Editor’s Note: The WDW Radio Exchange is a blog where YOUR questions are answered by a series of Disney experts, all of whom bring a different Disney perspective to the table. Our panel has an amazing combined experience with Disney and offers you Disney travel planning advice!
In this post from last January, we considered the question of how to continue enjoying Disney even if we have been before.. LOL, like that’s a problem for a Disney fan! But check out these answers and feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.
New to our panel is Alyssa, who will be representing the newlywed perspective and answering questions as someone who is married but without children. Welcome, Alyssa, and thank you for joining the team!
Our returning panelists include:
The Chairman: JIM–Jim will answer questions from the perspective of the Disney purist. He will answer the questions in a way to ensure the most traditional Disney experience.
The Teenager: J.J.–J.J. has the point of view of teenagers in the group in mind, as he tries to ensure these family members are happy as well.
The Timekeeper: BRIAN–Brian will offer advice on how to maximize a guest’s time and ensure the vacation is efficient and as many experiences can be enjoyed as possible.
The Disneyland Expert: DARBY–In the event you have a similar experience but are headed to the West Coast, Darby answers the same question for Disneyland guests.
Super Mom: TONYA–An experienced traveler to Disney with children, Tonya will address questions from the perspective of moms, and make sure all the needs of the kids (and mom!) are considered.
Fitness & Health Guru: HAPPY–Our resident Iron Man and WDW Radio Running Team “coach,” Happy will help us consider vacations from the perspective of the athletic, health-conscious side of a vacation.
Grandparent: RICHARD–Rich is here to help us remember that often trips are multi-generational, and often there are grandparents who have different needs and interests traveling along. He will offer advice from this perspective.
Here is this week’s question for the panel.
Hi Lou. Love the show! It gives me the Disney dose I need to get through the week. I have a question I think you would know the answer to. My parents and I are visiting Walt Disney World in January. We have gone together many times before, and the previous few times we have gone have been with other people in our group. Disney World used to be kind of my parents’ and my thing that we could do together when I was younger. Now that I am in college, it is getting more difficult to have our trips just be the 3 Disney Dorks anymore, due to various experiences. So, we really want to make it special as it is probably the last trip we will have as just us 3. What ideas do you have for the family who has “been there, done that” but who may not share that experience—as just the 3 “Dorks”–many more times in the future? Thanks—Allison.
Jim (The Chairman) My favorite way to experience WDW (and those trips come way too infrequently) is to figure out several “must do’s” then add several “always wanted to do that’s.” Must do’s usually include Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom, Soarin’ and Test Track in Epcot, etc. I’m sure you have your own. Sometimes you even get the added benefit of “plussed” must do’s that you’ve never seen before like the new queue at the Haunted Mansion. Some new things we did this past November: the Behind the Seeds tour at Epcot (which I’ve always wanted to do), Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, and Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. One of the great things about WDW is I doubt anyone could ever do “everything.” We try to get to at least one or two new restaurants as well if we can. Is there any place you’ve always wanted to try but never have? Do you have anything that is specific to past trips? Something like Lou’s picture spot on the curb of Main Street? It would be nice to recreate something like that. Maybe make a new over the top memory – dinner at Victoria and Albert’s, a complete spa day, heck, even a private park tour with Lou. The best part is think of all the great ideas you can come up with trying to make it a special trip.
Tonya (SuperMom) Hi, Allison. It is very refreshing to know that you enjoy your time in Walt Disney World with your parents so much! Since this may be your last trip “alone”, it is great that you want to make it special.
As someone who thought I had experienced everything Walt Disney World had to offer, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was still a lot left to learn! The behind the scenes tours would be a great way to experience parts of “the World” that you may not have seen and a great culmination to your nuclear family vacations. If you have only a few hours, Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour is a 5 hour journey that will leave you mesmerized. Learn about things you thought you knew on Main Street and even on a few rides, travel backstage and even venture into the underground tunnel system. This tour is $74.00 per person, includes lunch and you leave with a special tour pin. Want to spend more time and see other off-limit areas? The Backstage Magic Tour is a 7 hour adventure that takes you to all 4 theme parks giving you an insider’s look at the parks, costuming, landscaping, parades, ride operation and more. This tour is $229 per person and also includes lunch and a tour pin. Would you rather spend your time learning about Disney and its animals? Try the Backstage Safari Tour in Animal Kingdom for $72 per person. Here you’ll spend 3 hours and visit the Nutrition Center, meet keepers and visit backstage animal housing areas. These are just a few of the tours people ages 16 and up. Disney hosts many tours to accommodate different interests (certified divers can enter the tank in Epcot and gardeners can learn what it takes to transform and maintain the parks). Want to spend a few hours in the Magic Kingdom with only your group and a guide where you can ask your own questions and follow your own agenda, book a one-of-a-kind tour with our own Lou Mongello.
