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  1. #1

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    DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    Hi all,
    My friend and I are both Disneyland regulars, and we've had annual passes for several years. This year, we bought the Premiere pass (the one that works at both DLR and WDW) because we were already intending to be in Florida for a work related event next spring, so wanted to combine a Disney World trip with that. We're now planning two trips - First, we'll be going for 4 days in September over a weekend, and we've already booked rooms with the current passholder offer for that time period, at the All Star Sports Resort hotel. Second, we'll be going for approximately 7-9 days in March 2012.
    I grew up on the east coast and went to Disney World as a kid, but as an adult living in SoCal, I'm now just use to Disneyland and its been a long time since I was in Orlando. My friend is a really big Disney fan in general, but she has never been to WDW. I've read the post here on micechat about WDW for DLR vets, which was helpful.
    Does anyone have any tips for what things we must see, where to eat, when to make dining reservations, etc? I know that there is such a huge difference in size and how you get around from one park to another at WDW as opposed to DLR (where we can just easily park hop back and forth several times a day) so we really want to plan as much as possible. Also, are there things we should focus on in the short trip in September that would be good for someone who has never been before?
    From what I can tell, another huge difference is going to be dining, so I'd love some suggestions in that arena. Also, what are the best ways to see shows / events like the fireworks and Fantasmic?

    Thanks!!!

  2. #2

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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    Did I post this in the wrong place or something? I'm really confused as to why there are absolutely no replies???

  3. #3

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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    Haha, I'll be the first to respond.

    If it's affordable, I would consider renting a car when you stay at the All Star Resort because the bus ride can be rather long and crowded depending on when you travel. If you have a car, it makes it easier to get around the resort on your time, you have free parking as a resort guest, and you know at least you'll always have a seat which might not happen on an overcrowded bus.

    It's good that you're staying on property, that way you can enjoy the benefits of Extra Magic Hours. A great way to plan the day is to be at the parks at opening and then head back to the hotel around 3, when the parks are at their busiest and hottest and cool down. Then go back in when you feel like it.

    I'd skip our Downtown Disney until your longer trip.

    Make sure you research park operating hours in advance, including Extra Magic Hours (EMH), which rotate throughout the week. Also check for any ride rehabs that may be happening during your stay.
    Remember that if a park has EMH in the morning, that park will most likely be more crowded when regular operating hours role around. Likewise, evening EMH days bring larger crowds in the evening until after the regular day guests leave.

    As a reintroduction to Walt Disney World, I would suggest focusing on all the attractions that are significantly different than Disneyland.

    Attractions that are worth seeing as being WDW exclusive or significantly different than there Disneyland counterparts:

    Magic Kingdom
    The Jungle Cruise (starts in the Amazon ends in the Mekong, wider vistas, more temple ruins)
    Country Bear Jamboree
    The Hall of Presidents
    The Haunted Mansion (see the new queue, library/endless staircase scenes, stretch room audio, new hitchhiking ghost effect)
    Mickey's Philharmagic
    The Winnie-the-Pooh Queue (Don't have to ride the ride, just see the queue as an example of the future of WDW queues.)
    The Carousel of Progress
    The Peoplemover
    Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor (think Turtle Talk, only bigger)
    Space Mountain (a bit more thrilling, but less high-tech than DL)
    *Stitch's Great Escape* (Only worth seeing for someone interested in all attractions not found at Disneyland. Not advisable with little time.)
    Ride our version of your favorite Disneyland Attraction and compare if you have the time

    *Check the dates for the Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties, because on party days the park closes at 7. Days in between party days can be crowded. It's sometimes worth paying the extra amount for the party because they are less crowded, especially in Sept. Fireworks are just the same as Disneyland Halloween Fireworks, minus the Jack Skellington head and flying Zero. Boo to You Parade is better than the Disneyland's in my opinion.*

    Epcot

    Future World:
    Spaceship Earth
    Mission: Space
    Test Track (good preview of the sort of technology for Radiator Springs Racers)
    Seas with Nemo and Friends (Enter through the exit to see the aquarium, or ride the omnimover variation of the Nemo Subs)
    Living with the Land (Shares the same building with Soarin', but skip the later attraction because it's the same film as DCA's)
    Ellen's Energy Adventure (If you'd like to see vintage original Epcot technology and Ellen DeGeneres in the same building.)

    World Showcase:
    See the individual Country Pavilions as guided by your interests.
    Both Norway and Mexico have boat rides, Mexico's featuring the Three Caballeros
    China and Canada have Circlevision films
    France has a relaxing travel film
    The American Adventure is an impressive show, make sure you check the times guide to see the Voices of Liberty a cappella group before the show.
    Illuminations: Reflections of Earth (Nightly fireworks, I like to stand in Japan, Italy or Canada, make sure your near lagoon, good spots can be found 15 minutes before the show as long as you do not mind looking over shoulders or are able to find a breach in the audience. Arrive earlier for front of the railing spots.)

    Disney's Hollywood Studios
    The Great Movie Ride (sort of the centerpiece attraction for the park)
    Indiana Jones Stunt Show
    Lights, Motors, Action Car Stunt Show
    Rock n' Rollercoaster
    The Citizens of Hollywood (Streetmosphere performers, if you see these actors out on the streets of old Hollywood, be sure to interact with them or take a moment to watch their shows)
    One Man's Dream (Great exhibit and film about Walt Disney)
    Backlot Tram Tour (ok if you have time to kill, don't knock yourself out to see it.)
    Tower of Terror (Take time to explore the area around the building, the attraction is mostly the same except for one 5th dimension scene where the elevator changes shafts. The building itself is quite beautiful and unique to WDW.)
    I would probably skip Fantasmic due to it being mostly the same show as Disneyland's. I will concede that Disneyland has the better Fantasmic.

