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Thread: Disney advice

  1. #16
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    Thanks to everyone for all the advice. It seems daunting, but we are excited to figure it out, and of course, it is "Very exciting. As a luggage problem."

    (extra points if you know the reference!)

  2. #17
    Registered User nukediver's Avatar
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    I'm going to echo those here that have said that a Synapse 19 is a good choice for a day bag in the parks. I go to Disney World at least once a year (my family are Disney Vacation Club members), and I've found that the Synapse 19 is as close to perfect a bag as I can get. It's small and sleek, which means it stays out of the way on the rides, it's water resistant (good for both water rides and the inevitable afternoon rains), it holds WAY more than it looks like it should, and it's comfortable to wear all day.

    As far as Disney specific tips, ALWAYS carry rain ponchos. Go online or to Walmart and buy the really cheap big dorky-looking plastic ones. If you wait until there's a downpour and run into one of the Disney stores, you'll pay a lot more. EVERYBODY wears them when it rains, and they all look the same, so buy the cheap ones in colors other than clear or yellow and everyone in your party will stand out and be easy to find. Also? Take some plastic grocery bags. You never know when you'll need one for wet things like socks or shirts that get soaked on rides.

  3. #18
    Registered User nukediver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trailhiker View Post
    Now, have you been to Nashville, Tennessee?
    I should be going there next week, fo a long weekend.

    ;-))
    I go there frequently to see my cousin, so I have a built-in guide :-)

    I don't know what your likes are, but I can recommend some things that I've enjoyed.

    If you're any type of music fan, you must go to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. I'd also recommend the Ryman Auditorium. And if you like live music, there are TONS of places to check out everything from classical to jazz to country to rock to singer-songwriters almost every night. There are a couple of local weekly newspapers that you can find easily around town, so grab one and find something you like.

    If you're into "adult beverages" check out some of the local breweries - I certainly have ;-)

    And if it's food you're after, you're in luck. In recent years, Nashville has really come into its own as a food destination. Check out some of the places listed here; I've been to many and they're all good. You MUST go to Puckett's Grocery for a true Nashville experience - I always hit the one in Franklin when I'm there.

    Although I have never done this, I hear that there are some good tours of Nashville if you're into Southern history - try this one.

    I hope this gives you some ideas :-)

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by luvdabags View Post
    Thanks to everyone for all the advice. It seems daunting, but we are excited to figure it out, and of course, it is "Very exciting. As a luggage problem."

    (extra points if you know the reference!)
    We'd rather get points for being enablers (*grin*). I'll give this as a link.That will hopefully work even on phones for people who don't use TapaTalk. You do realize that the philosophy of travel luggage is totally different from the views espoused in these forums, don't you? (Or, to use Darcy's signature line phrase from the FAQ: Siquid mantica non capit, domi relinquendum est. Translation: If it doesn't fit in your knapsack, leave it behind.)
    Last edited by moriond; 01-31-2014 at 12:12 PM.

  5. #20
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    well done, moriond!

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by luvdabags View Post
    We are focused on meeting princesses (for the 4 yr old) and also seeing animals (for my 6 yr old son). What do you think of the safari hotel with the early morning safari?

    Trying to decide on making a first short trip this spring (likely April), and then going again in a year or two for a longer experience when the kids are a bit older. Just really want the 4 yr old to see princesses while she is in her current OBSESSION with them in case it may wane in years to come. Is is possible to get a first trip organized in 2 months?! Seems like it may be tough.
    You can definitely plan with just two months, but you will need to adjust your expectations. Some things, like very popular character dining experiences, may be fully booked during the days you want. Just be realistic.

    There are two big Princess character meals... one is INSIDE Cinderella's Castle, but that one is VERY VERY hard to book. They have another one in the Norway pavilion in Epcot (inside Akershus, which used to be a Norwegian food buffet). That one should be easier to get a reservation for.

    There are always Princess meet-and-greets your daughter can do. Keep in mind most of the Princess stuff is inside the Magic Kingdom park (the equivalent of Disneyland--the one with the castle).

