Needing Help Planning our 1st Trip

Hi. I’m completely new to all of this—Disneyworld included. I purchased access to get immediate help planning our trip. We’re arriving Friday night, January 19 and will be spending Saturday-Thursday at Disneyworld, single Park/day tickets. We’re staying at the Art of Animation resort. I have read it’s a good idea to make room requests, but we don’t even know what to request. Also, I’m trying to decide which days to spend at each park and need to do so ASAP to reserve our fast passes (also need help as to which to reserve) on the 20th of this month! I’m SO overwhelmed. We have 4 children, ages 4-11. Our 4 year old is pretty tall and our children love the thrill rides. We’re planning on spending the entire day in the park. We’re bringing our stroller and our youngest falls asleep quite easily in there when needed. Will utilize child swap if needed while she’s napping. PLEASE help!

By being here, you are already ahead of the vast majority of visitors, so good on you!

Room requests: TP will send a fax for you if you put your reservation details into the site and configure the fax. You can search on the site for rooms based on type you reserved and what’s important to you (quiet, distance to food/transport, etc.) then pop that information into the fax to be sent. But really, you will be staying onsite at Disney, and I’ve had many great trips where either I did no room request or got nothing close to what I asked for. Don’t sweat this.

Which days to go to which parks: Look at the crowd calendar for your days as a place to start. How many days will you be in the parks during your trip? Many families find it’s good to take a resort day in the middle as a nice break from touring the parks.

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@TheKarenD. Thanks for replying. We’re planning all 6 days in the Park and then doing beach days the following few before going home. We go to Disneyland quite frequently, so hen we decided on a whim to do Disneyworld, I quickly found out how much more complicated this is going to be. Do you suggest taking advantage of the early mornings offered by staying onsite, or avoiding them?

If you can get the family up and to the parks for extra magic mornings, do take advantage of them. Parks are less crowded then and you can get a lot done. Do consider taking a midday break, though, if you get there early and plan to also take in the nighttime shows.

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As TheKarenD stated, Unofficial guide gives you quite a bit of information in their book and their online site. You can get view from the type of room you wish to reserve and then request it via unofficial guide Dash board. Here is how I do it for the max effect of WDW. I hit MK first, as there is nothing like seeing the Cinderella castle down Main Street USA. to assure you your there. Second we do Epcot as there are two sections to it. Third we do Hollywood Studio’s which is quite small with the recent closings, and forth Animal Kingdom. If more than 4 days start all over again but with kids that age I know where they are going to want to spend their time. Magic Kingdom the place where fairy tales come true. May the Mouse be with You all.

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Lots of very experienced people here who will give you great advice. I’m not one of them :slight_smile:

What I will say is that with regards to the early morning hours, either be there BEFORE they start, or pick a difference park for the day. Lots of people apparently choose the park with the early hours, but don’t get there for opening, so that park ends up packed later in the day.

You haven’t mentioned anything about your dining reservations. Have you made those yet?

The room finder mentioned elsewhere is
Just click on your hotel, and then select the options important to you to see the rooms that fit your criteria and their views. If you find a view you like, there is a link the in the top right corner that will allow you to set up the fax from there. It will automatically put all the room info in for you.

We COULD tell you our opinions on what park to go to on what day and what fast passes to make, but everyone is different, and every family is different. I looked at what we wanted to do (any fireworks shows etc.) and when they were offered, and park hours, then decided which parks to do on which day. From there, work out your dining. Or, create your touring plans, and work out your dining based on where you will be at meal times.

Create a touring plan using the software (use the optimise button) and let it tell you what fast passes to book on which day.

take baby steps, one thing at a time.

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Welcome! Wow! You are doing a great job! You have found Touring Plans and this forum-impressive! Here is a link to directions on how to set up the room fax.

Disney World does take more planning than Disney World. Did you make your reservations on your own or are you using a travel agent? Have you customized your magic bands? Will you use magical express-is that set up?

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I️ would definitely take advantage of emh. You can get so much done early. Some people do emh at one park, spend half the day then travel over to another park that may not be as crowded. We stayed at AoA last year and my little ones loved it. The Murphy beds were really comfy. We stayed in finding Nemo section so the walk to bus was not bad for us. We loved doing character meals and that is such a great way to meet several at one time plus it’s a time to really sit down and relax some in the middle of the day. Make a good list of fast passes you plan to get. Prioritize them as to the most important for your family. Then out of the most important one do the more difficult one to get first. FoP, 7 dwarfs, frozen, toy story, space mt, Everest and Peter Pan are all some of more difficult to secure. We are there around that same time leaving on jan 20 th so i just did fp this week and got everything that i wanted. The crowd levels during that time are generally not bad so you should be able to get a lot done with a good touring plan. Have a fun trip!

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Hi! I’m going in early December with a group of 10 (5 adults, 5 kids). I am the primary planner. Early on in the planning process, I asked each person to tell me 2 things that they really wanted to do while in Disney World. Those answers ranged from meeting Snow White (my DS4) to seeing the Lion King show at AK (my mom) to getting Disney silhouettes of my kids as souvenirs (me). I figure that during our vacation, we can definitely accomplish the 2 things per person that I know people really want to do, and then it’s easier to look at everything else that we get done as almost “bonus” stuff. So try to prioritize your family’s “must do” items so that everyone feels like their wishlist items counted just as much as everyone else’s.

Also, I recommend looking at Disney World color transportation maps online before you go, and getting a general sense of where things are & how to best get there. Seeing the layout of where hotels exist in relation to parks really helped me grasp the process better and I like being more clued in to where we are.

If you want your family to coordinate in any way while in the parks, or even just to save time in the morning, pack outfits in ziploc bags with labels on them for each kid. Like “Monday, Magic Kingdom, Jane” so that getting dressed each morning isn’t such a hassle.

When you are planning your park days, try to see if you can make sure that a late night out isn’t followed by a super early morning, if you can work it that way. Using the crowd calendar was a part of my decision process, but I also knew I wanted to start on an Epcot day and end on a MK day, so I worked the rest of the days around that.

And - read lots of posts here in this forum, even if you don’t think the title immediately applies to you! There’s lots of stuff I have read here that didn’t necessarily occur to me but ended up being good info to have! Good luck, it’ll be great!


My wife and I will be there on our second trip just a week or so before you. Good time to go.

With a 6 day trip at one park per day, a default recommendation would be 1 day HS, 1 day AK, 2 days Epcot, 2 days MK. 1 day Epcot and 2 days AK could also work well depending on your preferences.

For FP+, check the touring plans recommendations, but also make sure you get them for the rides that YOU most want to go to, not just the ones that the trip planner says will save you the most time. For example, if Toy Story Mania is higher on your priority list than Tower of Terror or Rockin’ Roller Coaster, then don’t hesitate to go ahead and get it for Toy Story, that way you ensure you get to ride your top pick at HS without a long wait. Of course, for AK get one for FoP, for MK get ones for Seven Dwarves and Peter Pan, for Epcot get one for Frozen (if desired). The rest is really up to you!

I don’t want to diss the TouringPlans trip planner on the forum, and I certainly won’t because it’s very good, but my recommendation would be to use it wisely. What I mean by that is: give yourself the “most relaxed” walking time, build in breaks liberally, and consider removing some of the less-imporant stuff from the plan altogether. For example, if you’d like to visit the Hall of Presidents, but you can take or or leave it, consider going ahead and leaving it out of your plan. If you find that you do have extra time the day of, you can still see it. My wife and I found that we tried to cram too much into a day with the planner, then ended up getting behind on our schedule by about half-way through a day and had to wing it anyway.

Dining reservations are good, if for no other reason than to force yourselves to sit down inside somewhere comfortable that’s not jam packed (unlike many quick service places, where finding seating for 6 can be challenging at peak times) and take a breather. Don’t worry about making sure you pick the absolute best dining experiences; just find a place you think everyone will like and go with it. In particular, depending on your budget, keep an eye on prices. For example, Via Napoli at Epcot is a great place to sit down, relax, and have a great pizza at a (relatively) reasonable price. For us, this was more important than getting the best culinary experience.

Finally, get the most tech-savvy person in your group to be in charge of keeping track of goings-on throughout the days at the park on a smartphone. This includes checking on same-day FP+ (you never know when they might appear and you want to be ready to snag them), watching the Lines app for the best ride times and potential closures, etc. And be sure to bring a portable phone charger!

Have a great time, and most importantly, be flexible. As they say; no good plan survives the first encounter with the enemy. Things will inevitably not go as planned, and flexibility can be the difference between frustration and fun.


I’m assuming you booked a family suite, not two separate rooms. That means you’ll be in Nemo, Lion King, or Cars. When you booked your suite at AoA did you pick a specific section or did you just choose the generic family suite option? If you picked a specific section then you’ll want to keep that in mind as you look for a room location that suits your family. You can do that by going here: and entering exactly what type of room you booked. Once you’ve picked, in the room view there will be an option to “click HERE to make a request for this room”.

A few caveats to that are 1. this is simply a request, and requests are not always honored due to availability, 2. It’s a fun resort, no matter where your room is… the further you get from the pool the quieter it will be, but then the further you are from the lobby building and transportation. If you choose Lion King section closer to the parking lot then you’re closer to transportation, but you may hear buses and/or cars.

With children of different ages I’ve found that sometimes the divide and conquer approach is better. For instance, even though your 4 year old may be able to ride Test Track it may be more important for them to ride Frozen Ever After but that may not matter to the older children at all. If that’s the case then a strategy is to book 1 adult and 2 kids FPs at Test Track, and the others at FEA. You can all show up at Test Track, start the child swap and then those who went to FEA can use the child swap pass to ride later.

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We’re surprising the kids for a Christmas, so I’m kind of trying to guess based on previous experiences in Disneyland. However, I’m unfamiliar with many of the attractions not available in a Disneyland. I’m hoping to be able to experience everything highly rated on this site. Maybe that’s too lofty of a goal?!?