    Animal Kingdom
    Take time to explore the hidden trails and details of this park. Unleash your adventurous side. If you see a trail that does not say, "exit or Cast Members only", explore it. The details and stories of this park are amazing, just take it slow and enjoy!

    Festival of the Lion King (Most popular show in all of WDW)
    Kilimanjaro Safaris (Ride in the morning or late afternoon when the animals are most active)
    Pangani Forest Trail (Great trail in Africa to see gorillas, hippos and meercats.)
    Conservation Station (Good if you have extra time and would like to take a train ride past the animal barns. Conservation station features a petting zoo and a look into the veterinary facilities of Animal Kingdom)
    Trails around the Tree of Life
    The garden seating area around Flame Tree Barbecue (Notice the theme of the hunter and its prey in the individual shelters throughout the area.)
    Kali River Rapids (If you don't mind getting soaked it's a pleasant enough river ride. Skip if line is too long. If line is short check out the details in the queue area even if you do not ride.)
    Maharajah Jungle Trek (Animal trail through the ruins of an Indian Palace to see Komodo Dragons, Tigers and Flying Foxes. Details are amazing!)
    Flights of Wonder ( Entertaining bird show demonstrating the natural talents of birds)
    Expedition Everest (Great coaster despite a flawed Yeti, if line isn't too long wait in stand-bye queue to see the impressive details and a better understanding of the ride's story)
    Finding Nemo the Musical (good Broadway style musical about everyone's favorite clownfish.)
    Dinosaur (Sure it's the same ride track as Indy, but it manages to be a lot scarier.)
    If time permits, check out the details of Chester and Hester's DinoStore and the Restaurantosaurus. Chester and Hester's is full of kitschy dinosaur stuff on the walls, while Restaurantosaurus details what a dorm for paleontology interns might look like. Humorous details abound.

    DINING
    I would highly recommend, if money permits, eating at one table service restaurant per day. I did this at Disneyland Paris and it was nice to break up the push of the day to enjoy a nice seated atmosphere. Some of WDW table service restaurants offer amazing atmospheres and the food is usually very good. I'll also list decent counter service locations.

    Magic Kingdom
    This park has the least spectacular food. All table service restaurants are decent, yet unimaginative.
    Table Service:
    Tony's Town Square (Italian, probably has the best atmosphere)
    Crystal Palace (character buffet)
    Plaza Restaurant (good for light lunches)
    Liberty Tree Tavern (Homestyle cooking)
    Cinderella's Golden Table (Super-busy princess dinner in the castle. Lot's of children. Needs some sprucing up in decor for the price.)
    Counter Service:
    I recommend the following-
    Pecos Bill's in Fronteirland (good toping bar and build-your-own taco salad)
    Columbia Harbor House (Decent fish and chicken basket. Nice upstairs seating area.)
    Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe (Busiest of the MK restaurants, 3 bays of choices, mildly entertaining animatronic alien lounge singer in largest dining room.)
    Casey's Corner (Decent hot dogs. Outdoor, ragtime piano player)

    Epcot
    By far the largest variety of foods and atmosphere in either table or counter service.
    Notable Table Service Restaurants:
    Coral Reef (Huge windows look out on the main tank of the Seas with Nemo and Friends. Can be loud due to children)
    Le Celier (Canadian Steakhouse, famous for it's cheddar cheese soup.)
    Rose and Crown Pub (Good pub food at the bar, not a lot of seating, great entertainment from the Hat/Piano Lady, Carol Stein, who might makeup a song about you or take your favorite tune and combine it with your favorite composer. Pub does not require reservations, reservations suggested for restaurant.)
    Chefs de France (Remy may show up on the cheese cart, part of the living character initiative, plus the french food is very good.)
    Biergarten in Germany (German Buffet with a great German band.)
    San Angel Inn (Mexican restaurant on the banks of a boat ride in the same manner of the Blue Bayou.)

    Counter Service:
    All the counter service locations are good. These are the best in my opinion-
    Sunshine Seasons at the Land Pavilion (Food court, good for food other than hamburgers and hotdogs.)
    Bouangerie Patisserie (French Bakery)
    Yakitori House (Japanese)
    Tangierine Cafe (Moroccan)
    Lotus Blossom Cafe (Chinese)

    Hollywood Studios
    This park has the most unusual dining locations of all the parks.
    Best Table Service:
    Hollywood Brown Derby (Fine dining re-creation of the Hollywood landmark. Delicious food.)
    50's Prime Time Cafe (Famous for it's atmosphere of a 50's kitchen and televisions playing clips from classic shows of the era. Great interactions with your servers who happen to be your Uncle Joe or Aunt Martha and will always make sure you don't eat with your elbows on the table and all your veggies are gone before dessert! Peanut Butter and Jelly Milkshakes are the best!)
    Sci-Fi Dine-In (Food is decent, but the real draw is the atmosphere! Your table is a car in a drive in theatre under the starry skies as the screen plays clips of b-movie space monsters.)

    Counter Service is mostly hamburgers and hot dogs. Pretty much decent wherever.

