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  • [Question] Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Know?

    Hey all. I'm a frequent Disneyland visitor and a 1 time WDW visitor (only the magic kingdom park). I'm finally going to be able to round up the family and fly ourselves out to Florida in mid-June this summer. I already knew what I had ahead of me, but just looking over all the parks and seeing the giant list of shows, attractions, restaurants, and things to do, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed in planning the itinerary! Going from knowing every nook and cranny here at Disneyland, to knowing nothing over at WDW is definitely going to be putting me, as well as the rest of us, out of our element. I'm just looking for some input as to what are the "must-do's" and "must-see's", how we should handle our FP+ reservations and such, which restaurants are worth looking into and which to avoid, which parks are better to go on which days, and any other general advice you could shell out!
    Just to give a brief overview, we'll be visiting from July 15-23 and will be staying at the Jambo House in one of the Animal Kingdom hotels. 2 of us will have premier passes while the other 2 (one adult, one 6 year old) will have 7 day passes with the works added. We're also singling out at least 1-2 days for Universal/IOA. Any help is very much appreciated! Thanks ahead of time!!!
    I believe my future must be brighter than my past. Without that belief, I'm just waiting to die.
    --> Elevate Your Life

  • #2
    Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

    Plan where you want to go each day.

    Either avoid the park with the morning EMH because it will be more crowded all day, and consider avoiding the evening EMH park too, because it will be very busy in the evening on as everyone shows up. Of course you may want to use your EMHs, go to the morning, and hop out after 2-3 hours to a slower park, and hop into the evening EMH park after dinner.

    Once settled on where you will be, then you can get particular.

    Try to avoid traveling around the resort as much as possible because it takes a lot of time. Basically don't eat at a resort that is far from a park you are going to. For example have dinner at AKL because you might want to change clothes, or eat at the Contemporary because you can walk there from MK. Or just eat in the park you are going to be in. Also while you may want to play mini golf or visit Disney Quest or a waterpark don't stick that in a middle of a WDW day.

    As you know what park you will be in, it's easy to get a lot done because they don't have a lot of attractions. Remember DLR and WDW have just about the same number of attractions, but they are split up into twice as many parks in WDW. Think of how DL has a lot and DCA not so many, and it will give you an idea of how WDW parks don't have a lot. MK has the most, about as many as DCA for reference. You should try to do all of the rides and see all the shows.

    The main planning see the busiest rides early or late, and arrive early and be there at close. FP+ just changed this week. While I would say get FPs for earlier in the day like an hour or two after opening to use when the park gets crowded. But wait a week or two and let's see some reviews of people who can now get more FPs and multiple park FPs. I would caution that the extra FPs will probably be limited.

    The parks have so few attractions that people race for just a few attractions so it's easy to know where you really need FP.
    AK, Safari then Everest
    DHS, TSMM, then Rocking Roller Coaster and Tower
    Epcot, Soaring then Test Track
    MK, likely Snow White then Space.

    For Universal, pay attention to if Gringott's is open when you go. Rumors are it's opening is delayed, but that is just rumors and we are still more than a month from summer. At the studios there will be a race to it, and at IOA to Forbidden Journey. If you hop you will wait in a huge line for the one you go to second. Hopefully the Hogswart Express can handle crowds. Because these areas get so crowded the rest of the park is only moderately busy. Just get to either gate early and race to the ride.

    If you are thinking water park, there is this simple trick. It's busy in the afternoon when it's hottest. Go early, or late afternoon to close and you can do much more.
    Be Cool Stay in School!
    Next year I'm trying for a summer internship at Stark Industries.

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    • #3
      Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

      thanks for all that info Swampy, really helping me out over here!!

      one question I forgot was, is there a shuttle that could take me from the Animal Kingdom Hotel to Universal Studios or will I have to find alternative transportation?
      I believe my future must be brighter than my past. Without that belief, I'm just waiting to die.
      --> Elevate Your Life

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      • #4
        Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

        There is but maybe not what you are hoping for.

