Disney questions

June 2, 2009 at 10:12 am (Top Ten Tuesday, travel) ()

So this time next week, I’ll be in Orlando – yahoo!!  It will be our first vacation as a family of four!  This will horrify any die-hard Disney lovers out there, but I honestly didn’t seek this vacation out as “Disney Trip”.   Basically it just fit our criteria for this trip – a lot of sun & a little bit of driving.    We also got a great deal on the resort.  It’s going to cost more for us to enter the gates of a Disney Park for one day than it will to stay an entire week at our resort!!  With that said, I only have intentions of going to one park – “boo, hiss” I know!!

I could spend forever & a day doing research on the best (and cheapest) things to do in Orlando, but I also figured you might want to help.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Disney & I’ve never been thinking about two little ones in tow.  So here are some questions – chime in when you can!

1.  I have a 3yo & an 8mo that have never been to Disney – if we only go to one park, which should it be?  The Magic Kingdom – right??

2.  What’s the deal with the “Baby / Rider Swap“?  Do you all wait in line & then when you get to the front you tell them you want to swap?

3.  What’s the second best park that we shouldn’t miss if we decide to visit two?

4.  Should I bring my own stroller or use their swap program?

5.  Any restaurant outside of Disney that we MUST eat at?

6.  What restaurants inside Disney should we not miss?

7.  I do remember Downtown Disney from my last trip & plan to visit there again just since it’s free & has some good shops.  Any other “freebie but fun” type places in town you recommend?

8.  My 8mo isn’t as good of a rider as her brother was when he was little, plus it’s just harder with two.  Any tips for an 8-hour trip?

9.  I’ve been all over the Disney Mom’s Panel & other Disney sites for hints & tips, but what is your favorite?  (And if it’s a plug for your own blog, that’s fine by me … plug away!!)

10.  What’s your best Disney Tip ever – about anything?

Thanks in advance!! 

For more Top Ten Tuesday Lists or to link up to your own, visit ohAmanda.com.

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14 Comments

  1. ohamanda said,

    Mandi! You did this just for me didn’t you?!!! I’ll be back soon to answer!!

  2. Janna said,

    Hold on…this may take awhile!

    1. I would agree on Magic Kingdom, as there are lots of rides even the baby can go on (any ride without a height restriction).

    2. Yes. Just tell the CM when you get up there that you need to baby swap and they will tell you what to do.

    3. Hmmm…second best for us would be EPCOT. There’s so much to just see there! There are activities that the 3yo will enjoy in the World showcase (free – Kidcot stations & the masks; little cost – EPCOT passports). The Living Seas is like an aquarium, Innoventions East and West have lots of activities for both kids and adults; there’s the Character Connection (name may have changed) for pictures and autographs.

    4. I would definitely bring your own stroller. Disney rentals are extravagantly expensive. The Disboards stroller swaps just look too complicated to me (but I am also a control freak – I want my own). (Click through to my blog and read my stroller dilemma from last week.)

    5. I have no clue on restaurants outside the park (although the ones at Universal Studios’ City Walk are pretty good).

    6. We enjoy character meals (not breakfast, but that’s just us) at Disney. Hollywood & Vine Play n’ Dine at the Studios (Playhouse Disney characters); Chef Mickey’s (hard to get into – call 407-WDW-DINE to see about reservations); Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom – Pooh characters).

    7. Not sure about other freebie places in town…Cheap souvenirs are things like pressed pennies (51 cents), keychains, postcards, cups, etc.

    8. Stop frequently and travel as close to nap time (if not at night) as possible.

    9. BE THERE WHEN THE PARK OPENS – WHEN THE ROPE DROPS!!!!

    10. See #9…Also, if you are able, take a break when it gets the hottest in the afternoons for the pool or a nap or both!

  3. Poppy Buxom said,

    Magic Kingdom! The first time we went, we were there for five days and didn’t visit any of the other parks. It works fine when they’re tiny.

    Don’t know about baby/rider swaps.

    For your age group, I’d say Animal Kingdom. Epcot and MGM skew older. BTW the Animal Kingdom is a great place to meet characters–lines to meet Mickey and Minnie are much shorter than at Toon Town.

    If the 8-month-old can handle a double stroller, I’d use the Disney double side-by-sides. The kids will see more and you can pick them up at the park entrance.

    I’ve been to WDW over 10 times and never eaten off Disney property. I like the Crab restaurant–the one that looks like a boat–at Downtown Disney, though.

