February

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life120 Comments

Ice

So…it's February. The month of love. And possibly more snow. And more cold. And more pots of this amazingly delish lower fat beef chili (cut the meat by half, add 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 cup of beef broth and a cinnamon stick while simmering, and it's 5 points a serving…mmm.) And the month that will see the Zielske family travel to DisneyWorld.

What? What did you say? The Zielske's are taking a bonafide vacation? Together?

Indeed. It's all very last-minute-dear-God-can-we-REALLY-afford-to-do-this?, but in the end, you only go around once. Plus, a no-interest Disney Visa card gives us until August to pay the trip off. Let's hear it for America!

I really, really need this vacation. Time with just my family. We travel really well together, too. Despite the fact that I'm an actual member OF this family.

We are staying in a moderate Disney resort. We will be there for four park days, heading onto Fort Meyers to catch a Minnesota Twins spring training game, and…to swim in the Gulf. Any Disney tips you might have? Bring 'em on.

We really need to get out of this cold. My kids keep thinking they can master the Iron Lotus. I can almost smell the stitches. Florida…here we come!

Ice2
 

Cathy ZielskeFebruary

120 Comments on “February”

  1. #1
    Krista

    Disneyworld sounds pretty sweet to me these days…we’ve had a week of of -56 degree weather up here! Spring can’t come soon enough! Hope you guys have a GREAT time!

  2. #2
    Erin

    My absolute favorite Orlando attraction was Gatorland. It’s only a half day thing, and I was seriously giddy the entire time. As far as Disneyworld goes, be sure to take some game boys (are they still called that?) for the kids to play while in line.

  3. #3
    Amy Q

    We’re planning our first trip to WDW in March – and have become extremely addicted to DISBOARDS.com – GREAT place to learn anything and everything you need to know about visiting – oh and if you’ve never been, pick up a good guidebook.

  4. #4
    Sabrina

    It can be quite rainy this time of year. Buy some ponchos at the local discout store before you leave or end up paying $8 for the disney ones.

    Utilize Fast Pass, especially for the big thrill rides. Check out disboards.com or allears.net for tips.

  5. #5
    katie scott

    Don’t stay at a moderate resort, stay at the Polynesian – its got the biggest rooms at Dinsey and its on the monorail system.

    Bring some bottled water with you – stop by a grocery store to get some / there’s a grocery store if you go past Downtown Disney all the way, that road turns into a T and if you go straight there’s a big grocery store there.

    You can’t drink alcohol in the Magic Kingdom but you can have a beer or wine at Epcot. Just something to think about, you might want to pick up some libations while you’re at that grocery store.

    At Epcot a restaurant that is a little out of the way but really cool is the one at the Living Seas, the food is excellent and you get to sit by the giant shark tank. Also Mexico has a cool restaurant with a volcano, my son and I especially love that.

    We also love Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon – if its hot this is a nice alternative to all the lines at Disney, these water parks are less populated.

    Go to Cafe Tu Tu Tango on International Drive, its worth the drive, its all Tapas and there are belly dancers and lots and lots of art – the whole family will love it. And the prices are very reasonable.

    If you go to Sea World and you want to skip the stupid ride at the polar bear diplay, go to the gift shop and you and your son go backwards in and then your husband and your daughter go in, its just less obvious if you go in two by two and then you can see all the cool beluga whales and polar bears without standing in line.

    If you have time to change plans, go to Universal Studios and stay at the Portofino or Hard Rock or Royal Pacific, Citi Walk with Margarittaville is right there, and if you stay in a Lowe’s Hotel you automatically get fast pass on every ride (whereas at Disney you’ve got to get the fast pass ticket and then wait around for an hour). If you go to Universal, let me know, I’ve got lots of tips for there too.

    I never thought I would be but I have turned into theme park lady (we live about an hour and a half from all the festivities).

  6. #6
    Amanda

    My biggest tip is to not follow all those plans people make that have you running all over the park. In the many times I’ve been there we’ve always started in one land and worked our way around. We’ve always been able to do everything we want.

    Use the fastpass system to your advantage. The Buzz Lightyear ride in the Magic Kingdom is a huge family favorite of our’s so we ususally get a fastpass, stand in line and by the time we get off the first time we’re ready to use our fastpass.

    I agree about bringing in your own water. Disney has their own prices which are definatly more expensive that the normal price.

    Eat a later lunch rather than dinner because the restruants will be less crowded.

    Mostly just enjoy it. Disney is one of my all time favorite places. There’s always something new but I love the classics as well. You’ll see me singing along to It’s a
    Small World. 🙂

  7. #7
    cdpeck

    Dinner at Boma’s at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Best buffet dinner on property. At least one character meal – will save you time and effort getting the much-needed and coveted character autographs. Our favorite is Donald’s Breakfastosaurus at Animal Kingdom. Have fun! So jealous.

  8. #8
    jen

    Enjoy yourself Cathy! We just got back from WDW on Saturday. It was a total blast. The best thing was getting away from the Minnesota weather.
    Have fun! Be safe!

  9. #9
    Sarah

    All the food was wonderful. Buy the ponchos ahead of time (we went in June and used them several days but the rain only lasts a little while so it won’t ruin your day). We stayed at a moderate resort (The Cornado Springs) and it was great. Plan time to catch the trams to the parks or back to your hotel. Sometimes you get one right away and other times you have to wait a while. Make as many meal reservations as you can to avoid some of the wait. Go to Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom to watch the Spectromagic parade. It is the same parade no matter where you sit and it is less crowded in Frontierland. Look for the Kodak photo spots in all the parks. They really give you great photos without all the crowd in your shot. Have a great time! We are going back next Feb and I would love to hear how the crowd was in comparison to the summer madness.

  10. #10
    Susan Schacht

    Get the “Hidden Mickeys” book – full of places to find hidden Mickey ears. Great to do while you’re waiting in line, eating, whatever. My kids (6 & 8) had such a great time finding them all over the place (on walls, trash cans, sidewalks, trees, etc). Also a great resource is Birnbaum’s Guide to Disney. Lots of maps, resources, time tables, things to definitely NOT miss. A little planning goes a long way – hit the things you DEFINITELY don’t want to miss, have more freedom later to cruise around. Have such a wonderful time – I LOVE Disney. One of my favorite places to go!

  11. #12
    Kristen

    Have fun. Your kids are at the perfect age. I’m headed to FL too…visiting the grandparents in Vero Beach. Just looking forward to some warm weather (New England is not as cold as Minn., but still chilly this time of year) and R&R. Can’t come soon enough.

    Bon Voyage!

  12. #13
    Jennifer

    I can totally relate to smelling the stitches….you just know it is going to end badly!

    Have a great day!

  13. #15
    Marcie

    Have a great trip, we just spent a week there at a moderate ourselves in Jan. Are you doing the dining plan? We felt it was really worth it. Boma is the best, we always eat there and you can spend a couple hours before or after at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, they have lots of activities there.

  14. #16
    Lisa

    Buy the “Unofficial Guide to DisneyWorld”

    Worth every penny. Great inside tips like where to watch the fireworks and how to score a last minute character dinner.

    And oh…the touring plans within the park are worth their weight in gold.

  15. #17
    Kelley

    Buy Mickey Ears. Some of the gift shops even have the sewing machine to get your name on the back (ie- the Snow White gift shop at the Magic Kingdom)- that is a really neat thing to watch them do, sew your name all in one pass.

    Go to Downtown Disney in the evenings, incredible restaurants (Wolf Gang Puck!) and great free entertainment for all ages (Check out the House of Blues website for a listing of bands that will be there when you are). Cole will probably enjoy the Lego store (huge figures outside it made entirely of Legos).

  16. #18
    Mary M

    If you’re looking at saving some money, stopping at a grocery store before-hand is a great idea. We carried a backpack with water (as many have mentioned) and non-perishable snacks, which saved us quite a bit. It was really nice, too, when the kids were hungry in line to be able to eat on demand. Have a great time!

  17. #19
    Teresa Cotterman

    My biggest tip, relax and have a GREAT time. Be prepared for the tears to come to your eyes as you see the Magic Kingdom’s castle for the first time. Been there twice and it happens every time. Us 40+ kids will still see Tinker Bell flying around the castle just as we did as kids watching the Wonderful World of Disney. Take lots of pics, buy an autograph book first thing, and schedule a character breakfast.

  18. #20
    Linda

    DON’T over plan. You will never be able to do it all/see it all. Just do what you can and enjoy the MAGIC that is disney. Remember-this is supposed to be VACA.
    Ft. Myers beach/Bonita beach is the best–better than Hawaii IMHO. You’ll have to drive about 1/2 hr. from ft.myers proper.

  19. #21
    Nicole

    touringplans.com .. tells you best days to go to the parks based on crowds… also has touring plans which tells you what order to ride the rides and virtually eliminated any wait times for DH & I when we went in September. It was SUCH A BLESSING!! I printed out the plans on little cards the size of a credit card.. had everything in a little neck lanyard credit cards, touring plans, cash, park tickets, etc.

  20. #22
    Relly

    Relax. you will not see everything but you will see most stuff – just like you can’t eat in every restaurant but you’ll get to try a good sample of what Disney can offer.

    Um, Disney isn’t great for dieting though.

  21. #23
    LorI P

    Hi Cathy,
    My husband and I are headed to Orlando in one week. We are also looking forward to warm weather! It’s our first time there, and I’m getting some great travel tips from all the comments. Thanks!

  22. #24
    Kelley

    My tips: Moderate resort not worth extra cost over Value resort. Rooms are same size. Either downgrade to Value or upgrade to Deluxe if you need more space. Dining plan is Totally worth it…and Fast Pass as much as you can. HAVE FUN!

  23. #25
    Cherie

    Happy Happy Disney Days. I just have 3 tips for you:

    1. Do NOT miss The Tower of Terror!!
    2. Eat at a different resort or Epcot restaurant for Breakfast and Dinner each day. Such good food and part of the magic. The Banana Stuffed French Toast at the Polynesian Resort is a DO NOT MISS for breakfast and then you can hop on the monorail and head into a park.
    3.If you want to see certain characters there is usually a board in the park that tells where characters will be at a certain time.

    Have a GREAT time!

  24. #26
    Melissa

    Okay – first – it’s “Fort Myers” – only one “e”. But I don’t really care because I don’t live there but I DO live NEAR there and I DID take a class from you the first year that you taught at CKU/Orlando… Coronado Springs Resort, anyone?!?! 🙂 I’m so excited that you will be coming to my neck o’ the woods… please LMK if you need any tourist tips, etc. for my area. Here is the link to the Fort Myers news station so that you can track the weather, etc.: http://www.NBC-2.com … You’re going to have a BLAST!!

  25. #27
    Tina

    Love Disney World! You’ve gotten great tips so far. Fastpasses are dealt out early on the big rides…we were there Jan. 10-13 and had to stand in line if we hadn’t gotten FP’s by 11 AM. Make sure you get them ASAP for Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest, etc.

    Do you have Park Hopper tickets? Very nice to be able to go from park to park in one day.

    Do you have the Dining Plan? FABULOUS. Forget dieting, though, it’s Disney. 🙂

    Have a great time!

  26. #28
    Sherry

    Hi Cathy,
    We went to WDW last year for the first time. I spoke to lots of moms before I left and they all agreed that “Walt Disney World – With Kids” by Kim Wright Wiley (a Fodor’s book) is a great guidebook. A new edition comes out every year with helpful info like what rides work best for the ages of your kids, what to skip, what to ride first to beat the lines, which rides have Fast Pass and lots more. Also, if you want to see characters a character meal is the way to go. This book lists all of the character meals and gives other restaurant recommendations. We were able to see what was most important to us and had a great time.
    I hope your family has a great time too!

  27. #29
    Rachel Dallaire

    My husband and I are leaving for Disney World on Wednesday morning! It’s my first time and I am so excited.

    I recommend checking out the Dis boards. http://www.disboards.com
    There is so much info on there and you really can find out anything you want to know about Disney there! 🙂

    Have fun!

  28. #30
    Lori Hudson

    Today the high is 84 degrees here in Orlando. Definitely check out Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Check out the lodge, too. Go outside and you can see giraffes up close. Make reservations for EVERY meal you want to eat at a sit down restaurant. You can always ways cancel something if you change your mind.

  29. #31
    kelli

    I lost my first comment…anyway, use the Foder’s book, we did for Disneyland, it was a life saver!
    Check your credit card statements after the fact, we were overcharged almost $100 on our shuttle.
    Take snacks!
    Have a great time.

  30. #32
    rubberbandgirl

    I think you’re going to the best vacation spot EVER!
    Best spot for beaches is St. Petersberg, ie St. Pete beach or FORT DESOTO COUNTY PARK. They’re so secluded and peaceful. We spent two full days there and only saw 7 families/couples. AND if you like inexpensive WONDERFUL fresh seafood make sure you go to:
    ST. PETERSBURG AREA
    4th Street Shrimp Store (Seafood): 1006 Fourth Street North; (727) 822-0325. Shrimp, any way you want it. The menu also includes catfish, oysters, and crab croquettes. If you’re really hungry, come on an all-you-can-eat day:”] Monday for clams, Tuesday for snow crabs, and Wednesday for shrimp. Lunch, dinner.
    St. Petersberg isn’t far from Orlando/Tampa area and it’s worth the drive and you’re probably renting a car anyway. I say, do it! Sincerely,

  31. #33
    Julie Mitchell from Canada

    The iron lotus!! pouhahahaha Love that movie, I think I laughed more than the kids.

    Disney? That’s great news. I have no tips but will read the other comments. It is in our 2009 plan. The kids will be old enough to remember and enjoy it.

  32. #34
    andie Smith

    man i miss wdw…used to have anual passes.

    don’t forget to enjoy the details of wdw…imagineers leave no detailed unturned…enjoy them.

    ride buzz light year…fun!!!

    see fantastmic and lights! motors! action!

    if you want home cooked food…try prime time diner at mgm (sorry hollywood studios..the park with the hat)

  33. #35
    Kim

    Eat a big late breakfast, a big snack and an early dinner. It will help you avoid crowds. One of our favorites is Marrakesh (sp?) in Morocco in the World Showcase. Another is Boma in the Animal Kingdom Lodge – it’s like a bustling African marketplace. Nine Dragons in China is fun but the food isn’t very good. The pastries in the little cafe in Norway are very good. The Character Breakfast at Ohana in the Polynesian was fun, and the food was good. We loved the crazy Hoop De Doo Revue – a dinner show. We’ve heard Disney’s crowded ALL the time now, so make your dinner reservations now. You HAVE to see Fantasmic. Don’t skip the Festival of the Lion King and the bird show at Animal Kingdom. See the live entertainment in the countries in the world showcase – most of it is worth the time and some is spectacular. Consider spending the money for Cirque Du Soleil in Downtown Disney – it was the highlight of our last trip. Was that enough?

  34. #37
    Stacy

    Check out mousesavers.com for the best tips on saving money.
    The best book is unofficial guide to Disneyworld-even if you don’t use the touring plans, it’s got the best info.
    If you rent a car don’t use it to drive to Magic Kingdom-it’s way faster to use Disney trans. for this park.
    Take snacks in your backpack, they say you can’t but they don’t say anything to you.
    Have fun!

  35. #38
    dmatthews

    Kathy,
    I live in Iowa so TOTALLY know what you are talking about with the winter weather. It is getting just ridiculous…all this snow, and cold, and sleet, and ice and did I mention all the snow. Gag, gag, gag me! I tend to get the “winter blues” so this year they kicked in about OCTOBER 30TH!
    Have a super great vacation post about it so I can live vicariously through you!

  36. #40
    christine

    Went there last Dec with 2 kids, ages 10 & 6. We found alot of time was wasted if we took “breaks” and returned to our room during the day, so we headed out for the day around 11 am or noon and stayed at the parks until closing (around 9pm). This allowed us to catch all the fireworks and nighttime shows or parades. TouringPlans is a good website too.

    Have your kids check out the Disney website and pick out what rides seem most exciting to them, making choices when you get there can be overwhelming. Get fastpasses for ones that are most popular. Our favorites: At Epcot- Soarin, Speed Track, Fireworks (get soft tacos at Mexico for watching fireworks), Finding Nemo. Animal Kingdom – African Safari & Lion King Show. MGM – Fantasmic show (get there early), Star Wars, Rock N Roll roller coaster, the stunt show. Magic Kingdom – Spectromagic parade, fireworks (position near castle to see TinkerBell), Philharmagic, Buzz Lightyear, Space Mountain.
    Bring 2 cell phones if you have them.

  37. #41
    heather

    OK….as a former midwest gal and current 4 year 90min south Orlando resident couple of additional hints:

    borrow/get a cheap umbrella stroller ($10 Wal-mart) This is TOTALLY useful to carry the very heavy backpacks full o beverages/grocery food for your crew.

    Refrain from the Day hopper passes. i could be mistaken on this one since your kiddos are older but they are more expensive and while they give you the right to go to different parks in one day, it is seldomly worth the amount of time it takes to go from one park to another ( trams and monorails and buses oh my!!) to benefit from it..there is sooooo flippin much to do at each park that your time is much better spent at one park a day and dollars saved doing so.

    Comfy shoes. period

    Great restaurant OUT of the PARK that seems like you would dig it…..NOT near the park so likely not worth the hike but check out TuTuTango off Universal Drive if interested.

    If you are going to Toon town to do the charachter meet in Magic Kingdom go early in am…by late afternoon the lines are ridiculous.

    Fast pass everything you can

    ENJOY!!!!!

  38. #42
    Rose

    Cathy,
    I am a Disney freak and I cry every time I see those fireworks over the castle, I can’t even watch them on youtube. So be ready for that
    With four days my biggest hint would be don’t try to do it all, it’s not humanly possible. But you will get to see most of it and can plan a return trip to see what you miss. Maybe you’ll get a magical wish and get to stay a night in the castle.
    I wish you and the fam the full on Disney experience, there is no place else like it on earth. Have a grand time!
    Peace~

  39. #44
    sophie

    Remember at Epcot that most crowds automatically favor going to the right…so go to the left whenever you can…and set up Character Dining before you go…here are the numbers…these get sold out very quickly and you can book them 60 days in advance…call (407) W-DISNEY or (407) WDW-DINE…most of all have fun!!!

  40. #45
    deb

    We were there in November, and I’m trying to figure out how to get back soon. I cried when we left the Magic Kingdom the last day. My 7 year old looked at me like I was nuts. Definitely reservations for sit down dinners–I saw people waiting in line trying to get in at the better restaurants and being turned away. Do that right away. My kids loved Splash Mountain best. Otherwise just take it all in and enjoy. I’ll be looking forward to some pictures!!

  41. #46
    Amanda J.

    I love, love, love Disney! We went in February last year and it was perfect weather, and the lines weren’t too long.

    We don’t do those plans. And I’m a planner. Love to plan everything to the nth degree. On our last trip I said, can we just throw the plan out the window? And we had a blast!

    We each pick one absolute must do for each park. For me those are Animal Kingdom: Expedition Everest (the best roller coaster in all four parks); Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain; EPCOT: Test Track; MGM (I think Disney Hollywood Studios now?): Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Now that DD is older, she’s able to do all the roller coasters and loves it! She really likes Tower of Terror. I don’t!

    Anyway, after we each do our top picks it’s all icing on the cake. We eat when we’re hungry, and rest when we’re tired.

    Have fun!

  42. #47
    kellicrowe

    when you are on the tea cups
    and someone yells “stop”
    it can sound like “faster” or lauging….and then you make your kid throw up….it puts a damper on the day.

  43. #48
    Kelly

    Okay, so I live in Ft. Myers and if you catch someone staring at you and your family at the spring training game, it’s probably me–and no I’m not stalking you, we go to them anyway! Have a great time and if you need any Ft. Myers tips, let me know!

  44. #49
    Vicki Rundlett

    Hi Cathy – I love Disney! I know ya’ll will have a great time. My advice – DO NOT GET A PEDICURE BEFORE YOU GO!!! Nice pretty feet are good in theory and pics but not when you are walking all over the parks! Because of my clean smooth feet, I got giant blisters. My first trip to Disney and I was having to be pushed in a wheelchair because the blisters were so bad that I couldn’t walk! Have a great time.
    Vicki

  45. #50
    Stacey

    Coming to my backyard (ok-30 mins. away from my backyard). We taking the kids for their birthday celebration this weekend. DD 10 and DS 8 (in 2 weeks-we’re going this weekend since prices go up on resorts the following weekend)-I’m cheap! When we camp which is often we stay at Ft. Wilderness campgrounds-love it. But for one night we always stay at Port orleans (Riverside). I like it because you can take a boat to downtown Disney (eat and shop-my 2 favorites) and it’s so close to MK, MGM-(now Disney Studios) and EPCOT.
    If you have a night to head to the campgrounds i suggest-Hoop Dee Doo Review dinner show (FUN for the entire family), then catch the free Disney movie, smores, and Chip & Dale sing a long. A great meal is right next to the Hoop Dee Doo Review (Pioneer Hall) is Trails End buffet. They even have take out (family of 4 $19-$24)-this is a great deal after all you’re at Disney. See I told you I was cheap.
    The DISboards and mousesavers.com are 2 great websites for info. Character dining sells out fast as well as most of the fine dining at EPCOT. Another good place to eat is in Disney Studios The Sci-Fi -my kids love it. you sit in a 1950’s car in an outdoor drive-in movie setting. they play old clips from cartoons to commericals. Always fun.
    EPCOT-tutle talk with Crush
    along with everything everyone has already mentioned. Sorry so long-just love Disney

  46. #51
    Loydene

    Take the time to get over to Cape Canaveral — there are two different, interesting bus tours; an inter-active children’s museum; lots of rockets around the grounds. I took DS when he was pretty young and he enjoyed the day. And .. it is close to the ocean, so drive down the highway to RonJon’s surf shop for souvenir stuff, dinner and dangle your feet in the ocean! Driving back to the Orlando area that evening — makes a full day — but a good one! Dumbo is good — but adding some real info about the space era, makes it even better!
    Loydene

