If you have never been to Disney with your children. I implore you to plan a stay longer than 4 days. We had planned to split our vacation time into visiting the parks and then going on the Disney Cruise. The logistics for your children became the biggest sticking point(aged 4, 8, and 12). When you have an age range as wide spread as ours it was difficult keeping everybody happy. When the four and 8 year old was having fun the 12 year old was bored and when the 12 year old was having fun then the 4 year old was out of the loop, because she was too small. I don't think the park hopper option would have made a difference since we were there for such a limited amount of time. We decided one park a day; that wasn't even enough time to fully experience all that Disney had to offer. Don't get me wrong, Disney does a wonderful job entertaining their guests. When you go devote, 1 day for rides, 1 day for shows at each park. When we go back that's what we will do. We spent more time standing in line for pictures with Characters(our 4 year old wanted to do this the most) than standing in line for rides. If you decide to stay at the resort or not(we stayed on property), I strongly advise all to purchase the dining plan. Even if it's just the quick service it saves a great deal of time and effort trying to decide when and where you are going to eat when hungry, compared to if you decide to eat in Orlando. But please don't purchase the dining plan at the same time their Food and Wine Festival is going on. We booked the trip before being aware of the festival(we missed out on sampling the various tastes from around the world, would have been redundant). By the end of our visit my wife and I were too exhausted to fully take advantage of the Adult areas on the cruise. When we sent our children to the Kids clubs we went to sleep. So if yo plan on a WDW/ Disney cruise vacation make it a week for both!
I think my 12 year old enjoyed Epcot and Hollywood studios the most, any parent who's raising a preteen know it could be quite difficult to get a teenager to smile. I think the rides there were better suited for preteens and teenagers. The Shows there are great for that age group as well. Disney does a marvelous job attempting to provide fun for every age group in each park. My 4 year old at the Disney Jr. and the Monsters ink shows at Hollywood studios, But Magic Kingdom castle is where she wants to live. it was all about the castle for her (but she saw more Princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall for breakfast in Epcot. We had taken pictures with the Disney photographers as well as with our own camera, i personally think we did a far better job on our own. But you must ask yourself, do you really want do spend a great deal of time being your family photographer or do you want to enjoy for vacation as well(Dilemma).
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