10 Disney World Non-character dining restaurants your kids will love

 

The first thing many people think about when dining for kids are character dining meals. These can get tiresome for adults as they are all character meals and are often quite noisy. This experience can also be a long one as you wait for characters to make their rounds (especially at larger locations). If you’re looking for a few non-character meals that your kids will enjoy, look no further! Here are a few of my favorite suggestions:

Rainforest Café. Locations in both Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney. Menus at both locations are essentially the same, it’s a matter of scheduling and convenience. During the winter months and off peak travel times, Animal Kingdom often closes around 5 pm (sometimes earlier), so a later dinner would be out of the question – transportation will be a bit more limited if you choose a later reservation time as well.

T-REX. This fun location in Downtown Disney is an alternative to Rainforest Café, but is also more popular! Kids marvel at the outside and the interior is just as fun. Dinner reservations go fast, so make sure it’s one near the top of your list.

Coral Reef. Wouldn’t you like to dine with one of the largest aquariums in the world? Located in Epcot Future World, this is more than just seafood. There are chicken and steak options as well. Your kids will really enjoy the aquarium while you enjoy a really tasty meal. This is not an extremely tough reservation to get and is open for lunch and dinner. A 2 or 3 pm reservation should fill your bellies for the rest of the night, especially in the summer sun of Florida!

Via Napoli. A quick trek over to Italy in World Showcase, Via Napoli has some delicious pizza and pasta options and one of the favorite menus of kids. Adults can enjoy some sangria and some of the friendliest wait staff in all of Disney (my opinion of course!) The food is made quickly, so you won’t be waiting long. There’s a reason that this location is consistently booked up 20-30 days before arrival!

Boma. Yes, Boma is a buffet, but it’s not your ordinary buffet meal! Disney imagineers did a great job styling this like an African Market. Breakfast is one of boma-flavors-of-africamy favorite meals in all of Disney. While it’s not the most convenient location if you are staying outside of the Animal Kingdom area and don’t have a car, it’s worth a trip during an off day or a day you are planning on touring Animal Kingdom. The food here is a little different, but has options for picky eaters as well.

50s Prime Time Café. Elbows off the table! This 50s diner in Hollywood Studios is well themed and cast members really play their part. Encourage your kids to play along! This is a cast member favorite to bring their family and friends when they’re not on duty. In addition to the fun atmosphere that your kids will love, enjoy some huge portion sizes (sharing is highly encouraged) and save room for dessert!

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. Your booths are cars. Can it get any more fun than that? While you may share a space with another family depending on your party size, enjoy this fun and exciting themed restaurant. It’s a fairly inexpensive themed table service restaurant for those paying out of pocket for their meals. It’s a great first experience for those looking for one or two dining meals during their stay. Don’t worry, their “sci fi movies” are more goofy and not scary!

Whispering Canyon Café. Located in Wilderness Lodge and just a boat ride away from Magic Kingdom, this is another place to encourage your kids to play along. You’ll find pony races, literal interpretations of meal requests, and just try and ask for ketchup! While it’s a noisy restaurant, it’s a fun dining experience for all. Some teens may roll their eyes at some of the corny jokes, but it’s still a blast!

Be Our Guest. Yes this is the most difficult reservation in all of Disney World. Yes, there’s been some difficulty getting FastPass+ lunch reservations after June 28th, but yes it’s an amazing atmosphere as well. Located in New Fantasyland, it’s the first Disney restaurant that is quick service at lunch and table service at dinner. It’s also a great way to allow more people to visit the restaurant each day. We really enjoyed our lunch and I’d definitely go back again. If you can get it, definitely go! It’s a very enjoy able experience and beautifully thought out.

‘Ohana. Breakfast is a character meal, but dinner is not. Located at Disney’s Polynesian, it’s one of Disney’s most popular restaurants, so make your reservations as soon as possible to get a reasonable time (the closer to 5 pm, the better as later times may run late). ‘Ohana also underwent a menu change recently, but I’m sure it’s still a delicious family style meal with a Polynesian flair and atmosphere. It’s also a longer meal with multiple courses, but the food and the fun keep going and kids of all ages are entertained during the entire length of their meal.

