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  1. #1

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    Advice for First Time WDW Visit

    Hi all,

    I've read the other threads asking for advice as well as the stickied WDW advice for DLR veterans. Great info in those threads. I didn't want to derail or hijack other people's advice threads so figured I'd start my own with my specific set of circumstances. All help is greatly appreciated.

    Some basic facts about me and my family and our trip.

    1. 5 people total. My wife and I are 40, my little girl is 5.5, and my parents are in their 70s. My mom is a workhorse, loves walking, and in good health. My dad? Has had double bypass, is diabetic, and has pretty low exercise and heat tolerance.

    2. My wife and I are DLR vets. I've essentially memorized the two parks here in California down to the bathrooms and snack stands. We have Premium Annual Passes and get our money's worth.

    3. We are going 02/15/2014 to 02/21/2014. 5 full days and no park hoppers. My parents are more frail and we'll split up if necessary so they can take their time.

    4. We are staying at the Grand Floridian.


    My daughter and my parents have no interest or ability to go on any roller coaster rides. So that rules out: Splash, Space, Big Thunder, etc.

    We are mainly going to be there to walk the park slowly, take in the ambience, go on the kid friendly Fantasyland stuff, and enjoy the food and fireworks and shows.

    With that in mind, I've set aside 2 days for Magic Kingdom and 1 day each for the rest of the parks. If a park closes earlier, no problem, we'll head back to the hotel and relax. I expect my dad to last half a day each and then go back to the hotel after lunch to rest/take a nap.

    Some advice then:

    1. I have dinner reserved almost every night we are there but have one free night because to my utter shock and dismay Be Our Guest was sold out 120 days in advance! I'd still like to eat lunch there but how is that going to work? I've heard queuing up early but I don't want to spend half the day standing in line to eat lunch. How does that work?

    2. I've read lots of philosophies regarding EMH. I understand the logic of avoiding parks with EMH due to increased traffic but in mid February how big an impact is it really?

    3. I was offered "experimental" Magic Plus wristbands or whatever. I read the email describing it and had a negative impression immediately. I decided not to participate. Thoughts on this? Will there still be regular paper Fast Pass system like at DLR in 02/14?

    4. For sure I want to get best positions possible for Magic Kingdom and Epcot fireworks shows. Unlike Fantasmic and World of Color I haven't been able to find any dinner packages with fireworks. Any advice to get best possible views? I've heard reserving boats? Can this be done in advance or do I do it day of? Should I make it a priority to take care of that?

    5. I will make a list of "can't miss" attractions at each of the 4 major theme parks later but any advice on unique differences between rides would be appreciated so I can target them at Magic Kingdom and MGM. For instance are there any real differences between Snow White's Ride or Toy Story Mania etc?

    Thanks again

    Dennis

  2. #2

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    Re: Advice for First Time WDW Visit

    Quote Originally Posted by dfchang813 View Post
    Hi all,



    1. I have dinner reserved almost every night we are there but have one free night because to my utter shock and dismay Be Our Guest was sold out 120 days in advance! I'd still like to eat lunch there but how is that going to work? I've heard queuing up early but I don't want to spend half the day standing in line to eat lunch. How does that work?
    We did the lunch. Ask the CM when lunch starts and que up about 30-45 before. That is what we did and made it in no problem.

    2. I've read lots of philosophies regarding EMH. I understand the logic of avoiding parks with EMH due to increased traffic but in mid February how big an impact is it really?
    We had no trouble with EMH populations. We went in October and it wasn't an issue. Be aware while the park opens early not ALL sections of the park are open.

    3. I was offered "experimental" Magic Plus wristbands or whatever. I read the email describing it and had a negative impression immediately. I decided not to participate. Thoughts on this? Will there still be regular paper Fast Pass system like at DLR in 02/14?
    Yes you can still use the old system for fast pass. The magic plus wristbands are much more tho. They can be used for everything. Swipe you band type in your pin and you can use it as a credit card, charge things to your room, have things delivered to your room all kinds of stuff. Very conveniant.

