be cheaper (depending how long your stay is).

fast pass is definitely 1 at a time (something that i got burned on), so make sure it's for a ride you REALLY want to go on that fills up fast (expedition everest & splash mountain are 2 i missed out on).

most of all, BE PATIENT. i've been to disney A LOT, but last march was the 1st time with 2 little kids. you're not going to be able to do everything, and you're going to have to go slower than if kids weren't involved. just relax, pick out the must dos and taylor the days around them; don't try to do too much b/c everyone will just end up tired and cranky. and be sure to set aside some pool/relaxation time so everyone can get a little rest before dinner.

(p.s. my son's favorite ride of all was in the mexico pyramid in epcot. they recently redid it so it's now donald duck & the 3 caballeros. he thought it was hysterical! best of all, the line is indoors, and it's never more than a few mins wait.)

have fun!!!

Anonymous said...

Hope you don't mind a stranger's recommendations (directed here from Writingroads on Twitter)

Fast Pass: Get a fast pass first thing (I'll get to rides in a sec), you can get your next fast pass 2 hours later EVEN IF your first fast pass time hasn't come yet. There is a time listed on the bottom of the fast pass that says when you can get your next one. Rides: Space Mountain may or may not be open again, but if it is open, it ALWAYS has a long line. Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan are other ones that we found had lines worth the fast pass at Magic Kingdom. Epcot - I second Soarin' (DO NOT MISS IT), Test Track & Mission Mars are good FP options too, but I think Soarin is the one that runs out of times first. If you stay after the rides bigger rides shut down for the laser show, I suggest fast pass for Maelstrom (we waited in what we thought was a short line for over an hour for a ride that wasn't that good, so if you want to do it, get the pass). I don't really remember what we fast passed at the other parks in 2008, but our favorite ride by far at Animal Kingdom was the Dinosaur ride (not good for easily scared kids though). One thing to remember with the fast pass is that it isn't necessarily an automatic, get on the ride now pass. It just provides you a MUCH shorter wait than the normal line, and sometimes is a jump-right-on. You can get one fast pass at a time for each ticket you purchased.

Crocs or sneakers: Depends on how comfy you find your crocs. My kids did sneakers. I did very comfy sandals with backs. Hubs wore his sandals one day and regretted it.

Stroller: In 2008, my son was 6 1/2 (daughter 3), so we had her stroller. He rode occasionally, but not much (he's a big kid and it was just a pain), mostly he just sat on it sometimes. This year, we didn't take a stroller at all. Son did fine, daughter (4) got a little tired, but not horridly so. We gave a few piggy-back rides this year, but that was it. It all depends on your kids. However, strollers do make carrying things like sunscreen, snacks, ponchos, etc much easier.

Other than rides: Some kids like the parades, others don't. Go by your kids (mine liked the light parade, but not the regular one). Also, keep in mind that when parades are going on, all the people watching the parade are not in line for rides. The fireworks at MK are DEFINITELY worth staying for, as is the laser show at Hollywood Studios. The laser show at Epcot is only worth it if you are willing to snag a good viewing spot early and not leave it. Otherwise it can be really hard to see.

Rides: (MK only) My kids LOVE the Buzz Lightyear ride (even though they aren't big Toy Story fans). Oddly they also loved the thing in Tomorrowland that just sort of tools around over Tomorrowland (can't remember what it's called). They prefer the Aladdin ride over Dumbo (it's the spitting camels, I'm sure of it). My kids like Pirates of the Caribbean, but it is dark. My son who loved the roller coasters last year was afraid of them this year (and daughter loved them). Judge by how your kids do.

