Thursday, December 01, 2011

I know you didn't ask, but here's my advice.

Here's my 2 cents worth if you are planning a trip to see Mickey any time soon.

1. We've done it many ways, but this is my favorite...stay on Disney property and purchase at least some part of the meal plan they offer. "Are you staying on property?" Is the first question you will hear when talking to a cast member. They are super nice to everyone, but "yes, we're staying on property" seem to be the magic words.

By staying on property, Disney will drive you to and from the airport and bus or monorail you to and from every park. There is no need to rent a car or hire a shuttle.

At Disney anyone age 10 and older is considered an adult. Fast food type meals in the park were around $50-60 per meal for our family of 5. Any other type of meal where you are served by a waiter ran about $25 a plate for adults. A character meal is about $35 per adult.

Disney allows you to bring in your own food and bottled drinks, but unless you are staying somewhere that offers a mini fridge or something, I think that would be hard.

All of that to say... when you are on the Disney website pricing different packages with/without the meal plan, it seems like sticker shock, but when you add it all up, you will probably spend that much money anyway.

2. Make reservations for any meal you want to eat other than fast food. We usually travel with 8 when we go with my family and reservations are the only way to get a party of that size in to a restaurant. But my parents have been when it was just the two of them and had a hard time getting in to eat without reservations.

They will take reservations 6 months in advance. The Disney website has descriptions of the dinning options at each park. We like Mexico and Japan in Epcot, but I bet Italy is really good, too, and Hollywood & Vine Buffet and The Sci-fi Drive In at Hollywood Studios.

3. The day you are at Magic Kingdom is a great day to do a character meal. There aren't many memorable sit down places to eat in Magic Kingdom accept the places that offer character dinning. This year we went to Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort. My kids are almost past the character dinning stage. The princesses, Pooh, and Chip and Dale didn't really interest them, so we hopped on the monorail and went over to see Mickey.

3. Pay a little extra for the Park Hopper Tickets. You can go in, out, up, down, and all around and then leave and do it all again at one of the other parks on the same day. Your trips may go as you perfectly planned them, but ours never do. We love having the option to go in and out of any of the parks any time we choose.

4. It's gonna' rain. It doesn't matter what time of year you go or what the weather forecast says, it will rain at some point during your trip. Just go with it. Find a covered spot and take an ice cream break. Visit some of the shops. Pack a poncho and just keep going. We've done any and all of these and loved every minute of it.

5. Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios all have a light/fireworks show at the end of the day. They are SO worth hanging around and watching. This year, I bought a couple of apps for my phone: Disney World by Undercover Tourist and Magic Guide. Between the two apps we had park hours, maps, ride wait times, and parade and show times. The wait times were pretty accurate and we loved not having to fold and unfold the paper map every time we needed to use it.
6. Both times we took our kids, we bought them a Disney gift card for the amount of money they were allowed to spend on souvenirs. We bought each of them a shirt with our own money and then they had to buy everything else. It was wonderful to say, "Sure!" instead of, "No." every time they wanted something.
The girls needed to be coached not to spend all their money at the first stop, but pretty much as long as they had money on their card, they could buy it.
7. Y'all...Disneyland in California is cheaper. It just is.
It's smaller with only 2 parks, so you can stay 4 nights and have pu-lenty of time.
Really you need 5 or 6 nights in Florida.
We spent quite a bit more on food in Florida than we did in California. I know the California prices were 3 years ago, but still, there was a difference.
There were more options for food in California. The Disney property is much smaller and you can walk everywhere in just minutes. We didn't have to eat in the park every meal. Downtown Disney was close enough that we could get in to just about any restaurant there with just a reasonable wait.
Also, from our little spot in West Texas, it is much cheaper to fly West than it is East.
We went to California at the perfect time for our family. Bubba was in 3rd grade and the girls were barely 5. It was small enough that we could do what we wanted and do it at a pace the girls could handle without getting too tired.
Florida was great because the kids were older and could go faster, longer so we could do as much as possible in the time we had.
8. The only thing not magical about Disney is that they do not believe in Dr. Pepper...or Sonic. I think we would become millionaires if we opened a Sonic anywhere in Orlando. So, plan the route home from the airport to take you by Sonic for a good Diet Dr. Pepper.


Shelly@Sweet Journey said...

Good to know! Thanks! If we are ever seriously considering a trip, you are going to be my first call, my personal Mickey expert!

Heather said...

We went to DW mid December. I've lost count of how many times we've been! We just love it so much. The magical express. The dining plan. The buses to and from the parks. Fab-u-lous!