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Help with Orlando planning and busy day guides!

(14 Posts)
ILikeToClean Wed 10-Feb-16 19:34:01

We have booked for late August 2016 (me, DH, DDs 13 and 12) so just starting to think about planning. We are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge for the first week then moving to Hard Rock for second week, so first week will be all Disney based stuff, which is my starting point to think about which days to go where before I think about meals! But some questions:

I am a bit confused as to the busy day guides – they vary a bit in the first place so who to believe - Dibb, Brit Guide? But they all say to avoid certain parks on the EMH days. As we are staying onsite and benefit from these, should I ignore and just go along on the EMH days? We will be happy to get up extra early but not sure if it is worth the hassle of big crowds later in the day just to get a good couple of hours in before the rush. I have read a lot of threads and know the advice is to do the parks in the morning and then go elsewhere but to be honest, once I am at a park I would rather just stay put for the majority of the day! But should we avoid the EMH days and just get to parks before opening like everyone else, can anyone advise? I can then plan each day!

Meals: we don’t have the dining plan as it wasn’t offered when we booked. We don’t want to do character meals so can I just book restaurants a bit later down the line or even once we are there (i.e. day before)? I want to book something for the night we get there but apart from that we will be happy to just go with the flow and get quick dining things I think. We know it is not going to be a foodie holiday, more fuel stops!

Any good guides as to which order to do rides and FP for each park? I found a website called wdwprepschool or something, anyone used that?

This is just the Disney part – haven’t even looked at Universal yet but I will follow the same principals!

Aarrgh I am normally the most organised “planny” person but this is doing my head in! Help! If someone just wants to organise the whole thing for me and tell me where I need to be each day that would be great!

rookiemere Wed 10-Feb-16 21:58:05

Oh gosh yes I started reading about EMH days it sounds very confusing.

We didn't stay in Disney properties when we went but what I would say is for the first few days your bodies won't have adjusted to US time so you'll be up early anyway. Therefore you might as well hit the parks when you get up. Even without magic hours if you're there at opening time then you'll have a good 2 hours before it starts getting busy. Our experience of the parks is that they all get busy from around 11, so I'd concentrate on getting anything you really want to do before then and then when it's busier either use Fast passes or do things like the shows that don't get as busy.

Re the food for the sit down Disney restaurants, you do need to book in advance if you want to get reasonable dining times, but yo can be lucky and get cancellations and there are loads of casual dining options as well.

If you're staying Hard Rock for Universal I think you get priority pass for everything anyway so you shouldn't have an issue getting on everything you want to, plus lots of dining options.

ILikeToClean Thu 11-Feb-16 15:35:06

Thank you. Yes I'm hoping the time difference will work in our favour! So don't worry about EMH then?

Did you use any particular websites to help you plan? I know there are lots but tbh I find the Dibb just overloads me and makes me feel more stressed! I like the Brits Guide to Orlando book but their busy days guide seems completely opposite to everyone else - e.g. They suggest MK is really busy on a Thursday and to avoid, but Friday is good: a couple of other sites suggest Thursday is one of the best days but Friday one of the worst!

rookiemere Thu 11-Feb-16 16:08:01

I found Brits guide the least incomprehensible, but tbh we didn't use their guide for how busy the days were.

We did it based on what we wanted to see and how we felt - so the first day we went to the waterpark as we wanted a bit of a chill-out day, second day Magic Kingdom, then the itinerary for the rest was based on a couple of character meals I'd booked and how tired we were - DH and DS went on strike a couple of times and refused to leave the lazy river at the condo.

The only day that absolutely did not work was when we did Chef Mickey's breakfast - which DS loved, bless he was 7 at the time. When we came out to Disney studios it was about 11 so the whole place was horribly busy and we only managed to watch the Muppet thing before we wanted to head home again. Therefore

If you're there for opening time then you'll have a good couple of crowd free hours - more if you get magic hours. What we did find very helpful is an app which has ride waiting times for Disney parks ( there's the same thing for Universal as well). We had a rough idea what we wanted to go on, but we'd be flexible about the order based on the queue time showing on the app.

I'm not sure how the new fast pass thing works, but I think it's still free so do try to book rides in advance where you can. Why not get your DDs to do the leg work and pick their top rides from the book/description and get fast passes for those ones.

Also the thing to remember is that a) you're on holiday and b) you'll never see everything so focus on enjoying the bits you do, rather than having a completely rammed itinerary.

mummymeister Thu 11-Feb-16 16:23:25

Buy the books wdw with kids and beyond wdw with kids. we found them completely invaluable. they have touring plans at the back for all ages and makes sure you don't miss the key things.

ILikeToClean Thu 11-Feb-16 17:57:29

Thanks for all the advice. I think we will just do what we want then, and not worry too much about crowds - they are supposed to die down at the end of August anyway and as you say, getting there early means you can do quite a lot, then I will book fast passes for later in the day. Think we will sit down at the weekend and find out what everyone wants to do!