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

101 Tips to make a magical Disney World vacation!

 

 

For 2015 and 2016 Disney World vacations, these are the best tips and tricks! While there’s a million different opinions out there, who knows what’s current and what’s outdated! Having just come back from another research expedition in Disney World, I’m confident these tips will help you on your Disney World vacation!

In no particular order…
1. Research, research, research! The more you know, the better your trip!

2. If cost is an issue, know when the best deals are. If crowd levels are an issue, know when the lowest crowd times are (hint, they are typically very similar times). Crowd calendar 2015, best times for 2015.

3. Start walking before you go. You can easily log 8-10 miles a day at Disney and while you take breaks, you’ll need to build some endurance. Take some family walks and start to get your legs ready!

4. STAY ON PROPERTY! While it may seem more expensive on the surface, you won’t need to rent a car, get transportation to/from the airport, or pay for parking.

5. Think about using a travel agent. We know how to get the best discounts, when discounts come out, and are actively looking to save you time and money! Plus, we are FREE to work with!!!

6. If you book your Disney vacation before a discount comes out, you will have to call Disney to apply the new discount. It doesn’t get changed automatically. During a big discount, you may be on hold for a very long time!

7. Think about your budget. Now think about adding about 20% more to it to make it a more reasonable number for Disney. You can definitely do Disney on the cheap, but if you’re thinking about cost the whole time, it makes it less fun for the adults!

8. Look into the dining plan and what it includes. See if it’s for you (or how you can get it for free!)

9. Make sure Disney knows about any celebrations during your stay! You’ll get a few freebies and some recognition as well.

10. Children under 3 are free in Disney. If you’re thinking about a vacation before or after your child turns 3, you’ll likely save at least $300 if you go when they’re 2!

11. Similarly, Disney considers 10 year olds Disney adults. That means there’s a price break between 9 and 10. Park tickets don’t make a huge difference, but dining does!

12. Park tickets become cheaper the more days you add (sometimes adding a day of park tickets can be as low as $30 for a family of 3-4). Disney does the math for you when you are booking your package, so check it out!

13. Plan for a day off. Disney can get exhausting. Make sure you take a break during your trip, whether it’s a planned pool day, downtown Disney, or just a day without parks. You won’t get bored!

14. Ask questions! If you’re in Disney and are confused, lost, or need help, cast members (Disney employees) are here to help!

15. Plan at least one table service dinner. Even if you’re not on the dining plan, it’s a good experience!

16. Try new food! You’re on vacation. Don’t be afraid to book a unique restaurant or menu item (especially on the dining plan!)

17. Ask your server for suggestions. They’ll give you a good opinion or at least tell you the most popular menu items.

18. Save room for dessert! There’s some awesome options on all the menus.

19. Explore other resorts. It’s fun to just look around another resort if you’re in the area (think Magic Kingdom and Epcot areas). You don’t need any sort of ticket or pass to walk around in the common areas. It’s fun to look around!

20. Bring sunscreen and wear it! Bring more than you think you need. Nothing like feeling miserable and uncomfortable after one day of vacation! Reapply after pool or water rides.

21. Bring snacks to the park. You can also bring your own water bottles. Anything except glass and alcohol is allowed into the parks! If you have a place to store it or are fine carrying it, you’ll save a ton of money!

22. Bring your own stroller. Sure it’s a pain to lug it through the airport and check it at the gate, but it’s better than $18/day for a single stroller or $31/day for a double stroller!

23. Decorate your stroller so you know it’s yours. Colored ribbon, a sign, etc. will all be helpful. Yes you left it in a certain place, but cast members rearrange strollers for the most capacity. This is especially helpful if you are renting a stroller.

24. Share meals. Share meals! Seriously. For quick service/counter service meals, start with one meal for every 2 people. You can always go back and get another or one or get a snack to share. Don’t throw away the expensive food!!! Look at appetizers and meals to share for table service meals. If you made a reservation and you’re not that hungry, don’t be afraid to share a meal. The only place you can’t share are buffet meals. Via Napoli does not allow sharing on the dining plan, but you can share if paying out of pocket.

