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Windsor Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida

Many thanks to the owners of the Windsor Palms Owners Group for submtting the following tips.

Tips for visiting Walt Disney World
Tips for visiting Animal Kingdom
Tips for visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios
Tips for visiting Epcot
Tips for visiting Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Tips for visiting Sea World Orlando
Tips for visiting Universal Studios Florida
Tips for visiting Universal's Islands of Adventure
Which Disney World theme parks are the best for young children?
Wishes/Illuminations without a park ticket

 

Tips for visiting Walt Disney World

  • Get to the park early to be sure you can get on your favorite rides before the park gets too crowded.
     
  • Call 407-WDW-DINE or visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/restaurants/ up to 90 days before your visit to make your dining reservations.
     
  • The Attractions you MUST get a fastpass for to save your sanity: Splash Mountain, Peter Pan's Flight, Space Mountain, Toy Story Mania, Test Track, Soarin, Rockin Roller Coaster, Kilimanjaro Safaris.
     
  • Fast passes go very quickly at Toy Story Mania and Soarin. Get there early. Take advantage of the single riders line at Rockin Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest and Test Track. The line is usually short with hardly any wait.
     
  • Free water! Yes it sounds silly, but any of the drink stands with a fountain will gladly pour you a big cup of ice water for free. Some of the bottled water snobs may not approve, but Disney's water tastes fine to me.
     
  • When you park, take a picture of your row with your cell phone (everyone has them with camera's, right?) Helps that exhausted memory at the end of the day.
     
  •  Make sure to grab a Photopass if your picture is taken by a Disney Photographer. You can use the same card to store all your pictures. Just make sure to hand it to the photographer.
     
  • You can get in for free on your Birthday
     
  • Fast Passes can be used after the time period printed on the ticket
     
  • When getting fastpasses, make a plan what you want to do while you wait for your fastpass time. This can include eating, seeing a show, or waiting in a shorter line somehwhere else.
  • If you have valid, unused FastPasses that you won't use, give them to people in the back of the queue.
     
  • Most character meals are $5-$10 per person cheaper at lunch. Lunch is usualy served until 3:45, so eat late lunch/early dinner and save up to $40 per family of four.
     
  • You don't have to be a DVC member, Annual Pass Holder, or have a Disney VISA to get a discount on Behind the Scene Tours. If you're a member of AAA, you get the same discounts, but you have to ask.
     
  • If you hate riding the WDW buses like I do minimize it - the monorail can take you from Magic Kingdom to Epcot, and at the back of Epcot you can take a boat to Hollywood Studios.
     
  • When going to a water park, go when they open up and leave by 1 or 2 o'clock when they get crowded. Also hit the slides first .
     
  • If traveling with kids, having them look for hidden mickeys is a great way to keep them occupied especially when wating in lines or just resting.
     
  • Don't let rain put a damper on your day- Florida rain usually lasts for a short period of time, and then stops, and then starts again a while later.
     
  • Buy the dining plan! WELL worth the money! Eat a character dinner at the Garden Cafe in Epcot! WONDERFUL!
     
  • Buy kids meals at the parks. They're much cheaper and the food amount is not much less than that of and adult meal.
     
  • Ask at guest relations about back stage tours..... They do cost but they are WELL worth the money. Alternativly call 407 WDW - TOUR
     
  • If you stay out at the parks past 12 and looking for a place to eat, there is the Crossroads right outside WDW with a Steak n Shake and Giordano's that stays open late
     
  • If you go to Playhouse Disney show don't sit in the front row. The puppets come from underneath the stage & they aren't very tall.
     
  • If your kids love meeting characters, allears.net has a great page that shows where all the characters will appear. Its an easier way to find that special character at WDW.
     
  • Download and familiarize yourself with the parks BEFORE you arrive. Saves time, confusion and your fellow guests will appreciate you knowing where you are going.
     
  • AVOID the parks on Extra Magic Hours days, they're a zoo unless in the OFF OFF season.
     
  • Table service meals on the Dining Plan are easier to find out of the parks. Try some of the awesome offerings from the many resort hotels. Allow transfer time on the DTS!
     
  • When using the DTS, READ the bus marquee. THAT is where that bus is going. Do not ask the driver and hold up the line!
     