    Animal Kingdom

    Table Service:
    Tusker House Restaurant (Great African inspired buffet, theming is great, make sure to order the "Jungle Juice".)
    Yak and Yeti Restaurant (Decent Asian inspired dishes, better than the counter service offerings just outside.)
    Rainforest Cafe (Run of the Mill chain just outside the park entrance.)

    Counter Service:
    Flame Tree Barbecue (Decent barbecue, nice out door garden seating area when weather isn't too hot.)
    Pizzafari (Decent Pizza, interesting artwork in each of the dining rooms.)
    Restarauntosaurus (Decent hamburgers, overwhelming amount of detail throughout dining area.)

    I hope this hasn't been too much info for you. Let me know if you have another questions.

  4. #4

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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    I always smile when someone asks for Disney World advice. Disney World is such a big place. There's so much to see and do. It is overwhelming to visit there, and overwhelming to know exactly how to respond.

    A four day trip in September is just enough time to get one's feet wet in Disney World. My very first trip to Disney World was also in the month of September. It too was a four day trip. I remember it wasn't very crowded, but it was pretty hot. I don't know if you are swimmers, but you might want to pack your swim attire, so that you can plan some time each day in the hotel swimming pool. I have never stayed at the All Stars Resorts, but the other value hotel, Pop Century had very nice swimming pools. Exploring one's own hotel is actually a fun past time. I try and take some time to do that on each of my Disney World vacations. Too many people spend time at these resorts, and never "taste the resort". They are too busy heading to the parks.

    I like to caution people about not trying to do too much in such a short period of time. It just leaves me frustrated when I plan way more than I can actually do. Instead, I now try and have a workable plan where I at least know ahead of time what park I am going to visit each day. Since I am an early riser, I almost always arrive at park opening. This is especially beneficial on days when there is early entry at the park that I am headed to. I find that I can do a whole lot in that extra hour in the morning. I have never been fond of the Extra Magic Hours in the evening, since I rarely want to stay up that late at night when on vacation. I can't burn the candle at both ends.

    For me, I usually eat most breakfasts at the hotel food court. Most of them open early enough to allow you to eat, and still be able to board the bus to the themepark of your choice. If I do want to book a special breakfast somewhere, I always coordinate that with the themepark that I am visiting that day.

    Transportation is a key ingredient to a successful WDW vacation. Driving a car is not necessary when vacationing at WDW, since the transportation system can get you around quite nicely. It is wise to study the way it works ahead of time so that you always know how to get from point A to point B in the least amount of time.

    Parkhopping is an art. It's a good idea to find out the hours for the parks which will be in place during your vacation. You can then plan your day better around those hours. Some people start out at one park in the morning, perhaps taking advantage of early entry, then leave that park for a midday swim/relaxation period at their hotel, and then switch to another park at night perhaps for rides, and entertainment such as Fantasmic, or Illuminations. I am a firm believer in planning some type of rest period into each day. Be it a hotel swim, or a leisurely dining experience.

    I always make sure that I know some very basic things before I go traveling to WDW. The park hours are one. The times for all parades, fireworks and shows is another. I sometimes plan a priority seating for each day of my vacation, to allow myself the fun and enjoyment of all the special dining that is present at Disney World. I familiarize myself with the attractions at each park that I am going to, and make myself a list of my "favorites". Then I head for those first. That way, I am immediately satisfied, and the rest of my day is gravy, so to speak.

    It all sounds hectic, but it actually makes my visits less stressful to just know the basics. Then there's plenty of time for spontaneity, and magic to happen.

  5. #5

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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    Quote Originally Posted by cdwatts View Post
    Did I post this in the wrong place or something? I'm really confused as to why there are absolutely no replies???
    Probably because your questions are very general - WDW is so big that asking such general questions is kinda overwhelming. See everything, almost all places to eat are good, ride the stuff they don't have at DL at least once.

    I would go to allears.net and look around and try to piece together a trip like that, then ask a little more specific questions.

    I am glad you have gotten some good replies, as you can see there is A LOT of info out there!!

    One thing that wasn't mentioned - look into the dining places at the hotels. I suggest: California Grill, The Wave, O'Hana, Kona Cafe, Cape May Cafe, and Whispering Canyon. But there are soooo many I want to go to but haven't yet!

    The nice thing about having 2 trips planned is that you can check it out on your first trip and get a list of things to do for your second!
    Good morning, son
    In twenty years from now
    Maybe we'll both sit down and have a few beers
    And I can tell you 'bout today
    And how I picked you up and everything changed
    It was pain
    Sunny days and rain
    I knew you'd feel the same things...





  6. #6

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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    Thanks for all of these answers! I'll be printing these posts out to help us plan what to see (and what to eat). The info about what is significantly different f/ DLR (and thus should be focused on) is great... I recently had a trip to DLR with two out-of-town relatives who had experienced WDW but not DLR and they were going on about how different everything is. It's been so long since I've been to WDW, it's hard to remember the differences - other than the overall size of course.

    About dining - I'm now wondering if I should have added a dining plan onto my September hotel reservation? And if it will be worth it to add that to the March trip? We don't have anything like that at DLR, and I'm usually only there for one day at a time anyway. But dining at WDW seems like a different sort of experience, so I'm wondering if it would be worth it to look into dining plan options.