25. Bring your refillable mugs to the parks! While you can’t officially refill them, it’s a great way to share one of the large fountain drinks from counter service meals. You can also fill them with water from the water fountains or ask for some free ice water at any counter service (a word of warning that Orlando water doesn’t taste the greatest!)

26. Use Disney transportation. It’s FREE! It adds to the experience of Disney.

27. Know how to get from here to there BEFORE you leave! If you need to make a cheat sheet on your phone or index cards, do it! You’ll save headaches later.

28. Driving to Disney? Parking is free at your resort and all the theme parks if you stay in a Disney resort! Bring a GPS or some directions to get you to the main roads. Once there, Disney signage is great to get you to your destination.

29. Download the My Disney Experience app to your smart phone. You can update reservations on the fly and check for various show times and character meets in the park.

30. Arrive at the parks 30-45 minutes prior to park open. At times the parks open before the posted time. You can get through more of the park in the first 2-3 hours of the day than any other time!

31. Even if you’re tired, wake up for “rope drop” (park opening). You can always take a break later.

32. Take breaks! Whether it’s for lunch inside the park or a nap or some pool time outside of the park. You can’t make it 12-14 hours in the park without a break.

33. Be aware of Extra Magic Hours. Late hours are great to get some more popular attractions out of the way. If you are willing to get up early for morning Magic Hours, make sure you arrive before the park opens, otherwise it’s not worth it.

34. Fall brings some early park closures to the general public. Check the park hours on Disney’s website for days that close early due to special events. You may want to avoid that park. Animal Kingdom also closes earlier during lower crowd levels. Make sure you plan ahead if you have park hopper tickets.

35. Make your FastPass+ reservations at your 60 day window – this is for your entire vacation. This opens at midnight EST. If you want to meet Anna & Elsa, this needs to be done the second the window opens! Make sure your reservations are made at least 30 days in advance as that’s when day guests can make reservations.

36. Take advantage of all your FastPass+ allotments. Even if you aren’t sure, book it!

37. Make your dining reservations as soon as possible. This has become extremely competitive in the last 2-3 years. Resort guests can make reservations 180 days in advance (this is for your entire vacation, not just one day). If you don’t have a resort reservation, you can make reservations 180 days in advance (but you’ll have to do it each day).

38. Check out the FastPass+ bypass for Be Our Guest for lunch.

39. Package reservations must be paid in full at 45 days prior to your arrival. Room only reservations are paid upon arrival.

40. Think about online check in. If you are arriving earlier in the day, make sure Disney knows about it. While it’s no guarantee, the more they know, the better.

41. If you don’t like your room assignment on check in, you can always ask the front desk if there is another available room you can switch to (in a different location on the grounds). The worst they can say is no!

42. Wear good walking shoes! Flip flops are not good walking shoes.

43. Bring an extra pair of shoes in case one gets wet from rain or if you get a blister.

44. Bring first aid supplies. Disney does have first aid at each of their theme parks, however bring some good band aids, blister band aids, and moleskin with you. It’ll save you walking time to get there and making your injuries worse.

45. On days with a threat of rain, pack a pair of sandals or crocs. This is the only time I’ll ever suggest sandals in Disney. EVER. More suggestions on what to do on rainy days.

46. Pack your own ponchos. You’ll save money. Don’t forget a poncho or tarp for your stroller!

47. Pack a ziplock bag or two for cameras and cell phones on rides where you can get wet.

48. Take a photo of where you parked. After a long, hot day, you may not remember. Also take a photo of your rental car’s license plate!

49. Bring an extension cord. There aren’t always enough plugs available or in a nice place.

50. Think about staying closer to the park you’ll be at the most. You’ll save time traveling to and from your resort each day.

51. If pool time is important to you, choose a location with a great pool. You may want to spend a little more money on a moderate or deluxe resort to have a water slide. My favorite pools are at Beach & Yacht Club, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Coronado Springs. Of the value resorts, Art of Animation and Pop Century have fun pools (but no water slides).

