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First, Brief Disney FL Visit - Advice?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by GarrAarghHrumph, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    Half my family lives in Florida, and I've been going there for years. Never, ever been to Disney. My daughter is finally at an age where we're thinking of taking her - age 6.

    Theme parks aren't really my thing. So, you know... like I know from Disney?

    We're planning to stay in a Disney hotel (the one with the cabins, or the one with the animals, I'm thinking). And I guess if we only have 1-2 days there, we should go to Magic Kingdom. But beyond that... no idea. And in *August*, the height of FL heat and humidity. Oy. But this isn't for me. It's for her. :lol:

    Ideas? Must-sees? Things we shouldn't bother with?

    My daughter likes the Disney princesses and animals. She likes things that are scary, but not too scary - she thinks King Triton, from the Little Mermaid, is too scary, so that'll give you an idea of scary-level.

  2. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

    If you're there for two days I would say...

    Day 1: Magic Kingdom only. It's Disney Classic. Princess crap galore.

    Day 2: Half day at Animal Kingdom. She'll probably want to go back to Magic Kingdom so do that the other half.

    She's only 6 so she's not going to retain a whole lot in memories from this trip so you're better off just focusing on the two parks if she's all about princesses and animals. I barely remember my trip when I was 6, I remember a lot more from when I was 8. Of course back then when you went to Disney it was ONLY Magic Kingdom, they didn't even have Epcot yet, so I was pretty stunned at what it's become when I went in 2002.
  3. Bostonfan

    Bostonfan Well-Known Member

    If she's into the Disney Princess thing, you may want to consider booking a breakfast at Cinderella's castle. It's a bit pricey and you have to reserve it well in advance. But they let you in the park before it opens, so the opportunities to take pictures down Main Street and the castle are fantastic. You can explore it a bit with very few people around. Every Disney Princess stops by the breakfast tables and you have plenty of opportunities to take lots of pictures.

    There are plenty of other character meals. But that's the main "Princess" one. The Polynesian Resort was another good one - but featured Lilo and Stitch. And the other one I went to was at the Comptemporary restaurant. Good buffet and all of the classic Disney characters come by to give hugs and take pictures. (Donald, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Daisy)

    I found the character meals worth it for the picture opportunities. Don't bother trying to get picks with the characters that roam around the parks. The lines that form to take pictures with them are very long and it eats up a lot of time.

    I wasn't impressed with Animal Kingdom at all. No real rides and basically a glorified zoo. Hollywood studios is better IMO. We saw a show Beauty and the Beast that was about 45 minutes long. It was easy to get in, and was a terrific show (under a shaded area). That park also features the American Idol experience. My 3 year old and 7 year old nieces LOVED it. For grown-ups, it has the Hard Rock Cafe roller-coaster. Definitely my favorite coaster!

    I've never been to it, but in August it may be worth checking out one of their water parks.

    By the way, Fast Passes are totally worth it and cost nothing. You just have to have your park ticket and go up to the machine outside the rides to get a ticket with a time to come back. Then they let you in ahead of the regular line.
  4. Erica Lee

    Erica Lee New Member

    I highly recommend one of the water parks as well, but you may not have time for it depending on priorities.

    Magic Kingdom is for sure a must-do, but I'd save it for the 2nd day. Make sure you stay right to the end of the day for the fireworks (though some people suggest leaving mid-day for a break/nap/resort pool swim... that's a good plan if your resort is within easy access).

    I loved Animal Kingdom. Expedition Everest is a great roller coaster (though sounds like she's maybe not a huge roller coaster fan if she's easily scared?). The Finding Nemo Musical there is a must-see (lines can be long for it as it's popular) and the Lion King show is fabulous as well. It's a bug's life is a great little attraction. Get fast passes for the Safari when you first arrive at the park, and then come back at the appointed time... otherwise the standby line is a LONG wait.

    If she loves princesses and animals... those are the two parks to do.. you'll get a lot of both!

    You do need to make a reservation for any sit-down meals you want to do. Walk-up spots are not impossible, but sometimes are hard to come by.