  • Free Parking at Downtown Disney, two Busses will get you to any park.
     
  • When dining with Disney, you will immediately be asked if you are using the dining plan. If you are, tell them so and add that you ARE aware that gratuity is not included and you plan on tipping accordingly. Note the service difference!
     
  • Pick at least one day or one meal per day to destress yourself by eating only "grab and go" foods, bypassing the excruciating waits for sit-down restaurants. Our family lives off turkey legs and McDonald's fries! And we avoid the headaches!
     
  • Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom: [12 + / 15 -] When Park hopping park at Magic Kingdom and use the monoral or one of the buses to go to one of the other three parks first then once the other parks are closed you can hop a bus or monral back to magic kingdom and enjoy .

Tips for visiting Animal Kingdom

  • Get to the park early to be sure you can get on your favorite rides before the park gets too crowded.
  • Bring your own water bottles. It will save you time and money!
     
  • Don't use lifts or other tricks to make your kids look taller than they are. Height and safety restrictions are there for a reason. 
  • Oldie but a goodie - Always work your way backwards through a park instead of stopping at the first attraction you get to. You will beat 60% of the crowds.
     
  • When approaching counter service eateries, review the menu and have your selections in mind before you get to the counter. The folks behind you and the cast member will be eternally grateful.
     
  • If you're going to get an annual pass, add parking to at least one pass (if it isn't included already). It seems expensive at first, but at more than $10 a pop for parking at most parks, it pays off in the end.
     
  • Don't look like some clueless, sun-fried British tourist. Wear sunscreen whenever you visit a theme park.
     
  • I have noticed that if you go on a day less than perfect between Monday and Thursday you don't have to wait in line much if at all.
     
  • Theme park walkways are designed for traffic flow, keep to the right and keep moving. If you want to gawk around, step to the very outside. If you drop something, step to the right and look around before coming to an abrubt halt. Courtesy people.
     
  • Bring individual packets of Crystal Light etc, as all counter services in most parks will give you a glass of ice water free of charge. Make your own ice tea, lemonade etc!
     
  • If you are going to visit a park more than once in a year, look into buying an annual pass. Most include discounts on food, merchandise and parking and some can pay for themselves in as little as two visits.
     
  • Take a backpack with snacks and water for you and the kids it can save you some serious bucks
     
  • Strollers should be parked in areas designated for them, covering every bench seating area is rude to other guests that also need some time out. As a Guest, our courtesy and common sense can make or break someone else's day at the park.
     
  • The best times for Kilimanjaro Safaris are first thing in the morning or right after it rained
     
  • Have a large snack about ten o'clock, then don't have a meal until middle of the afternoon. That way you avoid the rush between noon and two o'clock.
     
  • Get to Animal Kingdom Early! It closes earlier than the rest of the parks, but if open earlier.
     
  • Go to Expedition Everest right after the park opens; is the best time to go
     
  • When entering Animal Kingdom, go directly to Kilimanjaro Safaris and enter the line or get a fastpass
     
  • Be friendly and courteous, even when others are not. When that grumpy staff member at the front gate checks your bag, smile and say thank you. If someone drops something while walking on the path, pick it up and tell them!
     
  • Be polite to the cast members, most only make minimum wage and for some it is their first job. They may just be learning and if you are irritating to them they may make you wait longer, or charge you more.
  • Two things... If you ride Kilimanjaro Safari at about 3 or 3:30 in the afternoon a lot of the animals will be active. Also ride Everest in the last half hour before the park closes and you'll walk right on!
     
  • There's a little known restroom at the back of Camp Minnie-Mickey. It never seems very crowded.
     
  • Smoke in the smoking sections! Because it is really annoying for the rest of us!!! Plus, you can get a misdemeanor if you don't! 
  • If you want to get some great pictures of fireworks, make sure to use a digital camera with its night setting. Keep your hand still and you will have some great pictures!
     
  • Walk in the shade every chance you get.
  • First thing in the morning, rush to the Kilimanjaro Safari, get your Fastpass, and then have a quiet breakfast at the coffee shop before joining the line.
     
  • If you lost your hat/keys/sunglasses during a ride, it's possible that you'll be able to find it at Lost & Found the next day. Even if you are already back home, call and if they have the item, they will likely courier back to you free of charge.
     
