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DD Tips Blog

planToons began as the blog DocDisneyTips.  The Doc's tips  blogs has now found a new how here on planToons.

Deluxe Value

Domenic Pisano

We Stayed at the Boardwalk…but didn’t.

A few years back we did a huge three family trip to Disney with my parents, my sister’s family of 4, and our family of 5. My extended family is not the value resort type, but with a party this big they weren’t going deluxe either. We all settled on the BoardWalk Inn (and loved it). A couple of years later my family had some comp rooms and time share access so it was one of few times were were off property…sort of.

This was a vacation that followed another trip to Europe by two days. Driving to Florida from the North-East was a breeze due the wacky effects of jet lag. The planned stopover somewhere in the Carolinas whenever we got tired never happened, and we arrived a day early. Without park tickets for that day, we spent afternoon at Downtown Disney at night we went back to the BoardWalk Inn to eat, see Epcot’s fireworks and to watch movies on the beach. We had also checked out the Contemporary Resort to see the Monorail and to shop a little more.

This made me think about what staying at a Disney Resort really means. If I booked a value resort, then travelled to a different resort to eat, another to shop, another to walk around and see a show, I’m taking advantage of the higher priced resort’s amenities without paying for the convenience of sleeping there, and is this plan really so inconvenient? In the context of a resort where you take busses, boats and monorails to get to one play or another anyway, is traveling to a different hotel so weird?

In fact, might we be paying a higher price only only to sleep, which begs the question, why overpay for being unconscious?

I was thinking that I might be getting 80%-90% of the deluxe experience by resort hopping but on refection, I may in fact get a more varied and deeper experience by paying less to sleep and cherry-picking the best shopping, entertainment and dinning from a handful of resorts. I may have a better experience than someone who paid for a nice room at the Grand Floridian and stayed there the whole time.

Have a Great Trip.

-Doc

What age is a good age for the first trip with kids?

Domenic Pisano

What age is a good age for the first trip with kids?

This is a great and common question from the family and friends.

Avoiding the cheap, “it depends on your kids” copout here are my thoughts.

Assuming you have kids that are reasonably well behaved etc. I would say four years old and 38 inches tall. The struggles of traveling with the dual yokes of diapers and strollers are behind you. Our kids weren’t the clingy “carry me” type either so everybody powered themselves with their own feet. And at that hight they can enjoy most of the attractions.

Now I’m sure that my now 13 year old daughter doesn’t remember much about that first trip but here is the thing parents, who cares?

I remember her as a 4 year old, dressed as Cinderella, all the Cast Members calling her Princess and my seeing her completely buy into the idea that she was in a magical fantasy world.

Now what if you have a 4 year old and a younger child as well? Been there too. It’s ok. Go for it.

My wife used a double stroller like a ninja with a shopping cart. It carted the kids and everything else as well. (More on that to come from my wife’s Disney Mom posts. Stay tuned.)

The older kids also got to ride everything twice as my wife and I took turns child swapping.

Don’t wait for them to grow up so they remember the trip better. You owe it to yourself to see that magical expression on your kids face before they become all jaded and emo. Do it while you can.

Have a Great Trip,

-Doc

Why Keep Going on the “Same” Vacation

Domenic Pisano

Why Keep Going on the “Same” Vacation

Here are some recurring questions from friends about Disney Vacations:

“Why do you like it so much?” “Why do you keep going there?” Or simply, “Again?”

I’m not sure why they are bewildered. Maybe they think if you have been there once, you have seen it all. We have now fulfilled an experience, checked off a bucket list box and can move on to another vacation destination.

However, many people take annual vacations somewhere consistent. My guess is they are not equating the yearly week at the beach/lake getaway to a full blown theme park resort vacation, but why not? If you want to talk about seeing it all, the local beach still looks the same 4 decades later to me.

For those people who truly need an explanation for how my family chooses to spend their free time, I will indulge you and with only 5 of the many reasons why we choose to go back again and again.

1. It is a guaranteed good time. We have been there. we know we like it. We enjoy what the place has to offer. This, to me, is the foundation of a vacation spot. It is the same exact reason people rent that beach/lake house at the same spot every year.