    The Cinderella's Castle breakfast mentioned is extremely popular and often is sold out within minutes of going on sale... I believe 180 days (or maybe it's 90 now) before the reservation date. It's worth checking if there have been any cancelations but I wouldn't get your heart set on that kind of thing. A great character breakfast experience that's cheaper (though no princesses) is Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort (easy access to there from Magic Kingdom). You'll usually get Mickey, Goofy, Pluto... maybe others... in a nice relaxed environment, where they come to you and take time to interact and pose for photos. The food is all-you-can-eat buffet style and actually pretty good.

    I agree that character greetings in the parks can have very long lines; however, if you're a resort guest and stay for "extra magic hours" (or come early for them), there are often character greetings then with much more reasonable lines.
  5. Christina

    Christina Well-Known Member

    I'm going to second (or fourth or something) the Magic Kingdom. But I wouldn't even bother with Animal Kingdom. She's 6, she's into Princesses and the MK is the way to go. If you're into dropping obscene amounts of money, check out the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique. She can get her hair done and fairy dusted and you can buy her a princess dress.

    If you go first thing in the morning, start at the back of the park and work your way forward. Entering the Magic Kingdom, go through Fantasyland on the right on your way to Mickey's Toontown. There's a small coaster for the little ones, some walk through stuff (and the train to get you from one side of the park to the other - remember this for later). Make sure to hit Buzz Lightyear at the entrance to Fantasyland - you might want to get a fastpass for it. If there is no line, definitely stop and do the ride - it's great fun for grownups too. If you are dying of heat, the Carousel of Progress never has a line, it is air conditioned and lasts about 15 minutes. It sucks, but it's cool :).

    Don't miss the parades. If the grown ups want to do Space Mountain, get a fast pass - don't even try to wait in the regular line. It's recently refurbished and might not even be open yet, but it should be sweet.

    Haunted Mansion is neat and not too scary. There's a decent counter service restaurant near there that does sandwiches - they've got a yummy hummus, tomato and avocado one. Pirates of the Carribean is slightly scary but fun for the adults. There's the coaster over there too, Thunder Mountain Railroad - that might be the biggest/scariest coaster to take her on. Splash Mountain is over that way, but the line will be absolutely outrageous in August - you could spend two hours waiting.

    All the way in the back of the park, directly opposite the entrance in Fantasyland is Snow White, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, the Carousel and It's a Small World :)wall:). That area will be great for her and will take a few hours.

    A nap in the middle of the day, from 2-4pm might be a very good idea if you are staying on property. Check the park hours for the dates you are going and plan accordingly.

    I have an annual pass, can you tell? Seriously, if you only have two days, I would just do the Magic Kingdom. You won't be able to see everything in one day. Plus, I think Animal Kingdom isn't that great - many times I've said if I came to Disney and spent all that money for Animal Kingdom I'd be :mad:.
  6. uyeahu

    uyeahu Agitator. Sharpie lover (figuratively speaking).

    I don't know if they still do this because I haven't been in many years, but if you are staying as a guest of one of the Disney resort hotels they used to have an after hours pass you could purchase which allowed you to go back to the park after closing and not have to deal with the long lines and heat. It was only for a few hours one night a week, but boy was it worth it. We road space mountain over and over with no lines. FUN. And the park is a different place at night than it is during the day. All lit up and sparkly.

    I think most of the resorts have a character breakfast so see which one has the characters your daughter likes most. The Polynesian has Lilo & Stitch I think and the Beach Club has Donald and I don't know about all the others. They change things up all the time to promote their recent movies/shows though so make sure you ask about it when you book your room and get the concierge to make a reservation.

