Friday, January 29, 2010

Advice Needed!

I could really use your advice!

You see, I've been super busy getting ready for our 1st family trip (MY 1st trip, too) to Disney World soon!! Yippee!!!

But I'm nervous that I'm packing too much...or leaving something important behind....or will regret only having one pair of shoes....or that my kids will get sick riding something quaint and simple like the "Dumbo" ride....or that we'll miss the fun, "it" things for kids and families...

Let's just say that my imagination gets the better of me sometimes.

I've read books and checked things out online, but I'd really love to hear it straight from you all!

I need to hear from you....

What great tips do you have for me?
What are the best things to have in a backpack for a day in the parks?
Will my kids survive without an autograph book, or will they whine for one?
The best things you brought with you?
What should you have left at home?
Money-saving tips?
Fun things to do with grade-school aged kids?
Your best Disney advice?

Pllleeeeeeeeeeeeeaase let me know!

Thanks so much, I know I can count on y'all! :)


Terri and Bob said...

We are going to Disney World this summer so I cannot wait to hear about your trip. I will learn from you!

bec4 said...

Autograph book--a must, buy one before you go. My kids told me waiting in line for 1 and a half hours to get Pooh's autograph was worth it. They still look at it. Lanyard and pin exchanging is fun for the older kids. Eat big before you go in the park, eat only small snacks in the park--too expensive.

Fast passes are the best, pick up fast pass tickets early in the day--if you miss your time you can still go through. If a parent has to wait with a small child while other parent goes on ride, the waiting parent can then go to the front of the line or fast pass line--just ask.

Disney souvenirs can be bought anywhere--much cheaper if purchased out of the park.

Remember to go with your kids' moods--sometimes half a day spent swimming in the hotel pool is better than fighting crowds and lines.

Have fun!

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

I went on my Senior Trip in high school, and again on a girls' trip when I was 24. I haven't experienced it with kids, but it is soooooo much fun!!!

I liked staying at one of the Disney Resorts (Saratoga Springs, which borders Downtown Disney--a great place to shop!). The resorts are nice, and the best part is you can just leave your car there and ride their little transport buses to and from the park. They run regularly to each resort and also to each park--a GREAT system, and it's FREE for people staying at the Disney resorts. A good thing, so you don't pay for parking each day. :)

I liked having the Park Hopper passes, b/c I could spend time in the Magic Kingdom each day!! There is SO much to see there, and it's nice to end the day with the fireworks, parade, etc. The PH pass lets you go to any/all of the parks you want each day. Normal passes only let you enter one park per day, so far as I know. They may have changed it since I was there a few years ago.

I liked the safari in the Animal Kingdom---VERY cool!!! There is also a dinosaur ride that is neat, but maybe a little too scary for young kids?? The Lion King show was good.

Again, the Magic Kingdom is my favorite--the Peter Pan ride, It's a Small World, Snow White, Winnie the Pooh. The log ride. Sooo much to see and do!!

I think the meals with the characters are kind of overpriced, unless you have little kids who might think they are seeing the REAL Winnie the Pooh or Mickey, or whatever. If you really want to do a meal with a character, I hear the Cinderella's Castle one is good, and I liked the lunch buffet with Winnie the Pooh. Chef Mickey was okay.

Um...take your camera, a fold-up poncho (!!!), snacks, a water bottle. The poncho is a must in case of rain or riding on the log ride. You don't want to walk around drenched, and the park's ponchos are expensive.

They have the biggest Disney store I've ever seen in my entire life in Downtown Disney, along with a Lego Store an dozens of other neat places. Set aside a night to eat there and shop. Fun!

Sorry so long. :) You will have a blast. I am praying we can afford to take our kids there in another year or two. :)

The Mommy said...

We go once(sometimes twice) a year. Ok here's some of my advice. My kids are still very small though.(5 and 2)
Stroller, drinks, sunscreen and a change of clothes is a MUST. Autograph books are not a must but lots of kids bring a t-shirt and sharpie to have the characters sign. Freeze water bottles, grapes, capri-suns to take into the park. It's heavy at first but is so worth it when you see the prices of the drinks. Make sure you do the parades. The parade at Animal kingdom and Hollywood studios are really good and don't miss spectromagic? the light parade at night in Magic Kingdom. There is also a midday parade in MK that is a jammin' street parade where the characters get off the float and dance it's AWESOME.
The character dining is fun but expensive! There is one in MK I think it's the Crystal Palace that is a buffet(really good food) with Winnie-the-pooh and friends. Feel free to ask me anything else.
Lisa said...

Not a mommy here buy I was to Disney a few times

Here are some random tips
Some in park hotels sell mugs that can be refilled for free during your stay with assorted juices ...
Pack water bottles that can be refilled
Baby wipes and hand sanitizer
Make magnetic door identifiers for your kids with shapes so that they don't get lost in the hall (not their name but maybe ears) most doors are magnetic
Good walking shoes
Definitely do Magic Kingdom it is after all Disney!!!
Save one day for relaxing and visiting the pool or shops
Eat a big breakfast... then snack at the parks then a dinner.
Buy some disney goodies at home that you can keep in the room hidden from the kids and then make it like mickey or their favorite left them
Thank your cleaning person with a note the first day... we did this and she was AWESOME... not sure the note mattered but at the end she hid a snow globe as a gift!

Oh and have FUNNNNNNN!!!!!
You are going to LOVEEEEE it!


Brandy said...


I found your blog through Deb K's blog.

We've been to Disney a few times, twice with kids, just got back 2 weeks ago actually from a trip. Our kids are 3 and 6 months. Here are my tips, depending on your kids' ages:
-Photo passes are great to get good pics of the whole group. Get a card from any of the photo pass photographers. You'll find them at key photo spots all around the parks. They upload your pics online and you can look at them when you get home.

-Magic Kingdom - spectromagic parade and Wishes fireworks are great. Check the schedule as they only do Spectromagic certain nights. Wishes is every night (if it's not raining). Best rides for the little kids are dumbo, Aladdin magic carpets, peter pan, winnie the pooh and of course, it's a small world.

-My daughter's favorite part is meeting the characters. She loved getting their autographs. They put the characters where they should be found - i.e. Princess and the Frog characters are in Liberty Square because they are from new Orleans, Woody and Jesse from Toy Story are in the Western area of Magic Kingdom, etc. If you are looking for a specific character, ask a staff member or check the times guide. Mickey Mouse is in Toon Town Square in the Judge's Tent, have to go through his house to get there. Kind of a pain and usually a long wait, but my daughter constantly asks to see him until we do!

-If you have a princess fan, we had lunch at Norway in Epcot with the princesses. It was fabulous! Epcot doesnt have a lot for the little ones but the Finding Nemo ride is good. She was barely tall enough for Soaring - we took her but she didn't like it. Finally for Epcot, Kid Cot, stop at one of the craft stations and they'll give you a stamp at each of the countries (like a passport, makes it more exciting for the kids. We didn't realize what it was until too late, my daughter only got one stamp - she didn't care but next time we'll know!)

-Disney Hollywood Studios is actually really fun for the little ones as well. The playhouse disney live on stage show, beauty and the Beast (my favorite) as well as the little mermaid stage show are fantastic. My 6 month old LOVED the little mermaid one. For older ones, there is always the Tower of Terror - haha. DHS also has fantasmic (only certain nights) - don't miss it! Again, check the times guide for when it is.

-I would bring lunch/sandwiches/chips/drinks to the park as much as you can - that part gets expensive.

Hope that helps! Have fun!

lisa said...

I haven;t been in years the thing I remembered is that we were starving and the lines were so long..I'm sure they have more eating places by now..I went as a it has been a long long time..If I were going with kids I would bring snacks and water bottles. I use to live in Florida and the temps vary at this time of can be in the 40's at night and 90's in the day...Have a fantastic time..Lisa

Amy Jo:) said...

I definitely think they need autograph books - I would buy ones at home and take them with you! My biggest advice, take good walking shoes for everyone AND a BIG appetite. The gluten free food is absolutely abundous! It is so awesome to get fries, brownies, hamburgers (with a BUN) etc! :)

mollysmoods said...

