Famille Du Pentium

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Disney World from a Parents Perspective

So this week, we’re starting to plan for booking a trip to Disney World, probably in the summar of 2007.  I love taking the kids to Disney World, and I’ll explain why I’m not crazy now.  

 None of my friends like Disney.  Too commercial.  To overpriced.  Too crowded.  I’m the only one in my crowd of acquaintances that actually enjoys family trips to Disney.

The thing that I appreciate about Disney most is, the kids can behave however they behave (within reason), and I don’t have to worry about it.  Normally a restaurant trip goes something like this:

  • Order dinners & beverages
  • Keep youngest from grabbing cream, butter, and glasses they served water in
  • Move dangerous plates around as they arrive so youngest kid doesn’t grab them
  • Try to keep kids eating
  • Try to keep kids in their seats
  • Try to keep kids quiet

At Disney World restaurants, things go much differently.  First, ordering is easy.  Many restaurants serve "family style", which in Disney means, they bring you a plate of everything on the menu.  Inevitably, there is something that one of the kids want, and if they want more, the waiter or waitress brings more.  Because this is Disney, there is none of the normal  stuff on the table that gets in the way of eating with a family (especially kids).  The cups are plastic.  There’s nothing that you have to worry about the kids getting ahold of.  It doesn’t matter if they run around, yell, or smear their food all over their faces.  It’s Disney.

The same holds true for just about everything else.  Within reason, you don’t have to worry that the kids are behaving.  This is extremely relaxing for me, I can just spend time with the kids and not have to worry how they’re behaving or what the people sitting next to us are thinking.  If talking kids are a problem, they should probably not eat at Disney World.

As far as the crowds and lines,  we found a really simple and extremely effective solution.  Buy one of those books that tell you how to plan your day at each park.  "Plan’ is really an understatement, these books include complete, step-by-step day planners.  Maybe that sounds a bit too structured, we thought so too at first.  But then, we went to Disney World – during the week between Christmas and New Years.  For those of you who’ve been, this is just about the absolute busiest time at Disney.  The parks actually stop taking visitors just after they opening.  In any case, we followed these day planners religiously, and quite frankly, we were overjoyed.  I think we actually stood in line maybe twice during that week, the rest of the time we were almost running thorugh open line bars to get to the front.  The trick is, they have you criss-cross the park, and always be at the popular rides when nobody else is.  (They do this by visiting the park and tracking when each ride has it’s busy times and lulls.)  Every ride has a lull during the day, so with the proper planning, you really get to ride whatever you want.  And you really take lots of rides.  It was great.

The book we use is listed in the extended entry, linked below. 

 Finally there’s the cost.  Well, I can’t do much about that.  In reality, we spent slightly more for our weeklong Disney vacation (plus driving there and back) than we would normally spend for a week-long vacation.  The trick is to budget well, so you have enough money for everything you want to do (mostly eat, since the resort tickets include hotel and park tickets)  and buy.  I budgetted well, saved up, and didn’t worry about money while we were there. 

Lastly, a few tricks.  Disney luxury resorts are expensive.  You might be tempted to save up more to plurge on the luxury resorts.  The luxury resorts also have direct monorail transportation to the main parks.   A few points to know:

  • If you’re like us, you want to spend most of your time at the parks.   Your hotel becomes a place you crash for six to eight hours per night.  You won’t notice much difference between the Disney Value hotels and the Luxury hotels. 
  • During peak times, the monorail and ferries to Magic Kingdom are jammed.  Bad.  The busses are a much better way around anyway. 

I’m not saying don’t use the nicer hotels.  But think about what you want to do, and if that mostly involves open-to-close park hopping, save the money on the expensive hotels, and spend it on a few character meals or souvineers.  

One more tip: during peak times, the park closes to day passes within about an hour.  You might get in (if you’re lucky), but once you leave, you have no way back in.  Resort guests can always enter, any time, and can hop from park to park.  If you go during peak times, it is imperitive to stay on property.  

So this is how we have fun at Disney.  It may not be a mediterranean cruise, but for my family vacation dollar, I love it, and the kids do too.  We’re going in 2007! 

Our Favorite Disney Planning Book: The Unofficial Guide to Disney World.

posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 5:33 pm  

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