2. It isn’t a weather dependent vacation. In fact, it will most likely rain, but at Dusney World there is built-in poor weather entertainment. Look on google maps and you will see that many of the attractions are inside buildings, nice and dry. There is nothing worse than going on a weather dependent vacation, when Mother Nature isn’t cooperating.

3. There are things to do. I don’t relax by sitting. I don’t relax by visiting landmarks or museums. I’m the kind of person that relaxed by being entertained. Disney World is a very entertaining place. How much stimuli you want is up to you.

4. The more you go, the less you wait. 108 minutes to get on a ride, no biggie. I’ve road it before, I’ll be back another time and I’ll ride it then. This is perfect excuse to try something new.

5. I haven’t taken the “same vacation”, I have only gone to the same destination. Every trip is different. The place isn’t just rides. If you go to France on vacation it doesn’t mean you have to just see the sights of Paris. If you go to Disney World you can do more than just the rides at the parks. There is a plethora of resorts to explore, places to eat, live shows to watch, outdoor activities to enjoy and much more.

On one trip we drove into Florida a day early and easily filled that day with Downtown Disney shopping, resort dining, and boardwalk entertainment without stepping foot into one of the theme parks.

In the end, the reason we go back it the only reason that matters, we like it there.

Have a Great Trip,

-Doc

(Semi) Permanent Vacation

Domenic Pisano

(Semi) Permanent  Vacation

Next summer will begin a long-term family experiment with Walt Disney World. It will mark the first time we experiment with buying annual passes. The idea is to start the annual pass in the late summer and have it extend all the way to a trip in the early summer the following year. Those two bookend trips will be long extended stays while we pepper in as many getaways during the year as we can. Not living terribly close I am curious to find out how often we can sneak down to during the year.

We certainly take our ability to ride as many rides as possible in as short a wait time as possible as a badge of honor.  Our default plan of attack is to place the rides ahead of everything else, especially on shorter trips.

In a lot of ways the expense of the vacation comes at the expense of the vacation. Disney World is an expansive and detailed theme park but the rush to “ride it all” makes us miss the trees for the forrest. It is time to have some time to stop and smell the roses.

With an annual pass I envision trips to Walt Disney World that have nothing to do with amusements. I imagine a winter trip just to hang out at the resorts and parks to see the decorations and seasonal attractions. If we miss Space Mountain that time around, no big deal. We’ll be back.

I know this is no big deal for many. People local to the area zip in and out of the property a lot. My Florida resident Aunt goes to resort sometimes solely to grab lunch at Earl of Sandwich. However for someone who lives a considerable distance away, and the prices for flights for a family of 5 make driving a necessity, I wonder about the practicality. At at any rate we will see 11 months from now how the beginning of this experiment proceeds. Stay tuned.

Have a Great Trip,

Doc

QUICK TIPS: LET IT GO, Sometimes it is good to abandon what works.

Domenic Pisano

LET IT GO: Sometimes it is good to abandon what works.

For the multi-time Walt Disney Word traveler it is easy to fall into a routine, especially when it comes to dining.

It is ok to have your favorite spot that you visit every time. (For me it is the Sci-Fi Dine-in, mostly to eat in a car while watching B-Movie trailers. I mean, really, where else can I do that?) That’s fine, but the problem develops when every restaurant, and every meal at said restaurant is the same.

I get it. Go with what you know, if it ain’t broke, don’t break it. However with so many choices for food, don’t make a Disney World vacation the place to get into a rut. I submit that even if you are a regular, you have yet to eat at your favorite restaurant. Even if I am wrong and you truly have found your favorite restaurant, order something you haven’t eaten before. I dare you.

I had a mathematics professor in college who showed us that statistically it was more likely you would enjoy a known restaurant better than if you tried a new place. This man looked unhappy and bereft of adventure. Don’t be that guy.

Fortune favors the bold. Try a different restaurant, stay at a different resort, ride an attraction you thought you may not like. You may discover your new favorite along the way.

Have a Great Trip,

-Doc

SECOND CHANCES

Domenic Pisano

SECOND CHANCES

On a non-Disney trip to a city in Italy my wife and I loved the food shopping, street musicians, and atmosphere the place had to offer. On a return trip to the same town we found that the shops were closed, the food was undercooked and the musicians were as few in number and they were in talent.

