Planning advice to give a friend

A friend at work asked for help planning a WDW vacations with his dgkids 3, 6 & 9. I told him I'd put together an email for him with advice, websites & tips. What info should I include? He will probably be doing value resort and trying to get the best bang for his buck. Thanks for the help. smile

Ask and you receive:

I am sure you know a lot of this, but just need a hand getting it together.

First and most important he should come here and learn.

First Timer Check List:
You will not get to see everything! So don't try.
Arrive 30 minutes before rope drop for best touring opportunities
Don't rush to everything, slow down, let the kids enjoy, don't make your day too busy
Take a midday break before meltdowns will occur. Sleep, swim, relax.
Resort restaurants will be less busy at lunch time
Character meals are a good way to meet characters, and gauge if you need to do more in the parks
Pick character meals based on what characters the kids like
Have each child pick 2 or 3 things they really want to do per park
Bring your own supply of glow stick it will help avoid buying too many light up toys at night



Food Blog, Restaurant ADR's important set up at 180 mark or as soon as possible

Disney Dining Plan Calculator!dining-plan-calculator/cxc0

Good tips for savings

Character Interactions

Some idea of magic shots for memory maker

If any food issues

Food Delivery

Packing List


Tell your friend to buy the Unofficial Guide and read it from cover to cover. Just by doing that he will be miles ahead of the average WDW guest.


Had friends/fam mention they'd like my help recently. Just thinking similarly to brklinck- planning to hand them my UG.

  1. ask them to pick what appeals - unless very long trip, impossible to see/do all at dis.

  2. then I'd tell them to sign up for ptp, and I'd help them set up fpps, days.

Haven't done this yet. Maybe I'm taking too much on. haha. Might bail on second request for this much help.

Here is email I sent to friends that took their DD4 1st time for 4 days over July 4th and asked me for advice a couple months before:

This site has a full list of links compiled with lots of info:

I make step-by-step plans using and use their mobile app "wdw lines". When not following a step-by-step plan, use the cheat-sheets here:

For quick service lunch at Be Our Guest (beauty & beast castle) you can get a "special" fastpass to skip the line (line is usually up to 1hr). This fastpass is not tied to the others and won't show up on the disney app. You can reserve it usually about 30 days in advance, but keep checking each day if it's not available yet because they open up an entire month at a time. The link to book is and you use the same login as the disney site. It's 1 quick service credit and the best place for lunch at magic kingdom.

For fastpass plus reservations, you can make them 60 days before your check-in date at midnight EST. It might still be hard to get Anna and Elsa because people can book for their entire trip at 60 days before check-in. I was able to get Sydney's by booking new fastpass for just her and there was a time slot available, but were none if I tried for more than one person. The other one that starts to fill up as you get closer is Toy Story Midway Mania at Hollywood studios.

You can get everything you need to know from the link above, but here's my tips:

  • Get to parks at least 20 mins before opening. Hollywood studios usually opens 15 mins early, magic kingdom has a welcome show.
  • bring spare clothes for kids in a ziplock bag
  • there are places at all parks where kids will get wet playing
  • lots of girls wear their princess dresses, just bring spare clothes in case she wants to change
  • memory maker is worth it. Buy at least a week in advance or it's more expensive. Ask each photographer if they can do "magic shots" and don't be afraid to ask for lots of pics from them.
  • kids like to get face painting at magic kingdom between space mountain and bathrooms (there are other spots but that's where we usually go)
  • in liberty square at magic kingdom there are umbrellas that they paint with kid's name and and a design, these are nice souvenirs and kids loved them
  • it will almost certainly rain even if not in the forecast. Usually on nice days rain comes about 4pm-6pm. We bring small umbrellas in our bags but if it rains hard all day then ponchos work good.
  • you will need reservations for any table service meal. If you can't get what you want, keep checking even when you are there because a lot of people change or cancel 1-2 days in advance (be sure to reserve backups though).
  • our favorite restaurant is Ohana for dinner, favorite character dinner is garden grill at Epcot. For princesses, Akhershus at Epcot (variety of princesses) and 1900 park fare dinner at grand Floridian (Cinderella, Prince Charming, stepmother, stepsisters).
  • these are our favorites for table service restaurants that don't fill up as fast so may have openings: Biergarten at Epcot (German food but don't book after 7pm or you will miss last show), yak n yeti at animal kingdom, boma at animal kingdom lodge, le cellier (steakhouse) at Epcot (2 dining credits).
  • these are restaurants we didn't really like or don't think was worth it: mama melrose, Tonys town square, 50s diner, Ohana breakfast
  • July 4 weekend is one of the busiest times of the year, it will be very crowded but if you get there at opening and use touring plans then you can still do a lot. Our rule is that we never wait more than 20mins in a line (that was 15 when kids were younger though).
  • take off magic band at water parks, people lose them a lot there
  • if you have a car, use disney bus for magic kingdom but drive to other parks
  • mark stroller by tying something bright to it. They rearrange and move parked strollers so makes it easier to find
  • bring a stroller rain cover (I might still have one, will look) and garbage bags to put everything in bottom of stroller in.

Emily & Sydney's favorites at Baily's age:

Journey to Imagination with Figment
Gran Fiesta Tour (Mexico)
Living with the land

Hollywood Studios:
Disney junior live
Little mermaid show
Beauty & beast show
Toy story mania
Honey I shrunk the kids play area
Fantasmic show

Animal Kingdom:
Affection station (take train to rafiki planet watch)
Animal trails
Lion king show
Flights of wonder show
Boneyard play area (go up and across the bridge to dig in sand for dinosaur bones)

Magic Kingdom:
Enchanted Tales with Belle (make sure Baily stands up front at the wardrobe and volunteers to play and have her practice roaring like the beast before you go so she might get picked to be the beast)
Peter Pan
Small world
Under the sea
Buzz light year
People mover
Pirates of the caribbean
Meeting princesses
Parades & fireworks (get a spot 30 min before start)

Suggested to skip:
Ellen's energy adventure (Epcot)
Captain EO (Epcot)
Nemo musical (animal kingdom)
Sounds dangerous (Hollywood studios)
Jack sparrow (Hollywood studios)


Thank you for the replies, they are very much appreciated.I am just sitting down now to compose an email to my friend and they are a great help. I wanted to make sure I didn't forget anything but at the same time I don't want to overwhelm him (or leave him wondering what kind of Disney geek I really am). wink

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If I think the people are honestly looking for help, I usually go to Amazon and have a copy of the latest UG sent to them.

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