Disneyworld

It makes me giddy with excitement to write this post.  You see, we are thinking that maybe this year for Christmas our gifts to each other and the kids will be a trip to Disney!  Yippee!  We will probably go in February. . . but it will still be our Christmas gift.  Part of the rationale is that our kids DO NOT NEED ANYMORE TOYS!  For heavens sake they have plenty that they don’t even play with.  Secondly, the only way we can really make this trip affordable is if we put our Christmas savings with our vacation savings (that we had to stop saving for over a year ago).  So, I am already wanting to start planning the trip. I love to have something to look forward to and this is a BIG something!  I have been to Disney several times. . . as a kid, a college student (for a VOLS bowl game) and once for a conference where Rick came and joined me for a couple of days of fun in the park.

This will be our kids FIRST experience at Disney.  And I want to take them while they are both still into all the playhouse Disney characters and they still find the princesses to be magical!  It will just be so fun.  Okay, so this is where I need ALL the help I can get.  I know that many of you have taken a trip or two or ten to Disney.  Some on a small budget and some of you just blew it out!  I want as much info as you can give me.  Here are some of my initial questions that will help me plan:

1)  Where did you stay?  On the Disney property or elsewhere?  What were your accommodations like?  Spacious?  Price-range?

2)  Did you purchase a meal plan?  If so, which one? And do you remember what that included?

3)  Did you fly or drive?  I am almost positive we will fly. . . but I am still curious.

4)  Did you get a base ticket or park hopper passes?  Do you like the choice you made?  Did you actually use the benefits of a park hopper pass if you got one?

5)  What parks are best for a 5 and 6 year old?  (Ava Jane will be almost 5)

I would appreciate any and all information you want to share!!  I am getting excited just thinking about it!  Wahoo for Disney!

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20 Responses to “Disneyworld”

  1. Jodi Willeford Wright Says:

    Hey Amy. What a great Christmas present. You are picking the perfect time to go. We did the Disney trip in April of last year. My son was 6 and my daughter turned 5 while we were there. What a great time.We felt the biggest mistake of our trip was not staying on property. While we saved money at an offsite hotel it just was not worth the savings. We had to pay to park, walk to the tram, and wait for the tram, plus drive to and from the park (twice daily due to naps). This was even worse when going to the Magic Kingdom itself as we had to wait forever for the boat.

    We bought the base ticket. With kids that age, we did not feel that we would go to more than one park a day. You can spend days at each one and still not do anything. We did the MGM, the Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom. MGM is GREAT for meeting characters. There are a ton of great shows at this park. The best shows at MGM were the Little Mermaid and Playhouse Disney (both my kids LOVED this one). Animal Kingdom is awesome for kids. It is like doing a zoo with rides. It was neither my husband’s or my favorite park, but the kids loved it. One ride warning at this park is the Dinasour ride is extremely scary. We had a guide book I purchased that said it was kid friendly, but that is so not the case. Of course, Magic Kingdom rocked. We actually got tickets to eat dinner at Cinderella’s castle on my daughters 5th bday. Quite a magical experience. The dinner for the adults was very upscale and the kids food was appropriate. Plus you get a one on one pic/time with Cinderella and a nice show. Any character meal you need to book now. You can book them 180 days in advance and they sell out about 180 in advance. Feel free to email me with any questions.

  2. Missy Says:

    Amy,

    I am so excited for you guys!!! Disney is just so magical. I’ll be anxious to read the responses that you get, as we would like to go this year, too.

    Addison and Ava Jane will have a BALL! Have fun planning. Oh, and I am SO with you on not needing anymore toys…geesh!!! : )

  3. Susan Says:

    How exciting. I don’t have any advice to offer because we haven’t been with the boys yet but are also thinking of going this year. I think its a wonderful idea about making it everyone’s Christmas gift!! What an awesome gift!
    I’ll be checking back to see what helpful things people comment on. I’ve heard February is a great time to go!!

  4. barbara Says:

    I was Addison’s Sunday School teacher a few years ago, and happened across your blog!

