Spring Disney deals end soon: Tips to help plan

The deadline for Disney’s spring (book by Feb. 13) and early summer (book by March 27) deals are rapidly approaching and some families are scrambling to get their plans in place. I’ve had several requests from friends for my Disney tips and strategies that have run over the years. I thought maybe other families out there could benefit from those links as well. So I have pulled for you guys a bunch of helpful links.

The first section of links is deals, the second section is news about Disney, and the third is tips and strategies.

Here were some of the deals and deadlines  from the Disney official site:

Up to 30% off at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights February 17 through April 16, 2011. Book by February 13, 2011.

·         Rooms

Save up to 40% on late spring or late summer travel at select Disney Resort hotels for stays most nights April 28 to June 14, 2011 and August 14 to October 1, 2011. Book by March 27, 2011.

·         Vacation Packages

Kids, ages 3 to 9, can stay and play for free when you buy a non-discounted 4-night/4-day room and ticket package at select Disney Resort hotels for select nights February 17 to October 1, 2011. Book by March 27, 2011.

Some deal links

Current Disney deals from AJC writer

Disney deals from their Web site

Disney Deals from Mousesavers.com

Deals for Dad on golf while visiting Disney (I’ll meet you in the park kids after I play some golf!)

Some news about the park

Fantasyland to double in size

Disney’s newest cruise line – I would love to do this when we have the money but Michael says have fun with your parents. He’s not going. Hrumph!

Tips

Top strategies for a great family trip

Star Wars weekends (If you have a little boy or Dad this is not to be missed!)

The Disney park link to Star Wars weekend info — I can’t find the 2011 dates on the Web site. You may have to call to ask.

This story ran in the AJC’s Go Guide in 2005 and is so old I can’t even find a link for it anymore. However I think a lot of the tips are still really relevant, especially with toddlers.

BYLINE: THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO
DATE: May 22, 2005
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Travel
PAGE: K14

We’ve just returned from three stressful, tough days of dragging a 2- and 4-year-old through the four parks at Walt Disney World.

“The Happiest Place on Earth” is anything but with a whiny, 30-pound 2-year-old who just wants to run free. While the under-5 set is one of the prime targets of Disney’s magic, it takes a little sorcery of your own to survive and enjoy the experience.

Here are our best tips for taking toddlers and preschoolers to Disney World:

Enjoying the visit

• Be sensitive to the youngest child’s age. In our case, we shouldn’t have taken our 2-year-old. Our 4-year-old handled everything great. The 2-year-old didn’t understand why he was waiting in line and just wanted to play in the hotel’s pool. Our experience the previous year had been so much easier because he couldn’t walk yet, and he napped throughout the day. Most kids 3 and older understand that they have to wait their turn, and they will be rewarded with the ride at the end of the line. Most 2-year-olds don’t.

• Visit only the Magic Kingdom with toddlers. Although Disney spokeswoman Michelle Baumann points out that all the parks are relevant to preschoolers and each has activities to interest them, I contend that the Magic Kingdom offers the most concentrated area of rides and characters for that age group. You have to focus your efforts so the whole family doesn’t get worn out. Baumann says families should plan their “must-see” rides and accomplish those first.

• Visit one park a day. If you feel like you want to see the other parks, don’t try “park hopping” during the day. The word “hopping” suggests a carefree and easy process, which it is not. To switch from the Animal Kingdom to the Magic Kingdom, we had to turn in our park-rented double stroller, carry the 30-pound toddler and 20-pound backpack and drag the 4-year-old by the hand to the bus stop. After a 15-minute bus ride, we had to walk to ride a boat and then get through security and ticket lines to get into the park to pick up our new stroller. If you bring your own stroller, you have to take everything out of it and fold it flat.

Baumann says that park hopping with preschoolers is possible, but here is how it should be done: Go to the park as early as possible (especially if you’re staying at a Disney resort and can use the less-crowded Extra Magic Hour). Stay for several hours, and then around lunch go back to the hotel. Sleep, swim, read — do whatever will refresh the family, and then head to a different park for the evening hours, when it’s cooler and less crowded. Those not staying at Disney can go home, too. Just get your hand stamped, and your ticket and parking pass will get you back in later that day.

