Help a New TP User Plan Her Kids' First Disney Trip!

Hi all –

I just joined TP a week ago to plan our first WDW/UO trip and have been lurking around the forums for a couple days; and it looks like y’all are a good crowd to be with. I have a feeling that planning this trip is going to be almost as therapeutic as the trip itself – I’ll explain why in a second. For now: thanks in advance. :grin:

The Background:
Travelers will be me (female, early 40s), my daughters (hereafter DD9 and DD7), and my father (early 70s). My husband, who is not a Disney fan, will be staying home with the dog we will hopefully have by then. It is possible that my father’s kinda-sorta-girlfriend will be joining us but I doubt it.

This trip is my father’s idea, and that is a big deal, emotionally speaking, because: my kids have never been to Disney, mostly because my mom, who would have been the trip planner, died in March 2013. My dad was devastated and it’s cast a shadow over his relationship with my daughters ever since – my mother adored the kids (and saw them all the time; they lived 20 minutes away from us) and in a way he’s still in the process of developing a relationship with them separate from his missing her. Also my mother was a bargain-hunter par excellence who was in her element trying to plan trips. After she died my dad ruefully confessed that he hadn’t booked an airplane ticket for himself in three decades. So his asking me to plan this trip is basically his acknowledging that my mother isn’t around to do it and wanting to do it anyway.

So THE PRESSURE IS ON. And I am here.

The Trip:
The tentative plan is for first week of May, arrive late May 3rd or early May 4th and depart May 9th or 10th. I can afford to wiggle with the dates a bit because we’re likely driving down (from GA). There’s a remote possibility of moving the dates back to early April, but it looks like the crowds will be smaller in early May.

Lodging: I have a reservation at the B Resort and Spa (via MouseSavers) but haven’t decided yet if I’m going to keep it. I want to get more information about some of the on-site resorts, specifically AoA. I know where we stay will have a big influence on what parts of the trip we should do when. For now assume we’ll keep our B Resort reservation and thus will be based around Disney Springs.

Transportation: See above – the plan is to drive down and thus have my car there.

Must-Do Attractions:
I know this is the WDW part of the board but I’ll go ahead and say I have to reserve at least one full day, possibly a day and a half, for UO – DD9 has been obsessed with Harry Potter for most of the last year. Thinking that would be Monday May 6th or Tuesday May 7th.

Otherwise the only absolute must-dos I have on my list so far are Belle’s Enchanted Tales, Frozen Sing-Along, and Jedi Training Academy. Neither of my kids have a lot of roller-coaster experience (although they have gone ziplining) so I don’t know how many of those they’re going to want to do. They might like meeting characters; they might not. They’ve outgrown Winnie the Pooh, but they might like the ride. et cetera.

I’m tentatively planning 1-2 days MK, total of 1 day EP (split up – I’m assuming we’re going to want the PH add-ons), 1/2 day HS, and maybe 1/2-1 day AK. I haven’t nailed all that down yet; it’ll come together as I look through TPs. I have to make sure not to overschedule us. The day we go to HS we have to get there first thing in the morning to sign up for JTA, is my understanding.

This is where I’ll need the most help! No food allergies, but my dad’s a relatively conservative eater and the DDs are pretty picky (DD9 is a vegetarian; more accurately, a carbatarian). Also I’m really not sure whether to try for a character breakfast or not. DDs are old enough that they won’t be awed by the CMs but they might still find it fun (they go back-and-forth on the merit of princesses in general but are watching Frozen as I type this). Obviously I’m about 60 days late (and counting) for prime ADRs, so I may just need to discount the character-breakfast idea altogether. If I do try to get a CB I may shoot for a less crazy one.

So basically I don’t know yet whether a dining plan makes sense. Assume I don’t need more than maybe one nice dinner reservation, and if I did get a DP would be relying a lot on quick-service meals.

