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Going to Disney World

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Places to Go > Going to Disney World


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2010 - 2014 Reviews


DisneyWorld over Thanksgiving

Nov 2014

Hi, My husband, son and I are meeting my husband's in Orlando over Thanksgiving. We will be there from Tuesday to Friday and bought three-day park hopper passes. Do you have any advice about things that we should and shouldn't do while we're there? I've been to DisneyLand multiple times but have never been to DisneyWorld. Any must sees? We're staying at the Nickelodeon hotel. Any advice on the best way to get to/from the airport and to/from Disney? We're also looking for a nice place to have Thanksgiving dinner. Any advice that you can give about the best way to structure this trip would be much appreciated! Overwhelmed with thoughts of this trip


You'll have a great time! But it will be very busy and crowded. It might help you to keep in mind this perspective: All of Disneyland fits into the *parking lot* for the Magic Kingdom at WDW. In fact, WDW is bigger than the city of San Francisco. So in 3 days, you're only going to be able to do a little bit of it. I'd recommend this website as a place to review all the activities and make some plans: www.allears.net. Literally, every piece of information you could possibly want to know is on that website! In terms of Thanksgiving dinner, I'm sure there are many restaurants at WDW that are offering a meal. You could call WDW Dining (407-WDW-DINE) and ask them to tell you about the offerings. Have a great time! Seasoned Disney World traveler who loves to go back every chance I get

Discounted Disney World Tix

Nov 2012

We will be traveling to FL in a couple of weeks and would like to take our kids to Disney World as one of their Christmas gifts. I am wondering if anyone has any advice on ticket discounts? Going for two days is really our max, and all of the online deals I see are selling packages for a minumum of three. Also any recommendations on a nearby hotel would be helpful. It does not need to be fancy at all, just clean. Thank you!!


We went to Orlando in September with our 3 year old. I also looked for discount tickets and was unable to find any. I think we saved a whopping $10 by buying a 2-day pass which we then used for Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. We had a great time at both. Even though we spent over $500 on park tickets (yikes, I know), I found the food inside the parks to be more affordable than I expected (of course I use the Bay Area as my point of reference). Magic Kingdom is almost exactly like Disneyland, but we were there for a conference and it was the park with the most rides a little kid could go on. I don't know what your budget is, but we stayed at the Orlando Hilton and got a good rate from AAA. The pool area was fabulous! http://www.thehiltonorlando.com/ anon

2005 - 2009 Reviews


Trip to Disneyworld with 2-year-old

March 2008

We are planning a trip to Disneyworld in May with our 2.5 year old. We're only going to be there for 4 days so we want to enjoy as much as we can esp. for our daughter. Does anyone have general advice about accommodations, which parks, eating, etc.? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks! Never been to DisneyWorld


We are going to Disneyworld and other places at the end of May. We were originally going in April but checked into the Disney hotels and very few were available and were kind of expensive. There is an Embassy Suites Orlando - Lake Buena Vista, which is virtually next door, and we got a rate of $139 a night which includes full breakfast and a separate bedroom for us. Anon
We've been to DisneyWorld several times, but not with our kids yet - although we're in the process of planning. I can recommend a couple of books you might want to check out: the Birnbaum official guide (get the ''with kids'' version) and the Unofficial Guide by Sehlinger and Testa. The unofficial guide especially has great tips and tricks, as well as a link to a website where you can design your own schedule for the day based on what you want to do. I strongly suggest that you: make a schedule, stick to it, and make dining reservations whenever you can! Other than that, relax and enjoy the ride - DisneyWorld can be insane, but there's truly no other place like it if you let yourself go. Have a GREAT time!! Alicia
I haven't been to Disneyworld myself but I've been told by those in the know that these are two very important websites: allears.net mousesavers.com Also a good book (which I have bought and read almost cover to cover) is The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. It offers info on meals, accommodations, and planning your days at each park (depending on the ages of your kids, whether you like to sleep in, etc). Happy planning! anon
We went to Disney World at Christmas (when it was super-crowded) with our just-under-3 year old. We had a great time, although it was fairly exhausting! A few suggestions: 1) get up early to be at the parks when they open, then leave for a nap at your hotel, and come back after nap if you feel up to it. 2) See the Animal Kingdom -- it was really good and, unlike the Magic Kingdom, it's not something you can go see in So Cal (assuming you're less likely to be back in Florida). We went to Magic Kingdom, too, and thoroughly enjoyed it. 3) We also liked Sea World a lot -- there are a few rides, but lots of shows. We skipped Epcot and the Disney studios (name?) because they seemed aimed a bit older. 4) the _Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World_ was really helpful for figuring out what attractions we wanted to see and what would be too scary for our son, and also for finding food, figuring out what we should do first, etc. And 5) Have fun, and don't be afraid to take! a day off to sit at the hotel pool or to do something less intense! Have fun!

