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  1. #1

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    Question Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    Our family of 5 is heading to Disney World in September, so we're busy planning. As relatively "rookies" at this, we sure would welcome any insight and advice y'all might have to offer.

    WHO:

    • Dad & Mom (50s; Dad's birthday is while we're there)
    • Son (24; popping the question "real soon now")
    • Daughter (23)
    • Daughter (21)


    WHY:
    With our son planning a wedding and our daughters graduating college and heading off on their own, we see this as something of a "last family vacation together." Oh, sure, we'll still do things as families in the years ahead, but it will never be just the 5 of us again. So we're savoring our lives together as a "last hurrah!"

    WHEN:
    September 15-21

    • Drive from Virginia on Mon/15th
    • Epcot on Tues/16th
    • Typhoon Lagoon on Wed/17th
    • Magic Kingdom on Thu/18th
    • Animal Kingdom on Fri 19th
    • Hollywood Studios on Sat 20th
    • Drive home on Sun/21st


    WHERE:
    We're booked for the Polynesian Resort. (Boy, adding that 5th person to a room sure changes your options and adds a whole lot of expense to the trip. Ack. Since we went beyond our expected budget, and since the difference wasn't all that much more, Mom said she wanted the pseudo-Hawaii experience for the hotel.) Yes, we know there will be construction going on, but we're hoping it won't be too big of a distraction. And having a monorail & boat available for transportation is kind of a plus.

    FOOD:
    We're doing the Disney Dining special offer, and have made some tentative reservations just to get something on the books.

    • Tue/16 -- Biergarten in Epcot @ 5:00 PM
    • Wed/17 -- Sanaa in Animal Kingdom Villas @ 7:00 (after a day at the water park)
    • Thu/18 -- Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom @ 4:00 (had a tough time figuring this one out)
    • Fri/19 -- Hoop De Doo in Fort Wilderness @ 6:15
    • Sat/20 -- Hollywood & Vine/Fantasmic @ 4:30


    Our thought was to eat a light breakfast (granola bars or something), grab an early counter service lunch in the parks, and enjoy a snack whenever the mood struck us. That would allow us to do an earlier dinner most days.

    No idea about counter-service lunches or snacks.

    FASTPASSES:
    Absolutely no idea here. This is new to us, and a bit confusing. I've read advice from different threads in the forums, and I'm just more confused. Some suggest reserving the 3 Fastpasses/day for mid-day when the crowds are bigger. Some suggest getting them in before lunch so that you can reserve 3 more Fastpasses (if available) for later in the day. The whole "get 'em from a kiosk" thing is a bit foggy for us; do you have to go to the kiosk at a specific ride to reserve a Fastpass for later in the day?

    We could really use some recommendations for what Fastpasses to reserve and what times would be good.

    THE MOOD:
    It's probably important to share our expectations here. We are *not* worried about "doing everything" on this trip. We've done that kind of vacation before, and it's a lot of fun. But this time 'round we're more focused on lingering a bit. Enjoying the atmosphere. Stopping to enjoy an unexpected street performance, or do a little people-watching, or savor the beautiful landscaping. Yes, we love all the rides and want to enjoy the best of them, but we don't want to rush about too much. A more leisurly pace. Also, with our ages and interests, we're not concerned with character meet & greets (boy, I miss my childhood days at Disneyland, when we had ticket books, and character connections were always spontaneous, unexpected, and with absolutely no wait whatsoever).

    So... I *think* we've made a good start. Any ideas, insights, suggestions, warnings, etc. that you might have to offer will be GREATLY appreciated. We get one shot at this "last hurrah" and want to make it the best trip possible.

  2. #2

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    Hey Doc!


    I have lived in Tampa, FL my entire life and have been to WDW 100's of times. Parks, resorts, pools, eveything. Here's my advice/ reply to your post:


    Why: Great idea! I have great memories of WDW visits with my family. Only great memories.

    When:
    Generally my favorite time of year to visit. Less crowded. You may want to go into one of the parks after TL. MK should be open until 12am.

    Where: This is probably, IMO, the worst idea. Poly construction will be extremely annoying and abundant. They've got a lot to do in a little time, so it will be crazy there construction wise, especially during the slower Sept-Nov months. Definitely try to change your reservation, because of the amount of money you paid to add that fifth person. Change your hotel to one that is not under construction and enjoy the money you spent. May I suggest FWL? It has one of the nicest boat rides on property, IMO. It takes you across Bay Lake & Seven Seas Lagoon to MK, where you can take the monorail to T&TC then further to Epcot, or catch a bus to any park, water park, resort, or Downtown Disney. The Boardwalk is absolutely amazing and has boat transportation to Epcot and DHS, but both parks are also in walking distances. Also, don't be afraid to take a bus. You should park your car when you get there and never have to get in it again until you have to drive away.