Snacks etc.: Buy ponchos (cheap ones) at home. Disney sells them, but they are like $8 each and you'll want them if it rains, so hit Walmart or something and buy them for $1. Don't forget sunscreen, sunglasses, and the tubes that hold your sunglasses on (again, you can buy it all there, but you'll pay a lot for it). We took in all kinds of snacks (goldfish crackers, pretzels, fruit snacks...) and LOTS of water. They search your bags when you go in, but they never questioned our water. You can't take coolers as I recall though, so whatever you do take has to be in backpacks or something. We just divied stuff up. Daughter got the bag with the lightest stuff, son got next lightest, hubs & I split the water and heavy stuff. Since you are doing the princess stuff, get your books in advance, you can buy them at regular stores for about half the price at Disney (and they are the same books most times). Realize that the lines for characters are LONG - you will spend a lot of time waiting, so prep your kids for that. Make sure your cameras are fully charged and/or you have extra batteries (the day you don't will be the day you wish you had). Also, for ease of dealing with fast passes and tickets, I recommend someone wear a fanny pack (I hate them, but it made things much more convenient). My kids also each had one this year with a little baggy of what I called "emergency candy" for those times when they "really need soemthing to eat now, mom" - they did good and didn't eat them much, but they felt better having something just in case.

I think that's all I've got. Have a great time!

jodifur said...

Fast pass-

you can only fast pass one ride at a time, I'm not sure if this is true w/ the ultimate fast pass. So if you fast pass winnie the pooh, and your return time is 11:00 am, you can't fast pass anything else until after that.

Sneakers, Crocs let in too much dirt.

Downtown disney-you have girls, but Michael loved, loved, loved T Rex's, he is a Dinosaur Freak. Also, the design your own T shirt shop is pretty cool, but do the first because once you design the shirts it takes two hours to print and people were pissed because they wanted to leave right after that. If your kids want ears you can design your own ears there too. If you are staying on the park your packages can be delivered right to your room.

Also, do the parades, the kids love them!

Also, don't be disappointed if you can't see everything. With two little kids it's hard. And just remember, the kids do not know what they are missing.

Shelly said...

I really liked getting those pins that you can collect. Each person who works at the park usually has these lanyards with various pins. You can buy a pin or two to put on your own lanyard and then trade your pin with one of the pins you see on the workers' landyard. It's pretty fun and I always saw a different pin to trade for!

Another little tip; I bought a water bottle holder that can go around your neck and you can put your arm through it so you don't have to hold the water bottle all day (and if you go when it's super hot, you will want a water bottle quite often).

LOVED the Kali River Rapids at the Animal Kingdom but it was far too short of a ride for the very long wait ( you have to walk through a long host of things before you ever get to the ride and wait and wait). I loved the water ride at Magic Kingdom a whole lot more; it had pictures of Brier Rabbit but I forget the name. But anyhoo it had an AWESOME drop at the end and you get wet!

I also LOVED the Stitch show. He was an animatronic and when you sat down the seats vibrated and you smelled different stinky things and then Stitch spit out at the audience. Pretty fun!

Linda said...

Hi - if you get a chance to see The Finding Nemo stage show or any of the 3D shows, they are well worth it, truly brilliant, also Toy Story Mania is excellent. (I think these are Magic Kingdom) The parade and the fireworks were also highlights for me - and the spectromagic parade at night too - I'd advise getting a good vantage pount early on and staying there. The 3D shows we enjoyed: Muppets, It's a Bugs Life and one with Mickey etc, sorry can't remember the name, there is a show at Epcot where you get to talk to Crush from Nemo. Also really enjoyed American Idol experience but again, fills up quickly - sorry just realised that's Hollywood studios park. Re DownTown Disney/Boardwalk - Spoodles lovely for breakfast and check out the films you can watch from sun lounger on the beach in the evening. There are some tips here from a recent trip, including about a chance to wake up Tinkerbell:

I'm so sorry if I've mixed up parks/attractions but my number 1 piece of advice: Just go with the flow and have a brilliant time! Good luck! x

Haley said...

Wear Socks with Sneakers for sure! Crocs will rub blisters with all that walking, plus your feet would get super dirty.

Get a fast pass for the ride you want to ride the most first. You are only allowed a fast pass for one ride at a time, and the machine will give you one for each person in your party (you have to put each ticket in the machine one at a time) If possible send your hubby to do this with all the tickets while you and the kids wait for another ride nearby.