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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    Quote Originally Posted by cdwatts View Post
    Thanks for all of these answers! I'll be printing these posts out to help us plan what to see (and what to eat). The info about what is significantly different f/ DLR (and thus should be focused on) is great... I recently had a trip to DLR with two out-of-town relatives who had experienced WDW but not DLR and they were going on about how different everything is. It's been so long since I've been to WDW, it's hard to remember the differences - other than the overall size of course.

    About dining - I'm now wondering if I should have added a dining plan onto my September hotel reservation? And if it will be worth it to add that to the March trip? We don't have anything like that at DLR, and I'm usually only there for one day at a time anyway. But dining at WDW seems like a different sort of experience, so I'm wondering if it would be worth it to look into dining plan options.
    Dining Options - DDP, Tables In Wonderland
    This really depends on your dining habits. As a general rule, the DDP as it exists right now is not a good deal. Unless you take advantage of every single one of your entitlements (too much food for most people), and get the most expensive items possible, you will be paying more for the DDP than you would if you just paid for everything out of pocket. Even if you do maximize your entitlements and get the most expensive things possible, depending on where you eat, you still may just break even. And you will be locked into eating what you've already paid for by buying the DDP rather than having the freedom to eat what/when/where you choose. Suffice it to say, I do not recommend the DDP.

    However, as you have the Premiere AP, you will be eligible for Tables In Wonderland (TIW) which is something I recommend considering. TIW is $75 for a one year membership if you're an AP holder. If you're planning on paying together (not separate checks) only one person in your party needs it for your entire party to take advantage of it. TIW will entitle you to 20% off your food and beverage cost (including alcohol) at all Disney table service restaurants (TSRs) and most 3rd party TSRs (the only TSRs I'm aware of that don't accept TIW are those owned by Landfrey's - Rainforest Cafe, T-Rex, and Yak & Yeti). You'll also get 20% off at all quick service restaurants at locations where there are no Disney TSRs (Animal Kingdom and the Value Resorts) - this is relevant to you as it will get you 20% off at the All Star Sports food court, and if you plan on buying a refillable mug, you'll get 20% off of that too. An 18% gratuity will automatically be added when using TIW at a TSR (for this reason, I usually don't tell my server I have TIW until I'm ready to pay - that way I don't have to worry about lousy service 'cause the server knows their tip is guaranteed).

    Depending on the size of your party and how often you plan on eating at table service restaurants, there's a very good chance this will pay for itself and then some. If you use it enough, it's guaranteed to save you money and won't restrict your freedom as far as where you're "entitled" to eat (both things that can't be said about the DDP).

    Dining Advice
    For the most part, aakdisneydreamer gave you some really good advice, but I'm going to throw in my own $0.02. I'd recommend checking the menus at Disney World Restaurants | Walt Disney World Resort so you know both the menu options and pricing. For any table service restaurant, make reservations ASAP - they become available 6 months out. Here are some of the highlights as far as what to try and what to avoid IMO:

    Magic Kingdom - Table Service
    • Tony's Town Square - Probably the most universally poorly reviewed TSR at WDW. Food is just flat-out bad. Avoid this.
    • Cinderella's Royal Table - Pricey, atmosphere and food are both lacking. The only reason to eat here is if you have princess-obsessed children or to say you ate in the Castle. Again, one to avoid.
    • The Plaza Restaurant - Often overlooked, but a nice place for a relaxing lunch or dinner. If you're on DDP, avoid this as it's super-cheap for a TSR so you won't be getting your money's worth. If you have TIW, this is actually cheaper than a MK quick service restaurant but with better quality food and you get waited on.
    • Crystal Palace - Nice buffet, very similar to 1900 Park Fare and Chef Mickey's. The primary differentiation among all 3 is the location and the characters. This has Pooh characters.
    • Liberty Tree Tavern - Lunch is a la carte, dinner is family style fixed menu/price. I prefer lunch where they serve one of the best burgers on property. Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake is a cult favorite WDW dessert.

    Magic Kingdom - Quick Service
    • Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn Cafe - Standard quick service, but good atmosphere and though they're really all the same everywhere, lots of people swear that the quick service burgers "just taste better here."
    • Columbia Harbor House - My personal favorite quick service restaurant on property. Good selection, but the highlight is the somewhat secluded second floor which is not accessible for those with strollers. This means it tends to be very quiet, peaceful, and relaxing - also one of the rooms on the 2nd floor forms a "bridge" over the border between Fantasyland and Liberty Square which is a great place to people watch.

    Epcot - Table Service
    • Tutto Italia - Overpriced and inconsistent as far as food quality goes. One to avoid.
    • Le Cellier - Very good but no longer lives up to the hype. It's impossible to get into, but if you're going to try, go for lunch when it's cheaper and the food is almost exactly the same.
    • San Angel Inn - Great Mexican food with great atmosphere.
    • Via Napoli - The best pizza on property. Pizza is expensive, but a large pizza will feed 4.
    • Biergarten - Great German buffet with live entertainment.
    • Chefs de France - Great food overall. Try to get in during lunch where you can see Remy (very entertaining) and it's a little cheaper.
    • Rose and Crown - Great bar, and not bad food.
    • Bistro de Paris - A personal favorite. The most expensive TSR in this park, and one of the more expensive ones on property, so not somewhere I go all the time, but for special occasions, you cannot beat the food, service, and atmosphere here. If this is in the budget, get a late reservation and ask for a window seat so you can watch Illuminations from your table. Superb.