I will have a look at those books too.

God, I went there about 20 years ago and don't remember it being a full blown project like it is these days!

Bunbaker Sat 13-Feb-16 01:41:39

Do we really need to book all restaurants in advance? Are there no places where we can just turn up and hope for a table? We don't tend to eat early.

rookiemere Sat 13-Feb-16 13:14:42

Hi Bun when we went a few years ago at Easter, you needed to book in advance if you wanted in the character or really popular restaurants - so Chef Mickeys and T-rex filled up almost as soon as the 6 month booking window opened. Sadly we didn't manage to eat at T-rex as I had heard it was great and DS was 7 at the time.

However if you're just wanting a meal, then things are different. The restaurants on the Disney properties do fill up ridiculously early due to the Disney Dining plans, but in the US people tend to eat early, so if you can wait until about 9pm you're much more likely to get a table.

Also within Disney there is loads of casual dining. I actually regretted booking the Mexican restaurant at Epcot as there were so many fun looking food options available from all the different countries. If you're not staying on site at Disney then there are limitless options - Cracker Barrel does the best breakfast pancakes in the world and we liked the Olive garden for a very reasonably priced pasta meal.

So provided you haven't got your heart set on eating at a particular place, then you won't go hungry. If you are staying on Disney ( not sure if you are a name changed OP) then it might be worth booking earlyish sit down meals for the first couple of nights as you'll still be a bit jet lagged and it's nice not to have to worry about it.

Bunbaker Sat 13-Feb-16 13:26:20

We are staying on the Universal site not Disney. We will have a car so can get away from the area if we want.

You are right about maybe wanting to eat early the first few days, so I will do a bit more research.

rookiemere Sat 13-Feb-16 13:34:19

I'm not sure about Universal as we weren't staying round there. I don't think it's as full on for Disney for meals - but I couldn't stay for certain.

Indantherene Sun 14-Feb-16 15:27:21

We got back from Orlando yesterday (and woke up today at 11.30am grin ).

The DIBB is confusing but they have a really helpful vacation planner tool that you can use to keep track of what you've planned. The Disney website also has a section called My Disney Experience which you can use to book FastPass and restaurants. I used both of these and printed off our itinerary so I didn't forget what we were doing. I also went by their busy days guide and found it quite accurate. Friday at MK was awful!!! (unavoidable on our last day)

We bought the Unofficial Brits guide and used the touring plans in the back of the book. They really worked well and enabled us to get on everything we wanted to do. Would highly recommend following them.

We booked one character breakfast - Akershus; hugely expensive but worth every penny for an 8 yo DD dying to meet the Princesses. We booked breakfast our last day at Be Our Guest - food great and surroundings amazing but didn't like the canteen feel of the place. Both of these we booked about 30 days in advance, and also one dinner at the Sci Fi Theatre Dine-in. Everything else we did on the hoof.

We didn't try any of the other character dining but just popped into the nearest place when we got hungry, and never waited more than a few minutes for a table, but then they were the mid-range and lower priced places, not the expensive ones. Mythos was nice, Cosmic Rays was cheap, and Skippers was OK. Rainforest Cafe we got in straightaway by eating at the bar; same menu and very quick service.

ShiftyFades Fri 19-Feb-16 20:31:25

Just a quick one, I went in August last year (4th visit). The Americans go back to school from mid to late August and the Scottish are back at school but the quantity of Brits did not die down and the queues in Universal (I appreciate you will have express passes) was still 2 hours for most rides on Monday 24th confused

ILikeToClean Fri 19-Feb-16 21:47:15

Thanks Shifty - tbh I haven't even got to planning the second week yet! We sat down last weekend and sorted out where we're going the first week while we are staying in Disney and this weekend we're doing the universal/IOA/sea world bit! Once again I think the key will be to get there early shock

I have a spreadsheet and everything confused

ShiftyFades Sat 20-Feb-16 08:25:20

I did that for our holiday last August, and while I had days programmed in I still booked Disney fast passes as an alternative day, just in case. You can cancel them, even on the day!

So I had (for example) FP = fast passes elsewhere booked:
Animal
Magic
Universal (with Hollywood Studios FP)
Epcot
SeaWorld (Magic FP)
Busch (Epcot FP)
Hollywood Studios
Kennedy (Magic FP)
SeaWorld (Hollywood FP)
Magic
Universal (Epcot FP)
Hollywood Studios

You get the idea...
And it turned out to be a great idea because we didn't go to Universal on our first planned day because we were shattered, but we felt better later and I moved our FP to later (if you miss their allotted time you can't amend but if you miss all three you can then book an extra in the park - but I never ever did this, I either moved or cancelled extra FP so others would be able to get them.

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