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We want to take this trip with our kids (ages 12, 10 and 8). So we are just in the beginning planning stages and I have a bunch of questions and if anybody can answer them based on your expereinces, that would be great. Oh, if helps...we live in Nebraska and will be flying out of Omaha.

 

1)What is the best time of year to go? We are thinking November, but we aren't sure.

 

2) should we stay in a Disney hotel or not? What are the pros and cons, either way. (oh, pretend that cost is not a huge issue...we don't want to be wasteful, but we don't have to watch every penny either.)

 

3)what are the advantages of getting a package deal either through Disney, AAA or other travel agent?

 

4) If we wanted to spend part of a day playing in the ocean, where are best beaches?

 

5) Which theme parks are a must and which ones can we put lower on the list?

 

6) if you could tell me something I shouldn't bother doing, what would that be?

 

7) any other tips that you can give me, I would be most grateful!!

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We want to take this trip with our kids (ages 12, 10 and 8). So we are just in the beginning planning stages and I have a bunch of questions and if anybody can answer them based on your expereinces, that would be great. Oh, if helps...we live in Nebraska and will be flying out of Omaha.

 

1)What is the best time of year to go? We are thinking November, but we aren't sure.

 

2) should we stay in a Disney hotel or not? What are the pros and cons, either way. (oh, pretend that cost is not a huge issue...we don't want to be wasteful, but we don't have to watch every penny either.)

 

3)what are the advantages of getting a package deal either through Disney, AAA or other travel agent?

 

4) If we wanted to spend part of a day playing in the ocean, where are best beaches?

 

5) Which theme parks are a must and which ones can we put lower on the list?

 

6) if you could tell me something I shouldn't bother doing, what would that be?

 

7) any other tips that you can give me, I would be most grateful!!

 

1.) We've been to Disney in January and September. We're going this year in Feb! In Jan, there were hardly any crowds (just avoid MLK weekend), but the weather has the potential to be very cold. (One year, we were in wintercoats, mittens, hats, scarves, and we wished we'd had our leggings!) Sept. was HOT! But, again, no lines. I don't know about November.

 

2.) We've done Disney both ways. When we're taking a bigger trip, we opt to say on property. But we have stayed off property too.

 

Advantages of staying on property: you never leave the magic (this is huge!). Extra magic hours. You can take Disney transportation.

Disadvantages: The rooms are TINY! Food is expensive. (Unless you go during free dining!)

 

Advantages to staying off-property: Cheap! Space to stretch out. Oftentimes you'll have your own kitchen and can cook for yourselves (which can also be a disadvantage!)

Disadvantages: You need a car. You leave the magic. It sounds like a small thing, but it was a little depressing each day to leave Disney property.

 

3.) I usually just go through Disney and make my own reservation. But, we've also used an agent. There really wasn't an advantage to using the agent for us. Our agent was knowledgable, but with research on line, I could often get my questions answered faster than he got back to me.

 

4.) I don't know!

 

5.) We really like all the Disney parks (or did you mean Orlando area parks?). If you had to choose one NOT to miss, I'd say Magic Kingdom just because it's quintessential Disney!

 

6.) I'd have to think about that. I'll get back to you!

 

7.) Again, I have so much! I'll chime in as others answer! I've got to get to making my dinner!

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Opinions will vary but here's mine:

 

1. Early December (first two weeks) is awesome. Lower crowds, holiday decorations are up, cooler temps.

 

2. We are very frugal but do stay onsite. We stay at the value resorts. We love parking the car and not driving while we are there as the bus system is pretty efficient.

 

3. We only get a package if a very special deal is being run (like free dining) but otherwise, you are better off getting things separately.

 

4. No answer

 

5. For us, Magic Kingdom and Epcot would be musts, then Animal Kingdom, and last Disney Studios.

 

6. Do not try to do it all. You'll exhaust yourself and be stressed. Just enjoy what you do have time for. . .and plan to go back!

 

7. I find crowd calendars to be very helpful in planning.

 

Pegasus

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*rubbing hands together* I LOVE planning Disney trips! :D We're going in May of this year and I can't wait!

 

Ok, so here are a few of my tips.

 

1. I prefer staying on-site. I know others don't. It's really a personal thing. I love "staying in the Magic". I love the hotel theming and decor. Love the convenience. Love being able to use Disney transportation. Since you are a family of five, you will either need to stay in two rooms for all values and most moderates, or stay in a deluxe resort.

 

My favorites for each category: Value...Pop Century (or the new Art of Animation). Both "Art" and "All-Star Music" have family suites that will sleep a family of your size. That might be an option for you.

 

Moderate: You used to be able to get a trundle bed that allowed you to sleep five at Port Orleans. They've been renovating over there and I don't know how many more of those rooms they have available. You could also stay at the Fort Wildnerness Cabins. They sleep six and have a full kitchen. They're really nice and I love staying there at holiday time. Lots of atmosphere and a more traditional "Christmasy" feel than is typical in Florida.

 

Deluxe: Polynesian or Contemporary for families. Easy access to the monorail and close to everything. The pools at the Polynesian are better, but in November...it may not matter. LOL

 

2. November is a great time to go, as long as you avoid Thanksgiving week. If you wait until the first week of December, all the Christmas decorations are up as well as the Christmas parades and activities in each park. The crowds aren't there yet though. It's one of the best times of year to visit. If you are looking for warmer weather, we like the end of April and May (before Memorial Day). Avoid Easter week in April and you'll be good.

 

3. We generally book our package with the Walt Disney Travel Company. Easy-peasy and we've never had a problem. I spare no expense on our Disney trips (which is why I'm doing a "no buy January"...my payment is due at the end of March :lol:), so I always get the dining plan, the "water parks and more" and "park hopper" additions to our tickets. Stay for longer than five days...your park tickets are $5.00 per day after that.

 

4. We go to all of the parks because there is something unique and fun in each one. You haven't mentioned how long you are planning on staying, but if it's a week, I would definitely go to each one, then take a day off for a waterpark or pool or beach, then repeat the park I most enjoyed. I suspect your kids will enjoy Magic Kingdom the most, given their ages.