Week in Disney World with 3 and 6 year old Girls

April 2006

Hi, I would welcome any advice on things to do in Walt Disney World with my 3 and 6 year old girls. We will be staying at the Floriday Beach Club on Disney property and honestly, I'd rather hang around the pool with my three year old than wait around while my husband and older daughter stand on line for rides! Any suggestion on activities we can all do together? What about the other parks outside of Magic Kingdom? Thanks! Estee


Disney World has something for everyone - I think you'll be surprised by how much. If you are staying in the Disney hotels, you can go into the parks before and after regular hours. This allows you to experience the parks w/out the crowds and when it is cooler. Outside of the regular parks, our 5 and 7 year old daughters loved, loved, loved every minute in the water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon). So plan to spend daytime hours there. What we did that worked out very well was to go to the water parks during the days and the Disney parks at night. Stock up on sleep - Disney world requires stamina! Roller Coaster Mom

Disneyworld Park Hopper Tickets

June 2005

We're headed to Disneyworld in August, and have 5 day Park Hopper tickets. We are now thinking that 5 days is way too much. Can we share the tickets with other friends that we are going with, i.e. we use 3 days, they use 2? Or does the same person need to use all 5 days? Any advice is appreciated. First Time Disneyworlder


Believe it or not 5 days in DisneyWorld is too short a time, not too long. We just got back and our days were jam-packed the whole time and we didn't make it to MGM Grand at all. Sharing the pass is not an option in any case, as they scan your fingers and you put your fingers in the scanner whenever you enter the parks.

We added the option to go to the Water Parks (to our Park Hopper tickets) and that turned out to be the highlight of our stay. We'd go to the water parks in the morning and to the Amusement Parks in the afternoon when it would be a smidgeon cooler. My kids were in the Wave Pool jumping up and down and screaming at the top of their lungs ''this is so much fun!''...

If you haven't booked your hotel, consider staying in the Disney hotels - you can go into the parks during off hours - this is wonderful at night (when it is both cool and uncrowded).

Have a wonderful time. anonymous


We were just there in March. They have a new fingerprint ID system that prevents you from sharing tickets, and you have to be careful to know which ticket belongs to whom! But 5 days is not too much. It is so different than the Anaheim experience. Animal Kingdom is a FANTASTIC place and makes you feel good to have spent your life savings on Disney. If your kids love animals you may want to spend a few days there. Take your time and enjoy each attraction/park. If you get burned out, you can always do something different during the day and then go at night to see fireworks or the watershow at EPCOT or whatever. ENJOY! Sue
I'm actually not sure of the answer to your question but wanted to share a few websites that I use to find the answers to all of my WDW questions: allearsnet.com and disboards.com. Check there if you haven't already. I would also suggest that you keep the 5 days. We went for 10 days last August, and although 10 days was plenty, I'm sure 3 days would not have been enough. There are 4 parks to cover. It is REALLY hot and humid, and there are thunderstorms and rain. It is great to have the flexibility to take things at a more leisurely pace. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions. I'd be happy to share my WDW experience... Holly
Technically, you can't share a Park Hopper ticket legally. If you have ''Magic Your Way'' tickets, I understand they put a ''biometric'' on the ticket that ties it to your fingerprint: http://www.mousesavers.com/wdwtixadvice.html#not

If they don't, though, I think you'd be OK. I bought 5-day passes to Disney*land* in March and sold the last 2 days to someone on eBay. She was able to use the last 2 days (and our unused Early Entry) just fine.