If our first experience in that town was like the second there never would have been a return trip. Thus, on vacation, when I can, I institute a two strikes rule. Known in the professional wrestling world as the “best of two out of three falls” a vacation spot gets two shots at keeping my business.

For example:

The Redemption: Our first experience at a Disney budget resort wasn’t that good. On a return trip, the place redeemed itself. After the second trip, I would go again.

The Scratch: Although the character at certain Epcot restaurant were exciting for our kids, the food wasn’t great two times in a row. We scratch that place off the list until a revamp in menu.

The Boarder Line: The Garden Grill at Epcot was wonderful the first time we went. On a return trip they changed the menu and pricing for the worse. This place gets another shot, but it isn’t as safe a bet as another restaurant where we have had multiple good experiences.

We have applied this rule to things as small as menu items and attractions to things as large as resorts and entire theme parks. Universal Studios as a whole had a strike against it a few years back, on a return trip we had a pleasant visit, we may go again. (This is a Disney Blog but come on, we all know you go there too.) After barely seeing any animals during the safari at Animal Kingdom on one trip, we gave it another shot and had saw a ton of animals we had never seen before. The new FastPass+ system I found to be a horrible experience and for us it was vastly inferior to the old system, we will see how it goes the next time.

The restaurant with the worst steak you ever ordered, may have the best chicken in the parks. A ride you loved, may have been reworked into something that doesn’t speak to you as much. Everyone has bad days but when you can, give something a second chance, you may get turned around.

Have a Great Trip,

-Doc

Human Nature is the Enemy

Domenic Pisano

Human Nature is the Enemy

Knowing a lot of teachers and parents I see them trying to take vacation when they, and their children are off from school. So does the rest of the world, it is a natural choice. The first step to defeat this human nature is go at a different time, but if that is not possible, here are some other human nature defeating tips.

1. Humans on vacations like to sleep in late and eat breakfast, so…wake up early and pack breakfast.

2. Humans start at the front of the park and work their way back, so…start at the back and move forwards.

3. Humans like to eat lunch and dinner at lunch and dinner time, so…eat earlier or later. (Save time and money by packing breakfast, have a late snack either by kiosk or counter service, then a larger dinner off dinner hours.

4. Human children get cranky and need naps, so…use later afternoons/evenings as ride time.

5. Humans go to sleep, be the last person out, get the most time of your ticket dollar.

 

Have a Great Trip,

-Doc

Quick Tips. The Counter Service Dilemma with Families

Domenic Pisano

Quick Tips. The Counter Service Dilemma with Families

So, I’m not a Disney dining snob. I can do a counter service meal and be just as happy as eating at a fancier restaurant. I actually look forward to a Frontierland burger or taco salad or a Tomorrowland pulled pork sandwich. In fact on shorter attraction oriented trips the last place I want to be is in a restaurant, for me, the faster I can eat, the better. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on my exception to this rule.

Luckily, Walt Disney World is filled with counter service restaurants that serve all kinds of great tasting and a varied variety of food. You don’t have to limit yourself to a “happy meal menu” of choices. But sometimes there is a problem.

In some Disney restaurants the menus have different queues and cashiers. If you want soup, and your wife wants a burger and the kids want a third option (like only dessert), you now have to split up, check out separately, and meet back up to sit. If splitting up a juggling you family around multiple (possibly jam packed) lines doesn’t sound like good eats then you many want to avoid some of the restaurants.

There are some places that have different food stations but funnel everyone to the cashiers after you have your food. Other restaurants have a digital menu and integrated pay station or a single station where you can order anything on the menu. This might work for you if everyone is in the mood for a different meal.

Before you commit to a restaurant. Do some research, or scope the place out to make sure the restaurant will work for you logistically needs as well as you culinary needs.

Have a Great Trip,

-Doc

QUICK TIPS: Blisters are the Enemy: Walk Without Pain

Domenic Pisano

QUICK TIPS: Blisters are the Enemy: Walk Without Pain

What has ruined a Disney Trip for me? Well, it isn’t rain, or long lines, or food (how can you not like the food). No, what ruins Disney Trips for me is my feet. By day two I have ripped them to shreds.

DISCLAIMER: For our family two days may represent 30 hours of walking (and Epcot may make it feel like 60).

But seriously buy good shoes and break them in.

