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First Timer - HELP!

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Center Valley...
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First Timer - HELP!

Hi There! Well, technically I'm not a first timer. My family traveled to Disney when I was in the 1st grade. However, I obviously did none of the planning and frankly, don't even remember the trip. So. I'm planning a 6 day (4 full park days) trip in early December - I'm thinking 12/5, leaving 12/10 - for my daughter's 9th Birthday (this will be a surprise). I haven't booked the trip yet, as I'm waiting for a number of things to line up...not the least of which being a discount air carrier from my home town hasn't released their flights for this time period yet. Here are my questions:

Regarding the 180 day out reservations - if I wanted to reserve a character meal for the time frame I believe I'm traveling, I need to do it this weekend / early next week. I understand they go fast, and that I should sign on first thing each morning to see if I can get a reservation for that day. BUT, can I even book a character breakfast if I haven't booked my vacation yet? And if I can, and our dates change, what is the likelihood that I'll be able to reschedule the character meal?

Also, I'd like this to be a complete surprise to my little chick. On a flight to Orlando, which will presumably be filled with many disney bound families, how likely is it that I'll be able to keep the secret until we actually drive through the gates to Disney?

Any tips are greatly appreciated. Working on a budget, and trying to gather as much information as I can. Thanks :)

Center Valley...
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1. Re: First Timer - HELP!

Jeez - another question. Sorry. I have heard that the weeks after Thanksgiving but before Christmas are very slow. Can anyone confirm this?

Valley Stream, NY
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2. Re: First Timer - HELP!

Hi Kelly anyone, even people staying off site, can make reservations. So go ahead and make them. If you have to change that could be tricky, but you at this point could make them for both time frames if you want and then cancel the ones you don't need.

We are hopefully going the first week of December, we did this two years ago and there is certainly still lots of people, but less crowded then the summer or holiday weeks.

Pittsburgh
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3. Re: First Timer - HELP!

As noted in post 2, crowd levels when you plan to go generally aren't too bad. Please note that it gets dark early then, as the shortest day of the year is later that month. It can also get fairly cold at night then too. On a positive note, you can see the Osborne Lights at Hollywood Studios and the decorations at all of the WDW resorts, and (for extra bucks) you can go to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom.

If you have time for some background reading, a book that I and many others on this site think is very worthwhile is The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, which is updated every year.

Center Valley...
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4. Re: First Timer - HELP!

Thanks guys! I hadn't even considered the weather being cold in Florida. I guess a moment of rational thought would have provided me with an "aha" moment, but, being from PA, I fantasize about moving to Florida where in my mind, it's "hot all year round". Does anyone know when it starts to get cold? Perhaps I should think about taking her sooner, maybe in September / Oct....as an "advance" birthday gift? I'm wondering if that's too far ahead for her to really feel like she celebrated her birthday at Disney, though (the actual day is the end of November). Hm. Lots to think about here.........

Valley Stream, NY
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5. Re: First Timer - HELP!

Yes when we went 11/29-12/4 in 2011 we ran into a cold front and it was freezing the whole time. But we choose that time for the Christmas stuff, not the weather. Sept/Oct is a great time to go :)

Center Valley...
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6. Re: First Timer - HELP!

Another question regarding reservations. They require advance payment, but, it also says some dining plans are accepted. So, if we end up booking with a full dining plan (or deluxe), will they then refund the money I paid for the reservation? How does that work?

Center Valley...
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7. Re: First Timer - HELP!

princess - as that is the week I'm considering, what were the crowds / lines like curing that week? I am considering flying down on Thanksgiving this year, and having our first full day at the park be Friday 11/29. Am I nuts? I've heard the week of Thanksgiving is pretty crazy down there, but, I would think the crowds would thin out by the weekend as everyone would be traveling home to get back to school, etc, right?

pa
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8. Re: First Timer - HELP!

An advance birthday trip in September would bring you the Hot Weather you are thinking of

We enjoy that time of year, sort of our last bit of summer before wrapping up in our wool coats for the PA winter :)

There is a nice Free Dining Offer for September, think about it and check it out

Mechanicsville...
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9. Re: First Timer - HELP!

Kelly H,

WDW is crowded at just about anytime except in bad weather. So unless you like rain, crowds are going to be in your WDW future. I’ve been three times during the first two weeks of December. If you can go on weekdays, the crowds are light; however, on weekends the crowds come back with a vengeance. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the lightest days for crowds.

One piece of crowd avoidance advice – avoid parks with early opening extra magic hours – everyone tries to get there when they open. Go to the park that had extra magic hours the night before and be there when they open.

Someone else mentioned the Unofficial Guide to WDW books – I highly recommend them. You get access to their website when you buy one of their books, and they have a crowd calendar on the website. The books also provide tons of info on all things Disney – including hotel and restaurant reviews.

Weather can be tricky in December – I’ve had days where shorts were the norm, and other days when I had to go buy a sweatshirt to stay warm. So be prepared for cold weather and possible rain.

As far as keeping the trip a secret until you drive through the gates – when my kids were 4 and 6, they knew Disney was in Orlando so as soon as you board the plane, your daughter might figure it out. If not, when you land she will as Disney is all over the Orlando Airport.

Early October is my favorite time to go to WDW – weather is still warm and the crowds are lite. My wife and I prefer Halloween over the Christmas at WDW- but that’s us.

Good luck and have fun.

Valley Stream, NY
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10. Re: First Timer - HELP!

Yes the week of Thanksgiving is very crowded, I have friends who've been a few times that week. The crowds have been extending a bit to the Monday after. But this year we're going probably the Sunday after Thanksgiving, so one or two days of crowds is okay :)