 

5. Some fun extras: Wishes Desert Party, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and a character meal (or two).

 

 

Give me time and I'll think of more. :D Oh and you have to check out disboards.com Excellent source of information!! Also, touringplans.com And buy their Unofficial Guide. Worth it's weight in gold...and that little stinker is heavy! :lol: http://www.amazon.com/Unofficial-Guide-Disney-World-Guides/dp/111801233X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325980627&sr=8-1

 

Keep asking questions as they come to you. We have a lot of Mousejunkies here! Another fun book, btw: http://www.amazon.com/Mousejunkies-Tricks-Disney-Perfect-Vacation/dp/160952022X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325980694&sr=1-1

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1. The first two weeks of December are very quiet at Disney and the parks are extra beautiful decorated for Christmas.

 

2. If money is not a huge issue, I would stay on Disney grounds for a few reasons:

Bus service - We didn't use our car at all during our stay.

Extra Magic Hours - One of the parks opens up early or closes late for those staying on Disney grounds.

Fast Passes - Staying on Disney grounds lets you get a fast pass for certain rides so you can avoid the lines. (Although if you go Nov or 1st 2 weeks of Dec., lines won't be a problem.)

 

I don't have an answer for question 3 or 4.

 

5. Epcot and Animal Kingdom are my family's favorite parks. We don't like MGM Studios (not sure if it is still named that.:confused:)

 

6. I can't think of an answer for this one either.

 

7. I would purchase the Park Hopper ticket so you can go to more than one park each day. Also, if the weather is warm enough, my kids love spending a day at waterparks.

 

Have a great trip

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Deluxe: Polynesian or Contemporary for families. Easy access to the monorail and close to everything. The pools at the Polynesian are better, but in November...it may not matter. LOL

 

:iagree: We also stayed at the Boardwalk one year. We had a kitchen and a washer and dryer in the suite which was a big plus. Also, it was great being able to walk into Epcot from our hotel room.

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1)What is the best time of year to go? We are thinking November, but we aren't sure. November would be good! Just do NOT go in the summer.. it's hot and crowded LOL

 

2) should we stay in a Disney hotel or not? What are the pros and cons, either way. (oh, pretend that cost is not a huge issue...we don't want to be wasteful, but we don't have to watch every penny either.)

Yes. I've done it both ways and after staying on property would never do it differently. Being able to use the transportation and stuff is a HUGE HUGE plus.

 

3)what are the advantages of getting a package deal either through Disney, AAA or other travel agent?

Everything's paid for up front. My husband is a tightwad deluxe. We would have never gotten snacks, ate at the nice restaurants on property, etc.. But with the dining plan (comes when you buy the package through disney) it was all paid for already. made it MUCH more enjoyable for us. It allows you to pay slowly through the year.

 

4) If we wanted to spend part of a day playing in the ocean, where are best beaches?

no clue LOL

 

5) Which theme parks are a must and which ones can we put lower on the list?

Not a fan of Hollywood studios. Our fav. is epcot and then magic. Not a huge fan of Animal kingdom either.

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1)What is the best time of year to go? We are thinking November, but we aren't sure.

 

2) should we stay in a Disney hotel or not? What are the pros and cons, either way. (oh, pretend that cost is not a huge issue...we don't want to be wasteful, but we don't have to watch every penny either.)

 

3)what are the advantages of getting a package deal either through Disney, AAA or other travel agent?

 

4) If we wanted to spend part of a day playing in the ocean, where are best beaches?

 

5) Which theme parks are a must and which ones can we put lower on the list?

 

6) if you could tell me something I shouldn't bother doing, what would that be?

 

7) any other tips that you can give me, I would be most grateful!!

 

We had Florida resident passes for years so spent a lot of time there.

 

1) First 2 weeks of December followed by (especially early) January (avoiding MLK weekend).

 

2) I think it's best to stay onsite. It makes the vacation more "magical" never leaving Disney property. You also get extra Magic Hours at the parks/free shuttles. With kids your ages (not young kids), I'd stay all day at the park. We always take 2 strollers (even though our youngest is 10) and carry bottled water/drinks and snacks (or even peanut butter sandwiches if you want to save money).

 

3) never booked thru AAA or travel agent - just did our own thing.

 

4) Orlando's in the middle of the state - pretty far from the beach.

 

5) Magic Kingdom, Epcot (best park when it rains), AK/Studios (tie)

 

6) We never waste time lining up for characters' autographs.

 

7) Turkey legs are the best value for your money. Starlight Cafe in MK has pretty good Rotisserie Chicken deal and you can get a (free) salad from the condiments bar (lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, grilled mushrooms, onions) - just have to have something to put them in. Drinks are expensive. I think there's a special drink container with free refills for $13 (?) available at the resorts that's a good deal if you're a soda drinker and stay long enough.

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Here's my 2 cents...

 

1. I agree that the first 2 weeks in December are terrific. Avoid Thanksgiving weekend, and really any holiday. I'm waiting to hear back from my ds who works there (part time) what early November is like. Oh -- he just texted me back to say the crowds are smaller in November, but there is occasional spill over of Halloween parties even past 10/31. I still vote for early December due to the decorations.

 

2. Pros of staying on site: the transportation system! Since you are flying in you can have Disney's Magical Express take you AND your luggage from the airport to the hotel. They deliver the suitcases to your door! It is fabulous. Traffic just outside the park can be bad, too. Spectacularly bad. The magic, yeah, I'll agree that is a good reason for staying there.

 

Animal Kingdom lodge is hands down our favorite. They have rooms with bunk beds, there are evening talks given by the college students from Africa about their native countries and culture. Also, you don't share a bus route with any other hotels. Port Orleans Riverside is my 2nd favorite as I simply love the property and the food court.

 

Cons of staying on site: small rooms, lousy coffee!! Horrible coffee!! Expensive food, but tasty food. But not a drop of decent coffee anywhere. I've not done a meal plan, so can't comment on that.

 

3. I have no experience with packages. Just be sure to make dining reservations ridiculously early!!

 

4. Nor do I know about the beaches, but either coast is close by. We drove to Kennedy Space Center one time -- that was cool!

