Disney World tips


#61

Crap, forgot that one. Used that quite a bit as well.

Also, IllumiNations and Wishes (the Epcot and Magic Kingdom fireworks respectively) are shown every day. Fantasmic at Disney Hollywood Studios is not. So make sure you get over there to see it on the day it’s shown and get in line early, cos it’s ungodly popular since they reduced the amount of times it’s shown a week.
One of the more interesting experiences on my trip was the “pre-show” leading up to Fantasmic. The time of year I went was very popular with tour groups of teenagers from Brazil. They filled much of the Fantasmic stadium the night I went, and leading up to the show they did “The Wave” for a solid 10-15 minutes. It was quite a sight.

They usually do two Fantasmic shows a night, and the second show tends to be less crowded, so it’s usually better to go to the second one.

And as to Animal Kingdom, I don’t get why it’s “fake” either. It’s not like they have a bunch of audio-animatronic animals instead of the real ones - Dinosaur! excepted of course for obvious reasons. My only real complaint with it was that the safari ride was the only way to see many of the animals. Busch Gardens in Tampa has African animals beside the ride part of the park, allowing you to walk along and see the animals in addition to their safari ride. I’m also used to the large natural-habitat zoo we have here in North Carolina, which has an extensive African section.


#62

I actually did, but I buried the lead.

One thing my wife reminded me of was that, with the dinner and Fantasmic! package, do not chose the Brown Derby as your place to eat. We’ve eaten there twice in the past few years, and both times it was a let down. You’re better off with Mama Melrose’s.


#63

The Brown Derby’s cobb salad is fantastic, but everything else there is kind of crap.

This is true, but during the busier times of year people will actually start getting in line for the second show before the first one even starts. It’s a pretty rough bit of business.


#64

sigh All this talk of Disney has caused me to put my Epcot CD in the drive, and now I’m listening to music from the old Tapestry of Nations parade…


#65

Holy shit. Do you have any other stories like that?


#66

If you’re eating in WDW, I highly recommend Narcoosie’s and California Grill for dinner. For in-park food I really liked the Liberty Tree Tavern in MK, Yak and Yeti’s in AK, Le Cellier in Epcot, and Mama Melrose in DHS. For a quick meal, there’s a food court in Epcot (Sunshine Seasons in “The Land” at Future World) that really was amazing - it’s all sustainable, fresh and freshly cooked, and pretty much the exact opposite of the counter-service meals you get anywhere else (and I mean that in the best possible way).

Animal Kingdom was probably our favorite park in terms of feeling like they really brought their A-game when building it. Epcot was the place we spent the most time exploring though.


#67

Have we covered “comfortable shoes” yet? The boys will probably be troopers but I’m concerned about your 4 year old girl. If you can do without a stroller you’ll be a lot happier with the crowded walkways. Look for ways to take advantage of in-park transportation when possible and rest / get off your feet often.

I just got back from a day at Disneyland / California Adventure yesterday and my dogs are barking.


#68

At 4 years old, doing without a stroller may be a stretch. However, what you could do is not bring your stroller to the park, have her walk around until she can’t take it any more, and then rent a Disney stroller for the remainder of the day.

For little feet, we’ve found the kids’ Crocs to be the best sort of children’s footwear for the parks. They’re water-proof, they’re consistently squishy and comfortable, and the little red ones with Mickey-shaped holes you can buy at most any footwear kiosk are adorable on little-girl feet.


#69

Look for Pocahontas.

I kept having my 1.5 year old daughter go back for pictures.


#70

I’ve been to the WDW parks with my kids many times in the past decade. There is a lot of great information in this thread, in the book mentioned previously, and at mmalloy’s website. I highly recommend going in with a plan of some sort as to what you would like to do at which parks on what days. But the #1 most important thing to remember at all times is that you’re supposed to be having fun (or at least your kids are), so make sure that you don’t over-analyze or push everyone beyond their limits. Downtime is your friend when doing Disney, especially multiple parks over multiple days. Sneak in a day of rest someplace and you’ll be thankful you did.

