Monday, January 31, 2011


For anyone that knows anything about Disneyworld, or the Orlando area in general...

We need help planning our vacation that is coming up very quickly for this uncharacteristically poor-planning mom.  We will be staying at a nice place with lots of pools, so we plan on spending a lot of time swimming.

We are going to the Magic Kingdom for one day only because it's going to cost us about $500 for our family of six - ouch!  Lisa gave me the heads up about the Fast Pass to use when we're in the park..thanks!

A co-worker just told me to go to The Kennedy Space Center (which the boys will love) because there will be a launch on one of the days we are down there.  That sounds very cool.

What else is there to do that is cheap and family friendly?  Any advice, from where to eat to where to shop to where to visit to how to easily navigate the park would be much appreciated.  We want to make this a fun family trip that doesn't wipe out our savings completely :)


  1. we took a backpack and I carried it...baggies of PBJs, peanuts, crackers, granola bars, etc... each kid took a water bottle to carry...hubby had a fanny pack also with food...Magic Kingdom is the best one to go to...we did a hopper and the others were not as good. Animal kingdom has the safari ride and a great nemo show, but that is about it (great ride for older, but you would not need it!) Have fun!

  2. Your family will love The Magic Kingdom. I would suggest you get there VERY early in the morning; have the kids pick their favorite rides and do them first. (if you get there when they open the gates, a LOT of the characters are there to greet you!)
    The food is very expensive. We sometimes packed sammy's and just purchased drinks/snacks when we needed them.
    YOU must see at least ONE parade. So check the schedule.
    Downtown Disney is fun to visit too...lots of shopping/restaurants.
    Kennedy space center is awesome, and if you get to see a launch, that is just historic. Check the day before to make sure the launch DOES happen. They are canceled a lot because of weather. (it is a drive)

    If I think of anything else, I will let you know....

  3. Definitely bring food and drinks into the park!!!! That's a HUGE money saver! And I really like Downtown Disney. Lots of great disney stores and places to eat, without haveing to pay admission. There's a whole building where you can build remote control cars (or just watch others building them and racing them) that the boys would love, a lego land, whole pricess stores, etc.

  4. i only went there once when I was 13

    all i remember was that it was hot so I second bringing water bottles and then sunscreen. I remember we got ice cream there once and it was super super expensive so maybe making a game plan ahead of time telling the kids what they will be getting as treats and what they won't be getting well ahead of time will help avert any squabbling.

    i remember there was a restaurant place near orlando that you could watch a jousting match and it was like a castle...don't know if expensive or not.

    my husband went to disney a few times as a child and always talks about Lion Country Safari nearby disney. He has fond memeories of that place so I don't know if you would liek it or not.

  5. Get the Disney photo pass and register it online. The professional photographers will take pictures of every character and in front of the castle. Then you can look online later for up to 30 days. You can buy the file and all printing rights too for the perfect picture.

    Like has already been said, get there early. If possible, and you haven't already picked your day, find out which days will be the Magic Hour for the Disney resorts and don't go the same day.

    If you plan to eat at the park, for counter service Cosmic Rays in Tomorrowland is indoor with air conditioning. To get out of the sun and in cool air is refreshing to counter act the food prices. The tip with Cosmic Rays is to scout out a table first then send Phil and some helpers to get the food.

    For table service, the Golden Palace Buffet is the best. It's a character buffet and you can really fill up. Make reservations now if you plan to eat at any table service restaurant.

    Also see the Carousel of Progress. 20 minutes of sitting in air conditioning and seeing a show of how the world changed. (Hall of President's might not be as exciting for you guys--it can get long.)

    I could go on and on but those are the major things to know.

  6. I'm much more experienced in things Disney but the Kennedy Space Center is definitely a good choice. Sea World is also family friendly but I don't know how expensive it is.

    As far as Disney shopping, the Magic Kingdom has plenty of shops, the Emporium (on Main Street) is the largest and most inclusive. Downtown Disney (it is not in the Magic Kingdom, but requires no tickets or money to go to it) is a large restaurant and shopping complex. The World of Disney there has all things disney. There is also a large Lego store, Christmas store, candy store, etc.

