Topics include Transportation, Things to Do, Dining Scene, United States: For Foreign Visitors & more!
A trip to Walt Disney World will provide memories that will last a life time. With a little bit of planning and forethought, you can have a great trip without the frustration and hassle that many cite as the reason they don't visit this magical place. The below tips will help you to have a great time and and become a Disney expert.
The age old question that is heard numerous times - is a child too young to take to Disney? Parents everywhere cite various reasons why they believe they should wait to go to Disney until their child is older....they won't remember it, they won't even know what's going on or where they are, it's too expensive to take a baby who won't have fun, etc. YOUR CHILD IS NEVER TOO YOUNG TO GO TO DISNEY! Babies and young children alike can be seen all over Disney loving every second of it. The sights, sounds, colors - they take it all in. Anyone who begs to differ is underestimating their child. In the years that are so critical to development, how can one think that new experiences and so much to look at wouldn't engage their baby? Moral of the story? Start going as early as possible. You'll be surprised at the response from the little ones and you'll look back on the trip and the joy in your children's eyes and know that it was worth it.
Plan according to your vacation preferences. Be smart about timing of your trip and hotel booked and you will enjoy your vacation immensely. If you are someone that is hesitant to go because you have qualms about spending your trip with young kids running around, don't go during busy season (Easter and Presidents' holidays, and time the kids are off). Visit during off season - you'll also score lower prices for hotels/airfare/car.
Select your hotel according to your budget, but be aware that the difference between a night at a Value Resort is not always significantly cheaper than the next step up, a night at a Moderate Resort. Especially during off-season, you can usually get a nicer hotel for a minimal price upgrade per night. Consider this carefully when planning. If you are looking to avoid large crowds of little kids, a Moderate Resort hotel or above may be the best option for you. It's Disney - there are always kids, but you can take steps to minimize the impact on your vacation.
Do yourself a favor and GET A RENTAL CAR. Yes, Disney offers free transportation to guests staying "on property", however when you've spent a bundle on your vacation, you do not want to wait a minute of it. Using the Disney bus system will take away significantly from your time at the parks and at other attractions (dining, shopping, recreation). Watch Dollar or Budget for deals on cars and RENT ONE. You will be happy you did when you see people waiting for 2 to 3 buses outside your hotel just to get to the park in the morning, while dragging along 3 kids and a stroller. Enough said.
As a guest staying at a Disney resort, you are entitled to many things, one of which being "Extra Magic Hours" at the parks. Plan your park days around this feature. Plan to start your day at the park that is offering early entry that day, and be prepared with a list of attractions that will be open at that time. You will avoid large crowds as the day wears on, having already experienced some of the main rides and shows. This gives you more time to relax and enjoy the park without the stress of not wanting to miss out on the big rides. It may even give you time to visit other parks or stop back at the hotel for an afternoon swim while everyone else battles the mid-day heat and swarms of people.
Take advanatage of being able to make reservations. Dining reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance. Use this to get the restaurants you want, at the times that you want. If you know you want to eat at Narcoossee's during the Magic Kingdom fireworks, plan on getting your reservation 180 days beforehand. If you want to spend a morning water skiing and tubing with Sammy Duvall's Watersports, get your reservation early - espeically if it is a busy time of year. That way you get the time you want and you can plan the rest of your day accordingly. Golf tee times, same rules apply. If you want primo seats for the Magic Kingdom fireworks inside the park, grab a reservation for the "Dessert" party at the Terrace Restaurant if you can, as reservations are snapped up almost immediately.
Avoid haivng to drop everything and miss out on that last ride you wanted to ride, because someone was too hungry. Pack a little snack for everyone in your party for emergency situations in case you need to stretch lunch out an extra half hour. Bring clothes for every weather situation in your car (which you will be renting!) so you can run out and grab a sweatshirt if need be, and not get stuck buying one at a high price in the park's giftshops. Someone gets soaked on Splash Moutain? Grab your extra socks/shoes and be on your way. A little planning goes a long way in helping keep wasted time and money to a minimum. Nothing is worse than a hungry, cold, and wet child (or adult!). Prevent this by simply planning ahead.
The main point is this - Disney is a magical place unlike any other. So many miss out on this magic because of stress and anxiety about trip planning and execution. So a little prep in the beginnning will solve your problems and let you be a kid again while on your vacation. It's a simple fix to many of the problems that keep people from visiting Disney at all. Whether you go once, or every year, a little planning goes a long, long way.