Going to Disneyworld

Never been before, going as an adult with my friend and her young kids.

What to we need to see in the 5 days we have there?

(going some months from now, seems like a good forum to crowdsource ideas early)


You have longer than I had. Half a day… I was impressed with the park though for as much as I don’t really care for modern Disney cinema the park was quite nice.
Are you gonna poke about the LA area as well?

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world, not land. Going to Florida, MAN!

Really just hoping to find a few grown up things to do in between the 4.5 days of princesses and carousels.

And also, where are the best princesses. The princesses are the entire point of the excursion. (two girls)


D’oh nevermind.
Well I dunno then. That place is huge. Maybe @doctorow could give some advice?


Hey there … ok so I have 3 girls … Not Disney experts – we’ve got 3x in 15 years of parenthood. The last trip we went in August. It was hot, but it’s the slow season (if there is one) and the lines were not that bad. 5 days is plenty. You can get a 3-4 day pass – the way they work the passes, adding additional days is relatively cheap. Like an 8 day pass is $10 more than a 7 day pass . From 1 to 2, then 2 to 3, then 3 to 4. … the cost of each additional day goes down. If you stay at Disney (I would recommend) you can stay at a moderate or budget resort (I like the New Orleans themed one named Port Orleans but really they are all just fine), get the park passes, and a meal plan.

The princess are all over, but if you get the meal plan … you get one table service, one quick service meal, and one “snack” per person for each day you have a park pass. Here’s where you really save - you can use your table service for “character dining” – and this is where you can meet all the princesses. There’s one at the Floridian (but you don’t need to stay there, one in Epcot somewhere (Norway?), and others that feature Playhouse Disney characters … the big one is having dinner or lunch in the big castle in Magic Kingdom. That’s one costs two table service meals, but if you paid cash it would be like $100 per person.

Things my girls and I loved … Magic Kingdom (whole thing really), Animal Kingdom (safari) – really beautiful park, I loved it, the movie/tv one … whatever that’s called. I’d make sure you stay late for fireworks. And if you stay at Port Orleans there’s a boat ride there that’s calm and neat.

If you stay on resort they’ll pick you up at airport, deal with all your luggage for you, and it’ll show up in your room. They do it right.

Since we are not experts, there’s a local disney travel agent we know from the circle of moms … she helped us set up the whole thing – no charge to us – and she’ll tell you when the super good deals are, present you with an email with options (moderate, budget, # of days passes, etc), tell you what character dining to go for, etc … really good service and she’ll help anyone anywhere. I gain nothing from you calling her, but if you want her # (which I recommend) … she’ll know if certain resorts are under construction, recently redone, too far from stuff, etc… DM me (is that a thing here?) if you want her # … not related to her, or anything…

Oh sometimes they offer a meal plan for FREE. That’s a huge savings.

On top of that, if Disney announces special deals AFTER you’ve booked with this woman, she drops the price for you even though you’ve booked already.

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Research in advance helps a ton with WDW.

How old are the kids? Their ages will set a lot of the agenda.

You’re basically trapped eating on property, book as soon as the dining reservation window opens.
Book the Fastpass Pluses as soon as the window opens as well.
Be prepared to do a lot of walking, everyone must bring good shoes. Everyone Must Bring Good Shoes.

Must hit: Magic Kingdom, Epcot.
MK has most of the Disneyland rides (save a few in other parks), and some original rides that are quite good.

Epcot is a park in an identity crisis. The Future World side has some rides (Soarin’ is my fave) and is Disney-futura. The World Showcase is a long trail with expos for a bunch of countries staffed by exchange students from those countries. It’s a lot of fun to walk around, esp. Morocco/Japan/China, and interesting to talk to the people who are there from all over. Alcohol is nice and easy to find.

Animal Kingdom is basically a huge amazing zoo. If you like really well done zoos you’ll find it really cool. There are a lot of trails where the best things are tucked away, esp. the Maharajah Jungle Trek and Pangani Forest Exploration trail. If you’re not really into zoos, and are expecting a theme park with rides it’s a letdown. They’ve added a light show that’s apparently amazing. Skip/go light on the dino area, it’s barely maintained and more of a carny-ride area than anything cool.

