Sunday, 21 July 2013

Disney from a Goslings view point (some hints and tips)

Note:  we did Orlando at our convenience.   We did not do It to save money, do all the rides, see as many characters as we could.  This was a holiday.  We did not want to overextend ourselves, or miss out on too much, or stress ourselves or our kids out too much.  So these hints and tips are just general bits and pieces to maybe consider if you are planning a trip to Orlando to do the theme parks.

A lot of the inspiration, and where I got my hints and tips from can be found here, here and here

General Park Tips
Check opening and closing times, and if there are any extra magic hours (Disney only).  This is where people staying at a Disney resort can go in early, or stay later. I made a conscious effort to go the days after extra magic hours.  Not sure it made a difference.....
Get there early, if not before opening, shortly after.
Make sure you pick up a map as you enter.  Or even better, download the park apps.  All the parks we visited had one.  Disney's app allows you to make plans in advance, it also gives you up to date character locations.  Both Seaworld and Legoland apps are very good, and give you the facility to mark your car in the car park.  Unfortunately we could get neither to work!  
Head to the attractions you want to see first, get them out of the way before it gets too hot or too busy.
Take small drinks and snacks, it will help keep the kids going, and you won't be forking out every time they feel hungry
If you are staying in the park all day, try and eat lunch early or late.  We did this every time, and even at the Rainforsest Cafe, only had to wait 20 minutes for a table at 2pm.  It is less busy, and slightly more relaxing (if eating in the parks can be relaxing)

Disney's Magic Kingdom
It take  a good 30 minutes to get from the car to the parks, as you need to use at least one form of Disney transport.  
Apparently the rope drop at the beginning of the day is really good.  We never saw it,  we arrived about 9.15.  By then the first wave of guests were through, so the first walk down Main Street was not too busy.
If you get paper tickets for longer than 2 days, it is worth seeing guest relations to change them to plastic ones.  This will make it easier to get in and out of the parks.  
This was by far the busiest park we came across.  
We did a lot of rides all 5 of us.  We were surprised how much Sebastian could do.  He even got to go on a roller coaster, even though he is just over 35 inches.
We did not take advantage of parent swap.  We did get fast passes for all of us for Splash Mountain, but the weather had other ideas.
We ate twice in here in the same day, both times in Fantasyland.  It was expensive, though the food was quite tasty.  Disney has relaxed its policy on bringing in food, and will allow soft sided cool boxes.  We saw plenty of people picnicking around all the parks.
People grab places quite early for parades, if you want to see a parade and get a good viewing spot, you will need to sit down at least an hour before hand.

Disney's Animal Kingdom
All Disney Parks have areas that are always busy.  Here it is Africa and Asia, try and do these first, they are right next to each other.
Be prepared to spend extra money in Dinoland if your kids want to do the arcade games.
The walking trails are particularly good, take your time and enjoy them.
We ate at the Rainforest Cafe, it was really good, well worth booking if you can, or taking the chance.
There is only one parade at this park.  We caught the end of it after lunch.  It was not busy (compared to Magic Kingdom), and all the boys got to see bits of it.
This is a good park to see the characters.  Camp Minnie Mickey is a character meet and greet.  If it had not been raining so much we would have walked down to it, but it is quite off the beaten track.
This park closes at 8pm, the animals need their sleep....

Disney's Hollywood Studios
The area that is busiest here is Pixar Place.
We headed straight to Toy Story Mania, waited 30 minutes.   By the time we left the wait time was 90 minutes, and the Fastpass return time was 8pm!  
The shows were good,  do not take a 2 year old who does not like crowds or loud noises.  
The Star Wars Jedi Academy looks awesome, wish we had signed Oliver up for it. But you have to sign them up.
My boys loved the Disney Junior show, it was perfect for them.  We queued up half hour early, and were sat 3 rows back from the front.
This park is probably more suited for older children.

We did this on the 4th July, it was packed..... We went late in the day, to stay for the fireworks.  I think if we had gone earlier, it would have been less busy, and easier to do the rides.
Futureland is looking a bit dated.  There is not a lot for our boys to do.  Oliver wanted to do Test track, but it was out of Fastpasses, and the wait time was 90 minutes.
The Innovations building were quite good (and air conditioned), good for a gentle walk in the heat of the day
Futureland closes at 7pm, though the rest of the park stays open till 9/10pm
Again, this part of the park is best suited for older kids.
Walking around the different countries is cool, but quite a walk for small ones,  ours all took turns in the buggy.
All the countries have stages for music, check the times if there is any particular type of music you want to see.
We ate fish and chips in England.  They were delicious.  All the countries have eateries, so there is food for all palates
Epcot has drinking game written all over it.  A local drink in each country.  Japan had sake, Mexico had margaritas, France had wine, you get the picture... When the kids are older, we will be returning to do this
You need to get a spot for the fireworks early.  They mark out walkways around the lake, so people know where they can sit.  People were sitting down 2 hours early here!!!!
The fireworks were ok, not the spectacle Paul and I remember them being from when we were younger.  Guess thats what age does to you...
The fireworks lasted about 15 minutes.  I was expecting more to be honest.  Especially as it was the 4th July.
Getting back to the car was ok, getting out of the car park was not.  It took over an hour.... Go out the main middle road, it is much quicker 


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