    4. For sure I want to get best positions possible for Magic Kingdom and Epcot fireworks shows. Unlike Fantasmic and World of Color I haven't been able to find any dinner packages with fireworks. Any advice to get best possible views? I've heard reserving boats? Can this be done in advance or do I do it day of? Should I make it a priority to take care of that?
    Depends on what you call good locations! If you want low crowds behind the castle is a great place to watch from. If you want the "traditional" view main street USA. There really isn't a bad place to be for either show. Find a spot you like and get there 30-45 minutes early to save your spot and your good. You use to be able to do an IceCream sunday deal at the tomorowland terrace. Reseve a table and eat a sunday while watching the fireworks. Not sure if they still do it.

    5. I will make a list of "can't miss" attractions at each of the 4 major theme parks later but any advice on unique differences between rides would be appreciated so I can target them at Magic Kingdom and MGM. For instance are there any real differences between Snow White's Ride or Toy Story Mania etc?
    Not sure as I have never been to DLR.

    Good luck and I hope you all have a blast!

    Thanks again

    Dennis[/QUOTE]

  3. #3

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    Re: Advice for First Time WDW Visit

    I'm a DLR vet making my first WDW trip the beginning of Feb!

    Here's my thoughts:

    1. Keep checking for availability (either calling or online) for BOG since I was able to just recently change my time to one that worked better with my schedule. I've heard rumors about people getting a FP+ For BOG lunch, but it doesn't show up on my account.

    2. Can't help you, sorry! Are your dates near president's day and the marathon? I know both are mid/late feb, so that may increase traffic. You figure the sites that all recommend not going to EMH must know something...? I'm going to EMH but then hopping, but since you won't be able to, if you aren't going to be able to take advantage of the hours, I'd avoid them, from what I've heard

    3. No one knows what will be happening yet. Paper FP are not being used at AK for a "test" with no end date. From what I've heard it appears to be going well but no one knows how quickly they will roll it out in other parks, or how any of the busier parks will handle it. From my planning and research, I went with the magic bands and FP+. For how you describe wanting to tour the parks I'd say FP+ would work well with your party. You are guaranteed 3 attractions, and you could even pick reserved seating for fireworks or something that might appeal more to the not thrill seekers.

    4. I think you can get a boat for IllumiNations but I don't know anything about price or how far in advance you'd need to do it. Again, with FP plus you could choose reserved sections for fireworks and other shows, so it's worth looking into if that is a priority. I do believe Wishes at MK has a dessert party, but you can't see the electrical parade from there.

    5. So far my do not bother with attractions are TSMM (identical, except the queue is more elaborate) and soarin. They both sound like the most popular rides in each of their park and have much longer waits then their counterparts here at our park. Star tours is also the same. ToT, BTMM, PP, HM, IASW, PotC, BLAB are all similar to their counterparts. I'd focus on unique attractions first, then similar, finally duplicate.


    other thoughts: depending on when your passes expire, have you looked into if it would be a better deal to upgrade to a premier pass vs buying WDW tickets?

    Also, depending on how your father holds up, have you considered renting a scooter? It might be easier and prevent over tiring him so he (and you) could better enjoy your vacation.

  4. #4

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    Re: Advice for First Time WDW Visit

    Have you considered upgrading your AP to a Premier AP good at both resorts?

    You should get a better hotel rate, and the chance to park hop. Also a Tables in Wonderland Card could save on dining. Tables In Wonderland

    While the crowds will be moderate, in the non EMH park they will be slow. There is advantage to skipping those parks on their EMH day.


    3. I think there is a chance you will need to use Magic Bands for FP as they phase it in. Plan on it, but if you don't end up needing it, don't use it.
    Be Cool Stay in School!
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  5. #5

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    Re: Advice for First Time WDW Visit

    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated!

    My dad will NOT stand for a scooter or wheelchair, he's much too proud for that . . .

    I had thought about Premiering it but the problem is I got my deal via a travel agent and part of the package includes the tickets . . .

