OT: Disney World Vacation

My family of 4 (10 yr old son and 6 yr old daughter) are headed to Orlando mid-March. We are staying on resort and have 4 days at Disney and a one day park hopper to Universal. I haven't been since 2000. I am looking for any advice from fellow TKPers. Best eats, how to pack/dress, what rides are essential?

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Stay for the fireworks at close... But only once. The crowd to leave the park is unreal. Make sure you start heading out before then.

The dining plan is really worth it if you're staying on property. You could probably get away with jeans and a tshirt but bring a light jacket for when it inevitably sprinkles or starts getting dark.

I am hoping we get shorts weather but I should know that for sure before we pack up.

"You don't stare into a rearview mirror"

I was just there 2 weeks ago and the high temps reached 85F several days. But it was in the low 60s in the mornings, so any younglings or those sensitive to the cold will probably want a jacket they can stash later on.

I second this. When we have done the resort route, the meal plan is actually pretty dang good.

If you're Star Wars fans, and you want to ride Rise of the Resistance, you'll have to be inside Hollywood Studios before the park opens to try to get a Boarding Group (you need one to ride, there is no Standby line). Also, create a My Disney Experience account, link your tickets, and book your fastpasses as soon as possible. You can reserve 3 per person per day.

I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them!

For fast passes, book the popular rides as early in the day as possible. Once you use your fast passes, you can go to a kiosk in the park and get new fast passes if they are available for other rides. Since you're staying On a resort, you should be able to book your fast passes earlier than the other visitors.

Don't even need the kiosk book from the app while your in line of your 3rd fast pass.

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Rise was full 90 seconds after open Saturday!

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It was 50 seconds last Wednesday πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ

I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them!

A lot of complaints of no signal or connection to even try.

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You have to go to an area of the park that doesn't have a lot of people. We went to the Disney Jr area to the right and there was almost no one near us.

Don't use Disney WiFi, turn off WiFi so you're on your carriers signal. Makes it easier to get in

I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them!

This last visit even Verizon had some poor moments. Also our most unique experience a wheel fell off the stroller and we lost it for a few hours.

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Just got back an hour ago from our monthly trip I'll type up something tomorrow and post it.

What parks are you most interested in? What are their interests? What kind of rides sill they ride? Want to see shows? Character dining? Mega extravagant things?

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We arent a star wars family, so I dont need that. I am the only one that will ride mega thrill rides but I am going to try to push the fam's limits if possible. We already have a fast pass for the avatar ride. Will have to check what else we have. Girl likes all the princess stuff, I expect my son to enjoy the 4D type things the most. I am hoping the Potter stuff at Universal is a big hit as well.

"You don't stare into a rearview mirror"

try and hit up the 7-dwarfs Mine Train in MK. It's relatively new (5 years or so), but it is a good transition ride. has some "thrilling" roller coaster aspects, but fun cute parts too. kinda a better (newer) version of big thunder mtn railroad that hits the princess realm as well.

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I liked the animal kingdom park, some nice rides, great food, and the safari trip is nice for kids if you don't normally go to zoos.

IMO, the best ride is at animal kingdom: Avatar Flight in Pandora. Not sure if the line is still crazy long (was over 3 hours at longest point when I was there), but that's a truly innovative ride. It might be too intense for young kids. I think 44 inches is shortest allowed.

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I went last year. We went to Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. We have two boys, so we didn't have to worry about any princess stuff and they didn't care about character meets. We spent a resort day between each park day to relax by the pool. I highly recommend this. The food in general is mediocre, but we found a few gems. My tips:

Animal Kingdom
- Best ride is Flight of Passage. If you don't get a fast pass for this, rope drop it (there are guides online on how to do this)
- The Nomad Lounge is the best bar in Animal Kingdom. It's a great place to get out of the heat and relax. They have lots of good drinks and reasonably priced (and tasty) appetizers. We did lunch here.
- The everest roller coaster and the safari are very good attractions.
- We did Yak and Yeti for dinner which was actually pretty good.