    Epcot - Quick Service
    Anywhere that isn't Electric Umbrella or Liberty Inn (unless you're looking for just plain, standard American theme park fast food) depending on your tastes. You can't go wrong here.

    Hollywood Studios - Table Service
    • Sci-Fi Dine In - Really, really fun atmosphere themed to a '50s drive in theater. Decent food.
    • Prime Time '50s - Like the Jungle Cruise, the amount of fun you have here depends on your skipper, er, I mean server. They treat you like you're the kids in a '50s sitcom and they're the parents. Lots of fun with a good server, but the food isn't spectacular.
    • Mama Melrose - Often overlooked, but some of the best Italian on property.
    • Hollywood Brown Derby - Great food, nice atmosphere, pricey.

    Hollywood Studios - Quick Service
    • Sunset Ranch Market - Has a lot of variety but is outside so may be unpleasant depending on the weather
    • Pizza Planet - basic pizza and salad, but kids love it
    • ABC Commissary - has more adult tastes

    Animal Kingdom - Table Service

    • Yak & Yeti - Great Asian cuisine. Will not accept Tables In Wonderland. One of 2 TSRs in this park, the other being Rainforest Cafe. But seriously, why would you go to Rainforest Cafe in WDW when they're all over the place?

    Animal Kingdom - Quick Service

    • Flame Tree Barbecue - Great BBQ, between the food and the location/theme, it's generally considered the best quick service restaurant at WDW.
    • Pizzafari - The only quick service restaurant with air conditioning in this park
    • There really are no bad quick service locations in this park

    Out of Park Dining Highlights
    • Beaches and Cream - A "best kept secret," this TSR which doesn't take reservations has the best ice cream on property. Tucked away at the Beach Club Resort, this is walkable from Epcot. A great place to go for dessert after Illuminations. Ask a CM for directions.
    • California Grill - Dinner here offers great food and a gorgeous view of the sun setting over the Magic Kingdom from the top of the Contemporary Resort. Some people love to watch the MK fireworks here. They pipe in the music, but it's still not as good as seeing the fireworks from in front of the castle IMHO. On the pricey side.
    • Big River Grille & Brewing Works - Another TSR that doesn't take reservations; good food and the only microbrewery on property. At the Boardwalk Inn, also walkable from Epcot.
    • Whispering Canyon Cafe - Offers pretty good "all you care to eat" barbecue and some of the most fun atmosphere on property. It's hard to describe the experience but the word that comes to mind is "rowdy." Lots of yelling, screaming, and servers doing some flat out crazy things. In the Wilderness Lodge.
    • Portobello - Probably the best Italian on property. Not cheap, but incredible food. At Downtown Disney.
    • Yachtsman Steakhouse - Definitely not cheap, but fan consensus is that they have the best steaks on property. At the Yacht Club resort.
    • Victoria and Albert's - WDW's flagship (and most expensive) restaurant and one of less than five 5 star restaurants in FL. If you're a foodie, you'll think you've died and gone to heaven. Otherwise, it may be a little too fancy. Formal attire required. At the Grand Floridian Resort.

    Transportation
    Inter-park transportation is actually pretty simple for the most part. The best and fastest way in most cases is to just drive (if you'll have a car). This will save you a TON of time. Driving yourself in WDW is almost always faster than relying on resort transportation. The one exception to this is if you're going to the Magic Kingdom. You can't park right at the Magic Kingdom - you have to park at the Transportation & Ticket Center (TTC) and take the monorail or ferry to the MK. So, if you can get a bus directly to the MK (available at all non-monorail Disney resorts), that may be faster than driving to the TTC and getting connecting transportation.

    If you won't be able to drive yourself, <link removed> should be helpful for understanding the basics. A few things I think are worth pointing out:
    • The bus wait times can vary. A lot. Sometimes a bus will be waiting for you the moment you walk to the bus stop. Sometimes you'll wait over a half hour and see multiple buses for every destination except the one you're waiting for. This can be maddening. If you're going to rely on Disney Transport, accept this now. That's the way it is. When you rely on Disney Transport, you're on their (unpredictable) schedule, so decide to be OK w/ going w/ the flow here.
    • Despite what I said above, direct point-to-point bus transportation is pretty much always the fastest way to get anywhere if you're relying on Disney Transport.
    • Unless you're going to/from a resort, there is no point-to-point transportation for Epcot or the MK as they rely on the TTC as their transportation hub. If you want to go anywhere from Epcot or MK that isn't a resort, you have to go to the TTC first. If you want to get to the MK or Epcot from Animal Kingdom or the Studios, you'll be taken to the TTC first.
    • Because of the necessity of connecting at the TTC when going to/from the MK or Epcot, it can often be faster to take direct transportation to a resort within walking distance and then walk from that resort. Walking distance resorts are listed below:
      • Magic Kingdom
        • The Contemporary (medium walk)

      • Epcot (enter at the International Gateway in World Showcase - back of the park)
        • The Beach Club (short walk)
        • The Boardwalk (short walk)
        • The Yacht Club (medium walk)
        • Swan & Dolphin (long walk)

      • Studios
        • Swan & Dolphin (medium walk)
        • The Boardwalk (long walk)
        • The Yacht Club (long walk)
        • The Beach Club (really long walk)


    • If you're in Future World in Epcot, the quickest way to get to the MK is probably just take the monorail and connect at the TTC. If you're in World Showcase, the quickest way is to walk to the Beach Club, and catch a bus to the Magic Kingdom. The converse is also true when going from the MK to Epcot - if you want to go to Future World, just take the monorail. If you want to go to World Showcase, it's probably faster to get a bus to The Boardwalk or The Beach Club and just walk to Epcot.

