Friday, August 29, 2008

Back from the House of Mouse

Sorry to have been absent for so long but I was on vacation and really had to recoup for a few days. But yes, I survived Disney World! Last week (17th-23rd) we went to Disney. Yes, to answer your question, we were rained on by that lovely Tropical Storm Fay. It just circled over Orlando from Tuesday thru Friday Night. We ended up buying 2 sets of ponchos (that's 4 adult and 4 kids) because we destroyed the first set. Nothing like seeing Disney wearing an $8 plastic sheet over yourself. If you can't ever figure out how to goto the bathroom in one of those things, call me..I'm an expert now :-)

Just a few tips now about going to Disney World

1. Do Not go with a 3 year old or younger child. Not only are they a pain in the butt (my three year old was just driving us nuts so I'm just speaking from experience..this may not apply to your child lol), they can't keep up with everything you do.

2. Get the Dining Plan. I planned our trip thru AAA and they told us about the dining plan. On the basic get one table service meal, one quick service meal and one snack per person per day. Our table service meals averaged $85 for the 4 of us. Quick Service about $25-$30 and snacks..well (by the way, drinks are counted as one snack) they range from $2 for bottled water to $5 for a fancy pastry in France in Epcot. The dining plan cost us $600 but we basically got that back from the table service meals and a couple of quick service. Well worth the money!
With the meals...adults get non-alcoholic drinks, entree and dessert :-) kids get an appetizer (don't get excited it's like a tiny salad, apples or grapes) , entree, dessert and drink. Kids menus have fewer choices than the adult menu, but Disney really makes them healthier with the choices. I was impressed with that. There are websites out there that list all the menus for all of the restaurants and snack stands so you can plan ahead.

3. Make reservations for any table service meal. Or else you will find you can't eat till 9pm. Make sure you do this in advance!!! Months in advance!!!

4. Pick your hotel wisely. Some of the resorts are listed as "value" and end up kinda low on the totem pole. We paid a bit more for the Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was a great place. The lobby is just full of all kinds of African Art, TV w/Disney cartoons for the kids, a fire pit and more. There are daily activities for the kids from decorating cookies to an evening parade. The rooms were good but just being able to walk out on your balcony and see giraffes, zebras and other savannah animals is amazing.

5. Try not to go during Hurricane Season. Ok, it's the only time the kids are out of school besides Christmas. We planned for August and ended up in the rain from Fay for 4 days. Next time we go, it will be as soon as school lets out in June.

6. Use the Fast Pass system! Major attractions have what's called Fast Pass. It's basically scheduling you for the ride. You get your pass and it has a time on it for you to come back. Then you get in the fast pass line and the wait is less than 10 minutes on average. Some of the "biggest" attractions, you will need to get your Fast Pass upon park opening as they get taken up fast.

7. If you have your young and short child with you (alot of rides have a 40" height requirement), take advantage of the "Parent Swap". One parent goes on the ride and the other is given a Parent Swap ticket. It's the same as a Fast Pass but you get to take 2 more people with you on the ride. Once the first parent gets off the second one can go on with literally no wait.

8. Beware the end of the ride! Most of them exit you off into a gift shop.

9. Try not to look to much at the price tags in the shops. It's going to be expensive no matter what but it's not like you're going there every day. There are some really neat products that you can only get down there..not online and not in the Mall stores.

10. There are no calories in Disney Food. I know it's not true but trust me it's better if you keep repeating that over and over and over.

11. Take breaks. Especially if you've got young kids. Don't spend 8am-9 pm at one park with no breaks. First, you will end up killing yourself with exhaustion. Second, you will never see all the Disney stuff there is in one week if you do that. Make sure you go back to your hotel like at 3pm and relax for awhile before heading out for dinner at another park.

12. Buses! Every resort and every park has bus transportation. They run every 20 minutes.

13. The Disney Magical Express is not Magical and it's not an Express. When we arrived in Orlando they sat us on a bus for 30 minutes before it left for the hotel..then it stopped at two other hotels before ours. It tooks us over an hour and a half to get from the airport to the hotel. The only thing that is a big plus is when you arrive they take your luggage to the hotel so you don't have to stop at baggage claim. When you leave the resort checks your luggage and gives you your boarding passes.

14. If you're using airline miles you will be on the late flight out and the earliest flight when you leave. The complete opposite of what you want. Our flight left at 1pm and arrived after 3. Going home...8:42am and we had to be in the checkout area in the lobby at 5am.

15. Remember, it's the happiest place on Earth!

And, that's my advice for going to Disney World. It was our first trip with the kids and I haven't been to Disney since 1992. Alot changed and luckily I was prepared for it. Feel free to share your tips!

No comments: