Bunch of Firsts, Need SO MUCH HELP, please :)

Hello fellow Disney people and touring plans users, I need some serious advice!
We are planning our first trip to Disney World and it also happens to be our first family vacation, crazy yes, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I grew up in California so I am know Disneyland but the World is new to me!

  1. My boyfriend and I are celebrating our anniversary while we are there, will anyone give us a hard time about not being married yet, I know it sounds silly but our anniversary is important to us and we just don’t have the money for a wedding right now, we thought a family vacation and saving up for the future would be a better use of it at the moment…
  2. Also he has a 7 year old son and we really want to make this trip memorable for him, any advice on what we can do to make it special for him? We already booked a Pirates Adventure Cruise for him, and we have reservations at Tusker house. On the same note as dining, we had to change the trip because my boyfriend had to have knee surgery so I lost all of the reservations we had before, any advice on when the best time to try to get some of those hard to book reservations would be? We had BOG, CRT (don’t have my heart set on that) 1900 park for breakfast, & Ohana for Dinner. If we can’t snag those reservations any suggestions on others that could offer similar experiences?
  3. I am super type A personality (if you couldn’t tell by the list), everyone has conceded to using the touring plans, but how do I follow them without making everyone feel like I’m dragging them around, I minimized walking so there wouldn’t be a ton of backtracking but…

Anyways thank you so much and sorry for the long post!!!

Are you staying at a Disney resort? If you are just tell then you need an anniversary button and everyone needs celebration and first visit buttons as well! No one will care if you are married, it is your anniversary! You will find great food and magic where you least expect it! Have you looked for a 50s or Sci Fi reservation? I think a 7 year old may enjoy them.

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If you’re not staying onsite, you can go to guest relations in any park and get special occasion buttons, too. Happy anniversary!

My philosophy on making things special for my 5 year old son was a combination of “free” (well, included in the Disney cost) special stuff, extra-cost stuff, rides, character greets, and pool time.

Pool time was HUGE for DS, even in January, and is one of those things you tend to be resistant to because it’s not Disney-specific but means a lot to kids. It’s a “free” or cost-included thing to do.

On “free” stuff, I highly recommend meeting talking Mickey in MK, it’s a very special character meet that my kiddo loved. For your BF’s son, I would check on getting a “first visit” button at guest services, that’s a free way for him to get smiles and nice greetings from CMs and others. In addition to wearing a button, wearing character-themed shirts is a “free” way for kids to get attention in the parks from CMs and often characters (e.g., DS met Mickey while wearing a Mickey hoodie and got a special reaction from Mickey for his shirt, and his birthday button).

On “free,” too, I think that a well-managed, well-balanced experience that keeps a kiddo active without spending all day in line is a big deal. To that end, I just prioritized one or two character meets per park, or a character meal, because standing in line for character meets is extremely annoying. I also tried to mix up a “line” experience (whether for a character meet or for a headliner ride) with an immediate gratification experience - the shooting arcade, an ice cream cone, something where he was able to avoid having to wait around. I tried to create a balance where there weren’t a lot of back-to-back line-standing experiences, but more mixed activities.

I would plan on budgeting for treats like Mickey-shaped rice krispy treats - some kind of special treat each day, and let him pick it out. Doesn’t have to be expensive. I agree that you can make some meals an experience, too, whether it’s characters or something cool like Sci Fi. However, too many sit-down meals can get annoying for little guys, in our experience, and we found we did very well with more frequent snack-type meals, often shared - cheaper, faster, and more satisfying for DS. Sit-down meals take a LOT of time out of your day that kiddos tend to resist. If you’re going in summer, though, be aware of any options for air-conditioned quickie meals - e.g. ABC Commissary in HS, Columbia Harbor House in MK - because you might all want to eat out of the heat.

I really enjoyed BOG dinner for myself, but it’s probably lost on little boys, though it is fun to meet the Beast. If you feel like you need BOG dinner, maybe look into something like ADR sniper from WDW tools website, it’s $10 to search, but I’ve gotten tons of alerts for options for a trip we booked less than 45 days out, so it might be able to help.