Magic Kingdom (My least favorite park)
- Space mountain was disappointing
- No bars!
- Thunder mountain and splash mountain were good
- The biggest line is for the Dwarf Mine Train, which we did not get on. I've heard it's not great though.
- The fireworks at night are awesome, but it's a long day. Be prepared.
- We did Liberty Tree Tavern for dinner. It was fine.

Hollywood Studios (probably my favorite, and that's before Star Wars was open)
- Slinkydog, Aerosmith, and Tower of Terror are all great rides.
- Toy Story Mania and Star Wars Launch Bay were also really good
- The Baseline Tap House is a good bar with the best prices on beer in the park. You can also get some decent snack here (giant pretzel, charcuterie board, etc.)
- There's a lot of cool stuff that just kind of happens around here, like imperial marches. The feel is very old time Hollywood.
- We did some counter service for dinner. Nothing to write home about.
- The water show at night (Fantasmic) was really cool, but it got cold when we were there (Early Feb).

Another suggestion if you are able to get a night away from kids. Start at Trader Sams in the Polynesian. Best bar on the property, with really cool drinks and great atmosphere. Then take the monorail to the contemporary for dinner at the California Grill. Best food I had at the park. Also, it's on the rooftop of the resort and has a balcony. You can walk out on the balcony and get a great view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. They even pipe in the music. Last tip, don't worry if you don't get a reservation to California Grill. Just walk up and say you want to eat at the sushi bar. It's the same menu as the rest of the restaurant and is never full.

Came to say the same about California Grill. Best food around and if you can go around the fireworks display its wonderful. Side note, some time you should go the week before Thanksgiving. The lines are the shortest, the Christmas Party thing is fantastic (the best fireworks I have ever seen) and generally the temperature is still quite nice. Not helpful for now, but worth looking into for another visit.

in Fuller we trust

I went with my fiancΓ©e exactly 2 years ago this coming March and we had a blast. Not too hot out and crowds weren't summer-level insane in that timeframe. We planned out our fast passes and restaurant reservations really well. We rope-dropped Flight of Passage and rode it again late that day with a fast pass (huge fan of the ride). I did a lot of research when it came to food since it's so expensive in-park. If you're able to snag a reservation at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant in Hollywood studios, I definitely recommend it. The theming and environment is very unique and the ambiance really takes you to away from the hustle and bustle of the park.

Number one tip: Get to the park before opening time.

The shortest lines all day will be right after opening. If you get there before opening (45 minutes is always our goal), you will have your choice of rides with short lines. The lines only build throughout the day.

Even my teenagers, that love to sleep until noon, understand how important it is to be in front of the crowd for the day. On their last high school trip they convinced their friends to get up early and be at the park before opening, and all of them were amazed at how much smoother the day goes.

Also, if you are there early, you can eat an early lunch (before 11:30) and have zero wait for food. If you wait until noon like everyone else, the lines build and it can take a long time to order, and be difficult to find a table in some restaurants.

I've been each year for the past few years.

- Download the Disney World app before going. You can see wait times for everything, book additional fast passes, see maps of each park, and order food.
- As soon as your group scans your last fast pass, get on the app and sign up for another one. I believe there is a 10-minute grace period after a pass expires to still use it.
- There is a playground in the waiting line for the Dumbo ride. It is under a tent and is air conditioned so it's a nice place to rest while kids run around.
- There are parades at various times during the day, check the app for the schedule.
- Make sure your phones are fully charged before going into the park. There is a Play Disney app that gives kids games to play and the games are tailored to the ride they are waiting for.
- You can bring your own food and water into the parks. Only issue is that you have to carry it around or rent a locker.
- The new areas at Hollywood Studios were really nice. The Star Wars area is incredibly detailed and you can spend a lot of time there just looking at all of the displays. The Toy Story Land is great too. Slinky Dog Dash was a lot of fun and there is Toy Story Mania where you get to shoot targets. Woody's Lunch Box had some good food as well.

My family has used a program that Disney calls disability access service. If anyone in a group qualifies then the entire group can use the program (Disney allows a wide range of people with disabilities or special needs to use this). Near the entrance to each ride there is a Disney employee that will have a tablet and you ask them for a return time. They then give you a window of time to come back to the ride and you get to enter using the fast pass line. You can only have one return time but it works in addition to fast passes. The return time is supposed to equal the amount of time that the normal line wait time is but the employee can also override it and manually enter in any time they want. You cannot pre-register for this and have to visit the guest relations office which is typically near the main entrance of each park (you only have to register once during each trip and it only take a couple of minutes to do).