    Food: Food is not something I really think about until I am hungry, and is great because the parks have GREAT quick service options. I rarely make them, but good call on early dinner reservations. It's better to have early dinner, and a snack later, than wait around for your late reservation, starving. Also, all the resorts have amazing dining options, that you can make reservations at, regardless of wether you are staying at that particular resort or not.

    FastPass+: Since you are planning to spend entire days in the parks, book your FPs for the rides for the that get long wait times (i.e. Seven Dwarves Mine Train, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad) for early morning to mid-day. Once they run out, you can book new FPs via the WDW app for iPhone (which I use and works great), or via kiosks located around the parks. Also, the earliest you can book your FPs is 30 days prior to your visit, so you have some time for everyone to decide what they want to ride. Also, FPs can be acquired for the entire group or for individuals (in case any thrill ride is to much for Mom or Dad, lol).

    The Mood:
    Fantastic. So many people race by the intricate details of everything on their way to wait in a line. I would suggest one thing. Be as care free as you can. All of you. Young adults in there early twenties tend to still worry about being cool. Try to promote the idea of acting like a kid especially at MK. It is, of course, the most magical place on earth!


    I have three other suggestions:

    Since all are over 21, I suggest a night after a park at Jellyrolls at Boardwalk. It is a dueling piano bar with Disney flare. I went there with my GF and 8 of my family members, ranging in ages of 21 to 71, last July. We had an amazing time, I was the only one to have any alcohol. You simply must check this out, it may be a good chance to show the kids that they can do whatever they want this trip, even have a drink in a bar with their parents (last hoorah!). Boardwalk is next to Epcot, and there is a very good view of the Eiffel Tower on the boardwalk in front of Jellyrolls. I think it would be an amazing end to a first day, Epcot/ Shower after park/ night at Jellyrolls/ amazing view upon exit.

    Sorcerers Of The Magic Kingdom is an interactive card game in which everyone in the family can receive a free souvenir pack of cards that you use to battle Disney villains by waving a card in front of hidden screens located throughout the park. It's a fun way to explore the park, and the cards make great (and free) collectibles. You can sign up to play at the firehouse on Main St., or behind the Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square.

    Finally, speaking of free collectibles, all modes of transportation on Disney property (monorails, buses, and boats) have there own free trading cards. Just ask a CM that works said mode of transportation, and they will be happy to give you one (if they have any left!).



    Hope I could be of some help, and I will post anything else I think of here!
    Last edited by PlutoHasFleas; 06-11-2014 at 02:08 PM.

  3. #3

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    Thank you for the advice!!!!

    RESORT -- We struggled with the idea of Polynesian during construction. Naturally, we were assured it wouldn't affect us all that much, but perhaps the folks at Disney were too optimistic? We considered a cabin at Fort Wilderness, but it was significantly more expensive when we looked at it. The alternatives they were pushing on us included Old Key West & (I think) Saratoga Springs. Oh, and the Art of Animation (which we all thought was too juvenile from the pics). Hmm... Perhaps it's worth a call and talking to a different agent? Honestly, the person at Disney who helped us seemed to grow weary of our discussion as a family on speaker phone debating the options, and I noticed she constantly started by recommending the more expensive options to us and then waiting for us to ask about alternatives.

    DAYS IN THE PARK -- A friend told me that their trick for avoiding crowds was to stay away from any park with early/late hours. Really? We were thinking of taking advantage of those early mornings. Mistake?

  4. #4

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    Who:
    Great crowd to go with. It is usually easier to accomplish more of what you want when the whole group is adults.

    Why:
    This trip should then be extra special, and unforgettable.

    When:
    Good timing. Not very crowded, which makes a world's difference. I see you have chosen Typhoon Lagoon over Blizzard Beach or another day at a park. I would switch the dates of this and DHS just because you put DHS on a Saturday. I am not arguing this decision, but you might not want to have this day set in stone, as you might not accomplish everything you want to do in one of the parks, or you might change your mind on which water park, or you might want to visit IOA/USF.

    Where:
    While Poly is a nice resort, the construction might be a bit of a problem. It will definitely be distracting, and there is a reason why it is unusually cheaper than normal for this time of year. I was looking at your dates, and the best option, in my opinion, is Grand Floridian. It is the next cheapest resort on the monorail. If you are fine staying off the monorail and plan on visiting EPCOT and DHS about the same as EPCOT and MK, then staying at the Boardwalk Inn is a great option.

