Feeling overwhelmed - 52 days to go and I know almost *nothing* about WDW!

Well, I only recently booked a holiday. It’s a big one for us - first trip to Disney World, 2 adults with 2 4-yr-old twins. No sooner had we booked it and paid the deposit, we had to pay the balance. It’s all been a big rush. So, I registered online with Disney, organised what I could (ordered magic bands etc), then ordered a guide book (Unofficial Guide to WDW) and this hefty book came back telling me about making reservations for dining 6 months before the holiday … WHAT THE …

OK, deep breaths …

Bottom line is this: we’re only 52 days from the holiday, and I need to read a LOT between now and then. I’m finding it all quite daunting as I know the time between now and then is also going to be busy with Christmas, our kids’ birthdays and all manner of other things. Disney planning will be squeezed in between other stuff. Not ideal.

I’ve registered here so that I can hopefully make use of the plans, use the app etc, but even there I am not sure where to start.

So, I’d love some advice about what could quickly get me up to speed so that I can start to make some half-decent plans, if anyone can help? Maybe you know of a good video primer that would give me a good overview? I really know little about Disney World, other than people love it, the kids will love it … but I don’t know what attractions would be suitable for them or anything. So, a total newbie!

Thanks folks

Look up the pre made touring plans for each park with little kids. It will tell you a list of attractions the authors think would be suitable. You can read descriptions about each ride and decide if your family will like it. Use the crowd calendar to decide which park(s) you want to do which day.
I would also go to Disney’s website or call dining and see what ADRs are still available for your holiday for any sit down meal you might want. You can cancel right up to the day before so it’s okay. Once you know rides you can tackle the fastpasses. Once you have a few things in place it becomes easier to tweak your plans and modify your touring plans

1 Like

We have opted for a quick dining plan, which I gather don’t require any reservation, so that at least takes that out of the TO-DO list :smile:

When you say pre-made touring plans, I assume you mean some of the plans on this site? I’ve scrolled through on the iPhone app and there look to be quite a few to pick from.

Thanks for your reply :smile:

What’s an ADR, by the way? Probably just the first of many bits of jargon I’ll learn :wink:

Hi! Welcome! Don’t feel bad about being overwhelmed. There is a lot of information to go through. I just went to WDW a couple months ago with a 4 year old. Best advice I received

  1. BE there at Rope drop (RD)
  2. Have a plan - any plan you pick or make will be fun
  3. Don’t be afraid to deviate from the plan if you see something you really like.

P.S. ride videos on you tube - watch with the kids to see if they think it’s fun or scary

1 Like

Advanced dining reservation. Okay great. You can put off reading about restaurants until you know where and when you’re going to be. Yes the plans on this site (touringplans.com) There are a few but you can eliminate a lot because you’re touring with littles. You can also pop over to chat and ask for other liners (with super duper experience) to come to the forum to advise you. I wish I had known about lines and touring plans for my previous six trips.

1 Like

A first trip, how exciting! Have you seen this list http://allears.net/tp/abrev.htm, it may help you understand what we are saying!

You are right- if you have quick service dining plan, you do not need ADRs. Where are you staying? How many days are you going yo be at Disney? Would you like suggestions on the best quick service choices?

1 Like

I think this is all great advice. I would add that you might want to plan a mid day break. They were essential when my kids were that age. Even now with older kids, we appreciate an afternoon pool or nap break. Have a fantastic trip!

1 Like


Pick any touring plan that suits young kids.
Arrive early. And don’t try to see and do everything in one trip.
You’ll need breaks. There is such a thing as a Disney overload :scream:
Spending a day at the pool to recharge your batteries is Ok too.
And don’t stress about missing fantastic stuff (that’s all there is!), just feel good about the fun you had.
I find, with kids, it’s just better to eat at the quick service restaurants.

First time I went to Disney, I was totally clueless (no plans, no research) and I had a great time. Planning should be fun and exciting, not a chore :wink: And the kids will have a great time no matter what.

Hope you breath better. :flushed:


Relax, take a beak breath. All is well, you are going to WDW!

First, take a look at the ready-made touring plans that are in the book, and then look at the on-line ones. Pick out plans that will work well with your interests, and then try to get FastPass+ reservations that work with those plans. Do this as soon as possible, as the reservations for the most popular attractions go quickly, but don’t sweat it too much (as I said before, relax, take a beak breath. All is well, you are going to WDW!). Unless you have some extra time to devote to it, I would not bother with making Personalized Touring Plans, but if you feel like trying it out start out by optimizing the ready-made plans for your specific park days.

Next, read the Unofficial guide from cover to cover, skipping parts that do not apply to you (for example, just read about your resort and don’t read about the others unless you are thinking of touring some of them). Don’t get too bogged down with details, but jot down things that seem interesting to you or tips that you want to take advantage of. You want to build some overall knowledge, not the minutia that some of us get bogged down in. :wink:

Finally, even though you have the QS dining plan, you might read about a TS restaurant that you want to go to. Use the WDW Reservation Finder http://touringplans.com/walt-disney-world/reservation-finder to help you get a reservation for it.

1 Like

Be there before rope drop. At least 30-45 minutes early.

1 Like

I’ve gone without any ADRs because I didn’t even know I was going until we decided to turn that way and go! So, I’m a crazy planner, but it can be done without much planning when necessary! If sitting down to character dinners is important, try for ressies, use the reservation finder, and keep trying when you get down there. Many ressies free up the day before bc people drop them rather than paying the fee. They “hold” them in case they will want them.