Do Xerox the backs of the tickets so you can replace them if needed! Jennie


Thinking about visiting Disney World

Feb 2005

We are going to Tampa, Florida for a wedding mid-May. We thought we'd take our girls (5 & 7) to Disney World, etc. while we were on that coast. Any recommendations of places to stay, Disney or other site-seeing tips? Any places to avoid? Any must-see spots (both for the girls and grown-ups)? I'm really confused about the hotel situation - should I aim to stay in Disney complex, or are the others close enough so that it isn't a big deal to shuttle in? We'll be in Orlando area for ~6 days and Tampa for ~4 days. I'd like to be able to stay somewhere I can do some minimal cooking/refrigeration (but this is more important in Orlando than in Tampa). Budget is mid-range - we can't afford the luxury route but don't have to go Econo either. Thanks for your advice, Florida bound


We've been to Disney World a few times. We've stayed at two different places and liked them both: The Villas at Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness. Wilderness Lodge is on the pricey sdie, but great. It has condos with all the comforts of home (full kitchen, washer/dryer), combined with daily maid service. Plus it's very convenient to the Magic Kingdom. Fort Wilderness is a great value; you get a nice little cabin and there's shuttle service to everywhere.

If you've never been to DW, I have a couple of warnings: First, staying inside the park is much more convenient for the Disney attractions. But I'm told that there are other places to go in Orlando (Universal Studios, for one). We've never been; it's just too easy to stay in the park. Second is the food issue. The good news is that there are now a wide range of choices, both in quality and price. The bad news is that they tend to be either (a) expensive, but pretty good (although you get better quality for the money in Berkeley); or (b) priced for families, but too boisterous for our tastes -- the waiters and other staff spend a lot of energy on being entertaining (which our kids like, but my husband and I didn't). All of that said, DW is a great place for kids; just not very relaxing. ad


Disney World in June

Feb 2005

June 21- 26 my husband will be attending a meeting in Orlando. Of course we are thinking of making it a family trip to Disney World. We need a place to stay. We want a suite or condo with a kitchen, 1 bedroom, a pull-out in the livingroom and a private balcony. We want a regularly scheduled shuttle to and from Disney World, a nice pool and it can't be too far from the convention center. We are also looking for opinions about what to see and what to skip with small kids in Disney World. We have a 5 year old girl and a 2 year old boy. Lisa


We went to WDW last August for a vacation with extended family, and we're headed there again this summer. Unfortunately, I don't have any specific recommendations for places to stay as we stayed on-site at the WDW resorts. It was expensive but nice and convenient. I have plenty of recommendations for what to do and see. We visited all 4 parks. For my 8 and 5 year old girls, Magic Kingdom was, by far, their favorite park. Favorite attractions: Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (interactive ride, where you collect points by ''shooting'' at targets), Mickey's PhilharMagic (3-D movie), and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Epcot was their second favorite park. Favorite attractions: Test Track and World Showcase (they loved visiting each of the countries, watching the various performers, and getting their passport stamped--they also loved eating the pastries from ''France''). MGM was okay. Favorite attractions: Playhouse Disney Live (great show) and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. I personally loved the Rock n Roller Coaster. Animal Kingdom was a disappointment for us. A couple of great websites that I used to help plan: allearsnet.com and disboards.com. They have all the information you could possibly need to plan. WDW is huge! Be strategic--realize you can't do everything. It's also hot and humid, so plan to work in rest periods and breaks. Use FastPass to minimize waiting in lines. And, most of all, have fun. I have so many things to say--I could write on and on. Feel free to e-mail me, and I'd be happy to elaborate and give you more information and tips. Holly

2004 & Earlier


Jan 2004

Hi, I've seen a lot of info about Disneyland but not much about Disney World. We're spending spring break in Fla. to see family and thought we might try and do 3 days at Disney. Are we insane to go this time of year? Does the park sometimes get so full that it closes, as sometimes happens in California? Any recommendations on tips for lodging or cost-cutting?


We once spent a week (yes, a week) at Disney World. I thought it would be awful -- overcrowded, crassly commercial, etc. It was great! We had a really splendid time. Best tip: ARRIVE EARLY. Get there when the park opens, and go straight to the back of the park. You'll be able to get right on all the best rides. Then work your way to the front of the park. The real crowds start rolling in late morning, and by lunch time there isn't room to breathe. You'll be headed out when the worst of the crowd is arriving. Plus, you'll have your kids near the gate instead of near the back, so you won't have to struggle your way past every activity in the park (''please, mom, just one more!'') when you're trying to leave. Have fun!
I don't know about Spring Break, but we went to WDW for a week last January and it was *GREAT*. I think we got 5-day Park Hopper passes and it wasn't quite enough for us--there's so much to see and do! Check out http://www.mousesavers.org/ for money-saving tips. Also ''The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World'' and ''... With Kids.'' Spring Break may be a big crunch time. It was plenty crowded in a somewhat cool January... but *SO* fun for me and my then-almost-3 kid. Jennie
Oct 2003