 

5. I vote for Disney's Hollywood Studios, and not just because my ds works there. I love the rides and the restaurants -- the Sci Fi Drive-in and the kitchen place, (shoot, I forget the name.) I also love eating in "France" at Epcot, but I'm not a huge Epcot fan (I'm in the minority on this, I know!) My ds makes a point of seeing the Epcot fireworks show as often as he can. Magic Kingdom just doesn't work for me as I know the original in California too well! And the Animal Kingdom is o.k, if you have animal lovers. Expedition Everest is a terrific roller coaster.

 

6. Don't know what to suggest you skip. But I can make suggestions, which brings me to

 

7. T-Rex Diner in Downtown Disney is just the silliest place. We love it, complete with the bad animatronic dinosaurs and the fake meteor shower. The food is decent, too! There is a terrace at the Contemporary Hotel where you can watch Magic Kingdom's fireworks, or you can watch them from the beach at the Polynesian. The California Grille restaurant at the top of the Contemporary is pricey, but delicious with a fantastic view of the fireworks -- just make reservations as soon as you know your dates! You can ride the buses to different hotels for dinner, take the water taxis, too.

 

Oh -- #1 tip is to get a book that lists the hidden Mickeys. My younger ds, when he was 13, carried that book everywhere and it kept him busy in lines, hunting for all the Mickeys in the queue.

 

The last time I was on Disney property was last August when I was helping my ds move. We stayed at Pop Century, never stepped foot in a theme park but had fun anyway, going to Downtown Disney, eating at Port Orleans Riverside, enjoying the fireworks from the Contemporary, riding the monorail.

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We want to take this trip with our kids (ages 12, 10 and 8). So we are just in the beginning planning stages and I have a bunch of questions and if anybody can answer them based on your expereinces, that would be great. Oh, if helps...we live in Nebraska and will be flying out of Omaha.

 

1)What is the best time of year to go? We are thinking November, but we aren't sure.

 

 

We will only go in the off-season. I would think November, other than at Thanksgiving, would be a great time to go.

 

2) should we stay in a Disney hotel or not? What are the pros and cons, either way. (oh, pretend that cost is not a huge issue...we don't want to be wasteful, but we don't have to watch every penny either.)

 

 

We love the bargains you can get staying off property AND my husband prefers to be AWAY from "the magic" for part of the day :D. We can get a condo/townhouse with 2-3 bedrooms, pool, and tons of room to spread out. It's not a vacation to us if we're staying on top of each for a week :tongue_smilie:.

 

3)what are the advantages of getting a package deal either through Disney, AAA or other travel agent?

 

The only deal we got was for Homeschool Days, but that saved us about $400 on tickets! They have Homeschool Days in January and October, I think.

 

4) If we wanted to spend part of a day playing in the ocean, where are best beaches?

 

You'll be about an hour from the Atlantic-Cocoa Beach is good, or two hours from the Gulf of Mexico. There are tons of beaches in the St. Pete/Clearwater area.

 

5) Which theme parks are a must and which ones can we put lower on the list?

 

Epcot and Magic Kingdom are musts for us. We love Toy Story Mania and Star Tours at Hollywood Studios, but other than that, meh. Animal Kingdom is probably our least favorite, but we did have an awesome gorilla experience last year!

 

6) if you could tell me something I shouldn't bother doing, what would that be?

 

Stich's Great Escape in Magic Kingdom is quite possibly the weirdest and stupidest ride/attraction ever. Really. Don't bother.

 

7) any other tips that you can give me, I would be most grateful!!

 

Learn how to use Fast Passes!

 

 

Don't get overwhelmed. We are very mellow Disney travelers and pretty much wing it.

Edited by sparrow
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October is a really nice time to go. It's not too busy and the weather is a tad cooler but still plenty warm for swimming. We've also gone at Christmas (super busy), early May(nice), Feb(cold), early June(hot), and Sept(super hot but lower crowds). This year we're going in April.

 

We typically stay off site in a 2 or 3 bedroom condo. I have a we recommendations if you decide to go that route.

 

For a family of 5 you'll have to either get 2 rooms in a value or moderate resort, a family suite, a cabin at Fort Wilderness, a room at a deluxe resort( not all of them sleep 5 but some do), or book a 1 bedroom or larger DVD condo.

 

If money were no object I think I'd go with a 2 bedroom DVC condo (you can rent points from owners to make this more affordable, check out the dis boards for more info on that). The Fort Wilderness cabins also look really nice as well ad the new Art Of Animation resort family suites.

 

If your family likes thrill rides then you could skip Epcot but Epcot has a lot of other things that are great. It's really hard for me to recommend skipping a park... Well you could skip the water parks ;)

 

A travel agent would be nice unless you enjoy the planning. for me planning the trip is half the fun.

 

We really enjoy staying off site. It's really niceto be able to take the kids away from the business of the parks. Of course my kids are very young so getting a break is a must.

Edited by chicagoshannon
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1)What is the best time of year to go? We are thinking November, but we aren't sure.

 

Not during the time between Christmas and New Year. Not during three day holidays. Not in the middle of summer.

 

2) should we stay in a Disney hotel or not? What are the pros and cons, either way. (oh, pretend that cost is not a huge issue...we don't want to be wasteful, but we don't have to watch every penny either.)

 

We've done both, many times. I will NEVER stay off of Disney again. It makes the experience so much better. Disney transportation is much nicer than driving and finding parking spots. The resorts are practically a park in themselves with features and pools.

3)what are the advantages of getting a package deal either through Disney, AAA or other travel agent?

 

I do all my own planning and booking, so I don't know about AAA or travel agents. Various sites online will inform visitors of discounts when available. I get emails from Disney from time-to-time with discounts.

4) If we wanted to spend part of a day playing in the ocean, where are best beaches?

 

The panhandle of Florida is. However, they are not convenient to Disney. Other than that I don't know. My hometown beaches in NW Florida with their sugar-white sand has spoiled me.

5) Which theme parks are a must and which ones can we put lower on the list?

 

At Disney, all of them are great. With little ones, Magic Kingdom is a must. Park Hopper passes will gain you entry into all of them.