  47. #52
    mj

    i’ve lived in fl my whole life so disney has been a big part of it! you asked for advice … bring your patience for the lines and the occasional less-than-happy park attendant (it never used to be that way!) … since you’re staying at the hotel/park definetely take advantage of going in the morning before the park opens to the public … pack LOTS of sunscreen and a hat and sunglasses. the fl sun and humidity can be brutal- but some people love that! ooo try to catch the electric parade! the 3 d’s of disney- “disney doesn’t discount” so you may want to pack some water because bottled water is outrageous!! but hey its vacation and vacations are for splurging! you would love a character breakfast so you’ll want to make reservations for that! and don’t forget the main street bakery (i’m pretty sure its not on the weight watchers points system).haa hope you have an awesome time and are shown great FL hospitality! 🙂

  48. #53
    Kim K

    Hi Cathy Z,
    We were first time Disney-doers from Duluth last year. We had SO much fun we’re doing it again just 10 months later! Our boys are similar in age to your kids…11 & 7 this year. We’ll be there 2-15 thru 2-21 this year!

    Get the Unofficial Guide to DW…LOTS of great tips.

    Our best advice:

    Take advantage of Early Magic Hours & Late Magic Hours. It’s HELL getting out of bed to get there when the park opens, but you’ll feel like a GENIUS when you’ve been on Everest 4 times before 10am, and there are people who stand in line for 2 hours to ride once!

    Call the 800# for Disney Dining reservations. So nice to know where you’re going without the hemming and hawing, “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” and the “I don’t like that kind of food” whine from the kids. Having it planned in advance, the kids didn’t complain, they just KNEW where we were going.
    ** We HIGHLY recommend LeCellier in Canada if you can get in.

    We do the Park Hopper and eat at Epcot almost every night.

    One word of caution…we gave our boys each $30 to spend. Well, they spent a TON of time “shopping around” for stuff, when we could have been on rides. Not sure what the solution would be for this…but just be careful. Those souvenier stores are EVERYWHERE!

    Finally, HAVE FUN! You can sleep in when you get back!

  49. #54
    Michelle Gauthier

    Here’s my best advice (and I’ve been 18 times…and planning the 19th trip this year!): http://www.tourguidemike.com. This was the best money I spent on my last trip. Perfect planning tips and schedules! For the first time, I actually saw and did everything I wanted to!

    And my idea for the best character meal is the lunch at The Land pavillion in Epcot – not as busy as the others and the characters (Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale) spent a lot of time at our table.

    Have a GREAT TIME!

  50. #55
    Jill

    Hey, seriously, where did you get your comfy orange sweatshirt?? I want one too! I live in western suburbs of Minneapolis and my Marshall Field’s Field Gear sweatshirts are falling apart!
    Happy snowy day. Things were looking dirty and gross around here.
    Jill

  51. #56
    Michelle Gauthier

    Here’s my best advice (and I’ve been 18 times…and planning the 19th trip this year!): http://www.tourguidemike.com. This was the best money I spent on my last trip. Perfect planning tips and schedules! For the first time, I actually saw and did everything I wanted to!

    And my idea for the best character meal is the lunch at The Land pavillion in Epcot – not as busy as the others and the characters (Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale) spent a lot of time at our table.

    Have a GREAT TIME!

  52. #57
    RachelC

    Even though I’m a native Orlando-an… my advice is related to Ft. Myers. I recommend going to Sanibel Island. It’s such a quaint place!

  53. #58
    suetreiber

    three tiny pieces of advice…
    1. poncho.
    2.fast pass as much as you can
    3.split meals & eat more often…my kids could never eat as much as they served, or did they want to sit for that long.

    I’m now scared that Cole’s melon is going to be crushed in an illegal skating maneuver.

  54. #59
    maple jenny

    I haven’t been for a few years, but here’s what I remember:
    1. I liked moderate planning. Pick the rides and things you want, go to them in the morning (when possible), and leave some sponge space to do whatever. Plan the where, not when or how fast.
    2.Fast Pass
    3. Dinner reservations
    4. Hotel pool in the afternoons is good for the kids and your sanity.
    5. Disney Quest, if still in Downtown Disney, will be a great chance to unwind for the whole family.
    6. Comfortable footwear is a must.
    7. Ditto rain ponchos.
    8. Animal Kingdom and MGM are awesome. But in AK, if you o on the River Raft, bring a change in clothes or you’ll get chafed.
    9. Be prepared to laugh when people tell you that you just HAVE to go to the Rainforest Cafe because it’s like NOTHING you have at home.

  55. #61
    Peggy

    Just went to WDW at Christmas. Here’s my tip – go to Animal Kingdom in the morning and go left, straight back to the safari. They say the animals are more active in the morning. If you want a great website – allears.net – they even have menus from all the Disney restaurants. Good luck!

  56. #63
    Kat from FLA

    I grew up in Fla and here are my tips for what they are worth.
    1. Get the multi day/multi park pass. If the parks are crowded in the morning, hang out at the hotel pool in the a.m. and go to the parks later in the afternoon & evening. DO NOT miss the fireworks.
    2. Next to the Tiki Room in the Magic Kingdom (Adventureland), is the best ice cream/orange slushie ice cream cone you have ever had in your life.
    3. Go to the Disney parks now, while your kids are younger. When they get to be pre-teens and older, they will want to go to the Universal Parks b/c “Disney parks are lame”.
    4. Sea World is awesome. I disagree with previous post, the Polar Bear ride is very cool. Also, the penguines stink to high heavens, but may not be so bad in the cooler weather.
    Mostly don’t try to do everything. You CAN’T.

  57. #64
    Susan Harrison

    A lot about food. I hope you are hungry!
    I’ve lived in FLorida my whole life (40 yrs) and been to WDW lots. Have stayed in every level resort. Look online at your particular resort. If swimming is important look at pool – heated? slides? If swimming is important the Beach and Yacht Club pool is amazing. Even if you are not staying there you can go there by Disney bus in evening and swim and have ice cream in a cute ice cream parlor. (you’re prob not supposed to, but it has amazing slides and part of the pool is sand bottom – way cool)
    -Don’t miss parades in Magic Kingdom.
    -Don’t miss Pirates of Caribbean and Small World (Disney icons)
    -New Flight ride in Epcot is really cool – like hang-gliding
    -Mission to Mars is amazing (caution: they mean it when they warn you it is not good for claustrophobia)
    -Lots of walking around countries in Epcot (may want to skip unless you have a whole day – you’ll be frustrated) We saw the candy making lady in Japan and it was fabulous – as was the store there. They have the neatest socks to be worn with flipflops
    -Remember: you can’t do everything everyone wants to do, pick the most important and everything else will be a bonus
    Have Fun! Susan

  58. #65
    Kat from FLA

    One more thing. With the crowds, you may lose one of your crew. All members of your family should abide by these rules.
    1. Take all cell phones and make sure everyone knows the numbers. If Cole is too young, write the # on a piece of paper and put in his pocket or shoe. This helps because he will know that he can contact a park employee and find you and hopefully not get too upset at being lost.
    2. Very important! The second you realize you are lost, don’t move! The parks are very easy to get lost in and have many twist and turns.
    Last thing – Before we had cell phones, we used to take walkie talkies. Awesome. It is amazing how you can be standing in the same square about 15 feet from your loved ones and not be able to find them. Nothing worst than spending a few hours on the hunt for missing little ones!

