Planning First Disney Trip- Any Tips/tricks/advice?

Updated on March 05, 2011
D.G. asks from Houston, TX
11 answers

We are going to a wedding in Florida this summer and decided to spend some time at Disneyworld while we are there. Right now I'm trying to book our trip and overwhelmed with options and travel guides! We have never been before.

I have an almost 5 year old and a 7 year old. We would like to stay in the park for 5 days and hit all 4 main parks while we are there. I have no idea if I want a park hopper ticket or to visit the waterparks while we are there. We are planning on getting some sort of meal plan.

Any tips/tricks/advice? Anything you wish you had known before you went?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for al the advice ladies. I've already started checking out the books/websites mentioned.

We will be staying at the Grand Floridian with a meal plan, and I have already reserved a meal with Cinderella for my little princess. We've decided to skip the waterparks for now. Now I just have to decide what kind of dinner reservations I should make where.

More Answers



answers from Washington DC on

Get the park hopper. Especially if you stay at one of the Resorts. Without the hopper, it will limit your meal options.

If you don't get the park hopper, then you can only go to 1 park per day. With the hopper you can go to more than one park each day.

Get the Disney Dinning plan.

If you stay at a Resort with a pool, you probably don't need to do the Waterparks, unless you really like them.

Downtown Disney is half closed during the day, so if you go, go in the evening.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Waco on

You will LOVE it! I bought The Complete Disney World 2010 book at Barnes & Noble before I went and took it everywhere. It was a great "tool" to help us determine what to do and what not to do. There is honestly so much to do there you could stay 2 weeks and not see everything. We stayed at the Grand Floridian and it was fabulolous! We did do the park hopper option and used it a few times. We did not, however, go to the water parks. On a 5 day trip, I would concentrate on the main parks. Prior to going, I had lunch with a neighbor who has been over 20 times which was extremely helpful. She helped me make a big long list of things to see and do. If you have questions, message me and I'll be glad to help you. The one thing I would be concentrating on right now is meal options... if you want to dine at any of the character dinners or special restaurants, you need to be booking those things now. If you wait until you arrive, everything will be booked up. HTH!



answers from College Station on

We enjoyed such a trip where we stayed at one of the Disney Park resort (hotels). It was a bit difficult to meet the limited eating choices for my picky eaters. This was in 2007 and my boys were 13, 8, and 5. The 13-yr-old wished we had bought hopper tickets but I think it would have been a waste of money.

We chose a day each for the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and the Animal Kingdom park (want the tram ride through where the animals are, plan ahead to get there early!). Then decided which to revisit on day 4. We picked the Magic Kingdom for day 4 and couldn't have enjoyed ourselves more. We wished we had more time (and money) to stay and visit more but that's life.

As someone else mentioned. Plan to bring a cooler which is on wheels or a backpack cooler.

One thing my husband commented on was that the day we wore the teal colored Disney t-shirts which I had ordered ahead of time was the one day it was easiest to keep track of all (5) of us! He mentioned planning ahead "next time" with matching shirts for each day.

Don't forget water, water, water, sun block, and hats! (and cameras and batteries)

Have fun!


answers from Raleigh on

I always suggest getting a park hopper ticket. The reason being is that some parks you will be able to spend tons of time at, and others you may do relatively quickly. Plus, we love to eat at different places, and this allows you to spend all day at the Magic Kingdom, but eat at Epcot if you want.

If you only have 5 days, I would not go to a water park. They are great, but honestly, the parks are better.

As for a meal plan, I would definitely get the basic one with a quick service, table service and snack each day. It will be plenty of food for you, and it will save you TONS of money. For instance, dinner alone may cost you $40 plus per person, but the meal plan for an adult is around $42 a day. It pays for itself at dinner, and isn't even including the $10+ plus and the $3+ snack! It also allows you to eat at restaurants that may have been too expensive for your family. Also, make sure that you make reservations for places to eat NOW. You may already be limited as some of the best restaurants are booked immediately as it is available! We have tons of favorites, so let me know if you need some recommendations!