• Take a day off between park days. We did two days back-to-back (Friday and Saturday) and the kids were like zombies on Saturday despite a good night’s rest. We took Sunday off before returning on Monday to the park, and they were more receptive. My kids loved the All-Star Movie resort’s playground and pool. We also all enjoyed visiting Downtown Disney, but it did tempt us to shop more.

• Two days in the parks is really enough for most young kids. After that, they’re just exhausted and tired of the lines. (My advice runs contrary to what Disney has found in satisfaction surveys, according to Dave Herbst, a spokesman for Walt Disney World. He said they found that the longer people stayed, the more they were willing to take breaks and slow their pace, which made them happier overall.)

Strollers, etc.

• If you’re renting a stroller from the park, pay for all the days you’ll need it on the first day. It’s a new service called a “length-of-stay stroller.” You can get a partial refund at the stroller stand in any of the parks or at Downtown Disney if you return it early. You will avoid a huge wait (25 minutes for us) each morning.

• Leave your big diaper bag in the stroller when you go on rides. It is unlikely that anyone will mess with it. Take your wallet, camera, one diaper, wipes, sippy cups and snacks in a smaller, lighter bag in the line. No one bothered our big bag two years in a row. (I wouldn’t leave Disney merchandise in the stroller.)

• The strollers have very little storage, but you can balance your bags on top while pushing.

• Leave your stroller in a central spot and don’t move it for several rides. We parked near Mickey’s PhilharMagic in Fantasyland, rode it and Dumbo and hit the bathroom without moving the stroller.

• Take advantage of the baby care centers in all four parks. Baumann says they are a “nice retreat from the pace of the theme parks.” They have rocking chairs, high chairs, spoons and changing tables, all free (most park restrooms have changing tables, too). They also have diapers, bibs, formula and baby food for sale, if you need them.

Surviving the lines

• Alternate between rides with short lines and rides with long lines so the kids get some quick satisfaction. The first thing we did Monday was get a FastPass ticket for the Buzz Lightyear ride. We had an hour to fill in Tomorrowland, so we waited 25 minutes to ride the race cars and then walked right on to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. After we got off those, it was time for Buzz Lightyear.

• The FastPass is valuable only if there is stuff nearby that you want to do. While waiting for our Jungle Cruise FastPass time to arrive, we decided to ride the Pirates of the Caribbean, which we love but feared would upset our daughter (it didn’t). Baumann says that even if we had to kill some time, at least we weren’t standing in a queue. She says that is the purpose of the FastPass — to keep you out of line. She suggests getting ice cream, seeing a character or just sitting and relaxing if there’s nothing else nearby to do.

• The FastPass is important in Fantasyland, which always seems crowded because preschoolers can travel any time of year. Baumann, who is a mother of a 6- and 3-year-old, offers this strategy: Head to Fantasyland first thing in the morning. Get a FastPass for Peter Pan’s Flight or the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. (She also likes to FastPass Mickey’s PhilharMagic show, but I’ve never experienced a long line there.) Then get in line for Dumbo. Next, ride Cinderella’s Carousel (which typically does not have a long line), and then your FastPass time should be up. If it’s not up, she says hit It’s a Small World. However, on our recent trip, the newly remodeled Small World was packed and had a 45-minute wait.

• Bring small, healthy snacks with you. Snack-size plastic bags filled with things like pretzels, graham cracker sticks, granola, raisins and cheese sticks kept their minds off the wait.

• Matchbox cars, Simon Says, 20 questions, Disney trivia and hand-clapping games also helped occupy them in line. Baumann adds to the list blowing bubbles — which I think the neighbor kids in line would enjoy, too.

• Playgrounds in the parks are a relatively new thing and really help keep the kids sane. Playgrounds are in Toontown in the Magic Kingdom (no older than preschoolers); the Space Base in Mission: Space, and dancing fountains near the Imagination pavilion in Epcot; the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure playground (for bigger kids, too) in the back of Disney’s-MGM Studios; and the Boneyard in Animal Kingdom (also good for bigger kids). The train, Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Country Bear Jamboree and the Carousel of Progress are good breaks as well.

Saving some money

• Bring in food and drinks. We saved so much money and avoided many lines by bringing our own snacks and water. > Pay the $10 extra to have a refrigerator in your hotel room. Again, we saved money just by having milk, juice, yogurt and fruit in our room for breakfast and snacks. Plus, you save time feeding the kids while you’re getting ready.