I bring 2 pairs, a light weight Gore-Tex hiking sneaker for the majority of my trip, and a pair of hiking water shoes for the water parks or any rapid rides. The Gore-Tex and water shoes are vital because nothing chops my feet apart faster than wet socks.

Even if they cost a lot more, get shoes that will work. You paid good money for this trip, don’t let not spending $60–$100 more on good footwear ruin this experience.

Remember, buying good footwear is only half the battle. Buy them for the whole family, (“Dad carry me!” gets old fast). Definitely make sure you break them in! What is now my go to pair of trip shoes made me miserable on a trip because I tried to wear them on a trip out of the box.

Have a Great Trip,

-Doc

SPOILER ALERT! A Little Peak Behind the Curtain Might Take the Scary Away

Domenic Pisano

SPOILER ALERT! A Little Peak Behind the Curtain Might Take the Scary Away

When we had our first trip with our, at that time, one and only child, I was worried about her being scared of some of the things at the park.  She was almost four, which, as it turned out, was a great age to take her.  She was still dressing like a princess daily and really thought the magic kingdom was absolutely, 100% real.

I was still worried that she might find some of the attractions scary.  Our trip to Sesame Place was all fun and games until a character meet and greet when our child saw The Count as a 6 foot purple vampire.  You would be surprised but things you would not think of being frightening are overwhelming and sometimes terrifying for kids.

I expected the Haunted Mansion, the Tower of Terror and even Snow White’s Scary Adventure might be a bit frightening for her. After all, if those rides in particular aren’t a little scary, they should really be called something else.  But seeing through the eyes of a child who is in full “true believer” mode, that Dinosaur is really trying to eat you, those Bug’s Life Bugs are really crawling over you, and that Great Movie Ride Alien is going to fall out of the ceiling and eat your mother.

As a very tall three year old, my daughter could ride many rides that were probably beyond her years.  I’m not saying we are the type of parents that would put their 3 year old on the Tower of Terror, but I’m not denying it either.

To get her ready for what could be a dark, loud, and crowded experience we did a little ride spoilage.  We watched the Disney vacation planning DVDs a lot.  We wanted her to be excited wen she saw the ride from the DVD in real life. You never see a kids terrified and crying uncontrollably screaming in a promotional DVD.  On those disks everyone is smiling and having a great time.

We also took to the internet and watched ride-through videos people had posted of their trips.  We even watched some documentaries on imagineering so she knew that these were just rides and robots, and nothing was going to hurt her.

Did it take away from the magic?  With our daughter, not at all.  When she saw the castle she was all in.  In fact, the ride she wanted to go on again, and again was none other than the Haunted Mansion.

To my surprise, the thing that did scare her was the disembodied voice of the many ride narrators.  This also bothered my son years later, as well as the overall darkness of even some of the more mild attractions.

For the most part the prep work paid off.  There were plenty of parents who just stood in line for a good chunk of time only to need a Cast Member to escort them and their terrified child to the escape lane for that walk of shame.  We would say thinks like, “remember this one from TV? Stitch is going to jump around the building in this show.”  This way she knew what was coming and she was safe.

Spoil a bit, put their mind a ease, and save yourself from paying a handsome sum of money just to freak your kids out.

Have a Great Trip

-Doc

BLOG MINI-SERIES: HOW MANY DAYS, AN INTRODUCTION

Domenic Pisano

How many days should we stay? Great question, and the answer is, it depends.  Not very helpful?  Sorry, it is true.

Budget, who you are traveling with, and what you like to do, are only a few factors you will need to start to begin to make that decision. For the sake of argument let us assume your family is like ours, Disney ride junkies first and Disney food fanatics a very close second (reverse that for my wife).

The hotels are great, the food is wonderful, and the extras like golf, camping and water sports are enticing but beyond the “Disney touches”, they are also things we can find elsewhere. However there are a limited number of places we can ride Splash Mountain, so for us, rides rule. Whatever we end up being able to afford, we always plan a trip in which we can ride all the attractions we want.

I feel bad when I see that frustrated look on the face of a mother that pushes a stroller through a very crowded park. It’s the look on the face that realizes she does not have enough time for her family to see everything. It’s a frantic look soon to be followed by the stages of grief.

Denial that the park is this busy.  They try to convince themselves that maybe they can wait in 50 minute lines, make the lunch reservation, take a nap, come back, ride some more, get to that dinner reservation and still see everything.