  59. #66
    Irma

    I bought a bunch of Disney books before my trip this past Christmas. I read them all, but the only one I took with me was the Unofficial Guide. Their touring plans made such a huge difference. We went to the parks slightly prior to opening time (for us it was 8am) and by 1pm we had done every single thing we wanted. EVERYTHING. We were then able to go back to our hotel for a few hours while the crowds were at their worst and recharge, and then go back in the evenings. I LOVE THIS BOOK and have bought it for three friends already.

    If you think following a plan isn’t for you, then the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to be at the parks first thing in the morning, say a half hour before they open. A trip to Disney is NOT the time to sleep in, ha ha….. the crowds in the morning are very manageable, but by 11 am it’s a frigging zoo.

  60. #67
    Sandy

    We live less than an hour from WDW and have had annual passes for the last four years. We go about twice a month and still haven’t seen everything!

    My tips:

    1. Sneakers. I see people wearing flip flops every time we go and wonder what they were thinking. You are going to walk a lot!

    2. Utilize the Fast Pass system. This is like standing in line without actually being in line. You just come back to the ride when the ticket tells you to and walk right on. Also, notice that there’s a second time on fast passes that indicates when you can get another fast pass. You usually don’t have to use one before you can get another. And don’t think if you miss your fast pass time that you’ve missed out altogether. As long as you are later than the time indicated, the ride operator will let you on the ride.

    3. Don’t park hop. Going from one park to another takes a lot more time than you think it will. Since there’s no way you will ever be able to accomplish it all, you’re much better off concentrating your efforts on one park each day.

    4. Check the weather before you come. In the last month we’ve been all the way from 25 degrees to 85 degrees (today). You may need a coat, you may need shorts and sunscreen. Raincoats are probably not necessary as we’re in a serious drought, but you might want them for Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom) which is a real soaker and to a lesser extent Splash Mountain (Magic Kingdom).

    5. Ride your favorites first and keep moving. A little planning about how you want to schudule your day can go a long way. Get fast passes for the busiest rides first
    * Space, Splash, and Thunder Mountains in Magic Kingdom
    * Test Track and Soarin’ (probably the lonest wait time in all the parks) in EPCOT
    * Expedition Everest and Kilamanjaro Safari in Animal Kingdom and
    * Tower of Terror and Rockin Roller Coaster in Disney Hollywood Studios.
    Then fill in all of your time between fast passes with other attractions. If you only have four days here, then start as early as you can and constantly keep moving. You can sleep once you’re back at home. We don’t ever do sit-down meals since we’d rather see the attractions (we can eat out anytime).

    6. Split up if you need to. If two of you want to do one thing and two of you want to do something else, then maximize your time by parting ways. Having two cell phones (or at least radios) is essential to find each other again later.

    7. If you want a good view of Tinkerbell flying from Cinderella’s Castle during Wishes, stand by the “Noodle Station.”

    8. Check show times at the beginning of the day or you might miss out, especially in DHS. The Beauty and the Beast show is amazing, and the Lights, Motors, Action and Indiana Jones shows are thrilling.

    9. If you want to learn to draw a Disney character, go to the Animation Studio. It’s a little hidden treasure that you might have to ask about to find, but it’s so much fun.

    10. Have an amazing vacation! We might even see you there!

    Sandy

  61. #68
    linda t

    We just returned from an AWESOME Disney World experience!!
    We spent an entire day at each of the 4 parks… Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios & Animal Kingdom.
    Our favorite was Epcot! LOVED all the countries!
    But pleasantly surprised with Animal Kingdom! Mt. Everest was our all time fav ride!!!
    And the REO Speedwagon Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studio was also the BEST!
    SOOO excited for you and your family!!!

  62. #69
    Faith

    If you can get to the head of the monorail line, you can ask if the kids can be honorary conductors and you get to ride in the first car with the conductor and they give them certificates. Also, fast passes are the way to go on the really popular rides! If you want to eat at Chef Mickey’s make a reservation NOW, because it fills up mega mega fast! (dinner with all of the characters)
    One thing I did when we went was to take gallon zip-loc bags and label them for each day at the park. Then each night, I would put all of the memorabilia from the day in that bag, any special notes I needed to jot down and I also downloaded my memory card onto CD for the day and put it in the bag – sure is making scrapping it much easier!
    Also Autograph books…..
    Have fun!!!!!!!!!!!

  63. #70
    Gigi

    Hi Cathy! I’m about a half hour from WDW and the weather is gorgeous. 80s today! Definitely leave the UGGs at home. Anyways, my tip is to skip all the shopping at the parks. You can buy just about everything they sell at the parks at Downtown Disney. Plus you don’t have to carry it around with you in the parks. HAVE FUN!

  64. #72
    heather

    We did 10 days in Disney last May . . . with all that time and a Guest Assistance Card (they make accomodations for people who need them — in our case, it was my SIL with stage 4 cancer), we still didn’t do everything we wanted to do. So my first bit of advice is for each of you guys to choose what is the “must-do” stuff.

    If the kids want to pin trade, see if you can buy some in bulk from someone on ebay. I ended up getting mine on ebay for $2.60 per pin (included shipping). Just make sure they are selling official Disney park pins, not knockoffs (the ones that are selling the officials make sure you know that from reading their listings). I think the cheapest pins we saw at the park averaged around $6 a pin, so much cheaper to do ebay for pins you’re going to trade anyway.

    Lines — someone above mentioned going to the left at Epcot. We found that going to the left, regardless of park, usually gave us the shorter lines.

    If there is dining that you want to do that you are unable to get ressies for ahead of time, make sure to call closer to your visit/once you get to the park. We were able to get ressies at the castle 2 days before the event, when they’d previously been booked.

    Disney Quest is a must do — as long as the kids are at least 48 inches (I can’t remember Cole’s age, so not sure if he would be or not). There are 3-4 things there that the height limit is 52 inches.

    Crocs . . . we wore crocs the whole time and didn’t get any of the blisters that a lot of people on disboards frequently mention.

    We boxed up breakfast and snack items and mailed them to our hotel about 10 days before we left. They will hold a package for you for up to a week before your stay. This works well if you do the dining plan, as it is good for 1 snack, 1 counter service, and 1 table service per day. We ate almost every morning in our room and saved the dining plan items for our time in the park.

    I can’t wait to go back . . . hoping you guys enjoy your trip!

  65. #73
    Kitsa

    We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge with our room balcony overlooking the roaming zebras and giraffes. Stunning! Get the meal plan–worth every penny and book your restaurants as soon as you check in your hotel to avoid disappointment. You should also ask Ali for some tips as she vacationed with her family not too long ago. I’m working on my Disney album of our trip right now so this is all bringing back great memories. You will love it!!!

  66. #74
    Leanne

    Hi Cathy,
    Planning my 6th or 7th trip for this coming Christmas. The first thing to make note of: Do not plan to do it all…..you just can’t. If you think you can, you’ll go home disappointed. Just pick the biggies that are important to your kids. Are you on the dining package? Either way, make some priorty seating (advanced dining reservations) because the best places to eat fill up quickly! Try to do the Safari early in the AM….the animals are more active and out eating the breakfast.
    Have a Magical time!

  67. #77
    Liza

    I totally didn’t read all of the comments, so this could be repeats, but….

    Do the parks counter clockwise. Everyone enters & heads right, going left has always saved us some time.

