What to skip? TP advice please

We aren’t first timers but we might as well be as it was decades ago. We have 7 nights at the Poly and 1 at the AKL. We can’t do everything so what would you suggest we skip? It will be me, DH, DD5, and DD7. My thinking so far is to pass on Disney Springs, and the Poly dinner show. Not sure about the water parks (which are included in our ticket), Hoop dee Do, Fantasmic, and Symphony in the Stars. The musts are Wishes, Illuminations, and ROL, and at least one parade with characters and dancing. My DH would have us spending all day at a park and then every night at the hotel, but I will convince him that a break in the afternoon is a necessity, and we will probably settle on 4/5 evenings out. Of which one of those we can put the girls into kids club. My DH is more interested in World showcase, bits of HS that the kids would find very boring, wandering around Harambe market, and he can’t do heavy crowds. I would really like to see all the fireworks and laser shows, and for the girls it’s rides and princesses, and probably swimming in the pool, at least for my eldest. I think they will love the fireworks as they get super excited at the tiny displays they’ve seen so far. Many thanks for any thoughts and suggestions.

You are right- you cannot possible do everything! I think your instincts are good- skip the Spirit of Aloha and Disney Spring. I would plan your nights first. When could you possible see Wishes (most likely your latest night). Festival of Fantasy is an amazing parade!

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We are Star Wars fans, but I think Symphony in the Stars is the best fireworks show in Disney right now. If you are doing WS be sure to stop at the Kidcot stations in each country. It makes WS much more enjoyable for my kids!

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Since you are at the Poly, perhaps your children would be happy to see the MK fireworks from the beach there. You would get “home” so much faster.


According to TP symphony in the stars is 11pm, while Wishes varies from 8-10pm, and illuminations 9:30-10:30pm. Would you choose symphony over fantasmic, that would be my choice, but I think the kids would love F.

When is it at 11? During my trip it is at 9:15 every night!

Edited to add: I always expect Wishes to be at 10 and illumiNations to be at 9.

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I’ve edited the Illuminations time, meant to write 9:30-10:30. We’ll be there 13th-21st Dec, I should get to experience all levels of crowds. I’m trying to make a rough plan of the days to see where we would want to book ADR’s, and how many we’ll be looking at. What would you recomend to a first timer as events not to be missed please?

Candlelight Processional, tour the resorts! You will hear a lot about GF and WL but I love YC/BC! Go to the Christmas Party!

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That’s too bad if Symphony in the Stars is that late. I concur with @jlyn . That is an amazing display.
If it happens to be earlier, I would vote for that over Fantasmic. That’s usually a long queue followed by 30 minutes of waiting and then a 30 minute show. It might be a bit much for the little ones.
FYI, Harambe market is small. We sort of walked through it and back out. Unless I really missed something, it was mostly people sitting at tables eating.
Definitely enjoy the holiday decorations as @PrincipalTinker suggests. They’re lovely.


Thanks, I’m thinking for our adult evening we could eat at one of the HS/EP Resorts and then go into HS for Symphony. I wasn’t considering the Candlelight Processional, I will read a bit more about it. As this is a one off holiday for us, we are working out how much it will cost and then saving the money to pay for it. I did a rough tally of all the ADR’s we would like, and it was a bit of a shock. Had decided against the DDP as we are are probably looking at an average of 2 TS a day, and were hoping to eat in places like Sam’s Grog Grotto and the Pool Bar which aren’t on the plan. Now I’m reconsidering as it sounds like we will never get a table at SGG and we are interested in lots of character meals. Working out how much our holiday will cost is turning out to be harder than I expected. Thanks for the help.

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Generally speaking, for my family of 3, I figure on average $100 spending money per day. That covers meals and snacks, which we do out of pocket. The dining plan is too rigid and not a good value for us.
I say “on average” because there are days when we only spend $40 for food. Then there are days where we have a special dinner.
When all is said and done, it usually ends up being about $85 per day. That doesn’t count and pre-paid meals like HDDR or CRT.
Don’t give up on Trader Sam’s.