Anger that there are so many people.  They start to believe that this mass of humanity is pushing and cutting and fast-passing their way to more enjoyment than they are having.  This is the point that their stroller and their first born occupant become a battering ram in a futile attempt to jockey for a better position in the the massive throng of people around them.

Bargaining with the family to please stop being hot and cranky.  Mom is pleading with the kids (and sometimes Dad) to just deal with it so you can all see the attractions that are there to make everyone happy.

Depression, when the futility of it all sets in.  Strange mathematical formulas are mentally calculated to determine the amount of money it costs to be this miserable.

Acceptance, when they realize, it is what it is.

Well, it doesn’t have to be this way. In an earlier post I outlined my favorite ways to see as many things as possible without waiting in lines.  Even with that strategy you will still need enough time to see everything that there is to see.  There is no miracle plan that lets you jam everything there is to do into one day.  You will need time.

When I see the frantic I can almost guarantee that they haven’t bought enough days at the parks, or are trying to do too much.  The number of days you will need, what you will eat, and where you will stay will vary with what you want to accomplish, and how much you want to spend on your vacation.

When budgeting a trip sometimes we have more cash on hand, sometimes less.  We have saved for as many as nine days, or as few as 5, most often settling for 7.  In the posts to follow I will cover our park breakdown for minimum and maximum number of days we have traveled over the years, and how longer and shorter amounts of time has affected our trips.  Stay tuned.

Have a Great Trip,

-Doc

BLOG MINI SERIES: How Many Days? Part 1, the 5 Day Trip

Domenic Pisano

BLOG MINI SERIES:

How Many Days? Part 1, the 5 Day Trip

This is the first in a short series of blog posts discussing how many days we comfortably book a Disney World Vacation and not feel like we are overly rushed, or have missed out on attractions.

Five days is the absolute minimum number of days I would book to visit Disney World and still comfortably see everything we want to see in the parks.  I said want to, this isn’t going to be a “ride everything” vacation.  There will be some cherry-picking.  With three kids in tow the mission is simple, see every attraction we can, not to see absolutely every attraction.  This is our “budget trip”, with the majority of the expense going to park tickets only.

Two things immediately take a backseat compared to our other trips, food and lodging.  Our lodging takes the form of the cheapest resort we can book.  With a trip like this we are in a hotel for sleep and shower and that is it.  We are not there for atmosphere or theming.  No extravagant amenities are necessary because we simply won’t use them.

CLARIFICATION: My wife does insist on ice machines, coffee makers, hairdryers, and shampoo bottles that seal. Beyond that, most of the resort stay on the 5 day trip will occur from a state of unconsciousness.

Our 5 day trip also eschews most of the table service restaurants for time and monetary reasons.  There will be more on eating at various price points in a future post.

A five day trip is also the least restful vacation for us to take.  We are sure to open and close the parks and downtime is nonexistent.  Knowing your family stamina is important when trying to pull off a five day DisneyWorld vacation.  We have the kind of kids that can handle multiple long days without getting cranky for a nap, which is big reason why we can pull this type of vacation off.

Our current five day park breakdown is as follows:

  • 2 days Magic Kingdom (the younger kids favorite)
  • 1 day EPCOT (the adults favorite)
  • 1 day Disney Hollywood Studios (a family favorite)
  • 1/2 day at Animal Kingdom (not a family favorite)
  • 1/2 day mop up of anything we missed.

If one park closes relatively early, we will hop to a park that closes later to pick off some of the remaining rides on the family attraction check list.  If we are staying at a Disney resort (which we are inclined to due unless we have an offer we can’t refuse) we like to take advantage of extra magic hours to get some extra time.  If we are off peak season, we are happy with what we can accomplish without feeling we missed out on anything we wanted to see.  On peak we still do well but may miss some of the lower hanging fruit attractions.  We have done this trip during some high volume times and didn’t leave disappointed, but perhaps exhausted.

So again, for an attraction only 4 park experience, 5 days is my absolute minimum. With a good plan of attack and some open and close dedication you can have a fun 5 days without thinking you missed out on the attractions.  Just remember it might be an experience, but not necessarily a rest.