• Get the kid’s meal for everyone. The quick food service areas in the parks offer kids’ meals that come with a nice portion of the main course, a side of vegetable or fruit and milk or juice box. In Animal Kingdom, the kid’s meal had a hot dog, ear of corn, apple sauce and milk for under $4.

• If you do nothing else, don’t buy single rolls of film in the park. I stupidly bought two rolls for $10 each (400 speed, 36 exposure) off a cart and found out later the larger stores in the park sell five packs (five rolls of 24 exposures) for $20. I was too embarrassed to even tell my husband (though I guess he knows now).

Strategies for everyone

• Pay attention to the Disney hotel rates to determine the most crowded days in the park. More expensive means more crowded. For this year, Disney’s Herbst says: The value season, when attendance is the lowest, is January into mid-February, Aug. 28-Oct. 4 and Nov. 27-Dec. 19. The regular season, which has higher attendance than value but less than peak, runs Oct. 5-Nov. 26, mid-April to mid-August and Oct. 5-Nov. 26. The peak season is Feb. 17-April 16. The holiday season runs Dec. 20-31.

• During peak times, the weekends and Mondays are the most crowded. During nonpeak times, weekends can be OK, but Mondays are often still congested. Herbst explains that people who travel by car drive down during the weekend. This way, their first day in the park is Monday.

• Head left when entering the park. Baumann says research shows that most people turn right in the Magic Kingdom. She says the other thing people do is stop at the first ride they see (especially true at Epcot’s Spaceship Earth).

• The Magic Kingdom is most busy at the beginning of the week because families want to go there first. For smaller crowds, visit the other parks first.

• Even though the Extra Magic Hour (the parks take turns opening an hour early for guests staying at Disney hotels) is not congested, the park offering the Magic Hour tends to be more congested during regular hours. So if you can’t get in during the Magic Hour, you may want to avoid the park offering it that day. On the other hand, parks with Magic Hours at night don’t tend to be more crowded than normal.

• For the next 18 months, visitors arriving by air and staying at a Disney hotel can use the Magical Express to whisk their luggage from the Orlando airport to their hotel room (like a cruise line does). And you can ride a bus to the hotel for free.

What’s your best tip for visiting Disney with children? Share it with us on our travel blog, Gotta Go!, at ajc.com/travel.

Are you planning a trip to Disney this spring or summer? Will the Georgia snow days affect your trip? What are your plans? What deals are you taking advantage of? What are you best tips for other parents?

– By Therea Walsh Giarrusso, Momania on ajc.com

47 comments Add your comment

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madmommy

January 28th, 2011
7:38 am

We have no plans to hit the whole “Disney” compound anytime soon. Growing up in LA we always went to Disneyland, which since both of us are from CA, means we can visit family at the same time. I’m just not sure if it is worth the money/time it would take to pull off a Disneyworld trip, esp if it takes so much time and planning ahead of time in order to make it happen. The only thing I would like to do there is the Disney Marathon.

Let’s all just take a trip to the Gulf Coast instead and get our kids outside where they can run free without restriction.

Been there many times

January 28th, 2011
7:53 am

Stay in a timeshare to save on meals. If you plan to go more than once, buy multiple day tickets with no expiration and save the rest for later years. If you plan to go once each year, buy an annual pass and go in the second year one month earlier. Take the kids before they reach age 10 so you can buy kids tickets.

atlmom

January 28th, 2011
8:03 am

Oh, we spent a week there with the then 7 and 4 YOs, right after school ended, last May. We had a fantastic time. I’m a big disney fan. We stayed on site, and got the meal plan – it was a bargain at less than $100 per day. And we didn’t have to worry about meals, etc (like, oh, let’s just wait a bit and leave the park for dinner…). We ended up eating much nicer meals than we would have without it, which was great and relaxing, because we had sit down meals. And we would not have done that without the meal plan.
We were there for six days, and the kids were great. It was tons of fun.

Mom of older kids

January 28th, 2011
8:13 am

I think that there should “STROLLER FREE” days at all of the parks. Seems that most parents with strollers seem to think that they have the right of way.

motherjanegoose

January 28th, 2011
8:24 am

Not a Disneyworld lover. We have been to the other parks several times: Universal and also Seaworld.

@ been there…we also purchased the season tickets ( for the other parks) and made 2 trips in one year. You can usually get those for a discount at Costco. My daughter is talking about going with her friends, to Disneyworld.

