Let’s Have Some Fun

Okay - Now that the holidays are over and work has simmered down a bit, I get to start planning my next trip… but there’s a twist! We are bringing another family with us this time. And they’ve never done DW and want me to plan every single thing. It’s entirely strange working on a blank canvas so I’d love the help of you fine people!

Here are the details as we have them right now.

Cast of characters: me, DH, DD7, and DS4, Friend Wife (FW), Friend Husband (FH), Friend Daughter (FD will turn 7 on trip!), and Friend Son (FS4). We are rope droppers who will want the littles in bed no later than 8pm. Kids are beyond the napping stage but we’ll need to be mindful of midday breaks or slow down periods regardless because … well, you all know! I have a babysitter I’ve used before if the adults want post bedtime park fun without the kids.

Accommodations: two separate one bedrooms at Boardwalk, rented dvc through David’s.

Dates: Sat June 3-Sat June 10

And that’s literally it. Nothing else has been planned yet. Was originally thinking pool day only on Saturday. And we probably will only have time for breakfast on departure day (thinking Topo’s).

Friends aren’t particular about food. They’ll do any/all rides. FH is a Star Wars fan and we’re getting FW to watch them for the first time so she’ll better understand Batuu. I asked about character preferences, food, etc and FW said to me, “I could never do Disney because it’s too overwhelming. The only reason we’re going is because I know you’ll plan everything and I don’t have to do a thing. We will have fun whatever you plan.”

So how do you begin planning a trip where it’s your family’s sixth time but someone else’s first?! I’m staring at my empty spreadsheet and I don’t even know where to begin!

Some questions to prompt the advice of you fine folk:

  • Do I ask them to fork over more cash (budgets aren’t a big issue; we’re not flying first class, but we’ve planned finances adequately for the trip) for Genie so we can do more rides? Or do I treat this as a “they don’t know what they don’t know” and plan a more leisurely ride schedule?

  • What should we plan for FD’s 7th birthday?

  • Grown ups-only date night options?

  • Coordinating t-shirt ideas? (@Dreamer and @JustKeepSmiling looking at you two here!)

  • Must-do snacks for first timers?

  • What rides/shows are must-do for first timers?

Any and all other suggestions welcome!


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My trip is in two weeks with DS4 and DS7. I decided a long time ago that waiting in lines with DS7 is fine but my 4 year old cannot handle it. It is worth the sacrifice for some table service meals to have Genie + instead.

It might be useful for the 7 year olds to read the kids guide to WDW to get a sense for what they want to ride or do. My 4 year old is completely uninvested in what we do EXCEPT for Tomorrowland speedway. It’s his rope drop attraction of choice. He wants to ride it 10 times :rofl:

I will say - with my kids - they aren’t great at table service in general (even at home). We have planned 2 character meals plus a breakfast at CRT (only Cindy for us) and that is it. Everything else will be QS for a 7 day trip. We are also only doing 4 park days because I know my kids will need rest time AND pool time. (They got mad at me this summer when I dragged them to a beach on vacation instead of the hotel pool. I’m a terrible parent lol)

Can you ask what she would like? I had all of these big plans for my sons birthday on our trip. He is turning 8. I thought about fireworks parties, Fantasmic dining package, character meal, enchanted extras, etc. When I asked him though, he told me that he wanted a Star Wars day, droid Depot, soft serve ice cream for his treat, and fireworks (not Fantasmic). Maybe FD7 wants to meet a bunch of princesses and you could do BBB with lunch at CRT. Maybe she wants to ride all of the coasters instead.

For the kids, obviously Mickey pretzels, bars, sandwiches and dole whips :slight_smile:

It really depends on the interests of your group. A parade is a must for us, plus everything in TSL and SWGE. Fireworks - and DS7/8 is insisting on all coasters (Space, 7DMT, BTMRR) while DS4 is focused on SDD and Tomorrowland Speedway.

This is the book I got for DS7. Birnbaum’s 2023 Walt Disney World for Kids (Birnbaum Guides) Amazon.com

It would be something that even your friends family could look at without getting overwhelmed by the details. They could mark their “must dos” which would help you plan.

Edited to add: I started planning and thinking of “WE NEED TO DO ALL OF THE THINGS”. As we get closer, I know that this is not true. We will certainly miss attractions - and I don’t even think we are going to all 4 parks. The most important thing is to do what the kids want, have a good attitude and enjoy ourselves. If I make it a pressure filled trip, I won’t enjoy it. I’m armed with the knowledge for a good trip - and we will have some bumps - but ultimately, I know that we can still do a lot (not everything) and have a great time.


Important question: how tall arw the little ones? Can they ride everything?

Do they have favourite characters? Are they scared of anything? My 3yo loves height and speed, but is scared of the dark. We have been watching ride videos and the Haunted Mansion is the only one he told me he was scared.

The two girls and FS4are tall enough for everything. My boy is currently at 40 inches so he’ll need to skip the 44s and above likely.