    For your age group, I’d recommend Columbia House for a quick lunch–it’s between Fantasyland and Frontierland. Lines are shorter and food is better than most fast food in-park places. The Magic Kingdom doesn’t serve liquor, so for a boozeless dinner I recommend Tony’s, or whatever they call the Lady and the Tramp restaurant in the Magic Kingdom–it’s the most civilized. It’s worth a visit to Epcot to eat dinner at Coral Reef, and the three year old will love the huge fish tank. The food isn’t as exciting at the Animal Kingdom or MGM, although I like the Brown Derby. Jiko is overrated. For a really great lunch out of the Kingdom, take the monorail to the Polynesian and eat lunch in the Kona Cafe–fun fusion food and fabulous desserts.

    I love the Lego store–especially the dragon–at Downtown Disney.

    A new inexpensive toy every time they get back in the car worked with my kids. Also DVDs are a godsend. Pick up some new titles used at Blockbuster or Netflix them. If you don’t have a player–we didn’t the first time we tried this–use your laptop.

    I have no favorite Disney blogs … those days are over for me.

    If your 3 year old is interested in meeting characters, get the autograph book and head to the Magic Kingdom early. There are a ton of characters there in the early morning and you can get lots of adorable pictures. I’ll never forget the kindness and generosity of the Mickey and Minnie impersonators–they work really hard to keep the children happy.

  4. the viking said,

    tbh i think animal kingdom was the best park. if your kids like animals then they will have so much fun here

  5. ohamanda said,

    1. Magic Kingdom. It’s classic.

    2. Baby Swap is a DEAL! Just tell the cast member when you FIRST get in line. Then usually you and kid #1 would ride while hubby and kid #2 wait right by the ride (not at the begininng of the line). Then when you get off, they’ll be right there…you hold kid #2 and hubby & kid #1 can ride again!

    3. Animal Kingdom MIGHT be good if you like animals. But it isn’t as “fun”–it’s more looking. I think I’m with Jenna—the 2nd park would be Epcot b/c there is stuff that’s not so height restricted.

    4. The ONLY reason your own stroller is good is b/c if your kids fall asleep you can use it outside the park–like to your car/bus. But there is a stroller swap so you don’t have to PACK your own stroller…I linked to it here: http://174.132.78.154/~ohamanda/?p=1127

    5. Restaurants OUTSIDE Disney? I can’t think of any…

    6. There are so many GREAT restaurants.I think you should do a character meal. Especially if there is a character Evan really likes. Staci and I did the Liberty Tree Tavern Character meal and it was really fun AND yummy—family style meals.

    7. Celebration. The Premier outlets.

    8. No tips. Just pray. Kidding. I’d just try snacks and maybe one or two toys they’ve never seen before. OR do the travel book like our sisterchick cruise!! (Staci, you need to blog that!)

    9. ohamanda.com KIDDING.

    10. Don’t forget to visit:
    http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/planning-guides/in-depth-advice/traveling-with-little-ones/
    They have a preschool map you can print.
    And @mefries @ambervaughn are Disney Moms on twitter…

  6. Will Blog For Shoes said,

    I know nothing of Disney. I’ve been twice, when I was 15 and 16. We’ll probably go in the next few years, so I’m anxious to see what everyone answers!

  7. ohamanda said,

    ok. changed my mind about Animal Kingdom…

    the Lion King show is there which is MY FAVE.
    and the new Nemo show which is puppetry like Broadway’s Lion King. Looks awesome!
    and the Bug’s Life show is so cool…maybe a little scary for E. is he scared easily?
    plus at least 2 animals shows (Pocahnotas and a bird show) E might really like it.

    I can’t decide…

  8. Heidi said,

    So excited for you!! I love all things disney and am in the process of becoming an authorized disney vacation planner so this is right up my alley!

    Remember, everyones opinions will vary a bit so do what is right for your family!!

    1.Only one park?? Definitely go to Magic Kingdom with your little ones. It is the most magical place! If you do go to another park (and I recommend you do) I would save Magic Kingdom for the last because then you aren’t comparing the other parks with it. If you can go to MK at the beginning and end of your trip, this is the ideal but if not no worries.

    2. Baby/ride Swap? You do not wait in the line, before you get in line, find the cast member that will be right outside queue for the ride and he/she will give you a rider swap pass. So one parent will ride and then the other.

    3. 2nd best park: That is a tough one. Does your 3 year old like playhouse disney and beauty and the beast? if so , I would go with Hollywood Studios. If your 3y.o likes animals then I would chose Animal Kingdom, there are a lot of kid friendly shows/parades at Animal Kingdom and a fun train ride and safari! Epcot would be my last choice with two little ones, this park requires a lot of walking and not many rides geared towards that age group, but if you want a more adult type park, then Epcot is your choice!

    4. Stroller? definitely bring your own stroller. They are so costly at Disney and the I believe the swap program requires quite a bit of effort on your part to receive it.