Things You Can Help Me With At the Moment:

  • Both girls absolutely LOVE drawing. I know the Animation Academy at HS is closed (sob) and there might be a more casual drawing-class event at AoA. But is there anything else? I’m trying to stick to a budget but I would pay heaps extra for something that allowed the girls to leave with their own drawing or animation cel or anything like that.
  • Related: I looked into Dining with an Imagineer but I suspect it’s not a good option to pursue with kids. (My kids are pretty smart but have average-kid-size attention spans.) Has anyone done that with kids? Am I ruling that idea out too early? Maybe bring DD9 and have my dad take DD7?
  • Is Moana at any of the CBs? I haven’t come across a reference to her yet (I searched the forum for “moana cb” and got nothing). If so that CB would jump to the top of my priority list.
  • DD7 finds loud ambient noise painful – movie theaters are rough going for her; even the cafeteria at her (small) elementary school bothers her. (She does okay with fireworks; it’s contained noise bouncing off walls that overstimulates her to the point of pain.) Tomorrow I’m going to call our pediatrician’s office and ask if there’s a way to get her earplugs that would reduce the level of loud ambient noise without cancelling all noise. In the meantime: are there rides I should specifically cross off the list because they’re particularly noisy?
  • DD9 also loves Porgs. Love love loves them. (For those who don’t know what I’m talking about: these bird-like creatures from The Last Jedi.) I suspect we’re a few months too early to find much in the way of Porgs at HS, but if I’m wrong, please do let me know.

That’s what I’ve got right now! Hopefully this week I’ll get some information that allows me to finalize dates and make a decision on the accommodations. I’ll come back to this thread to update. Again, thank you all for your help (and for letting me natter on at length)!

edited to add: had to change my dates so I started a new thread!


Welcome!! We love to give our opinions, er, I mean help one another with plans, and we are a friendly and supportive bunch. You’ve come to the right place!

I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your mother, and the impact it has had on your Dad and on his relationship with your kids. I’m super thrilled to hear he is ready to begin healing, and making Disney World a part of that for all of you will be so very special.

First, a word of caution - do no go anywhere near HS on May The Fourth (be with you)! :wink:

AoA is great in terms of providing a little more space, but the second bed is a pullout - would you or your Dad sleep there?

A day should be enough to do at Universal - my family did it mainly for the HP stuff and got to do all of that and a bunch more. They had the Express Pass. I stayed in the bubble :wink: But they had a great time! They used a Lyft to get there and back and it was very affordable at about $20 each way.

There is plenty for picky eaters to enjoy in WDW and if you peruse the menus you’ll find places that are a nice compromise between picky and adventurous. Some of the buffets - Boma, Tusker House come to mind - are great for this and even encourage the picky eaters to venture outside of their comfort zone a bit. My entire family is a group of “vanilla” eaters, and I enjoy a lot of my favorite things while we are there in spite of them.

I would not forego the option of a character meal! Maybe choose one that features Mickey (Tusker House, Chef Mickey) – after all, it was all started by him :wink: We are adults and our kids are a 14yo and 11yo and we all love to do at least one character meal each trip :slight_smile: it’s so much a part of the fun! We ARE past doing multiples each trip and hitting them all, but we like to work one and sometimes two in there. Your kids are not yet Disney Adults so if you were ever going to do the dining plan, it would be now; once your 9yo turns 10 you’ll pay adult prices for what may be still a very child-sized appetite. A nice alternative is to prepare ahead of time with gift cards, which can be gotten at a discount from multiple sources.

I do not know of any drawing activities other than the one you mention at AoA, but I hear great things about that. You do not have to be a guest at that resort to participate, so if you keep your current reservations feel free to drop on by and enjoy!

There is an age limit on Dining With An Imagineer, I suspect largely due to the attention span but also for preserving the magic for the little ones. Your kids are too young, as guests must be 14 and older.

Moana is not currently meeting during regular park hours. She has been seen at hard ticketed events like the Halloween and Christmas parties. What is “CB”?

You could bring noise cancelling headphones for your DD7. I have seen many kids wearing them. The sounds can be very loud. The only ride I would cross off for sure is Dinosaur, but there may be others and I know my friends will chime in about that.

IDK a thing about porgs, but you are probably right that HS is where to find them if they are anywhere.

Once again, welcome and I hope you find everything you need to make your trip the magical adventure you all need! :smiley:


“CB” = character breakfast?

Welcome!!! Everyone here is so helpful and this forum truly provides a treasure trove of knowledge.

I don’t have a ton of experience at WDW. Currently preparing to take my family on their third trip and I still feel like a newbie. And as I have no experience with the things you are asking specific questions about I will defer to the experts around here to address those.

