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Disney World Planning Thread 2018

  1. Charm54

    cantaloupe / 6885 posts

    @Truth Bombs: @Mrs D: a Touring Plans subscription is well worth the $ for crazy planners like myself... you can make personalized plans where you plunk in what you want to do, and it gives you the expected wait times for each ride at that particular time and day. Its a rabbit hole, I warn you! When we are actually at Disney I tend to go with the flow and not follow them exactly but I love playing around with the touring plans before we go

  2. 808love

    pomelo / 5785 posts

    I've just finished planning our young family's 3rd trip to Disney World and it definitely gets easier each time you do it. I started off with Touring Plan subscription and used to create my own plan and followed for 1st Disneyland and 1st DW trip. Lots of great direction and ideas, especially sorting by height. WDW Prep is also good. Because we've 'done it all' already (by planning thoroughly), we are just going back to favorites for this year. That's my plan...no plan now! The one big game changer is we are going to just stay on-site and use their transportation. This mainly has to do with the timing of the arrival/departure and we are crunching it in just 5 days so we want to maximize our stay. Otherwise, I would recommend driving yourself in general. I've never done all shuttle so I can give you a better idea when we come back in a few months.

    Off property is fine for first trip if on a budget. Make sure it is close to freeway. Nothing missed by staying off-site, especially if you've been or going back.
    Art of Animation was my fave. Pretty and good food court. We also did All Star Movies when we just needed a fast in and out. We are doing Pop Century this time because it is just as cheap but refurbished rooms, near AofA, and a dedicated bus.

    PASSES 1 park hands down. You don't have time or energy to change parks.

    ADD ONS Bippity Boppity but only if you have time and money and your kid is young and adorable! lol.
    The CRT breakfast at 8:15 gave us a nice early start to viewing an empty Main Street and Fantasyland.

    Cheap: Kiosks at Epcot....does this really exist?
    Quick Service: Sunshine Seasons and Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles, Columbia Harbor House
    Middle: Yak and Yeti and Be Our Guest lunch
    Expensive: Cinderella Table

    Budget in months before you get there and bring plenty money! Target Redcard gives 5% off Disney gift cards. Undercover Tourist has discounted no-tax tickets. Don't buy drinks.

    HS: Disney Junior show for toddlers
    MK: Peter Pan
    AK: Safari
    EP: Frozen

    NAPS: Go back and nap for HS (close by)and Epcot (close-ish and long hours). The other parks are too far. Or you could use the stroller.

  3. 808love

    pomelo / 5785 posts

    @Lahela017: Lol! My comments were the same as yours! And I think we are from the same state, so we must be drinking the same pineapple punch!

    Did anyone use the Mobile pay ahead for certain restaurants? I plan to use that a lot this time around.

  4. bloved

    persimmon / 1102 posts

    Love love love talking Disney! Very excitedly planning our trip for August (although dreading the heat!!)

    -What are some of your favorite on and off property places to stay?

    Usually we stay at a Marriott Time Share off property. This year we are renting a villa at Grand Floridian so I am very excited to be on the monorail, especially since we are only going for a quick 3 day trip. Next time when we go for a longer trip, we will stay at Boardwalk or Beach Club villas for walking access to Epcot and MGM.

    -What kind of pass is best for families with kids? 1 park a day or park hopper?

    1 park a day. We bought hoppers last year and it was a waste of money. We were too tired to go back after naps, and there was plenty to do at one park to keep us all interested!

    -What are add ons that are worth it, and add ons you would skip?

    Definitely Memory Maker. Just be sure to make it a point to stop and use the photographers.

    -What are your favorite restaurants in every price range?

    QS: MK - Casey's Hot Dog Place and Pecos Bill
    TS: HS - Sci-Fi Cafe AK - Tusker House
    Fancy but so good: Victoria and Alberts at Grand Floridian (no kids under 12 allowed)

    -What are your favorite budget tips/tricks?

