I am sure everyone noticed my absence this past week ;-)! Thanks to the generosity of my father, my family and my sister's family all went to Disneyworld. I have to admit that, at first, I was very reluctant to go. I am not a huge Disney fan and my children are not really that into Disney. But, who can turn down an offer for a vacation in January? Not me! And, in fact, we had a wonderful time. Since we aren't Disney fanatics, it was really like we had just gone to fun theme parks. Yes, Disney marketing is crazy and almost every ride ends at a gift shop, but the rides were really fun and age appropriate. Our children saved their money for souvenirs and we were not plagued with the "I wants". (As the kids realized - it is much harder so spend your own long-saved money). We had a great time and I am glad we had the opportunity to go. We did pick-up a lot of tips, though. So if any of you are thinking about going, here are some of our thoughts:
1. Go on the off season. While there were some lines - we had no problem riding every ride we wanted. Many twice.
2. Take advantage of the Fastpass. Such a time saver. Research ahead of time what rides offer this.
3. Everything takes longer then you think it will.
4. If you can swing it, try to do the meal plan. Food costs add up fast.
5. Just because you stay at a value resort (where we stayed)- doesn't mean you can't visit and eat at the other resorts. I highly recommend visiting the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
6. If you are a vegetarian - be prepared for a lot of pasta. Sadly, they are severely lacking in variety.
7. Children's food is less then stellar. Stock up on veggies when they are available.
8. I would recommend waiting to go until your child is at least four, if not older. There were so many little kids overwhelmed by the experience. Disney is expensive - why waste the money if your kid isn't old enough to really enjoy it?
9. If your child loves Disney characters and wants their picture and autograph the best place is a "character" meal or at the Epcot Character Spot.
10. Many restaurants take reservations, but they fill up fast. If there is place you are dying to eat at, make the reservation before you go - otherwise you will end up eating there at odd times.
11. People are very testy about saving spots for the Magic Kingdom parade. Claim your spot at least an hour ahead of time and then DON'T MOVE.
12. Take advantage of early park openings. It really is better to get there early (even when your body is so tired from walking and walking and walking and you just want to stay in bed).
13. We were there for five full days and still didn't make it to any of the water parks or sports center.
14. Plan out ahead what rides you want to try. Otherwise you wander around aimlessly and end up seeing only a couple of things. We learned this rule very fast.
15. You must ride Soarin and sit in the front row. This is not an option!
I am sure I will think of more to add, but these are the top ideas. If anyone has any questions about the experience, send me an email! I now need to return to my massive amount of laundry.