        Mears Transport is the only company allowed to pick you up from WDW. They run the taxis and also buses. So no matter who you book through, that is who will be taking you.

        Look up packages that combine Universal tickets with transportation to/from WDW. Generally you pay the price of the ticket and the shuttle is included. The problem is you are on the schedule of the buses rather than your own.

        Since you have four people it may be better to use a taxi. It will work out to about $12-$15 per person round trip since you share the cost of the taxi. And you can purchase your USO tickets separately and find a discount online. Since using a taxis you can arrive earlier to line up, which will help you get near the front of the pack rushing to Harry Potter's lands. Then leave when ready, on your own schedule. The taxis are yellow and always available in front of the hotel and at universal so they are easy to catch.

        The shuttle buses do go from Disney hotels to Universal, so that is a simple option too.
        Be Cool Stay in School!
        Next year I'm trying for a summer internship at Stark Industries.

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        • #5
          Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

          Hi! I just got back from WDW, so here's my advice:

          Make dinner plans well in advance. Especially for popular places- there's a LOT of waiting, even on "slower" days.

          Get one of those great Unofficial Guides for the parks. There's a LOT of info in them that's quite good, and they rate the attractions and go very in-depth.

          Always get to the parks at rope-drop- you'll get the "Must See" stuff out of the way quickly, and then have plenty of time for the slower attractions in mid-day.

          Take one of those "Keys to the Kingdom" tours if you can. You have to be 16 and over, though, since there's "back stage" stuff that'll wreck it for the kids.

          Get with Mears Transportation to get to Universal, and have your tickets paid for ahead of time- that saves a TON of time at the ticket windows.
          Last edited by Jabroniville; 05-05-2014, 01:09 PM.

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          • #6
            Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

            thanks for all the info guys!

            i was also told that Animal Kingdom is a park that should be done immediately in the morning, specifically the safari ride through. I'm guessing this and Everest usually get long lines pretty quickly after opening? Will definitely be at rope drop every morning wherever we go!!

            I've gotta say, I feel so out of my element going from knowing everything over at Disneyland to being overwhelmed with just planning this WDW trip! Very excited tho!
            I believe my future must be brighter than my past. Without that belief, I'm just waiting to die.
            --> Elevate Your Life

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            • #7
              Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

              DAK like all other parks should be arrived at pre opening. And the Safari is best done early before the line builds and the same can be said for Everest, but both have FP. As far as going early to see animals, don't worry. The park is designed very well to have the animals within sight all day long. DCA however generally opens earlier and closes earlier than the other parks.

              Post parade DAK empties out as people hop elsewhere or leave for dinner. Stand by lines aren't so bad near closing. It's a good second chance to ride some rides again.
              Be Cool Stay in School!
              Next year I'm trying for a summer internship at Stark Industries.

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              • #8
                Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

                [QUOTE=swampymarsh;1057113933]DAK like all other parks should be arrived at pre opening. And the Safari is best done early before the line builds /QUOTE]

                Also best in the morning because it's cooler and the animals will be more active then.

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                • #9
                  Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

                  thanks for all the pointers. Can anyone comment on the dinner vs lunch experience of "Be Our Guest" restaurant? Disappointingly, we were not able to get a dinner reservation for any night of our stay (we had called in immediately after booking), which I suppose is understandable given the popularity of the new restaurant.. just a bit frustrated that they don't take any walk-ups AT ALL! Anyway, just wondering what the main difference is. Are you not able to dine in the actual hall during lunch? This wasn't made very clear when it was explained over the phone.

                  Also, do you think Universal/IOA can be done in 1 day? We will most likely skip the big coasters and such that my 6 year old niece won't be able to ride if that helps with time at all.