52. Decide if you want to park hop. I think park hopping is beneficial, but it may be too much for young children or your first trip. You will get to see more in less time. Add a park hopper to your tickets and cut down on the number of days of tickets giving you time to take a day off!

53. Explore Downtown Disney. The World of Disney store has everything you could ever want to buy!

54. Stay cool. Drink water, don’t get dehydrated. If you’re feeling ill find a cool indoor show to watch or take a little break in one of the bathrooms.

55. Stop and enjoy your surroundings. Running from one thing to the next isn’t very much fun! Enjoy your surroundings.

56. Don’t try and do too much. Don’t plan every second of every day. Go in with a general plan and be open to change.

57. Know height restrictions for different Disney attractions before you go. They are strict.

58. Don’t make your kids go on something they are afraid of. There’s always another trip another time.

59. Find free stuff in Disney! Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom gives you free cards. Play the game or just take the cards. It’s a great distraction.

60. Really enjoy each country of World Showcase in Epcot. They are really interesting and intricate.

61. Take family photos with the Disney photographers. Your MagicBands will upload the photos to your account. Even if you don’t purchase them, it’s still fun!

62. If you see a Disney photographer hovering around, it’s likely because a pop up character meet will be on the way. If you want to know, ask! They’ll tell you the information they have.

63. Check out all the evening fireworks/shows. Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios each have one and they are all amazing, whether it’s the first or 100th time you’ve seen them.

64. Watch Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from different vantage points: Main Street, Tommorowland Bridge, Polynesian Beach, California Grill (reservations required).

65. Get your spot for parades early. The shady spots go first, so if that’s important, stake your claim!

66. Think about Memory Maker. You’ll be able to put your camera away and have tons of pictures for your return!

67. Customize your MagicBands. It’s so much fun to see the rainbow of colors arrive at your doorstep instead of plain gray ones.

68. Use your MagicBands to their fullest extent. They’re more than just a key to open your door. Pay for anything and everything in Disney World, gain entry to the parks, use your FastPasses, etc. It’s actually really fun!

69. Call Disney if you need more than one room. It’s easier to properly link the reservations and they can book it faster than you could online. While you’re on the phone, ask if there are any PIN codes attached to your account.

70. Start your vacation on Sunday. Friday night and Saturday night stays are the most expensive. Crowds are also highest on a Saturday.

71. Arrive early in the day and leave late in the day. This will allow you the most time. Even if you’re not going to the parks.

72. Magical Express service TO your resort can take up to 90 minutes from your arrival. You’ll likely stop at other resorts on the way to your own. Be patient!

73. Magical Express service FROM your resort typically leaves 3 hours before your flight. Plan your flight accordingly.

74. Be cautious before booking a dining reservation the night you arrive. Flights get delayed, things happen.

75. Try a character meal! Even if you are dining as adults, it’s fun to watch kids faces light up.

76. Don’t yell at your kids. You’re in public and people can hear you!

77. Eat at off peak times. You’ll definitely be able to tell peak lunch and dinner times by the amount the crowds dwindle. If you can take advantage of that, you’ll get more for your time.

78. Did you know the average number of attractions done in a day is 8.5? While it’s definitely possible to do more, don’t have extreme expectations for your visit.

79. Stop and enjoy the cupcakes.

photo 2(2)

80. Study park maps before your arrive to know where you’re going on day one!

81. Grab a daily schedule for the parks on your way in. You’ll know about special events, live shows, and character meets.

82. If you are in line for an attraction before the park closes, you’ll be able to ride or meet a character. A cast member will turn you away if the park is already closed, but you won’t have to leave the line.

83. Disney buses run until the last guest is out of the parks. You won’t get left behind!

84. There’s a place for nursing mothers if you’re taking a very young child to Disney. Ask a cast member for more information.

85. Enjoy attractions more than once. Just because you already did them on this trip, doesn’t mean you can’t do it again, especially if the line is short!

86. Head straight for the headlining attractions/rides first thing in the morning when lines are shortest.

87. Eat a decent breakfast. Even if you plan on enjoying some food at the parks, don’t go on an empty stomach and then get lost in running from ride to ride.