    One suggestion: If you want your kids to get autographs as they meet the characters, you will want each of them to get their own autograph book, and an autograph pen. Don't bother using a regular notebook; they make little hardbound books just for such a purpose. They are small enough that they are easy to carry, and firm enough that the characters can hold them with their padded gloved hands and sign them. Autograph pens should be the REALLY BIG KIND, never a normal pen, because the characters need to be able to grasp them easily.

    Now... you can pay through the nose to buy these in the parks, *OR* you can buy them in advance. They're very easy to find in the neighboring stores... Walgreens, Walmart, you name it, for a fraction of the price. If you wind up renting a car, consider getting those.

    A second tip: Your daughter is going to go NUTSO with all the Princess merchandise, but they are $$$$$$ in the parks. Consider packing small Princess goodies (or again, if you are renting a car and making a shopping run when you first get there), pick up some cheap Princess stuff. Your daughter is not going to be able to tell the difference between a $15 Snow White facial cloth from the park and a 99-cent Snow White washcloth from Walgreen. Present these to her as special surprises once you're checked into your digs.

    Third tip: At 4, she might be a little too young (you might want to wait until she's 5-7) but there is a girlie boutique ("Biddi-Bobbidi-Boutique") located inside Cinderella's Castle--this is by APPOINTMENT ONLY. And it costs a lot, but you can buy different packages and she will come out looking like a real princess. Little girls LOVE THAT.

    As for your son... he will LOVE LOVE LOVE Animal Kingdom park. And if you have the bucks, you will love staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It's a Deluxe resort, though; expect to pay $300+ a night (we normally stay at the Pop Century, and it may only run $100 a night on the same night). But it is the only hotel on property where you can walk outside your room at night and chat up with a hotel cast member who will let you use nightvision goggles to view the zebras in the back yard!!!!!!

    The "early morning safari" is a perk you can book ONLY if you are a Concierge-level hotel guest, though. I have no clue how much that costs these days, but I wouldn't be surprised if they charge $600 and up for a Concierge room, per night.

    I do have friends who do splurge days during their trip; a couple of days in a really nice hotel, and then switch to a Value resort.

    Quote Originally Posted by Melissa View Post
    I just wanted to add:

    1. Bring WATERPROOF/SWEATPROOF sunscreen and reapply through the day....

    2. Everybody's kids will be dressed up with Disney gear....

    3. Comfy shoes for you and kids...

    4. Sunglasses/hats

    5. This will not be a budget vacation...
    Melissa has some great tips. I agree on the sunscreen part. By the time their skin is pink, it's too late already.

    I know a lot of families that wear matching shirts so they're easy to identify each other. Just be warned a lot of families do it, so go with something like neon orange, neon yellow, etc. -- and you will need matching sets for matching days.

    I love Melissa's tips about making your daughter's shoes sparkly. You can buy cheap shoelaces that have sparkles on them (glitter), and you can make them really cute.

    The problem with feet is that once you develop blisters, they will basically haunt you for the rest of your trip. Ouchies.

    I always wear a Nike sports visor when I go to the parks, since hats make my head too hot. But I never go to the parks without one. They even come in handy when it rains, because I get an automatic awning! lol. I also leave my fashion sunglasses at home, and wear polarized fishing glasses. They're big, and cut down on the glare. And they're cheap so I won't get upset if I lose them.

    There are ways to save money... try Mary Waring's website at MouseSavers.com for a lot of tips. Many of the hotel rooms have mini-fridges so you can save money on some things like...

