Monday, June 07, 2010

Disney Tips

Hubby & I went to Walt Disney World with my parents and 5 yr old nephew. It was a great trip. I visited several websites prior to our trip and almost got information overload. So, to save you some time, I thought I would put together some tips and hints to make your trip better.

1. Stay in a Disney Resort. They will pick you up for free at the airport and take you to your resort. And if you plan so ahead of time, you can skip baggage claim. They will send you yellow tags ahead of time to put on your luggage and will claim your bags for you. They will arrive at your resort a couple of hours later so pack essentials (including swimsuits) in your carry on.
Another advantage of staying in a Disney Resort is the free shuttles to the Disney parks. Also, each member of your party gets a keepsake Disney mug that you can refill for free at the resort food court as much as you want. Soft drinks, lemonade, coffee, tea etc.
Yet another perk is being able to charge things to your room and having your purchases sent to your room instead of wagging them all over the park.

2. Take advantage of the Magic Your Way packages and get the meal plan! We did the Quick service dining where each person got 2 snacks and 2 quick service meals for every night we booked. They are all pooled together so you can get them in any order and use anyone's card to get them. And let me tell you, they are worth it! The first night there we ate in Downtown Disney at Wolfgang Puck Cafe and if we had paid for it, it would have cost $95. The counter service meals include an entree, a drink, and a dessert (you can't get refills in most of these places so order the large drink). You get more than enough food. I printed out a list of eligible restaurants found here and took with us so it would be easier to decide. I was afraid that we would be stuck eating hamburgers & hot dogs all week, but there is so much variety and everything we got was delicious. We had two meals left over the last night bc Mark & I got stuck longer at Universal than we intended but we were able to trade them in for three snacks each. We also had snacks left over so we went to the resort food court and stocked up for the trip home. Snack options are listed here. So much to choose from!

3. Take advantage of the Extra Magical hours at several of the parks. If you stay in a Disney resort you can get to some parks earlier or stay later than the general public. Keep in mind that not all rides and attractions are open during the extended hours (you can find which ones are here ). I planned our park visits according to which days they had extended hours. The first day we got almost right on Space Mountain first thing. You can check the calendar here
for the hours. Also, look for which rides utilize the Fast Pass system and go there first. If the wait is not too long, hop in line. If the wait is long, get a Fast Pass ticket. Fast pass info is here. Everyone who plans to ride will need to use their park ticket to get a Fast Pass ticket.

4. Get the Park Hopper pass. This is one thing that I wish we had done. For us, Hollywood studios was not an all day park and I would have loved to have gone back over to Magic Kingdom or Epcot later that day. Without it, you are free to leave and come back to the same park on the same day but being able to hop parks would have been nice.

5. Take a water bottle to refill at the water fountains. And take some drink powder to mix in with it (like the powerade or crystal lite powders). Some of the fountains are filtered but most taste like tap water so the powder helps. And it's a way to save your snack credits for food and not use them up on bottled water.

6. Take a part of one day to visit Universal's Islands of Adventure, especially if you are a Harry Potter fan. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter section will be open June 18 and is a must for any Potter fan (my thoughts about that are here.) Admission to that section is included with your Islands of Adventure park ticket (around $78). If you do go, call ahead to schedule your transport (usually the night before) We used Mears. It was $18 each for round trip. One thing to keep in mind, though, their first pick up time from the park is 3:15 and you have to call at least 2 hours before to schedule your return trip. Had I known that ahead of time I might have done things differently since we didn't really want to stay until 3:15. There is a movie theater right outside the park in the City Walk area, so Mark & I watched a movie until pick up time.

7. Make sure to pick up a TIMES GUIDE when you pick up your park map. This will tell you when shows and character greetings are scheduled so you can plan your day accordingly.

Everyone has their favorites but here is a quick list of some must dos that we enjoyed:

Magic Kingdom
Splash Mountain
- my 5yr old nephew wanted to ride this from the moment he saw it. It was a lot of fun. We got a little wet which helped cool us off since it was so hot in the park (just got splashed a little, not soaking)
Pirates of the Caribbean Capt Jack has been added!
Space Mountain-This is a dark and wild roller coaster ride. I think Austin might have been scared at first but he said he liked it when we got off.
Walt Disney World Railroad is a must if, like us, you have a kid who is a railroad fan. It's a nice, cool ride around the park.
Haunted Mansion ghosts sit in your lap!
It's a Small World really cool dolls of the world sing to you as you take an indoor boat ride (but once you read Kingdom Keepers you'll never look at them the same way!)
Mad Tea Party fast spinning cups. The 5 yr old loved it.
Parade They have different parades at different times of the year. We saw the Spectral Magic parade. Very nice.