As for tips, know that you can bring food/drinks in to the park, so if you don't do the meal plan, plan on doing that. Also, water is free at any station that has a faucet. The water does have a "flavor" to it, but when it is 90+ degrees outside, you really won't care! Make sure to FastPass all rides that have a line longer than 25 minutes, and since you are staying on property, take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. Believe it or not, if you show up at 8 AM on those days, you can have a large portion of the park finished before the rest of the people are even allowed to get in. (i.e. We did ALL of Animal Kingdom by 12 PM this year by getting there at 8!)

We own a Disney timeshare and go every year, so feel free to PM me if you have any other questions! Have fun!



answers from Austin on

My husband, me and our son are going on our 7th trip in April. Do not go without the meal plan. The Magic your Way plus dining is the one we always get. The restaurants are just as much fun as the parks especially the character meals, so fun!! Disney allows you to make reservations 180 days before you go and you will need to make reservations. Chef Mickeys at the Contemporary Resort is the most awesome character meal at Disney. All original characters are there and come by your table, so fun! The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom as Winnie the Pooh and friends and they come by the table as well. Both places have wonderful food and they are buffets. I llike Chef Mickeys breakfast and Crystal Palace for lunch. The castle has awesome food and all princesses and they visit your table. Little girls get a wand and boys get a sword after they eat. This is a 2 credit meal but worth it. You get a picture with Cinderella and its included with your meal price. The castle is beautiful inside, a must see. You will want to get the hopper but 5 days will not be enough time to do parks and water parks. I would only do the 4 parks on your first visit. Do not stay off property you can not get the meal plan. We stayed at The Polynesian, Boardwalk, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge. We love them all and keep going back. These resorts are beautiful!! With the dining plan it covers your drinks and snacks and meals the whole time your there and its alot of food. Without the plan you will pay alot for meals and snacks. We always get yummy snacks at the Confectionary at Magic Kingdom to take back home with us. The rice crispy treats dipped in chocolate are so good. The hopper is a must! You may want to go see a show at a different park or go to a different park later in the day. The parks on certain days will do extra magic hours and that particular park will get crowed so you may want to go to a different park. If you eat breakfast at the Castle Magic Kingdom will let you in early, its cool to be in the park before the crowd. If you stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge stay on the savanna side so you can see the animals outside your balcony. We stayed on the Giraffe side and it was so cool to have Giraffes right outside your balcony. The Polynesian is on the monorail and it is really nice to stay at a resort with the monorail. I would start on reservations for food as soon as you can. There are so awesome restaurants out there but you have to have a reservation.



answers from Daytona Beach on

definitely stay at an all star resort if you can get one. they are cheaper and the buses come pick you up. plus they have a pool or two. that way if you decide not to do the water parks you can come back and rest for a while at the hotel and swim. they have the multiday passes. if you are going to be there for 5 days than i wouldn't suggest the park hopper. i would suggest going to disney's website and looking at all the attractions at each park and seeing if that is something that the kids would enjoy. i know mine (6 & 4) didn't really enjoy Hollywood studios, and they wouldn't enjoy Epcot. They love the Magic Kingdom of course, and they kinda liked Animal Kingdom but not much. my kids love rides and besides magic kingdom the others don't have much they can do because of size limitations. the best time to ride rides (rollar coasters) at magic kingdom is during the parades. they have a light show parade that i saw a few years ago that is beautiful. the fast passes are free, go to the rides that have the longest wait time and get a fast pass, come back at the time that it tells you and then you can get on a little quicker. i've never done a meal plan. i always got a cooler and brought food to eat breakfast in the mornings and some lunch and then would eat dinner at the hotel or at the park. they also have a McD's right by the all star resorts. can't really think of much else right now. i live in FL and we would go every year for a week before i met my husband.