Have a Great Trip,

-Doc

BLOG MINI SERIES: How Many Days? Part 2, the 7 Day Trip

Domenic Pisano

BLOG MINI SERIES:

How Many Days? Part 2, the 7 Day Trip

This is the second in a short series of blog posts discussing how many days we comfortably book a Disney World Vacation and not feel like we are overly rushed, or have missed out on attractions.

The seven day trip is our most common vacation.  It certainly is a little more relaxing than the 5 day trip.

WARNING, some strange Disney math starts to occur.  With more time we can take our time and we can spend some time at resorts to enjoy the amenities.  Unfortunately more days also calculates into more expense.   So now we are in this catch 22 where on as shorter trip a resorts are more affordable, but we wouldn’t use them.  However on a longer trip we would use the resort more, but may be priced out due to the length if stay.

We have jumped resorts in the past where we did the lion’s share of our trip at a lower priced resort and moved to a higher priced resort for a couple of days of pampering.  For us it was worth the extra booking, the packing and unpacking, and the multiple check-ins for some special nights.

Food makes a return to prominence. On the 5 day vacation we may have one special sit down meal (usually with characters) planned.  However on the longer trip we may plan a sit down dinner or lunch everyday.

We also move outside of just the big 4 theme parks.  The water parks, the Boardwalk and Downtown Disney (Disney Springs?) also may be on our list.

Below is our typical seven day breakdown.

  • 2 1/2 Days Magic Kingdom
  • 1 1/2 Days Epcot
  • 1 Day Hollywood Studios
  • 1/2 Day Animal Kingdom
  • 1/2 Day Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon
  • 1 Day mop-up

We are more likely on trips like this to park hop.  We might start at one park for morning events and hop to another for evening.  Also if weather is an issue we have the ability to leave one place and go to another, knowing we could always come back on a different day.  We might even walk around the shopping areas midday and wait until the cranky children wear out their parents.

My wife is still a devoted park opener and closer, but we are not as rushed.  We move around slower to take in some of the many great Disney details, and we can also move beyond rides and attractions to enjoy more of what the resort has to offer.  I recommend a 7 day trip if you want your attractions to also be mixed with some relaxation.

Have a Great Trip,

-Doc

BLOG MINI SERIES: How Many Days? Part 3, the 9 Day Trip

Domenic Pisano

BLOG MINI SERIES:

How Many Days? Part 3, the 9 Day Trip

This is the final installment in a short series of blog posts discussing how many days we comfortably book a Disney World Vacation and not feel like we are overly rushed, or have missed out on attractions.

As stated earlier, I can’t say the 5 day Disney Vacation is relaxing.  Especially with the way we spend the 5 days, opening and closing the parks and trying to see as many attractions as possible.   I dare to say that with trips of a length of under a week we really aren’t going to relax.  We can relax at the local beach AFTER our trip.  Even the 7 day trips are pretty full with us doing something.  Now, with a 9 day trip, relaxation is the key here. There is so much to see and do at Walt Disney World that you can never experience it all, but with 9 days you might find yourself to be actively looking for new experiences.

The Disney Math is in full effect here.  With a nine day stay you would really want to take advantage of the resorts, dining and amenities.  You have the time.  However the length of the stay is now getting the price of the vacation pretty high and you may be tempted to cut back.

Don’t.

You don’t need this much time for attractions alone.  If that’s why you are going, a shorter stay may be in order.  If you want your vacation to be about relaxation and stress-free amusement, go long.

This is might be the once in decade/lifetime vacation for many of us and sure maybe you can save by dining wisely (stay tuned for my wife’s “Eating Your Way Through Disney World” posts).   Maybe drive instead of fly, (which is my preferred method when time permits).  Figure it out, do what it takes, make it happen.  http://www.amazon.com/Ways-Save-Money-Disney-World-ebook/dp/B00IXMEIKK

Let time be the great relaxer.  With the extra time you won’t be the crazy family who push people out of the way.  You will see them, they will be the ones who are  trying to get their kids on everything in all four parks on their one day park hopper.  In fact with your kind of time you might let them ahead of you in line.  Maybe.  Probably not.

