We are a family of 5 headed to Disney World for Thanksgiving Break. Ages of kids are 16, 13, and 7. We are super excited but Mom wants to get the best out of the experience for all of us. I’m excited about using the touringplans site, but I’m trying not to get too overwhelmed by the planning of it all. I saw where I could map out our day and the options for MK were for either younger kids or older. Is there anything that will lead me down a path of choosing for both? I have already booked some meals but I’m not sure now if I have those on the best days or not. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
Scroll down further in the Touring Plans options. There is a Whole Family section that lists a Happy Family Plan as well as a plan for parents with younger and older kids. If you find a plan that looks close to what you want, you can copy it and edit to add or remove rides. If you already have meals booked, I would plan my park days around those, especially if some of the reservations were difficult to get.
I have seen a lot of posts lately from people visiting the world getting stressed out “doing it all”. I would make a plan for my “must do”- schedule your FPs and then allow time to just “discover”! Enjoy!
I think it is important to remember that the people on this website are the MINORITY. Most families will show up at Disney and just walk in and do all the rides and stuff without any prior planning. I consider stuff like touring plans, ADR, etc, sort of “varsity”. Learn what you can, plan a bit and then don’t stress it. There are folks here who will have every dining reservation made and every moment of their day orchestrated and that is what works for them. Do what works for you in terms of planning. I think the most important overall piece of advice is go to the parks on the days they are the least crowded for your visit. For example, if you arrive on a Monday and want to do MK first but the crowd calculator has it as a 9 and on Tuesday it is a 7, switch your days up and try to hit each park on a lower crowd level day if possible. Second most important thing is to go early. Get there before the rope drops and you will feel ahead of the lines all day. Third…pick a touring plan that fits your family’s ages and then try to get the FPs it recommend, if you can’t don’t worry, just try to hit your favorite/longest typical line rides early in the morning. Have fun!
Completely hear you on feeling overwhelmed. This is our first trip to WDW and we decided to go less than 60 days out from our depature date. I am by no means an expert, but these are my tips
read the unoffical wdw guide. I read it cover to cover - note down any attractions or dining options that you really want to do
look at the crowd predicition calendar and map out a rough guide of days
start putting together your plans for each park. Magic Kingdom is the toughest so I did that one last. I looked at the suggested plans and took and advice from the book and here, but ultimately used the personalised plan option and moved things around as needed.
once you start doing your ADR and FPP be prepares to be flexible with your plans
My biggest advice is to be familiar with the parks. Know what the rides and attractions are. Youtube is a great resource for deciding if your family will want to take the time to do something. You cannot possibly do it all in one trip and coming to terms with that before your first trip will make it a lot less stressful. Just remember it’s a reason to go back.
Once you feel like you have a good idea of what your family will or won’t want to see use a customized touring plan. That one lets you pick and choose which attractions you want to see and helps you know when to do them.
It is overwhelming your first time but any amount of planning is automatically better than no planning. WDW is unlike any other theme park but with knowledge about how things work means your family will move from one thing to another instead of standing around staring at a map asking each other what would you like to do now.
Once you have a personalized plan if you still have questions mark it as public and then post the link here and we’ll be happy to answer them.
What restaurants are you concerned about? Most of us are all too happy to offer our opinions lol.
THIS! When we were planning the first trip that the kids would really remember and could help plan, we watched a TON of videos to help them put rides in the do or don’t piles. The TouringPlans channel and iThemePark channel both have many full ride-throughs that you’ll find helpul for this!
Thank you so much. I will look for it.
My biggest piece of advice to you would be this, relax! I don’t mean that in a harsh way, I mean that in a sympathetic and logical way…I’ll explain.
A Walt Disney World trip is not cheap, and there is no guarantee in a timely return. The best thing you can do is to, like another reply stated, map out a list of “must-do’s”. Tackle those first and go from there. Enjoy your surroundings. You will find out soon enough why people make this their only vacation destination.
Enjoy the rides you get on, not the ones you didn’t.
As far as straight up Disney advice, I would say to make the best use of your fastpass+ via the My Disney Experience app or website. An important piece of advice would be that you are not stuck with the time given when selecting your fastpass. You have the ability to “modify” the selection. You can either change the time or the experience. Make good use of that. Implement that technique with Touring Plans help…meaning, book the rides that Touring Plans suggests, then go back in and modify the times in accordance with Touring Plans suggestions.
Remember the deadline for dining before you are fined for a late cancellation. Don’t hold yourself to a fastpass or a dining reservation. If you have a change of plans, go with it. This is your trip. Enjoy it. I look at fastpass+ as a guarantee to experience a ride. Beyond that, the “world” is yours!
Most importantly, and this ties back into the idea of relaxing. Think of the busiest day you’ve had recently. Did you enjoy it or did the day fly by? Personally, extremely busy days fly by, that’s what a Disney trip will do. If you don’t take the time to enjoy where you are, it’ll be over and you’ll be home having just experience a whirlwind.
Here’s a great way to approach a day…
- Get to a park by rope drop (opening, if you want to avoid a fastpass, get there 30-40 minutes before opening and head straight to that ride)
- Have lunch at the park and bail, or head out around noon or a little before and eat lunch at the hotel. It’s easy to forget that the Disney resort hotels have even better food than the parks.
- Relax by the pool for a few hours.
- Head back to the parks and stay until close or until you can’t go on any longer.
You’re paying a lot for your hotel at the Walt Disney Resort, enjoy that too!
just wanted to add welcome to the gang @Micheleblanton!!! Ask anything! We’ll try to answer as best we can!
Just a thought on your question about how to make a TP for mixed age groups. Someone mentioned the Happy Family plan so, and those help. I’ve also done two separate touring plans, that I “sync” up moving things around and then using the evaluate function (not optimize). So for example, I’ll make one plan that has “big kid stuff.” I’ll optimize that and adjust until I like plan one. Then I’ll copy it, delete some of the big kid stuff and sub in small kids things, then “evaluate” to see if the plans somewhat match up. The simpler way of handling that is to jus add a “note” on your plan with an alternative activity. So, for example, in my AK plan, I’ll put Dinosaur into my plan, then make a note that shorter peeps go to the boneyard or ride the triceratop spin:
Wonderful advice. Thank you so much for your reply. I am so excited regardless. I will also keep in mind going back to the resort to eat. we will need the refueling I’m sure.
Thank you so much. I’m sure I’ll be asking away.
Thank you so much for your reply. I’m loving that I found this site. It’s been very helpful. I appreciate the advice.
Thanks so much!! Enjoy your trip. I look forward to hearing about it.
Thank you so much. We have dining reservations at Chef Mickey’s, Be Our Guest, Ohana, and Garden Grill. Not sure if we will keep all of them. We do have Quick Service options as well and would love to hear your favorites for This option as well.
We have been watching videos as well. Thank you for the other channels to check out. My DD12 has been looking into WDW for a while now and that’s why we didn’t keep it a secret. Lol I need her help too.
Great advice. Thanks. I’ll be busy for the next couple weeks. Lol. I’m excited though.
How is your planning coming along?
I feel you… I’ve been to Disney World seven times (and DL/CA twice) but my first time using TP and the Unofficial Guide and I have to say… I’m wicked stressed. Knowledge may be power but ignorance totally is bliss