planning first ever Wdw trip....

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Posted 12/30/2012 by Andik in NSBR Board

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 51,433
October 2002
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Loc: PA

Posted: 12/30/2012 8:10:06 PM
What's your best advice? What do I avoid?

lunch is for wimps

PeaNut 261,669
May 2006
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Loc: Hotel for Cats

Posted: 12/30/2012 8:12:29 PM
Geez, could your question be any more vague? We know nothing about you or the ages of people traveling with you. Are kids going?

Forget it. Just go to


Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 51,433
October 2002
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Loc: PA

Posted: 12/30/2012 8:20:12 PM
Teens and adults youngest 14... we have no time frame or hotels set in stone..


PeaNut 93,695
July 2003
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Loc: Do you know the way to San Jose?

Posted: 12/30/2012 8:21:39 PM really, lots of helpful folk over there!!


PeaNut 289,617
January 2007
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Loc: USA

Posted: 12/30/2012 8:22:46 PM
Stay on the grounds. Any all star hotel is fine. you don't need to spend the extra $$$ to stay at a more expensive hotel in my opinion. Some of the pricier hotels are beautiful and offer more amenities, but for us, we only were in our hotel to sleep basically, so we opted for the less expensive hotel and used the money we saved on character meals, etc .

Staying on grounds is great 'cuz they transport you back and forth between the parks.

If you can afford it, do the park hoppers. My family liked the Hollywood Studios, but it didn't take us a whole day to go thru, so we were able to spend the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom.

Definately consider doing the meal plan. We did the quick service (we didn't want to spend time waiting in sit down restaurants when we could be out enjoying the parks.) We weren't sure whetere or not this plan would be enough food for my DH (he's built like a linebacker!). It was MORE than enough, with 2 snacks a day to boot.

Jealous!!! Wish I was planning (another) trip to Disney!

Ever get the feeling your stuff strutted off without you?


PeaNut 17,383
June 2001
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Loc: Central Illinois

Posted: 12/30/2012 8:42:48 PM
I am definitely going to recommend disboards as well.

I would echo staying on-site,although I admit I've never done it off. Park hoppers are good if you have a little extra money to put towards convenience. Make sure you stay long enough to maximize your costs. I think the break point is 4 days...after that you're only paying a few dollars a day for your tickets.

Decide if you think this will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Then make sure to do it all if it is!

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 479,777
August 2010
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Posted: 12/30/2012 8:44:16 PM
We've stayed onsite and off, and preferred offsite.

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Magical Pea

PeaNut 62,544
January 2003
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Loc: Brandon, MS

Posted: 12/30/2012 8:49:00 PM
Start with possible dates then go price packages on Disney's website. If one set of dates is cheaper, it will probably also be a less crowded time.


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PeaNut 248,601
February 2006
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Loc: Texas

Posted: 12/30/2012 9:07:45 PM is your best source of info.

We are actually going back in a couple of weeks. We always stay on-site and do the park-hopper. We usually have the free dining plan, but this time opted to not get it and see how it goes for food spending. I'm hoping this gives a little more flexibility in our dining choices this trip.

Have fun planning!


Wannabe FNPea!

PeaNut 82,318
April 2003
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Loc: In my garden

Posted: 12/30/2012 9:16:38 PM
Stay on site - I like the yacht club personally.

Get to the park before they open (though that is true for DL but I assume it is true for wdw)

Also make dining reservations now - I wanted to go to California grill (or something) but we couldn't get reservations.

I am Jen

PeaNut 14,286
April 2001
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Loc: the 80's

Posted: 12/30/2012 9:18:21 PM
Definately stay on site & go to place to get the best inside information & everything you could possibly ever wish to know. Our fav resort is Wilderness Lodge!

I would never go without a park hopper pass.

Pea'in in the SUNSHINE

PeaNut 147,932
May 2004
Posts: 14,665
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Loc: California

Posted: 12/30/2012 9:22:46 PM
Sounds like you are wide open to look for deals! Definitely check out Disboards! Try to find a time that is not so busy.

Any all star hotel is fine.

I could not disagree with this more. The All Star hotels are packed and LOUD. We made it one night at All Star Sports and transfered the rest of our stay to Coronado Springs, which we loved.


PeaNut 129,041
February 2004
Posts: 3,946
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Loc: MD

Posted: 12/30/2012 9:23:31 PM
We've been with the kids 4 times: 3 offsite, 1 on site. When we're offsite we have 2 bedroom condos through our time share. We saw no benefit to being onsite. We have more space and are happier offsite. Caveat: we drive down most of the time.

We've never done park hoppers and have never wished that we had. We've been perfectly happy without them.