Hollywood Studios: Also not sure what it wants to be, and not a top-tier MK/Epcot park. There’s a focus on shows. This can be nice if you need to sit, and the shows are all well done. Ride-wise Tower of Terror/Rockin Rollercoaster are the big draws (long lines, get Fastpasses). They’re beefing up the Star Wars areas more, I’ve heard there are cooler Star Wars things there since I’ve been. Star Tours is fun, we loop it when we can. They change the schema, so each go will be a bit different. The Pixar area itself is not too exciting, though Toy Story Midway Mania’s my favorite ride in the park. We get there at opening, hit MidwayMania then leave, come back later with a fastpass, then leave the area again. There’s a little Muppets section that’s tragically atrophied, though the movie/show is quite good.


Loving this, especially the passion!

Thank you @nimelennar. @lamaranagram, and @TobinL! These are all great!

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both are under 8. Good point.

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I checked with the wife who is more OCD on working discounts/booking:

At 181 days out, you can make your dining options - earlier is better since a lot of people know when the reservations open and will start poaching.
60-30 days out, you can book your Fast Passes.

Apparently there was an Amex Sync offer for $30 off a $150 purchase and Lowe’s sells Disney gift cards, so you could cut extra that way.
Alternately if you have a credit card that does cash back/points/air miles that you want to build up, you can buy Disney gift cards at the Target/wherever and get a small perk to lighten the hit of the Disney economic blow.

There are three sites she recommended for making a tour plan:

My wife does talks at conferences on Disney trips for on working out plans and keeping costs down, and did a podcast a while ago you might find interesting if you can deal with listening to audio:



three extras for you.


two for your wife.


and that one is for princess pricklepants.


Ok so, I had 2 under 8 last August … and you’re not going to want to do “a few grown up things”. I’m not some Disney crazed guy, but you get down there with the kids and you’ll get wrapped up in seeing it all through their eyes again. Epcot, however, is more gear to adults that Magic Kingdom. But we completely skipped that park last time – I wasn’t going to drag the kids there although I think they’d get something out of it. We opted for a second day at Magic Kingdom. Adults will get a kick out of the Jungle Cruise (Magic Kingdom) and the toy story mania (line can be insane - use your fastpasses – they do work, these fast passes).

I really liked the Animal Kingdom park … really well done and I wish we could have spent more time there.

If you stay at a Disney hotel, most days have early hours and late hours at one or more of the parks.

We had the park-hopper option (let’s you visit multiple parks int he same day – without this you can only visit one a day) but we only used it one day out of the 4.

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If they’re under 8 then that makes things simpler in that kid attractions are bunched. Magic Kingdom is the best for rides/things, esp. Fantasyland. Adventureland is reasonable for smaller kids, and Jungle Cruise is the best - it’s a very campy jungle boat ride where the pilots of the boats do comedy routines effectively making fun of the campiness of the ride, which is entertaining for all ages. Also if the idea of pineapple ice cream sounds good to you, get a Dole Whip over there, there’s like a cult around Dole Whip, which is quite good. Pirates of the Caribbean is in Adventureland and it and Haunted Mansion are excellent for all ages.

Epcot’s World Showcase has a number of princesses and Norway’s gone full Frozen, but it’s not the most exciting place for smaller kids in general. If you do go, there’s Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure where the kids get a little walkie-talkie type thing and go on a search/adventure thing through the lands, which can help with keeping kiddos entertained.

One thing that’s cool about the parks is they’re in Florida so you’ll see a lot of local fauna, which if you’re into it makes many places more interesting for adults. There are white ibises all over, lots of great egrets that are acclimated to people, and in Epcot you’ll see anhinga, and sometimes great blue/little blue herons, as well as other waders that are really cool to see if you like birds. There are warblers and things too (yellow-rumped and palm warblers are common). There are a lot of rabbits on property, and there are marsh rabbits, which aren’t common to see outside Fla./the SE coast.

While I doubt you can/would want to make it to Gatorland, it’s not far by car and the rookery there’s absolutely magnificent. Dull for kids, though, unless they’re really interested in nesting egrets/herons/wood storks/other birds. But if you somehow had the time, or went some other time it’s phenomenal. This is a photo set from there.


You know, I didn’t actually respond…

But if I had, I’d’ve said: go when it’s cold. I went there in mid-March, and it was sweltering. I’m a cold weather person, so it was not fun for me. Bring lots of water, cool clothing, and lots of sunscreen.

If you get motion sickness, avoid the simulator rides (especially the Simpsons ride at Universal).