My kids know their favorites and are already planning their return trip (they don’t know this one is planned) - the friends’ kids don’t have any preferences. No real character attachments (I asked)except Spider-Man but since we’re in Florida and not doing IOA, that is meaningless.

And my friend said to me yesterday, she’s not even sure her kids know what Disney world is/means :scream:

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They should probably watch a few videos in YouTube! My son and I have been doing parks walk through. I want to be sure he understands how much walking and how crowded it will be!

One of my favourite Disney experiences was when my friend 3yo could not ride Big Thunder Mountain at DLR. Husband and I took her to see Winnie the Pooh. It was so magical! So maybe plan some of those alternatives?


We have in the past just had kids along on adult trips. Kids from ages two to teens on the same trip. We adults did what we wanted - which includes character meals for certain - and the kids just went along. We usually had a group with at least 2 adults per kid, so a too short kid had someone to hang with. Those times were often snack times. One of my absolute favorite Disney photos is of a 2 yo and a 3 yo - so colorful in Garanimal clothing - sitting on a curb in HS eating popcorn while most of the group dropped in an elevator.

Our most recent kid trip did have a 4 yo, 8 yo and 9 yo. Girls. Completely new to WDW. Their dad and grandma had been to the World a few times but not recently at all.

The biggest thing to wrap your head around is that touring will take longer with twice the people. Maybe not twice as long but it might seem like it some days. :grin:

Another thing to keep in mind is how over-stimulating the World can be. Just walking down Main Street. The more time you can build in for just taking things in, the better the memories. Maybe. And speaking of walking: hot spot/blister checks of kid feet might be good, occasionally. Your trip is also at a potentially hot :fire: time of year; providing for more cool drinks and cold treats is a good idea. It’s there if needed.

A third thing to keep in mind with kids - especially if memories are the goal, and you have preschool kids - repetition. Repetition makes for familiarity which make provides for longer memories.

We haven’t always gone to MK first morning of any trip because across all age groups Epcot is far and away our favorite park. One trip we had a kid who’d just lost a tooth. We had a great time chatting up CMs in the different countries about tooth fairies .

I wholeheartedly agree that your second family know nothing, especially they won’t know what they’re missing. Add in Genie + to the projected cost. Do as many options as possible - park hopper, water park. With a bigger group, flexibility becomes even more key. As is knowing where every bathroom is. Not very many days into our trip with the 3 girls a new rule was introduced - if anyone goes to the bathroom, everyone goes. At least try!! :smile:

If your trip plans will accommodate park hopper I suggest thinking - and setting up your spreadsheet - of your days in chunks. Morning chunk and afternoon/evening chunk. I submit that the kids are used to getting up and out the door early enough for most rope drops, or close to it. If you’re out the door between 7 and 7:30, and in a park by 8:30, by lunch time you’ve been in the park nearly 4 hours. And everything is stimulating. We usually plan to exit a park by 11:30.

We don’t necessarily nap or swim, sometimes we just cool off. :sunglasses: Or have quiet for a minute or two. The two older girls liked changing clothes for the evening. We brought glow sticks with us from home for evening gussying up.

By 2:30/3pm your group can be at the bus stop for your afternoon/evening park. Leaving about 7 pm to get kids in bed by 8 gives you more than 3 hours in that park. And nearly 8 hours total that day in parks. More than enough time to be stimulated. :smile:

Our first day with these girls did include opening MK. We went first to Adventureland to start the day with Aladdin’s Magic Carpets. All 3 girls screamed in terror while on this ride. Pretty much declaring they would never ride it again. (I feared for any other Disney ride.) We did ride - in some order - Pirates, Splash and Big Thunder Mtn - before heading to Crystal Palace for breakfast with Pooh and friends. The rides were well tolerated - way less scary than a magic carpet. The breakfast was a huge hit - granma had bought autograph books. (Something we never did :smile:) Pretty sure not much was eaten, but the buffet choices made a huge impression. After breakfast we had a FP for a meeting with Tink and then we were headed back to our resort. The girls played Uno in the cool quiet until we dressed and left for our early ADR at Marrakesh. We went directly to the Friendship across to Morocco. Dancing with the belly dancer was so much fun. We walked thru France, UK and China stopping for photo ops in each country. We probably did Spaceship Earth. And, since we were now at the front of Epcot, it was an easy walk to the bus stop (with a bathroom break along the way).

Day 2 was similar, opening AK, Safari, Everest except for the 4 yo, playing on the drums, face painting, photo ops and an impromptu late breakfast at Tusker House. (Waistbands aren’t the only things that benefit from elasticity at Disney). After a resort break we were going to head to Fantasyland for princess time but Hurricane Dorian changed our plans to Dominos delivery and games. We kept to our plan of Typhoon Lagoon for day 3 never managing to incorporate our lost FL time. The girls didn’t miss it. Day 4 was open HS with 11am lunch at 50s Prime Time. Afternoon was girls make over provided by a cousin and aunt and new dresses from grandma for supper at Akershus followed by rides on Frozen and Gran Fiesta as well as photo ops in those countries. Friday was another non park day with an early supper at 1900 Park Fare. Saturday was Epcot - Living Seas and talking with Crush followed by lunch at Garden Grill. Aft/evening was Toy Story Land - great photo ops - and Sci Fi Dine in.