    Ditto the FastPass suggestion. We usually get the pass & then do the other rides in that area & by then the time has come for the FP use.

    Visit Beaches & Cream for dessert one night. It’s on the Disney Boardwalk. Order the Kitchen Sink. It’s served in a sink. Don’t freak out over the price, it will feed your whole family and then some. Plus it’s just plain fun.

    And this may get some eye rolling…but since you’ll be there 4 days & there’s 4 of you, I say each of you claim one day as your birthday. Stop in guest services at any of the parks & they will give you a pin with your name on it to announce it’s your birthday. (they also have first visit pins if that’s the case for any of you) Cast members will take notice & do fun things when they see it’s your birthday. I even got dessert free once, on my actual birthday. 🙂 Really though, get the pin. It’s fun.

    If it happens to be warm (it’s been in the 80’s the past week or so), there are dancing fountains in Downtown Disney that the kids can play in. The far right end of downtown.

    Also there is the World of Disney store. Visit it at the end of the trip, you can knock out all your shopping in one trip & not have to lug around multiple bags. (If you get bored, look for my buddy Steve, he’s a manager there & will make sure the whole store knows it’s your 18 birthday lol)

    What else… Animal Kingdom first thing in the morning is your best bet for animal watching. Get to the gates about 15-20 minutes before opening & Rafki (sp?) comes out to perform an ‘awaking ceremony’.
    Columbia Harbour House (Magic Kingdom) is our favorite lunch spot because it always has tons of seating available. I can think of lots more, but I’m sure you’ve got plenty by now.

    Have fun!!

  68. #78
    Michele

    Just went to WDW in October. My best advice is get there early! Remember that parking, the buses, and the monorail or boat eat up quite a bit of time before you even get to to the gates. If you arrive early, you will be able to ride many rides without waiting. By 11/12, the place is completely packed! Use FASTPASS. Grab one as soon as you get there and then go on a different ride.

  69. #79
    Alyssa

    We just got back from Disney last night. Definitely do the PhotoPASS. They actually take good pictures. It is expensive, however you can buy a cd with the photos and rights for $125.

    I love that we have great pictures of the ENTIRE family not my family minus me 🙂

    Also, look into and take advantage of the FastPass option. We did that a few times – it was really nice.

    Have fun!

  70. #80
    Robyn S

    Everyone has mentioned fastpass – go to the WDW website and you can look at rides and see which ones are fastpass. Buzz Lightyear is a must. At Animal Kingdom A bugs life is a must. Beware at the end it feels like bugs are running through your seat. EWWW.
    We have stayed at a few places but like the Fort Wilderness cabins. Sleeps six with a full kitchen. You can take the boat to the parks. When you come back the staff will have all of the kids toys set up and playing. We had army men all over the cabin playing in groups. We went to Cinderellas dinner at the Grand Floridian for DD and to Disney Quest in downtown Disney for DS. Disney Quest is a 5 story interactive awesome facility. We ate there instead of wasting time looking for another restaurant.
    We always plan part of the day at a park and then enjoy hotel time or go back at night. When you first get into WDW watch the entry show and then get in line for autographs and pics with the most important characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Other characters will be by their rides throughout the day like Alice in Wonderland.
    We also ate lunch at the castle. Make reservations if you are going to do that when you first enter the park. You can stand in line to get autographs and pictures with Cinderella, Winnie the Pooh and one other in Toon Town. It is worth the wait to go to one of them. The haunted house is a good one too.
    My kids had their faces painted and it was awesome. DD was a sparkley unicorn and DS was a dragon. The artwork incredible.
    Buy a Christmas ornament – they have so many beautiful ones.
    Most of all enjoy…… We love it there.
    Robyn S.

  71. #81
    Pam Cooper

    Get The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2008… I used the 1997 version when my son & went there in ’97 and it had the best advice. We loved Magic Kingdom and MGM but wished we had more time at Epcot. Our most favorite character dinner was at Epcot’s Garden Grill… Farmer Mickey, Minnie & Chip n’Dale were great. All of the fireworks shows are spectacular… we made sure we attended one each evening. It is a truly magical place and you’ll have fun no matter what… the characters make you feel like you’re a child again. We stayed at both Port Orleans and All-Star Sports and both were terrific places. The best part is having access to the transportation system by staying on property. Have fun!
    Pam C.
    WAco TX

  72. #82
    Nancy C.

    Other than the obvious thing of wearing the most comfortable shoes you own, look for one of the “Insider’s Guides to Disney” before you go. They give the lowdown on when the best times are to go and do certain things. We found them very accurate and a good reference to have. Don’t forget to pack sweatshirts or jackets. It can get cool at night when you’re out and about to see the fireworks and the parades.

  73. #83
    Paula

    I’m a Disneyland girl, so I can’t help you with WDW inside scoops.

    Let me just comment on your ice-skating pics… love them. I admit I’m a bit envious, as we only skate at INDOOR rinks in Phoenix. We’re lucky if our birdbaths freeze. Poured today (love that too), but it just can’t compete with snow. I guess the snow is always whiter on the other side…

    Have a great vacation! Cheers to (o:3 …Mickey.

  74. #84
    Kate

    Wow–lots of advice for you. Overwhelmed? Let me add my two cents.

    Loved the Port Orleans French Quarter resort (moderate). It was a nice quiet place to rest after the parks and fun to stroll around the “streets” of the French Quarter.

    If you go to Epcot, don’t miss Soarin. Awesome, relaxing, easy, like gliding over California.

    If you go to Magic Kingdom, don’t miss Mickey’s Philharmagic, if you like everything Disney/movies/music.

    Another vote for Cirque du Soleil. Worth every penny. Three times.

    When you got to Fort Myers, if you’re interested in a beach, I highly highly highly recommend Lovers Key State Park. Maybe go for sunset after your game. Or a picnic lunch. Make sure you take Bonita Springs Road or something like that to get there. If you go the other way (through Fort Myers Beach), you’ll be in traffic for a LONG time. But the Lovers Key side of the island is amazing. It’s a state park preserve so it’s beautiful, it’s quiet, it’s natural. I love it there.

    Don’t worry about the weather; most days are gorgeous this time of the year. That’s why people come here right now. If a cold front comes through, it might rain for a day. But it’s not going to be every day of your vacation.

    Welcome to Florida and have fun!

  75. #85
    Karen C

    Just enjoy your time with your family. There is so much to do and see at Disney World, that if you put too much thought into it it’ll just be one more headache. Pick a few things you definitely want to do and then go with the flow.
    Karen C (NH)

  76. #86
    Judy

    WE LOVE Disney and go at least every year or so. [We’re about 10 hours away -and usually camp at Ft. Wilderness – which we LOVE too!]

    If this is your first time I’d suggest having at least a plan mapped out of the must sees and must dos so you won’t miss them. My first time was like taking a test – now WHERE is that little used restroom by the pirates of the carribean?! …and I passed! Pirates, btw – very sool since they’ve added the Johnny Depp figures…

    Make your dinner / lunch reservations ahead of time so you can be sure and eat where you want – we usually try and do the big meal at lunch [<$] and enjoy – Beirgarten in Germany, Crystal Palace in MK, SciFi in MGM [I think they've changed the name of the park -] and mostly eat counter service in Animal Kingdom. We usually eat Chef Mickey's for a character meal – the night before we go into the parks since it's at the Contemporary [easy to get to using Disney transportation] – lots of characters and photo ops. If you're lucky you might get a table by the window and see Cinderella's castle at sunset.