Anyone know where to get a discount on a ticket only? AAA is not that great and I am not doing a time share. Guess she will have to work to earn her ticket money!

She whines about me not liking Disney ( or Six Flags) , with a grin and I remind her that she has been to Hawaii 3 times, Disneyland and also Alaska…just not to Disneyworld with her Mom. She went with her HS and had a blast.

RJ

January 28th, 2011
8:32 am

Started a few years ago at The Animal Kingdom Lodge! If you’re an animal liver you will live this place. Many activities fir the kids. Restaurants are pricey though.

Super Dad

January 28th, 2011
8:35 am

Disney also needs to clamp down on the scooters. Disney does a great job in being accesable to the disabled. But being fat and lazy is not a disabilty and therefore a scooter is not needed. In the week I was there I wasted up to an hour a day waiting for some tubby to get his scooter on and off a bus.

motherjanegoose

January 28th, 2011
8:47 am

@ Super Dad…Disneyworld is not going to be able to fix the scooter problem any more than restaurants are going to be able to corral kids that do not behave to one area of the building, so that the rest of us can enjoy our dinner. We do not eat at places that advertise KIDS EAT FREE TONIGHT.

I was at a wonderful school yesterday, with adorable children. I was having a great time with about 60 children ages 2-5. Parents were doing a tour of the school and stopped by to watch. It was funny to see the look on their faces…maybe they were thinking…how can she get all those kids to follow along? Or maybe they were thinking….she is NUTS…why not just plug in a DVD and be done with it?
HHMMMM…

Lori

January 28th, 2011
8:48 am

I agree with most of the tips you posted in your previous article except for one. The park hopper pass. I have been several times with my son when he was age 3 through age 7. I can tell you that the park hopper is a bonus worth paying for. We don’t use it in order to run ourselves ragged between the parks, but to actually make wiser use of our time, so we can actually get more done in less time, thus being less ragged! First off, we ALWAYS plan our day around the extra magic hours parks. ALWAYS!! Go to whichever one has the morning hours. You get more benefit from the morning hours with little kids than the late evening ones. Now comes the park hopper part…since you’ve been at that park all day and your kids are getting tired, use the park hopper to go to one of the water parks. You are still getting in some fun, but it can also be relaxing. Grab some lounge chairs and let the little one nap in it while you sun bathe, or ride around the lazy river a few times. This is how we spend out hot afternoons, instead of dragging ourselves around in the heat. Then use that park hopper to head back to one of the parks, maybe a different one from the morning, not for more rides and such, but for dinner and the evening fireworks show. Also, inevitably there is that one new ride that your kids love and want to ride over and over (such as Toy Story Mania, which is NOT to be missed, by the way!!). We used the park hopper to head to that park first thing in the morning and hop on the ride, then spend the rest of the day at some other park. Also, there may be that one show that you just couldn’t squeeze in one day and you really want to go back, like the night show at Hollywood Studios. The key to Disney is plan, plan, plan. Make your schedule around the extra hours, plan which nights you will see which shows, and make your dinner reservations depending on what park you will be in which days. I’m a pro at Disney, and I can tell you, plan MONTHS in advance and you can actually have a very enjoyable and relaxing vacation!

missy

January 28th, 2011
8:51 am

I’m taking my daughter on the Disney Dream in May – she thinks she’s going to grandma’s for the summer – and she will, but not before we take this cruise when she gets out of school! I haven’t told her yet, and I’m going to surprise her when we get to the airport. I’m going to record her reaction when I tell her that we are not going to grandma’s, but instead we’re going to Florida to take a Disney cruise to the Bahamas! She wanted to go to the beach this year for her birthday and now she’ll get to – in a foreign country!!

Lori

January 28th, 2011
8:51 am

Also, last tip…..for whatever is the newest and hottest ride…..go there FIRST thing in the morning and ride it. Then if you think you’ll want to ride again later, get a Fastpass AS SOON AS YOU GET OFF. Some rides, like Toy Story Mania…if you don’t get a Fastpass by 10:00 AM, you don’t get one at all. They will give out of them by then!

Aquagirl

January 28th, 2011
8:53 am

Great tips, Theresa! Ms. Bauman’s tip needs to be repeated in caps—GET TO THE PARK EARLY. TAKE A MID-DAY BREAK. And that’s not just for preschoolers.

