Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ask Angie: Tips for a Disney Trip

Ask Angie:
I want to take my 4 year old son and 2 year old daughter to Disney world for three days in October. Where is a good place to stay on the property? How should I plan the 3 days?


Since we live so close to Disney, we go there quite a bit and have picked up some tips over that last couple years. I am happy to share!
NOTE: All the links highlighted in this post will take you to the section of the Disney website that corresponds to what I am discussing.


Disney All Star Resorts - Movies

There are a lot of options for places to stay. On the value end, we really like the All Star Resorts - Music, Movies, or Sports.   It has a couple great pools, good food court, pool activities and movies in the afternoon and we have had good experiences with taking buses to all the parks. The rooms are on the level of a Super 8 - a little dated, polyester bedspreads, but clean and everything you need. Make sure you let them know it's the first visit because you will get a special button at check in.

The Parks

With kids aged 2 and 4 and only 3 days, I would stick to the Magic Kingdom. Depending on the days of the week you are going, you can get "extra" hours at the park using your room key. There are a ton of activities and meet and greets every day so be sure to check the schedule. If you are hoping to go to a meal with characters or princesses, you need to make reservations now. They fill up very quickly.

You call the Disney dining number and say that you want to eat in the Magic Kingdom or one of the hotels for a character meal. Fort Wilderness has a Hoop De Doo Revue too that is fun and you don't need park admission for that.  Also - If you log onto the Disney website you can order park maps in advance.

Magic Kingdom
I would start as early as you can in the morning or go in the afternoon. Most families go to the parks in the morning and then leave after lunch to go swim and rest and then come back at night. If it is raining – GO! GO! GO! The lines will be much shorter, you’ll be able to run from one place to another and did I mention the lines will be MUCH shorter?

As for navigating the parks, get a map and pick a “land” to concentrate on for that day. Fantasy Land, Mickey’s Toon Town, AdventureLand will be popular. There’s a train that goes from the front of the Park to the back so it may be good one day to start in the back and work your way forward. Don’t try to navigate using the map – it is nearly impossible; just ask all the smiling Disney faces all around. They will offer the best directions.

The Rides
Some rides have very long lines: Buzz Lightyear's Ride, the race cars, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, and Pirates of the Caribbean to name a few. These are rides you are going to want to secure a Fast Pass for as soon as possible. A Fast Pass basically saves your place in line for a given attraction. The rides that have Fast Pass are noted on the map. You go to the special Fast Pass station, you put in your admission card, and then a ticket spits out with a return time. They prefer you come back during that window, but they will usually let you get in line after that time period as well. When you come back, look for the special line marked “Fast Pass”.

You can only get one Fast Pass per admission ticket until the end time on your pass expired or if you have a very long wait until the time period, the pass will indicate a time “Your Next Fast Pass will be available.” If this is confusing, you can always try to get another Fast Pass and a blank ticket will print out indicating when you can get another Fast Pass. Every rider will need their own pass – except if the 2 year old got in free. She won’t have a ticket so she won’t need a Fast Pass.

Tom Sawyer's Island is a good spot if you need a place to run around. American Presidents is good if you need an air-conditioned nap. There is also a train that runs around the park, a tram in Tomorrowland, and the Dixieland Ferry are good breaks.

Good luck! I would love to hear if other readers have good Disney advice.

Here's also a couple books:


  1. Yeah....I LOVE this post! Thanks Angie, and keep the tips coming! We are planning a trip in like 2 years, when my girls will be 4 and 2 as well....so I'll be saving all your tips till then. It gives me something to look forward to! :)

  2. I still would like to request a guided tour! :)

  3. Great tips. I'd add one piece of advice. Don't try to do "everything" in every park. It is simply not possible unless you want to cause complete and utter exhaustion - especially if travelling with small children. Get the maps in advance and try to pick a few rides and attractions in your park(s) of choice. Focus on those after you get inside because it is easy to get distracted once you get past the gates. Working the parks from back to front is generally a good strategy. And lines tend to be shorter around normal lunch and dinner times. So if you can eat earlier (or later) or bring your own snacks, it can help with wait times and "food emergencies".

  4. I totally agree with Glenn- We went with a 2 and 4 yr old and just did Magic Kingdom for a day (we were passing through)- We ate at our hotel's continental breakfast and i stuck extra apples and small boxes of cereal in my purse. Peter Pan's flight never would have happened without that cereal.