    We did Disney for 10 days last October. We rented a house, with heated pool about 15 minutes from the parks. The house was $79 per night, and we saved big money by eating 2 meals each day at the house. The park hours vary from day to day, so we could plan around closing times. The parking lot was not too crowded, and there was no waiting for trams, and our kids loved riding them.

    You must see fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. It is simply magical for grown-ups and kids alike. We bought 7 day park hopper tickets and did Magic Kingdom and MGM twice. Epcot has Finding Nemo show that is awesome! MGM has High School Musical shows, and the Magic Kingdom has everything your princesses need. Also, if someone has a birthday, they get the royal treatment.

    We flew and rented a small car. Orlando also has the Holy Land Experience, which is an amazing tour of the Hold Land, as it was in Jesus’ day.

    If you need help planning a killer vacation on a shoestring budget, I am more than willing to help:)

  5. Angel harrison Says:

    Yay! The girls will love it. We went at christmas 2004 and it cost 2500 for 3 of us. But that was food, staying on the property(is the best way to do it), and 6-7day park hopper passes. My family has always stayed on disney property. It saves you $ in the long run. Taylor and my daddy leave for there Oct. 5 for 6days. You can call me with any questions. I have more ideas and a book on info. on disney vacations.
    You guys are going to LOVE it! What a great present!

  6. jennifer Says:

    We just got back and are worn out! We have gone the past two Septembers because our school district has a week off that month each year. The bonus part of that is there is about a three week window that gives you the dining plan for FREE if you are staying on property. It has been totally worth it both times. I use a DIsnet travel agent that does everything for you, makes all your dining reservations, books the hotel, totally stress free for you. Then she sends you little laminated sheets to take to the park with you to tell you where to be when. All you do is give her a run down of what your kids are really into and anything you’d like to for sure do. It doesn’t cost anymore to use her, and you are worry free because she takes care of EVERYTHING!

  7. cobblestones Says:

    Hey friend! You know we just got back last week. It was my….10th trip…I know, but the first with 3 kids with us 🙂 It was Chris and my 5th time to go together. You know how crazy frugal he is…I think we finally got it down to a science this time. We stayed on property for the first time and this was are cheapest vacation so far. We did it all for 7 nights/8 days for less than a thousand. We did the parks for five days and hung out at the pool for 3 days. There is no way I can type out all the tips here but would love to talk with you about it if you want! We LOVE disney!

  8. julia medearis Says:

    Hey Amy, I’m so excited y’all are thinking about going to Disney! We are actually thinking of trying to go in February too. Our kids have never been (ages 1, almost 4, and 5 1/2), but David and I lived in Orlando for a year and had season passes before we had kids and fell in love with Disney. I’m like you, though… I’ve got lots of questions about where to stay and how to do it with kids. I do know that Jan and Feb are great months to go. The weather is usually warm enough to wear shorts/t-shirts during the day and you might need a light jacket or sweatshirt at night. (Which is perfect “park” weather!) And it’s not very crowded then, either. Please keep posting about any tips that you find out about. I think we need to pick Antonia’s brain… going for a full week with 3 kids and staying on property for under a thousand is incredible!

  9. Ellen Grant Says:

    Hey Amy,
    We are also going to Disney in February. Maybe we’ll see each other there! And I also just got a new dining room table…and I’m about to paint the dining room and was thinking of green.
    Are we sharing a brain?
    MOPS has been great–hate not seeing you there!

  10. Christy Butler Says:

    Hey Amy,
    We took the boys two years ago on fall break. It was a great trip!

    First, we stayed on a Disney property. We stayed in one of the cheapest hotels, and it was fine. It was the newest of the cheap ones. We were hardly ever in the room. Our hotel had several pools and a playground area, so that was nice. But the cheaper the hotel, the more crowded it is going to be. We had some long lines occasionally waiting to get on the buses. That was the only bad part. But it wouldn’t be worth the price difference for me to upgrade. And you only do that twice a day. We went over fall break. It will probably be less crowded in Jan/Feb. It was a little weird riding a bus (no car seats!) with our kids through downtown Florida. But it was convenient, and we got dropped right at the door.