    Shouldn't be tooo crowded so my best advise is slow down and enjoy the sunshine!

    Id you want a lot of Disney "stuff" I suggest heading over to a couple of the Disney shops at out-let malls there should be incrediable sales this time of year. Also – we've found some great sales in a tent [in an alley -ha] in Downtown Disney…

    Oh – and if you've never been to the Gulf – YO WILL LOVE THIS! – Just the best beaches in the world!

    Enjoy! Enjoy! I only wish I was heading to the beach too! But my little treat for February is seeing Donna and Stacy at Scrap Bowl in D.C. ~ J

  77. #87
    Judy

    Oh – and you may have great wireless where you’re staying – ours in the campground was the PITS the last time we were there so my boys found that the Contemporary has GREAT WIRELESS in all of their lobbies [just a short boat ride from the campground!]

  78. #88
    Angi

    Been the past 3 summers. Take good shoes. Wait out the rain. Use the magic hours to stay late or go early. Do Animal Kingdom early, Magic Kingdom late. Don’t miss the fireworks at Magic Kingdom or the light parade. Mission Space makes a lot of people sick so if in doubt – do it last so you can enjoy the rest of the day. Epcot takes a long time to tour. Try the single rider line. The line moves faster and everytime my kids did it they ended up together anyway. You’ll be tired when you get home! Have a great time.

  79. #89
    Jen B.

    I’m adding my vote for Boma–it was delicious! We also liked the Sci Fi at MGM. We spent a week at WDW for T’giving–not the best time to go because it was packed. But we loved every second. We want to go again this fall.

  80. #90
    Michele Stevenson

    Only been once, so not sage advice, but we found the Meal Plan totally paid for itself…especially if you are staying at a resort and won’t be leaving the parks much. Have a WONDERFUL vacation.

    Michele Stevenson

  81. #91
    Sandy

    Best park: Islands of Adventure…best ride: Spider Man…get there early and ride it 3 times in a row like we did and everything else you do that day will just be gravy! Other fav ride was at MGM…Tower of Terror!!! Have a great time! 🙂

  82. #92
    katie scott

    Ok, couple more things:

    Blue Man Group is at Universal and La Nouba (Cirque Du Soleil) is at Downtown Disney – both are fun shows the whole family will love.

    Also in the Ft. Myers area – the best beaches are on Sanibel/Captiva Island (remember to shuffle your feet so you don’t get stung by sting rays – and if you see sting rays swimming by that probably means sharks are following them – sharks eat sting rays – so get out of the water – (my husband and I were down there a few years ago and we thought it was so fantastic to have about a hundred sting rays swim by us – later we learned about the shark thing). And if you get over that way, eat dinner at The Bubble Room – its wonderfully Florida tacky and its got toy trains running through the whole restaurant and a Tunnel of Love photo op and the food is really really great.

    And if you do stop by St. Pete – call me! 🙂

  83. #94
    TinaG

    check ou this site – it has so much info – and sooo helpful! Allears.com really it will help! Have fun.

  84. #95
    Brooke

    If the kiddos or anyone in the family has a Nintendo DS, it can now be used with the wireless connection as an interactive park map with tons of information. Pretty cool! http://www.engadget.com/2008/01/21/disney-puts-nintendo-ds-to-use-as-interactive-tour-guide/

    You can also buy a Mickey that has lots of info – and it uses the same technology. It’s expensive, I think around $50 but the info that it has is really neat, plus it’s just damn cute. 🙂 Ahh the wonders of technology. http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/special/specialindex?id=PalMickeyPage&bhcp=1
    I’ve heard that it’s pretty neat, the reviews are great.

    Also check out http://www.mousesavers.com – a Disney discount site.

    I haven’t been to Disney recently, but I’m a travel agent so I see this stuff all the time! 😉 I just LOVE it there though, and want to take my 3 year old this year!

    Have a ton of fun!

  85. #97
    Teresa

    The African Saffari at 6am is totally worth it. Get there early…5ish, be first in line and go to the left…running. You will be in the first rides out and will see the animals come out of everywhere to eat. Was a family highlight on our visit.

  86. #98
    Cheryl Anderson

    I admit it. I love Disney and go there several times a year as I only live 2 1/2 hours away.
    Epcot-Soarin-in hanggliders over California, totally amazing
    MGM-Rock-n-Roller coaster (Cathy-I think you’d like it-it’s riding with Aerosmith)
    Magic Kingdom-Pirates of the Caribbean, Philharmagic (3-D movie clips complete with water and piped in smells-think apple pie), Buzz Light Year (every has a gun and gets points to shoot Zs)
    Monorail-go up to the front at least once and ask to sit in the very front with the conductor. You get an excellent view and get to talk to the conductor.
    Disney has some of the best chefs in the world. It is pricey but wonderful. The best food is at Epcot. You can make dinner. reservations for nicer restaurants either before or in the mornings.
    A fun little book to purchase either before or your first day there is “Hidden Mickeys.” If you are waiting in line, open it and see if there are hidden mickeys in line or other places in the park you can look for.

  87. #99
    Michelle

    What?? You are leaving the wonderland of ice and snow for parts southern? Ok, ok, wish I was going to. The negative 35 wind chill last week just about did me in! Sincerely, your Maple Plain neighbor…

  88. #100
    Karin

    If you actually get Cole off of the Rock n’ Roller Coaster….
    Please make a reservation for the photo shoot at the Grand Floridian – it seems there aren’t a lot of family portraits of the Zielske’s.
    Just saying…..

  89. #101
    Sara

    This may have already been posted but prior to our first trip to DisneyWorld I picked up a book called “Walt DisneyWorld with Kids”. It is my bible anytime we plan a trip to the park. From where to eat, how scary what rides are, how to beat the crowds, where to stand for the parade – it’s got it all! A must have. And try the Sci-Fi Dine-In at MGM. You’re eating dinner in a drive-in movie theater with classic b-movie clips playing on the big screen (remember Plan 9 From Outer Space? they’ve got it). It’s a really good time.

  90. #102
    Jaymie

    We are big fans of Disney and love allears.net and the PassPorter books to help with planning. My primary suggestion is to figure out what main things you want to do at the parks – like your top 3 or 5 and do those first. Whether they are on a simple route through the park, or you have to criss cross (which never bothers me), you can be sure that you see the attractions that are most important to your family. I like to have a plan for each day – what to hit first, etc. but walk in knowing that long – or short – lines or the wandering attention of a 5 year old can change everything. But knowing what our top 3 to 5 are, we make sure we get to those things so no one goes home thinking “But I really wanted to do (attraction/ride/show) and never got to.” Your kids may not be as interested in the characters, but meeting a certain character, for some families, can make or break a vacation, so planning to be sure that happens, can be a big help. Our favorites from our trip before Christmas were the Laugh Floor (Magic Kingdom), Buzz Lightyear (Magic Kingdom), Test Track (Epcot), Mission Space (the low-intensity version – Epcot), Mama Melrose for dinner (Disney Studios), and the Castle show at Magic Kingdom.

  91. #103
    Ashley

    The best thing we did in planning our WDW trip 3 years ago was to sign up for http://www.tourguidemike.com. I believe it costs around $20, but it is so worth it. The guy that runs the site is a personal tour guide at Disney World that you can hire for big bucks. The site is the tips he uses himself when taking people on tours of WDW. It was well worth the money.

    Have a wonderful time!!

