1st DISNEY timer- stressing out!

Okay- so I have booked a vacation October 8-15 for myself, DS15 and DD11. This is our first trip to Disney. I didn’t realize that this planning was going to be so stressful. I thought the hardest part was choosing where to stay. I booked at Pop with 7 day park hopper. Plan on spending part of the last day at Disney Springs before headed home. I have been doing tons of research and now I am nearing my 180 day mark and freaking out. Don’t know where all we are eating at, what times to book, or even what time the parks open! Aahh!!! I need any recommendations, opinions, or just any advice for first timers. All I know is I don’t plan on any down time besides dining because myself and my kids are on the go - active people and thrive on it! However I don’t want to follow a strict schedule either. I know we want the dining reservations and some semblance of “what park each day” but I like being spontaneous. I know this probably doesn’t make any sense. Can you tell I’m stressing? Lol!!!

Here is what I’ve tried to come up with so far…

Saturday - Epcot
Sunday - Animal Kingdom
Monday- Magic kingdom
Tues - Hollywood studios
Wednesday- animal kingdom
Thursday - magic kingdom & MNSSP hopefully
Friday - Epcot
Saturday - Disney springs and head home (driving some, overnight in hotel, arrive home Sunday to Ohio)

Possible restaurants…
Hoop de doo dinner
Rainforest cafe dinner
Be our guest dinner
50’s prime time dinner
Chef Mickey breakfast dinner

We aren’t big breakfast eaters so with the exception of chef mickeys which dear daughter wants to do I figure we will eat in our room each morning.

Planning a Disney World trip can be overwhelming!

You have park hoppers, so there’s a possibility that you could be at a different park at night than what you plan for the day. You may consider making your dinner plans based on that idea too. IE) you can spend the morning at Hollywood Studios, then hop over to EPCOT for some dinner.

I would not recommend doing HDDR on a party night. You’ll miss some additional park time from 4-7 with your party ticket.

Animal Kingdom will also have the Rivers of Light shows. If the dinner show options go live soon, that will be an option you need to consider as well.

I would still block out some time on the party day for some rest before the party. My DS13 is usually a go go go kid and even he appreciated having the down time to just chill before staying out late.

If you decide b’fast and since you’re not early risers, consider the “brunch” options (10:30am-ish). Then if you decide to get up and get going, you’ll have some park time before the meal or you can just sleep late and head to breakfast).

Good luck!!

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It will be fine. I’d recomend you subscribe to Touring plans, if you haven’t already, and make use of their plans. You can put in all the attractions you want to see, and hopefully it will give you an idea of how your days might flow. You might want to have loosely structured mornings around your FP choices and then the rest of your day can be flexible. Have you researched the restaurants and are those the ones you are most interested in? Have you chosen your days based on predicted crowd levels, or is it just random? Hoop de doo would be good on your MK day, as you could go back there afterwards, also unless you were getting a cab, that would probably be your quickest way to back to your hotel.


Thanks for the advice- we are actually early risers. Just not big breakfast eaters. We did universal a few years ago and we were there from open to close daily. Btw- not to be silly but what is HDDR?

Hoop dee doo

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Hoop Dee Do Revue

Sorry. Sometimes I forget that people don’t know all the acronyms. :smile:


I did subscribe to touring plans and that’s how I got those parks on those days. Lol- I can’t even process what attractions to see yet as I’m trying to figure out dining. Those restaurants are based on what my daughter asked for or a friend recommended.

I second subscribing to Touring plans. You can see the park hours, make your own personalized plans, see the crowd predictions, etc.

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You need to do your own restaurant research as everyone has different tastes and budgets. I’m interested in the ones that offer me something I can’t get elsewhere. Which is predominantly characters, plus San Angel, The Garden Grill, Coral Reef, that’s not a complete list. Others on my wish list have some form of entertainment or distraction, like Teppan Edo and Biergarten.


Even some of us who have been here a while still need English translations from the experts… :grinning:


I haz some smahtz


We are going during that time too.

Because of the park hopper option, I have opted to go to the park that has the EMH’s in the morning, and utilise the benefits of getting in early, and then hop to another park in the afternoon. It seems that the park that has the EMH’s are the most crowded for the day (people want to get the most for their money). :slight_smile: I will be booking my FP’s for the second park of the day.

So basically, I have opted for 2 parks throughout our days, and this does create a feeling of being structured which I had no idea that this kind of planning would involve so much :slight_smile: I would prefer it to be otherwise, and more carefree, but coming all the way from Australia, I need to take note that organising daily details is going to result in a more pleasant experience for us.

I think your plan above looks great. Did you get a ‘hopper ticket’ just in case you want to hop to another park?
You are definitely going to be busy!

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It will be fun. I have always been an open to close person too and with kids that age I think you will be fine. Sometimes I think a nice table service dinner can be a good rest. Here are just some random thoughts:

I would maybe look at adding a dinner at one of the Epcot restaurants - I always think it is nice to have dinner (or lunch) in one of the countries.

Hoop dee doo is a fun show but it does take a fair amount of time - you might want to plan it on a night you don’t plan to be in the parks late. Maybe one of you Animal Kingdom days if you don’t plan to stay for Rivers of Light twice.

