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A Californian's First WDW Trip


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  • A Californian's First WDW Trip

    Hello one and all! This is my first venture into the boards of WDW, as I'm a DL California veteran. Basically I'd like to welcome any and all help, advice, and recommendations for my first trip to WDW next year. Over all, we just have no idea what we're getting into and we don't know what to expect. Although we have frequented the official website (so we have ideas for prices, general info about accomadations, etc.), we just don't know what 5 days at the World will bring us. So...Flood me with your experienced knowledge!!
    "And don't underestimate the importance of BODY LANGUAGE!"

  • #2
    Hi there Mermaid... nice to see you traveling to the other side :-)

    Perhaps we can help each other out as I will be visiting Mouseville West for the first time this year...

    I'll tell you what though... just asking for all the info I know about WDW is pretty insane... I mean... imagine if I asked you to help me about DLR, but just multiply that by about 5! There is sooooo much to cover! Will you be traveling with children or no? Because right there will shape so much of what your vacation will be like. Have you decided where you are staying? So many questions!

    Also, if you haven't yet, I DEFINITELY recommend you pick up The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. This book is just amazing and covers pretty much everything you need to know. (I already picked up the Disneyland version for myself!)

    Since you are already familiar with the Disney park concept... you're already head and shoulders above the majority of the newbies that make their way to the parks completely uneducated. But definitely read up as much as you can about what there is to do... otherwise you'll find yourself either missing things you might really want to do... or doing things that you really rather wouldn't be doing.

    Feel free to ask me any specific questions you might have! I'll be GLAD to answer! :-)


    • #3
      What I would do is pace yourself. WDW can be very overwhelming. Next thing is to make a priority list of the attractions you would like to see at each park. Also, check the refurb list before you go so you know what attractions you will not be able to experience. The other part to look at is if there are seasonal attractions that may or may not be open when you go.

      Check to see if there will be an E-Ticket night at MK when you are there. If there will be, take advantage of it for sure. The park limits the capacity of the park during that time and it is like having the park to yourself. You will be able to ride all the major rides at MK in one evening with hardly any lines to speak of. This will leave you with time to stroll through the MK at a leisurely pace.

      Animal Kingdom is a half day park. Go directly to the Safari. Stand in line, don't worry about the fastpass. Then work your way around to the other attractions in a manner that requires the least amount of walking.

      Check to see which parks have the Early Entry on which days. Avoid those parks during those times.

      Make as many dining reservations as you can. You can always cancel the reservations once you get there if you don't need them.

      Hang loose and enjoy your trip. You will not be able to experience everything that WDW has to offer in one trip. Keep your itinerary loose. Don't cram too much in to your day so that you are rushing around to get everything done.

      Dusty has taught me well.
      Anything listed on the park maps as an attraction is fair game for inclusion in the Rally.
      I cannot confirm nor deny the inclusion of any attraction in the Rally.

      May the Gumballs Be with You...Always.

      NO GOATS!


      • #4
        Welcome to the club LiTtLeMeRmAiD! I'm in the same boat. Planning for a Nov trip next year. I'll have to keep an eye on this thread for tips.


        • #5
          Yes, I agree, pick up the Unofficial Guide to WDW, great read. Second, where are you staying, on or off site? If on, where? I'm guessing you'll want to spend more time at the unique parks, like MGM, Epcot, and AK, more than MK right?
          ...a vaguely celtic music fills the air...


          • #6
            Little Mermaid--

            I just made my 1st trip out with kids last fall, and it was overwhelming, to say the least. Both in good ways [seeing Disney through my kids' eyes was fantastic] and bad...many long days.

            We did a couple things that helped us, though:

            As others have recommended, absolutely get the Unofficial Guide. It's so useful in helping plan your days to get the most [and he's good about differing his definition of 'most' for different orientation].

            We stayed offsite, but close, and this was a lifesaver. We could go get rests when we wanted and come back fresh [ok, not 100% fresh, but better off] in the afternoons.

            Since we knew we were coming back in the spring, we got the annual passes and stayed an extra week, too this first time! This way there was no pressure to see everything in a certain on the only day you know you're going to be there.

            In the bigger parks, resign yourself to the fact that you will miss something.

            Overall, just do a bit of reading, figure what you 'need' to see, and enjoy yourself!!


            • #7
              Hey LiTtLeMeRmAiD, welcome, welcome, welcome!

