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Please Help - 1st time planning a Trip to Disney

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Tyler, Texas
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Please Help - 1st time planning a Trip to Disney

My Husband and I are taking my 2 boys ( will be 7 and 4 ) Nov 2015 during Thanksgiving holiday. We have never been. I would LOVE any advice yall would have. Should we stay in Disney or outside? Meal plans? Front line of rides? Which parks do you think are the best? Park Hopper? Seriously I have no clue about any of this!

Thank you in advance!

Fort Worth
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1. Re: Please Help - 1st time planning a Trip to Disney

Start by going to the Disney World forum. In the upper right hand corner are top questions. Become familiar with the many facets of a Disney trip and then come back with more questions. Planning a Disney trip can be overwhelming, however everyone is glad to help. Here is the link:


Happy planning!

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2. Re: Please Help - 1st time planning a Trip to Disney

Hi it is hard to decide on a plan when you haven't been before First check out the height of your boys some of the rides in universal have height restrictions some are 48" some are even higher at 54" I think If they are to small maybe the Disney parks and Seaworld would be better .

Now off site or on site accommodation

Off site Private villa Pros own pool more space please yourself no restrictions

On site pros all the extras that disney offer Magic Hours etc

It would be cheaper to do it yourself than a package but it dose require more effort and research

With Disney parks there is also the water parks which your children would enjoy You could also do a day at the beach

We stay in a private villa so I can't pass comment on the Disney Hotels I'm sure someone else will Sue

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3. Re: Please Help - 1st time planning a Trip to Disney

Hi Kayla.

Staying in Disney is amazing and would always be preferential to staying outside. That said its a lot more expensive so I guess its a personal question of how much you want to spend.

If you choose not to stay in Disney then Kissimmee is perfect. All the parks are accessible by car within 15 minutes.

Fastpass+ is in all of the disney parks which I recommend using. Theres an app, where you can scan your tickets and book your fast passes even a few weeks in advance on your app or via the website. In the morning the rides are mostly quiet, but in the afternoon it gets really busy. We went on the best rides first thing in the morning, then re fast passed them for the afternoon.

For me Magic Kingdom is the best park, by far. You HAVE to do one evening there as well and see the illuminations and firework show, its sensational. It actually made my girlfriend cry.

Next for me was Epcot followed by both the universal studios.

If you love roller coasters its worth the 1 hour drive to Busch Gardens, some of the rides there were amazing.

I cant talk for the dining plans are we stayed outside Disney, all I know is the Disney restaurants we ate in were quite expensive, so any dining plans would surely save a lot of money! We found it cheap enough to have breakfast at our hotel, snack during the day and have a nice meal somewhere out the parks.

Hope this helps

Edited: 03 July 2014, 15:20
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4. Re: Please Help - 1st time planning a Trip to Disney

I would suggest buying a good guide book. This will answer a lot of those questions and give you good feel for what to expect.

There's the tried and true Unofficial Guide to WDW and there's also a new guide called The Easy Guide to your first WDW visit which is written by two guys with great websites who have taken that info and consolidated it into book form.

After you wade through all that info you can come back and ask more specific questions.

Edited: 03 July 2014, 15:31
New Jersey
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5. Re: Please Help - 1st time planning a Trip to Disney

Hi Kayla! I've been to Disney many times, though I'm not quite as much of an expert as some other fabulous posters on this forum! Here are my personal opinions:

- I am definitely an on-site Disney traveller! I have done both and though you can save money staying offsite, the perks of Disney hotels are beyond worth it. Disney buses provide efficient and free transportation between their hotels and the parks (and also free transport between their hotels and the airport), but if you'd still rather drive, as a resort guest parking at theme parks is free ($17/day for offsite guests). You also get to take advantage of extra magic hours (a park opens 1 hour early or stays open up to 3 hours later for resort guests only) and you have the advantage of booking FastPasses up to 60 days before your trip (offsite guests have to wait until 30 days out). Not to mention, the theming and service at Disney hotels is completely unmatchable!

- The meal plan is a hotly debated topic! Some say it saves a lot of money, other say they can save more by paying out of pocket, others care less about the cost and more about the convenience of having everything prepaid. There are a few different plans to consider so doing some research and seeing what would work best for your family is the only way to know.

- I think all Disney parks have something for everyone! I'm a huge fan of the park hopper because it gives us flexibility that we just love. We can hit one park in the morning (for example Animal Kingdom, which usually closes earliest), go back to the hotel for a swim, and then go to a different park for dinner and fireworks (maybe Epcot, because it has so many fantastic restaurants and a great nighttime show called Illuminations). Others would rather save the money and stick to one theme park per day, so they work their meal and entertainment schedule around that one park.

