disney - would it be stupid to do no planning and just go with the flow

(39 Posts)
pud1 Fri 14-Mar-14 11:00:55

we have a trip to Florida planned on the 28th may. myself, oh and 2 dd's ages 4 and 6. flying from Manchester with Monarch ( not sure this was the best idea) and staying in a Disney hotel. we have got a 14 day pass for wdw and universal and a one day at seaworld.

i have booked the Cinderella castle lunch but that is as far as my planning goes. we have not hired a car and plan to get taxis to universal and seaworld.

my question is do i have to plan ahead. i have been looking on the DIBB and it all looks very intense. i have been looking at fast pass+, magic bands ( i think i have managed to order these), memory maker. i have also downloaded the Disney app on my phone.

has anyone just gone with the flow and not bothered with all this in advance. i feel like it is planning a military operation. i dont want the dds to miss out on anything but i cant get my head around all the planning.

please tell me we can just turn up and decide what we are doing on a daily basis without missing out on loads of attractions as they have been booked 180 days in advance

mummymeister Fri 14-Mar-14 15:41:27

If you go with the flow the flow will be long queues which wastes so much time, makes everyone bored and means that when you get to the front it is never as much fun. sorry but think with WDW you just have to be organised to get the most out of it and not miss out on the things you really want to do. you also need to do things like check height requirements for rides. so many kids bawling their eyes out next to rides they had been promised but then couldn't go on because they were too small. the unofficial guide to WDW with kids is a brilliant book it has touring plans to follow that are really helpful.

FreckledLeopard Fri 14-Mar-14 15:45:01

I've gone with the flow both times I've been to Orlando with DD. It was absolutely fine.

I think you have to take into account a few things, like whether you want to see Wishes (firework display) one evening at Magic Kingdom (it's not on every day of the week and I think it starts at 9pm, so might make sense to get to the park later in the day so you're not too exhausted), or another evening spectacle. Also when you want to see the parades, but they're on frequently.

We've always played things by ear and been absolutely fine.

Have a great time - we're off two weeks tomorrow!!!!

pud1 Fri 14-Mar-14 21:05:50

Thanks for the replies.

Hope you have a great time freckles

TheVictorian Fri 14-Mar-14 21:24:18

I think you would be better planning it like a military operation and have a plan a and b so if any parts do not go to plan at least your organised and know whats what.

wordfactory Fri 14-Mar-14 21:27:22

You need top plan OP.

Each park has days of heavy, medium and light foot traffic, and within each day, certain rides have heavy, medium and light traffic.

Good planning will mean fewer lines and more ride time. No planning will mean longer lines and less ride time...no brainer innit?

OfstedOrganised Fri 14-Mar-14 21:30:47

Would your daughters like the Bibbidy Bobbidy boutique makeover? Mine loved it, the staff are fairy Godmother's in training and treat them like princesses. They do their hair like a princess and depending on your package will have a Disney dress etc. It's really magical I wanted to do it too. You have to book in advance (like now!) but it's so worth it! grin

bonvivant Fri 14-Mar-14 21:33:22

You need to plan as others have said. My top tips are:

- get there just before or asap after opening - early bird definitely catches the Disney worm (and the Fastpasses)
- take a break from the parks early afternoon and relax at your hotel before hitting parks again late afternoon
- take snacks etc for lunch - queues for food can be long, food is standard theme park fare and is $$$ - save your time and money
- the waterparks are fab - don't overlook them
- know the various show times/fireworks etc at the various parks. Fantasmic is unmissable!

And have a fab holiday.

ImASecretTwigletNibbler Fri 14-Mar-14 21:40:05

I think you can just go with the flow if you've never been before or you don't know much about it - that way, you won't really know what you're missing. Just check out the crowd calendar on the Dibb and have a rough plan of where to go on what day. But if you do plan you will give yourself the best chance of seeing everything and with the minimum of queuing.

rookiemater Fri 14-Mar-14 21:44:01

You don't have to do loads of planning OP, but a little really helps.