  92. #104
    Susan

    Relax and Enjoy! You will not see it all even if you were there for a week – decide on the “I don’t want to miss” items ahead of time and don’t stress. The parades are great – don’t miss Fantasmic (SP?) in MGM it’s wonderful – but you do need to be there early. I can’t tell you how many tired and bickering families I have seen at Magic Kingdom – it’s not about doing it all but having fun and making memories with your family. Walking into Magic Kingdom always makes me feel like anything in this world is possible LOL You will be humming Disney tunes for months to come. If you have a Disney store in your mall grab some shirts – so fun. Make sure you wear ears, comfy shoes, and a smile – it truly is the happiest place on earth!

  93. #105
    Becky

    Another vote for Port Orleans Riverside at Disney! I LOVE Disney, and that’s my favorite moderate resort…if you decide on that location, check out the Alligator Bayou rooms. They offer two double beds, and a trundle bed, which provides some extra sleeping room.

    So happy for you! We won’t be going back until 2009.

    Two favorite sites for info:
    mousesavers.com
    disboards.com

    Have FUN!!

  94. #106
    Rebecca

    Love Disney! So excited for you and your family to go! Too many things to say in this tiny little spot. Made a post on my blog of my top picks! Go to: joscrapper.blogspot.com
    Have a magical trip!

  95. #108
    bev

    I could write for hours and hours on Disney, but I think all these tips you’ve already got will probably just scare and overwhelm you.

    Disney is HUGE, 4 days is not long. My advice would be make a simple plan (not 9.15 Splash Mountain, just Monday – Magic Kingdom), book at least one Character meal, use FastPass, and have a great time. You won’t see it all, so don’t even try.

    Which moderate have you booked? We love the moderates, Port Orleans French Quarter is my favorite, but they are all very nice, you won’t be disappointed with any of them.

    If you have the time / inclindatin to do some research, http://www.thedibb.co.uk or http://www.disboards.com are both great resourcse.

  96. #109
    Hannah

    Two main Disney Tips…

    the Meal Plan is WORTH EVERY PENNY!!!!!

    and say YES to FASTPASS!

    🙂 Enjoy

  97. #110
    Carla

    What a coincidence… yesterday I was planning my Disney trip – maybe inApril, I don~t know… so, as I don’t have any tip to share with you, I’ll wait for YOUR tips… and picures, and histories!!! Have a wonderful planning and trip!! Enjoy your family!!!

  98. #111
    Debbi G.

    Cathy, this is the site I have used to plan our last 4 trips to Disney World. The info has been accurate. http://wdwinfo.com/

    I highly recommend the Family Magic Tour at the Magic Kingdom!! TOTALLY worth the money. It’s a “scavenger hunt” through the park and everyone I’ve told agrees it was the best.

    On our last trip we used Tour Guide Mike and it was pretty cool. It’s about 20 bucks. He will give you an itinerary based on the actual dates you’ll be going to the parks. TONS of tips, from which days of the week are best for each park (to avoid crowds) to which side of the line is quicker when waiting for rides to which rides to go on first and SO much more. We didn’t necessarily use the itineraries, but it was helpful to know where to go and when.

    If you ride the monorail, ask to sit in the front with the driver. They will put 4 people up there and it’s great. One night we watched the fireworks from there…the kids loved it.

    Rides and attractions:
    MK – laugh floor (interactive comedy)

    MGM – Fantasmic is awesome, do the dinner tickets for priority seating at the show

    EPCOT – Coral Reef for lunch/dinner (make reservations and ask for a table on the glass of the aquarium…again, great that you have 4 people for this too.

    AK – If your kids love animals they will love the Safari.

    OK, I think this is long enough. When I start on Disney I could go on all day. I just tried to mention things that weren’t already mentioned in another post.

    Relax and have fun!

  99. #112
    Molly

    You will have a wonderful time at WDW. My kids have said it is their favorite place to go, other than Hawaii. We have taken them at all different ages; and whether 6 months or 12 years old, they have a blast. You have received great info and I agree with the following:

    Go to the left in line, always shorter.

    Take drinks and snacks with you. We packed a suitcase with food and drinks for the week; mini cereals, instant oatmeal, poptarts, fruit snacks, granola bars, cheese & crackers, etc.. We emptied the mini fridge and put in milk and juices. We refilled our backpacks each day and were off. It saved us a ton of money. The food is so expensive that we decided to eat lightly for breakfast and just buy 2 meals each day.

    Be at the parks early and go on the popular rides first thing; unless you have fast passes. Then go back to the hotel in the afternoon to rest and swim. Head back to the park for the evening events. My kids were much happier, and so were we- we were there for 5 days and so did not have to pack in all into one day.

    You can rent a stroller there–it is great for storing your stuff and we never had a problem with theft.

    If you plan on getting character autographs have a book and pen ready from the beginning.

    Have Fun!

  100. #113
    Patricia

    This is a lame tip but one I am so glad someone gave me. There is a wonderful Dole pineapple ice-cream treat and well worth finding. It is listed under Dole on the map.

  101. #114
    Sonja

    Best advise is to use the Fast Pass wisely. We used the touring plans in July 06 – we were on every major ride within 2 hours of park opening during the busiest time of year. They definitely work. Also, just enjoy…don’t stress about seeing everything. Beforehand, ask everyone in your family the ONE thing they really want to do, and do that. Too easy to get pulled in too many directions. Also, DH took autograph book down to hotel front desk and had staff “sign” for various Disney characters. Saved hours of waiting in line and DD never knew the difference.

  102. #116
    Maria

    Cathy,You should get the dining plan it’s worth every penny. You get lots of food. One snack, counter meal and dinner per day per person and there’s so much food to choose from. Call 407 WDW-Dine they have tons of information and they will help set up all your reservations.
    We went to Boma last year we didn’t care for it, the kids Hated it.
    If you like roller coasters you have to ride Mt. Everest and the Rockin’ Roller coaster and don’t forget the Tower of Terror.Also the Kilimanjaro Safari is great.Also get Park Hopper tickets so you can visit more than one park per day.Don’t forget to pack rain ponchos.Wear comfortable shoes and don’t forget the sunscreen. Hope you have a wonderful trip.

  103. #117
    Julia S

    Just wanted to say you must ride Rockin Rollercoaster in MGM. Seriously the best rollercoaster and you jam with Aerosmith all the way through..so cool! And Tower of Terror. As far the rest..the Animal Kingdom Safari was amazing. There’s a new rollercoaster there as well that looks amazing. We just did our thing, relaxed and had fun. That I’m sure you know is the key to Disney! We’re hoping to go in July! Have a great time!

  104. #118
    Ana

    Oh, that’s FUN!!! I’m sure you and your family will have a blast at Disney World! I did, almost 15 years ago! 😉

  105. #119
    Shannon

    Don’t miss eating at the more casual restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge — it’s a good one because you can be adventurous and try the different African foods, but also have Americanized food if you’re not into the African stuff. And don’t freak out about the prices for water and stuff like that. It’s not that bad. I’d rather pay more for water in the park than drag a bunch of stuff around there with me all day. Travel light inside the parks — that’s a biggie. And the moderate resorts are great — we stayed at the Carribbean Beach Resort or whatever it’s called? It was really nice. Make reservations for a couple of character meals, too. They are so much fun!

  106. #120
    Vanessa

    Ooh! Enjoy!

    We’ve done that type of escape from MN twice. My DS thought the Spring Training game was “the bomb”. Truly baseball like baseball should be! Have fun!!

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