    Rent a double stroller. We rented one for the whole week. It was totally worth every single penny, and I am a cheapo! There is no way your kids will be able to walk all day. And you don’t want to try and bring a stroller from home… on and off plane, bus, etc.

    We got a park hopper, but didn’t use it. There was enough to do at one park each day.

    The Meal plan was the way to go. We booked it at the time of year that they offered the free meal plan. That gave us two meals and a snack each day, per person. We could usually let the boys share one meal (they were big plates of chicken nuggets). Then we could sometimes stretch one of our “snacks” into a meal (like a bagel for breakfast, or a thing of cereal counted as a snack). We also had some days that we ate an early lunch (like 10:30ish) and then had dinner at like 4:30ish. We just had poptarts/snacks in the room to hold us over til our bigger meals. We also carried a back pack around the park with some snacks. One of our meals each day could be a “character meal”, and they are really expensive. We had some that our bill came to over $100, but our meal plan covered it. And if you know you want to do some of the character meals, call way ahead of time to schedule it. You have to make reservations for those. Cinderella’s castle books up WAY ahead of time. Lucky for us, our boys didn’t care about Cinderella! When you are looking at your character meals, pay attention to where they are. For example, if you want to eat at Cinderellas castle, just know that you are going to have to be at Magic Kingdom that day. And you reserve a place at MGM, you will need to plan your meals around being at that park that day.

    Oh, and we also took walkie talkies. Sometimes Keith and I would split up with each kid (if they wanted to do something different). Then we could “breaker breaker 1-9” to find each other).

    Start looking for Southwest deals. You can sign up for Ding, which sends you cheap flight info as soon as it comes out. We ended up getting the $59 tickets, and they transport you to the hotel. We thought that was much easier and cheaper than gas!

    I’ll try to thing of other things, but it was awesome! And I know you will have a BLAST!

    Christy

  11. Jessica Says:

    Ahhh amy!!! soooo exciting!! i love love love disney world!!! me and pete did it in April for petes birthday! it was super fun even tho we are old and had no little ones to enjoy it with….. i would DEFIANTLY stay at the park! sooo easy! and if you fly you get transportation to and from the airport and then transportation to/from all the parks….. and even if u drive u just leave your car and use the disney transport system….. i knw when we went we did breakfast at our hotel every day (ran us about 15 $) (pete eats alot) and then we took bars and fruit and water to the park and did the park from about 10-3 then came back to the room and ate sandwiches and chips etc (that we had bought at the grocery store and kept in an ice chest that we brought) then took naps then went back to the park (the one that stayed open late b/c a different one stays open each night) till 12 or 1….. it was super fun but yall will obviously have different time schedules with the girls but i just wanted to share what we did! We also got hopper passes….. i enjoy being able to go to more than one park a day but if you want to you could do just one park a day there is plenty to do at each park! The fireworks and electric light parade at Magic Kingdom are a must and so is the Laser light show at Epcot!! Magic Kingdom will probably be their favorite because there are lots of character greetings and character rides and dumbo and cinderellas castle etc…… there is so much there that it might take more than one day to go thru it all!! We also did a character breakfast (for petes bday!) and i would definately recommend doing that! Very cool to have the characters come say ‘hi’ during b’fast!!
    anyways… i hope yalll get to go cause it would be super fun!!!!!

  12. tracybro Says:

    Wow, what great info you’re getting! I’m going to have to come back to this the next time we go. Just a couple of things.

    I have a folder full of info: park maps, where to go when with young kids, character meeting times and places, etc. It gets passed around so I’d be happy to pass it on to you.

    I thought Animal Kingdom was a glorified zoo. The girls weren’t that into it because it wasn’t all that different. The rides they could ride were the dinosaur version of Dumbo. You know, the same rides as the other parks only with animals. I will skip it next time.

