Disney Tips

We bring the kids to Disney World every November even though at the end of every trip we swear we're taking the next year off. I know they're young and they won't remember but seeing how happy they are in that moment makes it all worth it. We decided we're taking a couple years off but we say that now because we just got back and it's always tough, especially with two littles. I think taking a few years off however will allow them to grow and remember and appreciate when we surprise them with a trip there rather than just well, it's November, time for Disney again......

Here are my Disney tips (World only, not Land) in the Magic Kingdom that we've learned along the way:


Cinderella's Royal Table
I've had dinner here once and only once because it's so hard to get reservations here. You can make reservations up to 180 days prior to your visit and this is strongly recommended. If you plan to take a once in a lifetime trip, make sure you get dinner reservations here. My kids haven't been here yet but I aim to make reservations when they're in the 7-10 year old age. How special is it for a kid to say they had dinner in a CASTLE!? I'll say it again. BOOK. THIS. WAY. AHEAD. OF. TIME.

Character Breakfast
We always do a character breakfast because starting your day off having waffles with Mickey and Minnie is the perfect start to a magical day. Olivia is a little bummed now that we're home that no one joins us for pancakes anymore. I don't make these reservations in advance even though it's recommended. You can book here. I typically ask the concierge at check in to assist with finding a breakfast for our mornings. Beware though! I do breakfasts at resorts NOT IN THE PARKS. Unless you buy a park hopper, meaning you can go park to park throughout the day which is more expensive, then you're "stuck" at that park the rest of the day.

We buy single park passes, not hoppers. So we decide which park we do for the day and stay at that park for the day. Day 1 was Magic Kingdom and Day 2 we spent at Hollywood Studios.

Our concierge said there was breakfast openings but they were in Epcot so we didn't choose that, otherwise we couldn't go anywhere else. Get it? So we chose resorts.

This year we had breakfast at Cape May Café located at the Disney Beach Resort then took their boat to Hollywood Studios for the day. We had breakfast with Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. Each breakfast has different characters scheduled so check on that while booking if you have someone specific in mind you want to meet.

Rent a car if possible
Had we not had a car we would have had to wait for the monorail to take us to a bus station then to a boat to get to breakfast, meaning we would have had to have left our hotel about an hour earlier than we planned on. We drove from our hotel to the Beach Resort (roughly 2 miles) and left our car at that resort for the day taking the boat to the park.

You need to seriously plan your entire day around what you're doing ahead of time.

In past years we just "winged it" and spent hours sitting and waiting and figuring out how to get to each park. Some resorts have monorails, or busses, or boats. You need to plan your park and plan the route to get there.

Don't ever park AT Disney World. There's always a route to get there even if you drive to a resort just to use their monorail (which is the easiest along with the boats in my opinion).

Busses work but they suck. You spend 30 - 45 minutes at your stop and spend another 30 minutes stopping at every resort and every stop on their route just to get to the park.

Extended park hours
How do you plan your park for the day? MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THE HOURS. We were going to do Hollywood Studios the first day but switched it because it closed the first day at 4pm and the next day at 8pm. Each day different parks have different hours. If you don't have the park hopper, which we never do, then your day could end unexpectedly at 4pm if you didn't plan your parks ahead of time.

Fast Passes
A MUST! The moment you walk in the park find the closest fast pass station. You can select 3 rides at a time and the sooner you choose them, the better because they book FAST.

You can even book them online here.

Some rides or attractions will have wait times of 2 hours or 45 minutes if you have a fast pass. We didn't have the FP to meet Anna and Elsa so we spent 2+ hours waiting in line. Do you have any idea how long two hours is when you have tired, hungry, cranky babies?

Of course I tried getting the FP for Frozen but it was sold out even before the park opened. So book online if it's important to you!

Some rides you won't need a FP for: tea cups and Dumbo we waited maybe 20 minutes for.

After you select your rides, take a photo of the screen with your phone and text it to everyone in your group so you don't forget your rides and the times you were assigned. In case someone's phone dies, someone else has the information.

When you sign up for FP you are given options of when to stand in line, so again, PLAN AHEAD!

Ours looked something like this:

Dumbo
1:20 - 2:20

Tea Cups
3:40 - 4:40

Small World
5:20 - 6:20

These are the time frames you could stand in the fast pass line. So anywhere between 1:20 and 2:20 you can get in the FP line for Dumbo. Anytime between 3:40 and 4:40 you get in the FP line for Tea Cups. Get it?
PS: Liam is just ten months old and LOVED Dumbo and the Tea Cups. Definitely wasn't too little to enjoy Disney.

Hollywood Studios (great for under 5)
We got our FP immediately when we got to Hollywood Studios but never used them. The wait times in the regular lines weren't horrible and we never need a FP.