    Crowd Advice
    The crowd calendar at touringplans.com can be very helpful: Disney World Crowd Calendar As a general rule, stay away from the Magic Kingdom on Mondays. That is by far the most crowded day at the MK. If you can park hop, avoid parks with Extra Magic Hours (EMH) like the plague, unless you're there during the actual EMH. It's also worthwhile to know that while EMH will allow you "exclusive" after-hours access, because every other resort guest can take advantage of EMH, it's not that exclusive. The upshot of this is that most of the really popular attractions will have a longer wait during EMH than they would close to park closing on a normal night. Do with that what you will.

    Attraction Advice
    I agree pretty much 100% with what aakdisneydreamer told you on this topic.

    Most Important Advice
    Don't be an "Orlando Commando." For the love of Walter Elias Disney, don't plan out a schedule down to the minute (it blows me away, but some people really do that when they go to WDW). Slow down, enjoy the scenery, pay attention to the details, and leave room for spontaneity. Figure out what your "must dos" are, get some TSR reservations if it's in the budget, have a general sense of what park you'll go into on what day, but try not to have any plans that are "set in stone" beyond that. Don't try to do/see everything; that's impossible - WDW is twice the size of Manhattan (not an exaggeration). Just remember that it's a vacation and you're there to have fun, and then... have fun!
    Last edited by NeverNeverland; 08-07-2011 at 09:26 AM. Reason: link to site deleted pre faq
    I knew if this business was ever to get anywhere, if this business was ever to grow, it could never do it by having to answer to someone unsympathetic to its possibilities, by having to answer to someone with only one thought or interest, namely profits. For my idea of how to make profits has differed greatly from those who generally control businesses such as ours. I have blind faith in the policy that quality, tempered with good judgment and showmanship, will win against all odds.
    -Walt Disney



  8. #8

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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    Plan for the weather.

    Sept is still hot and can be ridiculously hot and muggy still. You didn't mention your ages or tolerance for heat.. but be aware and be ready. Some like to take breaks at the hotel, etc. Older people can't tolerate the heat for a solid 15+hrs, etc.

    If I were trying to make an impression with a first timer..

    I'd upgrade to a nicer hotel to start with. The All-Stars are good for three things. Getting EMH, Magical Express perks, and direct Disney buses. Besides that.. they are pretty much under performing. If you got a really good rate (say sub $70) it's worth your money, but they aren't going to make anyone feel magical... and the buses may feel nasty at the end of it. The All Stars is actually just one super-mega resort broken into 3 areas with different theme overlays.. and hence they all share the same bus service. They don't have great pools, the rooms are tiny, and the place is pretty bland.

    Pop Century addresses some concerns and is a slight bump up. If possible, I'd consider upgrading to Port Orleans or similar if you want a better experience.

    As Barbarann mentioned.. 4 days is short. Again depending on your age, decide if you want to go 'commando' and do as much as you can.. or take it easy.. and plan from there.

    Since you are a DLR regular.. don't feel confined to one park. It's perfectly reasonable to goto one park.. pick some highlights you wanted to see, and head over to another. Planning two parks in one day is not a burden at all. This is especially a good plan if you want to make dining a central part of your visit, as you can spend first half of a day in one park, then make dinner plans for a second park, and finish the evening in that park, etc.

    I'd consider breakfast a good meal to do reservations for.. as it brings you out early.. you can get decent 'fun' meals, and get some Disney characters too.

    Doing breakfast at Tusker House (DAK) is a good win-win-win scenario as it's a good character breakfast buffet that is easier to book then Chef Mickey, and gets you in at DAK early. Must Dos at DAK... safari, everest, nemo musical, festival of lion king, its tough to be a bug (for the queue alone).. then maybe dinosaur. If you aren't a 'ride, ride, ride' person.. I'd consider strolling and taking in this park as much as you can for a full day. If a 'ride, ride, ride' person.. do this park and then shift to another park early afternoon.

    DHS is another park that I would not discount. DHS has some unique dining experiences you will want to try. Do the 50's Prime time for a unique experience. The Drive In is neat, but food is 'ok' at best. Do not try to plan around Fantasmic for such a short trip.. especially if you are a DLR person. Spend that 'show' time at MK for Wishes and the MSEP.

    Check out Tower of Terror, Rockin Roller Coaster, TSMM (if you hit the park first thing in the morning) for the queue, One Man's Dream, Little Mermaid Show, Great Movie Ride. Lights, Motor, Action is a neat show, but a pretty big time sink. Don't bother with the backlot tour at all. DHS is actually a good park to hit multiple times as a 'do a few things and leave' park. It's easy in/out and besides Toy Story Mania most attractions have reasonable wait times. With lots of dining options in the park, it may be a good one to visit for part of a day around a dining reservation.

    EPCOT has huge dining options and has marque attractions. For a first timer, you must get them on Soarin' - plan for a early grab at fastpasses for Soarin'. Must dos include Spaceship Earth, Soarin', Nemo in the Living Seas, Test Track (grab FPs), Mission Space, American Adventure, walking around World Showcase. Dining in France, Japan, England, and Canada are all good options. Avoid Mexico (great scenery, but food is going downhill).