Hi! We are thinking about going to Disney World in January and I would love some tips on what to do while there. We want to maximize fun and minimize stress! Also to save money! We are purchasing a package - 3 nights, 4 days - but since we've never been there and since there is so much to see, I wanted to get some advice, tips, etc on how to make the trip fun for the kids and sane for us. THANKS IN ADVANCE. Jessica


I grew up going to Disney World and continue to love it, although it's been a few years now and things continue to change there. But what you do will depend on how old your children are. They have three theme parks and you could easily spend a day at each one. When I was there, there were also three water-themed parks, plus other activities like jet-skiing or boating on their private lake, horseback riding, etc. Finally, there's an adult-only evening island with nightclubs and dancing. I don't tend to be a big nightclub or bar person, but this place was interesting because it was like having a drink in a disney ride -- the place we visited had special effects, like talking pictures and ghosts.

When we went, we purchased a ''Food and Fun Card'' which enabled us to eat in all of the restaurants, and many of the restaurants were good -- especially the Brown Derby in the MGM park. Like I said, without knowing your kids' ages I'm not sure what to recommend, but I enjoyed wandering ''around the world'' at Epcot, the ''rides'' at the entrance to Epcot were interesting. In the Magic Kingdom I've always loved the haunted house, and the Pirates of the Caribbean. In MGM the Tower of Terror was fun for a roller coaster and Twilight Zone fan. I also love to swim, so I loved the water parks.

There are guide books to Walt Disney World out there that are pretty good. I suggest browsing them and picking one up. Stacey


You didn't say what age your kids are, and whether they can do the same level of rides. We found that splitting up, one adult to one kid, was the easiest way to tackle the attractions. If possible, both parents should carry cell phones to communicate. Lots of people use walkie-talkies too. The food is HORRIBLE in the parks, and expensive. As much as you can, try to pack food and bring lots of water. (I don't remember them having a ''no outside food'' rule but you should check the website.) People often suggest renting the Disney double strollers--you can carry a lot of stuff in them. In January you shouldn't face big crowds, and the weather will be good. You may want to bring your own rain gear to avoid having to buy rain gear at the park.

The ferry that runs between Epcot, MGM, and some of the resorts is free and a nice way to see Disney World. Try to spend a few hours in the late afternoon at your hotel to rest every day, then go back to the park for the evening parade if you want to do it. You could have an early dinner outside the park to save money. Our favorite evening spot was the Epcot fireworks. I would avoid MGM's evening event with small children as it is pretty scary. Magic Kingdom's parade is very crowded but fun. The shows at the Animal Kingdom are really great--but get there early because they are popular. I'm not that enthused about the character meals--they are really expensive, and you can meet the characters all over the parks. Have a great time! Maria


We've made several trips to Disney World in January. What to do depends on your taste and your child's age. Our kids (2 1/2 and 5/1/2 at our last trip) love the Magic Kingdom. I'd say that's a must if your children are young. I would skip Epcot unless your kids are considerably older than ours (8 or 9, at least). The Animal Kingdom was great.

Eating out can be an expensive chore. The good news is that it is possible to avoid junk food and get a decent (if not steller by Bay Area standards) meal. But a lot of the restaurants are like inter-active shows, so getting a quiet meal can be tough. On the other hand, our kids really liked the interactive restaurants that we went to (Whispering Canyon Cafe and the Rain Forest Cafe), even if their father and I didn't. The kids also loved the Whoop De Doo dinner show (which is not cheap). You can get a quiet meal at one of the nicer restaurants (we went to Artist Point and California Grill), but they are pricey. Also, although the food is pretty good at the nice restaurants, if you live if Berkeley, you are used to better food for less money. Bottom line: if you stay in a place with a kitchen (which we've done at Fort Wilderness and the Villas at Wilderness Lodge), you will save money and migraines just being able to eat in once in a while. Ann