Have you asked your girls their opinions on character breakfasts and interactions? Their answers may surprise you. My oldest is 8 and is CRAZY excited to do BBB which surprised me as she’s never really been into princesses much at all.

They enjoyed the CBs we did the last time and it helped fill up the pages in their autograph books without waiting in line in the parks to meet them.

Looking forward to more posts on how your trip develops!


Welcome! Wow- you are a great planner, you found Touring Plans already! I am so sorry to hear about your mom . I hope this trip is a step moving forward for you all.

I heard that there were plans to open a mini animation academy in the new World of Disney Store in Disney Springs. I just Googled it and could not find anything yet, but I will keep an eye out.

I will disagree with @OBNurseNH regarding Hs and May 4th. I have been there on that date. Sometimes it is a big deal, sometimes nothing really special is happening other than a lot of guests wearing Star Wars t- shirts. Keep an eye out for announcements .


In fairness I am not at all a Star Wars fan and HS is my bottom ring park. Should have disclosed fully :wink:


It has been crazy, and it has been “just another day”- you just never know.


Welcome! My condolences as well on the passing of your mother. You are in good company here as you step into her role as planner.

You will get so many good tips and suggestions, and it sounds like you have some great info already. After all you found this group!

I would second the suggestion above to do one day at universal. My husband and I are big HP fans and, even without express pass, we got our fill and saw all we needed to see! If you want to do much outside of the Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, and Express Pass would be useful.

To get you started, your first goal should be deciding which parks on which days and dining. Those two can go hand in hand depending on if you end up finding a dining experience that is must do. Once you pick park days, everything else will start falling into place.

You are not behind the ball on getting your dining reservations, either. Though you did miss the 180 day mark, reservation finder on the touring plans website is N absolute dream and has helped many of us get those hard to get reservations.

Two suggestions if you haven’t done them already:

Get a copy of the unofficial guide to WDW. I check mine out at the library (and then renew incessantly). It was absolutely invaluable the first time I took on the role as planner. It helped me sort through each piece of my trip and know better what I needed to ask and look into.

If you are on Facebook, check to see if there is a May 2019 Liner group. If so, join! This community is invaluable, but it is also nice to have a group that is traveling right around the same time you will be traveling. I know the group I’m in has been super helpful as we talk about crowd levels, thing that are happening specifically when we are there, etc. One member even helped another snag a dining reservation!

Good luck, enjoy, and welcome!


Thank you all for the replies! Honestly I had not even thought about May the 4th at HS! I did some searching and didn’t find anything specific to Star Wars, but apparently something new may be opening at HS that weekend so I may need to factor that into when we go over to HS.

@OBNurseNH: we’re going to get two rooms – I know my dad well enough that he’ll be willing to pay for his privacy :smile:. My B Resorts reservation has one room for him and one for me & the girls with bunk beds, which will either be exciting or disrupt their sleep, I’m not sure which yet.

@cjandres thank you for the suggestions! Looking over UO I don’t think there’ll be a lot the girls will want to do outside of the Harry Potter offerings – maybe the Minions ride. That may be when I let my dad sneak off and ride for himself.

edited to add: @DeepInTheHeartofTexas – haven’t asked the girls what they want yet, don’t want to spill the beans too early. (And also trying to keep expectations down – I don’t want to ask them about stuff it turns out I can’t get.)

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Hi there, I’m fairly new to the boards, but a frequent Disney planner. For all of our early trips I got the Unofficial Guide and pretty much read it cover to cover-so incredibly helpful!

Don’t forget, if you have a subscription to the Touring Plans, you’ve got access to the reservation finder. I’ve switched around our whole trip within the last few weeks (we are going in March) and have found everything I wanted. Granted I didn’t want anything crazy popular, but I’ve even found a PPO BOG reservation, so it works!

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I didn’t see anyone answer this, but we saw porgs in several places in HS and DS during Christmas week.

Actually, the reservation finder works for anyone. That’s part of how TP was able to keep it when others had to discontinue.

I’ll echo what @OBNurseNH said in her reply. There are all kinds of “vanilla” foods for the less adventurous. Anyone can order off the kids menu. DD17 ordered pizza off the kid’s menu a couple of time during our trip, and they brought out an adult size for her. (She IS an adventurous eater, but she was in the mood for something not quite as adventurous as escargot or calamari).


