Walt Disney World, Orlando
Favorite thing: When we go to Disney it is normally with very little cash. We stay on property and use our agic Band to charge purchases back to the room (it's a good way to have a record of where they money is going). We use the Disney dining plan so no money is needed for meals and snacks. There are several ATMS throughout the parks and resorts mostly at guest service areas.
In order to update information about the Disney Dining Plan since my last trip, I tried to research current costs and changes to the plan for 2009. I did locate some information about the plan on the Disney site, but searches for prices were virtually fruitless at this time.
Perhaps that is because for a limited time, Disney is offering to include the meal plan when you book a vacation package with them at one of the Disney resorts.
Generally, the plan has previously included one or two snacks, one quick service meal, and a seat-down dinner for each person, per night of stay. Several years ago, the plan also included appetizers and desserts + gratuity for sit-down meals. However, the plan has been significantly changed since 2006.
***Please check with Disney for a thorough explanation of the plan, what it covers, and when and where it can be used.***
The Disney Meal Plan used to be an extraordinary bargain at Disney World during a time (2006) when it was difficult to find bargains of any type in this magical land. It still may be advantageous to purchase a plan depending on the individual needs of yourself or your family, but be sure to obtain all details and understand the restrictions prior to arriving at your Disney Hotel.
Arguably the second most iconic symbol of Disney World is the Monorail, a transportation system linking the parking lots, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and the luxury hotels. Twelve trains traverse three lines, identified by the colored stripes on the side and built by Bombadier ( JFK Airtrain and others ). Each carries 360 passengers, six to eight in individual compartments, 150000 visitors per day. The term monorail refers to the single track used to support and guide the train in two types - suspended from above and supported on a rail below as seen in image 2 ( ALWEG design ). Until recently the monorail was fastest ride in the complex achieving speeds of 40 mph. The trains are smooth, quiet suspended on rubber tires, and feature large windows for viewing the sometimes boring scenery of the mid Florida flatlands but also with glimpses of the parks, golf course, and luxury hotels.
Walt Disney did not invent the monorail. The first examples date to the early 1800's in England. Disney became interested in the concept as a people-mover on a trip to Germany in the 1950's, taken by the 1901 vintage Wuppertal monorail still running today, a suspension line. The support beam used at the Disney enterprises was preferred by Mrs. Disney ( yes there really was a Mrs. Disney ) who claimed nausea from the suspension system. However, there is a second monorail at WDW with a suspension system, not often appreciated, at the Peter Pan attraction of the Magic KIngdom.
For a 4 year old, meeting a favorite character is Very important.
Most Disney World cast members have good training and can handle this (complicated, to say the least) job; but I had a sad experience with my 4 year ols son a few weeks ago, leaving one of the attracions, Buzz lightyear was finishing his greeting time, and unexpetedly my son let go of my hand and ran to him.
The supporting cast member helping buz acted like a bodyguard in a dangerous neighborhood cantina, aggresively stepping in front of my son...
The few seconds it took for me to control my child were realy disappointing for me because the attitude of these guy was really completely devoid of basic common sense.
It took me a few minutes of explaining to my son that Buzz was very busy and on his way to an important mission. (As I write this my boy is playing whith a Buzz action figure...)
I would have thought Disney training prepares cast members for this kind of situations. But I see it does not...
Fondest memory: -
The following article on the best months/weeks to visit, even though it's focused on Disney World, can be applied pretty much to any theme park in the area:
Park Hopper Passes allow guests to go to as many parks as they want during the day; not limited them to one park per day. We only do Park Hopper Passes but depending on the time of year we chose with or without Water Parks. I only want the Water Park option when it is very hot out and the water is refreshing not frigid.
Passes tend to be cheaper if you buy them for a longer day duration and if you purchase them through a discount such as through AAA(automobile Association of America). Passes are pricey and if you are travelling with a lrage family...you can break the bank buying passes.