Get to MK early and ride Dumbo very first (otherwise you'll have to wait a long time) then get Fast Passes to Winnie the Pooh then ride It's a small world while you're waiting for WTP.

Although you may not use a stroller in your day to day life now, it will be invaluable to you at disney! Whether it ends up being used to carry your children, or your things, you'll be glad its there. There is obviously extensive walking, and even if your kids are used to doing it themselves now, it will be nice for them to take a break with it. Also, there is tons of ample stroller parking outside all popular rides and events that is super safe. I would leave my diaper bag on the stroller every time we parked it and I never had anything go missing.

I recommend Space Mountain highly. I also love Soarin'. Soarin' always has a long line and you should get FP for that as well.

Downtown Disney is a blast and really cool to visit in the evenings. The lego store is super neat! They also have an awesome store with Christmas decor that I love since I'm a Holiday nut. The have a gargantuan store that has anything Disney YOU CAN IMAGINE. Have your children go through early in the trip and find things they like, then go on the last day or your trip and buy them before you leave (this will help with your hotel room and stroller staying uncluttered, as well as keeping the souvenirs from being left behind accidentally). Also inside that store is the Bippity Boppity Boutique. They will morph your little ladies into princesses (no kidding) dresses and glitter make up and magic wands...the whole bit! I would say it would make for one killer b-day gift!

If you need any other advice or would like to ask more specific questions please feel free to email me!

avonfromhaley (at) yahoo (dot) com

Jodi said...

Just saw this on Twitter...

I did a video last month for Parents & Kids magazine that explains some of the basic Disney stuff -

I would only do Ariel's Grotto if you have a child that loves Arial - lines are LONG.

I try to do the Magic Carpets rather than Dumbo, but my kids aren't fooled - they love Dumbo. So, we try to go first thing.

As for crocs versus sneakers - go with whatever is most broken in and comfortable for you. I don't find crocs to be that supportive, but others do. I wore my Dansko sandals last week when I went and my feet were in heaven!

Check out the Moms Panel for more info -

punkinmama said...

When we went to Disney, I wore Crocs a lot. I can't walk that much in sneakers and be comfortable. Odd, I know. So do whatever makes your feet the most comfortable that you're used to.
Honestly, the most comfortable things I wore at Disney were my "Fit Flops" - I was SHOCKED how comfortable my feet were all day (even moreso than the crocs).

Sue Rodman said...

check out Mike is an ex-Disney tour guide and now has his own company. It's an online guide book that is overwhelming at first (just like Disney) but it will give you tips for the dates you're traveling and the ages of your kids. If you follow his advice, you won't wait in lines, even in July! We didn't. This is coming from an ex-Disney employee too. He also give you advice on things other than the parks.

Faye said...

Disney is AWESOME and your family will have a blast!

I would definitely have a stroller for kids. It is an immense amount of walking and they will be glad for a chance to rest their feet. Plus, it gives you added bonus of place to put ponchos, etc.

Walk all around the castle; there are some very cool things to see!

Look for the walking/talking trash can in Tomorrowland!

Use the Photopass service. Basically, there are Disney photographers all around the park. They will take pix of you w/your family, pix at night, pix in front of castle, etc. Be sure to ask for "magic." You can view the pix at different places on the property before deciding to purchase the cd. But if you buy the cd in advance, you will save some money. Some of my fav. pix are from Photopass.

Be sure to ride the railroad. It goes all the way around the park, with stops in each land, where you can get off the train, if you like.

Be sure to have a Mickey Bar (and have one for me!)

Send postcards to your kids, from the park, from their favorite character, thanking them for visiting. The cards should arrive after you get home. My daughter was tickled beyond belief when hers showed up a few days after we got home.

Take a break in the middle of the day, go back to hotel, enjoy the pool and rest. Head back to MK in the evening.

Do you know about Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique? Here your daughter can be transformed into a princess (or your little guy into a pirate.) You can just do hair and nails, or go for the package w/gown, etc. You will need a reservation; walk-ins are hard to come by. One boutique is in the castle, one is in Downtown Disney. A little pricey but worth it--great photos, too.

