Park Touring Tips
Hi! I'm new to the board.
My wife and I are taking our 2 year old daughter to WDW in ten days! We have been planning this trip for many months and I can hardly contain my excitement. It will be the first time we've visited the parks since we were teenagers (last visit over 15 years ago).
We have the MYW+Dining and have long since made our dinner reservations. We have scheduled our diners for around 5PM almost every day. I have just looked at the calendar for the open hours of the parks and saw that they close at 7PM some days. If I would have noticed this earlier, I may have scheduled a later reservation.
I have used the "Unofficial Gude" to create our Touring plans for the parks. We've decided to skip some of the Major attractions that my daughter will be too small to ride (We figure we'll be going more times over the years and will experience them with her). That said, I'm getting a little concerned that we'll have enough time to experience what we'll want to see at the parks. I mean, I was hoping the parks would be open close to 3 hours more each night. We also planned on taking some of the afternoon off so my daughter could nap and swim at the resort. All this, combined with the early dinner times, seem like they'll really crush the touring plans.
Can some of you familiar with the parks or the touring plans give me some advice?
* Are these concerns even valid?
* What are some of the lesser know things I should add to my must do list with my daughter? I felt that the Unofficial Guide focused more on the rides than the shows.
* Any lesser known touring tips would be helpful.
Thanks in advance for all the great knowledge and - to Lou, the podcast. All this stuff is great and really helps to add to the excitement!
Welcome to the boards!!!
First, you can call and see if you can get later reservations - they aren't set in stone. You could even call that day from the park and see if there are openings!
Are you staying on site? If so, there are often extra magic hours, times when the parks are open 1 hour early or 3 hours later for resort guests only.
Child swap is a good thing to remember, you swap the kid out and both of you can ride a ride - without standing in line again - you just can't ride together.
If there are 2 lines - always choose the one going to the left.
The guide probably focused on shows because of the age of your daughter. If she is not scared of the characters, you have a lot of chances for great pictures at meet and greets - especially if you chose some character meals!
Most of all - don't worry. Take in what you can and enjoy your time there. Don't be one of those parents that try to do it all, it just can't be done.
Do what you are most interested in! And remember, Dole Whips are a gift from god!~!!
ENJOY YOUR TRIP!!!
I agree with changing your dining reservations.
As far as other tips, start your planning with MK. They have the most variable hours. Epcot is pretty much always 7PM for FW and 9PM for WS. MGM is pretty much always 10PM. AK is open late (IE 8PM) from time to time, but is almost always closed by 5 or 6. In contrast, MK closes at 10PM on 4/22 and 4/23, 9PM on 4/24 and 4/25, 11PM on 4/26, and 7PM(!) on 4/27 and 4/28 (which are Friday and Saturday!). If I was going that week, I'd plan for MK on 4/26 and possibly 4/22 or 4/23, and work the rest of the parks in around that schedule.
Second, while planning is important, it is futile to try to stick to a schedule. I would make a list of everything you don't want to miss in each park organized roughly in accordance with the layout of the park. When making your list, mark the places where your route would cross the parade route. For example, if you're planning on doing MK clockwise starting from Adventureland, somehow indicate that you'll be crossing a parade route when going from Pirates to Splash Mountain. This will be handy later.
First thing you do when you arrive, get a fastpass for the first attraction that takes it. Then start working through your list by going standby for the non-fastpass attractions. As soon as your fastpass window opens, go get another one for the next FP attraction on your list BEFORE you use the one you already have.
One other thing about FPs -- just because an attraction has them doesn't mean you need one. Off the top of my head, at the MK both Mickey's PhilharMagic and the Haunted Mansion are almost always wasted FPs, because you can usually get on either of them with virtually no wait at all.
Also a note about parades. Be aware of them. Even if you plan on watching all of them, keep an eye on your position relative to the parade route and the path you hope to take as you do your tour of the park. Crowds start gathering for these things an hour or more before scheduled start times, making it difficult to cross the parade route. So if your touring plan ends up looking like it's going to have you cross the parade route within an hour of a parade, you might consider skipping ahead to a section of your list that is on the other side of the parade. Waiting for parades, or trying to cross streets lined with other people who are waiting for them, can eat up a lot of time that could be put to better use.
Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!