We did book a family suite, I believe our agent booked a Cars themed one.

I haven’t booked any dining reservations. We have generally just eaten when we’re ravished and found somewhere that looks appealing at the time. I always pack a backpack full of healthy snacks. I am curious about the breakfast available at our hotel. It looks like the menu would appeal to our family. Have any of you tried it? It seems like the easiest option to fill the kids up there before we leave for the day and then figure out other meals later.

We have customized our magic bands and will be utilizing the magic express, though I haven’t finalized that yet.

Thank you ALL for so many incredible tips, and for taking time from your day to give such detailed responses. This has been incredibly helpful! You have mentioned many things I wasn’t aware of or hadn’t yet considered. Have you found the crowd predictors to be pretty accurate? I’ve found it interesting to see the differences in each Park on various days of our trip. Also, can I reserve all fast passes on the 1st day 60 days out of our trip for each day of our trip, or do I need to do each day 60 days out?

Did you book a dining plan too? Dining is so different at wdw! If you are in a park and have the MDE app and want to eat at a table service restaurant you may be able to find an ADR but generally in the park (other than maybe Epcot- depending on time of year since there are so many restaurants) you may find getting into a restaurant very difficult. Resort restaurant tend to be easier. Quick service locations are always available but I just want to confirm you do not have the dinning plan with a daily table service?

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While it’s true that I don’t know your family’s “park style”, I am going to say that trying to experience everything that’s highly rated without a solid plan might be too lofty of a goal since you don’t have your family’s input and there is just SO MUCH to do. If doing the trip as a surprise is important to you, I might keep one or two days at the end of the trip to be somewhat empty, so that as your family experiences things in the first few days, you can see what you’ve missed out on or what the favorites are so that you can do them on those last two days instead of having a set plan. This will be much easier if you select Park Hoppers though, so think about that as well.

My group of 10 does not have a dining plan, and we have very few ADRs because we have 5 small children in our group and getting them to sit still & cooperate for long meals just isn’t what we want to spend our time doing. For us, we will primarily bring some breakfast items as well as place a grocery delivery order to our hotel for things like milk & bread. We’ll eat cereal, oatmeal, fruit & yogurt in our room as we each get dressed in the AM, rather than doing a breakfast each day. From what I have read about AoA, their quick service Landscape of Flavors, is decently rated & has a lot of selection, so I don’t think you will really go wrong checking that out each day. I have just reminded the adults in my group that just because they smell something delicious in a park does not mean they will get to eat it, LOL!

It’s true that some restaurants that require ADRs (advanced dining reservations) may be out of reach unless you book them near the 180 day mark. But you can always keep trying & it doesn’t mean you’ll go hungry. If your group is generally happy just grabbing something when they are hungry, you will likely find plenty of quick service/counter service meals that sound decent & will not need reservations. But if there is a restaurant you really want to try, I’d recommend making a plan to get an ADR for it.

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We stayed at AoA last week. The food at the hotel is good, and there are many choices.

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You can definitely reserve all days of FP+ at the 60 day mark from Jan 20. Those last couple of days you’ll have no problem getting the ones you want.

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General wierdness off the top of my head: Crowd Levels are very accurate. I would swear by them. Trust them. So are the Touring plans. Very accurate! But be very conservative when you create them (slowest walking speed, no zig zagging across the park, huge rest periods… ).
Rope drop (RDi.e. park opening - be it emh park opening or normal park opening) is your best friend. If you can get all your family out to the park about a half hour before, you’ll be amazed at how many attractions you can experience. Try it once, if your family hates it… never again. But I promise you’ll be surprised at the results. RD is half hour before opening ok? As someone mentioned before, you arrive late then don’t bother, you won’t reap the benefits.
Walk with passion and purpose everywhere! You can’t run in the parks, but you really don’t need to.
I don’t think anyone has mentioned that it can get very chilly in January in WDW @Bwoolst. Don’t forget to pack layers of clothes!
Kali River Rapids (KRR) in AK will get you butt soaking wet, beware!
Don’t miss Be our Guest (BoG) restaurant for lunch. It is cheaper than dinner, better food than breakfast and it’s an awesome place.
Haunted Mansion is my favorite attraction. :grin:
All the fireworks shows are must see.
And I can’t think of more tips right now since dinner beckons. Have a great trip!!!

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A little note that I wish someone had told me, which I will add to everyone else’s info: Frozen Ever After is officially my favorite ride in Epcot but be warned: I got fairly wet on this ride. My clothes were wet for about an hour, and my butt was wet from the seat until dinner 3 hours later. It doesn’t say anything about getting wet anywhere and maybe our boat was unusually heavy or light or something, but we got pretty wet. Try and sit toward the middle of the seats if there’s an option; my DD was in the middle and was dry while DH and I got splashed.


Have you found the crowd predictors to be pretty accurate?

On our most recent trip (end of October to mid-November), we’d usually check actual crowds vs. predicted the next morning and generally found the predictions to be accurate to low. There were several parks and days where the prediction was two or three levels below actual. Of course we still enjoyed our trip!

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