6) if you could tell me something I shouldn't bother doing, what would that be?

 

You shouldn't stress about it too much. Try to find the fun in planning. Don't overpack.

7) any other tips that you can give me, I would be most grateful!!

 

Visit the DIS boards (google Disney DIS Forums Message boards). They will answer a lot of your questions and are filled with useful information/tips.

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We want to take this trip with our kids (ages 12, 10 and 8). So we are just in the beginning planning stages and I have a bunch of questions and if anybody can answer them based on your expereinces, that would be great. Oh, if helps...we live in Nebraska and will be flying out of Omaha.

 

1)What is the best time of year to go? We are thinking November, but we aren't sure.

 

As long as you aren't planning on being there for Thanksgiving, you'll be fine. Christmas decorations go up around mid-Nov.

 

2) should we stay in a Disney hotel or not? What are the pros and cons, either way. (oh, pretend that cost is not a huge issue...we don't want to be wasteful, but we don't have to watch every penny either.)

 

We live on the east coast and often do not stay overnight. When we do, though, we stay on property.

 

3)what are the advantages of getting a package deal either through Disney, AAA or other travel agent?

 

We buy our passes through AAA because they are less expensive that way -- even with my cast member ID. I think that is the case just for central Florida AAA members though.

 

4) If we wanted to spend part of a day playing in the ocean, where are best beaches?

 

The beaches on the Gulf Coast are nicer than ours in the east. However, we have the Space Center.

 

5) Which theme parks are a must and which ones can we put lower on the list?

 

This really is different for everyone. Our least favorite park is Animal Kingdon, and our favorite is Disney's Hollywood Studios. Lately, though, the kids (girls 12 and 9) always ask to go to Epcot. We only go to the Magic Kingdom every now and then, but you have to go there because the MK IS Disney.

 

6) if you could tell me something I shouldn't bother doing, what would that be?

 

My girls did not appreciate the 3D movies at Epcot (Honey, I Shrunk the Audience) or Animal Kingdom (It's a Bug's Life.)

 

7) any other tips that you can give me, I would be most grateful!!

Hmm.... how long will you be there? My girls love the Hoop De Doo Review at Ft. Wilderness. Also, as a family of 5, you are limited as to where you can stay on property. It may not be a concern for you, but the Values and the Moderate resorts all have double beds. If you would need a queen bed, you need to go Deluxe or rent points from a Disney Vacation Club member. Coronado Springs is the only mod with queen beds, but I don't think they have rooms that sleep 5. (Can you tell the bigger beds are important to me? LOL)

[/QUOTE]

 

:) Beachy

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I've heard that Cocoa beach is best...only an hour away.

 

We stayed onsite and loved it...Pop Century, but it only works (for less expense) if you have a family of 4 or less, otherwise you need a suite.

 

Try...to go during free dining. I think it improved our experience by a landslide! We had one table service meal every day and it was so fun to go somewhere where you could sit, relax, and have great food. It was just fun...but I am one who loves to eat out!

 

You DON'T need to stay onsite to use the fastpass!! Anyone can use it and it can really eliminate standing in line almost entirely.

 

I used tourguidemike.com for help in planning which days to visit which park and planning which rides to hit first, etc...very helpful, very detailed. The Unofficial Guide to Disney book is also excellent. And huge.

 

We used themagicforless.com to book our tickets, they are helpful with any questions and everything went so smoothly. They are free.

 

We went the last week of August and it was miserably hot (but still fun). Pools get rather warm during the day! We also went for a day to MK the week after Thanksgiving and it was SO slow!!! Arriving the Monday after Thanksgiving would be perfect. It ranged between high 60's and 80, so perfect weather, no lines.

 

Park Hopper passes add about $50 to each person's ticket, but that allows you to visit as many of the parks as you want in a day. Without that you have to stick with one park per day, which is still fun, just reuires a little more planning.

 

Visit the disboards and read a little...a fount of information!

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I haven't read the other replies, so this is just based on our experience (we go several times a year since I was born). :D

 

 

1)What is the best time of year to go? We are thinking November, but we aren't sure. November is great! We take our annual vacation at the end of October, through Halloween and into the beginning of November. We LOVE Disney at that time of year!

 

2) should we stay in a Disney hotel or not? What are the pros and cons, either way. (oh, pretend that cost is not a huge issue...we don't want to be wasteful, but we don't have to watch every penny either.) It really depends on how much room you want to have. With three kids, the regular Disney rooms with two beds get to be a little crowded. I like having a separate area to put the kids to bed and still be able to stay up a little later with DH. Windsor Hills is a very nice, gated community of houses and condos for great prices. I've stayed there. But staying at a Disney hotel definitely has its perks....you get the extra magic hours. We take advantage of the 3 hour evening ones every time.

 

3)what are the advantages of getting a package deal either through Disney, AAA or other travel agent? Since we are Florida residents, we do things a bit differently so I'm not familiar with AAA or travel agents.

 

4) If we wanted to spend part of a day playing in the ocean, where are best beaches? None of the beaches on the east coast are wonderful, in my opinion. Your best bet would probably be hitting the Gulf of Mexico. Clearwater is pretty....we've stayed at a condo there for a week.

 

5) Which theme parks are a must and which ones can we put lower on the list? My favorite order.....Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and then Hollywood Studios. That's if you are talking about Disney only and not Univeral and Sea World and such.

 

6) if you could tell me something I shouldn't bother doing, what would that be? You mean as far as rides go?

 

7) any other tips that you can give me, I would be most grateful!!

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We live 45 minutes from DisneyWorld so we go a lot. November is not beach weather. October can be. Thanksgiving week would be very crowded of course, the other weeks not so much. Saturday is usually the most crowded day of any week, Sunday a little less so.

 

I think you're about equidistant from the coastal beaches, Clearwater Beach to the West is beautiful (we live a little closer to that way), but Daytona and Cocoa Beach can be nice too. The best beach weather is April through October, with March and November being very iffy.

 

All four Disney Parks are great, if I had to skip one I guess it would be Hollywood Studios, although I like that one too. Sea World is very nice, and not far up the road. Universal is similar to Hollywood Studios. Universal Island of Adventure is more like a traditional thrill park only with a theme (so more aggressive rides).