                  Still so very overwhelmed with all the planning that has to go into visiting WDW as opposed to DL, but still excited. Hoping for the best!
                  I believe my future must be brighter than my past. Without that belief, I'm just waiting to die.
                  --> Elevate Your Life

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

                    Originally posted by Sheriff Lightyear View Post
                    thanks for all the pointers. Can anyone comment on the dinner vs lunch experience of "Be Our Guest" restaurant? Disappointingly, we were not able to get a dinner reservation for any night of our stay (we had called in immediately after booking), which I suppose is understandable given the popularity of the new restaurant.. just a bit frustrated that they don't take any walk-ups AT ALL! Anyway, just wondering what the main difference is. Are you not able to dine in the actual hall during lunch? This wasn't made very clear when it was explained over the phone.

                    Also, do you think Universal/IOA can be done in 1 day? We will most likely skip the big coasters and such that my 6 year old niece won't be able to ride if that helps with time at all.

                    Still so very overwhelmed with all the planning that has to go into visiting WDW as opposed to DL, but still excited. Hoping for the best!
                    You may be able to see the highlights of IOA/Uni in one day, but even skipping the coasters you still won't get to see everything in one day. This is made worse by the fact that that new Diagon Alley section of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be officially opening about a week before you get there so I would expect very heavy crowds at Universal.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

                      Originally posted by Sheriff Lightyear View Post
                      thanks for all the pointers. Can anyone comment on the dinner vs lunch experience of "Be Our Guest" restaurant? Disappointingly, we were not able to get a dinner reservation for any night of our stay (we had called in immediately after booking), which I suppose is understandable given the popularity of the new restaurant.. just a bit frustrated that they don't take any walk-ups AT ALL! Anyway, just wondering what the main difference is. Are you not able to dine in the actual hall during lunch? This wasn't made very clear when it was explained over the phone.

                      Also, do you think Universal/IOA can be done in 1 day? We will most likely skip the big coasters and such that my 6 year old niece won't be able to ride if that helps with time at all.

                      Still so very overwhelmed with all the planning that has to go into visiting WDW as opposed to DL, but still excited. Hoping for the best!
                      If you want to do both those parks in 1 day you must do the following, it saved my life last trip. theres a thing called universal express pass and it is essential to a short universal visit. now i know the price may seem insane at about 200 bucks an adult for unlimited express and your two park ticket, however I can honestly say its the best money I have EVER spent in a themepark. after you do all the newest rides first thing in the morning before the lines get rediculous, express pass lets you skip EVERY OTHER LINE IN THE PARK. for example I ran over to the harry potter area first thing at park opening did all the new cool stuff before it got too busy, then waited literally no more then 10 minutes for any other ride in the park when posted wait times read over an hour. I promise you this will save you so much hassle and literally triple the amount of things you can do in a day. just make sure you buy the tickets in advance to save a couple bucks and snag them at a will call machine at park opening. the best plan IMO would be to go to universal studios first, get to the new harry potter area and get all that stuff done first as that will get busiest later on, then ride the new train over to the old harry potter area at IOA do the forbiden journey ride and that area, then enjoy the rest of your day with express pass.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

                        Originally posted by Sheriff Lightyear View Post
                        thanks for all the pointers. Can anyone comment on the dinner vs lunch experience of "Be Our Guest" restaurant? Disappointingly, we were not able to get a dinner reservation for any night of our stay (we had called in immediately after booking), which I suppose is understandable given the popularity of the new restaurant.. just a bit frustrated that they don't take any walk-ups AT ALL! Anyway, just wondering what the main difference is. Are you not able to dine in the actual hall during lunch? This wasn't made very clear when it was explained over the phone.

                        Also, do you think Universal/IOA can be done in 1 day? We will most likely skip the big coasters and such that my 6 year old niece won't be able to ride if that helps with time at all.

                        Still so very overwhelmed with all the planning that has to go into visiting WDW as opposed to DL, but still excited. Hoping for the best!
                        You will eat in the same rooms be it lunch or dinner. When you check in at the hotel ask them to try to get you in for a dinner if you want. They do know about cancelations and can let you know. It doesn't always work, but its worth the shot.