    Undercover tourist for tickets
    Check if your employer offers anything. Weirdly we got discounted tickets through my husband's work last year.
    Amazon Now to get groceries delivered.
    Bring your own water and snacks into the park.
    Buy Disney Gift Cards at Target with your Redcard (get 5% off)

    -What are the best attractions/rides/shows/restaurants for toddlers?
    Animal Kingdom:
    Lion King Show
    Dino Park digging

    Epcot: Last year we went during the Garden Festival around Easter. We paid $10 and got a map of Easter Eggs hidden in all the countries. My 3 year old loved walking the countries and finding the eggs. Once you've found them all, you can turn in the map and get a prize.

    Magic Kingdom: Buzz Lightyear Ride

    -How do you plan to deal with nap time?
    We went back to the hotel each day and napped and swam. We never had enough energy to head back out afterwards, but hoping we can do better this time!

  5. bloved

    persimmon / 1102 posts

    One other budgeting tip I forgot. If you want to stay at a deluxe resort, definitely look into renting DVC points versus directly through Disney. You can get the same room (or a villa) for much cheaper.

  6. Truth Bombs

    grapefruit / 4321 posts

    @Charm54: my husband sends you his regards for enabling me to be even crazier

  7. Anagram

    eggplant / 11141 posts

    This is really kid-dependent, but both of my kids LOVED all the rides. They were 2 and 4 when we went. There was not a ride that they didn't love (that they were tall enough to ride). My older LO was just barely 40 inches, so she was able to ride 7 dwarves mine train, Big Thunder Mountain, and all the other bigger rides except Space Mountain and the roller coaster at AK (I'm blanking now). She even rode Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom and loved it. My 2 year old rode everything she was tall enough to ride, including the rides that have small drops and she loved all of those (Frozen, Pirates of the Carribean). They both even loved Haunted Mansion).

    I'd read in previous threads that a lot of parents were focusing more on character meals, meet and greats, and shows with toddlers/preschoolers, so I wasn't sure what to expect. But we focused on rides, and that ended up being a good decision for our family because the kids were thrilled. With fastpasses, we were often able to ride popular rides twice (once at rope drop and then right after with a fast pass).

    I honestly think we hit every single ride in every park that they were tall enough to ride. The only character meal we did was breakfast at CRT. The rest we did quick service or we had dinner or breakfast in our hotel (we got a 2 bedroom suite at Boardwalk with a full kitchen + kitchenette), so we stocked up on easy stuff like breakfast bars, croissants, granola bars, cereal, yogurt, string cheese for fast breakfast in our suite before heading out. We were often home for their dinner (we stayed in the park during our 2 year olds nap and she had a short stroller nap), so we ordered pizza, made pasta, made a frozen chicken enchilada thing, etc.

    We had DHs parents with us, so they watched the kids while we went back to the parks twice, and we stayed in twice while they went back to the parks for fireworks.

    We just did 1 park a day to minimize transport time. Since my kids are most into princesses, and we saw so many at the CRT breakfast, we only did a fastpass for Fairytale Hall (to see Tiana and Rapunzel) and a fastpass to see Mickey, plus they met Sophia the 1st at HS---those were all the character interactions they had and they were good with that. I think that outside of the princesses, they preferred the rides and attractions to longer sit down meals.

    We got lucky with a low-attendance week (most of our days were 4s on the crowd scale of 1-10), and we got great fastpasses, so our days went really smoothly and we rarely waited more than 10 minutes for anything.

  8. skinnycow

    persimmon / 1448 posts

    @Mrs D: Oh man I have an intense Excel workbook for this trip also! I have a tab with a detailed schedule for each day, a budget tab, an overall itinerary tab, dining tab, etc… My husband thinks I’m insane.

  9. skinnycow

    persimmon / 1448 posts

    @Anagram: Sounds like you had a great trip! I hope my daughter enjoys every ride also

    The week we're going is projected to be 4-5 crowd level so I'm hoping for a similar experience. We went the same time of year in 2015 and the only time we waited more than 10-15 mins was when Peter Pan's Flight broke down (while trying to use a FP!).