@ Motherjanegoose, disappointing news on discount tix: no. And for God’s sake, don’t buy “cheap” second hand tickets. Disney now links the thumb scan of the first person using a multi-day pass to that ticket. I’ve seen people turned away at the gate and it’s not a pretty sight.

The only valid discounts are pretty small, unless you qualify for one of Disney’s own discounts like for the military.

motherjanegoose

January 28th, 2011
9:07 am

@ Aqua…YEARS ago ( almost 20), when I did have the patience to go to Disneyworld, with all the lines and crowds…you COULD buy a ticket and let someone else use it too. I am aware that now this is not happening. I imagine it is fisticuffs for those who try to do so and cannot get in. Technology has certainly changed things.

motherjanegoose

January 28th, 2011
9:08 am

OH…KUDOS to Disney if they can get enough people to pay the ticket price without a discount.
Even though I do not want to go, many others will and they must be doing something right!

JJ

January 28th, 2011
9:12 am

@Mom of Older kids – AMEN!!!! I wish everywhere had a stroller free day. Especially at places like the Yellow Daisy Festival, and the Chili Cookoff…..

When mine was little and I used to go to craft shows with my girlfriends, we had a NO Stroller/no kid policy. The kids had to stay home with Dads or grandparents. The kids turned out just fine.

I ♥ Cereal

January 28th, 2011
9:21 am

Don’t forget you’ll want to avoid the “Gay Days” at Disney World, lest you should want you & your kids to see some revolting behavior.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it.

Aquagirl

January 28th, 2011
9:27 am

@ motherjane, I remember those bygone days myself. Some of those folks stopped at the gate with second-hand tickets get quite mouthy. They’d have better luck disagreeing with a hit team from Israeli intelligence, lol. I agree, kudos to Disney, they provide a top-notch experience and people expect Six Flags prices.

One of the reasons Disney has invested in the ticket system is that they want you there for multiple days. The price per day drops drastically when buying a multi-day ticket. You should go and take the easy approach, spend a little time hanging out by the lake in Epcot with a margarita. It makes the lines much easier to tolerate.

JJ

January 28th, 2011
9:44 am

As a kid, I went to Disneyland in California several times. When my daughter was 5 we went to Disney World.

I don’t care if I ever see either place ever again. I’d rather go to the beach and relax. You don’t relax much at Disney…..

FCM

January 28th, 2011
9:55 am

Worked for Disney back in the 90s….same advice I had then I have now:

Go in non-peak times
BIRBAUM’s Official Guide to Disneyworld (Book)– READ IT before you go

Use the Birbaum book to PLAN your route–they will tell you what rides peak when and even age appropriate stuff

Let the kids help you plan–they should have a list of what they most want to see (share the book with them)

TAKE the book in your carry bag to the park.

Stay on property—you get “early hours”. Go to the grocery (off property) and pick up some fruits, water and things for the hotel. Carry the water in a tote through the park

Utilize the Disney Transport system—MARTA needs to go there and get educated

If the children are under 10 EAT at CINDERELLA’s CASTLE…they will remember for a lifetime

REMEMEBER: Your on vacation and if you don’t see everything that is ok. Disney is not a Marathon type place. You are there to make lasting memories so CHILL OUT!

BUY at least one big tix item that you can put up to remember the visit (my brother put up a tree of life framed portait at his home and everyone remarks on it, guests comment on THEIR trips to Disney).

TAKE lots of pictures.

Budget but don’t be stingy about what you do/spend.

JATL

January 28th, 2011
10:00 am

Great tips everyone! I’m marking them down for October! We’re planning to take the kiddos on their inaugural Disney trip then. It will also be my husband’s first Disney experience, so it should be interesting. Since this will actually be for my youngest boy’s 3rd birthday and the oldest will be 5, we’re planning on doing Animal Kingdom one day, Disneyworld one day and Sea World one day. I need info from you seasoned vets about Hollywood Studios for that young of a child. Are there rides and attractions they’ll enjoy? Enough to be worth planning a day and a ticket there? I went years ago, but don’t remember a lot and I was also an adult with no kids at the time, so I wasn’t thinking in that mode. I plan on this trip being relaxed and just fun -no rushing or craziness. We plan to go back when they’re around 7 and 9 so they can ride all of the big rides and enjoy the waterparks and everything, but this trip is more about Mickey, Toy Story, Dumbo, pirates and animals!