  • Buy your tickets through this site. 
  • Drawstring Bags are a great object to bring to a park. You can put all your stuff in it when going on roller coasters and wear it as a backpack.
     
  • Ask the human resources department at your employer if it sells discount tickets to theme parks. Many do, as well as discount tickets to local theaters, zoos and attractions. Check those prices against the parks' websites and pick the better deal.
     
  • Are your kids seat-kickers on airplanes? Take off their shoes. They'll be more comfortable, and not kick. Take off yours for comfort, too. Just, please, wear socks!
     
  • If you are going with a group/family with older teens walkie-talkies are are good idea to have not everyone wants to do the same thing at the same time
     
  • To treat sunburn, apply a heavy amount of aloe vera gel, maximum strength formula. Works wonders.
     
  • Take a photo of where you park with your digital camera. Easy to remember.
     
  • Most parks are less busy meaning shorter lines Monday-Friday
     
  • If you got really bad sunburn, witch hazel is a good soothing treatment to get rid of that annoying pain.
     
  • Your kids are going to get cranky no doubt about it. Carry crackers for when they get hungry an hour into a line.
     
  • When you arrive at Animal Kingdom, head to Dinoland USA first. There are several attractions and almost no waiting in lines. Usually everyone heads to Africa to ride the Kilimanjaro Safaris early in the morning, so avoid going there.

Tips for visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios

  •  If you're on hand for park opening and want to ride Rock 'n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, make sure to get a FastPass for one of these before getting in line for the other.
  • Don't get a fastpass for Lights Motors Action. It is not needed
     
  • If you want to get a full day out of Hollywood Stutios, you can ride Rockin' Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror during or right after Fantasmic! With little or no wait.
     
  • Don't get fastpasses for live shows! Just get there 30 + min. Before it starts. Fastpasses are pretty usless for these.
     
  • ALERT! Disney has reduced Fantasmic to only 2 nights during the week instead of every night. As a result, almost EVERY GUEST was at this park on a Fantasmic day. Fastpasses ran out by mid-day, lines were as bad as in summer--2 hours for some rides
     
  • Show up to Fantasmic at least 1 hour prior to showtime. You can find some good counter service at the All American Cafe by Tower of Terror or inside the Fantasmic area
     
  • For a real trip through nostalgia, ask a castmember if you can just browse along the prop cages in the warehouse prior to boarding your tram. They will most likely let you as long as you don't obstruct the line queue. It's filled with hidden gems.
     
  • If you go to Playhouse Disney show don't sit in the front row. The puppets come from underneath the stage & they aren't very tall.
     
  • If you are going to Disney's Hollywood Studios on a fantasmic night, you can usually ride toy story mania with approx a 30 min wait if you go whilst the 1st fantasmic show is on, and still have plenty of time to see the second fantasmic show of the night.

Tips for visiting Epcot

  • As soon as the park opens, go either to get a fastpass for Soarin or Test Track ASAP
     
  • If you go to Epcot at park opening resist the urge to queue for Spaceship Earth first. The wait is much shorter in the afternoon.
     
  • When riding Soarin' try to get in the front row as its the best ride by far. Second row you can see everyones feet dangling and the third row you can see the bottom of the screen too.
     
  • Ride Soarin' at night just before the Fireworks as there is no queue.
     
  • As soon as the park opens, immeaditely head to Soarin' for a fastpass. Then, go to either Mission: Space or Test Track and ride them. Then, do the other while waiting for your Soarin' fast pass. This takes care of the 3 most popular.
  • Go round the park anti clockwise
     
  • If you want a great place to cool off go to the Cool Club. Inside they offer free samples of soft drinks from around the world.
     
  • If you are looking for a late meal/snack and want a good Illuminations viewing area, grab a chair and a bite at the Cantina de San Angel at Mexico World Showcase around 30-45 minutes before showtime.
  • Epcot is a great park to go to if you know its going to rain all day. Most of the park's attractions are indoors!
     
  • If you seek great attitude and personable castmembers, visit the World Showcase upon opening at 11:00 AM. Hardly anyone goes in that early and the castmember's will give you the real Disney feel along with a taste from their country.
     
