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Help - planning Disney holiday of lifetime

(168 Posts)
KinkyDorito Sat 14-Jul-12 16:26:34

Hi all

I have booked for us to go to Disney in Florida next August. There will be DH and I, and DD (14) and DS (4) - ages for next year.

I want to make this holiday as special as possible. I have been to Florida once, but I didn't organise it. I want to create something very magical. It was DDs request to go there; she has leukaemia and she is due to finish chemotherapy in April 2013. This holiday is to celebrate the end of it, and to give us all something to look forward to.

What I'm after are insider's tips - best places to go, things to see, ways to get best service. We will be staying in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Currently, I don't plan to drive, so we will be using local transport (I am a big wuss, and I want to enjoy myself and relax after what has been the most difficult time of all of our lives). We have park tickets for all the big ones - Universal, Seaworld and Disney. I think we will also book Discovery Cove.

Any tips would be very gratefully received. I'm working a year in advance so plenty of time.


Goosfraba Sat 14-Jul-12 18:57:36

We have stayed in Animal Kingdom lodge and it is amazing smile you'll love it.

I'd also recommend it's really helpful and you will always get any questions you have answered over there smile

KinkyDorito Sat 14-Jul-12 19:46:36

DS is very excited about Universal as he is currently in love with all things super hero!

I am going to have a very careful read through of all of this. We are on the dining plan, so I need to book meals in advance? That is useful to know. I would have hoped to wander in... see - totally naive! grin

I am really grateful to all of you. I am also going to look into the Universal hotel. We already have tickets for the parks. Would it still be worth paying for the hotel stay on top?

Will have a look at all websites, and the 'Help around the mouse'.

I take it, from all that's said here, express passes are also worth looking into.

I really, really want her to feel special and spoiled; she deserves it. DS will be beside himself with excitement. DH wishes we were going to Italy, but I plan to win him over wink.

Unfortunately, August is the only time we can go. I have haunting memories of rides being shut at the threat of storms, so am praying that it is kinder to us next year.

Am very envy of all of you going soon. Have wonderful holidays, and I will be waiting with the questions for when you get back wink.

Again, thanks thanks thanks.

And big wave to Rather smile.

Groovee Sat 14-Jul-12 19:48:02

You can book meals 180 days in advance and you will need to work out your itinery and then book your restaurants for your table service on the ddp.

Groovee Sat 14-Jul-12 20:16:08

I've set up a blog to keep memories for on the lead up to our visit etc. it may be worth doing that too.

groovejet Sat 14-Jul-12 20:19:30

It may be useful to apply for a guest assistance card, if you think your daughter requires one. You ask at guest services in the first park you visit, it will mean you can usually queue in a separate area usually shaded or with air con.

Something special that is a bit different is to go on a boat to watch the fireworks at Epcot, if you do sign up to the dibb site there is fairly often willing to share a boat and split the costs. The boat can fit 10 people.

Remember to book any meals you want especially if travelling during free dining, it is possible to get walk ups but can be in for long waits. Can highly recommend the Boma restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Enjoy the planning, I always find it part of the holiday smile

musicmadness Sat 14-Jul-12 22:55:40

Quick word of warning about discovery cove - you have to be 6 to swim with the dolphins so depending on when your DS's birthday is he might not be able to do it.

It was almost a decade ago when I went to disney but I remember loving Typhoon Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom. I also really loved epcot but I think that will be a bit more hit and miss. Definitely take a day off and explore the mall, it is amazing!

Try to keep any ticket stubs etc, so you can make a scrapbook when you get back. I did that for a roadtrip I went on and love looking at it now, it's such a good keepsake.

BestIsWest Sat 14-Jul-12 23:37:33

We just came back on Tuesday after combining it with a trip to New York. Hogsmeade village was brilliant, the attention to detail is incredible. And the updated Spiderman ride at Universal is just fantastic. It was quite crowded though. I've kept all our ticket stubs and I'm planning to make a collage for our kitchen wall. Good luck with the planning OP.

adoremyfamily Sat 14-Jul-12 23:46:05

Kinky be prepared to get hooked, 15 years ago we went for our holiday of a life time, on Friday we go for our 6th trip. It's the most wonderful, magical time ever, don't worry about dh I defy anyone not to be taken over by the magic, one of my favourite memories is my dd's at 19 and 14 at Halloween, holding hands skipping round parks trick/treating.
It's good to plan ahead but don't overplan leave time for relaxing it's a tiring holiday.

You'll have a super time I'll let Mickey know your coming.

03angels Sat 14-Jul-12 23:46:10

Don't forget to book lunch/dinner with the princesses at Disney, they also do a princess makeover, my dd(6) was made to feel like a real princess grin

03angels Sat 14-Jul-12 23:47:53

Sorry got the ages of your ds and dd mixed up- princess things may be too young for yr dd blush

alienbump Sat 14-Jul-12 23:58:06

The best tip I had when staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge was to upgrade to Concierge Level - can't tell you how worthwhile it was, opportunity to do the sunrise safari, separate lounge on it's own floor, where breakfast is served (so peaceful, no queues) and free drinks and snacks in the same lounge available all day up until about 10pm. Also you get whisked up in the lift to this floor to check in at the private concierge desk - and they will book any restaurants or anything you want there for the whole trip. It was just a great place to chill and relax at any time of the day, and saved us a fortune as a family of five - think the upgrade cost us about 50 dollars a day, we must have saved that in drinks alone, never mind the number of meals we ended up not going for because we had had spent a couple of hours there having afternoon tea/evening supper. Really can't recommend it enough. - you'll have a fab time!