QS dining will be awesome. There are plenty of tips on how to avoid a week’s worth of burgers and nuggets-- and so many good QS meals to pick from. I think you will love QS dining. It’s freedom! Other than that, RD, arrive even earlier, copy and modify plans, and you’ll be good to go. This site is the BEST for maximizing everything to the fullest. Congrats on your trip!

1 Like

If you’re brand new to the parks, then the “Must Do” video that runs in the hotel rooms is a good place to start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyUEXM-ptzQ [note: this is my recording of that video, but you can find other versions of it if you search youtube]

Having suggested that, you’ll hear a lot of people tell you everything you “must do,” but the truth is there’s nothing that can’t be missed. The best vacations aren’t about the stuff you don’t do, but rather about what you do find time to do. Disney World is large and very busy, so there is the potential for frustration if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, so it’s good that you’re thinking about the trip ahead of time.

A couple general things folks already suggested that I think are worth reiterating:

  • Start Early - Plan to arrive 20-30 minutes before park opening each morning. The park gates often open 10-15 minutes before the published start time and the first hour of the day is the least crowded time. Leave a little extra time to account for being slow to leave the room, waiting for buses/monorails/etc, and getting through “bag check” outside the gates
  • Take Breaks - It’s easy to try to “get your money’s worth” by spending every waking hour in the parks, but especially when traveling with kids it’s easy to wear down and end up with a tired, grouchy group when you do this. Take a rest, enjoy the pool, air conditioning, or just rest from being overstimulated for a little while. Even if the kids don’t nap, the breaks make a big difference.
  • See the Evening Shows - Maybe not every night, if kids aren’t used to staying up late, but the evening fireworks shows are some of what Disney does best.
  • Look at the Park Maps Ahead of Time - You may not memorize where everything is, but know the different “Lands” in each park at what’s near what. Cast Members and other guests in the parks can always help you if you’re not sure how to get where you want to go, but try to avoid spending your vacation time standing in a group for ten minutes asking everyone what they want to do next.
  • Know What Will Be Closed During Your Visit - Since the Disney parks are open every day of the year, the must periodically shut down attractions for maintenance or upgrades, so know what won’t be running during your stay. Touring Plans keeps an up to date list of these closures (as to several other sites that are easy to find with a quick Google search), so check regularly to make sure you know Soarin’ will be shut down for most of the first half of 2016 or other things like that - http://touringplans.com/walt-disney-world/closures
  • Try Things You Think You’ll Like - I can tell you my favorite attractions, but I don’t know what you’ll like best, so look at the maps and guidebooks ahead of time and pick out the things you want to see. Folks around here can help you figure if you have time to do all of those things.
  • Make FastPass+ (FPP) Reservations Now - Disney resort guests can do this 60 days before their vacations, so take advantage of that. Even if you just randomly select what park you’ll visit each day and what attractions you want to skip the lines for, you’ll at least have something scheduled. You can always change these later on. If you’re hoping to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or meet Anna and Elsa, then those are among the FPP options that frequently “sell out” first.

If you’re really pressed for time, then you may also consider using a Disney travel agent. There are quite a few people who post regularly on these forums who are also travel agents. They are FREE (yes, actually free, with no catch - Disney pays them a commission) and you can transfer a reservation you’ve already made to a travel agent, who can help you with plans, make dining reservations, and help talk you through your first visit. No matter what, there’s lots of fun to be had. You won’t do or see it all the first (or even the fifth or fiftieth) time, but the parks aren’t going away anytime soon, so if you like them, then there will always be something new to try when you return.


The first time we went, we had kids 4 and 7 and a quick-service dining plan. We didn’t follow a plan, just used a line app to show wait times, and we were fine. With 4-year-olds, your best park will be Magic Kingdom, and if you can spend 2 days there, that would be good. I think Animal Kingdom is the second best park for preschoolers, and Hollywood Studios third. We waited until our kids were a bit older before we went to Epcot. For winter travel to Disney, just bring layers of clothing, and don’t forget a rain poncho. You’ll have a great time!

1 Like

1 - go feel overwhelmed - it will be ok
2 - remember your kids are 4 and they can’t hang in there forever - so make sure you take the necessary breaks - go on THEIR schedule a bit
3 - KNOW you won’t see everything and be ok with that
4 - ENJOY the small moments with them
5 - USE THE PLANS - at least for a bit and then do what you want

1 Like

I will plan as best as I can, but having never been before it’s difficult to know how many days on and off we should have (we’re there for 2 weeks, so will need to have some off days, lounging by the pool!)

The kids are only just turning 4 in December, so a lot of the rides will be too big for them. My challenge is finding out what rides they will be able to go on :smile:

I think I need to get an understanding of what the different quick dining restaurants are. As for pubs, there is one we will definitely have to visit - the Rose and Crown (as that’s where my cousin is working for a year!). What do you mean by ‘liners’ by the way?

Oh crikey, didn’t realise I had to plan AND learn a new language :smiley:
Seriously, though, I’ll try to get to grips with that so thanks for sharing

1 Like

Regarding rope drops …

We are staying in Caribbean Beach Resort, so I think that gets us slightly earlier access to the parks. Can you give me an idea what this would mean for us as a family in terms of getting up/out to get there early enough? As in, if I wanted to be at rope drop for a given park, what time would I need to leave the hotel (presumably catching the disney shuttle service or whatever is laid on)

Our kids usually wake at about 7am, but who knows what’s going to happen with jet-lag doing its thing!?

The app for your phone is called Lines, people who use it are called liners. You’re a Liner now. Welcome to the family. It’s like anything else, there’s a learning curve in the beginning. You’ll pick up the lingo quick. It’s really just abbreviations.

1 Like