Friday, April 12, 2013

5 Things on Friday: Disney Edition

After spending three days of wonder and joy, there were a few things that I thought you should know. Things that in all my research, I did not find, or my experience conflicted with what I found. I hope that this is helpful to someone:

5 Things You Should Know About Disney World

Even Princesses will call your kid a princess. Pretty amazing.
1. Everyone will call your daughter "Princess." This will make her feel amazing. - Point the first, when I say everyone, I mean everyone. Lifeguards will say, "Princess, you can't wear your goggles on the slide." Characters will curtsy and say, "Nice to meet you, Princess." People in shops will say, "Is that all for you today, Princess." This rocks. Let your kids interact with cast members, because they flippin' glow every time someone says it. Point the second, as I only have girls, I have no idea if there is a similar thing for boys. I was halfway listening, but never caught it.

The only thing that
would have made
this better would have
been ice cream.
2. The meal plan - totally and completely the best thing ever. - There was a lot of debate online on whether or not the meal plan was a good value. Many people said that it didn't save you all that much, and it was sort of a pain. I got the cheapest one, the Quick Service Plan so that I could carry less cash. And we ate like Princesses. In the first place, food in the Kingdom is not cheap, so prepaying helps even if you didn't save money. Secondly, when you spend a "meal" on your plan, you are entitled to a menu meal, a drink and a dessert. Kids meals come (usually) with the main item, fruit and carrots. Read the fine print, though, you can sub like there's no tomorrow. We usually kept the fruit and traded the carrots for a cookie. Because we were in Disney. Shut up Judgey Pants. The snacks were usable at all the kiosks and ice cream vendors. Which, let's face it, is what your kids want mid-day, anyway. Meal plan: rocks.

But you better ride
the teacups until
you can't walk.
We did.
3. You're not gonna finish. - When I went to WDW, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, three days was more than enough time to do everything you wanted to do. Now, not so much. Heck, I think two weeks would still leave you wanting. I didn't figure that out until partway through the trip.  Make a list before you go of the "must do's" then make a list while you are there of the "gonna do next time's." Don't stress it too much and be flexible. For instance, I didn't get to ride Space Mountain. That is pretty much a sin in my book, but when nature calls and you've got a four year old, you've just gotta get out of line. (Speaking of lines, never really figured out how to work the Fast Pass process. That's one my "next time's.") I'm going back, though, so I'm not going to stress. It'll be there next time.

And everyone gets ears.
4. Live on campus. - When we were planning, we went back and forth on this issue a lot. We could have stayed out of the park for cheaper, but driving and parking would have cost us and we would have lost a lot of flexibility. We finally decided to stay (at the wonderful Port Orleans: Riverside Resort) and I am so glad we did. First of all, the benefits of the meal plan and the transportation were a big help. Secondly, being able to quit at two, go take a nap and come back for night time magic was amazing. There is truly nothing worse than whining at the Happiest Place on Earth. Nipping that in the bud was a must for us and not paying twice to park was a must for me. It also meant that our group could break into segments and come and go as we wished. Not everyone has to go everywhere. That's worth a lot, too.

See how my kids are the only
people in this picture. 7:30 a.m.
5. Use your extra-magic hours. - The best time we had was on the first morning when we went to the park early. We rode about seven rides in the first hour and we weren't rushing. There were just no lines. When I first read about EMH and then I read how many rooms were available on the park, I figured that it wouldn't make that big of a difference. I just don't think most people want to get up that early on vacation. Maren's getting up at the crack of dawn no matter what, we might as well spend part of that time on It's a Small World, ya know.

Okay, Disney vets: Anything you think I missed. Maybe I just don't know about it. Enlighten me. Especially if you can explain how to use the Fast Pass system without letting it dictate your entire day.


Joni said...

Thanks for this!! We're going at the end of May for Elias' first trip to Disney, and I. CANNOT. WAIT!! It's my first time going since dinosaurs roamed the earth, so I have no clue what to expect. Thankfully, we're going with my family who are Disney Pros, so I'm just going to let them tell me what to do. We ARE staying on site AND getting the meal plan, though, so I'm glad you think those are good calls! :) I'm SO glad you had such a sweet experience with your girls!

P.S. Did you know I'm back in Georgetown?! We totally need to see each other!

Strangeite said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed the meal plan and Port Orleans. That is where I think we will stay on our next trip (whenever that is) and I plan on signing up for the 1QS and 1TS meal plan.

As for using Fastpasses to their maximum utility, you need to ignore the rules slightly. Your Fastpass says that you can utilize it within a one hour window, but this isn't exactly true. They strictly enforce not allowing you to use your Fastpass before the window, but they will allow you to use it anytime past the window.

So using the Magic Kingdom as an example. Our group enters the park at rope drop, gives me their tickets and everyone else immediately heads into Adventure land. With tickets in hand, I head straight to Space Mountain and get a Fastpass. Since it is at the beginning of the day, the Fastpass window for Space Mountain will be open within 15 minutes or so. Since you can get another Fastpass as soon as your window opens, by the time I make it over to Splash Mountain, I can get another. This window will usually also be open within 30 minutes or so.

The rest of the clan will have riden the Magic Carpets, or seen the Tiki Room or something like this. We then meetup and ride Haunted Mansion which moves people through very quickly. Upon exit, I usually can get a third set for Big Thunder.

You get the picture. Usually by the time we have been in the park for less than 2 hours, I have Fastpasses for 4 or 5 rides. Which then allows us to basically walk-on the less popular rides and later in the day when lines are getting very long, we use the Fastpasses that I have stockpiled.

As for WDW secrets, my favorite under appreciated experience is the Barber Shop on Main Street. It is like an old turn of the century barber shop with hair cuts costing $8. The kids get a Mickey Ear hat at the end. It really is special.

Jessi said...

Joni - Oh my gosh! Have fun. I can't wait to hear about your adventures. And we do need to get together. Shoot me an email and we'll get something planned.

Strangeite - Starting in Adventure Land is probably a really good tip. We started in Fantasyland, because I thought that would be the kids' favorite.