If you are stating on property, you get in the parks 1 hour early and can stay late. The schedule is posted on the website. Plan your park days around this. The meal plan is worth it, the hardest part is deciding now where you'll want to eat in the future. Make your eating reservations ASAP if there is somewhere special you want to eat. We did Cinderella's Castle for an early breakfast and there was noone in the park, so I have pictures of Main St. and the castle w/o all the people. My kids enjoyed the autograph book, but didn't like standing in line, so we did character meals. I highly recommend Liberty Tavern in MK and Donald's Safari Breakfast in AK. Plan on waterparks they're awesome. If I had to leave a park out for time constraints it would be Animal Kingdom. Hope this helps. Have FUN!

SRA said...

LESS is MORE, especially if you have to drag it around with you all day long! Take 2 pairs of shoes - for each person and make sure they're the comfy kind! Bandaids, Neosporin, Tums, Chewing Gum, Bottled Water - you can refill at drinking fountains around the park, and Trail Mix! We brought bread, peanut butter and jelly, ziplock bags and made our own sandwiches to take as a little snack each day, along with already peeled orange slices. Wet Wipes are a must too - but just take a small "Travel Size" & refill as needed from a larger one back in your hotel room. Sunglasses, Sunscreen also musts. We had a lightweight backpack we put all our stuff in. It's easy to carry, and you can always put it on backwards (which means on the front of you) when you're on a ride you're afraid it'll fall off! Have a great time! LESS is MORE!

Esther@EnchantedBungalow said...

We went about 25 years ago - so much has changed I'm sure. There were 10 of us - my husband, me and our four children and my brother, his wife and their 2 children. My sister-in-law and I made two sets of shirts alike for all of us - just those jersey knit T shirts. We had a red set with white ribbing and a lime green set with navy ribbing. It was FABULOUS for keeping us all together! Even the little 5 year olds knew to look for the shirt. We found that lots of people wear red, so we went with the lime green mostly. Since there were 10 of us in a Suburban, we each wore a set of clothes (jeans and shirt), then packed two pair of shorts and our two shirts, undies, swim suit and jammies. She and I washed clothes one night while the Daddies watched the kidos in the pool. I think it would be even more important to me today to make sure my children had a quick way to look up and see who they belonged to!

Shady Lady! said...

I have SO many tips for you. We have gone for a week every year in 2005, 2008, 2009 and are going again in June.

My biggest piece of advice - plan and get to the parks EARLY, like 30 minutes before they open. You will get so much more accomplished by beating the crowd. Even if it looks like there are a lot of people there at opening, trust me, you always beat the crowd.

If you need more advice or specific info/tips, I would be happy to share more or email you our typical schedule with some tips. I obviously LOVE Disney!

check out: - great pics of restaurants, full menus - $18.95 gets you a personalized plan and some great tips. use promo code A82E8-2AH for the price of $18.95. it will be worth the money, trust me.

get on ebay and buy a LOT (like one "lot" or group) of those Disney trading pins - i got a "lot" of $40 for less than $40, and my 7 year old is looking forward to pin trading with the cast members - thought that would give a new kick to the trip for him and will be fun souveniers.

downtown disney is the best place to shop for your souveniers - the christmas store has every ornament you could imagine and they will personalize them there for you, world of disney is supposed to have every item sold anywhere at the parks, and there is a toy store that sells create your own light-sabers, cute disney my little ponys and accessories, and same idea with mr. potato head - very unique souveniers you cannot get anywhere else!

have a blast!

Brittany said...

What great tips do you have for me?
Disney now has people all around the park that will take pictures of you. It doesn't cost anything unless you purchase the pics (which you can do online or at the park). Definitely have them take pics, then ask them to use your camera too! This was you don't have to purchase of the pictures and you still have great looking ones by the castle or where ever you might go.
What are the best things to have in a backpack for a day in the parks?
Frozen water bottles, frozen wash cloths (to wipe off with),ponchos (one for each member, plus extras to sit on), spray bottle, really depends, how much do u want to spend?
Will my kids survive without an autograph book, or will they whine for one?
They definitely need one! If you go to a Walmart or Target when you get there you can find the same autograph book they have in the parks for much cheaper. Have them pick one out there first.
The best things you brought with you?
What should you have left at home?
Money-saving tips?
See above posts and now they have a lot of $ saving when you stay at the resorts. You are able to get cheaper meals.
Fun things to do with grade-school aged kids?
Your best Disney advice?
See everything you can! Elementary kids will probably not like all of the countries at Epcot. Definitely see Mexico, China, America, France. Some of the others are kind of boring. Go to the Laugh Floor. It's my FAVORITE at MK. If you have a park hopper, choose one day to do all of your water rides.