No matter what you do, you are going to have a blast! Keep asking questions, the people who post here are very helpful :-)

Savannah, Georgia
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6. Re: Please Help - 1st time planning a Trip to Disney

Hi Kayla, I would suggest you start by going on the Disney site and building your trip to your preferences. Then check out some off site hotels and do some math to compare. Staying on site has a lot of perks, such as extra magic hours, transportation to and from the parks and Downtown Disney and the meal plans, and they give you package pricing.

Meal plans- It depends on your family. There are 3 different meal plans. We have used it, and it is a lot of food. If you are a 3 meal a day family, it may work for you. Buying meals out of pocket on Disney adds up very fast, so you have to decide, do you want to not have to go offsite to eat? Can you bring groceries with you to keep in the room and pack your own snacks for the parks?

Resorts- I have stayed off site and on site. I prefer to stay on site. It gives you that extra magic feeling of being there and having the Disney experience. There are very nice off site properties very close to the parks too. Look out for parking and resort fees though. That gets tacked on to your nightly rates at off site hotels, so that's why you should compare pricing to Disney resorts.

Parks- How many days do you plan on being there? In my opinion, you need 2 days to see all of Magic Kingdom, a day for Epcot and half a day for Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. That's just my opinion but I have also been there a million times, As a first time visitor, I would say take your time and enjoy each park at least for a day. Don't try to do it all because you can't. When you become a regular (and you will) then go for park hopping. Again, that's my opinion.

After you get some idea on pricing, try consulting a travel agent. Any good agent will not charge you for their services and they could make reservations for you and give you lots of advice. Look for a Disney specialist.

Let us know if you have any more questions. It will be lots of fun!!

Valley Stream, NY
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7. Re: Please Help - 1st time planning a Trip to Disney

Thanksgiving week will be very crowded first of all, I believe there won't be any discounts for Disney during a holiday week. We never use the dining plan, always spend less out of pocket than it would have cost (I don't believe in pre paying for food I don't know if we'll eat). As mentioned price out the hotel at Disney you'd be interested in. Take a look at the Downtown Disney Hotels (the hilton has the extra magic hours).

Ventnor City, New...
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for Walt Disney World, Orlando
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8. Re: Please Help - 1st time planning a Trip to Disney

One quick thought before I have time for a full response. At least for American guests, it is NOT any more expensive to book a package versus piece things together yourself.

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9. Re: Please Help - 1st time planning a Trip to Disney

We are annual pass holders meaning we go to Disney a lot an have stayed both on site and offsite. Offsite will save you money in food(since you can eat breakfast there and bring lunch to the parks), which we do because we stay in a house. However, since this your first time and yor boys are so young, I think staying on property is worth it. Our favorite is Pop Century. The free transportation around the resort and to and from the airport is great. No need to rent a ca then. The other perks of staying onsite are being able to book fast passes 60 days out since you are going at a crowded time and the dining plan. Since your kids are young, they would probably like to do character meals, which are quite costly. If you factor those in, the dining plan saves you money. Another perk of property is extra magic hours, meaning the park opens early or stays open late for onsite guests, a plus since it will be quite crowded.

Ventnor City, New...
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for Walt Disney World, Orlando
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10. Re: Please Help - 1st time planning a Trip to Disney


I'll try to address your questions one at a time.

To stay at a Disney resort or not?

There are very strong supporters for each side. I'm a big fan of staying on-site. But first let me tell you the advantages of staying off-site. Off-site hotel rooms generally cost less and may offer bigger rooms, free breakfast, and so on. Staying off-site allows you the easy opportunity to have meals off-site, which will generally cost less than similar meals at Disney parks and resorts. Staying off-site is more easily done if you rent a car; I wouldn't want to rely on off-site hotel shuttles because for the most part they don't run as often (or as early and late) as Disney's on-site transportation.

Like I said, I'm an on-site person. Before I list all the tangible advantages of staying on-site, let me tell you the one big intangible, the one that can't be broken down into dollars and cents: I love the feel of staying at a Disney resort. I love being within the Disney cocoon for a week. I love not carrying a wallet or a car key, and I love forgetting the outside world exists. Just my opinion, not saying everyone feels this or even should feel this.

Tangible perks of staying on-site include: free round-trip airport transfers (called Disney's Magical Express); free next/day delivery of merchandise to your resort, so you're free to buy stuff without having to lug it around; Extra Magic Hours, where each day a park opens one hour early or stays open two hours late just for on-site guests; free transportation from your resort to the parks, as well as between the parks (called Disney Transport); room charging privileges, meaning that you can make all of your purchases via your magic bands rather than using cash or credit card for each transaction; ability to make dining and FastPass+ reservations before the general public. Some on-site guests prefer to rent a car. Personal choice. I can say that there is no NEED to rent a car while staying on-site. I've never rented a car for any of my Disney trips. But again, there are lots of on-site folks who've gone just as often as I have who wouldn't enjoy the trip without their rental car.

There's probably something is missing, but those at least are the big ones.

One is not clearly better than the other, because different people view things in different ways. Between staying on-site or off-site, choose whichever you think is the better fit for you and your family.