by Lazo Vuckovich
I am a 33 yr old father of two. My wife and I are taking our children, ages 4 and 6, on our first trip to Walt Disney World. I have been to Walt Disney World once in my life…back in 1983 (that’s an approximation…EPCOT was new, that much I know). We are going to stay at the Polynesian, and I believe we’re going to pay for the plus deluxe dining package.
Having children this young, doing a 5-day 4-night trip, what parks should I concentrate on…and what should I not? THE PLACE IS HUGE! The combination of “FastPass” rides vs. non-“FastPass” rides…quick vs. table meals…? Rather than overloading the kids (and ourselves), what are some things YOU would make MUST-SEEs?
I look forward to your reply.
Dad’s whoa horse Answer
First thank you for checking out Dad’s site. All first timers should be required to read everything Dad writes.
I mean this in the nicest possible way.It sounds like you are working with a money hungry travel agent.
First, for a first trip to Walt Disney World, the Polynesian is a nice hotel, but it’s the best one at Disney World. It’s also one of the most expensive. Now if you are rich, then, yes, the Polynesian Resort it the place for you, but if you are like most of us and struggle to make ends meet, set your sights a little lower.
Whoa horse. Dad says don’t stay in the Polynesian Resort? Yep, that’s what I said. Save the Polynesian Resort for when the kids are a little older and will appreciate it more, and when the extra room will come in handy. Also we only stay at the Polynesian if we are staying a full week. You can make do with lesser hotels on a shorter trip. (Money wise this is backwards, but comfort wise this is good advice.)
Next, the Disney Dining Plan is only worth the money if you get it for free!!!! Disney has several levels of Dining Plans. The Quick Service Plan, the Dining Plan, the Deluxe Dining plan, the Premium Package, the Platinum Package, the Plutonium Package (oops, sorry got carried away) and the Wine and Dine option not available with the Quick Service plan.
Disney claims you will save money with these plans. BUNK. Whoa horse!!!!! Not in this lifetime. (Yeah, Disney, go ahead and sue me.) The only one who makes out on the Disney Dining Plans is Disney. You have to eat every meal at the most expensive restaurants and eat the most expensive thing on the menu at the most expensive restaurants to make the plan pay for itself. That means if you decide to go with the Deluxe Dining Plan, you will have to eat sit down meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner at the slowest, most expensive restaurants in the “World” to make your plan pay for itself.
I know it’s your first trip to Disney World, and you want to make it very, very special. Or even perfect, but Lazo, the Deluxe Dining Plan is a very bad idea, especially for your trip. Yes, especially for you. You are only going to be at Disney World 5 days. If you end up on the Deluxe Dining Plan, you will spend 5 hours or more per day eating meals.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you are in the Magic Kingdom for a day. Breakfast at 9:00 at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. You get done around 10:00. Now you are 1 hour into your day (the least busy of the day) and you haven’t even seen Cinderella Castle yet. You tour for a while, but now it’s lunch time 12:30 a nice buffet at the Crystal Palace. That will take an enchanting hour and a half. Now it’s 2:00, you’ve only ridden 3 rides and it’s time to go back to the room for a nap. Back to the park at 4:30 with the kids grumpy because they didn’t get to go swimming, and off to tour for a couple of hours because you have to monorail over to the Polynesian Resort for a 7:30 seating at ‘Ohana where the whole family just plays with their food because they just ate a snack a couple of hours earlier.
Tally it up, you’ve spent 4 hours in the park and 4 hours eating meals. Whoa horse. That’s not a good score for a first trip to Disney World. Then guess what, you have to get up and do it again the next day.
The Disney Deluxe Dining plan is not worth the money. PERIOD.
Now the good stuff
Enough of that negative stuff, on to the good stuff.
For your first trip to Disney World, I’d recommend that you spend one day in each park. Your family needs to get the full Disney World experience. It would be a real shame to miss the Safari or the Muppet Show or Test Track or Cinderella Castle. So, I would spend a day in each park.
I would make reservations for 1 character meal and 2 other big meals. You need to get a flavor of the great Disney World restaurants, but you can’t afford the time for lots of sit down meals.
With small children, you get a small advantage because you won’t have to ride some of the roller coasters (the longest lines).
When you first arrive, after checking in to the hotel, if it’s before 4:00 and you have 5 day tickets, go to the Magic Kingdom. Don’t worry about riding a lot of rides. Just enjoy. Scream as you walk down Main Street USA. Walk through all the lands. Ride Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Ride Dumbo. Ride the Teacups. Eat a Mickey bar, grab a Casey’s Hot Dog (with a white bun). Just enjoy the park. When it’s time, watch the night parade and Wishes. What a perfect day.
The rest of the week, make sure to see all of the parks, but don’t worry if you miss some rides.
Dad’s Bottom Line
Lazo, and anyone else going on a first Disney World trip, the one word that will make your vacation perfect is Enjoy. If someone gets tired, take a break. If Dad needs a nap (Dad likes naps) go take a nap. If the kids want to swim, then go swim. If someone wants a cheesesteak in Disney Hollywood Studios, run the other way.
The most important thing is to do your homework and make a plan. (Dad will help.)
PS. If you are ready to dump that greedy travel agent (just kidding), come and let my good friends at Destinations handle your details for you. They are certified Disney Travel Agents and they love helping people with their trips. Just bop over to the Destinations to Travel page and let Dad’s partners give you a hand.