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First Time With My Kids-LOTS of Questions

Porter, TX
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First Time With My Kids-LOTS of Questions

My husband & I are planning a trip with our 3 children (DS 8, DS 5 & DD 1) in January 2013. We will be staying at the Art of Animation for 7 nights. I haven’t been to Disney World in nearly 20 years & my husband has never been. What are some can’t-miss attractions that will be age appropriate for our children?

Would Epcot be fun for the kiddos, or would they have a better time if we spent an extra day in MK or went to Universal?

We will have the DDP & mostly want to do character meals or dinner shows with the table service allotment…but what are the best counter service options in the parks?

I think we’ll probably leave the park and go rest at the resort at some point during the day…is there a “busy” part of the day that would be best to do this, so we’re able to avoid crowds as well??

Where is the best place to purchase souvenirs??

Are we allowed to bring any drinks or snacks/food into the parks?

Do you recommend the Wishes Dessert Party? Do you have a better view of the fireworks this way?

Disney PhotoPass…how, when, where & how much $$$? Are there any discounts available?

Sorry for so many questions!

Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated!!

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1. Re: First Time With My Kids-LOTS of Questions


I can't answer all of your questions, but here goes...

General good things for that age group - MK - buzz's blast, philharmagic, splash mountain if they're tall enough, monsters inc. DHS - toy story mania, muppets, honey I shrunk the kids, indiana jones (NOT sounds dangerous or narnia - waste of time IMO) AK - bugs life, the safari, finding nemo show

Whether your kids enjoy epcot really depends on their personality, I can't answer that one definitively (except to say the 1yo may not get a huge number of lasting memories from the visit). Your 8yo will probably enjoying playing on all of the games in innoventions and they both will love the seas and crush's turtle talk. Universe of energy, spaceship earth and journey into imagination will probably be a big hit for them both too. Whether they will prefer an extra day in MK though will depend on how you all feel at the end of the first day - if there's lots you didn't have time to do or see then I would definately say go back there so you feel you've finished it properly. On the other hand if you feel fantasied out then you might prefer a more low key day wandering round the countries, going on a few slow boat rides etc.

Universal Studios from my memory is a bit more thrills based. If they like fire near them then I would go for that. Islands of adventure has lots of fun bits for that age group but you will get very wet and at peak times they manage queues really badly.

Good counter restaurants. I loved wolfgang puck in downtown disney. earl of sandwich there is pretty good. EPCOT is great for counter service food - fresh variety at the land, that place in japan, the bakery in france. I also liked the counter service yak and yeti in animal kingdom for special fried rice and egg rolls.

Busiest part of the day is early afternoon usually

I'm no good at souveniers I'm afraid. don't know what you like or what your budget is. sure lots of people on here will love to answer that one though.

you can take snacks and drinks in, but no hard coolers.

not tried the dessert party, but it's slightly off to one side so view might not be all that much better. unless it's busy and you can't get a good view easily out in the park.

no idea about photopass (suspect it's a waste of money)

hope this helps. have fun! It'll be amazing whatever happens and you'll be surprised at what your children's favourite bits turn out to be.

Hampshire, England
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2. Re: First Time With My Kids-LOTS of Questions

Hi and welcome to the forum, i can answer some questions from my own experience and route you to some answers via links.... so here goes :)

Staying for only 7 nights and with young children i personally would opt to just do Disney. There are so many rides and attractions, especially with the opening of the new Fantasyland in MK you will have plenty to do and see. Also with staying on site, it is going to be real easy to hop back and forth in between for swimming and rest times,

Trawl through the the link below for park operating times, Disney dining, the food courts, menus, character meals plus a whole section on Disney with children. Lots of helpful advice and information on just about everything you need to know, just scroll down the whole page....


Universal is mainly for older youngsters and many rides have height restrictions. They do have some attractions for little ones but not many and for the price of the tickets i would give it a miss this time. Personally i would consider Seaworld over Universal this time, we love all the shows and interactive viewing platforms, its a great park too.

A link below where you can check each of the Universal parks.....