    - If you're the type to want to have a sit-down meal, decide on which meal of the day that will be; the other meals should be lighter and less expensive.
    - Unless it's a character dining experience, avoid buffets; you can't take any of the food back with you if you don't eat a lot. Leftovers can be yummy.
    - Try to eat breakfast in your hotel before you head out. You can buy your own sliced bread, peanut butter & jelly, bananas, granola bars, cereal and milk, etc.
    - Buy snacks outside of the parks, pack them into your own Ziploc baggies and you will save a ton of money. If your kids need a light snack in the parks, you can avoid shelling out $20 by giving them something you already have.
    - Many of the hotels sell refillable mugs. They're not cheap, but if your family drinks soft drinks, it will pay for itself if you have two drinks a day from them. And you will have souvenir plastic mugs to take home. Many of the resorts have converted over to mugs that are RFID chip-enabled so you can't refill a mug right away (you have to wait 5 minutes) and it will expire after a couple of weeks, but if you use the food court in your hotel, it's still a good deal.
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  7. #22
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    We did WDW with our daughter for her 4th birthday and again when she was 7. Both trips were in December, though one was early in the month and the other right before Christmas. I've also been a half dozen other times pre-kid, so here are my general thoughts (some of which echo previous responses).

    1) Definitely stay on-property. I've done both, and there are a lot of advantage to being tied into the Disney transportation system. There are other advantages such as being able to buy things and have them delivered to your hotel rather than carrying them around and integrated packages for tickets, hotel and meals. A few of the on-property hotels (Swan and Dolphin, where we stayed the second time) are not run directly by Disney, so some things are different there.

    2) We really liked the Boardwalk Beach Resort. It's part of the vacation package, so it can be difficult to get rooms there as a one-time visitor, but the rooms are suites with a kitchenette and laundry, which is great with young kids. It's also a great location with relatively easy access to 3 of the 4 parks. It's right at the back of EPCOT, so you can walk to the back entrance (near the France pavilion) or ride a water taxi. The water taxi also goes to Hollywood Studios. To get to the Magic Kingdom, you can walk through EPCOT to the Monorail at the front and ride that across. That means you only need to ride the bus for Animal Kingdom. In our experience, the bus was the one of the biggest bottlenecks, especially at peak times and we often ended up standing.

    3) Go off-season if you can. Early December was great, the week before Christmas wasn't. Summers in Orlando are hot and there is frequent rain. Once you get past October, the weather cools down quite a bit. We loved early December because the holiday decorations were up, but it was before schools got out and we didn't have problems with rain for the most part.

    4) Schedule enough time to take a mid-week break. 4 straight days of going to parks is exhausting. We like to do 5 days and plan on taking at least half a day off. Yes, it costs a bit more that way, but it's more relaxing. Staying close to EPCOT, we also made that park our "fill-in destination". A couple days, we spent the morning in one of the other parks, then went back to the hotel for an hour or two break, then hit EPCOT for the evening (it has the best food IMO too). If you have a car, there are lots of other things to do in and near Orlando too.

    5) Good shoes, dress in layers and have a cheap ponchos in case it rains. Disney sells them for not-so-cheap and makes big bucks selling them to the unprepared, but we picked up 3 for less than $10 at a camping store and kept them in our bag.

    6) A backpack or two is a good idea. You want something relatively small - anything big is hard to deal with on rides - but you want to be able to carry a light jacket/sweatshirt, sunscreen, souvenirs, etc. in there. Just be aware, security is tight and they check bags going in. I even got asked to lock my pocket knife in a locker outside at Magic Kingdom.

    7) Consider making meal reservations well in advance. We did the meal package the first time, which included a snack, a quick service meal and a sit-down/character dining each day, and we found it too much. But there are some great sit-down options. If your kids like the character dining option, those are fun but can fill up months in advance. As I mentioned, EPCOT has great dining - the biergarten at the German pavilion is one of my favorites.

    The biggest thing about WDW is that it's big. VERY big. I grew up going to Disneyland at least twice a year and was a season pass holder there for several years, and there's just no comparison. I'd recommend getting a good guide book and getting an idea of what you want to do before you go because it's very easy to miss out on options just because you don't know they're there.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisc983 View Post
    Giantsteve, very good points to staying inside of the park. By any chance do you know if you get the same perks if staying at Disneyland?