              When I read your post and request for WDW advice, my brain started going a million miles an hour with things I would love to offer! The more I started thinking about it though, I completely agree with Rainfully and really believe it is much too large of a task to handle easily! Maybe you could break it up into some categories like:

              Visiting the parks (which could have a variety of subcategories)
              Hotel (on or off property) accomodations
              Off property gems
              Dining (on or off property)

              I would be happy to offer any advice I can! My wife and I travel to WDW at least once a year and have been about a dozen times in the past 5-6 years. She is a former CM (and loved living in Orlando) and we came very close to moving to O-town this past July (but I decided to turn down a nice offer... long story).

              There are a lot of great members on the WDW side of these boards and I am sure you'll get a lot of great ideas! I hope I can share our wonderful experiences.

              I'll stop rambling,

              Oh, I can't resist giving at least one bit of advice... if you rent a car or drive, park at the Polynesian and have an early breakfast (I recommend the Tonga Toast) and then you can just hop on the monorail and head to the MK and beat a lot of traffic. They will give you a timed pass for your car, but we have never had a problem leaving it there all day!


              • #8
                Oh my goodness!!! You guys are very impressive! I had no idea I'd get such a warm response so soon! You are right, asking for generic help without being specific is a little I'll share what I know about the trip so far, and what I'd like to know so you can fill in the blanks.

                This trip will be my honeymoon, and thus I will only be travelling with my husband (therefore no children). We figure this gives us somewhat of an advantage over family travellers, and perhaps you'll agree. We are most interested in Caribbean Beach and AKL for our accomodations, and would like to stay a few days at each. How does the Disney luggage service work in these situations, and how would I go about making such reservations since the website doesn't have such a feature (two hotels, one set of park tickets)?

                We do have a few attractions/shows/restaurants we would definitely like to hit. As a DL veteran, I'd like very much to see Carrousel of Progress (I am too young to have seen it when it was here), but I understand it is seasonal, and may not open at all by the time we are in Fla. Our trip is tentatively scheduled for mid-August '06. I understand that with respect to Disney a lot can change in a year and a half, so I'm not expecting you folks to have all the answers.

                I'll post some more details and questions as I think of the mean time chew these over and keep the great tips coming!!!
                "And don't underestimate the importance of BODY LANGUAGE!"


                • #9
                  Ok, I've got some more for you guys...

                  *What's the overall opinion of the new Magic Your Way system? I know all the "facts", but what do you guys have to say about it? Just when we thought we had our money issues for the trip all worked out, they go and change the whole package system...jeez...

                  *Are there any specific items you would highly suggest for packing? These could be for use in the parks or otherwise. Something you may have forgotten and wished you had, or something that came in really handy.

                  *How does one go about arranging for Disney travel to and from the airport (if we opt not to rent a car)? Are there options for this that have to be arranged before your arrival?

                  *What advice can you offer about the resorts we've chosen--Caribbean Beach and AKL? Best locations? Dining? Room service? Times to avoid the pools?...

                  *I've read that you can buy character logo mugs at many locations in the parks and at restaurants. What places offer these? (Note: not limited to just the refillable mugs from the hotels)

                  *Info on the water parks? (Must-dos and ok-to-skips)

                  *What should we know about shows? For example, at DL its always a good idea to wait for the second showing of Fantasmic! because lots of people leave after the first show. Any tips like that would be great.

                  *Best place for a couples massage? and how much $ would that cost us?

                  *What locations at WDW offer alcoholic beverages? In general is MK the only place you can't purchase alcohol?

                  Ok at the moment, thats all I can think to ask, but I'm sure thats plenty for now. I hope someone on these boards has experience with at least some of these issues. Thanks for accepting the challenge, guys!
                  "And don't underestimate the importance of BODY LANGUAGE!"


                  • #10
                    Wow... you really are detail oriented, eh? Hehe you're thinking up stuff I would never even think of... awesome! I'll answer what I can...

                    The Magic Your Way seems like a good idea... I was skeptical at first... but it looks like you can actually end up saving yourselves some money if you don't want certain features that automatically came with the old park hopper tickets (like the never expire option). I personally have never stayed at a resort ( ) so I'm not sure how the ticketing would be different from that aspect.

                    Wear sneakers!! I don't understand how people can wear thongs running around all day, multiple days. If I did that I would get mad blisters! Sneakers is the only way to go for me. You might want to bring a little plastic bag to keep your tickets/money/etc in so that they don't get wet!