    5. Restaurants offsite? There are a lot of choices outside the park but if you are staying onsite, I recommend you not eat offsite. When I go and drive I do have to hit up a Steak n Shake because we don’t have one in our area. If you need to eat offsite, please email me and I can get a list of some good offsite restaurants for you.

    6. Restaurants onstie? Have you made any reservations yet? If not, do so right away by calling 407 WDW DINE. I would recommend Chef Mickeys for a fun character breakfast. I love 50’s prime time cafe in Hollywood Studios. In Epcot, I would chose whatever country you feel like eating at— they are all very authentic. And I love to eat at the Polynesian (any restaurant) and Beaches n Cream(no reservations taken here) at The Beach Club Resort.
    For counter service restaurants not requiring reservations I would go with. MK: Pecos. Epcot: Sunshine Seasons inside the Land AK: Flametree BBQ and at Hollywood Studios: Studio Catering

    7. Freebie? I love going resort to resort along the monorail. Disney does their hotel theming so well so I love to meander around the different resort. Riding the monorail is fun and free too, I would recommend doing that! Go to the Boardwalk Resort and meander around the boardwalk too.

    8. Riding tips? If at all possible drive while they are sleeping. And if not, take breaks, get out walk around. I would recommend a DVD player but that probably won’t help with an 8mo old. Remember, you are on vacation so go with the flow and enjoy even the car ride!

    9. Favorite Disney site: My favorite disney site is allears.net. I love all the information they have, all the way up to the dining menus at all the disney restaurants! I also like wdwinfo.com and mousesavers.com

    10. My best Disney tip ever? I tell people all the time that Disney vacations require planning, lots of planning-and if you are not a planner, let me do it for you!! There is so much to do and see at Disney and you will never be able to get it all in during one trip so just go with that attitude and have fun!! Have you heard about the fastpass tip? If not, contact me and that is the best kept secret at Disney in my opinion!!

  9. Heidi said,

    Forgot to tell you to have a magical time!!!

  10. Cindy said,

    Hey Mandi –

    I’m going to Disney World next week too! I’m taking my niece and nephew – they’ve never been.

    We are Going to do MKingdom, HStudios and TLagoon. Dtown Disney. Primetime Cafe and character dinners. I’m so excited about seeing their faces.

    Reserve dining plans…I did mine about 4 weeks ago….do it tonight! You will have a ball.

  11. Stephanie said,

    Oh wow! Disney is our fav place to go as a family and we’ll be heading back there in July! For places to eat inside of Disney, I love The Crystal Palace for breakfast with young ones. It’s a character breakfast with Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger. Plus, if you get reservations for before the park opens you’ll have lots of great photo ops on Main Street with the castle and low crowds. I also love Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

    Magic Kingdom is the park to do!! I love all the parks, but Magic Kingdom does win out. There’s so much to do at any of the parks, that there will always be something for all ages.

    Whatever you decide. Have a great time!

  12. Kelly in More-lando said,

    Oh, I hope you have so much fun. I agree with the other posters about going to MK first and foremost, and I think EPCOT is the second best park. However, I don’t have kids so I haven’t tried to do it with them – it may be a little large. But they have some fun stuff for kids, like the Nemo ride, and the Living Seas pavilion where you can walk through the aquarium and see divers swimming around in there. In fact, my favorite Disney hidden gem is in Epcot and it would be great for kids. There’s a woman who works at the Japan pavilion, you have to catch her at the right time, but she has a little cart and she handmakes animal-shaped lollipops – she takes requests from the kids in the audience. It’s so neat. As far as Disney restaurants, you should absolutely not miss Boma. It’s great for kids, the food is really good, and it gives you a great excuse to wander the AK Lodge property and see the animals (zebras, giraffes, and more).

    I’m not going to second-guess any other commenters about the Disney kid-related stuff because I’m no expert.

    As for off-campus stuff, there’s so much to do, and Orlando has so many quirky things that you shouldn’t stay on property 100% of your time. Orlando has lots of good dining (little known fact) and some stuff that’s not too far away from Disney. Agave Azul is pretty kid-friendly (http://www.agaveazulorlando.com/) and not too far. As for cheap stuff to try, you should seriously consider heading to Lake Eola in downtown. This time of year there are baby swans, they have a nice playground, and you can watch (or rent) a swan paddle boat. Since you have a car, I’d really encourage you to explore just a little past the Disney bubble (which is great, don’t get me wrong). Have a fantastic time!!

  13. Erin B said,

    Rainforest Cafe is a must!

  14. Top ten tuesday … posts of 2009 « it’s come to this … said,

    […] Disney Questions ~ The one where I ask a bunch of Disney Questions before our family trip and got a bunch of good responses!  […]

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