    Food:
    Might want to stop by the Boardwalk on the day at DHS to eat there. Just a suggestion, though.

    Fastpass+:
    I would reserve the times starting at around 10:30-11 and finish by 12-12:30, depending on the day and park. This is so you can skip relatively long lines and still be able to get more FPs. Only get FPs for the popular and new attractions. For MK, I would do SDMT, BTMR, and Space. For EPCOT, I would do Soarin, TT, and Malestrom (the lines are really long for this) or Mission Space. For DHS, I would do TSMM, TZToT, and RnRC. For DAK, I would do EE, KRR, and DINOSAUR.

    The Mood:
    This is the best mood to be in.

    Other Suggestions:
    Try to go to the Boardwalk after your day at DHS. You have extended hours for parks since you are staying on site, so I wouldn't be too concerned with this IF you arrive at the park at opening of the extra hours (within 15 min) and move your FP times up by an hour or so. be sure to savor every moment and have fun.

  5. #5

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    WHERE -- Okay. I'm convinced that the construction at the Polynesian is a thing to be avoided. We called reservations back and looked at more options -- some tough choices (and far more than what were presented to us the first time). It came down to a choice between a villa at the Animal Lodge (standard view; seeing the animals from the room was very expensive!), the Grand Floridian (though the options for that 5th person's bed were surprisingly limited, and it cost more), and the Old Key West resort (which offered the most room for our family, a kitchen for breakfasts, easy access to Downtown Disney for those 20-somethings in the late hours, etc.) We went with Old Key West. Saved some bucks and steered clear of construction. Yay.

  6. #6

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    Great choice! That is the prefered hotel of my entire family! I have stayed there many times, so please let me know if you have any questions! The kitchens are great, and there is a Publix supermarket very close to the property, which will help make breakfasts much better than granola bars!

    One tip on trasportation, you can't travel between hotels via Disney transportation. You must take a bus to a park or Downtown Disney, then another to any hotel (of course if you want to go to say, Polynesian, you could take a bus from OKW to MK, then monorail over).

    The buses are great! Just get on! No need to show tickets or resort keys, a plain and simple free ride! Buses to the parks from OKW leave about every 10-20 minutes, Downtown Disney buses come less often (about every 30 minutes), and make stops at other hotels but there is a very nice boat ride that leaves about every 30 mins that also goes to DD.

    I love OKW. They play Jimmy Buffet and Bob Marley by pool and the whole place has an Caribbean Keys feel to it. The restaraunt is nothing special, but a great place to grab dinner if you don't feel like travelling out of the resort. The pool has a big sand castle slide, that I went down last July when I stayed.

    Also, check out the other resorts pools! There are only a few that are technically off limits to "pool-hopping" but in the slower Sept-Nov months, it is possible to simply walk in to places like Yacht & Beach Club's Stormalong Bay. Port Orleans Riverside has an amazing pool, and a great food court, and is totally open for pool hoppers!

    I'm sure I will think of more, and remember, feel free to ask any question!

  7. #7

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    Thanks for the encouragement! (I called and had them add a note that we'd prefer being nearer to the Hospitality House if possible, just to avoid scooting about the resort a little bit.) I think we'll take our own car on the day we have to go from OKW over to the Animal Lodge (after a day at Typhoon Lagoon), but will be fine with bussing about the resort for almost everything else.

  8. #8

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    I would recommend taking a car everywhere you go where you would normally have to take 2 busses (between hotels). It is fine if you take a bus then monorail, but I would do this because it is faster. The busses are great, though.

  9. #9

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    The only reason I suggest the free, Disney provided transoprtation is because you (Doc) are are driving down from VA then back. That's a lot of time in the car. Just suggesting a break from driving and relax with the free Disney transportation (be it bus, boat, or monorail) as much as possible.

  10. #10

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    "Once they run out, you can book new FPs via the WDW app for iPhone (which I use and works great), or via kiosks located around the parks."

    Whoa, I thought you were NOT able to grab new FPs through the MyDisneyExperience app. I thought the ONLY way to get more fastpasses after you've used your first 3 was only at FP+ kiosks in the park. Right?

  11. #11

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    I have never had an issue booking FP+ via the app.

  12. #12

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    Quote Originally Posted by PlutoHasFleas View Post
    I have never had an issue booking FP+ via the app.
    Neither have I. The issue is telling someone they can book additional fastpasses after the first 3 have been used on your phone which is NOT true. At least it wasn't true first week of May 2014. Did something change in less than a month?