 

Trip Advisor is a good place to get ratings and reviews on various area hotels. We've had good luck at the Caribe Royale (a couple miles away from Disney, so you'd need a car), and it has a nice pool with a slide. We haven't really stayed at the Disney Hotels themselves much because they're on the expensive side. We've done the All-Star hotels which are less expensive but on the small side. (still remember using the bathroom and feeling like my knees were WAY too close to my face, for some reason, haha!) The kids loved it though.

 

Fort Wilderness is nice. Might be worth getting a Passporter guide, they have tons of wonderful tips in there. (we used a Passporter prior to a Disney Cruise last summer and the tips were invaluable!)

 

Downtown Celebration has some nice little eateries if you want to get out of the crowds. Downtown Disney has a lot of great places to eat but it's good to have a reservation due to the crowds.

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We have been to DW three times with the kids (from CO) and every time we have gone the first part of November.

 

(Shhh - secret just between us - the first part of November is the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. They set up booths all the way around the lake and serve "tapas" type food from countries all around the world. We would spend the day at a park then ride the bus over to Epcot, stroll around the lake trying escargot, Australian lamb chops, Ethiopian food, and crepes for dinner. Then we would watch the awesome fireworks and head back to an onsite hotel - which is the ONLY place to stay as far as I am concerned.)

 

The others were correct in saying that the beaches could be a bit chilly in November, but we have always been able to brave the pools at Disney at least for a while. Also, the kids never wanted to leave the Disney area. I wanted to go to SeaWorld, but was out voted.

 

Staying on site, using their transportation (no car rental hassle), Park Hoppers, and Fast Passes. I LOVE DISNEY WORLD!!

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wow, the ideas still just keep coming in. thanks so much. A couple people asked how long we are able to stay....this is out hope...flying out of Omaha on a Sunday mid- late afternoon and leaving the following Saturday morning. (my husband is a pastor and doesn't want to take a Sunday off if possible) One more element I didn't mention because I didn't think it would matter, but maybe it would....my in-laws will be joining us...and if our sleeping arrangements could leave the possibility for us to have an adult meeting space while the kids go to bed, that would be ideal. Thanks for all of the tips and ideas....they have all been VERY helpful.

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wow, the ideas still just keep coming in. thanks so much. A couple people asked how long we are able to stay....this is out hope...flying out of Omaha on a Sunday mid- late afternoon and leaving the following Saturday morning. (my husband is a pastor and doesn't want to take a Sunday off if possible) One more element I didn't mention because I didn't think it would matter, but maybe it would....my in-laws will be joining us...and if our sleeping arrangements could leave the possibility for us to have an adult meeting space while the kids go to bed, that would be ideal. Thanks for all of the tips and ideas....they have all been VERY helpful.

 

Ohhhhh- this helps! You could then officially be a party of 3 and 4 and you have MANY more booking options. You could get two rooms at any hotel! As a family of 6, this is how we do it if we want to stay in site. We go with another family and officially put one or two of our kids in their room. We get adjoining rooms, so where people sleep doesn't really matter that much.

 

FUN!!!! Keep the questions coming! I love them! I have a couple of my own that I'll post after church!

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We want to take this trip with our kids (ages 12, 10 and 8). So we are just in the beginning planning stages and I have a bunch of questions and if anybody can answer them based on your expereinces, that would be great. Oh, if helps...we live in Nebraska and will be flying out of Omaha.

 

1)What is the best time of year to go? We are thinking November, but we aren't sure. I would say stay away from vacations/holidays, the summer, and anytime between mid December through end of Feb (mostly due to cool weather). First week of March is when we always go and the crowds are very low and weather is typically very nice. Early May would probably be good, as would October and November.

 

2) should we stay in a Disney hotel or not? What are the pros and cons, either way. (oh, pretend that cost is not a huge issue...we don't want to be wasteful, but we don't have to watch every penny either.) We've only stayed offsite, because it is not fun or relaxing for us to spend a week in one room together. If I had unlimited funds, I'd stay in one of the villas, but it's outrageously expensive. We stay offsite, usually at Windsor Hills, and absolutely love it. We pick ones that have "themed" rooms and feel very much part of the Disney magic, however, since we haven't ever stayed onsite, I have nothing to compare it to. One of the benefits, to me, is the ability to drive. I hear stories of the bus system and it seems like it takes so long to get anywhere. I like that we don't have to rely on a bus schedule for arrival/departure. With all the money we save staying offsite, we treat ourselves to lots of signature dining :) Many people will tell you that one of the perks of staying onsite is the dining plan and extra magic hours, but it seems even the diehard fans are saying the dining plan isn't such a savings anymore, and a good planner will tell you you don't want to go to extra magic hours, because they will be the most crowded parks on that given day.

 

3)what are the advantages of getting a package deal either through Disney, AAA or other travel agent? not sure about this

 

4) If we wanted to spend part of a day playing in the ocean, where are best beaches? I think Cocoa Beach is the closest, but I'm not 100% sure.

 

5) Which theme parks are a must and which ones can we put lower on the list? Our first year we did Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom; 2.5, 2 and 1 day respectively. The following year we added in Hollywood Studios. Epcot is our fav, and it's big, so for us it's a 2 day minimum. Animal Kingdom and Hollywood are one dayers for us (HS is our least fav park though). We do 2 days at MK.

 

6) if you could tell me something I shouldn't bother doing, what would that be? This is such a personal thing...agree with a PP that you should get the Unofficial Guide and look through it...it describes everything you could possibly do/see at WDW. Pick what looks best for your family. Even the not so great stuff is still worth seeing, IMO!

 

7) any other tips that you can give me, I would be most grateful!! If you end up booking yourself, purchase your tickets from Undercover Tourist. They are probably the cheapest you will find. Sign up for the mousesavers newsletter-mousesavers.com-and the first newsletter you receive will have a link to Undercover Tourist for additional savings. Also, checkout easyWDW.com. It has a wealth of great information, as well as forums where you can post all sorts of questions. There are many knowledgeable people there.