    I would avoid going to the MK at the start of a day (unless doing breakfast at Crystal Palace) as the MK has longer hours then all the other parks so it's very practical to come visit MK AFTER visiting another park for the day. MK also doesn't have any really good sit down meals.. focus your dinner reservations at EPCOT or DHS. Then come to the MK for a nightcap and for the fireworks. Must sees in MK include the Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan (grab FPs), Pirates, Splash, and Space Mountain people like for the comparison to DLR (FPs are a good idea for space). Monster's Inc Laugh Floor is good for a new person. Splash, Space Mountain, and Peter Pan are really where you need to plan for FPs in the MK.

    As for Dining reservations - make them ASAP. Also, if you don't get what you want, don't be shy about keep trying as your trip gets closer, even in the last few days before you go (or even while you are there!). Slots open all the time. If you are just two people.. you may also get lucky on walk-up attempts to popular restaurants.. don't be shy about asking. Small parties are easier to accommodate.

    For a four day trip.. I'd consider
    DAK in the morning, followed by EPCOT, stay through dinner and fireworks
    DHS in the morning, followed by EPCOT for food, if early enough, head to MK for late night fun
    EPCOT in the morning, maybe a break, then MK
    Last day.. revisit your favorites and steer based based on dining and shows you want to see

    Now, if you are the types, and would prefer a non-commando visit. I HIGHLY recommend going to Typhoon Lagoon for a day or afternoon. The water parks are still where Disney is so far ahead of the competition and truly feel like a vacation. It will still be in the 90s and be great pool weather. If you don't upgrade your hotel, spend the money to visit TL instead! You can even do a half day there. The park is busiest through the mid-day.. they ramp up quickly, then the crowds teeter out after 2pm or so. So going in the late afternoon often is the best crowd management strategy and stay till closing. It can be fun to hit something like a park at opening to get some 'must rides' in, then hitting the water park for the afternoon, and then doing a late dinner reservation (9pm or so).

    Downtown Disney is often a good 'fall back' position for dining options - but don't go there unless you need to.

    Don't skip on DAK.. don't fall into the 'DHS sucks' hype.. recognize EPCOT will take more time then you thought.. and keep MK for the evenings except for EMH mornings.

    ---------- Post added 08-07-2011 at 11:36 AM ----------

    oo. I forgot about eating outside the parks. This is something that can be difficult on a short visit if you want to do 'full days' at a park, but is recommended for food people.

    Often you can combine a food reservation with a park move. For instance, going to the Wilderness Lodge for food, and then head to the MK afterwards, etc. Then you get to ride the boat, etc.

    Ohana, Boma are both specialty food places that are pretty highly recommended.
    Whispering Canyon at Wilderness Lodge is very nice and a fun atmosphere.
    California Grill is probably overpriced for what it is..
    Vic&albert - formal dining at GF. $$ and formal, but if you are into that, best on property.

    PSUMark made some good recs in this area. I like the MK resorts for outside park dining because it's easy to do dinner there, then head to the MK for late night.
    Check out my blog - Coreplex: Rambling from inside the Grid


    Am I evil? yes, I am
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  9. #9

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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    Walt Disney World is my favorite place and I agree with just about everything else that's appeared in this thread -with the exception of one thing. Sorry Flynnibus, but I have to disagree with your assessment of the All-Star resorts. I love them - they are magical to me. If I'm going to visit a Disney park, I want a 4-story statue of Pongo outside my door - or a pool with the Three Cabballeros (spelling?) as the fountain in the middle, or Herbie the Love Bug flying out of the front of the building - where else can you find something like that?- The rooms are no smaller than a standard hotel/motel. Yes, the luxury resorts are bigger (as well they should be for what you pay) but they are immaculate. And the whole placed is themed waaay over the top. The prices can't be beat - particularly if you can find a good deal (I paid $69/night in February). When I was a kid, the only places to stay on the grounds were the Contemporary and Polynesian Village - both of which were wonderful - but I would have given anything to be able to stay in a place like All-Stars. This is one of those "to each their own" situations and I'm sure some people on this forum are thinking I'm crazy right about now but there you have it. I was going to suggest that you take a little time (if you have any) and wander around the resort to see all of the theming - some of it will surprise you.

  10. #10

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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    Most people, I believe start out with the value resorts, and work their way up to the Deluxe ones. I did it quite the opposite. I stayed at the Polynesian first, and then the Contemporary. My next was POR, and the Beach Club, followed by Caribbean Beach and the Grand Floridian. I then stayed at Coronado Springs. My last vacation was spent at Pop Century.

    I have loved all the resorts that I have stayed at. I loved not having to paying triple digit prices for my room the last time I traveled to WDW.

    I agree with loving all the giant Disney icons around the resort, and at the Pool areas. The bus service was fine at Pop Century, and I was there in the month of August.

    Disney World is an ever changing place, and has a lot to offer for each individual guest vacationing there. The secret to having a wonderful vacation, I believe, is to educate yourself as much as you can before you go. Then you will be able to make smart decisions that will make your vacation a better one in all respects.