You can bring drinks and snacks in but there are plenty of places to eat and buy snacks as well. Each park in the WDW link above will have info on the food options, especially as you have the DDP to use .

The cheaper souvenirs can be bought in Walmart, or from smaller gift stores on I. Drive and the East or West 192, some of these stores are alongside the Ponderosa restaurants. There are shopping malls in Orlando but more the designer outlet shops than souvenirs shops. But it does depend on what you want.

We did use the photopass and found it worthwhile, but you still had to purchase individual ride photos on some attractions.


I have no info on the Wishes Party, hopefully someone else can help. Have a great time, hope some of this is useful.

Edited: 07 August 2012, 10:29
Elk Grove Village...
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3. Re: First Time With My Kids-LOTS of Questions

We have taken our daughters, who are 3-1/2 and 1, to Disney World several times. Yes, even the 1-year-old has already been there several times.

Different kids respond to Epcot in different ways. However, our 3-1/2 year old LOVES Epcot. There are some good kid friendly rides, like Nemo, Journey Into Imagination, and the boat ride in Mexico. Also, each of the countries in the World Showcase has a "Kids' Spot" where the kids can color a paper cutout of Duffy, which is Mickey Mouse's teddy bear. Then they can take their Duffy and get "passport stamps" on him from the different countries. The cast members may also put flags on the Duffy, or write the child's name in their native language. Additionally, there are lots of character meet-and-greets throughout the park, and the lines for them can be very short, which then means that it won't feel so rushed and your kids can spend a little more time with the characters.

There are lots of good counter service options. Here's a link to a blog entry about some of the best quick service values for people on the Dining Plan:


And here are some of our favorites:

MK - Peco's Bills and Columbia Harbor House

Epcot - Sunshine Seasons and bunch of them in the World Showcase

HS - Fairfax Fare. Stay away from the ABC Commissary.

AK - Yak & Yeti

DTD - Wolfgang Puck Express. This is our favorite quick service restaurant in all of Disney World.

Probably the best single place for souvenirs is World of Disney in Downtown Disney. It's huge and it has most things. There are a couple of good things about Disney souvenirs. The selection is massive, and there are things available at every price point. Also, things are the same price at every store, whether it is at the back of the park, by the park gate, in the shop at a Disney resort, or in Downtown Disney. If you see something you like, you don't have to worry about it being cheaper someplace else. On the hand, because the selection is so big, not every store has everything. So if you see something you like and don't get it, you could have trouble finding it again. That's why we like World of Disney. Almost everything that is available throughout Disney World can also be found there.

When we leave the park to go back to the resort, it is usually in early to mid-afternoon. That's probably the busiest time of the day because the early arrivers are still there and the latecomers have shown up. It's also the hottest part of the day, and our kids are naturally a little tired then.

I strongly recommend trying to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours. Because of the reduced crowds, you can get a lot of rides in. I see that your from Texas, which means you're from the Central Time Zone, like us. Our kids don't go to bed very early at home, so it makes it easier for us to take advantage of the evening Extra Magic Hours. When EMH start at 9, that just 8 to our kids, and they have an good hour or hour and a half before they start to wind down. At least the older one does, and the baby will sleep in her stroller when she's tired. It's not hard to get 5 or 6 rides in during that 60-90 minutes.

One other thing. Each of the parks has a Baby Care Center that are great places to take the baby to feed and change her, or even just to get her out of the heat for awhile. My wife loves them.

Enjoy your trip. You're going to have a fantastic time.

Charlotte, North...
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4. Re: First Time With My Kids-LOTS of Questions

Leaving to have a rest mid-day when it is the hottest point and the crowds are thick is the best time. So either beofre lunch, (have lunch at your resort) or have your lunch in the park, and head back for a rest. We dont have kids and we enjoy the rest period. Gives us more energy at ngiht.

Yes, you can bring snacks and drinks in with you. No hard sided coolers.