There is so much to do at Disney World, I think you will find that you won't be able to do everything in 4 days. So you are going to have to choose wisely. I used to work for Disney Resorts Reservations and would be happy to give you some general information. If you haven't made your reservations yet, I would recommend that you stay in the Disney Resort area. They have value properties that are very resonably priced---they are the ''All Star'' Resorts---the best rates are usually off-peak season and mid-week. I recommend staying in the resort for one reason ''naps.'' You didn't say how old your kids were but if they are under junior high age, you are definitely going to need them (you and the kids). This way you don't have to travel very far to get back to the hotel (there are also non-Disney hotels within the resort like Howard Johnsons at reasonable rates). Also if you stay at the resorts you can buy 4 day flex passes that allow you to go to all the parks at a cheaper rate than buying tix at the gate. You definitely want to go to The Magic Kingdom (it is different than DisneyLand) you could spend one whole day there. If your kids are young---I would skip EPCOT Center. It is boring for youngsters. Not a lot of fun rides. It is like a World's Fair with country pavilions, technology pavilions, etc. Disney MGM studios is a lot of fun, but only needs about 1/2 day to get the most out of it. You could split a day between that and one of the water parks or the hotel pool (weather will be nice in January). Then one day for Animal Kingdom. I would skip Pleasure Island if you are on a budget, there is a separate entrance fee and there are only high-priced (low quality food)restaurants and dance clubs---again not a place for young children though teens would probably enjoy. If you haven't already called Disney Resort Reservations (1-407- WDISNEY) you should. They can give you lots of info to help you decide where to stay, how much rates are currently, and how much the flex passes are. Here is a little secret---don't just ask if there are any discounts or specials in general. We were trained to be very tight lipped about specials unless we were asked a specific type. If you are AAA member or have an Amex or visa card you can ask for specials relating to those. And you can call just to get info, you don't have to make the reservation right then. I hope this helps a little. You are going to have a great time! Nicole
July 2003

We have to go to Florida with our almost 3 year old in late August and got good tickets to fly into Orlando. We have decided to spend an evening and day at Disney World. We know it will be HOT and that we can only plan on doing a few select things. What are the best parks/activities for a three year old? We would like to stay in or very near the parks. Any recommendations of where to stay or not to stay? Mickey or bust


You are going to have so much fun. We were there a few months ago with my 2 year old and we had a blast. First off, it will be brutally hot and it will be crowded. It was crowded when we were there in March.

If you are only going to be there for one day, I would spend it at Magic Kingdom. It is best suited for a three year old. That being said, if you can afford to stay at the Contemporary, I would recommend that since it is very close. The Polynesian is also very close. I say to stay there because it is really worth while to take a break mid-afternoon for a nap. It will make your stay a much more pleasant experience. WE SAVED OVER $100 BOOKING OUR HOTEL THROUGH HOTELS.COM. DON'T GO THROUGH DISNEY!

Since it was so crowded the last time we went, the lines for rides were very long and many of the younger kids rides don't have the fast pass option. Here are the rides/attractions my son really liked:

It's A Small World .. Country Bear Jamboree .. Buzz Lightyear

There is a tram ride that goes through Tomorrow Land. I forget what it's called. There were no lines and we rode that thing 10 times! It was a blast.

When we went back in the evening, we had dinner at a cafe-type place in Tomorrow Land across from the go-carts that had some animatronic cabaret show which was lots of fun.

Toward closing time, we were able to go on Buzz Lightyear several times in a row with no lines.

Best of luck - I know you'll have a great time. Ivy


I just took my almost-3-year-old to WDW last January. We had a blast. We were there a week, but I think he enjoyed the Magic Kingdom the most. The MK has lots of rides esp. in their Toon Town-type area (I can't remember if it has a different name there than at Disneyland) that little ones can go on, and really fun parades (check the schedule; hopefully, you can do this online). Things at Epcot are a bit 'older'. The Animal Kingdom is fun, but it's kind of a weird mix between a zoo and an amusement park (the ride on the safari 4WD is fun, as you are basically touring a cool zoo); the Dinosaur area is really just a bunch of amusement park rides. Finally, the MGM Grand/Studios has some cool stuff for little ones (a great show with Bear in the Big Blue House and other Disney kid characters from cable TV) but not a lot; there is a nice climbing/adventure area designed after A Bug's Life. Bring lots of water, maybe a personal mister like Misty Mate, and stop for ice cream/cold soda often. Have fun! Jennie
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