 

Have a wonderful time! We're heading back down in 6 weeks...can't wait!!

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Disney transportation is much nicer than driving and finding parking spots. The resorts are practically a park in themselves with features and pools.

 

Okay, anything I say about WDW must come with the caveats that we live in Orlando and my husband works for the company.

 

With that said, I visited three times before moving here, and I agree whole-heartedly with Myeightkiddies about staying on property. Not only is staying on property more pleasant for a variety of reasons, it's worth mentioning that driving your own vehicle (or a rental) to the parks each day means paying for parking each time. I don't know for sure, but isn't parking up to $12 or more per day? So, that additional fee has to be figured into the question of whether it is more cost effective to stay off property.

 

And, yes, the resorts are lovely. In fact, we usually stay at one of the Disney resorts for a mini-staycation once or twice a year. We stay three or four days and often don't enter any of the parks at all, just enjoy the resort where we are staying.

 

Edit: In terms of when to go, I will say we most enjoy the parks in early to mid-December. All of the holiday decorations are up; the weather is usually gorgeous; and crowds are minimal. As you get closer to Christmas, of course, things get more and more crowded.

 

Edit #2: Also, we've stayed in a cabin at Fort Wilderness, and they are really nice. The one we had offered a separate bedroom with sleeping space for four (a double bed plus a bunk) and a pull-out sleeper in the living area. So, you could easily sleep six people. There was also a kitchen equipped with cooking and serving stuff. I would think it would be pretty much ideal for a larger group.

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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We want to take this trip with our kids (ages 12, 10 and 8). So we are just in the beginning planning stages and I have a bunch of questions and if anybody can answer them based on your expereinces, that would be great. Oh, if helps...we live in Nebraska and will be flying out of Omaha.

 

1)What is the best time of year to go? We are thinking November, but we aren't sure.

 

We have been in both November (avoiding Thanksgiving week) and early December. The crowds are low and the weather is not too hot. I do find the Christmas decorations in November a bit annoying, but not enough to keep me from going during that time.

 

2) should we stay in a Disney hotel or not? What are the pros and cons, either way. (oh, pretend that cost is not a huge issue...we don't want to be wasteful, but we don't have to watch every penny either.)

 

We have always stayed off-site at WDW. For us, staying off-site is primarily a money issue (since my ILs give us their RCI points when we go, off-site is free, and it's hard to turn down free), but we also enjoy the extra space. We stay in condos, and having two bedrooms plus a sleeper sofa in the living room, two bathrooms, and a kitchen just makes live so much more pleasant. We can easily separate kids (we have four) who are getting on each other's nerves. Two people can shower, etc, at the same time. Some people can eat breakfast while others are getting dressed.

 

3)what are the advantages of getting a package deal either through Disney, AAA or other travel agent?

 

We've never done this, so I can't comment. I usually get our tickets through one of the dealers listed on MouseSavers. We've used Undercover Tourist and also some place in Canada with Maple in the name. No issues either time.

 

4) If we wanted to spend part of a day playing in the ocean, where are best beaches?

 

I don't know. When we do Disney, we do Disney. Beach vacations have a completely different rhythm for us. :D

 

5) Which theme parks are a must and which ones can we put lower on the list?

 

As a family, we rank the parks in this order (from favorite to least favorite): Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Disney Studios.

 

Of course, to make life interesting, our two favorite rides (Rock-n-Rollercoaster and Toy Story Mania) are at our least favorite park. :glare: Consequently, we've never been able to eliminate a park.

 

6) if you could tell me something I shouldn't bother doing, what would that be?

 

No ideas here.

 

7) any other tips that you can give me, I would be most grateful!!

 

I highly, highly, highly recommend the Unofficial Guide to WDW (both book and site). We use their crowd predictor to plan which park we visit on which day, and we use their touring plans to make the most of our time in the parks.

 

Take a nap, take a nap, take a nap. (Yes, I did see the ages of your children. :D )

 

Even staying off-site, we head back to the condo around lunch each day. (Sometimes we eat in the park, and sometimes out of the park. It depends on how early we get hungry.) Everyone lies down for a rest in a darkened room. We have never had anyone *not* fall asleep. Including the adults. It's amazing how exhausting theme parks can be.

 

We return to the parks between 3:00 and 4:00, well-rested and refreshed.

 

We did not do this when we were at Disney Paris, and we could really tell the difference.

 

We do make sure we stay at a condo that is close to the parks. The Unofficial Guide helps with this, as it shows driving time to each park from many off-site hotels and condos.

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wow, the ideas still just keep coming in. thanks so much. A couple people asked how long we are able to stay....this is out hope...flying out of Omaha on a Sunday mid- late afternoon and leaving the following Saturday morning. (my husband is a pastor and doesn't want to take a Sunday off if possible) One more element I didn't mention because I didn't think it would matter, but maybe it would....my in-laws will be joining us...and if our sleeping arrangements could leave the possibility for us to have an adult meeting space while the kids go to bed, that would be ideal. Thanks for all of the tips and ideas....they have all been VERY helpful.

 

Ok, this is good. So, what you're looking at is either two connecting rooms (Disney doesn't guarantee that, but I've never had them NOT give me connecting rooms when we've booked two together), or maybe staying in one of the villas. These are more expensive, but if you rent points from a Disney Vacation Club member, you can get them at a fairly decent rate.

 

Go to the Disney site, http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/ look up accomodations and check out all the hotels. You can ask for connecting rooms in any hotel, so whatever your budget can take...go for it. They have photos for each hotel and they are fun to look at (and dream about).

 

We are staying in two connecting rooms in Pop Century for our next visit. We like to stay for two full weeks and so we try to save money by staying at a value resort. Plus, we pretty much just use our room for showering and sleeping. We love Pop! It's colorful, has great transportation (better than some of the nicer Disney resorts I've stayed in), and we love their food court. Two connecting rooms means two bathrooms....and that is waaay more important than a luxury resort to me! :lol:

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Ok, this is good. So, what you're looking at is either two connecting rooms (Disney doesn't guarantee that, but I've never had them NOT give me connecting rooms when we've booked two together), or maybe staying in one of the villas. These are more expensive, but if you rent points from a Disney Vacation Club member, you can get them at a fairly decent rate.