  • Wait to get your Autographs at Epcot rather than Magic Kingdom where the lines are much shorter, and all the Characters are found together
     
  • The best water fountain at EPCOT (coolest water) is down the main bridge behind the fountain to world showcase on the right, near the water play area. The water there is Ice Cold!

Tips for visiting Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom

  • Can't find anywhere to sit in Columbia Harbor House? Try upstairs! Many do not know that this resturant is actually two floors!
     
  • Do not go on Sunday or Monday. These are the days after which guests check into the WDW resorts, and want to go to Magic Kingdom. Save this park for the middle of the week
     
  • During some parts of the year, Wishes doesn't take place at closing time. Most people leave after the show, leaving the park empty until the real closing time.
     
  • Parade time is excellent for shorter waits on popular rides like Space Mountain or Splash Mountain. Enough people line the walkways to watch the parade, that the wait time is substantially reduced.
     
  • Enter the Magic Kingdom and take the route to the left, counter clockwise
     
  • When going to the special events (Halloween Party, Christmas Party, etc.) enter the park at the earliest time (4pm usually). You get more time in the park for your money!
     
  • Take the walkway along the Toontown Railroad Station towards Space Mountain. It gets you back & forth between these lands quickly.
     
  • Want to escape the streching room first on the Haunted Mansion? Stand under the portrait of the woman on the tightrope.
     
  • Don't be fooled; the total trip time from the TTC to the park gate is the same for the monorail and the ferryboat. If you see a ridiculously long line for the monorail, don't hesitate -- relax and enjoy the cool breeze of the Seven Seas lagoon!
     
  • we have gone 2 years in a row now to cinderella's royal table for my daughter's birthday and please know that it is RESERVATION ONLY and you should make the reservation about 6 months ahead.
     
  • If you forget what section you parked in, try to remember the time you came there, because Disney will be able to use that to determine which lot was being parked around that time, so your search will be narrowed down somewhat.
     
  • Although you can technically get down Main Street U.S.A. Through the stores, don't try it at closing time. A lot of people get this idea, and the stores are packed with people trying to buy that last souvenir. Just walk down the street instead.
     
  • Make reservations for Cinderella's Royal Table NOW!
     
  • Don't stand directly in front of Cinderella Castle for Wishes. Stand a little to the right or left of the castle in Central Plaza. Enjoy!
     
  • When watching the parade, watch it near Splash Mountain. This way you can quickly ride it after.
     
  • Always start out in Frontierland and them work your way around to Tomorrowland, the lines will be signifigantly shorter.
     
  • For the special parties such as Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween or Pirates and Princess Party try to reserve your tickets during the first few weeks of these events. They are less crowed and still have all the events.
     
  • When going to Cinderella's Royal Table, order whatever porkchop they have. It's one of the best things on the menu no matter in which way it's prepared!
     
  • Two Words: Arrive Early! For couples visiting the Magic Kingdom, after the daily 3 PM parade, exit the park, bare right and take the small boat (free!) to the Polynesian to enjoy your favorite tropical beverage.
  • When Park hopping park at Magic Kingdom and use the monoral or one of the buses to go to one of the other three parks first then once the other parks are closed you can hop a bus or monral back to magic kingdom and enjoy.

Tips for visiting Sea World Orlando

  • When visiting Sea World Orlando get on Kraken and Journey to Atlantis during the last hour the park is open to get on with no wait.
     
  • Ride Kraken or Journey to Atlantis right before the park closes at night- everyone's at the show and you can see the fireworks from the rides.
  • Get to Shamu Stadium as early as possible- the whole place fills up in a matter of minutes.
  • Avoid riding Journey to Atlantis or Kraken right after the Blue Horizons show as the crowds tend to head for these rides after the show resulting in longer lines.
     
  • If you're going to Aquatica, get there early. If not you'll never get in the park. They close the entrances once all the parking spaces are filled. Most of the time at about 9:00 is when the parking spaces are fillled!
     
  • Must see shows in SeaWorld- Believe, Blue Horizons, Clyde & Seamore Otter Show, Shamu Rocks. Manage other activities around these show timings. Kraken is the only good ride for adults.
     
  • When purchasing merchandise, you can use the free package pickup service where your purchases are sent to the main gift shop at the front of the park. This allows you to enjoy the park without carrying your shopping bag all day.
     
