First Time vs. Second, Third, and Beyond at WDW…Part One

The Walt Disney World Welcome Archway
The Walt Disney World Welcome Archway

When it comes to planning trips to Walt Disney World, h)ow you plan may depend greatly on what number visit it is for you.  Today, we will begin to look at some of the differences that may take place in those plans. And, we will start with the first time guest.

If you are a first time guest, how you plan may also depend on kids or no kids!  For our purpose, today, we will be using some general plans.  If you have kids, feel free to adjust accordingly.  Or, better yet, leave a comment below to help others who may need some help.

First time guests often want to push as much into their plans as possible.  They may even attempt to ‘do it all”!  Having a good plan is essential to making this work.  Start by determining how many days you want to be in the parks, to help you plan for your overall number of days for your Disney World vacation.  Then, look at a crowd calendar (there are a few available online), and that will help you judge the flow of each park on a given day.  For first time guests, I do not usually suggest Park Hoppers, as it can be confusing enough just getting to one park each day.  Once you have figured out which park to do on what day, it’s time to plan our order of attractions.  And, there are a number of methods that can be used for this, as well.

If you want to do a few Character meals, make sure you make your Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) at the 180 day before arrival point, or as soon as you book a vacation if less than 10 days.  If you are an onsite guest, you can book your entire stay at the 180 point before your ARRIVAL day.  This is called the 180+10 rule!  Also, if you have a larger family, and want the convenience of just making the ADR and showing up, you may want to consider the Disney Dining Plan.  For more information on that, see DDP – Plus Dining at

With the new Fastpass Plus (FPP) system, you can choose your rides up to 60 days in advance, if you are staying at a Walt Disney Resort.  If you stay at a hotel off-property, you have 30 days in advance to make your ride selections. You can do three a day, for one park.  After you use those three FPPs, you can select another one at one of the FPP Kiosks found throughout the parks.  If you want to do one of the hard to get attractions (ie, Anna and Elsa Meet, 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, Soarin, Toy Story Midway Mania), you may want to plan those for later in your stay to increase your chances of getting one of those.

I try to tell my clients to set a flow, not necessarily go WITH the flow, that works for your family.  I find it easier than criss-crossing the parks and putting more mileage on my feet.  However, do what works best for what you want to accomplish.  And, if you do have little ones, you may want to plan a midday break for rest and recovery.  Then, return to the park in the evenings.

One last thing I would suggest.  Don’t plan to do EVERYTHING there is to do!  I have been to WDW 12 times, and STILL haven’t seen it all!  But then, that gives me an excuse to go back over, and over, and over again!  We will look at how to plan when you return in the next issue of the threestrandswdw blog!  Thanks for reading and have a Blessed and Magical day, my friends!!

Young At Heart

A 53 year old man walks toward The Magic Kingdom, he gets a flutter in his chest and feels his step getting a little lighter! As he passes under the train station and walks onto Main Street U.S.A., he gets a whiff of something delicious…Popcorn! He looks around at all the other people walking around and realizes that he’s not alone in what he is sensing. Oh, if feel great to be YOUNG AT HEART!

Me, being fun and impulsively Young At Heart!
Me, being fun and impulsively Young At Heart!

Yes, it doesn’t matter who you are, or what the cares of the world may be, when you come to Walt Disney World, you have permission to be Young at Heart! It’s time to put away the everyday, because it isn’t everyday around these parts! You can let the business of your life rest as you enter into the peace of the Disney “bubble” and just let it all wait for your return, later.

When Walt Disney decided to enter into the theme park business, I can’t help but imagine that along with providing a place for entire families to play together, he was giving each of us permission to be kids for just a little longer. There is nothing that makes me smile wider, or laugh harder, than when I am at the Walt Disney World Resort and in one of the theme parks! I forget that there is a life full of stress and responsibility and allow myself to relax. The cares of the world wash off my shoulders and I am home!

When you visit the Vacation Kingdom, I would like to suggest that you forget the rest of the world for as long as your vacation is set to last. If needed, shut off the ability to receive calls on your cell! I know with all the new technology, it’s necessary to carry your smartphone, but you don’t have to answer any calls, unless it’s a lost family member somewhere on the property. The boss can wait! The bills can wait! Anything that steals from your vacation is a vacation thief!

It’s time to give yourselves permission to be Young At Heart!! Be a kid at Walt Disney World! Visit the characters that you grew up with, and meet the ones your kids have gotten to know, too! Enjoy the attractions, rides, shows, or whatever else you want to take part in while visiting WDW. And, don’t forget to allow yourself to have FUN!!

Remember the old song? Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you, if you’re Young At Heart!!

From Attractions: The Show on Fastpass Plus!

At about 19 minutes into this video is the best explanation I have seen about how Fastpass Plus works! And, I thought it was important to share with all of the recent changes!

▶ Attractions – The Show – Jan. 23, 2014 – Otronicon, FastPass+ Q&A, plus latest news – YouTube.

What is so Magical about the Most Magical Place On Earth?

What does this bring to your mind?

When you see the picture on the left, what do you think about?  For me, I remember all of the best vacations I have ever had!  My first visit was October 2, 1982 and my first park was The Magic Kingdom.  The first time I rode the Monorail, I thought I was going to the moon.  Walking toward the entrance off of the Monorail platform brought on emotions I didn’t know I was capable of experiencing.  And, to this day, all the cares of the world melt into oblivion, if just for a few days.

Visiting EPCOT Center, as it was called in 1982, was completely overwhelming.  It had the new feeling to the place, and some creative new ideas on display.  I really enjoyed the old Communicore East and West.  I especially enjoyed the little robot, I believe he went by Smart 1.  Somewhat interactive, and he had a bit of a sense of humor. The World Showcase was also a highlight of that visit.  But, the most used phrase on that trip was, “due to technical difficulties.”  Nothing could spoil my vacation, not even the broken down new things to see.

The first time taking my kids to Walt Disney World, the feeling was the same, but different.  To see the looks on their faces was indeed priceless.  And, of the three kids, two have fallen prey to my Disney addiction.  Now, we are preparing for our next journey and looking forward to what is ahead of us.  I will be taking one of the many tours offered in The Magic Kingdom, and I can honestly say that this will be a birthday I will truly enjoy!  Add to that the Candlelight Processional, a dinner at ‘Ohana, a lunch at Be Our Guest, and Osbourne Lights; this will be a week to remember.

So, what is the Magical attraction for you?  I would love to hear your stories about first trips, first experiences, best memories.  And, let’s all share our stories.  Please, leave your comments on this blog page.

Have a magical and blessed day, my friends!