Hollywood Studios must see's for us: Disney Junior show (Mickey, Doc, Sofia, Jake and the Neverland Pirates), Frozen Sing-Along which was WONDERFUL! When Elsa made the entire room snow on the audience the kids went absolutely bonkers with excitement.

{{{{ Side bar: All of this sounds like it's more geared towards girls but trust me, boys everywhere loved all this. It's not all princesses, this is just what WE chose to do. }}}}

Honey I Shrunk The Kids is a great break time for moms and dads while the kids play on the giant playground with giant ants, flowers, etc. The kids feel like they've been shrunk and slide down a giant mushroom or super soaker. Seriously, all the adults just sat on the ground on their phones while the kids wore themselves out and parents rested their feet.

Fantasmic! This show plays just once a day, at night. Nearly the entire park goes to this show. Lights, water, floats, stunts, fireworks, princesses, villains, swords, this has everything. I sound like Stefon from SNL.
They begin seating an hour prior to the show but honestly, no seat is a bad seat. We got front row and waited an hour for the show to begin which was a waste of an hour because we could've sat anywhere for a great show.

Meet a Character
Throughout the Magic Kingdom you'll see big lines to meet Pluto, Alice in Wonderland, miscellaneous characters. Don't stand in these lines. Often times families will wait and wait and wait and the character will randomly say they're done and the chauffeur walks them off leaving the family in the dust wasting a lot of time.

Want to meet Daisy, Minnie, Goofy and Donald???

Every day at Pete's Silly Side Show in Storybook Circus which is kind of hidden in the Magic Kingdom located by the Dumbo rides you can meet these four. You choose to stand in the Daisy & Minnie line or the Goofy & Donald line. Each are worth it and depending on the day only take about 20 - 40 minutes per line. You get to meet both characters from the line.
Info here.


Dining
I sound like a broken record but MAKE RESERVATIONS! We've dined at Belle's Be Our Guest Restaurant before and thoroughly enjoyed it even though we waited in line for 50 minutes to have lunch there.

They no longer allow you to stand in line and wait. Reservations only. Make those here. Yes, they have the grey stuff, and yes, it's delicious.

We tried having lunch here and they said reservations only.
Me: Okay, can I make a reservation?
Guy: We're booked the rest of the week.

We had lunch at Pinocchio's Village Haus aaaaaaaaaaa-gain because it's literally almost the only other place to eat at. Don't get me wrong, food's okay, but it's where we always end up because someone didn't make a reservation.

When we got back to our room my friend who didn't join us (because it's expensive and they don't serve alcohol in the Magic Kingdom and he doesn't have kids) asked how it was and where we ate.
Me: We had lunch at fucking Pinocchio's again.

He laughed and I realized how stupid that sounded as well.

Want a great show for kids and adults? But more so for adults if you can get a sitter? Try Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at the Polynesian Resort. This was SO FUN. They bring platters of delicious food and unlimited drinks to you while you enjoy a luau with hula dancers, fire dancers, knife tossing and more. Beer and wine is included. Careful!

Childcare for a date night
I have not yet utilized this service but I do plan to one day. Info here.

Rich and his cousins went to Disney World all the time growing up and we laughed when we talked about childcare because his cousin said to her mom:
"I remember having Disney sitters growing up. You all would go out and party but it was fun because all the kids stayed in one room with two or three sitters and we'd get to do whatever we wanted!"

Her mom: And we got to split the cost of the sitters throwing you all together!

Epcot Theme Park
I haven't been here with kids. I went here pre-kids and we "drank around the world". This is NOT a dry park and we had adult beverages at every country. Fun times.

Animal Kingdom
I went here pre-kids just once. I think??? I don't remember much of it so it probably wasn't THAT exciting??? I honestly don't have much to say about this one. I mean, it's Disney, so it has to have some amazing, can't-miss stuff I'm sure.

Don't skimp on your hotel to save money.
We always stay in resorts which add to the experience immensely. Read here on why you should choose a resort over a hotel. Here's a list of excellent resorts.
We've stayed at The Contemporary, Boardwalk Inn, The Yacht Club, and my favorite: The Polynesian.
The Caribbean Beach Resort is an excellent resort that's a lot more budget friendly.   The only downside is you travel via bus to any park which cuts into your day.

Random
While on the Winnie The Pooh ride Rich and I looked at each other and asked "Are we on drugs???" Seriously, what a weird ride.



Alright, to end this post, you need to hear what Jim Gaffigan has to say about Disney.

Listen here.

While we were at Disney this year, Rich and I quoted him saying "well why don't we eat something and then we'll grab something to eat? I'm sure they have a snack bar...."

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