It may not be possible to get a reservation, but I would strongly suggest the BierGarten in Germany (in Epcot) for dinner one night. Great food, a polka band plays and the kids all dance on a little floor in front of the stage, and there is beer.

What else could anyone need?

My buddy took home one of the Kellnerin when we went, so he got whatever else he needed. I just got to loiter solo the rest of the evening.

Make it easy on yourself and spend ~ $16 for a "Disney touring plan" (google it)
Make use of the on-site transportation (friendship boats, skyliner, monorail) to explore other resorts
Use mobile order for food anytime you can
Visit parks the day after they have evening extra magic hours
Plan some downtime at your resort

"Cartoons Plural, Virginia Tech"

You can watch the fireworks from the Beach at the Polynesian hotel.
Nice, you can have a beverage and easier to get out than at the Park.

This is going to be great for the ACC.

General:
If your trip is mid-March stop reading this download the Disney App and go book your fast passes and dining reservations NOW.
Ok now that you have done that; look at the events calendar for the time you are there and see what events are going on in the parks that might impact your days, which parks open and close when, if there are extra magic hours before or after for people staying on property or if there are major events like races that could impact traffic which can really slow down getting into certain parks.
If you are able to bring food and drinks especially water with you into the park it will cut down cost and also save you time from waiting in line.
Don't use fast passes early in the morning save them for late morning. Don't use fast passes in the afternoon because once you have used your first three you can keep getting more one at a time using the app.
Parent swap if one of the kids can't or doesn't want to ride a certain ride. It allows each parent to go on a ride with the kid. If you have rides that fall into that category don't use fast passes on it.
Rent a stroller preferably not from Disney if you can transport it around if not then rent one from Disney.
Order all quick-service food from the app and pick up at the window after you find a seat.

Park Specific:
Magic Kingdom: Get here early if you can if a monorail is an option or direct boat use it and get to rope drop for the main street then rope drop for the park overall. Head to the ride you want the most or part of the park you want to spend the most time in.
My girls (3,4,6 almost 7 and 9) favorites are runaway coal train, enchanted tales with Belle, speedway, buzz light year, jungle cruise, magic carpet ride, pirates of the Caribbean, and it's a small world and peter pan.
Lots of meets and greets here if the kids want that. But a better option we have found is a character meal where you get a large breakfast and get to have characters come to you. We do this and only eat that one large meal a day. Chef Mickey and Crystal Palace are the ones we go to the most at MK.

Epcot:
My favorite park but construction and closed rides have really hit hard here.
Test track is down, there are major pathways blocked off in the front of the park around the golf ball so plan extra time to get around.
In terms of rides here my kids all love Soarin, Living with the Land, the boat ride in the Mexican Pyramid, frozen ride, golf ball, and turtle talk with crush. The boss and I really enjoy eating and drinking our way around the world. For character dining, there is a spinning restaurant in living with the land found dinner to be better than breakfast there.
Animal Kingdom:
The park we have spent the least amount of time in; we do the safari ride, let the kids play in the dinosaur play and dig area mostly. The lion king show is good, the Nemo show is good, Mount Everest is good coaster, the birds show is great with Doug.
Have never eaten anything but one character meal at tusker house good food selection.
Hollywood studios:
Great park lots to do but most people don't think so. Toy Story Land is all great and so is star wars can't go wrong on rides in both of them. But you have to be at the park very early and get some luck to get a spot for new ride. Oga's Cantina is a good experience but honestly not worth the cost. Woody's lunch box is great the Totachos were awesome. 50's prime time diner and Hollywood and Vine which is character dining are both good. Tower of terror, rocking roller coaster and star tours are all great. Kids like the Frozen sing-along and Indiana Jones stunt show, especially when my oldest for her birthday was able to get me on stage as an extra. Star wars show is great in the middle of the park. Fantasmic might be the best show in the park only have it once a night.
Extras:
Dinner in the castle with Cinderella is an awesome once in a lifetime experience go for breakfast.
Topolino's breakfast is amazing
1900 Park is great for either meal
Askershus Breakfast is good
Trails End is the best cheap buffet on property
Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review
Whispering Canyon CafΓ© is fun, bottomless milkshakes and skillets.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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But a better option we have found is a character meal where you get a large breakfast and get to have characters come to you. We do this and only eat that one large meal a day. Chef Mickey and Crystal Palace are the ones we go to the most at MK.