88. Pack some simple breakfast foods in your luggage. Pop Tarts and granola bars are easy grab and go things to get you to the parks early!

89. Think about club level service. Breakfast, snacks, hot and cold appetizers, happy hour drinks for adults, desserts, and after dinner cordials. It won’t be all of your meals, but we were able to keep full throughout our stay. Free bottled water too!

90. Meet at least one character during your trip. I don’t care if it’s kids or adults, it’s still fun!

91. Prepare your kids for the trip: waiting in line, being courteous, using manners, etc.

92. If there are two lines, choose left. 95% of the time that line is shorter!

93. The shops on Main Street in Magic Kingdom are open longer than the park. Shop on your way out after the fireworks show.

94. Get a set of “first ears”!Anna & Elsa - Frozen

95. Enjoy Club Cool in Epcot. Get a free beverage and try the different flavors of Coke around the world!

96. Take a night off and watch a movie at your resort. Don’t like the movie your resort has, check out the other resorts!

97. Try Dole Whip (I prefer the floats!)

98. Sit and enjoy some of the live shows. Don’t feel like it’s a waste of time. They are truly enjoyable and it’s a load off your feet.

99. Pay attention to the details! The different things on Cinderella’s Castle, all the animals in the Tree of Life, etc. It’s truly amazing!

100. Think about a dinner show! Disney has 3 on property and they’ll all really fun! Two credits on the dining plan or a decent out of pocket charge, but it’s a great way to take a nice long break!

101. Learn about Pin Trading and trade with cast members!

Whew! Did I forget anything important?

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box!

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box!

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

15 things you need to know for a Disney World Vacation with kids or toddlers

 

My little girl turns one today! In honor of this proud mommy moment and thoughts of taking her to Disney World for the first time next year, I wanted to pass along things you need to know when traveling to Disney with little ones for the first time. I did post some tips and tricks for traveling with kids 5 and under which were very well received. These are some mom tested suggestions and ideas that I think will really help make your Disney World vacation great.