My son will be 3 in July and we are getting ready to take his 7th trip. We have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly!! We have tried various options and the best approach is to not overdue it. Remember, you can return for another trip sometime. What we have found that works best for us is to relax in the mornings by the pool. The sun is not at its peak so we can stay out a little longer. On occassion we make it to a park in the morning, but not often. After lunch, the kids take a nap in the afternoon. We then do a late dinner and then head to MK. We take full advantage of the extra magic hours. We have found that it works well to do the park in the evening when it is not as hot. Often the lines are shorter during the SpectroMagic parade. Of course you have to see it once on the trip though. We enjoy sitting in front of the Liberty Belle dock on the wooden pillory to view the fireworks. It is not crowded and an excellent spot. On our last trip, it was around 1:30 am, my husband and I were walking behind our two children while crossing the bridge between Tomorrowland and the castle. We were the only ones in sight!The kids were able to run around and not get lost in the crowd because there wasn't one. It was like we had the park to ourself. The Crystal Palace has been one of his favorite dining spots. The Pooh Bear Playful Spot across from the ride is also a nice break for that age. It is not worth the frustration to try to do too much, just relax and enjoy it. If she gets tired and cranky, go back to the hotel and rest. You'll be greatful in the long run. Have fun!!!!
Thanks for all the great tips!! I have added these to my notes.
I'll post back when we return to let you all know how it went.
Well we returned from our trip on Sunday and we had a fabulous time!
Thanks again for all the great tips! I was amazed by how much we were able to accomplish by making smart use of fast passes, child swap, and touring early and later. We went back to our room most afternoons for a nap and swim.
We had great meals and the character dining was especially fun. My daughter also loved the Hopp De Doo review.
Thanks again for all the great tips and BTW, the Dole Whips are awesome... I think I had 4 while I was there. I also liked the cookies and cream Mickey's!
Yipee!! you have any pics??
were taking our lil girl in Oct. she turns 2 in Aug.. so was it hard??? we took her last year and it was hard.. but i think it was because it was so hot mostly... and we had 11 people in all wanting to do this that and the other... this time its just us 3
you have any hints for this mommy of a 2 yr old lil girl
Our little one is an early riser so it was easy for us to get to the parks when they opened. That was key for us. We were able to hit a lot of things with little or no wait. Repeatability was another thing that really helped my daughter's experience too. We must've ridden Small World, the Tea Cups, the Carousel, Pooh, and Dumbo about 5 times each.
Aside from that, was keeping our daughter cool and letting her explore. Luckly, all the parks had play areas (many with water features and fountains) that my daughter loved. Usually my wife and I would take turns during this time to hit some of the major rides. Many times we used Fast Passes and would get back in about 10 or 15 minutes. Look for singles lines too. In MGM, we were able to tide the Rock n Roller coaster with about a 5 minute wait. Many of the other rides with singles lines we did the same thing.
We spent about 3 hours at a time in the MK and focused on one of the lands each visit. At MGM and AK, we revolved around the show schedule. At MGM, my daughter loved the Beauty and the Beast show, the parade, and playhouse Disney. At AK she loved the Lion King show and the safari. The Nemo show was a little long for her. At AK & MGM, she napped at the park and we didn't return to the room (one reason was we had 5PM dinner reservations). Again my wife and I took turns riding during nap time.
At Epcot we focused mostly on Future World. She loved Nemo, the Land, and the Imagination pavilion. If you do get there early, I'd suggest getting a FP for Soarin first thing, then taking in the boat ride in the land, and the Lion King movie. Then your FP should be close to ready. The Land has a great cafeteria and we took turns snacking with my daughter here while the other rode Soarin.
My daughter loved all the meals, especially Hoop De Doo, Chef Mikey, and the Noway dinner with the princesses.
To answer your question, I did not feel it was hard to take my daughter. The look of pure enjoyment and wonder on her face was priceless.
thanks!! for all the info.. my hubby says now he doesnt wann do the kid swap.. but i'm hoping he changes his mind.. i booked my meals today.. we have booked chef mickey,the coral reef, and crystal palace.. and i'm trying to get cinderella's palace for brkfst one day but the seating hasnt been annouced for Nov.. so.. i have to call back everday until seating is open and she said it should be no later than friday
If anyone else mentioned this already, then I apologize for the repeat...
Fazdevils, don't forget to check out Magical Beginnings!
I printed the maps Disney provides and they include rides, shows, characters, playgrounds, etc. I think they're sweet!
oh geez, i just realized...she's BACK from Disney! Well, maybe my suggestion will help another parent!!