Unlike the 5 day and 7 day trips where I did a breakdown of how many days our family would spend in each place I won’t do that here.  With nine days you can really add your own interests to the park experiences.  For instance, my wife’s best haircut/spa experience was at a Disney resort.  Try each water park.  Enjoy the resort pool.  Take a day to walk around the other resort hotels.  Take a backstage tour.  See all the details in the park.  Enjoy the lines. No really, there is a lot of story and detail work put into many of the queues.  Do that thing where you can drive a stock car.  Most importantly, eat as often and in as many varied ways as you can.  I received advice once to “live esthetically hight”, and that is what this is trip is all about.

Trips of a significant length may (will) take significant time to save up for.  As people who want to return as soon as possible as soon as we have the 5 or 7 day trip money, we have the car packed.  However every once an a while indulge in a long stay Disney World Vacation to not only take in the attractions but to also have a relaxing time while doing so.

Have a Great Trip,

-Doc

THE GIFT SHOP CROWD AVOIDANCE SYSTEM

Domenic Pisano

THE GIFT SHOP CROWD AVOIDANCE SYSTEM

One of my favorite Walt Disney World helpful hints is found in the Main Street USA Gift Shops.  Oddly enough my family’s use of the gift shop is not merchandise related.  We take advantage of the fact that the shops are interconnected.  We have often found them to be a useful shortcut to bypass Main Street USA if it is overly crowded.

Also, if there is a parade, the gift shops make a convenient tunnel while the Street is closed, and the sidewalks are filled with onlookers.

Gift shops are also a great way to avoid the inevitable midday Florida downpour.  You can dryly traverse a good bit of distance using them, or kill some time by shopping and snacking while waiting for the return of Mr. Golden Sun.

That said make sure you do stop to enjoy a parade.  Take advantage of the shops for some great souvenirs, and snacks.  Look around for hidden Disney historical easter eggs.  There is plenty to see and do if you take your time through Main Street, so don’t just run through it to get to Space Mountain.  However the gift shops do make a great “tunnel system” that can help you traverse portions of the park, or keep you dry.

Have a Great Trip,

-Doc

WHY STAND IN A HOT QUEUE WHEN THERE ARE COOL SHOWS TO ENTERTAIN YOU?

Domenic Pisano

WHY STAND IN A HOT QUEUE WHEN THERE ARE COOL SHOWS TO ENTERTAIN YOU?

In the mind of our family, on a Walt Disney World vacation, time is money.

We are park openers and closers. We can stay in a hotel room anytime, anywhere. Not taking away anything from the resorts, which are fabulous, but when we go, we go for the rides, and we ride them all. The Mrs. wants every last dime of her park ticket day. That said, even during peak season, we rarely wait in lines longer than 15-20 minutes.

Here is our strategy in 5 easy steps:

Step One: Open the Park.

Get there before it opens, hit any “big” typically long line attraction(s) first.  Sometimes we ride two or three times before the ride starts getting congested.  Other times we ride once and try to hit another big ride on another side of the park. For a tip on top of a tip, start at the back of the park and work forward, while everyone else moves forward to back.

Step Two: Chill Time.

When rides start getting into the 30 minute plus wait times, we shift entertainment philosophy.  It is show time.  We take in the auditorium shows and bask in the Florida air-conditioning.  As we make our way from show to show, if another ride happens to have a short line, we hop on and cross it off the list.

Step Three: No Nap Needed, Bring on the Conveyer Belt.

By now the other guests are sunburned, tired, their children are super cranky, and they have spent most of the day in the queue.  We are cool, rested and have spent most of the day entertained.  As they head back for a nap, we start going on rides that have continuous, boarding such as the Haunted Mansion, Space Ship Earth or Space Ranger Spin.  Again, as we head from ride to ride, if another ride happens to have a short line, we hop on and cross it off the list.

Step Four: The Parades are Your Friends.

If there is a parade we have seen before we use that opportunity to hop a ride. Also after the night parades people start calling it quits and it is time to once again test the wait times of the bigger attractions.

Step Five: Close the Park.

As the Mrs. would tell you, she paid for a DAY in the park and she is going to use every minute of that ticking time bomb of entertainment time.  Use all the time you have if your family can make it.  If we got to see everything we wanted and the kids are out cold on the bus back to the resort, mission accomplished.  Note: If you are staying on property, spend the day at the park that has extra magic hours, you just get more value out of your ticket that way.

Have a Great Trip,

-Doc