Although your time as “just the 3 dorks” in Walt Disney World may be coming to an end, imagine all the little known facts and fun that you will be able to introduce people to for generations to come!
Brian (The Timekeeper): Great question! With a daughter entering high school myself… this one’s kinda close to my heart! I know my time asking this same question is coming when she goes away to college! To maximize your time (my specialty), I suggest sitting down and going through some old photos. What were the attractions that brought back the best memories? What restaurants or shows were the ones that you look back on and smile? Definitely put those on the list. Try to recreate those classic photos when you go… get in the same poses in the same places. They would make great “bookend” shots and would make the three of you smile forever!
I might also suggest doing something out of the ordinary. Rent a watercraft… spend some time at one of the spas… resort hop… take a guided tour… live it up!
I would also like to suggest making your exit meal very special. Maybe at the top of the Contemporary as you watch Wishes… or have lunch in Cinderella Castle… Whatever you do… maximize those magical minutes and soak it all in! You will never forget that trip!
Alyssa (The Newlywed) -My husband, Brandon, and I travel as a couple during most of our trips and find it can be very relaxing. We know exactly what each person wants to see (Brandon likes to arrive at Magic Kingdom and go right to Pirates) and what we don’t have to visit each trip. As a smaller group you should be able to experience more during each day as you don’t have to wait on additional people who might lag behind. Make sure you make the most of that time–arrive and watch the opening of the parks in the morning and stay until the park closes at night. Also, make sure you take lots of pictures during this trip, trying not to leave anyone out. Ask the Photopass cast members to use your camera after taking a picture with yours. Then, a year down the road, you will be able to remember your time together!
Happy (Fitness / Health) – Do your Parents golf??? If they do, I would highly recommend playing one of the Walt Disney World Golf Courses. I have played all of them, and there is something unique and special about teeing off on a hole and hearing sounds from a nearby Disney Theme Park. There are also many hours to reflect on previous trips and share memories. If 18 holes are too many, you can always play on the 9-hole Oak Trail Golf Course (although that is a walking course only). You don’t need to bring your own sticks…Disney has clubs available for rent.
JJ (Teenager) For a family who has “been there, done that”, the key is to do those specifically special things that are essential to every one of your family’s WDW vacations. For example, here are a couple personal experiences that my family strives to do together each trip: it has become a tradition that we go on Carousel of Progress together on our first day, while another is eating fish and chips at Yorkshire County Fish Shop at the UK Pavilion in Epcot. However small or large, those intimate and memorable moments with your family stand out the most when looking back on a WDW vacation. So, if this possibly is one of the last trips with just the three of you, go back and relive some of the most cherished WDW moments that you all have ever had, whether it is a favorite restaurant, attraction, or even a favorite place to take a family picture. To top it all off, create new ones! Do something you’ve never done together and add that to the list of special WDW memories – parasail over Bay Lake, board a fireworks cruise to see Wishes in a whole new way, or go on an attraction that you’ve never been on! To keep family traditions alive and also try out new offerings is what I adore about family vacations to the World, and that is what I recommend to you. Have a magical time!!
Richard (Grandparent) ALLISON – A couple of ideas come to mind and in fact I can relate to your issue very much. As our daughters have grown, their “investment” in Walt Disney World has varied from barely neutral about it to maybe even more gung ho than I am and it’s that daughter I am thinking about as I write this. We went to Walt Disney World just before she got engaged fully realizing that the “next time” it would be with her husband, their yet unborn children, and maybe even his parents, too.
Obviously there is the need to preserve the past, likely through video, and photographs that you can do now. Nothing new there, but wrap this project around a time capsule approach by agreeing to return to special activities, attractions, and meals when you are in your “new” configuration. As you reassemble for example at the Hoop De Doo, take the time to take new video and photos so that you can do a “then and now”.
To follow that premise further: Send yourselves a message to the future visitors you will be by commenting perhaps on what the World looks like “now” and what you think it will look like when you look at it in the future, perhaps with grandchildren!
Darby (Disneyland) When it comes to Disneyland you want to make sure you capture the special events. Mainly the fireworks show over the castle, at least ONE showing of Fantasmic (make it extra special by adding the all-you-can-eat dessert option with reserved seating. Your family will love you for this!) and definitely go see World of Color! I would also choose ONE attraction/show that each of you want to go on during your trip. One last thing I would also recommend as a family, either eat at Big Thunder BBQ (more family type atmosphere and you can’t beat $25 a person for all you can eat BBQ!!!) or go to Carthay Circle Theater in DCA (prices are somewhat steep, but it’s a better atmosphere for families than Blue Bayou). I would also have each member of the family wear those special World of Color Mickey Ears. Those things are REAALLLYYY COOL!!!!
Do YOU have advice for this family? Have you ever been in a similar situation? Please post your thoughts and advice in the comments below. And if YOU have a question for the members of the exchange to discuss, please email Christy@WDWRadio.com, and we will feature it on a future blog!