Wandaaa Sun 15-Jul-12 00:15:36

Take buggy for DS, you can hire them but work out expensive for full holiday. We did loads of charachter meals, Floridean for breakfast and dinner were the best, loved going over on the boat from Magic Kingdom. Get fast pass early for toy story mania in Hollywood studios although queuing for 2hours in air conditioning was worth it. We also had a fab meal at Wolfgang Puck's in Downtown Disney, we also had the dining plan but thiswould have been our most expensive meal.

If you don't get the resort mug with your dining plan it is worth buying one and we used our snacks on ice cream sundaes (loved worms and dirt from Animal Kingdom) and bought drinks as they were cheaper.

Harry Potter world is amazing and the butter beer tastes lovely (like fruity, creamy chocolate).

As you can tell I love Disney (and Harry Potter)

KinkyDorito Sun 15-Jul-12 08:17:39

Thank you all again thanks. And, have lovely holidays to all of you about to depart.

alien how did you upgrade? Was it through travel agent?

03 I might have the princess makeover though... grin

I do really appreciate everyone's help. One year and one and two weeks to go. grin grin

KinkyDorito Sun 15-Jul-12 08:17:55

one and two??? two!!

03angels Sun 15-Jul-12 15:20:26

kinky really wanted one- I think you deserve one grin

ASillyPhaseIAmGoingThrough Sun 15-Jul-12 15:51:45

Don't forget the extra magical hours as a Disney guest.

ShirleyKnot Sun 15-Jul-12 15:59:47

I am going on Wednesday and starting my planning itinerary today.


BellaVita Sun 15-Jul-12 16:00:14

For those planning to visit Discovery Cove....

We booked our tickets online before we went. Which meant that we could basically get there as soon as the doors opened - something like 7.30am, and be pushed through quicker than queuing to pay for tickets.

Because of the weather ie. in summer it tends to rain in Florida in the afternoon (quite often thunder storms) they could in effect close the "swimming with dolphins" bit.

So, when you rock up, you are asked which time slot you would like - think ours was something like 9.30am. This gave us a chance to have a lovely breakfast, then go for the "talk" then do the swimming bit.

This then left us the rest of the day to do all the other things there, have a really nice lunch and just generally take our time.

All food and drinks are included in the cost of the tickets as are the towels (which you give back at the end).

Yourefired Sun 15-Jul-12 16:01:10

In hogsmeade if you visit ollivanders position your child at the bottom of the staircase. That's the child they "choose". Worked for us.

bringbacksideburns Sun 15-Jul-12 16:22:42

We came back in June. We booked with Disney and had the Fastpass (really recommend this) and basic Dining Plan, with 14 days for the price of 7 theme park access to all the Disney parks and Water parks.

My only regret is we didn't do Universal or Seaworld - we ran out of time and wanted to bring some money back!

You can hire motorbility scooters and strollers at all the Disney parks. We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside and got free transport everywhere which i presume you will be using? The buses are great and run regularly.

If it's the middle of the range or above dining plan then book in advance for your character dining etc
We loved Epcot - there is a great place in China called the Lotus Blossom cafe. Also had a meal at the 50's Prime Time Diner in Hollywood Studios which is great. Not cheap but worth it for the experience.

We had four days of constant rain on arrival - make sure you have waterproofs, umberella etc just in case. Not sure of weather in August in Orlando as have only stayed in Miami at that time of year when it was ridiculously hot and sunny. Orlando have more rain.

Be warned about the queues and take advantage of the fast pass system and the Magic hours if you can. (Magic hours are at different parks on different days and are open to Disney guests before the park opens to the rest of the public. Well worth doing if you want to make a beeline for a popular ride.)

Make sure you get to the Magic Kingdom at about 8.45am to watch the Opening ceremony before the gates open. (I got all emotional behind my sunglasses. It really is Magical!)
Look out for Horrific queues out of there after the Fireworks in the evening though. Don't miss the Electrical Parade and the Fireworks at Epcot are great too.

You will have a fantastic time!

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 17:20:22

Shirley, good god what were you thinking?grin have you been over to easywdw to see which are the recommended days?

Pm if you want any specific info, I have it coming out of my bloody ears especially which rides and shows to hit first.

You're fired, unless you're the first group in of the day then they choose the first child, which is fair enough.

Oh and you have to make rope drop every day, get everything done by lunch and then get out for some pool time in the afternoon before returning for fireworks or parades etc.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 17:25:13

Here you go Shirley...
best days

Yourefired Sun 15-Jul-12 17:38:26

Yes we were the first group in of the day.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Sun 15-Jul-12 18:04:01

Please think twice and do some research before visiting Sea World and Discovery Cove.

It is not right that they capture wild whales and dolphins for human entertainment. These places claim to help marine life but the truth is that they don't. They take wild animals and keep them prisoners in conditions that are detrimental to their health, after separating them from their families.

There are lots of links and YouTube videos, please just have a quick google before you decide to support something so barbaric.

If you want to swim with dolphins, learn to scuba dive and get into their environment. Don't support dolphins being forced into an environment that suits us. It is selfish and cruel.

YouBrokeMySmoulder Sun 15-Jul-12 18:06:39

Ooh how exiting yourefired bet you were chuffed. smile I so want to go again.

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