We did the meal plan once. We're happier without it. Although we did the one with the sit down meal and that's what we didn't like. So maybe we'd like the quick service plan.

Yes, get there at opening. Lines are SO minimal.

I guess my points are, there are a lot of ways to do WDW and different people like different things. So for all the people that say "you must stay onsite", "you must get park hoppers", etc you'll find people like us that do just the opposite and have a great time .


PeaNut 13,501
April 2001
Posts: 1,714
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Loc: east coast

Posted: 12/30/2012 9:26:08 PM
Go during non peak times. Which basically means avoid any times when kids are on break from school/summer if you can. has crowd calendars you can look at. When you do choose your dates it will tell you what parks are recommended what day

If you can go when all of the Christmas decorations are up you should. We went the 2nd week in December. The crowds were not bad at all. The parks and resorts are all decorated and it is just beautiful. Hollywood Studios has the Osbourne Lights. Google them.

Disboards are awesome, as everyone else said.

We like to stay on property also. We do the all star resorts. THey are just a standard hotel room so they are the cheapest. But they still have a pool (actually 2), gift shop, arcade, and a cafeteria. Buses will take you to all of the parks and back to your hotel for free.

If you go when it will be warm you may want to look into the water parks and more option. It is a very cheap add on. Basically you pay $40 and then however many days you bought park tickets for you get that many vouchers to use for the water parks, disney quest, mini golf, or regular golf. So if you buy a 7 day park pass, you get 7 days worth of vouchers. Disney has 2 water parks.

If you can get up early the parks are so much less crowded at the opening times. We like to get an early morning breakfast reservation at Magic Kingdom before the park opens. You get to walk down main street and get pictures with the castle with no body else in them. It is so nice.

I am sure I will think of other things to add.


PeaNut 115,520
November 2003
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Loc: Boston, MA

Posted: 12/30/2012 9:27:25 PM
We've stayed off site 5 of the 6 times we've gone. Hated the buses and have gone more because of the savings. But that's just us.

Peaing under the Radar

PeaNut 61,691
January 2003
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Loc: In the Middle

Posted: 12/30/2012 9:38:25 PM
I was just at WDW a few days ago. It was packed, but it was fun. My advice would be to go at a non-peak time. If you can't (we can't since we need to work around school and work), you can still have a fabulous time and get everything done that you want to, you'll just need to plan a bit more. We research which park is likely to be least crowded on any given day and plan our park days that way. We don't park hop. We get to the parks early because you can accomplish SO much more early in the morning than you can later in the day. We always stay onsite (Fort Wilderness Campground) but we don't use Disney transportation to the parks - we prefer to drive. If you want to eat at Disney table service restaurants, make your reservations ahead of time (especially for peak times - you can do it 180 days in advance, I think). My family prefers counter service because we don't like to be tied to reservation times and my kids are grazers. There's a lot of WDW planning information out there (disboards is great, but there are plenty more) - take advantage of it.

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 235,294
December 2005
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Loc: PA

Posted: 12/30/2012 9:59:36 PM
Going in two weeks. Our favorite hotels are the moderates... Especially Port Orleans French Quarter. It is the smallest and quieter. You can take the boat to downtown disney or walk to the Riverside resort.

We only stayed off property once and hated it. We don't like the buses either so it is worth the extra money for us to rent a car. We also park hop a lot.

If you are a resort guest you get free parking at the parks.

PEAceful Pea

PeaNut 14,521
April 2001
Posts: 37,572
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Loc: Washington State

Posted: 12/30/2012 10:05:13 PM
We went for the first time this past August. I had a 16 year old and a 17 year old.

We stayed off site because we have a Hilton Vacation Club membership and that meant we didn't have to pay for our hotel. It wasn't an issue for us to stay off site. We rented a car. But, if I was paying for the hotel, I would stay on-site. Disboards has a hotel thread and you can see pics of all the resorts.

We bought four day tickets with the Water Park and More option. That allowed us four days in the parks and then we could have done four days at the water parks or Disney Quest. We did one day at a Water Park and a couple hours at Disney Quest...I think younger kids might like to spend more time there. It's basically a large arcade with some fun Disney twists. We didn't buy park hopper tickets because we knew that if we ended up wanting them, we could upgrade when we got there. We never needed/wanted them. One day at each park was plenty for us...although to really see all of Epcot and Magic Kingdom, we could have spent a second day in each of those parks. My kids loved Hollywood Studios the most.

I highly recommend the website...tons of great advice on touring strategies, where to eat, what to see, etc. The guy that writes the blog is at WDW almost every day (it seems.) Disboards is great too. I don't recommend the Tour Guide Mike site...I think he used to be one of "the" places to get info, but his site isn't all that updated now.