    The original "rule" that is of course subject to change is that you can book 3 fastpasses with the app on your phone and then once those are gone you MUST book any new fastpasses in the park at the kiosks, NOT through your phone.

    I mean did something change in less than a month.

  13. #13

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    Quote Originally Posted by Micoofy Duck View Post
    Neither have I. The issue is telling someone they can book additional fastpasses after the first 3 have been used on your phone which is NOT true. At least it wasn't true first week of May 2014. Did something change in less than a month?

    The original "rule" that is of course subject to change is that you can book 3 fastpasses with the app on your phone and then once those are gone you MUST book any new fastpasses in the park at the kiosks, NOT through your phone.

    I mean did something change in less than a month.

    I find it comical that you insist I am wrong, then ask if you are right in telling me I am wrong.

    I went to MK June 6th. I got there late and missed my first FP, once* the other two were done, I booked new FP's via the app. FP+ is a new system with new features being implemented all the time.
    Last edited by PlutoHasFleas; 06-18-2014 at 01:51 PM. Reason: *Changed "one" to "once"

  14. #14

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    Okay... first suggestion is you might consider doing the Micky's not so scary halloween party... you could do it during your trip on either the 16th or 19th and if you haven't done it before it does have a cool parade and fireworks, and would giver your family one last chance to dress up in costumes as a family... Note if you do go for it remember that the temps are still hot and humid so don't wear something that is very heavy... but as far as a very light crowd goes I don't think you'll be able to get a better time at MK than during an early halloween party, in October they can get crowded and by Halloween they are down right over crowded, but I've been in September and it would have been worth it in my opinion without any Halloween add-ons simply for the smaller crowds... And if you do go this route you can enter the park with the ticket at 4:00pm even though the party doesn't start until 7:00.

    Now I'm not sure why you have animal kingdom on there for a full day.... it really will be a stretch to stay there a full day because you'll likely be bored in 5 or 6 hours... also note that it closes earlier than any of the other parks so you would be giving yourself a rather short Friday of fun if you keep it on your list... If you are not doing park hopper than I can understand why you have only one park a day... but if that is the case I would move AK to the last day and also put the dinner at Sanaa on that same day in the evening... because AKL is out of the way as is AK so if you are going to go what I would consider out of the main Disney Area you might as well do all those things at the same time.

    Also don't be married to Typhoon Lagoon, you have no idea what the weather will be like that day and if it is a day with thunderstorms then a water park is the last place you want to be.

    To be honest I would consider cramming AK and Hollywood studios onto the same day then having the last day to go back and revisit a park you really liked.

    As for your hotel... I understand the draw of the monorail resorts.... But I might consider the Contemporary before the Poly under construction, construction at a resort can really make the resort suck... In my past experience we made the mistake of doing a resort under construction and had the lovely time of no pool unless we went to another resort... so verify that the pools will be open during construction no reason to pay the high price of a deluxe resort if you aren't getting all the perks of it.

    If you can still change your hotel and aren't married to a monorail hotel you could also check out the Cabins at Fort Wilderness, they are the only non-deluxe hotels that I'm aware of that provide room for more than 4 guests, last we were there you have a murphy bed in the living room, and a bedroom with bunk beds and an additional bed (can't remember if it was twin or full size... but would certainly give you more room than the Poly and is much cheaper as it is considered a moderate resort.

    As for food, I don't know what you guys are looking for or the type of food you like... if it were mean I would skip the Sanaa unless you live somewhere that you can't find good ethnic restaurants. It isn't a bad place to eat but it is really an experience for the ambiance more than it is for the food.

    If you aren't sure of your choice at the Magic Kingdom then you certainly have other better buffet options. Crystal Palace has better food, or if you want the best buffet food near the MK consider 1900 Park Faire at the Grand Floridian (not the MK but since its just off the monorail it is easy to get to and back to the park) this has the best of all the buffets anywhere in Disney World...

  15. #15

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    Re: Planning Trip: Advice & Suggestions? (Especially Fastpass)

    Quote Originally Posted by PlutoHasFleas View Post
    The only reason I suggest the free, Disney provided transoprtation is because you (Doc) are are driving down from VA then back. That's a lot of time in the car. Just suggesting a break from driving and relax with the free Disney transportation (be it bus, boat, or monorail) as much as possible.
    I would disagree completely with using the Disney transportation. It can be hit or miss and because you are not going to be there in the peak season they will likely be running more limited buses. We did relied on the buses one trip and one trip only. After having to wait almost 2 1/2 hours for a bus to return us from a park we decided never again would we use a bus at Disney. The monorails work fine, but the buses aren't dependable and could waste a lot of your precious time.

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