Disney Dad’s Dozen: Tips for a First Timer

7. Where to Eat

If you love a particular kind of cuisine, chances are there is a Disney dining experience to match your tastes. For the kids you cant go wrong with a character meal. You and your family sit down to a buffet style meal (we prefer breakfast) and Disney Characters will come right to your table (as will a Disney photographer) and you can get hugs and high fives between courses of pancakes and muffins. Our favorite character meals are at Cinderella’s Castle, Ohana at the Polynesian, The Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom and Chef Mickeys at The Contemporary. All of the upper level resorts have character dining right at the hotel. For a fast bite Disney has a plethora of quick service restaurants.

For Strength

In the old days Disney was all about the hamburger, chicken sandwich and nuggets. Now they have a tremendous variety of less expensive counter service meals. We love Pecos Bills at Magic Kingdom, Flame Tree Barbecue at Animal Kingdom, La Cantina De San Angel in Epcot and the ABC Commissary at the Studios. Our favorite sit down, full service restaurants could fill a book. Standouts include; California Grill at the Contemporary, The Boathouse at Disney Springs, Raglan Road at Disney Springs, The Rose and Crown in Epcot (make a 7pm reservation here and have a wonderful view of fireworks for dessert!), and the Hoop De Doo Review dinner show at Disney’s Fort Wilderness.

8. How Many Days at Each Park?

The minimum stay I could recommend for Disney vacation would be 5 days. That gives you at least a day at each park and an extra day to go back and hit missed attractions. I would recommend Dads with younger kids to plan at least 2 days at the Magic Kingdom. It has the most to see by far. It’s also the park that started it all right? Right now, due to the construction of the upcoming Toy Story and Star Wars lands at the Hollywood Studios, this park has really become a ½ day experience. I would recommend going later in the day and staying for the night time shows Fantasmic and the new Star Wars fireworks.

Fantasmic!

Epcot and the Animal Kingdom are massive and require lots of walking. So, one full day each. Animal Kingdom with the addition of the spectacular Avatar Pandora experiences has finally become a full day park. Some parents think skipping Epcot is a good idea. They think there is not much for kids there. They are wrong! There are lots of great experiences for kids in Future World and in World Showcase. Don’t miss Soarin’ and Frozen Ever After. Disney has tiered pricing for their passes available on their website. You will see the longer you stay the cheaper the daily ticket becomes. The difference between a 5-day park hopper and a 7-day park hopper is less than 30$. Go see my friends at the touring plans website here and use their free ticket calculator tool.

9. Transportation

In the late 90’s Disney proposed a monorail that would go from the airport directly to Disney property. Therefore cutting out any money spent in greater Orlando and Kissimmee. Obviously, the idea was nixed by the locals. So Disney came up with a back up plan. If you are staying at a Disney resort they will arrange a free (yes you heard me correctly FREE) coach bus transport to your Disney Hotel. On top of that when you check a bag at your home airport Disney will handle your bag the rest of the way. Your bag will magically appear in your room. To get around the WDW property you have a few choices. You can rent a car (don’t!), take a bus, boat, monorail, uber or a minnie van .

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For $20 A Minnie Van will take you anywhere on WDW property.

The buses run every 20 minutes from all resorts to the theme parks, Disney Springs and the two Water parks. Three resorts have a monorail service to the Magic Kingdom. Others have boat service to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and the Studios. The newest jewel in the transportation crown is the “Minnie van”. Still in its testing phase, through the MDE app you can call a Minnie Van for up to four people. The polka dotted van will take all of you anywhere on property for a flat fee of $20. Uber was cutting into the Disney bottom line so they countered with this. With all of these options and if you are staying on property you don’t need your own car. Yes, you will have to wait occasionally but personally as a Dad I would rather spend the time with my kids and not fight the traffic or pay 20$ per day to park.

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