Check out this blog:

duchess said...

Oh, how fun.
The best thing we did for our kids (so the didn't money us to death for toys) was to roll coins that we had in a jar around the house & cash them in. That was their own spending money to do with whatever they chose. They each had $100. We divided it up by days & that's the extra they could spend that day. It was a fun experiment for them to learn how to consider their purchases as well.
(We still have all of the disney character stuffed animals from that trip.)

Stacey said...

Stacey, we took our kids twice when they were younger. Once in February which was absolutely perfect. Once in August which was like a inferno!

I have to admit that I didn't do a lot of research before we went. That's how I roll. :) The parts I remember the most...breakfast with the characters, the autograph books (we still have them), getting there and realizing my son wasn't going to ride anything.

We ate at The Rainforest Cafe. Do that if it's still there. We loved it there and in Dallas.

Stacey @ The Blessed Nest said...

These are awesome tips!!! Thanks so much :). Keep 'em coming!!

Darlene said...

I've never been but am having fun reading all the comments. I definitely want to take Lexi one day soon. I think with her being a bit older now it would be a blast!

Lorri said...

We just got back a few weeks ago. I love to go at Christmas time because of the decorations. this was my 3rd trip. Make sure you pack cool and warm weather wear. Mornings are usually a little cool and it rains at the oddest times.
I always carry a backpack with an extra change of clothes, water, snacks and first aid kit. Rent a locker as soon as you arrive and store it in there. I had a fanny pack for camera and cash. I hope you have the dining plan. I could not believe how much food costs this past visit.Make sure if you do have it that you have made your reservations. We found it almost impossible to get other reservations after we missed one.
Fast passes are wonderful use them all you can. I did buy autograph books when my kids were small and yes they used them. This past visit, we did not utilize them, because 16 years wont wait in line to see Micky Mouse. I always suggest that you stake out a good view of the castle about an hour prior to firework time and make sure you see Fantasmic (my favorite light show). Take a break in the afternoon, go back to the hotel, nap rest and let the kids swim, then head back for the evening to your favorite park.
Have fun I love Disney!!!!!!

Confessions from the Laundry Room said...

I agree with the duchess.

Not just for Disney but every vacation we give the kids money ahead of time or make envelopes with each kids name and hold it for them.

Having their own cash does several things: the whine less because they have some control, they choose better 'stuff' because it's their money not yours and it controls YOUR cost on junk.

It is nearly impossible to do everything so have each member of the family pick THE thing they want to do the night [or months] before ...then using the maps of the parks...plan your routes.

Pick up some Disney trivia game cards or make up your own and play that in line.

#1 advice......don't be a crankypants or everyone else will be too.

Tardevil said...

Depending on the age of your children, if they're 7 or older, they may rather have a lanyard (sp?) than the autograph book so they can trade pins. We went last Easter, and while my oldest daughter got some autographs, the big thing is trading the Disney pins (get your wallet out). The fun is looking for the hidden Mickey on the employees' pins (they trade pins with you). Take a backpack with wipes, kleenex, hand sanitizer, water and snacks. I was pregnant at the time, and my feet killed me because we would leave at 7 or 8 am & sometimes return as late as 3 am, walking all day. I would definitely take more than one pair of shoes, in case you get blisters. They also have the pin thing at the outlet mall nearby (and they're supposedly cheaper). My least favorite park was Animal Kingdom, but if you have little kids, they have some cute rides. If you're doing the meal plan, sometimes, we had to just eat 2 meals a day because it was just too much food to eat 3. I had seen the food featured on Food Network, but it really wasn't as good as it looked, in most cases. I was disappointed in the hotel. We stayed at the Coronado Springs, and for $300 a night, it's not all that. They also don't give you the luggage carriers, so you either haul all your stuff to your room, which may not be close to the parking lot, or you have to use their porter. Enjoy your time there!

2Belles2Beaux4me said...