This is top-notch advise here. If you truly want to meet characters, a character meal is by far the best way to do it. There is no line or rush to see the characters, instead all the characters come visit while you're seated at your table. Ample opportunity for conversation, pictures and signatures. Various locations have different characters, so choose the location with the collection that would be most enjoyed by your kids. With that said, it is expensive af to get these meals.

Last one I went to was a breakfast at Grand Floridian. It had Mary Poppins, Alice, Mad hatter, and few more.

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That's 1900 Park for breakfast. For dinner it's evil stepsisters who have the best interaction and signatures in the park along with fairy god mother and Cinderella and Prince.

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This isn't something kids are going to appreciate, but last time we were there we paid the extra $ to do the walking tour that goes with Living with the Land, and it was probably on of my favorite things we did at Disney. Seeing all the technology behind the scenes in the greenhouses was really interesting.

VT Class of '12 (MSE), MVBone, Go Hokies!

We just went to Disney at the end of January. Galaxy's Edge is fantastic. If you want to do Rise of The Resistance (and you should) you have to be at the park and checked in before it opens, so plan on that being a super early day.

I liked Oga's Cantina but the food options there are pretty blah. You'll need to go somewhere else for a real meal. The drinks were good- I had the Jedi Mind Trick.

I don't remember everywhere we ate but I second the recommendation for Yak and Yeti. Get the Big Bamboo. It re-energized me to chase my 3 year old around Animal Kingdom. We ate at Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom. I'm okay with it, but the wife loves it so we ate there. If you go there make a reservation or else you'll be waiting forever.

It sounds like your kids will be tall enough to ride everything. Slinky Dog Dash is a lot of fun to ride. Same with Tower of Terror. We didn't do a ton of rides because my kid's too small. She was technically tall enough for Slinky Dog but couldn't stand up straight. Next day she was able to stand up for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. We saw a lot of princesses and stuff about Frozen.

The best fireworks display is at Magic Kingdom, but there are plenty of options. We stayed at Boardwalk so we were able to see the Epcot fireworks without going to the park.

Loved yak and yeti, beat burger in the entire disney park.

I don't have much to add, most of the basic tips are already covered. I think they revamped the fastpass system for Hollywood Studios this week (not sure what the changes will be) which will hopefully make it possible to do more of the Toy Story and Star Wars rides.

We just got back 2 weeks ago with my family (4 kids under 5.....yeah i know) and it was an absolutely magical experience. Hands down one of the best vacations we have ever gone on.

Two things
1. Being organized is huge. My wife did it all, but it made the trip so much better. You are going to be so tired that the less thinking you have to do the better. For example, she had the kids clothes packed for each day which made getting everyone up and out in the morning so much easier.

2. To contradict myself, somewhat, our most treasured memories were spontaneous things that happened within the park. So keep some flexibility in your schedule to allow for random events instead of sprinting to your next fast pass. For example, we had the absolute best time at Epcot one evening with the jumping water exhibit by Imagination. It was nice to be able to linger and enjoy the moment instead of rushing the kids on after 20 seconds.

Have fun!

The fast pass changes for Hollywood studios is they're adding Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway to Tier 1 (meaning you can only 1 a fast pass for Railway or Millennium Falcon or Slinky Dog). All other attractions are Tier 2 and you can get two that group. Runaway Railway is a great attraction, and no height requirement so everyone can ride

I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them!

I appreciate everybody's comments. I will avoid saying thank you to every comment to reduce noise in case other tourists pull this thread up in the future. Mostly, you guys have reassured me, but I definitely need to dive into our trip details before coming back with specific questions.