I am not a big park hopper, because you lose so much time in transit. If you do want to hop -you might want to make it later in the week. Experience a park first and then you can hop on your second day at the park (and will know what you want to hop to)

Just have fun! You won’t get everything done but just enjoy what you are doing.


Welcome! Don’t get stressed out! This forum is great because many of us love to plan (and to give some very strong opinions. Ok- here it goes- change your Epcot days! Your trip is during Foid and Wine and you have two weekend nights planned. Go to Epcot during the week! As @DarthDopey said you will want to eat at Tusker House at Animal Kingdom and book the River of Light dining package (assuming it becomes available).

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Someone in a different thread posted a link to the acronyms. I sometimes can’t figure them out either. I actually used it to look up what HDDR meant:

I’m also planning our first trip, but we’re going in April. I haven’t been since I was in my 20s and this is my first trip with kids (DS7 and DD4).


I did get the park hopper. Just in case we did decide to switch parks. I guess my biggest issue is how do you know what the park hours are when you need to make reservations? For example, what if I make a reservation for a night and find the park closes early due to the Mickey party? Then if I try to change it they might be booked up. Also I don’t know when to schedule dinners because I don’t know how long it takes to get from one place to another and would hate to miss something like a parade or fantasmic. Lol- Universal definitely wasn’t this hard!

The planning can be overwhelmingly overwhelming at times, but you are in the right spot! We are going for our first time in April & I remember right around our ADR date feeling all this pressure to know every minute of every day.

I learned quickly that focusing on one thing at a time was the easiest way to plan. Sounds like you already know which of the restaurants you want to try & somewhat of an idea on what days you’d do those. As for what time, someone said to me very early on that they hardly ever keep all the ones they make at 180 days out and I have found that to be true as we get close. So really I didn’t have to be so stressed. The only ones that you might really want to lock in are the Be our Guest dinner & maybe Chef Mickey’s too, but we were able to move around our Chef Mickey brunch to a different day when plans had to change. And if a certain time you want isn’t available at first, the reservation finder in the Touring Plans subscription is AWESOME and will search for you.

As for which days for which parks, we decided to end with Magic Kingdom and the rest we used the help of easyWDW along with Touring Plan’s predicted crowd levels. Since we opted against hopping we decided to play the strategy of avoid the extra magic hour park which easyWDW uses to build their recommendations of which parks to visit which days.

As for spontaneity, plan the first few hours of your day to get the most important stuff done, leave the rest of the day open except for any nighttime shows or parades & wander at will! We go to Disneyland on the west coast often and I love to try tour with purpose & a plan in the mornings and relax/slow down do whatever we feel like doing after the crowds start showing up. I have build my WDW touring plans to be similar with lots of space in the afternoon to either play catch up or allow room for spontaneity.

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Agree with others:

  1. It’ll be fine and you’ll have an amazing trip.
  2. Make the most of your park hoppers: hit rope drop (with EMH when possible) at parks as planned, then then leave your schedule a little flexible to hit another park in the late afternoon/evening.
  3. Don’t go crazy with the dining reservations. They’re expensive and really force you into a strict schedule. Maybe do one pre-rope-drop breakfast (e.g. Be Our Guest at ~8 am on a morming when MK opens at 9), and plan two or three other nice table-service meals. Otherwise there are some awesome counter-service options around.
  4. Consider using the pre-made TP touring plans rather than custom plans from scratch, then just optimize for your specific days.
  5. Even if this is the “once in a lifetime” trip, be prepared that you won’t see/do everything, and you’ll still have an amazing time.
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To add to the wealth of information here:
The earliest posted calendar for October should be the TA Calendar https://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_October.pdf. Currently it is still 2015, but it should be updated to 2016 soon. If it doesn’t have the MNSSHP days on it you can usually tell which ones they will be, as MK will be closing early and there will be no evening parade or Wishes listed.

Don’t sweat the 180 days ADRs, unless you want to go to some restaurants that are particularly hard to get into. The TP reservation finder https://touringplans.com/walt-disney-world/reservation-finder is pretty good at helping you make reservations later in the process. Also, think about how many times you really want to eat at a TS restaurant, as the costs can add up.

I usually don’t recommend PH tickets to first timers as it adds to the planning burden - if you can change them, switch to regular tickets and use the savings to buy your party tickets. This can effectively make your party day a hopper day if you go to another park before going to the party at 4:00.


Also, you mentioned that you like being spontaneous, but WDW is not a place to be spontaneous, especially if you are a first-timer. There are people who will talk about how they make no plans, choose a park each morning, and still have a great time, but you will find that they tend to be people who have been to the World dozens of times and are relying on their extensive experience. They know what they want to do, a good order to do things in, and how to quickly get from place to place. Either that, or they live in a war zone and find WDW to be a relaxing place…

That being said, all this planning does not mean that you can’t be flexible, taking advantage of opportunities that arise or adjusting your plans if they are not going well. This is where all your planning and research really pays off, as you will have a good idea of what effect changes to your plan will have. Eisenhower said it best: “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”