First timer & I could use some help please!
I'm a single mom to one 12 year old girl and I was invited to go to WDW in Feb! Holy Cow! Neither one of us has ever been so I'm SO EXCITED!! (I'm going to surprise her last minute, so shhhhhh! lol) This is such a last minute trip for me but I want to be as prepared as possible!
Here's the deal (so far, this is all I know): We're going with a group of families. (I only know one family but I'm sure we'll have a blast!) We're starting off with 2 days at Universal Studios and then 6 days at WDW. We're staying at The Mermaid (?) in Disney. The rooms, meal plan, and tickets are all already paid for.
What else should I expect? Do I have to book anything in advance? She's too old for some of the more kiddie things, so what can a 12 year old expect? Most importantly, which boards will have the most helpful info for me?
Thank you all so much!
Now to try and answer some of your questions....
I think from what you're saying you will be staying at the Art of Animation in a Little Mermaid Room. Art of Animation is a brand new hotel that is only just fully open. They have a nice food court, so if you have the meal plan, you will be good to go!
I don't know if you know how the Dining Plan works or which version you have. There are 3 Quick Service Plan (QSDP) which is 2 meals and a snack + refillable resort mug per day at quick/counter service locations. The Regular Plan (DDP) which is 1 table service meal, 1 counter service meal, 1 snack + refillable resort mug per day. The Deluxe Dining Plan (DxDP) which is 3 meals of any type per day, 2 snacks and the mug. Depending on which plan you have, you may need to make some dining reservations.
There is plenty for 12 year old to do but it'll depend on the type of kid your daughter is. I have 2 girls (12 and 8) and they are like chalk and cheese. The older one wants to be a princess, the younger one loves cars and lego! Whatever floats your daughter's boat, there will be plenty of things for her to do.
I am so excited for you!!!! If you and your daughter are anything like us, you will fall in love with WDW. We go a couple times a year now, so we have learned a lot, so much so I could go on for hours. But that would be overwhelming. So here are just a few:
MK - Magic Kingdom
HS - Hollywood studios
Epcot - well Epcot
AK - Animal Kingdom
DTD - Downtown Disney
FP (Fast Pass) - Allows you to make a 1 hour reservation window to return to the more popular rides. These are limited. Pay attention to the return times before you get a FastPass making sure you will be in the park and available to return during the 1 hour window. You generally can only hold 1 FP at a time. But read your FP closely to see when you can get the next one. Machines are usually near entrance to the ride. Google for more info on how to use.
" If at all possible, arrive 30-45 minutes before the park opens, aka "Rope Drop" at MK, Epcot & AK (they no longer do "Rope Drop" at HS). The parks are far less crowded first thing in the morning.
" If you have the park hopper option and have a big day planned, try taking a midday nap. We were given this advice but did not start doing it until last year. You will be amazed at what a 45 minute nap can do for you!
" Rainy days can be good days to go :), just get a rain poncho
" Here is a trick for trying to go to the least busiest park. Consider not using "Magic hours", rather visit a park the day *after* it has Magic Hours. It tends to be far less busy and you actually end up make better use of time/money.
What rides to hit first at each park:
A little about each park:
" Toy Story Mania is the most popular ride. So if you arrive early, head there, ride the ride, the consider getting Fast Pass (most of the crowd will be heading that way)
" HS is known for having the least desirable food. One place that we have found that is very good is Starring Rolls Cafe next to the Brown Derby. They take 1 QS. They have HUGE sandwiches that are the most delicious sandwiches I have ever had. They can easily be shared between 2 people!
" Fantasmic ~ if you go to this wonderful nighttime show, it does get crowded, but it is seated and there is not a 'bad' seat in the house. We have taken to sitting in the back as exiting the show is where it gets complaints (CROWDED!)
" Most popular are Soarin' and Test Track
" Forgotten wonderful ride is "Living with the Land" located in the same building as Soarin'
" Many awesome places to eat ~ making reservations when using sit-down Dining credits. (we like Teppan Edo for one)
" Every night there is a free fireworks show on the lake called Illuminations. The best place to watch this is from the back side of the park, somewhere between Morocoo and Germany.