@MJG -unfortunately there aren’t regular discounted Disneyworld day tickets. The discount you can get through AAA and I think some if you live in Florida (so if you have relatives there -that may be an option) are the only true and legitimate discounts, and I know they aren’t much.

@RJ -I want to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, but I heard you can’t get the ferry and monorail from there -is that true? We’ll have a 3 and 5 year old and I’m wanting to fly and take Disney transportation the whole time.

@JJ -even though I still sock the 2 year old in a stroller when we’re out and about (and often take the giant double BOB if it’s going to be a long haul to hold both of them when the 4 year old gets tired or our purchases) -I am COMPLETELY on board with a stroller free day at just about every attraction and festival! I try to be considerate with mine, but I’m amazed at how clueless and rude so many people are with them.

@Super Dad -I also completely agree with you about the *%&$ scooters everywhere hauling giant tubs of lard all over the place! Hey -if you’re old and infirm or handicapped -I get it! I can tell! Go for it on your scooter, but if you’re just a fat a** then get up and walk or cut down on the M&Ms until you drop some weight. I’m sick and tired of the aisle-blocking and almost being run down by them. It’s all I can do not to tell them, “HEY -if you got up and walked, you wouldn’t be so enormous that you need a freaking vehicle to grocery shop!” (talk about the irony…)

Lady Strange

January 28th, 2011
10:25 am

I have a few years before I even consider taking my son there. I’m sure I can find something more addordable to do in the meantime.

Lady Strange

January 28th, 2011
10:27 am

Yeah I can spell. That should say affordable. LOL!

fred

January 28th, 2011
10:44 am

@ cereal. way to be open minded re: your revolting behavior at the Gay Days at Disney. I would have no issues taking my family to any park on a gay day. Going to Harry Potter world this year instead of Disney. Disney may be on tap for next summer though. Last time we went girls were 3 and 4. Next year they will e 8 and 9 (Yikes) so I am expecting a totally different experience. Dont mean to hijack but has anybody been to Universal / Harry Potter world?? Any tips? Thanks

Aquagirl

January 28th, 2011
11:29 am

@ JATL: I haven’t stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, but no, there is no monorail or ferry. There is bus service which does not resemble MARTA bus service so don’t be frightened. It ties in to Disney transportation so you can get around quite easily with some exceptions. Getting from one resort to another or to Downtown Disney is a pain. To and from the parks should be no problem.

I also haven’t taken a kid to the Hollywood Studios park but it’s fairly small. I often split a day between the Animal Kingdom (morning) and Hollywood Studios in the evening. They have a lot of shows, some are more kid-focused than others, mainly the Little Mermaid, Disney Playhouse, and Beauty and the Beast. I recommend you take a look at the Disney website and see if any of them might interest your kids. Aside from that, they do have the Toy Story ride, which your kids would probably love. But they have a Buzz Lightyear ride at the Magic Kingdom, you’d probably be better off spending more time there instead of trying to cram in Hollywood Studios or paying for a park-hopper pass. IMHO, it’s the park with the least for small children, unless they are nuts for a specific show. Frankly I think Epcot has more for small children, it has some surprisingly good stuff for them.

Y’all who are irritated by strollers need to practice the foot-brake, where you catch the wheel head-on with the bottom of your foot. The stroller will stop, and the adult behind it often catches a handle in the gut.

Agreement on the fat folks too. Sorry if that’s mean.

@ fred—anti-gay trolls, like obese people, are condemned to live in their own skin. BTW, I was just at Universal/Harry Potter. General tips: most of the Harry Potter section is shops, and it is super-crowded. If you are going in the Summer, it will be packed. At times they will close off the entry and give people a time to return, or have a separate line. My advice is to again GO EARLY, and head straight there. You may even want to hit the shops before any of the rides. I haven’t been in them much because you literally can’t move. If your girls are prone to motion sickness they may not like the rides anyhow, the Harry Potter section has two very scary coasters, one kiddie coaster, and a very intense simulator. (This is true of a lot of Universal, their rides are on the average more for thrillseekers. Be sure you check height restrictions for the rides. If your girls can’t go on the simulator you need to know beforehand.) You can go through Hogwarts without riding the simulator if you just want to see the stuff inside which is pretty neat. A couple of times I have left and come back later in the day when the crowds let up–but it’s still quite crowded. Really beautiful at night, too.