I am a Disney annual pass holder and recieved discount cards in the mail off the purchase of new Disney annual passes. They are good for 10% off the purchase of a new annual pass. Each card is good for six people and I have four of them. If anyone is intersted I would love to give them to people who could use them. Since they are only good for new passes not upgrades or renewals I can't do anything with them myself. I am in the Orlando area almost every weekend so we could meet at the park gates and these are totally free. I'm going to be there anyways and would just like to see someone get something out of them as it's a really good deal. If you live anywhere close to Disney in Florida, or sometimes even when you don't, you'll probably find yourself going to Disney three or four times a year anyways what with visiting relatives, birthdays and the like. Now that day passes have upped to $80 for a one day Florida resident pass these things pay for themselves. Plus they come with parking and other discounts. If anyone is interested just e-mail me through this site and we can set up a weekend, preferably soon as I think they run out in late July. Hope this helps somene, :).
Favorite thing: You are not alowed to bring beverages into the Theme Parks. Beverages can add up during a hot summer day. A large Bottled water is $2. We like to bring an empty water bottle and fill it up at various water fountains throughout the day. It's easier than waiting in line and saves money.
One of the best thing Disney has developed is the Fast Pass. What it is, is a way of getting on a ride without having to wait for a tremendous amount of time. What you do is take your ticket card and insert it into the fast pass machine of the ride you want to go on. Then it gives you a ticket with a time frame for you to return to get on the ride. It's usually a one hour window like 12-1. When you return you go in through the Fast Pass entrance and skip the long line to the side of you. You usually end up waiting about 10 minutes to get on the ride instead of half an hour or more. Once you get your Fast Pass you can't get another fast pass until the earliest time on your first Fast Pass ticket, so you can't go from ride to ride and get fast passes for them all. The one change I think would be nice would be for Disney to reserve the Fast Pass option for those visitors who are staying at Disney resorts and hotels.
Fondest memory: Using my Fast Pass to ride Test Track and only having to wait 20 minutes when the stand by line was over 2 hours.
Patrick, Gryphon, Thaddeus and Sebastian looked forward to their daily ice cream treat. All over the Disney parks you can find ice cream vendors selling all sorts of ice cream yummies from frozen fruit bars to bottles of soda pop. Patrick's favorite was the Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich that was made with cookies and cream ice cream. My favorite was the frozen strawberry bar. The other boys enjoyed the frozen orange juice bar and some treat with a name I can't pronounce, it was basically a long skinny popsicle. These treats can run you anywhere from $2.50 to $4.00 though.
Fondest memory: Watching Patrick have his first bit of his Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich.
Favorite thing: This may sound silly, but if you plan on visiting Disney, I strongly suggest that you bring your own bottle of water. The best thing to do is to bring a frozen bottle of water and drink it as it melts. When you run out, simply refill your water bottle at one of the many drinking fountains located throughout the park. Otherwise you'll get stuck paying for bottled water and at $2.50 a pop, that can add up really, really fast.
Free things @ Disney World during Thanksgiving & New Years:
At the Contemporary Resort & its 14th floor California Grill about 1/2 hour before the Magic Kingdom fireworks start. You have to go to either the 2nd or 4th floor to catch an express elevator to the restaurant. Tell the check-in desk that you don’t have reservations but are going to the California Grill for drinks (you really don’t have to buy anything) & to watch the fireworks. It is Disney's tallest building with large windows & 2 outdoor view walkways - 1 on each side for a unique view! Bonus: the martinis are quite nice but pricey.
After fireworks, take the lobby's monorail on the 4th floor & ride it around to The Grand Floridian & Polynesian Village resorts. You can go inside each resort to see their Christmas decorations. Kids will think the monorail is an “adventure” & it’s free!
The monorail also goes to Epcot & it runs above parts of Epcot so you can see how large Epcot & World Showcase are. To get there from the Contemporary resort monorail station, ride to the transportation center, disembark & board the Epcot monorail.