                        Don't let it all get to you. Relax and have fun. Know that you WILL miss somethings and there is no reason to stress out about it. The place is huge compared to DL and there is so much more to do and see. Add in Universal and well you get the picture.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

                          Originally posted by goofy donald View Post
                          If you want to do both those parks in 1 day you must do the following, it saved my life last trip. theres a thing called universal express pass and it is essential to a short universal visit. now i know the price may seem insane at about 200 bucks an adult for unlimited express and your two park ticket, however I can honestly say its the best money I have EVER spent in a themepark. after you do all the newest rides first thing in the morning before the lines get rediculous, express pass lets you skip EVERY OTHER LINE IN THE PARK. for example I ran over to the harry potter area first thing at park opening did all the new cool stuff before it got too busy, then waited literally no more then 10 minutes for any other ride in the park when posted wait times read over an hour. I promise you this will save you so much hassle and literally triple the amount of things you can do in a day. just make sure you buy the tickets in advance to save a couple bucks and snag them at a will call machine at park opening. the best plan IMO would be to go to universal studios first, get to the new harry potter area and get all that stuff done first as that will get busiest later on, then ride the new train over to the old harry potter area at IOA do the forbiden journey ride and that area, then enjoy the rest of your day with express pass.

                          thank you very much for that advice! just looked into it and that definitely seems like the best way to go for our Universal day. The lowest price I saw for the date we are looking at is $229 per adult for the unlimited express + 2 park access for the day and that is from the official website. are there any other places you'd recommend looking or is that pretty much the best we can do? either way, that still sounds like a pretty good price for what you get!

                          thanks to everyone else for your input as well! i just canceled, moved, and rebooked a slew of restaurant reservations to coordinate with extra magic hours so we wouldn't be all over the place, hopping from park to park. after using the online platform as opposed to calling it in, the system is definitely growing on me since I could see everything laid out clearly for our itinerary and get a better idea of what our days are gonna look like. the stress is subsiding and excitement is building even more!! absolutely cannot wait!


                          EDIT: Also still undecided on transportation from Animal Kingdom Hotel to Universal on the 19th. I am thinking Taxi may be our best option but have heard of a transportation system that goes by "Mears"? Can anyone comment on any experience with that? Price is not really a concern, I would just prefer to get there as quickly as possible. Same for returning to the hotel. Thanks again
                          Last edited by Sheriff Lightyear; 07-08-2014, 06:00 PM.
                          I believe my future must be brighter than my past. Without that belief, I'm just waiting to die.
                          --> Elevate Your Life

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

                            Originally posted by Sheriff Lightyear View Post

                            EDIT: Also still undecided on transportation from Animal Kingdom Hotel to Universal on the 19th. I am thinking Taxi may be our best option but have heard of a transportation system that goes by "Mears"? Can anyone comment on any experience with that? Price is not really a concern, I would just prefer to get there as quickly as possible. Same for returning to the hotel. Thanks again
                            Originally posted by swampymarsh View Post
                            Mears Transport is the only company allowed to pick you up from WDW. They run the taxis and also buses. So no matter who you book through, that is who will be taking you.

                            Look up packages that combine Universal tickets with transportation to/from WDW. Generally you pay the price of the ticket and the shuttle is included. The problem is you are on the schedule of the buses rather than your own.

                            Since you have four people it may be better to use a taxi. It will work out to about $12-$15 per person round trip since you share the cost of the taxi. And you can purchase your USO tickets separately and find a discount online.

                            Can't really offer any positive or negative. They are just standard transit.
                            Be Cool Stay in School!
                            Next year I'm trying for a summer internship at Stark Industries.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Planning First Trip to WDW since '95.. feeling overwhelmed. What Do I Need To Kno

                              The taxi truly is your best best for most direct route and ease of getting to and fro - your WDW resort will have one for you in very fast time and they line up at the Uni parking garage at the end of the night. No guessing about schedules, you can get right in a taxi when you're ready to go - we used a cab both in 2006 to go to Halloween Haunt and return to WDW, and last November for a full day at Universal while staying at WDW - both very efficient.
                              when the spooks have a midnight jamboree....

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