  1. Bring or rent a stroller. I know your kiddo is turning 4 or 5 and they’ve been walking on their own at the zoo for over a year. Disney World is a whole different animal. We easily log 10 miles a day as we saunter around for several hours. The last thing your tired feet will want to do is carry around a 35 pound kiddo. Plus, now you have a place to store snacks, ponchos, an extra pair of shoes, sunscreen, and more.
  2. Know your stroller rental options and the cost. Renting a stroller from Disney is EXPENSIVE. A double stroller is over $30. Airlines typically allow you to check a stroller at the gate for no additional cost so if you have one you can borrow or bring, DO IT! If you do rent a stroller through Disney and you park hop, keep your receipt. When you get to your 2nd park, they will issue you a new stroller at no cost (as long as it’s the same day). You can’t take them from one park to another though, so plan accordingly. Also know that it’s a mad rush to return strollers at the end of the night if you rent through Disney.
  3. Bring a diaper or two. Every mom has a few leftover diapers after potty training. Even if you are past the point of diapers, it’s nice to have in case of an emergency. When you’re 5 minutes away from seeing Cinderella after waiting for 30 minutes, the last  thing you want to  hear is “mom, I have to go potty!”
  4. Don’t try to see everything in one day. Even as adults, we don’t try and do every attraction in one day. Slow down a little bit and enjoy the sights and sounds of Disney!
  5. Use the baby care center. Each park has one and has changing tables, rocking chairs, bottle warmers, and a nursing area. There’s also a baby specific store with extra diapers, baby food, formula, etc. So if you run out or forget to put something in the diaper bag, Disney has you covered (for a bit of a premium cost of course!)
  6. Prepare your kids for lines. We know everyone wants to see Mickey Mouse NOW. Prepping your kids for lines will help the wait process less painful. The more you can tell your kids, the better! If you need to bring a book or something to keep them entertained, do it. Just try and keep the noisy toys at home.
  7. Don’t force them onto attractions! While you may not think something is scary, don’t under estimate the power of kid minds. I’ve seen full out meltdowns getting onto Pirates of the Caribbean (and throughout the entire ride).  Be mindful that other guests are trying to have a good time. There’s always an exit strategy if things aren’t going well and cast members are happy to help get you out of a sticky situation!
  8. Start your park day early. If you have a baby or toddler “alarm clock” like I do, you might has well start your day with early morning magic hours or for rope drop. I only suggest taking advantage of early morning magic hours if you have park hoppers to allow you to jump to another park the same day. This also gives you a great opportunity to get out of the park and take a break for lunch, a nap, or some pool time.
  9. Plan your FastPasses. Know where characters. Even though you still might wait 10 minutes to see Rapunzel, it beats the 30-60 minutes it normally is.
  10. Stay away from peak travel times. Traveling in October or early November is the most ideal (my opinion). Crowds are low, the weather isn’t as hot (but still nice enough for a swim), and you get the benefit of the Food & Wine Festival as well as special Magic Kingdom events (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party). You’ll also save money by traveling off peak. Spring Break, June, July, and most of August are pretty busy and HOT. Your little one will get more worn out in the hot sun and you’ll spend more on drinks while you’re there!
  11. BYOW. Bring your own water. There are no rules against bringing food or water into Disney parks. Word to the wise, no glass, no alcoholic beverages, and no hard sided coolers. Other than that, you’re free to bring what you please!
  12. Add on Memory Maker. While it doesn’t completely eliminate the need for a camera, it will allow you to have family photos, and enjoy some of the magical moments without being behind the lens. For more about Memory Maker, check out “What Memory Maker All About”
  13. If you want to dine with characters, make plans early. Seriously. 3 months out, don’t expect to get a breakfast reservation with Cinderella or dinner at Akershus before 8 pm. Plan ahead. Disney can be a 12 month planning adventure. Link up with a Disney travel agent to help make your plans easier!
  14. Consider spending a bit more for location! You’ll pay more for a prime Disney location, but when it’s naptime, you won’t want to wait for a bus! Also check out the deluxe villas. You can get a 1 bedroom suite to have separation between the adults and the kids who will likely go down to bed before you’re ready! Art of Animation (a value resort) also has this option at a bit lower cost!
  15. Let mom and dad have a break. Disney offers pay per service child care facilities. Take a night off from the kids and have a nice dinner or take a romantic carriage ride. Disney definitely thinks of everything!

 

Related posts:


Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Disney World Tips and Tricks for Character Meet & Greets

 

When traveling with kids, Character meet & greets are probably high on the list of must do’s.  Disney has made finding characters in Disney even easier with the update to the My Disney Experience App. Without a smart phone, just grab a daily schedule when you enter the park. Here are the top 5 trips for Disney veterans!

1. Talk to the character’s handler if your child is a bit nervous or if your child expects them to do something specific (i.e. you told Sally that Mickey Mouse always gives a high five) and if you have any traditions for taking photos – individual children followed by a group photo or vice versa. Make face characters aware of birthdays or celebrations. They may not notice buttons that your child may be wearing.

2. When meeting face characters that talk, lead them into the conversation. Some great examples:

  • It’s so nice to see you again Cinderella! Haven’t Suzie and Jenna gotten so big since you saw them last year?
  • Princess Aurora, I love your dress! It’s so different than you one you were wearing yesterday at breakfast.

3.       If your children are nervous, start with a question about the character or prep them with a fun question that will get a response (face characters or not)

  • Jasmine, were you scared when you were on the Magic Carpet with Aladdin?
  • Tell Donald that you love him, but Mickey is still your favorite
  • Bring something to tcharacters…nuts for chip and dale, a “dinglehopper” for Ariel

If you have specific characters on your list, ask for some more suggestions! I’d be happy to provide some 🙂

4. Remind everyone to use their manners. Please, thank you, hugs, no meltdowns! Character time will be much smoother and easier for everyone.

5. Have your camera ready as you see a character approaching (for dining) or as you get close to the front of the line (park meet & greets). This will save time and make your entire process move more smoothly.

Remember, you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy Disney characters!