I found the DIBB far too intense for my style, this book www.britguideorlando.net/ is good as it's a bit more user friendly.
We ordered the free Little Magic book from Disney wdtc.disneyinternational.com/VPK/?Origin=WDTC. It has little pocket size guides to each park - on our way to the park we'd plan roughly what we wanted to see and check the height restrictions.

Having a rough idea of what parks you want to see is good as is going early - although as I don't think you are going in school holiday time it shouldn't be as busy, plus you are staying in a Disney hotel so will get extra magic hours - which one are you in - they all looked fab?

Things you need to book in advance are - Bibbity Bobbity Boutique - don't have a girl so can't vouch for it's worth, Chef Mickeys Character meal - but if you have the princess meal already booked then you are fine. I booked a few other things, like meals at a restaurant near the Epcot fireworks, but then wished I hadn't as it meant we were tied into certain times for doing things.

Ah one question - do you have meal thingy inclusive? If you do ,you need to book restaurants in advance, you'll struggle to get a meal at most of the Disney places at a civilized eating time if you just rock up .

ImASecretTwigletNibbler Sat 15-Mar-14 10:15:20

Have a read up about the new FastPass system - it's baffling when you're faced with it for the first time and we wasted a good few hours over it.

rookiemater Sat 15-Mar-14 13:02:01

Just being nosey twigletnibbler as it will be a good few years before we're back at Disney, but what's the differences between that and the old system?

Tory79 Sat 15-Mar-14 13:09:58

Basically, instead of going up to individual rides and putting your ticket in and getting a fast pass ticket, you go to one of the fast pass booths, select 3 rides you want fast passes for and do it all in one go. It's still trialling at the moment, I have to say I didn't rate it particularly. When I went to do it at magic kingdom last week I got directed to a member of staff who did it on an iPad thing, and then said I'd need to take a photo of the screen in order to have a record of the times!

I wish they'd go down the universal route and just let you pay to upgrade your ticket to a fast pass ticket, which you can then use on any ride. Much more straightforward!

In answer to the original question, I think there is a happy medium when it comes to planning. Familiarise yourself a bit with what's available, decide on a few things you definitely want to do and make sure you have those planned in (someone mentioned Wishes above, that kind of thing) and go with the flow for the rest of it. That's what we generally do.

Creamycoolerwithcream Sat 15-Mar-14 13:37:08

When we went to Disney in California which I know is much smaller we didn't have a plan and just let the DC choose what they wanted to do. It worked well, we went Feb half term and just before as there was an insert day and there were very short queues.

rookiemater Sat 15-Mar-14 13:38:52

Sorry OP slight thread topic hijack

Oh that seems a bit of a shame Tory79, I didn't want to do the big rides and as DS is an only I would wave them on their ride and then rush off and get fast passes for the next thing - it worked really well for us. The fast pass upgrade at Universal was ridiculously expensive when we were there so I'm glad Disney doesn't have it.

OP sorry one more tip I have thought of - buy some walkie talkies, they're great for when you and your DP get separated in the park, much cheaper and quicker than trying to phone each other and the DCs will love them

ReindeerBollocks Sat 15-Mar-14 13:44:37

Watching with interest. We go in April and have only booked the meal at the castle too.

We have looked into crowd footfall for the various parks and will just play it by ear. We're fairly laid back and couldn't be doing with a military style operation type holiday.

If we miss stuff, so be it. We have a list of things we'd like to do and will try to head to those parks first thing so we get a chance to do them. It's still going to be a good holiday regardless (I hope!).

rookiemater Sat 15-Mar-14 13:51:33

Reindeerbollocks ( love your name btw) the Disney app for your phone is fab.

Doesn't cost anything and there is free wi-fi at the parks, you can use it when you're there to see queue times and it means you can rush over to the stuff you want when the queue times are low.

We went at Easter too and found that provided we got there when the parks opened, which was easy on the first week as our bodies were still on UK time, we could do loads of stuff by about 10.30-11 when the parks started to fill up. As long as you're there early you'll see absolutely loads, and there's so much at Disney that you're never going to see it all in one trip anyway.

clam Sat 15-Mar-14 14:04:33

If you want a laid-back "go-with-the-flow" kind of holiday, I wouldn't say Disney was it! I would recommend doing some research, have a plan up your sleeve, and you can always ditch it if you feel like going 'off-piste' on any particular day(s).