Enjoy every minute!

Anonymous said...

You cannot miss lunch at Crystal Palace with Pooh and friends. Also, Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary!! Have fun!

Jen said...

You've gotten some great advice! I totally agree about Dumbo--make sure you go there first. While the girls are riding Dumbo, send dad off to get a fastpass for another attraction.

As far as the fastpasses, did I send you the little trip cards yet? If not, let me know and I will send them to you. I have a bunch of tips about getting the most from the fastpass.

The rides at MK that I recommend FP would be Splash Mt., Space Mt., Big Thunder Mt., Peter Pan, and Mickey's Philharmagic if they are accepting FP that day.

I vote sneakers, but only if you are used to wearing them. If you normally wear Crocs, then go for it.

My 7 yr old road in a stroller on our last trip and he is tall for his age. No one even gave us a second look. Rent a stroller--you really won't regret it!!

Downtown Disney isn't my favorite because I'm not much of a shopper, but if you can fit La Nouba into the budget/itinerary and get tickets that would be my recommendation. I've heard it is an excellent show.

My favorite Magic Kingdom things are:

-Opening of the park (the characters ride up on the train and sing). It is so magical and a great way to start the day.

-Spectromagic Parade and Wishes fireworks. A great way to end the day.

Make sure you take time to just relax and have fun. You won't be able to see and do everything, so make the most of what you can experience. As long as you do this, you will have a wonderful vacation.

Please don't hesitate to email me with any questions you might have. You don't have to worry about giving me a rest. I love talking Disney, so it is fun for me!!

TheAngelForever said...

We just got back from a week at Disney World. My hubby and I went with our two sons one is 5 (will be 6 this summer) and the other turned 2 while on vacation.

We looked at park maps and figured out which rides we wanted to tackle earlier in the day when the crowds were not too bad. We also utilized Pass Pass several times for things like Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Test Track, Soarin' and others. Also be sure to ask for a child swap pass if one of your children is not tall enough to ride - this saves a lot of time.

Our boys wore their Crocs to Animal Kingdom the second full day we were there. When we took them off that night my little guy had blisters all over his feet. I seemed to do really well in my Teva sandals and sneakers. Go with what is comfy for huge amounts of walking. Most days I walked 17,000 steps or more = 5-7 miles a day in 90+ degree head (love my pedometer).

Downtown Disney must are the monster Character shop, Lego shop, and World of Winnie the Pooh (if you have fans of these characters). I was disappointed with Goofy Candy Co. So many people had raved about it, but it seemed so small and did not handle the crowds well.

Before heading to Disney I went to a lot. On there people suggested renting a stroller from Orlando Stroller Rentals. We opted to do this since we do not own a double stroller. Their strollers are so much more comfy looking and durable than the Disney ones. In addition to this they are less expensive and you can take them out of the park to not only Downtown Disney, but also to your resort. My almost 6 year old used the stroller more than my 2 year old. He does not use one at home, but Disney walking is like nothing you have ever done. We are quite pleased that we rented it.

Musts at the Magic Kingdom: Dumbo the Flying elephant (hit it early - my boys loved it), Mickey's Philharmagic, It's a Small World, Pirates of the Carribean, Haunted Mansion (my little guy was scared and fell asleep on the elevator ride), Big Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain. The lines for the Snow White and Peter Pan rides were always 60+ minutes - not worth it in my eyes. Also make time to see the parade in the afternoon. We caught it in Frontier Town by Splash Mountain and it was a nice location. Mickey's Toon Town is crazy, hit it early. If you want to meet Mickey Mouse we found it easier to catch him at the EPCOT character meet up. There you can see Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Goofy right in a row while in the AC.

Please do not hesitate to catch me on Twitter (@TheAngelForever) or e-mail me. I went to Disney almost every year as a child and like I said we got home yesterday.

Happy planning :)

mrs.izzy said...

You must see the fireworks at night over Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom! That is an experience. :)