As first time Disney go-ers we talked to lots of people to get input on the 4 parks. As most people already have said be sure to Fastpass the following rides: Toy Story Mania, Thunder Mountain, Safari, Peter Pan, and Aerosmith Roller Coaster. As for visiting the parks, the park hopper is definitely the way to go because it gives great flexibility if you are staying on property and have no car. Disney transportation also makes it so easy to hop around. A bus will take you anywhere, but there are some rules, so make sure you know how to get to where you are going ahead of time. One important thing to note about Disney trans. Is that you cannot bus it from one resort to another resort. You need to take a bus to a park first, then hop onto a different bus, to get to another resort. So for example we were staying at the Boardwalk Inn and had dinner reservations at the Contempory Resort for Chef Mickeys. Only way to get to the contemporary from the Boardwalk Inn was to take a bus to Magic Kingdom and then hop on the monorail or walk to the contemporary from there. Animal Kingdom is only accessible by bus, however the other 3 parks you can hop to via monorail/boat/bus. Disney has staff everywhere to help, so when in doubt about how to get somewhere just ask! Also if you are a first time Disney go-er I recommend you skip going to downtown Disney. Use all your time and spend it in the parks or at your hotel. You are missing nothing but restaurants and shopping stores there.
The Disney Dining Plan with Table Service forced us to take a break once a day and experience a nice sit down meal. However doing this also restricted us to be somewhere, at a specific time and thus couldn't be flexible with our time. For example we spent the day at MK utilizing the 8-9am magic hours. our family was tired at 3pm and wanted to head back for a swim. We couldn't because we had 4:45 Crystal Palace (awesome place to eat) reservations, that if I clxd, we would lose deposit money. If i had later reservations then this would be a non-issue, but note it means we still had to be somewhere at a specific time, just later in the evening. Disney gets you with this dilemma because if you don't have reservations somewhere, you may not get into any restaurant. Each dining place was packed every lunch or dinner so that made me thankful that we Atleast had a place to eat. Otherwise you are eating the same food over and over again at their quick service restaurants and there are only so many burgers, nuggets, & pizza a family can take. The pros to the dining plan is it makes you take a breather and enjoy a restaurant you will never experience at home. I.e. at Epcot we ate in France, Mexico, and Canada and had interactive character meals at crystal palace, hoop de doo, the castle, and chef Mickey.
We had a 6 day park hopper and it was the perfect amount to do and see all we wanted. For example you can Spend the day at animal kimgdom and then have dinner in Epcot or head to hollywood studios to see Fantasmic at night (this show is a MUST see and puts the "Wishes" show at MK to shame). Disney is truly magical and so unbelievably organized. If staying on property don't waste time with a car. Their magical transportation is just that...magical. By no means is this a "relaxing" vacation as you will walk more than you ever have before, but Magic you will have!!!!!!!!!
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