"You don't stare into a rearview mirror"

I was in Orlando two weeks ago. I did a quick scan of this thread and saw a great wealth of Disney info posted, so I'll post about my Universal experience.

This recent trip was my 3rd time at Universal in the last 6 years. Good call on the Park Hopper.

I think Universal did a really great job with creating the world of HP -- it's like you really stepped into the universe. It's a great place to walk around and go through the different shops and drink butterbeer (including the frozen variety).

Hogsmeade:
-There's a new Hagrid roller coaster that opened last year some time. This ride has a notorious reputation for breaking down often, which sucks since it's in high demand as the "newest" HP ride. When I visited, the ride was closed down until midday so the park could film a video of the ride (or so they say). It opened at 2pm and by the time I got to the ride at 2:30pm it was broken down already. I waited for an hour and then bailed on the park. It was still down when I checked later that day around 4:30pm.
-YMMV but the ride inside Hogwarts castle is the only ride to ever give me motion sickness. I only rode it once, but the one time I did there was a guy in the next "train" from me that was so dizzy he took two steps after the ride and faceplanted into the floor.

Diagon Alley:
-The feeling when you walk through the entrance really is magical and gives me goosebumps every time.
-The Gringotts bank ride is my favorite HP ride. Stick around for the dragon outside to shoot flames from its mouth.
-Florean Fortescue's ice cream shop on the corner has a delicious butterbeer soft serve. I get it every time.
-We always like to eat The Leaky Cauldron.

Diagon Alley is amazing - if you have a Harry Potter fan its not to be missed. The wand show at the wand shop in Diagon alley is a lot of fun, especially if your child gets picked for the interaction.

Just 1 piece of advice: Eat at the Sci-Fi Dine-In in Hollywood Studios.

We did that too. It was fun.

This is going to be great for the ACC.

This is a must.

Also, the closing show at Animal Kingdom is very good. Much more than just fireworks and music.

The decor is very cool. The food is awful!

Better idea is to just get milkshakes if you go.

This place can't even get bacon right.

I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them!

We enjoy eating here as well - now that my kids are older. There are six of us, and the two by two seating caused issues when my kids were younger. My wife and I each had to sit with the youngest 2, and the middle two sat by themselves. Not a lot of opportunity to converse between the rows, so it was a bit challenging. Much better with adults or older children.

Great atmosphere and the food was pretty good as well.

If you are now thinking about reservations then it's going to be tough. Especially at places like Be our Guest.

Dinning plan is a must in my opinion.

-France, Germany, and Moraco are all good in epcot.
-Yak and Yeti in animal kingdom.
-Crystal Palace for brunch is great in Magic kingdom (Buffet, so something for all and character dinning with winnie the pooh and gamg)
-The animal lodge has a good family style restaurant too. And the camp ground is something different (bbq/fixin's) than most places.

The app is one of the biggest helps in the park. Especially with kids, you can order quick service meals and pick them up so less waiting in line.

I dont know what the answer is because this year(October) is our first without a stroller, but in the past a stroller was great to hold everyone's stuff, drinks, jackets, sun glasses, whatever. So think about being in a pack with a 6 year old that hasnt finishdled a drink but wants to ride a ride.

Magic hours, magic hours, magic hours, IMO, are a must. You will get a full days worth of rides in a fraction of the time vs the daytime hours.

Magic hours and special ticketed events are getting more and more crowded. Disney keeps adding properties that are included in magic hours.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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We go double digit times a year and my wife moonlights as a Disney planner free of charge (to the customer). I have nothing else to offer but have fun, take lots of pics and enjoy being a kid again!

"War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.”~~Judge Holden

Now is probably the best time to go since everyone is in full freak out pandemic mode and less people are attending, just saying...

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
β€œI served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

Will be there this weekend for 2nd kids 7th birthday I'll let y'all know.

Wet stuff on the red stuff.

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The photopass was the best deal there. Photographers at every meet and greet, every scenic view, and scattered throughout the park at random places. And they scan your band and all the pictures are on your account, and you get a dvd with the pictures at the end if you want. Great value.

If you're not sure if my comment warrants a "/s", it probably does.