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  1. #1

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    Help me plan our first trip to Disney World

    My wife and I, our 4 kids, and my in-laws (2 adults, 2 kids, 2 grandparents) are going to Disney at the end of March. The ages are 14, 5, 4.5, 1 3/4, 8 months and 6 months. We are really concentrating on the 5, 4, and 1 3/4 year olds.

    We want our trip to be a mix of the Disney parks and a couple of days at the area beaches/attractions. Right now we are thinking about doing 3 days at Disney parks and a 4th day of either one of the 2 water parks if it is warm enough or maybe Universal if it is not warm enough. the other 2 days we are going to spend relaxing at the beaches and letting the kids recharge.

    We know we have to go to Magic Kingdom, but the other 2 days we are not sure. Is there one of the 4 parks that is not really suited for younger kids? Also, is one of the water parks better than the other? what are the best beaches in the area (we don't mind driving a bit to get to them)?

    Anyone who could give me any advice on things to do, things not to do, what parks to go to, where to eat, would be appreciated.

    We already have accomidations, but still planning everything else.

    Thank you for your help in advance.

  2. #2

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    Re: Help me plan our first trip to Disney World

    well first off just had to throw it out there that there are no beaches near orlando as it is landlocked meaning you would have to drive a pretty good distance to one of the coasts for your beach days. probably knew that but just making sure.

    as for the disney parks, i personally would tackle it by doing a day each at epcot and magic kingdom and then depending on what your family wants to do and what fits your needs, either a day at animal kingdom and a half day at hollywood studios, half day water park, or a day at hollywood studios and half day animal kingdom, half day water park. a water park will not fill a whole day of activity and theres plenty to do at both those parks for the smaller kids. universal, although they do have a young kids section, does not have a lot overall for the age group your targeting and would probably be a waste of a trip out there if your focussing on the younger kids. if i were to pick a water park for younger kids i would say blizzard beach would be my go to. as for the beaches, your pretty much right in the middle of florida so you have your pick of either the atlantic side or the gulf side. atlantic is the shorter drive (about 1 1/2 - 2 hours) to cocoa or Daytona beach, but IMO the better beaches are on the gulf side as they are more quiet and usually a little more family friendly. Treasure island or clearwater beach are about 2 1/2 hours from Orlando so either choice you have a heck of a drive with a bunch of young kids for a day trip on the books. if it were my choice i would just sit by the pool and hit down town disney or another local attraction then go all that way but its up to you. if you have any other questions go ahead and ask.

  3. #3

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    Re: Help me plan our first trip to Disney World

    Goofy is right about the beaches. Clearwater Beach is just west of Tampa. Its a bit of a drive, but the sand is so nice there. Here is a visiters guide, if youd like to see some info . on it......

    Clearwater, Florida

  4. #4

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    Re: Help me plan our first trip to Disney World

    Thanks for the response.

    We were told an hour or two to get to the nearest beach butwe thought since we are on vacation, whats the big deal. That might change depending on how tired/worn down the kids are.

    We were told that Epcot wasn't the best for the younger kids but great for food and adults. But you think Epcot is definately worth a full day then? I also wasn't super excited about Animal Kingdom as i just imagined it was basically a zoo. But have been told there are lots of fun rides there.

    Universal would just be my wife and I and the two older girls (14 & 5) if we did that. It was just an idea if we couldn't do a water park because of weather and wanted to try something outside of Disney.

  5. #5

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    Re: Help me plan our first trip to Disney World

    The best advice I could give you is to get a couple of really good, up-to-date guidebooks and learn a lot about what each park is like, and just generally how things operate at Disney (such as the transportation and Fastpass systems). I would recommend the Birnbaum guide (which is the "official" guide) and the Unofficial Guide -- plenty of libraries have them if you don't want to buy, just make sure it is reasonably up to date.

    Only you know what your particular family will enjoy most, and how you will make the best use of your vacation time and budget. You can see what ages (and heights) are allowed on all the attractions, how parking works (it is a little confusing at the Magic Kingdom), what all the restaurant options are, etc.

    I realize you probably posted on here hoping to get some advice in lieu of reading a stack of books, but trust me, the more you know about the parks, the better a time you will have

    My one bit of advice would be to include your 14 year old in the planning. I'm sure you will need her help in wrangling all those young kids, and it might not always be fun for her since she is the only one in her age group on this trip. Maybe you could let her choose the restaurant for dinner on a particular night, or set aside some time for her and one of the adults to go off and hit a bunch of thrill rides

  6. #6

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    Re: Help me plan our first trip to Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by Rantuckjr View Post
    Thanks for the response.