  10. Mrs D

    grapefruit / 4545 posts

    @skinnycow: your file sounds absolutely delightful!

    DH makes fun of my schedules...until he needs information from one...then he loves me for my excel/planning obsession...

  11. Mrs D

    grapefruit / 4545 posts

    Are you ladies planning to do any kinds of little daily gifts or treats for your kids while on site. I have so much time to plan and save that I really want to try to make this super special (which I know it will be either way).

    I told DH that I kind of want to surprise the kids with the trip. Meaning, like wake them up and say "do you want to go to Mickey's house today" and leave for the airport.

    We're only going to be on site for 4 days of park time...I was thinking a diff themed "gift" each day. Since we arent going until Nov I have time to DIY, bargain hunt, coupon, etc. Plus, like if I want to get them some cute clothes, I can plan back to school shopping around it...

  12. looch

    wonderful pear / 26092 posts

    @Mrs D: I do daily gifts for my son, it ranges from a pair of "character" pajamas, to a tee shirt, something for the pool day, etc. I have done pencils, coloring books, bath paints, story and sticker books as well. When we went to Atlantis, I made the mistake of not bringing sand toys and I spent something like $15 for a shovel.

    It helps to keep him from asking for stuff at every single shop in the parks. I also buy a new family board game and bring that. We are going to Universal studios in a couple of weeks and I have slacked off on my themed gifts, gotta get on that!

  13. Mrs D

    grapefruit / 4545 posts

    @looch: I just saw a super cute idea on a blog... Mickey Mail with "Mouska Tasks"... example:

    Give them a box of bandaids and have them cover themselves...she who can do it fastest.

    I think we might do daily gifts, then also have like 1-2 tasks things for them to do also (mostly thinking morning - when we may need a few minutes of parent time).

    I like the idea of incentivizing good behavior with a gift reward...

  14. Charm54

    cantaloupe / 6885 posts

    @Mrs D: this year I am going to do one gift from "tinkerbell" either the morning that we leave or waiting for them in the hotel room. I'll put stuff they will need for our trip... new PJs, flip flops, autograph books and maybe a gift card each for them to buy a souvenir. That's a cute idea about a gift every day! I'm not that organized lol.

    I've always wanted to do the big day-of surprise, but I'm worried my kids might be too young and wouldn't freak out like I picture it in my mind lol. We do a countdown starting 30 days ahead where they put a character on each day and by day 29 they are absolutely buzzing. I find it fun to watch videos of the rides, talk about what we will do, have them help in the packing, etc. But some day I will do a surprise ... (if I can hold it in 😜)

    26 days to go!! 🤗🤗

  15. nanilani

    apricot / 374 posts

    I married into a very Disney family and have picked up a lot of their knowledge base over the past few years! Counting our next trip in March, we'll have been 3.5 times in the past 12 months (the 0.5 was for a day trip not really in the same vein as a full vacation).

    -What are some of your favorite on and off property places to stay?
    Wilderness Lodge hands down, especially with young kids who gravitate toward MK over other parks. I've never stayed at a monorail resort (would love to try Poly sometime!), but on our last visit the security lines to board the monorail at those hotels were insane compared to the very easy boat ride from WL. Also, you don't have to collapse a stroller to board the boat -- a huge plus if your child is sleeping! If a deluxe resort isn't in your budget, I like French Quarter also. I've stayed at several different on-site properties and the only one I would absolutely never return to is All Stars. We found other people's trash and dirty towels in our room and could barely get an apology from the front desk, let alone an offer to have someone come clean our room.

    -What kind of pass is best for families with kids? 1 park a day or park hopper?
    Everyone will have a different answer to this. We always get park hopper so we don't feel locked into something. HS these days especially is a half day park at best. Yes, you could spend the rest of your day at the resort or Disney Springs etc. if you have single day tickets, but we know from experience that we'll usually end up back at MK or sometimes Epcot. Park hopping also makes planning meal reservations much easier for us.