    Epcot only had a few things for the girls. We went there because that’s where the princess breakfast was. The food wasn’t great (swedish I think) but the girls didn’t care. They were in awe. All the princesses came around to the tables.

    We loved MGM. Lots of characters to see there. Little Einsteins, Toy Story, Muppets, Bear in the Big Blue House. Stuff like that.

    Disneyworld is by far the best. Depending how long you’re going to be there it might be the only place you go. We went there our first day and our last.

    I’m so excited for you! By the way, LOVE the dining room furniture! Can’t wait to come over and eat!

  13. tracybro Says:

    Forgot to mention, we did a character breakfast at MGM also with the Little Einsteins and JoJo. Again, the girls loved it. It really is magical to see the kids wonder. I (me, insensitive me) cried during the parade our first day as Annie waved at all the characters. She would turn to me and say, “Mom! Look! It’s so-and-so!” It’s so much fun when they sort of believe it’s all real.

  14. jamieblackwell Says:

    amy, wow!!! So excited for you guys!!

  15. Christy Butler Says:

    Hey! I thought of a few more things we did. I shopped ahead of time at the Disney Store for clearance “souveneirs”. I took them with us and gave them to the kids on the trip. It helped prevent them from begging for an expensive “souveneir” everywhere we went in the park.

    I also tried to dress them alike in bright shirts. It helped me spot them quickly, and made it easier to keep up with them.

  16. Aly Says:

    CALL ME!!!
    I have a wealth of information for you. Our trip to Disney was absolutely magical! First of all, good choice on February after A LOT of research we also chose to go then and we will never go any other time of year. I have a great book I can give you. You need to try NOW to get reservations for a princess breakfast. I know what you’re thinking “That’s kinda pricey” But let me tell you it is totally worth it! (Call me for more info about this)
    Go to mousesavers.com and subscribe right now to their monthly e-mail and go to disneyparks.com and order your FREE custom Lafayette family keepsake maps and FREE vacation planning DVD so you have them in time to give to the girls for christmas.
    My advice…don’t do the Disney dining plan. Mostly horrible food inside the parks. You need to feed them the best food possible because their little bodies are going to be taxed. I’d start taking them walking now to get them feeling strong, Disney is not for the faint of heart.
    I am so excited and jealous. Y’all are going to remember this trip for the rest of your lives!
    CALL ME, CALL ME, CALL ME!

  17. Mark Jackson Says:

    The message boards at Passporter.com are really, really helpful – and the Passporter books are great.

  18. Amy Lafayette Says:

    Okay. . . I am soooo incredibly grateful for all the great ideas, suggestions and information you all have given me. And I know several others who told me they were looking for information like what you all gave to me. So, it is hopefully benefitting many! Any other thoughts are welcome. Rick and I talked about it today and I just get soooo excited. I just wanted to thank each of you for taking time to tell me about your experiences and share ideas. 🙂

  19. Amy Williams Says:

    We just got back about 3 weeks ago and had a blast. February or March or September or October is the best time to go. We had the hopper pass and included the 2 waterparks. We went in September with the free dining plan so that saved us a lot. We were going to stay at All-Star resorts but the day before we were leaving we got a call from Disney saying we were upgraded to the Contemporary from the “Year of a Million Dreams” how cool that was! I personally like Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom best for the kids. Also, the character meals are great. You need to book those at least 180 days out prior to your trip. Some ideas Cinderella’s Royal Table, Mickey Backyard BarBQ, Hollywood Studio’s with Jo Jo and friends, Chef Mickey are just a few of the great character meals we had. We booked our trip through WDW travel, it was $1900 and that included our hotel for 7 days, our tickets for 5, our meals, and our plane ticket was $600 for the 4 of us. We flew Southwest. I was not about to drive from Hendersonville to Orlando with a 3 & 4 year old. I hope I answered most of your questions! 🙂

  20. Michelle Niggl Says:

    Hey girl- I wanted to let you know that I put a lot of Disney tips on my blog. Thought you may find something on there to help with your trip. It is truly the most wonderful family trip. Hope you are well. We miss you this year…….

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