  • Its a great idea to grab a map with a timesguide on the back to make sure you get to see all the great shows seaworld has to offer
     
  • Get on Journey to Atlantis first in the morning (due to the fact it breaks down often)

Tips for visiting Universal Studios Florida

  • On Men in Black, aim for the light at the top of the car on the other side of the track when you are turned face-to-face with it, and do not forget to hit the red button on your dashboard when it flashes and you are told to hit it.
     
  • If you love Men in Black and Hate the long lines, you can ride an insane number of times by using the single riders line
     
  • When riding the mummy in the first few hours that the park is open the single riders line is extremely fast and saves a great amount of time.
     
  • When on Men in Black aim for the red light on your OWN vehicle. You will hit it every time and you get MAJOR points. Also, don't keep squeezing the trigger; just hold it down.
     
  • If your a fan of a great hamburger than go to margaritaville (in citywalk) and have a cheeseburger in paradise.
  • If you were never a big fan of the "Earthquake" attraction, you may want to skip "Disaster", as only the pre-show and audience interaction have changed. The ride is still the same.
     
  • On the Men In Black ride hold IN the red button at the end of the ride while shooting the giant aliens eyes. You'll earn another 100,000 points!
     
  • To be a participant in the Disaster show, place yourself a few people back from the host and raise your hand enthusiastically when they ask for volunteers. Works every time.
     
  • For a glimpse at nostalgic Universal, go behind the Woody Woodpecker coaster near the Curious George play area. There rests a barracaded version of the old Hard Rock Cafe restaurant still in tact. It is currently used as a staging area for the park.
     
  • Florida residents save $20 off the front gate price when you purchase a 1-Day/1-Park ticket online
     
  • Go to The Simpsons Ride when the park opens.
     
  • Do Shrek 4D first to save time then you can do the other attractions after that.
     
  • On the Men in Black ride just keep the trigger pressed down and your score will be higher than anyone else's.

Tips for visiting Universal's Islands of Adventure

  • If you have access to get into the park an hour early, go to Hulk first, then Spider-Man. We once did hulk 4 or 5 times in a row, without waiting and got front row every time.
     
  • The week before a holiday is the best time to go.
     
  • Yes, If at Universal's Islands of Adventure dining at Mythos Resturant is a MUST. The food is awesome and the resturant decor is great!!!
     
  • Never carry your shopping bags when you are in the park for a day or so.. Just put your name on the card and send it to trade co. Of IOA which is near to the gate. You can always get your shopping bags and still enjoy the rides without lockers
     
  • If you have access to get into the park an hour early, go to Hulk first, then Spider-Man. We once did hulk 4 or 5 times in a row, without waiting and got front row every time.
     
  • Get a MealDeal for $18-$25. Flash your wristband just three times ($9 average per meal) and you're ahead of the game.
     

Which Disney World theme parks are the best for young children?

The parks with the most child-friendly rides and attractions are the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios offer a greater number of rides and attractions geared toward big kids and adults.

For families traveling to Walt Disney World with babies and young children, it can be challenging to decide which of Disney's theme parks to visit--especially if there is not enough time to take in all four.

Each Disney park was designed to appeal to families. Nonetheless, each park has its own unique character, and some parks are more kid-friendly than others.

The Magic Kingdom is the world's most popular children's park, modeled after the original Disneyland park but on a grander scale. A variety of rides and attractions grows with children as they mature. Wee tots will enjoy Fantasyland's classic Dumbo, Small World, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, and Cinderella's Golden Carrousel rides. Tomorrowland offers the tame Tomorrowland Transit Authority ride, which offers a view of Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, and the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway. Kids can take a grand tour of the Magic Kingdom on the slow-moving Magic Kingdom steam train. Frontierland is home to the Country Bear Jamboree, where one family member can sit in air conditioned comfort with the little ones while bigger kids brave Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain with another member of the party. Adventureland features the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, which is similar to the Dumbo ride but with a shorter wait time. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride might not appeal to children who are afraid of the dark, but most children love this classic Disney attraction. The Jungle Cruise and Swiss Family Tree House are other tame rides. Liberty Square is home to the Haunted Mansion, another classic Disney ride. Although some children might be frightened of the supernatural sights and sounds, others will be rocked to sleep by the Doombuggy's surprisingly soothing movements. Children will also enjoy the many Disney characters found throughout the Magic Kingdom park.