" Mount Everst is most popular here
" Do not forget the ride Dinosaur, it is tucked in a corner and easy to miss
" Several nice places to eat here. For QS (Quick Service/Counter Service), we like Flame Tree BBQ. They have large servings that you may even be able to share. TIP ~ when trying to find a place to sit and eat, follow the path *behind* the restaurant. It will lead you to some wonderful, less crowded lake-side, covered tables.
" Well what can I say about this place, it is just magical! You may want to spend 2 days here. In addition to the poplar favorites, remember to visit Tom Sawyer Island and walk the Swiss Family Tree House.
" As for food, this is where we would get our Turkey Legs, but now there is the new Be Our Guest Restaurant that I have yet to visit, but is getting rave reviews! (They serve QS lunch and sit down dinner. The dinner hour is booked out months, but you may be able to do lunch as it is walk up. Also, I hear that Gaston's Tavern sells a wonderful Pork Shank, that is a must do for hubby and I when we return in Feb :)
" In addition to the nightly fireworks, there is a less publicized projection show on the Castle about 15 min's before the Fireworks called Celebrate the Magic. It is shown most nights, but not all. So try to be there for a showing. We actually love this more than the fireworks.
Other things you may want to research is "Pin Trading". The objective is to buy a pin starter lanyard set and start trading with Cast Members. Cast Members often have pins called "Hidden Mickey's" that you can only get by trading or buying mystery packs. They are rarer than pins you buy outright. They come in sets/series. Collecting a set becomes like a scavenger hunt. Very fun! Be sure to google it though if you are going to do it so you can learn all about it.
Hope you have a super, Magical time!!
Oh, How could I forget about DTD (Downtown Disney), no ticket ticket required and you can easily spend 4-5 hours here.
Wolfgang Puck Express in the Marketplace area (near Christmas shoppe) is the BEST QS value we have found. Delicious food and again, a lot of it. :thumbsup2
(Do not care for the one near near/across from Disney Quest on the Circus Soleil end, will never eat there again).
DD18's taste in rides hasn't changed. She still likes to ride some of the "kiddie rides" (as you call them) -- if for no other reason than because it's something we have always done. I'm sure your daughter will find plenty to do.
Welcome. You'll have a blast. Won't have enough time to do everything so just pick a few main things, rides, to do at each park.
Merry Christmas to all. pirate:
Hmmm, there may be a few rides that are for little kids only, but I really do not recall any. In fact most of the 'kiddie' rides fit adults and little ones. My boys are 13, 15, 17 and they love WDW. Do not worry, she will have plenty to do!!!
One note though ~ WDW is not like an amusement park with side-by-side-by-side rides. It is an experience, do not get me wrong, there are wonderful rides, but there is so much more to it than that. Even many of the queues (lines) are fun and interesting.
LadyFan55, I like your suggestions, We are going in Feb. also, we will try some of your likes!:wave2:
Oh, one more, try not to miss "It's Tough to Be a Bug" at AK. It is inside the Tree of Life :butterfly
I always recommend that first timers buy and read the "Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World". That amazing book will really help you know what to expect and will keep you from being lost and overwhelmed. There is also a companion website called Touringplans.com which has a crowd calendar that can help you choose the least crowded park each day. February generally has lower crowds unless you are there over President's week (Feb 16th - 23rd). If you are there then definately consult the crowd calendar and use a touring plan (next paragraph).
The book and website also have touring plans for each park which give you an efficient step by step plan of attack. As a first timer I LOVED the plans because I did not have to stand there staring at a map trying to figure out where to go/what to do next.
Learn how the Fastpass system works.
Make reservations (ADRs) for any sit down meals you want to have. Some restaurants will already be filled (like Cinderella's Royal Table - the princess meal in the MK castle). If you want an ADR at one of the hard to get places, check daily for cancellations, be flexible and you will get something.
Other things that need reservations: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Pirates League, dinner shows like Hoop De Doo, any special cruises (fireworks or pirate) or special parties (like fireworks dessert parties). I'm sure I am missing some "reservation" experiences.
Lastly, have a wonderful time and relish being immersed in all things Disney!!!
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