    -What are add ons that are worth it, and add ons you would skip?
    Memory Maker, otherwise I would hardly be in any pictures! I wouldn't go all out on character meals (you're not paying top dollar for fantastic food usually), especially if you're unsure how your child will take to characters. You can always schedule one later in your trip and have time to cancel if he/she end up being terrified. Recently we've aimed for just one character meal per trip.

    -What are your favorite restaurants in every price range?
    Soooo many I haven't tried yet, but here are some favs:
    Quick Service: Casey's, Columbia Harbor House, Sleepy Hollow, Katsura Grill, La Cava del Tequila (margaritas), Les Halles, and -- I hesitate to share this one lest it get too crowded -- Geyser Point (technically QS, but also option for table service with beautiful Bay Lake views)
    Table Service: 'Ohana, San Angel Inn, Be Our Guest, Via Napoli, Artist Point, Hoop De Doo, and I hear lots of good things about Yachtsman although I've never been

    -What are your favorite budget tips/tricks?
    The RedCard trick that's been mentioned, but also check for any cash back deals on your regular credit card. Before our last trip we had an offer for $60 back on $400 at Home Depot so we picked up some gift cards there to earn the bonus offer. Also the free ice water -- you don't have to buy a thing, just ask for it anywhere with a soda fountain.

    -What are the best attractions/rides/shows/restaurants for toddlers?
    My son (he's been 3 times since turning 18 months) loves pretty much everything. Dumbo, Pooh, and Little Mermaid at MK are big hits. He's been on "bigger" rides like PotC and HM too. Don't miss talking Mickey if you're visiting before May (rumored to be closing for good after then). Laugh Floor didn't really keep his interest even though he likes Monsters Inc. Shows can be tough b/c they can run a bit long for his attention span, but we sat in the back of Festival of the Lion King so he had room to dance around. He liked Disney Jr. at HS too.

    -How do you plan to deal with nap time?
    He takes stroller naps, fortunately. On his first visit we had every intention of heading back to WL for naps every day, but he usually fell asleep before we could get back there so now we don't bother going out of our way. We're also fortunate that he doesn't turn into a monster if he's up past his normal bedtime, so we're not compelled to work around his sleep schedule too much.

  16. 808love

    pomelo / 5785 posts

    On our 7th Disney trip, I finally did a surprise for LO and got it on camera. The look on her face was priceless. She didn't scream but her incredulous excitement was precious. We did Disneyland on a layover and I didn't tell her until we arrived at our hotel and were waiting in the parking lot.

    I was supposed to surprise DH too but couldn't do it and broke a few weeks before. I'm so bad with surprises but it was something I really wanted to do.

  17. Mrs D

    grapefruit / 4545 posts

    So...let me ask you Disney experts this:

    If we get the hopper pass and the meal plan (2 snacks, quick service and table service)...what else does money get spent on onsite?

    I have girls, so I know about the bippity boppity boutique. But what else is there? DH kinda vomited over the cost when I priced the vacation...so I just want to make sure I build a reasonable budget...

  18. Charm54

    cantaloupe / 6885 posts

    @Mrs D: Tips (which aren’t included on the dining plan), any extra drinks (my husband likes to drink around the world at Epcot), and souvenirs is what we spend $$ on. But it’s usually not a huge amount of money and the bill isn’t that large by the end of our trip.

    We leave in 5 days, I can hardly contain my excitement!! Weather is looking great ☀

  19. Mrs D

    grapefruit / 4545 posts

    @Charm54: Thanks! I expected tips...but wasnt sure if there were other "add ons" like the bippity bopity...bc I think that one is significant (like $60 or so). Hoping we can control souveniers by bringing little gifts for them each day - then maybe allowing one special item. We're going late november - so I was thinking we could snag a few things at the park to surprise them with on Christmas since this trip will be a LOT of their gift from us this year.

  20. skinnycow

    persimmon / 1448 posts

    @Mrs D: Agreed - other than extra drinks/tips and souvenirs you shouldn't be spending much.