    The Magic Kingdom really is fantastic. I love it and want to go back - BUT - I also really loved the Animal Kingdom park because it had great shaded walking paths and much healthier and more diverse food options than the Magic Kingdom. The Tree of Life theater was great, as was the safari ride. I would say that my son preferred the Animal Kingdom but he was a bit older than your daughter and never really into Mickey Mouse and the Princesses. His favorites were the more contemporary A Bug's Life, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, etc. which are all features of the animal park. If you can do both, then I suggest doing both. They are very different experiences but both great fun.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  7. minuet

    minuet Well-Known Member

    If the Cinderella breakfast does not work out there is another princess meal in Norway in Epcot. It features all the princesses as well.
    Another good character meal is 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian. This one has gone between Mary Poppins, the Mad Hatter and the stepsisters from Cinderella. Not sure who is there right now but the food is good.
    I'm not sure she'd like the rest of Epcot though at age 6. It's my favourite park but the general consensus is younger children do not.

    I agree with everyone thus far about Magic Kingdom. It is the most friendly park for younger visitors. The evening parade and fireworks are a wonderful way to cap off the day. (or 2 days)

    I also recommend the site www.wdwinfo.com
    These people know everything about Disney. There are full menus of every restaurant, pictures galore off all hotels, parks, shops etc.

    Extra magic hours do still exist. The schedule is on that site. Some days they open early and some days they open late and it changes to a different park each day.

    Enjoy your trip! It's amazing. Don't forget to just walk in through the gates, get to the end of main street and stop and take a moment to take it all in.
  8. Erica Lee

    Erica Lee New Member

    Just for clarity, you do not have to pay for extra magic hours. They are a free benefit for Disney Resort guests.
  9. mackiecat

    mackiecat Well-Known Member

    go to disboards.com

    There is tonnes of info there and alot of people who know disney who will help you. If you are staying on property for more that 2 days, the more days you buy the cheaper it is. With a 6 year old I'd skip the hopper option and just stick with one property a day. You need to book now- Aug has free dining depending of when you go.
    I have kids the same age as your. My son who is 7 still remembers the trip he took at age 2. Your six year old will remember.

    I'd suggest MK and AK if you are only going to do 2 parks. AK is amazing, it has good shows, great attractions and animals everwhere. It is my kids favourite park of all of them.

    As for character meals- the chances that you would get Cinderella palace are slim to none and the food is expensive and not that good. 1900 park fare has cinderella, her prince and the step sisiters and is nice-the food is good too.
  10. zaphyre14

    zaphyre14 Well-Known Member

    I went to Disney for the first time last year (yes, as an adult - I was soooooo deprived as a child, dontcha know?) and I have to say it's not just for kids. We (two "mature" adults) had a great time. We "did" all four parks in four days; I think we only skipped a couple roller coasters (they aren't my thing) but it was October and the lines were short.

    Magic Kingdom is a must see. Animal Kingdom's safari was terrific but my companion said our ride was not typical of her experience - she said she'd never seen as many animals as we did that day - maybe they hide more when it's hotter?

    The Park Hopper tickets are well worth the cost.

    I think with a child in tow I'd do AK first thing for maybe half the first day then have lunch and a nap and then hit Magic Kingdom for rest of that day to get kind of an overview of the attractions.. The second day could be spent hitting the child's favorites at a leisurely pace.
  11. MOIJTO

    MOIJTO Banned Member

    You will not see everything so don't try. It depends on what you love about Disney as to where to spend time, if you have little ones than Magic Kingdom is the place to go. I happen to love Epcot and that's where I spend the most time. Make sure you don't miss the laser show and any parades at night, worth the effort of getting a good spot to see them.

    Have fun!!!!
  12. Auntie

    Auntie Well-Known Member

    Your daughter is young and it wll be hotter than hades so I wouldn't try to cram too much in. I am in SE GA right now and the heat index is 110. I went to Disney in December and I saw many miserable kids and stressed out parents. There are so many people and so many things to do that it doesn't take much to overstimulate children and tire them out. We had a fantastic time with my teenagers but I really felt for the parents with small children.

    Character meals are fun but very expensive. The castle/princess meals in the MK are really hard to get into. The Crystal Palace in MK has a nice Winnie the Pooh themed buffet. You need to call Disney directly to get reservations before you go. You won't be able to walk up and get a table.