                    From what I understand, Disney will soon be offereing its own shuttle transportation to and from the airport for guests staying on site. So that will definitely come in handy for you! Only drawback to this is if you're wanting to venture out of the "World" you'll need to get a taxi. If you're not leaving the property, though, it's a really nice feature!

                    The water parks aren't something that I do... from what I hear they can get really crowded... and swimming elbow-to-elbow and waiting a half hour or more to go down a slide just doesn't really appeal to me. But its worth a look over if you're into that kinda thing... the theming (especially for Blizzard Beach) is awesome!

                    I think the rules of shows are probably the same for both coasts. For Fantasmic at MGM I think they start seating about 2 hours before showtime... and if you want to get a good seat get there as close to two hours before showtime as you can! Sit in the Mickey section if you want the best view!

                    I'm pretty sure the Spa in the Grand Floridian would be the best place to get a couple's massage. Although there is also a spa at Saratoga Springs. Here is the link for that... you can view the list of services and even get the prices! (as with most things at Disney, STEEP!) I'm a massage therapist and I charge less than HALF of what they charge! geez...

                    As for in the parks, if you wanna drink, you've gotta hit up Epcot! Get a drink from every country! Hehe.

                    OK... I think I covered as much as I can for now... I hope I helped you out some! :-) What a great place for a honeymoon... Its definitely where I'd like to have mine!


                    • #11
                      I'll give you a couple of general tips. First, is there any way you can change your trip from August? I don't know where you live, but Orlando in August is just unbearable! The heat is made much worse by the humidity - if you've never experienced southern humidity, you won't believe how miserable it can be. Plus the parks will be packed with other summer travellers, and you'll all be pretty grumpy by mid-afternoon.

                      That said, if you have to go in August, plan on splitting your days. Get up and hit the parks running at park opening. And if you're staying on-property, take advantage of the new extended morning and evening park hours. Come early afternoon, leave the parks and go back to your hotel for a swim and/or a nap, then go back to another park for the evening. That way you'll miss the worst of the afternoon heat.


                      • #12
                        one thing that is a MUST SEE @ WDW is the "Electrical Water Pageant". Weather permitting the show plays nightly @ the following resorts along Bay Lake/Seven Seas Lagoon

                        Polynesian 9:00 PM
                        Grand Floridian 9:15
                        Wilderness Lodge 9:35
                        Fort Wilderness 9:45
                        Contemporary 10:05
                        Magic Kingdom:10:15 or 10:20 (only presented @ MK when park is open late)


                        • #13
                          good luck

                          disney world is huge!!!
                          be carful in mgm studios (even thogh its a pretty small park it is hard to navigate if you get stuck)
                          i have been going to wdw since i was three (now being sixteen i guess you can say ive grown fond of it)
                          rides that you shoud not miss at the magic kingdom are

                          at the magic kingdom
                          "the mountain range" aka splash, space, and thunder mountain
                          the classics- its a small world, pirates of the caribian, and the haunted masion,

                          (and if you can please go on sticthes great escape and give a small review of the ride that would be way awesome i heard the animatronic of sticth was amazing!) thanks

                          'i hope we never loose sight of one thing... that it was all started by a mouse"


                          • #14
                            Hey Little Mermaid! As a Westerner who frequents the DLR (we're from Utah), we know what it is like to venture into WDW for the first time.

                            We've been there three times now... and can't wait for our next visit! We love our DL, but WDW is a different and exciting experience in itself. The first time we drove through we were absolutely floored at the size and expanse of the resort..... it still is mind-blowing, esp. when you've grown up only with DL.

                            The first two times it was just my wife and I... the latest trip was with our kids. The trips were quite different, for obvious reasons, but you have a lot to look forward to if it is just you and your spouse. I echo everything that's been said and would gear your planning towards some of the guidebooks that are esp. for couples (I believe there's an Unofficial Guidebook for Couples?)

                            I'll just touch on the stuff that I view as can't miss that truly made our trip memorable. You're lucky you're going in '06 as Expedition:Everest will have opened by then!

                            Here are some (very) random tips:

                            * Many people have their favorite spot to view Illuminations. Our favorite spot was in Italy right near the gondolas. Don't miss this show... it is spectacular and moving. We were there for the Millenium Celebration, and we immediately went out and bought the CD afterwards.