answers from Houston on

I know I'm a little late, but here's my 2 cents:) The best website for information, menus, everything is There is also Disney (I think, is running a % off special). At the bottom of the website you will find the mom's panel. Love all of their information. We have stayed moderate, deluxe, cabin and 1bedroom villa. We have friends that love value~ you will not be dissapponted anywhere you stay! If you can swing it, the dining plan is nice that food is mostly paid for when you get there. Last year, we packed milk that didn't have to be refrigerated until opened (over by pet milk at the store) and cereal to eat breakfast in the room. We did quick service for lunch and table for dinner. Make reservations ASAP - the good ones fill up fast. We love Teppan Edo, Garden Grill, Cape May Cafe, Boma, Ohana. If where you want doesn't have any openings, keep checking. People are always cancelling multiple reservations. We managed to snag a Garden Grill just yesterday after it had been booked for weeks. We will be cancelling multiples in the next coupld of days now that we've narrowed it down. We do park hopper, but I do know lots that just do one park per day. We do park in the morning, rest or swim in the afternoon, then back to (usually Magic Kingdom) for evening. One piece of advice I wish I knew ahead of time: you can get trading pins on ebay, then let the children pick out lanyards at the parks. The pins at the park are anywhere from $4 - $15 at the park, can get them for as low as .65 each on ebay for a big lot. Also, bring band-aid blister bandaids. You will be glad you have them after the 1st day! Our favorite disney book is the Unofficial Guide to Disney - it is very honest and rates everything from food to rooms and has GREAT touring guides. For us, things go better at Disney if we have a plan. Oh, we have never gotten the waterparks and more. You can always buy it while you're there if you want to add it, we just swim at the resort pool.
Have fun!!



answers from Austin on

Make sure your hotel has nice ammenities - family friendly pool, etc. so you can come back and relax in between adventures. You will need to rest once in a while. Your kids can swim while you sit and relax (and watch, of course).



answers from Dallas on

Hi! Sounds like fun. OK. This is what a friend told me to do when when we went a couple of years ago and it REALLY helped. We purchased a book called Birnbaum's Walt Disney World Expert Advice from the Inside Source. It was for the year we went, so make sure you get the 2011 edition. It has tips on everything from the rooms location to each park and how to make the most of it, If I recall they even tell you when you get there walk to the back of the park and work your way forward. Most people do the opposite. It was really helpful. I also have another book called Birnbaum's Walt Disney World for Kids, by Kids! Again get the edition for 2011.

I hope this helps!



answers from New York on

I wish I knew this, but didn't find out until day 4 - you can bring food and beverages into the park.

Make sure you have comfortable shoes, you will do a lot of walking.

I think the park hopper is a great option. You may not want to spend the entire day at one park, or you may want to the spend the day in one park, and eat dinner at another.

The water parks cost extra. We went in October and didn't feel it was worth the extra money. When we wanted to be near the water, we just spent time at the pool. However, if you go in the summer, this may be a good option for you.

There have been a lot of post about Disney. Go a search to get some more great advice.



answers from Chicago on

go with the parkhopper pass you can get them for 4 to 7 days. it will get you in to all the parks you can come and go in and out of all of them. your little ones will like the magic kingdom the best. you can do animal kingdom in less than a day. it was our least favorite of all the parks. we love the mgm studio the best (I think they call it something else now lol but when it was built it was mgm) but when the kids were little it was the magic kingdom always. different parks open and or are open later different days so plan accordingly. the waterparks are great. the typhoon lagoon is our favorite. plan at least one disney character breakfast. we like the one at animal kingdom its a buffet and the characters all come to your table. get an autograph book and bring iwth as all the characters sign the books. one mom suggested getting a photo of each character and putting it with the autograph. this is a great idea. wish I had thought of it back then lol. stay on grounds if you can we like the pop century its in the ones they call value resorts. still expensive but nothing like the biggies lol. Eat breakfast at the hotel before entering the park. make your dinner reservations ahead of time. the reservations for places like cinderellas castle and those type are booked up 6 months to a year in advance. although you can sometimes squeeze in if its something you really want to do plan ahead. have fun

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