For shirts we had a color of the day. Everyone wore teal on MK day - solid or print, new or old favorite, your choice. Our photo pass photo looks pretty good. We match without huge sameness. Green for AK. White for HS.

Except grandma went berserk with matching shirts - in the color of the day - for the girls. And boy howdy did they get CM attention. Idk where she got the idea to get them matching shirts.

Thank you for putting up with this ultra long read. I included our plan in case it helps provide a jumping off place for your plan. I’m incapable of being brief; I’m happy to try to be concise if I can be of assistance. :smile::grin::blush:


Same week for us this summer!!! We will be splitting with a 2BR at OKW and a Studio at BLT

I think so. At least have the discussion about the likely cost (probably 17-19 that week I would imagine, and let them know the option. Its a noticeable amount of money, but it changes things. You might find out their tolerance for waiting vs paying. ALSO, I am a second for park hoppers for a week long trip. You didn’t say how many days you were buying tickets for, but I love the flexibility - especially if I am for 5 park days or more. It’s especially nice for adult date night.

EPCOT in the evening is always nice. Maybe Abracadabar - a stroll around Crescent Lake and down to DHS for evening in Batuu? Plenty of dinner options around the area…

Not my thing. I vote for Genie+ and Park hoppers over tshirts.

I think HDDR is a great choice for a first time family. Its so fun, the food is good and going out the FW is fun.

There are my 6.4 cents’ worth!


My only two cents with those ages is to check in on fear/readiness for crowds. When we took my kids, they loved it all, rode it all, stayed up late. We did have afternoon naps. DD4 (at the time) was scared of exactly 1 thing - the ravens walking with the fire-breathing dragon during FoF parade.

However, my sister took her two kids this past fall - ages 8 and 4. The younger one is a covid baby through-and-through. Those poor kids had sensory overload the whole time! He (8) didn’t want to ride roller coasters because they were too scary, but did want to go go go to the other rides. She (4) didn’t like anything at all. (or so we thought). She’d never really been in crowds before, so I think that was super overwhelming.

Come to find out, though, she has some excellent memories. I asked her what she loved and she listed off half a dozen rides. Her dad ended up taking her to DL a few months later, for a family event. They shopped, and looked at all the details, and found hidden mickeys. He said it was the best time he’s ever had with her.

So, I guess my only thought is to make sure you go with the flow with the friend-kids. Maybe it’ll be a different kind of trip than your family is used to.


I would plan some down time. The absence of the mental stimulation of the parks for the young ones keep them from being overwhelmed and cranky. You could even do a mid trip whole day park break with a morning of a QS breakfast at the Mara and then see the animals on Savanah or go to Trails End followed by pony rides or have breakfast at Garden Grove at the Dolphin followed by mini golf followed by some pool time and some pizza on the boardwalk.

I would absolutely tell them about G+ and the cost and let them decide. You could also decide to do it for only a couple days or a certain parks.

I think everything is must do once but that takes several trips lol.

It’s so hard to plan for another family when they aren’t giving a lot of input. I wish you the best of luck!

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You asked about matching t-shirts; I personnally love them.

For my wedding, 18 of us wore matching t-shirts. The souvenir pictures are so cool (we had entire logs to ourselves in Splash Mountain), but it also made it easier to track everyone, adults and kids altogether! People congratulated us all over the park. It also made it easier to get dressed in the morning, shorts and t-shirts and we were good to go.

I don’t know if you would be into it, but I do think it makes staying together easier.

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When we went to WDW last fall with first timers, we said everyone should have G+ (we knew that it was in their budget). They trusted our judgement on it … and once they saw the difference in the lines, they were happy they had G+.

This really depends on what they like. I sent YouTube video of rides to them in advance so their kids could watch and decide which ones they wanted to try. We ended up splitting up into two groups on occasion because the two 7/8 year olds wanted to try everything, but the two 4/5 year olds did not want to try any thrill rides.


This sounds like a really fun trip to plan. They trust you and have decided it will be fun before they even get there. What a great attitude!

We did The Boathouse and loved it. Sat outside by the water where it wasn’t as loud as inside the restaurant. We also did Tutto Italia and then watched the Epcot fireworks another night. I bet Cali Grill and watching fireworks would be a good one too.

We had our 1st Dole whips last trip, so I think that should be high on your list. The kids loved their Mickey bars the 1st trip, so I’d make sure the kids get to have those.

I have a memory like this. I took DD4 at the time to ride Magic Carpets while the rest of us rode Splash.