Epcot has been labeled an adult park, but it is actually the easiest park to negotiate with young children. The park's wide walkways enable families with strollers to navigate the crowds better than at the Magic Kingdom, which could use crossing guards (especially in Fantasyland in the daytime). Lines are often shorter than at the other three Disney parks, and there is a surprising number of rides suitable for young children.

In Epcot's Future World, try Spaceship Earth, a long, dark, nap-inducing ride that ends with a fun, interactive computer animation piece that incorporates rider input and photographs. The Seas with Nemo and Friends (formerly the Living Seas) is a large aquarium with Nemo-themed activities and a ride. The Living with the Land boat ride at the Land pavilion has a relatively short line and offers families with young children an alternative to Soarin', the thrill ride located next to the tame boat ride. The Imagination pavilion has a 3-D movie that could be frightening to young children, but the Journey Into Imagination with Figment ride is fun and typically has a very short line. Kids of all ages will enjoy playing with the interactive fountains outside the pavilion, and the indoor playground is small but fun. Kids who love dinosaurs will find the Universe of Energy ride to be more kid-friendly than Animal Kingdom's Dinosaur ride (see review below). While the big kids play at Mission Space, little ones will enjoy the indoor Mission Space playground. Test Track offers an indoor auto-themed showplace and gift shop that will entertain young kids while the big ones ride Test Track.

In Epcot's World Showcase, little kids will enjoy the characters found at many of the different international pavilions. Plus there are several rides and movies that will please young children. Mexico's Grand Fiesta Tour with the Three Caballeros is a tame boat ride featuring Donald Duck and friends. Norway's Maelstrom boat ride is more adventurous, featuring a small drop similar to the one at Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom. Young gymnasts perform daily outside the China pavilion, and the panoramic film inside is child friendly. Germany is home to Disney's best garden railway display. Kids can color masks and collect different stamps and charms at each international pavilion, with a special gift for each completed mask. America hosts the largest animatronic show at Epcot (also a good nap-inducer for kids who need one). Kids will enjoy watching the large koi collection at Japan. Genie, Aladdin, and Princess Jasmine greet guests at Morocco. The Impressions de France film in the France pavilion features classical music that will appeal to young children, and kids who do well can be rewarded with a treat from the patisserie outside the theatre. Beauty and the Beast can be found in France as well. The United Kingdom has a nice little toy shop that features toys kids can play with, offering a nice break from the stimulation of the park. Canada has a fun film with Martin Short. Kids will also enjoy the Friendship I boat ride that takes guests from one side of World Showcase to another. One of the main reasons that Epcot can be more enjoyable for families than Disney's other parks is the slower pace. There is no need to rush from one ride to the next. Instead families can take their time strolling around Future World, visiting excellent shops and restaurants at World Showcase, and enjoying Epcot's beautifully manicured outdoor surroundings.

Disney's Animal Kingdom is the newest Disney theme park. Imagineers continue to build new experiences for guests. Disney's Animal Kingdom is home to such thrill rides as Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, and Dinosaur, which rocks guests violently in dark, loud surroundings with very realistic dinosaurs. The ride snaps guests' photos, and young kids are typically shown clinging to their parents or each other. This is not a ride for young children. The Triceratop Spin is a better alternative. It is a dinosaur version of Dumbo with a very reasonable line. The dinosaur-themed playground nearby can be frightening for parents, because if you do not literally follow your child down the long slides, you will quickly lose sight of him or her. The playground is designed so that children can travel from one large section to the next, out of sight of parents. (The Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground at Disney's Hollywood Studios also makes it hard for parents to keep up with their children.) The Kilimanjaro Safari ride is very bumpy, but it offers a beautiful view of Disney's African savannah. Stroller parking and return is hectic, though. Cast members will yank your stroller away from you before you can get all of your belongings out of it, and then you are stuck carrying them. Stroller parking is more challenging at Disney's Animal Kingdom than at the other parks. Disney's Animal Kingdom involves a great deal of walking from one section to the next, with few opportunities to sit through a short ride or film to relax. It is still a work in progress.

Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) is the least kid-friendly Disney park. It consists primarily of shows and thrill rides, with little that appeals to young children. The shows require long waits that impatient babies and toddlers cannot stomach. Many of the shows feature violence, hot flames, explosions, and other frightenting sights and sounds that can drive your otherwise well-behaved child to scream and cry. The Great Movie Ride, for instance, bombards riders with animatronic mummies, snakes, the creature from Alien, shooting bandits, and--perhaps most frightening of all--the Wicked Witch of the West. Big kids and adults will love the park's creative roller coasters and thrill rides, but there is very little for young children to do at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Young children will want to return to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot again and again. If your family does not have the time to attend every Disney park on one visit, save the more sophisticated parks for a later visit when your children are older. The parks will grow with your children. New rides and attractions are added frequently. In the meantime, savor the memories you will make with your young children at Disney's kid-friendly parks.

Wishes/Illuminations without a park ticket

There's no better finish to a day at Walt Disney World than watching a nighttime spectacular. Sometimes, however, you might not want to use up a park ticket (or deal with the hustle and bustle inside the park) just to watch Wishes at the Magic Kingdom or Illuminations at Epcot.


The good news is you don't have to be in the park to enjoy these wonderful nighttime shows. With a little bit of planning (here I go again talking about planning), you can enjoy Wishes or Illuminations for as little as nothing.


That's right, nothing! I know nothing's really free at Walt Disney World, but this may be as free as things can get.
And there are some exclusive opportunities to enjoy these shows that do come at a cost, but offer very unique experiences that you will cherish for a long time.


So let's take a look at some of these alternatives, starting with the "free" options.

Wishes/Magic Kingdom Parties (Halloween/Christmas)

Wishes at the Magic Kingdom may be one of the best fireworks shows you'll see at Walt Disney World (and beyond). If you happen to be down during one of the party nights (Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party), the fireworks shows are even more amazing. However, you don't have to be inside the park to see them.


I've enjoyed watching both Wishes and the Christmas Party fireworks from the docks at the Grand Floridian Resort. There was no cost whatsoever and Disney event pipes in the music outside of Narcoosee's. You also can get great views from the beaches at the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian Resort. In fact, the Poly offers a dead-on view of Wishes at a similar angle as you would see if you were on Main Street. Continuing around the Seven Seas Lagoon, the parking lot at the Contemporary Resort offers some stunning views, and if you can get to the observatory at the top of the tower, you can watch Wishes from one of the best vantage points of all. Here, too, Disney pipes in the music.


DVC members staying at the new Bay Lake Tower can watch Wishes from the new Top of the World club. Unfortunately, this is available only to DVC members staying at Bay Lake Tower.


You don't have to be a resort guest to enjoy many of these views, either. Just make your way to any of the Magic Kingdom area resorts and you'll get a wonderful view of Wishes. After the show, be sure to stay and take in the Electrical Water Pageant - a fixture at Walt Disney World since the park opened in 1971.


Now for some viewing options that do require some costs. One of the best and serene ways to watch Wishes is to be out on the Seven Seas Lagoon. Disney has several different options for renting boats and offers special cruises, including the granddaddy of them all, the Grand 1. If you're interesting in booking the Grand 1, which can cost up to $500 a night, call 407-WDW-PLAY.

Illuminations
The secret to watching Illuminations: Reflections of Earth for no cost is location, location, location. Disney's Boardwalk offers some wonderful views towards the World Showcase Lagoon. The downside with watching Illuminations outside Epcot is that you can't see any of the low-level effect (the globe, the water displays, the fire barge, etc.). This being said, you can still see (and hear) quite a good show. I have stayed at the Dolphin and watched Illuminations from the Boardwalk. Similarly, I have stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort and watched Illuminations from the Port Royal docks. In both cases, I could pick out the music (it wasn't piped in, but you could hear it in the distance).


Now if you'd like a more exclusive experience, you can book an Illuminations cruise or even Breathless II. These are boats that leave from the Yacht Club and park in the World Showcase lagoon during Illuminations. Like the Grand 1, these can get expensive. For rates and available times, call 407-WDW-PLAY.


If you really want to experience these nightitme spectaculars to their fullest extent, it's best to be in the park. However, if you're looking for a more relaxing, intimate or romantic option, than consider finding a quiet stretch of beach or a cruise. Have fun!

 

 



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