Check the Wilderness Lodge lobby. They usually have a great gingerbread house collection & outside @ the pool area, follow the sidewalk down to the geyser area also to a boat dock. Take a Disney boat to another resort or just stay on the boat for a roundtrip. It’s free.
During the day, go to Animal Kingdom Lodge resort & after you check the pool & lobby, go out back thru the lobby & view live animals roaming the area (free) from 3 viewing areas on both sides of the lobby and 1 around the pool. At night there's an African-born guide with night-vision binoculars so you can view animals roaming the grounds. The guides are extremely helpful & friendly as are all Disney employees (they are called cast members).
Fondest memory: Some WDW observations & experiences:
WDW, in the midst of summer, can be difficult at best due to the heat & humidity if you are not used to it. My favorite time to visit is between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
One advantage about staying at a Disney “Value Priced” property is that they have value-priced food courts with cafeteria-style café & deli-priced food for the whole family on-site. They also have children’s play areas and themed swimming pools.
Suggestion: buy a foam cooler ($5.00) & milk, juice, cereal, finger foods at a local grocery store & fill the chest with ice (free) if your room does not have a refrigerator.
You don’t have to stay on property to be able to take the Disney transportation system of boats, monorail, buses, etc. free-but they always have the right to ask for Disney guest ID.
Every Disney resort has a gatehouse with security & they will ask for your photo ID unless you have a Disney car pass on your dashboard. Tell the guard you're checking the resort or going to dine. Show ID & drive to a self-parking area.
All Disney’s Resorts are decorated for Christmas-time holidays, so resort-hop just to look at the beautiful special themed decorations in the grand lobbies. Their gift shops can be sensory overload for the kids.
Downtown Disney & Pleasure Island are free now. Park at one end of the parking lot & walk all of the shops- a Lego store with an outside play area, & all sorts of Legos that children can just play with as long as they want. The stores are all child friendly & have toys, candy & clothes. Boats the Rainforest Café station go from Downtown Disney to other resorts.
Anyplace near a theme park or Downtown Disney provides a nice viewing of fireworks displays.
If you are at WDW during January, you can watch the annual Disney marathon like I did this year. Events occur year-round and checking the Disney websites for special events at a time you are considering is advisable.
Favorite thing: So many of us feel as though doing the Disney thing is something you "must" do. This can be a FUN place but also be careful...it can be extremely pricey. I would suggest staying at one of the Disney resorts that fits your budget. Much easier and much cheaper. Definitely try to do all that you can to go on the off-season.
MGM ‘s “Extreme stunt show” , “Laser show” and “Voyage of the little Mermaid “ live on stage, Jim Henson’s Muppet Vision 3-D are my favorite and very impressive shows, especially first one they show you the same cars ,motorbikes and trucks tricks as the use when they make the movie!!!
Fondest memory: Favorite characters,colorful parades.A cast memebers treat kids like royalty.You wish the day time would be much longer at this place!
Epcot is my most favorite park. It’s divided into two sections Tomorrow land and World Trade showcase. Lots fun for kids: like my child created her own robot with educational part about recycling, had a journey into imagination with Figment twice, stopped at every kidcot station, played in the leaping fountains and more.
Every country there representing their own country has employees from that country. So in a French restaurant we were served by French waiter and ate French cuisine, which was delicious! The same thing with China; the food doesn’t really differ from Chinese restaurants in our area though. I explored there that my child likes Alice, and she gave her a big hug for that confession. You can buy British tea from a little shop in England there that is neat too. Mexico has a ride through its history that is so relaxing just to sit in a boat and sail along spectacular banks of historical scenery. Morocco was not so exiting for me as for my child since I grew among pretty much the same stuff, Muslim countries has pretty much a lot in common mosaic walls, domes ,beads and thin fabrics. Norway is very woody and lovely too.
Fondest memory: We go to Disney before Christmas it’s so lovely there at this time-Christmas trees, all kind of Santa’s in Epcot, holiday spirit, lovely decorations everywhere!Night firework show in the pond area is fabulous. This one and the laser show in MGM Studios adorably wonderful.