If you’re at all into Harry Potter, the whole Harry Potter experience at Universal is awesome; buy the two-park pass for at least one day, so that you can ride the Hogwarts Express (ride it both ways). The Gringotts ride is fine for those with simulator-sickness (the ride moves, then comes to a stop, and then there’s a scene that plays out, and then it moves again, but there isn’t much simulated motion). The Hogwarts Castle is much worse.

Get FastPasses for things that you intend to do; you can only have 3 on your Pass at any point in time, so pick things that are going to be busy. If you want Princess time (especially Frozen time), this is probably the best way to get it.

As for the things I liked best (apart from the Harry Potter stuff):
Monsters, Inc.
Railroad and Monorail
Epcot World Showcase (and fireworks).

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hahahah I typoed @nemomen… Or I knew you would have advice???

That’s all great stuff, and we’re going in January.

Keep it coming folks, I am learning much and I appreciate it!

I would allow two days for Epcot. It’s a big, big place, lots of walking. It’ll wear you out. But there’s no princesses there. Just awesomeness. (CAVEAT: I forgot, they’re converting Norway into Frozen-land, with Elsa & Anna meet-and-greets nonstop and a Frozen ride. That should be open when you go).

Agreed with lots of tips above so I won’t repeat, though I’d suggest a few things:

  • Figure out your meals ahead of time. Are you doing the meal plan? If so, definitely make reservations in advance. Try to get reservations at either Cinderella’s Royal Table (the restaurant in the castle) or Akershus (the restaurant in Norway, Epcot) – they both have princess dining events. If you tell me what sort of food you & the family like, I can make other recommendations on places to eat.
  • Get the WDW app, My Disney Experience. It’s pretty essential. You can make advance ride reservations, meal reservations, and check to see exactly where various characters (i.e., princesses) are at any point in time. Fair warning: there’s always a huge line for Anna & Elsa.
  • You might want to look into the Bibbidy Bobbity Boutique, where your girls can have a full princess makeover. No idea of the cost but I’m guessing Not Cheap.

A trip to Universal on top of WDW is shockingly expensive. For even one day, I think you’re looking at $150-$200 or so per person to go to the Harry Potter area, from what I understand. I’d love to see it but yikes!


With a 5 day trip it’s especially iffy since you’d be cutting WDW time and increasing costs across the board.

We did it once, to see the Harry Potter land. It was really expensive. It turned out that booking a night in the Universal hotel with some hotel discount deal and getting tickets was actually cheaper than just buying the tickets (and you get the disturbing Universal purchased-line-priority thing). The Harry Potter area is really cool, much better than anything else in the parks (apparently Rowling micro-managed a lot, which helped keep high standards). It’s still not beautifully integrated, as with all things Universal:

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The integration is much better in Diagon Alley as compared to Hogsmeade, but it’s true.


Short of declaring martial law and booting all the luh-hoo-sers from the Space Mountain line so that I can enjoy the ride in peace and quiet…

…is the best. Lots of great alcohol and overpriced food.

Like dazed and sunburned tourists wandering through the Disney parking lot, looking for their car and/or a bathroom. If you want flora and fauna, Gatorland Zoo is an appropriately ridiculous tourist trap that’s near enough to Disney for a quick visit (aaaand @nemomen beat me to it).

And IF you can spare the time/energy, Kennedy Space Center is a little over an hour East, and is more fun to visit than any of that Disney nonsense.


My experience of the parks is going to be different since my wife’s disabled (severe psoriatic arthritis damaged her knees/ankles, she can walk but not for extended periods). With a wheelchair/GAC it’s much easier to skip the lines. In WDW you show them the card and they give you a FP return time (Disneyland’s a little different, but similar). Not that I wouldn’t prefer the lines. Even without that, if you work the magic bands and optimize your schedule/route you can do okay avoiding the lines. Crowds are somewhat predictable. Avoid the park that has the Extra Magic Hour (it’ll be the most crowded), get there early, and read the guides by obsessives that map out optimal paths and you’ll fare better. The best option is to go off-season, though that’s not always an option. We looped Space Mountain with 10 minute walk-ons last year in late Feb. and the weather was great save a tiny bit of rain.

Yeah, Gatorland’s extremely cheesy, but if you beeline for the rookery in the back there’s none of that (other than the damn audio from the alligator wrestling bleeding through sometimes), and the walkways are sublime.