But I think you might find it frustrating, once there and having paid a fortune, to find there are things you're unable to do because you didn't know in advance.

ReindeerBollocks Sat 15-Mar-14 14:26:42

Rookiemater thanks for the tip about the app.

HermioneWeasley Sat 15-Mar-14 14:32:21

Failing to plan is planning to fail, rookie!

Now get yourself "the. Rut guide to Orlando" and at least find out which days the parks are at their busiest and plan around that.

Then hit the floor and give me 20.

HolidayCriminal Sat 15-Mar-14 14:48:41

How funny. I've been loads & wouldn't plan beyond taking sandwiches & water.

clam Sat 15-Mar-14 15:43:06

criminal, the clue is in the words "I've been loads." Therefore you know the score. The OP is a rookie.

And I didn't think they let you take in your own food? We went to Universal Studios in Hollywood last year and it said this:
We allow outside food and beverage of the following nature only: Water bottles (individual size and unopened at time of entrance), baby food, fruits and vegetables. Any specific food for health, dietary or religious reasons on an individual size is permitted, subject to approval at the entrance by park security.

The following items are NOT allowed: coolers or large bags of any kind, any food purchased from outside locations, any beverage that is already open at time of entrance.

rookiemater Sat 15-Mar-14 16:46:06

Finished my press ups then grin

It depends what you want to achieve from the trip. DS has no particular Disney favourite movies and the only ride that I we absolutely had to go on was the Despicable Me one at Universal so we made sure we got there early for that. We really enjoyed the general ambience at Disneyworld and sometimes it's good just to be able to wander and enjoy rather than having a strict itinery.

We are on site at both Disney and Universal. Disney was miles better than Universal and there was a reasonable choice of stuff. Most lunches I had a chicken caesar salad at around $10 and it was absolutely fine.

rookiemater Sat 15-Mar-14 16:47:16

Also what probably helped is that we found that we didn't enjoy the parade type things. DS hates big crowds, and so do we so we actively avoided them.

pud1 Sat 15-Mar-14 17:50:46

Thanks for all your replies.

I think I am going to check when the parks are really busy and look into what we really want to do

I might book the boutique thing

We don't have the dining pass

I was also unsure about the photo thing. Is it worth the cost

ImASecretTwigletNibbler Sat 15-Mar-14 20:15:44

Get a free Photopass card and get all the Photopass photos taken that you can then come home and Google 'how to get Photopass pictures for free

NaturalBlondeYeahRight Sat 15-Mar-14 20:24:04

We didn't plan, it's hard/confusing to plan if you don't know what to expect. It was fine for us, but we are kind of relaxed like that and are not bothered about the big rides. The Brit guide was great when we got there and could read it the day before.
Monarch was good enough by the way and I believe immigration is quicker through Stanford.
The only area that could be a hassle was dinner. You need to book through reception if it was an 'on site' resturant or you have to wait ages - not good with little ones.

bonvivant Sat 15-Mar-14 22:40:01

You can take soft side cooler bags into Disney, Universal and Seaworld - in Florida at least. Been several times recently and taken sandwiches, drinks etc.

ImASecretTwigletNibbler Sun 16-Mar-14 10:17:00

I went last month and took food everywhere, it wasn't a problem. If you took a massive hamper you probably wouldn't be allowed but they always allow little bits of food here and there.

newfavouritething Mon 17-Mar-14 12:25:51

The Dibb is very intense and fuels the paranoia that you'll only enjoy your holiday if you plan each meal 6 months in advance and march around the parks with plans and military precision. It does have handy hints though about travel to Orlando in general (look for a sticky at the top of the Florida Trip Planning forum)
I think that the age of your children will pretty much dictate what you do on each day - if they wake up happy go to a park, if they seem tired do something else.