In terms of how to keep your family on a touring plan, I had worried about this but found it to be no biggie at all. First, I also chose “minimize walking” in my plans, so that we weren’t trekking all over the park. Then it was a matter of me “suggesting” something like “why don’t we try out this ride over here.” I’d memorize maybe 2-3 rides/steps on my TP at a time and just direct us to the next one without making a big deal about it. I’d discretely optimize and learn the next few steps while we were disembarking from a ride, taking a bathroom break, etc. There were only a few times that DS had his eye caught by something and wanted to jump ahead to it, and I either went with it or let him know that it was coming up a bit later in our day and we were going to try to hit the next ride on the list to avoid standing in lines.

For your BF’s son’s age group, I would also look into Frontierland’s shooting arcade and Tom Sawyer Island. The dig site at AK would be good. DS LOVED Soarin at Epcot and Agent P. HS was more of a “miss” for us, but signing up for the Jedi Training Academy, if you can, is another “free” special experience.


I’ll also add that the single most memorable experience from our first trip to Disney World was BTMRR, DS talks about it all the time, and when we said we were planning to go back, his first question was whether he could ride the “runaway train” again. I mention it only because sometimes, in looking for ways to add magic to a child’s experience, it’s easy to overlook that the park has plenty of magic built in, and it may not be necessary to invest too much extra time and money to add to what is already there.

As for reservations, there are a lot of great places that tend to have availability even close to the date you are going. I recommend looking at Tusker House, Crystal Palace, and the Garden Grill for in park character dining experiences. For resort dining, try The Wave and the Grand Floridian Cafe. Another great way to do some tasty dining without reservations is to go to the lounges. At Epcot, there is Spice Road Table and the lounge in Italy, Tutto Gusto. The moderate and deluxe hotels generally all have lounges that open around 4-5 where you can get a table for food and drinks.

As for extra magic, I honestly think that the whole experience tends to be enough, especially for a first timer. I tend not to spend money on extras, but just make sure everyone gets or does something that they really have their heart set on each day, whether it’s meeting a certain character or getting a special treat.

Last, everyone loves the touring plan once they have ridden a few rides with little to no wait. Then I keep hearing “mom, what does the plan say to do next” because they get that they are riding a lot more than we would without one. Of course, we did several trips before we caught on to the touring plans, so we had a much slower experience to compare it to.

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Thank you so much! This was so helpful! I definitely feel better about not getting some of the ADRs after considering the fact that he might just enjoy the Mickey Ice Cream bars more! These are the things we sometimes forget!

This was my favorite at Disneyland when I lived in CA! I am very excited to share that experience with him! That is true, sometimes we really need to look through a child’s eyes!

Thank you for the advice, I didn’t think about the lounges! That’s really smart! How soon did you tell your little ones about the trip? We aren’t sure how soon to say anything because we are taking him out of school for the trip (we are still getting assignments etc.) and we don’t want him to get so excited he loses focus…

Regarding your 3rd question…

What you are worried about is coming off like a tyrant, or drill sergeant. That is only an issue if you are rushing people around, because you are falling behind. But I found that because the TPs are so accurate, you don’t fall behind so it’s a non-issue. The only time we “fell behind” was because often we were running AHEAD of the plan, and were fitting in additional attractions into the extra time… a pleasant, welcome problem to have.

If you do fall behind, be willing to skip the next attraction to get back on track, aiming to do it at another time. None of that “c’mon people, we have 2 minutes to be at Ariel’s Grotto clear on the other side of the park. Move it move it move it!!!”

Another thought of something “free” to do at MK that my DS loved was SOTMK. He had a blast beating the villains, and you get to keep the cards - a free souvenir!

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We have usually told our kids months in advance, and it has never been an issue, but I think it depends on the kids. For our last trip, we decided to surprise them the morning that we left, but I probably wouldn’t recommend that for a first time trip. As many people have reported, surprises at the last minute often go horribly wrong. Ours went ok, but the reaction was definitely not what we were expecting. It took them a very long time to really even absorb it or believe us.

Another thought on a free extra - you could decorate the magic bands. I did that last time and it was a big hit with the whole family. There are threads on here for instructions and inspiration, but it’s not hard at all.

My boyfriend and I celebrated our anniversary in Disney last year! I finished college at the end of April, and the scheduled convocation ended up being the same day as our anniversary in June. So we decided to celebrate the anniversary in early May when we were in the World. We had a special dinner at Narcoossee’s and wore our anniversary buttons for the whole trip. It doesn’t matter if you’re married or not, they’re just happy to help you celebrate! In fact a CM called us over to the FPP line on RNRC when he saw our buttons :smile: