Sunday, August 28, 2011

What's your advice for the Disney bound?

See that angry face Donald Duck is making? That's the face of many dads after a day of long lines and screaming kids and expensive Disney food. I think I've made it pretty clear I'm a Disney fan. Frankly, I wish I had a Disney trip coming up. I could use it. (But I digress.) Disney is one of my fave places, but I'd be the first to tell you there will be rough spots.

I think a lot of first time Disney Dads could use any and all advice to keep from making that angry Donald Duck face. So let's help.

Whether you've been to Disney World (or Disneyland) once or one hundred times, you probably thought at some point, "Gee, I wish I'd known XXX because then I would have XXX differently." No matter how many guide books you might read, no matter how well you think you're prepared, there's nothing like first hand experience.

So lets hear it, Disney veterans. If you were giving advice to a Mom and Dad about to make their first ever trip to Disney, what would it be?


  1. My advice would be to plan your stay...and then stay for one day longer than you've planned. Yes, it'll cost more money, but if you haven't been before, no matter how long you are there, you'll need an extra day to get to everything you really want to see.

  2. Jeff,

    I've been many times. But I'm still going to follow that advice because I'm always looking for an excuse to stay longer.

  3. I think an extra day on top of that extra day is key, but not for Disney stuff so much. A post theme park relaxing day by the resort's pool to unwind. Kinda like Bruce Willis in Die Hard making fists with his bare unshod feet in the carpet post-flight.

  4. First time Dads should really consider staying on property to avoid lugging the kids around. Staying on property allows you to use the buses, which are more geared towards playing family Sherpa. Also, if you can afford it, stay on a property close to a theme park, or better yet attached. The Yacht and Beach clubs make an excellent stay because you have walking access to Epcot. This helps a ton when the family wants to stay near the hotel room but you and mom want a better dinner than passable hotel eats: World Showcase (and global cuisine) is only a few steps away!

  5. Wow, tall order, Vic...

    Over-plan everything. Ask everyone in your group, "what is the one thing you have to see or do while we're at Disney?" Then plan so that each person gets to do that "one thing" they are looking forward to doing. Have alternate plans for days with uncooperative weather. I used to actually make a grid chart for the entire stay with info on each day including which park to start with, restaurant reservations (complete with Dining confirmation I just store them on my android phone), 2nd park for the day if we are park hopping, and possible alternates for inclement weather (although a little rain never stopped us, buy those $1 ponchos at WalMart and you are good to go). Most of the parks do not close down unless the weather is threatening. A lot of people leave the parks when it rains...less people in line...more fun for you!

    A great way to save some cash on those expensive Disney meals is the free Disney Meal Plan. Disney runs this deal when you book at a Disney hotel and buy length of stay park tickets. It is usually offered at slower times of the year in an effort to fill the hotel rooms and the restaurants. We have taken advantage of this 3 times now. The only problem is you must make the dining reservations months in advance or run the risk of not being able to dine at your favorite restaurants.

    I would also checkout

    This is a great website for all things Disney.

  6. Jack,

    STaying on the property can get Very expensive, but I agree. That's why I like Polynesian. Monorail to Magic Kingdom runs right thru the Geat House. And the Epcot Monorail is a five minute walk.


    Holy cow! You are WAY more organized than I am. Agree on the ponchos. When everyone else runs for cover, you can run for your fave ride.

  7. Another way to save is to sign up for the MouseSavers email letter that comes out every couple of weeks. This newsletter will keep you informed on hotel deals (especially the independent hotels that are on Disney property, but are not Disney owned), links to Undercover Tourist where you can get great prices on official Disney tickets (no rip-offs here), and also lets you know when attractions are down for refurbishment and maintenance.

    Go to and sign up. You will not be sorry.

  8. Stay on property if you're planning on being at Disney most of your trip.

    If you can afford a more expensive hotel, go for it. No matter what you think, the hotel will make a HUGE difference with your experience.

    The Magical Express is a wonderful amenity, but it picks you up 3 hours before your flight, so plan accordingly. Do not try to go to Downtown Disney and make it back. If you miss the bus, you have to rent a cab.

    When going to a park in the morning, immediately go to the 2nd most popular attraction and get fast passes. Then go to the most popular one. If you're there early enough you might get to ride it twice before the lines get crazy.

    The parks are an endurance test. Remember, you can always come back later in the day. So if your child is tired at noon, go back to the hotel for a while. Do not try to stick it out for 9 hours. Your kid will be cranky and you won't enjoy it.

    Take breaks, especially if you're out of shape. Your feet will HURT two days in. Also, where comfortable, supportive shoes. Gel inserts would be good, too. It will make a huge difference.

    Try to get a mid morning flight out. You don't want to have to stand around with your luggage and kids waiting for your flight.

  9. Good, basic advice, Rebelcomix!

    Especially about not sticking it out for 9 hours. When my son was a little younger, it was the best thing to stay in a hotel on the monorail stop. We'd hit the Magic Kingdom in the morning, bring him back for a nap, and then head out for dinner at Epcot.