BiddyPop Thu 27-Mar-14 09:29:54

We planned ahead in the sense that we knew roughly what was in each park that we'd like to go on and what dd was too short to go on in advance. You can take food and drink into Disney, w didn't do universal as dd too short for too many things there yet, so will go back Ina few years.

Fireworks/light show in Epcot was great. We saw Main Street parade in magic kingdom which was ok. Spent a long morning each in the water parks and popped into a kingdom after for a couple of tides and dinner. Didn't book meals ahead but while not cheap, the places to walk. Up. We're ok.

Look out for hidden mickeys in all parks.

In animal kingdom, there's a wilderness ranger trail to follow and get stickers around the park. GET A book AT&T he bridge just after entry. Rangers like in Up.

In Epcot, grab a bear that you bring to each country to get a stamp and have a chat with people there. Duffy bear.

I think there's a trail if some sorts in magic kingdom and Hollywood studios too. But we never found them. They are all free (but some make you go into shops for some stamps or stickers, animal kingdom less so).

Bring a notebook and fat Marker for autographs.

We didn't plan a route of rides, just picked as we passed mostly. Get a map from guest services as you arrive in each park, very very useful. GET a few so kids can look too and plan. AND SPot water and food spots on them too.

Be prepared for meltdowns in all, even adults. Take breaks, be prepared to go home early some days. If you go early, head back to hotel for break, swim, nap even, and back to park in evening if you want, or just bowling in downtown Disney. Don't overload yourselves. Drink lots of water, it's very humid and you won't notice it iced water in cups is free in most food spots.


JRmumma Thu 27-Mar-14 09:45:24

Id say over planning would spoil the magic. If you are rushing around keeping to your plan you will miss loads.

DTD and boardwalk were difficult to get a meal at and it was only me and DH so booking restaurants probably a good idea with kids but i much preferred choosing each day what we were going to do. You do need to bear in mind that the fireworks etc are not every day so some planning required there too.

Can i just suggest if you are staying in Disney then maybe hire a car for the second week and do Sea World and Universal then as you probably will spend an equivalent in taxi's and it will be much less hassle and you could also visit int drive for dinner etc for cheaper and non-bookable places (and Denny's for a lumberjack slam breakfast - epic!)

If you have a military style plan and cannot keep to it due to tiredness or for example the water park is closed because its not warm enough (wasn't even cold by our standards but Disney do close them below a certain temp) then you will have to re-organise everything which just seems more hassle to me.

Saying that, we went in October so maybe the queues weren't as bad as they are at other times of the year.

Annebronte Thu 27-Mar-14 17:38:33

Have a look at www.easywdw.com. It has cheat sheets that tell you which rides you need to hit early in the day and which are any timers. Also a good crowd calendar with logical explanations. Links all to the right of the main blog post.

Nesstoria11 Tue 15-Apr-14 00:10:50

Pud1 hi how did you book a meal with a Disney characters please
We are going May 1 got passes etc for 14 days but no planning at all.

couch25cakes Tue 15-Apr-14 08:11:58

If you go into the disney website and look at the dining pages, you can see a section on character dining. The most popular are Crystal Palace (Pooh and co), Cinderellas royal Table (princesses), Chef Mickeys and possibly Tusker House breakfast. These could well be full by now for May but you might get lucky. But sometimes Cape May Cafe or (I think) Garden Grill are less busy. Also there's Akershus in Epcot for princesses. Good luck!

Nesstoria11 Tue 15-Apr-14 10:00:29

Thanks couch25cakes I will take a look and see what's about.

Nesstoria11 Tue 15-Apr-14 19:53:27


Are there any free Disney Apps anyone can recommend please?

pud1 Wed 16-Apr-14 22:03:39

If I remember correctly you have to ring up to book character dinning

GrassIsSinging Sat 19-Apr-14 13:39:37

Have never planned (been many times). We dont stay in Disney resorts, go to the theme parks every day or go in high season, though, so maybe not such a necessity?

Have always picked up day or 2-day passes to the theme parks and waterparks from booth outlets in shopping malls for slight discounts. Never dined at Disney or done any of the 'add ons'. Guess it depends what you want from the holiday?

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