    There are free maps for the Magic Kingdom at the entrance to the park and at just about every store in the park. If you want to get an idea beforehand, the Disney World website has a map of the park. Generally we pick one "land" of the Magic Kingdom to do and work our way from land to land so we aren't zig-zagging all over the park. Lisa is definitely right about using the Fast Pass for those rides with longer lines. The park map will say which rides have this option. Which rides you choose to use it for will depend on which rides you want to ride, but I recommend picking one as soon as you get in the park and sending 1 person with all the tickets to get the fast passes for everyone as the fast passes are by time slots and you cannot get a second one until the time slot for the one you have passes. For little ones, we usually get the fast passes to Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan, as the lines for those can be an hour or more.

    As far as saving money, yes, bringing your own sandwiches, snacks, and bottled water (or bottles to use to fill up at water fountains - their bottles of water run around $3 per bottle) will save $$$. If you are going to be swimming a lot, also make sure to bring your own sunblock.

    How long will you be in the Orlando area? I'm happy to try to help more but really most of my experience pertains to Disney, all things Disney, but mostly just Disney.

  7. Kennedy center is fun, especially if you get a launch view! Downtown Disney is great because you don't HAVE to spend any money...the LEGO store and displays should NOT be missed. The Magic Kingdom is great. DO get there as early as you can. Parking is actually pretty far from the gates (or are you staying at one of the Disney resorts?...they provide shuttle/monorail service)Fast pass is the way to go. Water bottles are necessary. Mickey & minnie's houses are adorable : )
    Another great side trip is Saint Augustine...a couple hours away. There is a beautiful Chapel shrine to Our Lady of La Leche! Expecting & Nursing moms especially shouldn't miss it. There is a trolly ride $$$...worth it. It is good for 2 days and gets you around to all of the historic places without parking hassels. You can get on & off as much as you want and the drivers really know their stuff. The first Mass in North America was celebrated there! There is an adorable little TLM parish right in Orlando, right off of the main highway. I can give you more info if you like:)
    Have a Blast!

  8. When we were little my parents were very smart!!! They bought things before we went down to FL. For instance they got autograph books on eBay for wicked cheep and they bought me a princess costume here....(way cheeper than the park!!) also an awesome cute souvineer for cheep money is a Disney Dollar! The name describes it exactly! You go to guest service at the Magic Kingdom and you hand them $4 they hand you $4 back with Mickey Mouse on them!!! It's an awesome souvineer and you can only get them in Disney... Not even at the Disney stores back home!! Food is very expensive... Be prepared! And also Feb vacation is an awful time to go.... no offense. Be prepared to wait in line!!! Good Luck!

  9. we went to seaworld. we turned in our tickets at the end of the day and got to go again the next day for free. you guys will love just swimming and enjoying the fancy hotel too, it is nice to have days without lots of stuff.

  10. Yep, I was there once. Not very helpful, was it? Sorry. I was only 17 and on a band trip.

  11. I know I'm a little late on this and I apologize. Lisa asked me to come over and give you some pointers since we are big Disney fans and since we live in central Florida

    Packing lunches and snacks is a huge way to save money. Going to the Space Coast is fun too, though the tickets can be a little pricey, but if the shuttle is at the launch pad - it's worth going to see.

    Magic Kingdom is the best park to do if you just have one day. It holds all the Disney Magic in one place and you'll feel like you got your monies worth.

    You can also spend quite a bit of time at Downtown Disney and not spend much money. Window shopping and you can also take a boat over to the Port Orleans hotel and just walk around than ride the boat back to Downtown Disney.

    Hope that helps. Have a great time.

  12. if you want to know anything about disney... ask Jess and Dan. They've both been there at least 20 times and know the ins and outs of it like the back of their hand!!!!

    THey'll hook you up!

    Hope your'e well, Colleen. I love checking in at your blog!!!


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