Don't be scared of the 50th anniversary crowds--I encountered nothing worse than in previous years (we always go the 1st week in Nov.). Just don't go near a holiday, and don't go to DL on Sat (go to DCA instead).
There were 6 of us: my husband and myself, my 3 sons (ages 9, 7 and 3) and my daughter (3 mo).
We stayed at the BWPPI (minisuite with two Q beds, pull out couch, and crib) and ate free pancakes every morning. Brought OJ boxes in with us to the restaurant. REALLY saved on breakfast costs. I really, really love that hotel--we stay there every year. Can't get closer to the crosswalk to DL.
Wednesday: Got to DL at opening and did all the rides in Fantasyland, Frontierland, Adventureland, and No Sq--were done by 1:30. Ate PB&J sandwiches by the Rivers of America. Went to the hotel and swam and napped. Back to DL at 5:30 for Billy Hill and dinner there. We did Critter Country and stayed til closing at 8. Very light crowds.
Thursday: our early entry day. Got to DL at 8 and did all the Fantasyland rides again. Then Tomorrowland. Then Toontown (stayed there and hour) and Frontierland again (I think Big Thunder is my favorite ride) until our Blue Bayou PS for 11:50. We did a LOT from 8 to noon! There were no lines! Ate there (I had great jambalaya!); service was so slow that my husband was able to take my kids on Pirates TWICE during the meal (between ordering and getting the food, and again after eating and waiting for the check). I love that place but next time I'll be sure to get the earlier PS; not only is there a much better chance of a water table (not that I care that much about the water table actually), the service is quicker too.
Then back to the hotel for swimming and napping again. We actually skipped dinner that day--we just ate a lot of fruit and snacks. We got to the park late--6 pm--and did the Matterhorn and saw the Parade of Dreams before DL closed at 8.
Friday: We entered DL at 9, and split up. The older group (husband and 7 and 9 year olds) did all the e-ticket "Mountain Rides" while I did Fantasyland and Toontown again with my babies (3 and infant). We met at the rafts to Tom Sawyer island at 11. That worked out great. Then we went to TS Island and had our PB&J and tuna sandwiches there on that nice picnic table overlooking the river. The kids then ran around the island for an hour, then back to the hotel for swimming and napping again.
We ate at the Rainforest Cafe at 4:30. It was OK but I don't think we'll go there again. It's too long a walk into Downtown Disney! And the kids are used to the rain and AA animals now, so it's not as fascinating as it has been in years past. Then from 6-8:30 at DCA; we did all the Flik's Fun Fair lame rides and then Redwood Creek, my boys' FAVORITE thing to do in DCA. They could stay there all day.
Then we went back to DL (at 8:30) to the train station to get ready to watch the fireworks. We took turns saving the spot and watching the 50th anniversary film while we waited.
Then, immediately after the fireworks, we immediately hopped a train to NO Sq. to watch Fantasmic. Waited 1/hr for that. Immediately after Fantasmic we went on Pirates to let the crowds clear out. Piece of cake--and we completely avoided walking through any crowds both for the fireworks and Fantasmic. Left DL around 11:30 pm.
Saturday: got to DCA at opening, 10 am. We did Soarin and Redwood Creek again until the Aladdin show at 12:30. Watched Aladdin, then back to the hotel for swimming and napping. Back to DCA at the Wine Country Trattoria for dinner. Fabulous restaurant. Great food and service and perfect view of the small DCA parade (forgot the name of it). Then after dinner we did the Cartoon-drawing thing, the Muppet show, the rides at the boardwalk, and TOT for the adults (my kids refuse to go on that one).
Then it was 8:30 and time to go back to DL for the fireworks. Saved the train station spot for an hour again. Saw the fireworks (decided to skip a 2nd viewing of Fantasmic), then the "young group" went to the hotel while the older group stayed until closing going on the e-ticket rides.
Left for home (SF Bay Area) on Sunday.
We've been going every year for 7 years and this was probably our BEST trip. It's nice that EVERYTHING was actually up and running except IASW.
I'm so sad the trip is over! I have DL Depression. Next Nov is so far away!