 

Go to the Disney site, http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/resorts/ look up accomodations and check out all the hotels. You can ask for connecting rooms in any hotel, so whatever your budget can take...go for it. They have photos for each hotel and they are fun to look at (and dream about).

 

We are staying in two connecting rooms in Pop Century for our next visit. We like to stay for two full weeks and so we try to save money by staying at a value resort. Plus, we pretty much just use our room for showering and sleeping. We love Pop! It's colorful, has great transportation (better than some of the nicer Disney resorts I've stayed in), and we love their food court. Two connecting rooms means two bathrooms....and that is waaay more important than a luxury resort to me! :lol:

 

oh, this is helpful...thanks.

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oh, this is helpful...thanks.

 

You're welcome! Be sure to play around on their site. They have lots of good stuff there. Also request the vacation planning DVD. Once you're on their mailing list, you have a better chance of getting a PIN number in the mail, which gives you discounts on your vacation.

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If you visit Carolina Homeschooler, you can look at their past Disney trips. They will be going again this December. You don't have to live in the Carolinas to travel with them, and the Disney trip is a great one for non-Carolina residents, because there isn't any group travel figured into the trip costs. (I traveled with them to NYC, and we traveled by bus.) The Disney trip is set up so people can come into Florida on their own, and extend their trips if they wish. Anyway, the lady who coordinates it, gets really great deals on the rooms, tickets, etc. We're hoping to go this year. You end up with a couple of educational/behind-the-scenes type of activities (I think this is part of the package that allows such a savings on the admission.) But other than that, you are on your own, and not obligated to traveling with the pack. I think they set up some informal meet-and-greet things for those that wish to take part. Anyway, just thought I'd pass on the info. They also have a facebook page and the release of the Disney dates is on there, if you scroll down far enough. The website is http://www.carolinahomeschooler.com/index.html

 

If you poke around on the site, I know there are photos and testimonials from past trips.

ETA: You can sign up to get on their mailing list, and get information about when trip sign-ups open up, etc. With the NYC trip we took, space was limited, and there were dates for getting in deposits, etc. The mailing list gets that info out, although she's also really good about releasing on the FB page. And, I promise I don't work for them, lol. It's just one homeschool mom who wanted to find a way to organize neat and educational group trips that would also be less expensive. She's even working on an Alaska trip! I was just really impressed with the all the things that were planned into our NYC trip, and how great the savings were.

Hope that helps!

Edited by amydavis
More info!
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1)What is the best time of year to go? We are thinking November, but we aren't sure.

 

November is great weather-wise, but avoid the first week (crowded due to Jersey Week), and don't go Thanksgiving week. The 2nd week and the week after Thanksgiving are usually good. (My group went the 2nd week and really enjoyed it.)

 

2) should we stay in a Disney hotel or not? What are the pros and cons, either way. (oh, pretend that cost is not a huge issue...we don't want to be wasteful, but we don't have to watch every penny either.)

 

If you wait a few more weeks, I'll have my pros/cons of staying on-property vs. off on my website. It's based on my own experiences and feedback from a couple thousand (or so) families who have traveled with us over the years. The folks who've answered here already have given good advice that's very close to what's on my website, though.

 

3)what are the advantages of getting a package deal either through Disney, AAA or other travel agent?

I prefer not going through a travel agent because once you book through one, they are the ones that have to make changes to your reservations. You can't call Disney directly and do it. That's a big disadvantage to me (but may not be to other people).

 

 

5) Which theme parks are a must and which ones can we put lower on the list?

 

Don't try to do everything, but my personal favorites (in order) are Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Disney Studios, Animal Kingdom (and if you get our group tickets, or get the options added to your tickets) you can also choose the water parks and DisneyQuest.

 

6) if you could tell me something I shouldn't bother doing, what would that be?

 

Don't try to do everything. You'll miss all the fun if you do - it'll be too stressful.

 

any other tips that you can give me, I would be most grateful!!

 

You're welcome to go with our group in 2012 (December 8-15). We get really good discounted tickets with hopper, waterparks, DisneyQuest, an educational program, and maybe a Cirque du Soliel behind-the-scenes tour (have to check to see if they'll do it again for us this year) included.

 

We also get great discounts on the very wonderful Cirque du Soliel performance (the best of all the Cirque shows, according to those who've seen more than one).

 

Disney doesn't offer tickets any lower (through travels agents, AAA, or anywhere). Last year we got great discounts on the Contemporary, and I'm working on getting us a good group rate again this year (but not at the Contemporary). Families can choose to stay wherever they want, though (on-property or off), and just get the tickets.

 

You can do as much or as little with the group as you want. You're just committed to one educational program per child (ages 5 and up) in order to qualify for our tickets. Disney really likes our group and works well to offer us all they can each year. Last year we had 700 join us, and we had a wonderful time. We liked November much better than the heat of September in previous years. We decided on December this year due to better hotel availability, and all of the decorations will be up at that time, and because we're planning to add a special group Christmas event that we can't do in November.

 

As Amy said ::::waving to Amy::::, I'll post my Disney info soon in case you want to join us. I'll also post via my mailing list (http://www.carolinahomeschooler.com/acommunity.html and on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/carolinahomeschooler)

 

I also have other trips planned: Mummies Exhibit this month, History Camp-In next month, Italy in March (our first international trip) a Barrier Island Science Camp in September, Washington DC in October (hopefully), and more if I don't go too gray with the trips we have already planned. Oh, and Alaska is planned for May 2013. I hope to post info about that soon so we can start saving for it! :)

 

Happy Traveling!

Dianna

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We want to take this trip with our kids (ages 12, 10 and 8). So we are just in the beginning planning stages and I have a bunch of questions and if anybody can answer them based on your expereinces, that would be great. Oh, if helps...we live in Nebraska and will be flying out of Omaha.

 

1)What is the best time of year to go? We are thinking November, but we aren't sure. It really depends. I've been in both July (several times) and May (one time). July is hot and crowded, but everything is fully operational. May wasn't as hot or crowded, but the parks weren't open as long each day and some attractions were closed.