Well, I think the best thing we've ever done on our Disney vacation is give each child a set amount of money (for us that was $20). They had to use their money for whatever they wanted most. For some, that meant an autograph book for others that meant a pin or other souvenier and some just spent it on food. That helped me not have to decide what to buy for each. Also, it helps them become good decision makers at the same time. Anything they asked for, my reply was the same. "Is that what you want to spend your money on?" At Disneyland (we are in Cali) you may bring snacks inside the park so Dad always carries the mega snack backpack for those that want to spend their money on other things. Also, Disneyland gives free coffee refills so if you are a coffee junkie, that's a plus! And save your cups and refill with water which is a huge money saver as well. I'm frugal, can ya tell??

Meg said...

Dining was a big deal for us.. we didn't want to spend a lot of time or energy deciding where and what to eat..

I am a planner, and as much as it drove my spontaneous hubby crazy. I planned EVERY meal.

We were on Disney dining plan, so I really wanted to get my money's worth.

Made reservations when I could. Had character meals two or three times since they were included, and you could make reservations..

We even planned the park we were visiting that day around the restaurant we were eating at.. for example we could only get reservations for Tuesday at the Canadian restaurant in Epcot, so therefore that was the day we did Epcot!!

But like I said I am a HUGE planner, a little type A, not much into winging it or spontaneity when I am spending over $4000.00

My spontaneous husband admits it was one of the best vacations we've ever had, and it was so nice to have a plan everyday..

Oh, and as for autograph books.. we are not huge disney character folks.. we didn't really even know who some of them were.. but we did bring books, and it was fun to have the kids have something to do.. my kids were 6, 8 and 10.

Anonymous said...

comfy shoes....that's all I have to say. Oh, and get a small cooler to put in drinks and snacks. They are way to expensive at the park.

Cheryl said...

SO fun you are going there with your family.
First time we were able to go as a family, our kids were teenagers. So, the autograph book wasn't a must for us. We did however do a character breakfast and I have to say I had fun at that. They (meaning minney and mickey and the like in the character outfits) were more than happy to pose for pics with you and they would play around with you. To me, that was more fun than waiting to get an autograph and you didn't have to pay for pics cause you took them on your own camera.
In your backpack for the day I would make sure you have water bottles, snacks, sunblock and a hat if you are fairskinned. All those sorts of things cost money...a lot of money if you purchase them throughout the day all just because you are buying it i the park.
Most of all have fun. Take lots of pics.

Londen @ Sixty-Fifth Avenue said...

If you haven't already try to make a reservation to the Crystal Palace for brunch or dinner. It is buffet style but its wonderful. The characters come to the table so no waiting in line. Have fun!!

Blythe said...

We have taken our kids to Disney twice in the past three years and learned a lot during our first visit, which made our second visit even better.

When you go to Magic Kingdom, take the train and go to Toon Town which is in the back of the park. Most people start at the front of the park and usually the crowds won't be as heavy in the morning in the back section of the park if you do this.

Even if your kids are a little older they will get tired of walking. Our kids were happy to take turns riding in an umbrella stroller. They weren't embarrassed in the least. Renting strollers at the parks is expensive! After all the walking during our first day at Magic Kingdom we went to Walmart and bought a stroller for $10.00 and it paid for itself.

On our first visit, we spent hours waiting to see the characters at Magic Kingdom. On our second trip this past November, we went to Epcot and saw the characters and the wait was much shorter. They have a building set up for meeting Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy & Pluto.

Daisy was out front when we first arrived at Epcot and the line to see her was only four people long! If you get to Epcot when it opens, you can meet Mickey & the gang without much of a wait. We were told Tigger and Pooh hang out in the toy store in England and we saw Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins in the England section. My daughter was thrilled to meet Marie the cat, from the Aristocats movie in France and we also met Sleeping Beauty there. Snow White was in Germany and Jasmine & Aladdin in Morocco. Beauty and the Beast were also out doing meet and greets. The lines for all the characters were much shorter at Epcot compared to Magic Kingdom. As a result, going to Epcot to meet the characters gave us more time to focus on the rides/shows at Magic Kingdom.

If your kids aren't afraid of heights, be sure to try the Hang Gliding ride, "Soarin" at Epcot.