    Disneyworld is on my list to take the kids but not until they are older so that the kids and myself can enjoy it more. But I will definitely want to stay in the park when we go there.
    Disneyland has their own set of perks that are a bit different. And as Lani pointed out, Disneyland is very different from Walt Disney World. You can stay at a Motel 6 a mile from the park entrance and walk to the parks every day. But that being said, there is a certain level of extra magic when you stay in a Disney Resort so you have to decide how much that extra magic is worth!

    How old are your kids? I often hear people say that they want to take their kids when they are older, but I have to say that in my opinion any age over 2 is great! And the wonder years are from age 2-6, at those ages, they really believe in the magic!

  9. #24
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    You can absolutely get it all worked out by April if you want to go then. Just keep in mind that the closer you are to your travel dates, certain dining locations and fastpass+ for popular attractions may no longer be available for the dates that you are planning to travel. But it can be done! Especially if you have a good travel planner!

  10. #25
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    On the topic of expensive food and water, Disney will allow you to bring food and water into the parks! We always pick up a case of bottled water on our way in so that we have a stash for the entire stay. At $2.50/bottle it adds up very quickly on a hot summer day! If you are flying in, there are grocery shopping services that will deliver to your hotel for a very small fee! It's still a huge savings over buying your water in the park!

  11. #26
    Registered User Lani's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrome64 View Post
    On the topic of expensive food and water, Disney will allow you to bring food and water into the parks! We always pick up a case of bottled water on our way in so that we have a stash for the entire stay. At $2.50/bottle it adds up very quickly on a hot summer day! If you are flying in, there are grocery shopping services that will deliver to your hotel for a very small fee! It's still a huge savings over buying your water in the park!
    While it's OK to bring in a water bottle and small snacks into the park, be aware that they may give you trouble if you try to bring in a cooler full of picnic food.

    I've seen people being turned away (and told to store their food in the storage locker at the picnic area) when going through Disneyland security. I don't know how tight they are at WDW.

    My GENERAL suggestion is to avoid taking entire meals into the park. It's pretty tacky... that said, I think snacks are fine! I've seen families munch on all kinds of stuff for a little boost of energy while they're waiting in line for a ride. Celery sticks with peanut butter, what have you.
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  12. #27
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    You are correct that they will not allow you to bring in hard sided coolers, but small soft sided ones are fine.

    I personally do not think that it is tacky to bring entire meals into Disney. Disney's philosophy is that the parks are a happy place that is meant to be welcoming for all people. They want visiting the parks to be something that is attainable for everyone. Which means that if you have to eat PB&J's in order to be able to afford admission to the park, you are welcome to do so.

    I visit both Walt Disney World and Disneyland several times a year, while the food on both coasts is amazing, I do bring my own food at times. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to afford to go as often as I do!

    I am a Disney Travel Planner with Dream Come True Vacations and I do not have any problem with sharing tips with my clients on how save the most money in Disney. I can't tell you how many times that PB&J means the difference between one more day on their trip. Hey, I say that you should do what ever you need to do to be able to get the most out of your vacation! It's not for everyone and some people would rather take the trade off of eating in Disney's restaurants and giving up a day in the parks. It's a personal decision that each person is free to make based on what is most important to them. I do hope that Luvdabags found a travel planner that will help her get the most for her money on her trip too!

    I also participate in many of the RunDisney events including the WDW 10k and Half Marathon this past January. I will be going to the Expedition Everest 5k, the Tower of Terror 10 Miler, and I'm running in the Disneyland Dumbo Double Dare this year!

    I'm actually heading to Disneyland next weekend for a solo trip!! I will be packing up my TB Guide Pack for the weekend trip to DL and will probably carry either my side effect or maybe my S19 (if I can justify bringing two back packs for a weekend trip!). I also have a small draw string backpack (non-TB) that I often carry in the parks. I would love to see TB come out with something like that that I could use as a park bag!

  13. #28
    Registered User Janine's Avatar
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    This is a great thread! Thank you all for posting your advice!
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