Hi! We are surprising the kids on Christmas with a trip to DL January 9-16. We have 4 day tickets purchased with MaxPass (not PH). We have not been to DL (I went as a child), but we did take an amazing trip to WDW in 2017. Our kids are currently 6, 9, 11, 13 - so pretty much golden age timing right now! I know that DL is more laid back and doesn’t require the year of planning I (happily) did for preparation to go to WDW. Also, we are not staying on property, and will have days we are doing other things - like a beach day and a Legoland day. Here are my questions:
We will mostly be bringing in food and our purchases in park with be an occasional snack. What are you favorite DL snacks?
I’m thinking of doing 1-2 special dinners/lunches in park (or Downtown Disney). If you could only pick 1-2, what would you pick for a family of 6? Do you recommend the dinner/show packages?
Which shows should be definitely schedule into our plan?
The crowd levels look pretty great on the weekdays, heavier on the weekends. I am trying to decide: do we do a weekend day in the park and get the full 4th day or do we do the last day of our trip (with very low crowds) in the parks and leave around 4-5pm to get to the airport?
Absolutely! Fantasmic is a great choice for a dining package. If you can swing it, go for BB. While I am not a HUGE fan of the food (not bad, just not as good as I would have hoped), the ambiance is amazing. Go early and tell them you are willing to wait for a waterside table.
I recommend doing a full weekend day. You will get more access to shows on the weekend during that time, like Mickey and the Magical map. With MP, you will be able to to easily navigate those crowds.
The list is so long but includes: churros, beignets, corn dogs, Matterhorn Macaroons, Bengal BBQ (any skewer, they’re all fantastic), Ghiradelli’s Ice cream, Pacfic Wharf Cafe Bread Pudding (seasonal flavors & all are amazing), Maurice Cart twists (the savrory cheese/garlic one is my favorite but the dessert ones either chocolate or strawberry are great too), any treat in the candy making places but usually I prefer the English Toffee and/or Caramel apples- with the caramel apples you’ll have to make do with cutting with a plastic knife & cutting yourself, but IMO it was worth it! (the candy places are: Trolley Treats & Bing Bong’s Confectionery both in DCA, Candy Palace in DL, Pooh Corner also in DL & Marceline’s in Downtown Disney), Chili Cone Queso at the Cozy Cones (they also have a yummy Bacon Mac N’ Cheese flavors & seasonal flavors, but the seasonal ones are rarely as good as the 2 that are there year-round), the parfait from the Adorable Snowman shack is also fantastic (better than a Dole Whip IMO, but those are pretty good too). I told you it was a lot lol! If I had to pick my top 3 I would say: Matterhorn Macaroon, beignets & corndogs.
For a family we love the buffets as we are all big eaters (Storyteller’s is the best buffet, but Goofy’s Kitchen is great also & has the best character interactions- at breakfast, dinner has some poor reviews, but we haven’t been for dinner in a long time so I don’t know if it’s improved). If you want more a la carte dining, our favorite family place is Carnation Cafe (huge portions, delicious comfort food & something for everyone) and very affordable by Disney standards (for all 3 meals). Next best is Cafe Orleans for the Monte Cristo’s, pomme frites & beignets with the sweet dipping sauce (sauce not available when you buy the beignets from the neighboring Mint Julep QS). One order of each of those things are very shareable between 2-4 people & even then you’re likely to be full then. F! dining is highly recommended but it is a splurge beyond those other meals & I enjoy the food better at either of the other ones for the price. But as @carthy15 said, the ambiance of the Blue Bayou is so beautiful so worth it at least once in life.
F! for sure. If running World of Color is also beautiful & fun, but F! has much better production value but it’s not hard to do one each weekend night or even both in 1 night as long as there are 2 showings of at least one of them. The fireworks are scheduled to be Fantasy in the Sky which is totally skippable as it’s just barely 5 minutes & not worth any waiting to see. (And this is coming from someone who looooves Disney fireworks & who will camp out to see most other Disney firework shows). And not to forget the daytime shows, Mickey & the Magical Map is not to be missed & if you have princess fans in your group, Storytelling at the Royal Theater should also be seen (it’s my personal favorite daytime show). We also love parades, but I don’t think that any parades will be running early January this year.
Saturday & Sunday with longer hours/earlier opening are both better options than midweek with shorter hours & potentially lower crowds. The Saturday & Sunday both have at least one level of passholders blocked out so that will help mitigate weekend crowds somewhat & the park will be better staffed with more show options, more ride vehicles/tracks operating & more CMs in general at all food & shopping locations which will make for less waits. When the park has super low crowds I find the staffing/hours to be also lower & I will take a 6/7 crowd over a 4/5 any day for a smoother experience overall.