    As for FP+ I'm still leery of doing it mainly because it seems the main advantage is planning out your FP rides 60 days in advance and I really can't do that. Depending on how things go we may switch up the order of parks we go to or go to one park more than one day while skipping another park. Maybe we do 2 Magic Kingdom days and 2 Epcot days and cut out DHS since it's so much like DCA.

    And if our plans are that fluid, I'm non longer sure about the utility of the FP+ system for me.

    I am intrigued about choosing reserved sections for parades and fireworks but again that would mean deciding what day I am at each park??

    I guess I'll decide when I get there and do some more research before to see if I want to deal with the hassle of mastering it. Both my wife and I have smart phones so not concerned about that. I am concerned about my 5 year old not wanted to wear a wristband all day and then eventually losing it . . .

  6. #6

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    Re: Advice for First Time WDW Visit

    Hi there, DLR vet here as well!

    For Be our Guest, when I went last year we had no reserations and wanted dinner there. We showed up around 6, and there was about a 20 minute line to get your name in. Then we waited another 20 minutes, so really it wasnt too bad. Totally worth it.

    I cant speak on reservations for shows, but I will say Fantasmic and Hollywood Studios has seating in bleachers unlike at DLR. So you just show up and take a seat. Also, it is different than at DLR.

    Most of the rides throughout the parks are the same, but different, as DLR. HM, Pirates, BTMRR, Splash, Space Mtn were all a bit different. Its not like an entirely different ride, but has differences.

    Enjoy!!

  7. #7

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    Re: Advice for First Time WDW Visit

    You said you have dinner ADRs for most nights, so haven't you already determined which park you'll be in on which day?

  8. #8

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    Re: Advice for First Time WDW Visit

    Hi Cassie,

    i think one night is at Epcot but the rest of the nights are at the Grand Floridian restaurants and one night which was supposed to be Be Our Guest I left open after failing to get reservations ...

  9. #9

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    Re: Advice for First Time WDW Visit

    Quote Originally Posted by dfchang813 View Post
    the rest of the nights are at the Grand Floridian restaurants ..
    Maybe you should mix it up a little bit and eat at some of the restaurants at the Contemporary and Poly. Take the monorail to dinner.


    Are you going to take your daughter to dinner with Cindy and Charming? Or early afternoon tea with Alice and the Mad Hatter? Perhaps Grandma and Grandpa could take her and give the parents a break or chance to eat somewhere fancy?
    Be Cool Stay in School!
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  10. #10

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    Re: Advice for First Time WDW Visit

    Quote Originally Posted by dfchang813 View Post

    5. I will make a list of "can't miss" attractions at each of the 4 major theme parks later but any advice on unique differences between rides would be appreciated so I can target them at Magic Kingdom and MGM. For instance are there any real differences between Snow White's Ride or Toy Story Mania etc?

    Thanks again

    Dennis
    This has probably already been stated by now, but Snow White here in MK has been closed for over a year now. There isn't a whole lot of difference in TSM between DCA and DHS. Although, I would hit that first thing in the morning if you plan on going on a day where it may be crowded. Fast passes for that run out quickly. Also, I found that the queue for the ride is so much more creative and enjoyable at DHS than at DCA. But it makes it much longer too because there is more winding around, although its all indoors.

    Oh, and you're staying at the Floridian? Oh my, do I envy you.

    One last piece of advice that I always offer to anyone who comes to WDW. When you're here, especially since its your first time, the moment you get to the Floridian, stop and take a few moments to absorb the atmosphere. If you close your eyes for a few moments, you can hear the sounds of MK nearby. But its not often people get to come to WDW and get to stay at the most prime and luxurious of all of the resorts. You will definitely be getting your money's worth there. Many plan for a trip, and come but can only dream of staying a few nights at the GF because for most, its out of their price range. But while you're here, enjoy yourself, enjoy the ambiance (which you already plan to do, along with taking your time) and enjoy every moment while you're here. Because for anyone, coming to WDW is definitely one place to make memories that will last a lifetime. And it's too bad your trip wasn't a month, or month & a half later. I'm sure your parents would really enjoy the Flower & Garden festival at Epcot from March to May.
    Last edited by stitchfanocala; 12-30-2013 at 11:40 PM.
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