    It will be really crowded when you go so I would plan to do both days in the MK. Unfortunately you will be spending a lot of time waiting in lines. Be sure to use the FAST pass. Popular rides have a separate, much shorter FAST pass line. To use the FAST pass line you stick your ticket in the FAST pass machine. It spits out a FAST pass ticket with a time frame where you can come back and use the shorter line. The FAST pass tickets do sell out so you should try to get them early in the day.

    Your daughter will have a fantastic time no matter what you decide to do. I hope I didn't scare you too much but it really pays to be prepared because Disney can be so overwhelming.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  13. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    My advice is to go in February and remember there are no bars in the Magic Kingdom. :lol:
    Moto Guzzi and (deleted member) like this.
  14. BelleBway

    BelleBway a monkey stole my title

    I've only had time to scan the thread so some of this may be repeated...

    I'd definitely do Magic Kingdom, concentrating especially on Fantasyland- lots of kiddie and princess stuff.

    If you wanted to do a 2nd park, maybe Disney Hollywood studios- there is a Beauty and the Beast show, and a Little Mermaid show. (not sure if the latter would be too scary for her?) Most people would say Epcot for a 2nd park but it's very spread out and my nieces didn't really like all that walking in the hot summer. Plus, not much princessy. Although if she is interested in other nature/technology stuff or pretending to visit foreign countries, she might enjoy it.

    Also to clarify (again forgive me if someone else did), extra magic hours are rotated between the various parks so you would need to check the schedule to see if there are any for the parks you are visiting or not. I haven't done extra magic hrs for yrs so can't comment on crowd levels, although there is some belief that the park with extra magic hours is more crowded the rest of the day than parks without extra magic hrs.

    I'd stay at Animal Kingdom lodge for the animals- get a Savannah view room and you can see zebra, giraffes, etc from your room. My nieces got a kick out of that.

    Meals at Disney can now be booked online up to 6 months in advance- which makes it way easier checking for times as well as checking for cancellations. Definitely book at least 1 character meal as soon as you know your dates. Meals at the castle require payment at the time of reservation. Princesses are at breakfast and lunch- maybe dinner, I thought I read of that change but I could be wrong.

    If your daughter has a sense of humor and likes Cinderella, I recommend the dinner at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian- it has Cinderella and the Prince, but also the stepsisters/ step mother who stay in character and are pretty funny.

    Go to the parks first thing. Be there when they open. Seriously. Then take a break when it is the hottest in the afternoon- if your daughter likes swimming, she will love the pools at Disney resorts. Go back at night.

    She will have fun whatever you do, just being in Disney World. Warning: once you take her for 2 days, she may end up begging you to take her again... ;)
  15. Satellitegirl

    Satellitegirl New Member

    I nth the Magic Kingdom Suggestion. I will say when I went there when I was 5 or 6, I was a wuss. I cried at Pirates of the Carribean, I cried at Peter Pan(power went out and the ride stopped in the dark) I cried at Mr Toad's Wild Ride, and I cried at Haunted House. lol So you never know what kind of reaction you're going to get. Hopefully your daughter enjoys it more than my first time.

    I ride roller coasters now etc....not sure what my problem was back then. lol
  16. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    We always go to Florida around August. Sigh. I hate the heat and humidity, but I deal. My dad keeps asking me to move down there. I just look at him like he's crazy.

    My choice of lodging on property is constrained by the fact that the place must be kid-friendly, and have BOTH a pool and a beach. :lol: Only way I can deal with FL in August is to have access to multiple sources of swimming.
  17. BelleBway

    BelleBway a monkey stole my title

    This is Disney; every lodging choice on property is kid friendly. ;) Every property also has a pool; most have more than 1. Beach? Umm, I think Polynesian and Grand Floridian have beaches but I'm not sure if you can actually swim in the water... (I am not a beach/pool person- though my nieces could apparently stay in a pool for hours on end)
  18. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    The Animal hotel, and the one that's set up as cabins, both have beaches and pools. I'm focusing on those two. I'm thinking that if we do the animal hotel (the one you'd mentioned earlier), my daughter would just about DIE.
  19. BelleBway

    BelleBway a monkey stole my title

    I stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge last Aug; I didn't see a beach. :confused:

    I haven't stayed at Ft Wilderness cabins.
  20. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

    I think I'm confused re: the Animal Kingdom Lodge. They don't show a beach - I was looking last night and I could have sworn that they did. Still, I like the place, and it has pools, so it's a possible.
  21. Erica Lee

    Erica Lee New Member

    None of the beaches at the resorts at Disney World are for swimming.