    We were told an hour or two to get to the nearest beach butwe thought since we are on vacation, whats the big deal. That might change depending on how tired/worn down the kids are.

    We were told that Epcot wasn't the best for the younger kids but great for food and adults. But you think Epcot is definately worth a full day then? I also wasn't super excited about Animal Kingdom as i just imagined it was basically a zoo. But have been told there are lots of fun rides there.

    Universal would just be my wife and I and the two older girls (14 & 5) if we did that. It was just an idea if we couldn't do a water park because of weather and wanted to try something outside of Disney.
    times will vary but typically the times i posted above are pretty accurate (from my experience anyways). rarely have i gone down a highway in that area without encountering some sort of congestion, particularily when your optimal beach leaving and coming back times are essentially rush hour. all depends on your planning and how much you really want to go to a beach.

    i think for younger kids, there is enough at Epcot to attract their attention but i included it as a full day particularily because i see the park as a full party people pleaser. there will be something for everyone in your group at epcot and i think that could be some time where you can focus on you guys a bit and particularily the older girls. another plus too is you can actually sneak in a bit of learning to the vacation without them noticing too much. there are parts that may get boring depending on their likes or dislikes but there may also be things that they get totally wrapped up in, that was my experience as a kid anyways.

    Animal kingdom definitely is more then a zoo and has some great attractions. the problem i saw with giving it a full day is rides like everest, dinosaur, and the river rapids either could be to scary for the younger kids or they will be unable to ride them with size restrictions so it takes away a bit from the experience. it does however have a bunch of shows that kids love a lot and the majority of kids in that age range from my knowledge anyways like animals and going to zoos so the very realistic enclosures and safari could be a big draw for them.

    that sounds like a good idea. i would suggest though if you were planning on heading to universal for one park, go to islands of adventure. the studios park has a lot of construction going on right now and islands has the harry potter world which im sure your kids would enjoy.

  7. #7

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    Re: Help me plan our first trip to Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by Rantuckjr View Post
    Thanks for the response.

    We were told an hour or two to get to the nearest beach butwe thought since we are on vacation, whats the big deal. That might change depending on how tired/worn down the kids are.
    Getting up grabbing breakfast and driving to the coast to get there in the late morning. Then leaving and catching dinner on the way or when back in Orlando, can make for a fun relaxed day, and break up the trip well.


    We were told that Epcot wasn't the best for the younger kids but great for food and adults. But you think Epcot is definately worth a full day then? I also wasn't super excited about Animal Kingdom as i just imagined it was basically a zoo. But have been told there are lots of fun rides there.
    You've been told a common misconception. Epcot is very interesting and if you stay positive about it, and point to the cultural things you don't see at home they will probaly enjoy it too. I made great memories there when I was a child. I found much of it facinating, and it has more rides now.

    AK is not like a zoo. It's far more than that. It has great shows, themed incredibly and rides. Unless you've been to a zoo in San Diego you probably have never seen a park like it.


    Universal would just be my wife and I and the two older girls (14 & 5) if we did that. It was just an idea if we couldn't do a water park because of weather and wanted to try something outside of Disney.
    That sounds like a fine plan.

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    Re: Help me plan our first trip to Disney World

    Speaking from experience, EPCOT has something for everyone. My kids love it, and so do my niece and nephew. They have all ben going there before age 1 and are currently 3, 6, 9, and 11.

    They enjoy the rides and really get a kick out of the Kidcot stations around the world. They also love the Kim Possible (now it is Phineas and Ferb) scavenger hunt.

    My kids like EPCOT more than they do Animal Kingdom.
    There wont be too much to do in AK to attract the little ones. Dinasour is too scary for the young ones. AK is a lot of looking and exploring and that doesn't hold my small childrens' interest.


    I say go to EPCOT.
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    Re: Help me plan our first trip to Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by redrhino54 View Post
    Goofy is right about the beaches. Clearwater Beach is just west of Tampa. Its a bit of a drive, but the sand is so nice there. Here is a visiters guide, if youd like to see some info . on it......

    Clearwater, Florida
    I live in Clearwater. It's about a 90 minute drive from here to WDW. The beaches here are gorgeous but also very touristy. But I'd recommend visiting Pier 60 at the beach, especially to watch the sunset. There's usually local vendors selling crafts along the pier as well.

    Plus, also in Tampa is Busch Gardens, which is a highly underrated park in my opinion. They have a great mix of thrill rides and amazing animal exhibits and encounters.

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