 

2) should we stay in a Disney hotel or not? What are the pros and cons, either way. (oh, pretend that cost is not a huge issue...we don't want to be wasteful, but we don't have to watch every penny either.)

I would definitely recommend the hotel because then you never have to worry about driving anywhere. The buses ran very often and were an easy way to get to all of the parks. If you need to get to another hotel (for a dinner reservation or something), it is a bit more complicated, involving going to a park and then changing buses to get to the other hotel. There are hotels at several different price points, I've stayed at both moderate and value level hotels. Moderate hotels have a nicer pool and slightly larger rooms, but the value hotels are nice as well. I've never stayed offsite, so I don't have any experiences with that.

 

3)what are the advantages of getting a package deal either through Disney, AAA or other travel agent?

The pkg deals are nice because then you don't have to worry about carrying cash with you other than for souvenirs. We had the Dining Plan, and it was really great. We didn't have to worry about entree costs at the rstaurants. Be forewarned though, there is a lot of food. The fast service places give you a drink, a main (burger, chicken, etc), a side, and a dessert.

4) If we wanted to spend part of a day playing in the ocean, where are best beaches?

 

5) Which theme parks are a must and which ones can we put lower on the list?

Definitely go to MK and EPCOT. MGM is pretty good too. I'm not as big of a fan of AK. It hassome good attractions, but they are spaced very far apart. Though I would recommend going to see Festival of the Lion King at AK.

6) if you could tell me something I shouldn't bother doing, what would that be?

The stunt car show at MGM isn't worth the wait IMHO. Lots of set-up with not a lot of action. Indiana Jones is much better.

 

7) any other tips that you can give me, I would be most grateful!!

If there is an extra magic hour at the park in the morning, avoid that park. It will be even more crowded than usual. At MGM, grab fastpasses for the Toy Story ride first thing unless you want to wait for hours. Make sure to hit the big rides at each park first thing in the morning (Splash, Thunder, and Space mtn at MK, Test Track, Mission Space at Epcot, Rock N Roller Coaster at MGM, and Dinosaur and Kilimanjaro Safaris at AK). Have a plan of attack set up for each day so you know what rides you want to see so you aren't wasting time deciding what to do next. Go over the plan the previous night or at breakfast so everybody knows what is going on. Also, be there before the park opens so you can be as close to the front as possible.

 

 

Depending on the fireworks schedule when you go, you may be able to do both the MK fireworks and Fantasmic at MGM in the same night (only works if you have a park hopper pass). Go to the 9 pm MK fireworks and stand near the train station near the front of the park. As soon as it is over, turn around and walk as fast as you can to the Ferry that goes to the transportation and ticketing center. Get off the boat and catch a bus to MGM. Walk over to Fantasmic for the second showing (starts at 10:30). You'll still have really good seats (we were in the 10th row in the center), and won't have to wait for 2 hours like you do at the early showing to get good seats.

 

 

HTH! If you have any questions, feel free to PM me.

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We want to take this trip with our kids (ages 12, 10 and 8). So we are just in the beginning planning stages and I have a bunch of questions and if anybody can answer them based on your expereinces, that would be great. Oh, if helps...we live in Nebraska and will be flying out of Omaha.

 

1)What is the best time of year to go? We are thinking November, but we aren't sure.

 

We like anytime that is off-season, lol. We will be there in 2 weeks. November is a mixed bag of on- and off-season, so check your dates carefully. You can check the different seasons on Mousesavers or other Disney sites.

 

2) should we stay in a Disney hotel or not? What are the pros and cons, either way. (oh, pretend that cost is not a huge issue...we don't want to be wasteful, but we don't have to watch every penny either.)

 

We love staying on-site. We always use a value resort, and Pop Century is our favorite. Some people prefer off-site because they can have more room and such, but we like all the extras of staying on Disney property, and all we need is enough beds to collapse onto.

 

3)what are the advantages of getting a package deal either through Disney, AAA or other travel agent?

 

4) If we wanted to spend part of a day playing in the ocean, where are best beaches?

 

We generally don't do anything but Disney when we go. I can tell you that you won't want to be frolicking in the water in November; it's not that warm!

 

5) Which theme parks are a must and which ones can we put lower on the list?

Hmm, we would never skip any of them! Animal Kingdom probably has the least to see/do, but it also has several key attractions: Expedition Everest, A Bug's Life, The Lion King Show (which is excellent). But if I *had* to skip one, it would be AK.

 

 

6) if you could tell me something I shouldn't bother doing, what would that be?

 

It's pretty impossible to tell which attractions you're going to love or hate ahead of time.

 

7) any other tips that you can give me, I would be most grateful!!

 

Everyone varies on how they "do" Disney. This will be our fifth trip with the kids, and we always do a package deal during off-season that includes hotel, tickets, and meals. dh loves, loves, loves parking the car and not driving all week. We all enjoy the fun of the themed resorts, and we all LOVE the meal plan. It's great never thinking about what particular items cost, and we have fun finding the best places to eat and snack. We never park hop, and we do the main parks only - we don't go to the water parks, we don't go to the beach, we don't do anything off-site except Downtown Disney.

 

If you want to cover a lot of ground at Disney, do these two things: wake up early and beat the crowds, and buy The Unofficial Guide to Disney. Not so much for the advice on what other people like to do or eat, but for the descriptions of attractions and the touring plans. They also have a web site, http://www.touringplans.com.

 

Oh, and for cheap(er) souvenirs, we buy Disney pins online and then trade with cast members. I use Mousepins Online and just got 50 pins for $77 shipped. You can get them lots of places, but make sure they are Disney *trading* pins or you will not be able to trade them. I won't buy from ebay or single sellers.

 

 

Keep asking. Some of us love to talk Disney :D

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I think, if you're from the mid-west, you probably don't want to miss out on the beach while you're so close. It's not too far to the beach from Orlando, and if you drive 2 hours (or so) south east or south west, in November, the beach/water is plenty warm enough. As long as there's not a cold-snap, south Florida beaches are swimmable year-round. And if you think the water is too cold, you can still walk the water line and build sand castles in the sun! :D

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