On the subject of strollers, we’ve rented one from Disney every time we’ve gone. Even the most recent trip when my daughter was 6 and my son 10 we rented a double. Walking around for 12+ hours is exhausting, even for endless little bundles of energy like kids. My daughter was using one of the stroller seats to take a break within a couple of hours of being at the park, and even my son copped a ride or two close to the end of the evening. I was also grateful to have someplace to put my backpack full of stuff when one or both of them wasn’t riding. If you do rent a Disney stroller take a couple of towels from home to spread out in it. They make it more comfortable for the kids, and they come in handy when the inevitable Disney rain storm appears in the afternoon. Bonus tip- one of our towels was a Disney Cinderella towel which we spread over the stroller canopy to provide shade. We came back to the stroller park on more than one occasion to discover cast members had left the kids little surprises spread out on the towel, like notes from the characters, collectible pins and trinkets, and even a bunch of fake “treasure” form the pirates at the Pirates of the Carribean ride. It made my kids’ day!

I also concur that Fast Pass is awesome. Many time with a little advance planning you can work it so that you can Fast Pas a ride close to one you’re wainting in line for already, and then step off the first ride and right onto the second one thanks to the pass. If you spend multiple days at one park (like Magic Kingdom), do the parade/fireworks on the same day, as that way on the opposite day you can ride the popular rides while everyone else is getting situated for parade or fireworks viewing. We did this last time, and my son and I rode the Haunted House and Pirates of the Carribbean TWICE EACH without waiting in line AT ALL, as everyone else was off looking at the parade/fireworks.


#71

As an aside (not trying to hijack Brad’s thread), we’re going back down to the family condo in Tampa this summer and offered the kids another side trip to Orlando for WDW. They actually looked at us across the dinner table and said “again?”. It was like the total opposite of those commercials where the kids flip out when they learn they’re going to Disney. Jaded little brats! ;-)

Instead we’re going to try the SeaWorld / Busch Gardens combo this year. We got a deal on tickets to both parks that include the meals, and we’ll probably break it up so that we do SeaWorld one day, wait a couple of days (beach time!) then do Busch Gardens. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to SeaWorld, and I’ve never been to Busch Gardens (Tampa), so if there is any advice particular to those parks I’d appreciate hearing it.

For example, I heard a rumor you could try to call ahead and reserve seats on the African Safari jeep tour thing at Busch Gardens? Not the big truck thing that costs extra, but the jeep ride that is part of the standard park admission. Anyone have experience with this?


#72

People seem to get a kick out of optimizing Disney. (I’m sure it presses the right buttons for Brad!) But it always seems like a billion random tips to me. The only systematic things you need to worry about are:

Depending on the month, be ready for rain every afternoon around 4pm.

Be prepared to feel like Mickey Mouse has turned you over and shaken all the money out of your pockets. It’s not ludicrously expensive but it might bug you at the end of the week.

Get Fast Passes to avoid lines if you can’t tolerate them anymore. Plan your day around the times they give you.

(Bonus for couples without kids) Spend lots of time drinking and eating at Epcot, especially if you can bring friends along or during the Food & Wine Festival.


#73

Oh man, never go during the Food and Wine Festival! It is a miserable, miserable experience. The god damn Norway right had a wait of more than an hour. It was INSANE!


#74

I wasn’t aware Epcot had any rides, other than my favorite: Living with the Land.

To venture into random tip territory: we recently did the Behind the Seeds tour. It was neat to see everything up close. It also made me appreciate what an agricultural/industrial effort it is, rather than just DISNEY MAGIC.

Also, Captain EO is back. Everyone cheered when MJ makes his first apperance in the show. I thought that was touching.


#75

Jedi training at Hollywood is pretty cool. When you have a little 4 year old girl fighting Darth Vader it is pretty cool. We watched but didn’t get a slot, still was fun for the kids.


#76

Having just been with a four year old last fall (in addition to a two year old), I wouldn’t even think of not having a stroller. My kid is a trooper, and we went back to the hotel every afternoon, but that’s a lot of walking for someone who has legs that are only a couple of feet long.


#77

Yep, my son has been called up for both Jedi Training and pirate training (with an AMAZING Jack Sparrow impersonator). If the kid looks enthusiastic and makes eye contact with the person picking the kids, chances are pretty good they’ll get called up.


#78

Now you have to sign up for Jedi Training I think. When we got there the kids were already selected or they had signed up. Definitely worth looking into.


#79

Disney World parks are great but consider trying Islands of Adventure in Universal for a day. Harry Potter, Marvel Island, Jurassic Park, Dr. Seuss, etc. Lots of fun stuff.


#80

I was extremely underwhelmed by Universal. Especially since when we were there all the park restaurants closed at 4 pm and the sodas were actually around 15 cents MORE than they cost at Disney, which was actually pretty impressive.

They hadn’t opened up Harry Potter yet, though. But if their meet and greet Rogue and Storm were any indication, I look forward to meeting a six foot tall, four hundred pound Harry in person.