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I think you are right on track with your plans. We also don’t do the dining plan because we like to have flexibility. I would reconsider 2 TS a day, that is a lot of touring time given up. There are some great counter service options and they are more affordable and faster. We like to do one TS/day just to get off our feet. I think you will find breaks easy while staying at the Poly, at least from Epcot and MK. I would say must do for your girls would be Cinderellas Royal Table and Bippity Boppity Boutique. For date night you might consider World Showcase, I find I never get to enjoy it as much with the kids in tow–but DH and I did it alone last trip in the evening and it was lovely. Don’t stress about the things you can’t fit into your plans, there is so much to see and do, focus on what you fit in and don’t worry about the rest. Your girls won’t know if they miss something unless you point it out to them. Happy Planning!

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I’m interested in the restaurants that offer something you can’t get elsewhere, so far on my wish list is Ahershus, Garden Grill, Park Fair, Tuskers, H&V, San Angel, Teppan Edo, Coral Reef, Ohana, Boma, Sanna, Yak & Yeti.

Rough Plan (what do you think please?)
Tues - relaxing evening

Wed - Epcot, 8am GG, (could do Akershus instead but don’t want to miss any princesses, is this wise?). Had been thinking San Angel for lunch but if we do the DDP, then probably CS instead. Then over to the MK for the Parade as only chance to see it without huge crowds. Rest 4-6pm, then 7pm Ohana, and see how everyone feels after.

Thur - MK, 8am BOG (I know that’s unlikely), leave 1ish for lunch at the Poly, rest 2-4pm, hopefully 5pm DP at Tuskers for ROL.

Fri - MK, lunch at the Poly, rest, assuming we don’t do Fantasmic, 6/7pm Akershus, and see how everyone feels.

Sat - HS, 1pm H&V, rest 4-6pm, kids into club and we see Symphony in the Stars.

Sun - Lie in (we will have been leaving the Poly around 7am every other day, is this too optimistic?), lunch 12pm Teppan Edo or CS, but CL is now 8/9, rest 4-5pm, 6pm Park Fair, and see how we feel afterwards.

Mon - MK for 7am start, watch Xmas parade at midday and back to Poly for lunch, rest and back into MK for 5:30pm BOG (I’m hoping as it’s 186 days we might get this). Then see the shows if we can find a spot that isn’t heaving. Wishes are predicted to be 8pm, so doesn’t have to be a late night.

Tues - Transferring to AKL, (currently thinking we will check out around 6:30am, not sure about this?) AK, would love to have lunch at Sanaa but probably better of staying in the park, or going to the AK, 6/7pm Boma. (We could see ROL, but I’d really like to spend some time at this resort, not sure?).

Wed - Check out 6am, AK, and being picked up at lunchtime.

Unless I change my mind about the character meals, I think I will get the DDP as it will cut down on the TS meals and encourage us to use CS more. Does my rough plan look decent please?

The day-by-day layout looks okay, but I think you might be planning too many TS meals. Kids’ energy/interests are so unpredictable, and it’s a lot of lost money to no-snow an ADR at $10/person. Also, TS meals are a LOT of food. I’m a big eater, but one TS per day is enough for me, especially if it’s an “AYCTE” affair.

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I think it looks fine. We tend to eat 2 TS meals a day and rarely eat QS. I don’t find it to be too much food. We tend to have a quick breakfast in the room/on way to AM EMH (granola bar or muffin, fruit, juice, coffee), tour for a few hours and then eat TS around 11. Another TS around 6-7. We don’t snack much though. We love TS to get out of the heat and be waited on. I don’t think TS takes too long either, but that is personal opinion. Our last trip we were only there 4 full days (plus an evening where we had no ADR) and we had 7 TS restaurants plus the Wishes dessert party. Only reason it wasn’t 8 was we snacked around the Flower and Garden booths for 1 meal.

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Thank you for your advice. Current thinking is to stay with the 5 character meals, as while my girls know that they are not real, they still really want to see them all. They are the type that will join in anything. I understand that the buffets aren’t always recommended food wise and will be very expensive considering how much we will eat. However we won’t be back while the girls are young, and for this holiday the disney experience is far more important. We do appreciate good food, and eat all cuisines, so maybe for our adult evening we can try 1 signature restaurant. As I’m after so many character meals at peak times, I think it will slightly depend on whether I can get all the ADR’s. If I do the DDP would be worth it, and to save money we will just do 1 TS per day and use CS and snack the rest of the time. Being on the DDP will also help with budgeting. Thank you for reading my ramblings, please do let me know if you think it sounds sensible.