    @Charm54: So exciting! You'll have to report back when you return!

  21. Ajsmommy

    nectarine / 2668 posts

    @Mrs D: not much. Just souvenirs and tips for us. Our "bill" when we left was very minimal.

  22. looch

    wonderful pear / 26092 posts

    @Mrs D: Another item to consider adding on is Photo Pass.

  23. Mrs D

    grapefruit / 4545 posts

    @looch: Yes! Planning to do that!!!

  24. Mrs. Microscope

    pear / 1788 posts

    Just decided to go to Epcot one day early November for Food and Wine festival. Last time we went DD was 11 weeks old, so we didn't really have to think about kid stuff. This time she will be 3, and DS will be 15 months.

    I plan to get a pre-opening ADR at Garden Grille, since DD is way more interested in Mickey and friends than princesses. And probably dinner at Via Napoli. Loose plan is to do Frozen at ripe drop, then future world, hotel for naps, then afternoon/evening in the world showcase for Food and Wine. Any tips for Epcot with little ones?

    (we will be taking them to Magic Kingdom May 2019. No worries!)

  25. Charm54

    cantaloupe / 6885 posts

    @Mrs. Microscope: exciting!! My dd loves Epcot. Her favourites are: Turtle Talk, Nemo, Frozen,Spaceship Earth, the indoor playground @ Mission Mars exit, Living with the Land, and meeting Joy & Sadness. Their room where they meet is really cool. Besides that she loved the world showcase and watching all of the pop up shows (Chinese acrobats, Japanese drummers, French mime). She also is a thrill junkie 😜 Last year she was tall enough for Test Track, Soarin and loved them.

    With an early Garden Grill reservation you will be able to sneak a ride on Soarin’ first right at, or shortly before park opening. So I would do that for sure! I love Soarin.

  26. Mrs. Microscope

    pear / 1788 posts

    @Charm54: thanks! We are hoping her will be tall enough for Soarin by then. Lucky girl would get to go twice due to rider swap! We haven't seen Inside Out, so she doesn't know who Joy and Sadness are. Maybe we should watch it. Is it appropriate for a 2.5 year old? Also glad you hear that the pop up shows around the "world" were a hit, we enjoy them but don't know what a toddler would think!

  27. nanilani

    apricot / 374 posts

    @Mrs. Microscope: Our two-year-old LOVES Figment (Journey into Imagination) and all the music activities after your exit the ride. It's incredibly dated, but he doesn't know that. The Nemo ride and the Seas building are also a big hit. Looking forward to taking him to Turtle Talk for the first time in a few weeks b/c I hear Hank (his #1 favorite Disney character for some reason) makes an appearance now. But really his favorite Epcot "attractions" are probably the jumping fountains outside of the Disney/Pixar shorts theater and the sidewalks in Future World that glow after dark. The pavement around the fountain look like stars, but off to the side by Innoventions West there are some that create colorful patterns.

    He's seen Inside Out and while I don't think he fully gets the concept behind the movie, I also think he's too young to be scarred by Bing Bong.

    If your kids will nap in the stroller, that can also be a good time for the adults to eat/drink around the world! We did this at Flower & Garden last spring which has a similar booth setup to Food & Wine. Might be harder trying to time naps with two kids though. Have fun!

  28. 808love

    pomelo / 5785 posts

    @nanilani: I've only been at Food/Wine but this year we are going to Flower/Garden and I'm excited bc we all now there is food/drinks to be had while looking at the garden.

  29. Mrs D

    grapefruit / 4545 posts

    Woohoo!!!! It worked!!! DH is notorious for having the strongest opinions about the dumbest crap. Or just completely illogical opinions.

    Enter our trip to Disney. Every other trip we have taken as a family he is insistent that we have separate rooms, so we can sleep separate for the kids and the family as a whole can get good sleep. Naturally DH wanted to stay at the Polynesian - in a standard hotel room (non suite) because that is where his family always stayed.