JJ

January 28th, 2011
11:36 am

I don’t know if they still do it, but when I took my daughter to Disney, we were able to sit at the very front of the Monorail, and she and her friend go to “drive” it. I don’t remember how we got there, it was my friend’s doing, but she got us up in the front, and we have pictures of both kids “driving” the Monorail. I believe they got little certificates too.

JJ

January 28th, 2011
11:37 am

*got* to drive.

1911A1

January 28th, 2011
12:01 pm

Re: Disney bus system. Fast, efficient, and the best entertainment of our entire week was a bus driver named Adrian who was a cross between a stand-up comic and a game show host.

JATL

January 28th, 2011
12:19 pm

Thanks Aquagirl!

Lori

January 28th, 2011
12:44 pm

I’m not a fan of the bus system. I don’t like waiting for a ride, especially when I park hop. I usually drive. I can get out of one park and into the next one pretty quickly on my own. And if you stay on property, the parking at the park is free, so I can’t see a read big advantage of standing in line at the hotel waiting for a bus in the morning. Sometimes that line can be quite long and you don’t get on the first bus.

Lori

January 28th, 2011
12:48 pm

I disagree that Hollywood Studios isn’t good for kids. OMG it is the best of all of the parks. The Pixar stuff if there of course, and the Power Rangers. The stunt shows are great, and the night time show is the best one of all the parks. Star Wars weekends is awesome, my son got to fight Darth Vader in a light saber battle. But the best gem in the animation class. They teach you to draw a character. FANTASTIC. We did it more than once, and my 5 year old was even able to follow along with my help. And Toy Story Mania is hands down the best family ride at ANY Disney park.

Bluebell Jones

January 28th, 2011
1:37 pm

Do any of you have any idea how hard it is to get a drink in Disneyland? And it’s a frightening place-everyone is smiling, everything is clean, even the ethnic attractions have been sanitized. No obese people (except the tourists). It’s an idea free environment. We are all going straight to Rome. Hookers, drugs and mopeds (”Ciao”). An educational vacation in the reality based world.

Kate

January 28th, 2011
1:43 pm

I’m not sure if this common knowledge or not, but Disney offers military discounts on tickets. Disneyworld also has a resort on their property specifically for members of the military with discounted rates. I believe the discounts also apply to those in the army reserves or people who are retired from the military as well. The discounts aren’t huge, but they are good throughout the year.

shaggy

January 28th, 2011
2:03 pm

Super Dad – The “scooter” people are everywhere, and they WILL run over you. I think I related a true story to these moms about my wife and I being chased around a Walmart by a terrribly obese woman in one of those things…nearly ran over my wife in the ding dong aisle and caused me to laugh until I couldn’t breathe.
Knowing that they rule Disney, I am putting off any trip there, because you can’t go to heaven if you get ran over by a scooter person. It’s in the bible…

JATL – I didn’t really comment on the “Skins” topic…came in too late, but I did read some posts and your reply to “God’s Angel” Jan. That was too funny. “Magic Fingers” LOL – I spit coke out of my nose laughing. You should have gotten her to deny ever using her own “magic fingers”. I am betting she has and does regularly.
You have a twisted outlook, and I do adore that in a woman.

Aquagirl

January 28th, 2011
2:08 pm

@ Kate, I think Disney does offer substantial discounts fairly often in addition to the standard discount you can get on post, and they do include retirees/reservists. The latest is $138 for a 4 day park hopper. For that amount it’s worth it to haul along grumpy ‘ol retiree grandpa and let him nap on a bench, lol.

@ Lori, I’d rather drive too. But I usually drive so I have a car handy and don’t have to pay to rent one.

I haven’t had the chance to try the Toy Story ride, sounds like it adds quite a bit to Hollywood Studios.

motherjanegoose

January 28th, 2011
2:28 pm

@ Aquagirl…to each his/her own but I am NOT interested in any time at Disneyworld.