We went the same week in May 2018 with our 3 kids. It was a great week. Some rain, but mostly beautiful weather and the crowds are very manageable. We love F&G, so we plan on returning in May 2020, although a couple weeks later due to school activities. That will be our 3rd trip as a family.

I have boys, 9, 9, and 6 our last trip, so major Star Wars fans here. There were Porgs in some of the stores, but they aren’t really majorly implemented in the current attractions. I think there was a small scene in Star Tours.

I kind of make my boys try some Princess stuff. (They don’t like to admit they like some of them). We really enjoyed 1900 Park Faire for dinner. Garden Grill, especially PPO breakfast, is an all time hit for us. They also liked Sci Fi, BOG lunch, and Yak and Yeti.

I can’t comment on Universal. We are waiting until our boys are older so they can get on more rides and the upcoming Nintendo World.


Welcome! You are in good company here as everyone is super helpful. I’m sorry about the loss of your mom and how you dad has been struggling with it. I hope this trip is great for all of you especially the bonding of your daughters with your dad.

Most of the dining places will have options for all different types of eater. My family is not adventurous at all (DH is the exception, but he will eat whatever). We really enjoyed Garden Grill breakfast as it was the typical American breakfast. The character interaction was great too. We did Akershus for dinner and that too was a good character meal. If you have the time and budget I would try at least one character meal. The reservation finder can be very helpful getting reservations you want so give it a try. I got several reservations changed by using that tool.

Moana isn’t available anywhere outside of the holiday parties. My girls were slightly bummed about that when we went in September. There were probably some Porg gear in the HS shops, but I don’t recall seeing it for certain. Probably most likely to find that at Tattoine Traders right beside Star Tours. You can meet BB-8, Kylo Ren, and Chewie in HS. Chewie was a great meet and greet.

Good luck in the planning; it’s half the fun!

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May is my favorite time to visit. I have found the crowds and weather very good.

I’d start with the TP recommendations and can not underscore rope drop enough.

My kids (ages 5 - 18 now) have always loved characters well into their teen years. The characters also are very friendly and funny with the older kids and I’d say leave yourself room to be surprised that your girls may actually like some of those interactions.

If you are only getting one day per park (am I reading that properly) I wouldn’t spend too much time with TS dining unless they are pre-park-open ADRs. I highly, highly recommend one at MK for as early as possible. You can finish breakfast and be that much further into the park for park opening.

My one caveat to avoiding TS is that if you are like me (be there when it opens, leave when they kick you out) a leisurely dinner can be just what you need to get a second wind to finish the night strong.


All this info is really helpful!

@SirGreggLadyV thanks for the input! (I read your trip report, I am amazed at how much y’all packed in!)

I may go ahead and get the Disney Food Blog books so I can get a better idea of what we can eat where (me adventurous, my girls picky, my dad in between). My local library has the Unofficial Guide with Kids 2019 (and 2016 as an e-book; I’ve got that now, actually) but not the full Unofficial Guide.

Universal Tourist is currently running what looks like some decent deals (Port Orleans-Riverside for $250/rm/night, Coronado Springs for $215/room/night) but you have to buy the WDW tickets as well, and I’m afraid to pull the trigger on the tickets until I get the dates finalized. (The info I’m waiting for: whether my dad can miss a class – he teaches evenings – and whether DD9 has an orchestra performance that week.)

Correct me if I’m wrong, but (a) you can’t get the Dining Plan if you’re at a non-Disney hotel and (b) you can’t make reservations until you have a ticket, right?

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A) this is correct —you have to be at a Disney resort to be on the dining plan.

B) you can book at 180 days out, or less regardless. The advantage you get staying onsite is that you can make ADRs for your whole stay 180 days from first day there.

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Really? We didn’t have much planned and always seemed to be running around. However, we learned a lot from these forums, which puts us ahead of a lot of people.

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How many times did y’all get to Epcot? :grin: seriously, that was four parks and a room switch midway, right? I remain impressed.

Anyway – I just booked my first restaurant reservation (Tusker House at 8:50 am). I feel like I should get some sort of badge.

(I’ll go ahead and add that I’ve been flirting with the idea of eventually running one of the Disney races, so any tips that end up not applying to this trip I may end up using on a future trip.)

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I lost count…

Yay! We loved Tusker House. You should get a badge. All I could find was a badger, though.



Have no tips for you, but wanted to say welcome and have a great time

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