    So for the last two weeks I have been sending him links, articles, etc on the resort choices at Disney. Last night my plan to overwhelm him with info into submission worked. I said that I wanted to talk about resort options after the kids go to bed so I could get it booked...he caved. Admitted it was too much detail and he'd be happier if I just picked! Woohoo!!!

  30. nanilani

    apricot / 374 posts

    @Mrs D: Haha, nicely done! So where did you end up choosing to book?

  31. Ajsmommy

    nectarine / 2668 posts

    @Mrs D: nice! where are you going to stay??

  32. Mrs D

    grapefruit / 4545 posts

    @nanilani: @Ajsmommy: I am doing some final research now. I am between Art of Animation and Copper Canyon (a la @Truth Bombs: recommendation).

    Seems like this is the easy part...actually plotting out the vacation is next -which is SO overwhelming!!!

    We're going to do whole days (arrive Sat, leave Fri) with a pool day in the middle.

  33. skinnycow

    persimmon / 1448 posts

    @Mrs D: If you're sticking with one park per day I recommend checking out crowd calendars. I compared calendars on Undercover Tourist and Touring Plans to choose which parks to visit on which days. It can seem overwhelming to plan the whole vacation but baby steps make things easier!

  34. Mrs D

    grapefruit / 4545 posts

    @skinnycow: The awesome thing is that because of the time of year we are going (vacation starts the Saturday after thanksgiving, like each day crowds are 5 or less everywhere. So we can plan most days for a 2 or 3 on the crowd calendar!

    The down side is I have no idea when they'll announce things like the Christmas Party...so my entire trip will probably flip upside down so we can accommodate that!

  35. skinnycow

    persimmon / 1448 posts

    @Mrs D: That's great! Crowds were 4-6 the last trip we took. Lines were very reasonable and we didn't wait longer than 10-15 minutes for anything so your trip should be great!

  36. nanilani

    apricot / 374 posts

    @Mrs D: I've never been to AoA, but I love Wilderness Lodge! Copper Creek wasn't officially open when we stayed there, but it's all in the same building and would have the same amenities. The ability to take the ferry to MK without having to fold up the stroller beats taking the bus everywhere!

    You may be able to look at past MVMCP schedules to make a reasonable guess when the parties might be offered. I think they tend to offer them on specific days of the week every week, say, Sun, Tues, Thurs, Fri, or whatever (I'm making those days up, don't rely on that).

  37. mediagirl

    hostess / wonderful persimmon / 25448 posts

    For those of you that are Disney experts. If you had 3 days for park visits, which parks would you hit? I am thinking Epcot, MK and MK OR Epcot, MK and Hollywood Studios.


  38. Anagram

    eggplant / 11141 posts

    @mediagirl: are you going soon or after the new Toy Story Land is open?

    We did all 4 parks (with MK twice) and my least favorite was HS, although I was glad we experienced it. But so much is closed it's only half day park. So I would do MK, Ep, and AK probably. If you want to double on MK, then you could just do Ep and MK. I know some people say Epcot isn't kid friendly, but my kids loved and we found plenty to do. Same at AK, actually. My husband's favorite was AK. So I guess it just depends on the person.

    Also, low crowd week or high crowds? We were in a low crowd week and I actually don't think we needed two days at MK because we got basically everything done on day 1. On day 2, we just re-rode our favorites from the day before, but we could have skipped that.

  39. mediagirl

    hostess / wonderful persimmon / 25448 posts

    @Anagram: we are going BEFORE the new Toy Story Land opens, unfortunately. Now that you mention it, my travel agent did say that HS has a lot closed right now... And we are not Star Wars crazy.

    I'm not sure about high crowd times. We are going the week of June 10th so...early summer.

  40. skinnycow

    persimmon / 1448 posts

    @mediagirl: I would also do MK, Epcot, and AK. Epcot, MK, MK would also work, though. Agreed on skipping HS - we're doing 5 days in parks and HS is a half day for us since DD can't ride Tower of Terror, Rock n Rollercoaster, etc.

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