In 7 days, I would do all 4 parks and return to MK a few times or your fav. Also, consider a day at the waterpark if your kids like swimming/slides. Tike's peak is a kids onyl area at Blizzard Beach, made for only under 48"

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5. Re: First Time With My Kids-LOTS of Questions

Hi everyone I hear you saying that wolfgang puck express is a great place to eat I am just wondering was this the place that cooks with peanut oil? If not we will check it out for sure if so maybe I will check it out ( we have peanut allergy in the family) I am the only one who is okay.

Elk Grove Village...
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6. Re: First Time With My Kids-LOTS of Questions

I have no personal experience with food allergy issues at Wolfgang Puck Express, but here's an entry about it from a Disney Food Allergy blog:


Bradenton, Florida
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7. Re: First Time With My Kids-LOTS of Questions

The afternoon rest is so important. We would usually have a very light breakfast, hit the parks at opening, then have an early lunch. No later than 11:30, because it seems there are almost no lines then, but at noon the lines are longer, and more crowded. Then we would do a couple more rides as we worked our way out, and leave the park 1:30-2 PM. Often one of us would take the older kids to the pool, while the younger ones took a nap. We would often eat dinner before returning, but usually did not stay on the grounds. The crowds start to thin out about 5 pm, and the worst of the heat is gone by then as well.

Melbourne, Australia
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8. Re: First Time With My Kids-LOTS of Questions

Great answers above on most of your questions. Just wanted to give you more information on photopass. This link has very detailed information:


Fleming Island...
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9. Re: First Time With My Kids-LOTS of Questions

Looks like others have responded to most of your questions, so I'll just pass on a couple tips:

Photopass is expensive, and you aren't required to use it for the character meetings. They have no problem if you use your own camera. However, I'll let them take our picture with photopass, too. If you don't preregister a card, they'll give you one. Keep it and give it to other photopass photographers during your stay. When you get home, if you see some pictures you like, you can select just those pictures. Before you order, be sure to check out retailmenot.com for discount codes. I was able to snag a pretty good discount for it last May (but it was still pricey).

They often take pictures at the character meals. It's a little different from regular photopass because they print the photos and give you the option of paying for it with your meal. In my experience, the only restaurant where the photo is included is Cinderella's Royal Table. All the others charge extra.

Be sure to make reservations for your character meals are far in advance as possible. Character meals are the easiest way to see the characters, but be sure you know which ones will be present at the restaurants. Most character meals are buffet, but some are served family-meal style. I like 'Ohana (Polynesian) - family style, good food, and great view. If you time it right, you can see the fireworks from the dining room at night. We've gone to dinner at the Polynesian and stayed for the light parade on the lake at night. You can sit on the beach and watch it go by. Another good one is the Garden Grill in Epcot. It's also family style (I personally hate buffets), and the restaurant rotates.

Porter, TX
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10. Re: First Time With My Kids-LOTS of Questions

WOW! You guys are great! Thank you so much for all of your advise! I'm really getting excited about our trip now!!

I think we'll stay away from Universal this time around...and maybe do it when the kids are a little older.

And we'll save Epcot for our last day & if we want to go back to MK or another park instead, we can do Epcot another time.

We'll have lunch in the parks & then head back to the resort for a couple of hours of rest before we head back out.

I'm still undecided about the Wishes dessert party...it sounds fun & seems easier than fighting the crowds to see the fireworks, but if you don't get a good view then it might not be worth it.

I'm pretty sure we'll do the PhotoPass...I'm just not sure if we'll get the + option. It seems kind of expensive if you don't get all of the ride pictures and all of the character dining.

@willscalgary...I don't know about Wolfgang Pucks, but my 8 yr old also has a peanut allergy & from what I understand as long as the oil has been heat processed & NOT cold-pressed, then someone with a peanut allergy can eat it without any problems. The allergy is to a protein in the peanut, & the heat processing kills the protein...so there is no reaction. My son is able to eat at Chick-Fil-A (all they use is peanut oil) and he has eaten turkey that was fried in peanut oil without any problems. Hope this helps!!

My kids don't know we're going! They will find out on Christmas morning & then we'll leave a few days later!! I can't wait to see their faces!! :)