Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Top 5 Tips for a First Timer Visitor

For any new readers, or anyone else that may have forgotten - I'm expecting my second Disney Baby.  Any day now, almost!  Less than one month away (yup! 36 weeks now!), my brain is a bit scattered, so when even more than usual, I appreciate suggestions for posts and questions.  So, when a facebook reader left me a question, I knew it would be a perfect topic for day's post!  Here goes!

Any tips for first time family trip. We are going in Feb 2013 to celebrate our little girl turning 5.  We are staying in the new royal guest rooms at Port Orleans Riverside!
What a wonderful way to celebrate a 5th birthday!  I know my nephew went for the first time for his 5th birthday and had an amazing time and I'm sure your experience will be fantastic!  One thing learned from his trip - don't start with Haunted Mansion!!  Scared my nephew and he wasted nearly half a day not wanting to ride on anything else!  For special ways to add to a birthday, check out this post here.  To add on to that, I'd have to dig a little - unless someone comments below - I know that there are people around the area that make gift baskets that can be delivered to your resort as a surprise to your daughter!

     1. If you haven't been using a travel agent so far, I highly recommend transferring your reservation to one (WDW Guru Travel - email me JennL@thewdwguru.com fore free help)!  Especially with nearly a year out, they'll help you apply any discounts that come around to help you get the best price.  Plus, when it gets closer, we'll help you get everything from dining reservations, scheduling, and even Disney's Magical Express situation all figured out!  And, if you are driving, know that your parking pass for the resort allows you to park for no extra cost at the theme parks!

     2. Unless you are planning a surprise trip, let your daughter help in planning.  Check out restaurant options - my favorite reviews are always at Disney Food Blog - along with All Ears you can find menus and reviews for nearly every restaurant on property.  Even this blog has several Foodie Friday posts, from character dining to signature meals!  If you're considering booking something extra special, such as pre-park opening breakfast at Cinderella Castle for a special birthday girl, make sure to find out the time of park opening that day and book 190 days out (yes, with an on-property reservations, you can make ADR's 180+10 from the start of your trip!  Or, let your travel agent help you with that!)  Also, don't forget that you can create customized park maps free of attractions you want to visit and restaurants you want to try. 

     3. Plan but don't over plan.  I love using Touring Plans crowd calenders to help me figure out which days I'll visit which parks - when I stay off property, I always follow their judgement, but if I'm staying in a Disney resort using the Extra Magic Hours, I generally ignore them for my starting park.  Their philosophy is that the park with Extra Magic Hours (am or pm) will be more crowded and unless you plan to utilize that first hour, you won't be saving yourself anytime.  With that said - get to the park approx. 15 minutes prior to park opening - even with am EMH - to enjoy the rope drop show and take advantage of the early hours when 75% of the resorts are still sleeping!  Along with their smart phone app Lines and their actual touring plans(or web accessible site), you can figure out the best ways to see the most attractions with the least amount of waiting!
Animal Kingdom's rope drop show
     4. Take breaks!  If you're there for 1-2 days, burning the candle at both ends can be useful, but if you're enjoying several days, take midday breaks to relax in the pool, rest your feet, and avoid the most crowded times of day.  Head back mid-afternoon or even for dinner time and you'll all be more rested to enjoy evening shows, parades, and spectaculars.
     5. Get in shape!  Walking the Disney parks, you can guess you'll be walking anywhere from 7-15 miles each day (the World Showcase alone is over 1 mile), so get out those comfortable walking shoes (or break in some new ones) and get the family outside  for some walking before you go.  With a 5 year old, I wouldn't recommend a stroller, but if your daughter gets tired, you can always rent one for the day (or week - cheaper and more comfortable to rent from an outsider than Disney).


  1. Great list!! You could add to go prepared with a schedule of what they plan to do. Bring park times, parade schedules and plan their days so they can get the most out of their trip. Also, pack for cold AND hot weather!! We always go Jan/Feb and it's anywhere from a high of 85 to a high of 59!! Normally we lucked out with beautiful weather but still needed a light jacket in the morning or evening and even more for that cold day here and there.

  2. The only suggestion I would make is you will not see everything so don't try. Pick your favourites and anything else is a bonus. The first time I went I tried to see everything and didn't really enjoy it.

  3. Bring some favourite packaged snacks from home. Whether you are big or little, eating every meal and/snack as something new can be overwhelming. It is nice to open a familiar snack and sit back and relax. Also nice to have a snack that doesn't cost money (well, it did at home, but not vacation prices).

  4. great tips!! thank you!

  5. Well said!! Thanks!! I'll add that :)