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Disney World With Kids: Attractions with Height Requirements

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The grand majority of the families I plan vacations for are traveling with children. As part of the planning process it’s good to know what can and can’t do. The better information you have before you leave, the better to know what you are able to ride before you get to the park and get a son or daughter’s hopes up! Below is a list of all Disney attractions with height restrictions and the minimum requirement. They are listed by height minimum. I hope this proves to be a helpful resource to you.

Park Attraction/Ride Height
Minimum
Magic Kingdom The Barnstormer 35″
Animal Kingdom Kali River Rapids 38″
Animal Kingdom Dinosaur 40″
Epcot Soarin’ 40″
Epcot Test Track 40″
Hollywood Studios The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 40″
Hollywood Studios Star Tours – The Adventures Continue 40″
Magic Kingdom Stitch’s Great Escape 40″
Magic Kingdom Splash Mountain 40″
Magic Kingdom Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 40″
Magic Kingdom Space Mountain 44″
Animal Kingdom Expedition Everest 44″
Epcot Mission Space 44″
Animal Kingdom Primeval Whirl 48″
Hollywood Studios Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith 48″
Blizzard Beach Cross Country Creek 48″
Blizzard Beach Summit Plummet 48″
Blizzard Beach Downhill Double Dipper 48″
Typhoon Lagoon Humunga Kowabunga 48″
DisneyQuest Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam 48″
DisneyQuest Cyberspace Mountain 51″
DisneyQuest Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlaster 51″
Typhoon Lagoon Bay Slide 52″

 

And remember, Disney offers a rider swap option for many of its attractions. For more information, check out my previous post!

Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Disney World with kids – What rides are too scary?

So it’s your first time to Disney with kids, a whole different ballgame than traveling as a teen or in adulthood. One of the biggest questions during the planning process: what rides are too intense or too scary for my kids? My response is usually the same: it depends on your kids! Age is but a number in my eyes. Thinking back to my childhood, I was a scared-y cat. My cousin, on the other hand, was a dare devil. Five years younger than me, we both rode our first roller coaster in the same year. This is one of the basic differences I try and point out when parents ask questions about the intensity of a ride. Other rides are “scary” because of noise and not necessarily because of speed or intensity.

Here are my favorite resources to help you decide what is best for your child:

Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this amazing book. I use this determine all the rides that have a “scare factor” the age groups that might consider it too intense. Some of their commentary was an eye opener for me! Something I never thought to be scary, like Mickey’s Philharmagic could be scary for young kids based on noise alone!

YouTube. Once you have you questionable rides, I suggest heading over to YouTube to check out the ride for yourself. I actually reviewed this as an adult going back to Disney for the first time. My thrill seeking husband wanted to try everything and I was a bit hesitant. It gave me a great perspective on each ride and what I thought I was able to handle. For the record, I did well on everything except Tower of Terror which was suitably named in my opinion. If you can find the Touring Plans YouTube page. They have many “Point of View” videos showing that it’s actually like to be on the ride. If you’re unsure if your little ones can handle it, have them watch it and see what they think!

For the big adults that still want their thrills at Disney, make sure you are aware of the Rider Switch option. This is available for parents with children that don’t want to ride or are too small to ride. As you get up to the front of the line, let the cast member assigning your placement in the car/vehicle/seat/etc. that you would like to take advantage of the Rider Switch option. This allows one parent to ride while the other stays with the non-riding child. After the ride, the parents swap places and the other is allowed to ride. This option is available for:

Magic Kingdom:

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Splash Mountain
  • The Barnstormer
  • Space Mountain
  • Stitch’s Great Escape
  • Tomorrowland Indy Speedway

Epcot:

  • Mission: SPACE
  • Soarin’
  • Test Track

Hollywood Studios:

  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Star Tours ®
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Animal Kingdom:

  • DINOSAUR
  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Primeval Whirl

Use this list as a starting point to see what is too much for your kids to handle. If you don’t remember the ride, don’t know the ride or need a refresher, head over to YouTube!  As a note, some of these have the rider switch because of height minimums and not for scare factor!

What other attractions do you think should be added to this list? Any you think should be removed?