Hollywood Studios
The Great Movie Ride
you journey through many old movies and become part of the show
Indian Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular a 30 minute show featuring really cool stunts and how they are done
Muppet Vision 3D a 3D show featuring your favorite muppets
Star Tours a Star Wars flight simulator (unfortunately you don't end up in Endor, much to the disappointment of a kid who was on it when we were)
Toy Story Midway Mania A fast pass is recommended but this was a lot of fun. As you move around in your buggy you have to shoot at different things and try to beat your buggy mate (I won over Mark though he had better hit rate than I did)

Disappointments at Hollywood:
Studio Backlot Tour
the special effects with the tanker didn't go off and the rest of the tour, for me, just wasn't as interesting.
Journey into Narnia:Prince Caspian I was expecting more. It was a 15 min retelling of the movie with a few costumes and props thrown in. I hope they add more to this.

Spaceship Earth you travel through the big Epcot ball and at the end a little video is shown of your future using your picture. It's hilarious. Once you finish the ride stop by and have it emailed to you.
World Showcase visit several countries in one day. You can buy a "passport" and have it stamped at the different countries and you can have the kids make a mask and get something added to it at different stations as well
Soarin I didn't ride this one, but my parents and nephew did. They really liked it. They said it was like you were hang gliding

Animal Kingdom
Festival of the Lion King
It is not the Lion King Broadway show but it has some of the music and characters in a fun and high energy show.
Kilimanjaro Safaris a safari vehicle takes you through the savanna so you can catch a glimpse of elephants, giraffes, lions and much more
Conservation station take the Wildlife express train over to see some animals up close. Go early and you might get to see an animal being treated.
I wanted to ride Expedition Everest but no one would ride with me.
Finding Nemo the Musical a stage show retelling of Finding Nemo. The costumes and puppets are great!

Skip Primeval Whirl I thought it was going to be like the Tea cups but in roller coaster form. This ride slings you around way too much, way more than a coaster should. Austin & I both had headaches when we got off.

These are just a few of the tips and highlights from our trip. I hope you found some useful info here that will help you plan your trip

Helpful sites:
Walt Disney World Resorts

disney forum boards


Laurahtje said...

Hi Sandy,
2nd try:)
I'm going to copy this and if it doesn't work again I will just email it to you! lol

We do plan on staying at either the Swan or the Dolphin. Where did you stay?
I think I would feel weird about leaving my luggage there though.
I have had my luggage lost at Heathrow and Schiphol so I would want to take it. It's nice that they have that though.

I do like the option of being able to buy super huge things and not having to carry them around. :)

How much did the meal plan cost?
I heard from my friend Wendy that Disney will alert the chefs in all the parks we plan to go to ahead of time if we give them notice that I need gluten-free, soy-free food. Oh and Vegetarian too. Yes it's not that easy to eat out. I do well at Mexican places the best because I can just get cheese enchiladas, rice and beans and I am all set. It naturally does not have those ingredients. But I do see a few places in town are offering gluten-free pasta or pizza crusts.
So maybe soon it will be common out there in the world? I hope!
Anyway my point is I couldn't use a meal plan because of my annoying food problems, but Wim could. He drinks 12 sodas a day and he loves snacks!

I am very low energy so I don't think I could take advantage of the extra hours. Well unless I take a nap. That's nice that they have them though. :)And its nice that you can leave and come back!

Can we bring in bottled water? If not I can just buy one there for $80 or whatever they charge. lol
I don't like tap water all that much either.

How long did it take you to look at everything at Harry Potter's Wizarding World? More than 3 hours?
Can you leave at any time to go to Universal? If it is a Limo service why can't you be picked up whenever you are ready?
And you have to call 2 hours before you want to go but the earliest they will come get you is 3:30? That sounds annoying.
Are there a lot of things to do there?
Was the theater in a mall?
What movie did you see?

sandi said...

We stayed at the All Star Music Resort. It is one of the value resorts so it was a little cheaper.

I overheard someone asking at one of the counters if they had any gluten free options and they had a few. I dont remember which one it was though. There are several places that have vegetarian options on the menu that you can use your meal plan on.

I was worried about them getting our luggage but it worked out. I took my own back though and I am glad I did. It was 2 lbs over the limit so I had to take shoes out. You can still claim your own bags and get picked up from the airport.

I am not sure how much it costs to add the meal plan on. If you go to the main disney page you can get play around with planning a trip and get a quote on the price. I think you can play around with different packages before you commit.

And, especially if you stay in a Disney resort, you can leave the park and go back to your resort during the hottest part of the day to rest then head back to the same park later that day. We did this on several occasions. This was without the Park hopper ticket.

Ronda said...

Thank You for sharing!