We did a character breakfast at Animal Kingdom on our first visit and enjoyed it. Breakfast is the cheapest option for character dining. Reservations need to be made as early as possible as they do book up quickly, especially certain times of year.

Check Disney's webpage as they list all of the events and things to do for each park. You can order free customized maps from Disney if there is enough time before your trip to receive them.

Walmart has an abundance of souvenirs and the prices are much better than in the parks.

If you know anyone who has a special needs child, the Guest Assistance Pass is wonderful. It enables a family to avoid waiting in long and noisy lines, which is a must with a child with autism. We didn't know about this option our first visit, and it really helped made our second visit easier and more enjoyable.

We have stayed outside of the park to save money and used vacation rental by owner ( You can find some great deals for condos, etc., if you want more space than what you get in a standard hotel room. We liked having a kitchen and eating a big breakfast before going to the parks.

We tried to eat as cheaply as possible at lunch - we had hot dogs at Toon Town and it was still close to $30 for a family of four. We took frozen waters, juice boxes, frozen gogurts, and other snacks to help out too.

Hope you have a wonderful visit!

Jen said...

We were just there a couple of weeks ago and I second a lot of the other comments on here.
-Autograph books -must! Buy them in the park, they're a classic
-Ears - must! Buy them at the Chapeau and have their name put on them, classic keepsake
- Check times for the parades and make sure you get to them and the nightly fireworks show, we made the mistake of missing the parade this year because we were in a line
-you'll figure out the fastpasses
-relax and have fun, take advantage of the Disney photographer's spots, you don't have to buy their photos, but they are in good places!

Have fun!

Mama Booth said...

The biggest thing that helped me was knowing that most hotels had a laundry facility. I packed less and washed everything before I got home so all I had to do was put away clean laundry. If you are staying in or near the parks there is a super inexpensive, great cuban restaurant near by. I can't remember the name but a quick net search might find it for you. Enjoy your trip!

momstheword said...

Oh, you are going to have so much fun! We love Disney World.

When my kids were younger, I always dressed them in the same colors in the parks. That way, if I decided it was a red shirt/black shorts day, I looked for red shirts. Blue shirt day: blue shirts. Not that I lost my kids, lol! But much easier since it's pretty crowded and well, it eased my mind.

We all brought a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt into the parks (and we stored it in a locker). That way we can change out of our shorts when the evening comes and if it starts to cool off. We also put our video camera there if we don't want to carry it around all day.

We let the kids do some autographs when they were little, but it does take time.

Fast passes can be used past their time. They don't tell you that but it's true. So get as many as you are allowed within the allotted time, and then you can use them all day.

If you go to Tom Sawyer's island look for paint brushes. They hide them and your kids will get a prize if you find them. But you'll need to go right over there in the morning.

There is a discount-Disney store that sells merchandise real cheap, but it's a bit of a drive. The merchandise is last year's merchandise too. We considered it worth the drive as we saved so much money, and the kids didn't care whether it was last year's sweatshirt or this years.

Fantasmic is wonderful and we loved it. I went early, took a beach towel and saved our seats with it. I just spread it out to save the seats, and sat and read a book while hubby took the kids on rides. You don't have to go that early, but we wanted to sit close and the good seats fill up fast.

We bought the bottle holders that the park sells, and used it to carry a pop around our neck. Then we refilled the pop bottle with water from the water fountain.

If you go on the water ride at Animal Kingdom, take a plastic garbage bag with you from home. You can use it to put your camera and stuff in it, and they won't get wet. Take off your socks and shoes and put them in the garbage bag so they'll stay dry). Learned this from experience, lol!

Sorry, this is getting long and I could say lots more but I need to stop before I write a book. Have fun!

Farmgirl Chaos said...

Hello....not sure if you have gone there yet or not. But here's my tip/suggestion. Explain to your kids what Disney World really is. I went with some students for work, and they were expecting an amusement park. They didn't want to walk around and look at all that Disney has to offer at any of the different parks. They just wanted to go right to the rides. It is sad to me to think of all that they missed out on because of their misunderstanding about the park. I did not have as much fun as I could have, since I enjoy all the different areas of the park. I probably had more fun when I went there with my family as a 3rd grader, when I actually got to see all the Disney had to offer.
Oh, and I don't remember if they allow it or not, but carry your own water bottles if you can.