                            * As others have already suggested, get to AK right at opening and go straight to the standby line of the Kilimanjaro Safaris... the line moves quickly, and the animals will be out and about in the morning. I have no idea what the lines will be like for Expedition Everest, but I would probably use FP for it, anyway.

                            * If there are two showings of Fantasmic (which, though different from DL, is still really, really cool... and the best part? Seats!!) when you're at the Studios, go to the second showing. Take advantage of the lesser crowds during the 1st showing and ride ToT and RnRC over and over again. As a coaster nut, I have my favorite "seats" and the 1st row on RnRC really can't be beat (for many reasons). They don't have a separate "line" for the front, but if you ask the CM very nicely and with humility, they'll probably let you wait a train for it.

                            * We love going to Prime Time 50's Cafe when we're there... fried chicken is fantastic, and the theming is terrific. I don't know a lot about dining at the resorts (although I've heard raves about Boma... and given its your Honeymoon, I'd book a priority reservation for California Grill and watch the fireworks!) We loved Chef Mickey's... but not sure a Character Dining experience is high on your priority list

                            * Don't be afraid of Mission:Space. My wife gets sick on spinny rides.. but she loved this ride. I thought it was fantastic, and unlike anything I've ever experienced. Others may disagree... so take my advice with a grain of salt - and if you do go - make sure to look straight ahead and you should be ok.

                            * Hit Beaches & Cream at the Beach Club Resort - fantastic ice cream parlour.

                            These are just random thoughts... I'm sure there's more. Have a great time planning this trip! Planning is one of the funnest parts of the process. I don't know if it's verboten to plug other websites on this board... but a great resource to get sundry bits of updated information like menus, prices, entertainment offerings etc. is:

                            We used it alot in our planning... and provides updated information that guidebooks won't have.


                            • #15
                              A lot of DL natives visitng WDW are always shocked at how big it is, my best advice would be take your time and don't be afraid if you don't see yourself completing a park in one day.

                              Staying at an in-property resort is always the wisest as you won't need your own means of transportation. Preferrably, you should stay at one of the monorail/magic kingdom resorts so you have access to the monorail and not have to wait on the shuttle system all the time.

                              Magic Kingdom-
                              - The best place to view wishes would either be from one of the eastern or western bridges or somewhere down mainstreet, do not stay at the hub area for the castle will block the fireworks.

                              -make sure you check out a lot of the little surprises
                              -A great place to see Illumiantions in its full glory (with the lighting effects of all the pavillions) would be right by the entrance of World Showcase even though you'll have to get there early. An even better viewing area would be at the stage in front of the entrance but then you'll have to sit on the ground and on windy days, the stage might be off-limits

                              Disney-MGM Studios
                              -Being a DL native, you won't be all that impressed with our Fantasmic but you should still check it out, to save you the time and aggravation, purchase one of the Fantasmic dinner-packages that would reserve you a seat.

                              Animal Kingdom
                              -make sure you check out "Festival of the Lion King" and "Kilimanjaro Safaris"

                              make sure you check out Downtown Disney


                              • #16
                                Thanks for all the great advice so far you guys--keep it up! I'm taking notes...
                                "And don't underestimate the importance of BODY LANGUAGE!"


                                • #17
                                  Go during October or November.

                                  Drink lots of water. Don't get dehydrated.

                                  Take lots of breaks.

                                  Stay in a hotel close to the park, because everything there is so dang far away from each other.


                                  Big floppy hat.

                                  Carry a bottle of water with you.


                                  • #18
                                    My big tip is to get yourself a time machine, and set the dial to any year between 1984 and 1992 - so that you can visit DisneyWorld's best-ever theme park, EPCOT CENTER.

                                    (sniffle, snif, snif)


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by innerSpaceman
                                      My big tip is to get yourself a time machine, and set the dial to any year between 1984 and 1992 - so that you can visit DisneyWorld's best-ever theme park, EPCOT CENTER.

                                      (sniffle, snif, snif)
                                      Oh Ism, if only it was that easy! I would have gone back a long time ago to tell myself bright green and yellow "cross color" pants were not in as I had thought.


                                      • #20
                                        I've been reading that Aug. is like THE worst time to be at the world for weather/crowd reasons. Eeeek! Not a good setting for a romantic first-time trip.

                                        Would you all suggest we postpone the honeymoon till Sept or Oct? (The wedding will be Aug. 12.)
                                        "And don't underestimate the importance of BODY LANGUAGE!"


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