Same as not commenting on yesterday’s MTV topic…it is not my cup of tea.

mom of 3

January 28th, 2011
3:23 pm

@ MJG – in total agreement with the last statement.
My girls growing up in Fl would rather do Busch Gardens that Disney any day of the week except when Disney does Sr night for area high schools.

new mom

January 28th, 2011
4:46 pm

Hi guys!
We are Disney-ites, and go at least once a year.
I apologize if this tip has been mentioned by someone else, I don’t have time to read all of the comments, but here’s my stroller tip: Buy a cheapo umbrella stroller to take with you. They are $16 a, target, walmart, etc. They are soooo easy to use, light, and (here’s the important part) easy to fold fast. When you use Disney transportation, whether it’s bus or monorail, you HAVE to collapse your stroller (I think it’s FL law) and those massive ones are just too hard to maneuver. No, they have no storage, but if you have an over the shoulder diaper bag or backpack, and pack LIGHT, you will be fine.
Here’s another tip–you can bring food into the park. Being able to hand your child some fruit or carrots when they are hungry instead of stopping and standing in line for a $4 ice cream is a lifesaver.
OK, my last tip–look at a map, online if you don’t have a printed one, BEFORE you get there! Spend a few minutes looking it over, decide what you want to ride most, go there first, and get a fastpass. Then stand in line if the line’s short. When we got to the Studios last week, the board said the Toy Story Mania ride was closed. I insisted we go there anyway to at least try to get a fastpass for later. (the wait for TS can be up to 120 min, which I would never ever do!) We walked up and they announced the ride had just reopened! So we jumped in, rode it, and got a fastpass for 4:30-5:30. That was perfect–one last ride before we left for the day.
The most important thing–try to stay calm. Smile. Be a kid yourself, eat a Mickey ice cream, and remember that you are making fun memories for your kids. :)

■²

January 28th, 2011
4:50 pm

“way to be open minded re: your revolting behavior at the Gay Days at Disney.”

I never said one “anti-gay” word.

You obviously are not aware of people who have had problems with going to Disney on “Gay Day”

PS: Aquagirl sucks

Sandra

January 28th, 2011
5:07 pm

We looked at this today as we are planing to visit family in the near future and were shocked at the prices. We must be totally clueless.

Aquagirl

January 28th, 2011
5:15 pm

@ motherjane, one of those margaritas might make you change your mind, lol. But I didn’t mean to join the Disney thought police. You’re totally right, to each her own. I like Disney, but I also like Universal, Sea World, or kayaking the local springs in Florida.

Some people are shocked if you tell them you went to Orlando and didn’t go to Disney. They look at you like you’re putting a torch to the American flag.

JATL

January 28th, 2011
5:45 pm

@shaggy -thanks! I am a twisted, twisted woman ;-)

I have to admit -if it weren’t for them saying they had actually been to Disneyworld and some of the cute little kid rides like Dumbo and Pirates of the Caribbean -we would probably just go to the other parks! Given how young mine still are, I may look over the maps and info and maybe we’ll spend 1/2 a day at Disneyworld and 1/2 a day at Hollywood Studios.

@Lori -thanks for the Hollywood Studios info! Toy Story AND Star Wars?!?!! OH YEAH -my two will be in heaven!

deidre_NC

January 28th, 2011
11:19 pm

i cant imagine a vacation that takes so much planning just to walk around in a hot place, im a party pooper i guess. my kids have been and like it ok but they love dollywood and 6 flags better. my daughter used to go to orlando every summer to spend it with some friends of mine-the husband worked at disney corporate and she got a summer pass for $100 every summer so she and my friends kids would go hang out 3 or 4 times a week. she said it was something to do. she was always very glad to get home and swim in the lake and ride her dirt bike and go camping. thats how we roll….laid back and not a lot of planning. we all do want to see the harry potter park but i have heard its a pita….so we will probably stick to the mountains and all the nature stuff lol…lots quieter and cooler. i hate really hot weather.

motherjanegoose

January 29th, 2011
10:05 am

@deidre…when a vacation is work, to me, it is not a vacation! I am ultra planner for my job and just like to relax when I am on vacation. Disneyworld….not so much! I love Dollywood but lots of metro Atlanta folks think it is WAY to hokey!

[...] Spring Disney deals end soon: Tips to help plan – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) While the under-5 set is one of the prime targets of Disney ’s magic, it takes a little sorcery of your own to survive and enjoy the experience. • Be sensitive to the youngest child’s age. In our case, we shouldn’t have taken our 2-year-old. Jan 28, 2011 2:59pm [...]

Enemas for Christmas

January 29th, 2011
10:31 pm

Disney? How retarded are you people? Just because you see ads for it on TV does not make it sane.

Disney was an anti Semite and for you people to continue to patronize the Disney properties helps contribute to the anti Semite feelings.

Aquagirl

January 30th, 2011
9:52 am

Did the Church of the Tinfoil Hat get out early?