We also saw the Cirque show at Downtown Disney and my kids loved it.



PeaNut 528,538
November 2011
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Posted: 12/31/2012 1:30:47 AM
Animal kingdom lodge is amazing! The meal packages are great but make sure to make reservations for sit down meals ASAP.
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PeaNut 51,842
October 2002
Posts: 13,492
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Posted: 12/31/2012 1:43:47 AM
Get registered on the disney world website and ask for the DVD --that will get you on a mailing list and you might get something with a pin code that could end up being free meals, or hotel upgrades and discounts.
We are going for spring break and have a fabulous travel agent if you want a referral.


**Children should be seen and heard and BELIEVED**
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Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 51,433
October 2002
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Loc: PA

Posted: 12/31/2012 10:41:25 AM
Thank you all!!! I started to plan this trip one year ago, my aunt got killed, and we had her children for 9 months.. so now it is really important to me to plan this again and follow thru and make our dates! thank you again!


PeaNut 231,165
November 2005
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Loc: The Golden State

Posted: 1/1/2013 4:03:37 PM
my best advice is to avoid summer - its hotter and stickier than hell

Been twice in November and LOVED it and the weather at that time

Don'tcha wish your girlfriend had spurs like mine?

PeaNut 46,248
August 2002
Posts: 6,800
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Loc: Ohio

Posted: 1/1/2013 4:16:24 PM

Worth the $20 for the best days/best parks charts alone.

"We demand entire freedom of action and then expect the government in some miraculous way to save us from the consequences of our own acts... Self-government means self-reliance." Calvin Coolidge

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Happy now?

PeaNut 156,993
July 2004
Posts: 46,562
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Loc: Connecticut

Posted: 1/1/2013 4:21:44 PM
I'll just echo the stay in the world chorus and we love park hopper passes. They're pricier, but we like the flexibility of saying: "Oh, let's have dinner in Epcot tonight..."


PeaNut 181,929
December 2004
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Posted: 1/1/2013 4:50:24 PM

Worth the $20 for the best days/best parks charts alone

Unfortunately tourguidemike is very outdated. The owner has had some major life issues and has been unable to maintain the site. It once was a great site. Stick to, and

"Surrounded by thugs."

PeaNut 16,228
June 2001
Posts: 33,204
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Loc: SW Chicago suburbs

Posted: 1/1/2013 7:49:22 PM
We just came back. I prefer to stay on a mid-priced or deluxe hotel. The transportation is less crowded. We stayed at the Grand Floridian this time and loved being on a monorail service hotel...but also loved the water service and the fact that the buses were never over crowded.

We booked during a 'free dining' offer- just barely made it and loved it. We had the 1 table/1 counter/1 snack plan and it was great. I booked reservations way early for table service meals. Most of the character meals are included as a regular table service meal on the dining plan (not all though). We did a bunch this time- had a big breakfast every morning and then used counter service at the park midday. We were surprised by the Donald Duck Animal Kingdom breakfast- it was our favorite this time. We were most disappointed by the Ohana breakfast at the Polynesian- it was all around bad.

We really liked the dining plan. Not having to worry about handling cash for food was great. We only used the snack option once and ended up cashing in all our snack credits at the end on Mickey cookies, rice krispie treats and candy. We brought that home, mostly to give away as souvenirs. They will box that stuff, cushion it with tissue and give you a shopping bag to make it easy to get them home as a carry on item on the plane.

Don't over plan. You will be happiest if you can concentrate on the Disney parks, preferably with a Park Hopper. (We also did Universal and Islands of Adventure, mostly because we wanted to see the Harry Potter stuff.) MGM and AK are great- but they do not require a full day/evening. Do them during the day and end at MK. I found Epcot to be too dark at night- hard to enjoy. I'd keep that one as a 'day park' too.

We told the kids (one of the kids is in college- but how do you cut them out of this stuff? LOL) whatever they saved for vacation, we'd match, up to $50. But then- whatever they had, they had- don't hit us up for more money or more stuff. This was GREAT.

We save change in between vacation, then cash out and use it for something special on the trip. That's always fun- seeing how much we save.

I did envelopes ahead of time for tips so I didn't have to deal with that $ either. I estimated meal tips (and just left it open, to add to it if necessary) and put set amounts in housekeeping/transportation/baggage handling. We put the envelopes in the safe and pulled out what we needed each day. Between the meal plan and doing tips ahead of time, we really didn't need a lot of cash at all. Also- we had a couple of servers go out of their way to tell us how much they appreciated the way we did the tip. (I had a Cricut-cut mouse head on each envelope and wrote "Thanks for a great meal!" - added their name once we knew it and signed 'The Sues Family'. )
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