  11. #11

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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    Quote Originally Posted by celticdar View Post
    Walt Disney World is my favorite place and I agree with just about everything else that's appeared in this thread -with the exception of one thing. Sorry Flynnibus, but I have to disagree with your assessment of the All-Star resorts. I love them - they are magical to me. If I'm going to visit a Disney park, I want a 4-story statue of Pongo outside my door - or a pool with the Three Cabballeros (spelling?) as the fountain in the middle, or Herbie the Love Bug flying out of the front of the building - where else can you find something like that?- The rooms are no smaller than a standard hotel/motel. Yes, the luxury resorts are bigger (as well they should be for what you pay) but they are immaculate. And the whole placed is themed waaay over the top. The prices can't be beat - particularly if you can find a good deal (I paid $69/night in February). When I was a kid, the only places to stay on the grounds were the Contemporary and Polynesian Village - both of which were wonderful - but I would have given anything to be able to stay in a place like All-Stars. This is one of those "to each their own" situations and I'm sure some people on this forum are thinking I'm crazy right about now but there you have it. I was going to suggest that you take a little time (if you have any) and wander around the resort to see all of the theming - some of it will surprise you.
    Count me among those who think you may be crazy. The "decor" (if it's deserving of such a term) at the All Star Resorts is gaudy and tacky. IMHO, it's not up to Disney standards. Nevertheless, everyone has their own budget, and I've stayed at the Value Resorts multiple times. Personally, I think that Pop Century is a small step up (if for no other reason than you're not sharing a bus w/ two other resorts - this can make a big difference) for usually the same rate. But if you're "locked in" at All Star, don't worry about it. You'll still have a great time. I tend not to worry too much about my resort at WDW as I know I won't be spending a ton of time there anyway.

    If you're at Port Orleans or a Deluxe resort, it can be worth exploring the grounds as you'll find a lot of charming details and may be surprised by how much there is to do. Otherwise, it's just a place to sleep. And that's fine. The Value Resort rooms are clean, well maintained, and plenty big enough for two people. Unless you really care about your hotel experience, I wouldn't worry about it too much.
    I knew if this business was ever to get anywhere, if this business was ever to grow, it could never do it by having to answer to someone unsympathetic to its possibilities, by having to answer to someone with only one thought or interest, namely profits. For my idea of how to make profits has differed greatly from those who generally control businesses such as ours. I have blind faith in the policy that quality, tempered with good judgment and showmanship, will win against all odds.
    -Walt Disney



  12. #12

    • Pilot EdForceOne
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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    Quote Originally Posted by celticdar View Post
    Walt Disney World is my favorite place and I agree with just about everything else that's appeared in this thread -with the exception of one thing. Sorry Flynnibus, but I have to disagree with your assessment of the All-Star resorts. I love them - they are magical to me. If I'm going to visit a Disney park, I want a 4-story statue of Pongo outside my door - or a pool with the Three Cabballeros (spelling?) as the fountain in the middle, or Herbie the Love Bug flying out of the front of the building - where else can you find something like that?- The rooms are no smaller than a standard hotel/motel. Yes, the luxury resorts are bigger (as well they should be for what you pay) but they are immaculate. And the whole placed is themed waaay over the top. The prices can't be beat - particularly if you can find a good deal (I paid $69/night in February). When I was a kid, the only places to stay on the grounds were the Contemporary and Polynesian Village - both of which were wonderful - but I would have given anything to be able to stay in a place like All-Stars. This is one of those "to each their own" situations and I'm sure some people on this forum are thinking I'm crazy right about now but there you have it. I was going to suggest that you take a little time (if you have any) and wander around the resort to see all of the theming - some of it will surprise you.
    The theming stops at the door... the room IS small (just goto any Holiday Inn or other thing besides a Motel). The outdoor figures are cute - but that plus some cutouts doesn't equate to immersive theming. And the pools? They are bleh.

    Most of International Drive hotels look like the Ritz compared to the All Stars unfortunately.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyjeff View Post
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  13. #13

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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    We all have our own opinions on these things -I guess cdwatts will just have to see for themselves when they get there.

  14. #14

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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    I wanted to come back to this thread and say a big THANK YOU to everyone for all of your great comments and suggestions! We just got back from our trip, and - not to be cheesy - it was pretty magical! We definitely took into consideration the input from folks on this thread, and I think it made a big difference in helping us be prepared - but not too hyper-planned - and have the best time possible. We were able to manage to visit all four theme parks, as well as Typhoon Lagoon, although we are definitely looking forward to more time in some places (especially Epcot) on our next trip in 6 months.

    Oh and in regards to the hotel - we actually liked staying at the All Star resort and had no complaints. I was even able to book an additional room for one of the nights we were there at the last minute - still at the discounted passholder rate - so that my grandparents who live in Florida could come and have dinner and not worry about driving back home. I'm sure staying in one of the more expensive hotels would be lovely, but the whole reason we were able to make two trips (this one and another one next March) on our premier annual pass was because this "extra" one was booked with a very reduced passholder rate for the value level resorts. Between going one time and staying in an upscale property, or going two times and staying in the value property, we felt that the second option definitely won out in terms of value/benefit for our passes!

    Thanks again to all of you for your advice!

  15. #15

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    Re: DLR regulars planning two trips to WDW, need input!

    @ aakdisneydreamer & psumark

    thanks for the step by step in depth review & tips! i appreciate the food reviews. Even though I've read up on WDW restaurants so much, I like to receive as much input in order to make the best decisions. My boyfriend & I love good foo, and having so many places to choose from is insane; i'm used to my basic 3 restaurants at disneyland haha

    if anyone would like to answer some of my question about my future trip, I made a thread "annual pass & resort planning question"

    flower gleam & glow...

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