    Some resorts do have zero entry pools. And they ALL have great pools.
  22. uyeahu

    uyeahu Agitator. Sharpie lover (figuratively speaking).

  23. Holley Calmes

    Holley Calmes Well-Known Member

    My absolute favorite place in Orlando is Sea World. There's always the Shamu shows which are fantastic, but you can also pet small, young dolphins in this huge swimming pool type lagoon. Just sit by the side of the pool, and they come right up to you! Sea World also has the big Clydesdales. It's clean, it's fun, it isn't Disney. Now, I like Disney...I preferred Epcot but Animal Kingdom was nice too. If I had it to do again and could only choose one place-Sea World would be it.
  24. skatemommy

    skatemommy Well-Known Member

    I agree with the mid-day break. Getting away during the hottest part of the day for a swim and a nap is vital. Also, renting a stroller at the park is a good way to get around with a tired child rather than carrying them. We usually eat 1 meal at the hotel, 1 meal at the park and C-Store snacks for 1 meal. Don't do all 3 at one place!
  25. zhenya271

    zhenya271 Active Member

    I have only stayed at the resort hotels in Paris and LA but I'm sure it's the same in FL, but I remember the characters were easily accessible at the hotels at various hours just walking around the lobby and around the pool and also some set times for pics.

    Fast passes are great and you do get some with your hotel stay, but of course not enough!
  26. mindy74

    mindy74 Well-Known Member

    Wear comfortable shoes that you won't get blisters in. I wore a pair of really cushy sandals that I thought would be great, and ended up with MONSTER blisters on my heels and under my toes after one day. I had to pop them with a sterile needle and it really put a damper on my whole trip. I never knew blisters could be so debilitating.

    I loved Animal Kingdom. Never been there before. We used the magic hours to go early and went on the safari first thing. Saw many animals, including an adorable baby white rhino. It was really lovely.
    PeterG and (deleted member) like this.
  27. mackiecat

    mackiecat Well-Known Member

    Fast passes are great and you do get some with your hotel stay, but of course not enough!


    Fast passes are availible for any guest of the park. There are no limits to the amount you can collect. Once you get one set of fast passes, you will see what time you can collect a new one. There is a limit to the amount of passes that are given out so if you arrive to late in the day, they may be all gone.

    Go early. Do more research than you are gettting here. As I said before for to www.disboards.com. You have to research Disney or you will not enjoy your stay.

    BTW in central florida you do not go near small bodies of water-Crocs live there and there is some kind of micro organism in the water that eats your brain.
  28. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    Garr has been to Florida many times so she probably knows that central Florida has alligators, not crocodiles and the microorganism you're talking about is an amoeba found in some freshwater lakes all over the world - it's quite rare.
  29. Holley Calmes

    Holley Calmes Well-Known Member

    There are a LOT of gators, though. When my husband and I used to drive "Alligator Alley" between Naples and Miami, we'd watch for them on the roadside and get really excited if we saw even a few. Today there are so many alligators that they are lying heaped on top of each other. The hunting ban can be lifted, I think, without these guys becoming extinct!

    One does need to be vigilant in some areas.

    What freaks me out is that there are reportedly 100,000 OR MORE pythons now living in south Florida, the population caused by people freeing pet snakes or by their escaping. Now, that's some serious scary stuff! It's enough to keep me out of the water. And I used to love going to Everglades City! No more airboats for me.

  30. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    There is a hunting season for gators but, yes, Alligator Alley, is pretty populated. :lol: