The Comprehensive Guide to Walt Disney World Rides and Attractions



By Dave Shute

DISNEY WORLD RIDES RANKED FOR LITTLE AND BIGGER KIDS

Guide to Walt Disney World Rides by Age from yourfirstvisit.net
This chart ranks all rides at Walt Disney World based on two different points of view:

  • Vertically from the eyes of pre-school kids: best loved, to be avoided, or neither;
  • Horizontally from the eyes of kids in the third grade or older, and their parents: skippable, favorites, or neither.

Groupings are based on ratings by age from a number of sources, on height restrictions, and on “scariness.”

If you have trouble interpreting it, this should help

  • The lower right shows rides and attractions everyone likely will love
  • The upper left shows ones everyone likely may find skippable
  • The upper right shows ones 3rd graders and older guests will likely love, but that pre-schoolers should avoid
  • The lower left shows ones pre-schoolers will love, but that every one else likely may find dull

Supplement this with this page for a more nuanced view of who might wish to skip a ride.

 ITINERARY LINKS

  • For itinerary design goals and the basic December Itinerary, see this
  • For shorter and longer itineraries targeted at the same December week, see this
  • For itineraries covering all the other parts of the year, see this
  • To design your own itinerary, see this
  • For rides that might be skipped, see this
  • For a comprehensive guide to rides and attractions, see this

LINKS FOR HOW OLD/TALL YOUR KIDS SHOULD BE

RELATED STUFF

108 comments

1 Alejandra Clarke { 05.22.11 at 1:09 am }

I have been to the Disneyland in California, and I was able to get a special pass for my son who has Autism/Anxiety from Guest Services upon arrival. Would I be able to have that same pass for your parks in Orlando, and what paperwork do I need to provide or is their a database in which the information can be pulled up from?
Thanks

2 Dave { 05.22.11 at 6:43 pm }
3 Daniela { 07.04.11 at 4:39 pm }

I’m from Brazil and this site is beeing perfect for planning my first family visit to Disney World. Congratulations! Thanks for all informations.

4 Dave { 07.04.11 at 4:43 pm }

Thanks Daniela!!

5 Mardi in NC { 01.23.12 at 10:29 pm }

Dave – your site is AWESOME! My parents are using timeshare points to stay in Kissimmee for free for 3 nights, for them, my just-turning-8 year old daughter (this is a surprise b’day first DisneyWorld trip for her!), and myself. We want to visit the parks for 2 days, 2/20 & 2/21. My parents are approaching 70, my mother might need a cane (tho she won’t admit it), and my father will definitely need a wheelchair or scooter (tho, he too, doesn’t want to do that & has no choice due to recent hip replacement surgery).
2 questions I have are:
1) Should we try for the Magic Kingdom for 1 day, and the Animal Kingdom for the 2nd day – or should we just try to stay in the Magic Kingdom for 2 days?
2) I’ve heard from friends, and a few comments on the web, that if one in your party is wheelchair-bound, that you get moved to the front of the line with no waiting. Is this correct, or does this apply only to certain times or certain rides – OR do we have to purchase something special to get to the front without having to wait with them in wheelchair or scooter?
Thank you! I’ve only been once in 1983, so I think I am more excited than my daugther will be. We’re trying to make this super special, since her father ust passed away (young) May 2010, and I promised my parents I wouldn’t stress them in the planning of this – especially since they are using their points and footing the bill for the park tickets for all of us. :)
Thank you!!

6 Dave { 01.24.12 at 8:00 am }

Hi Mardi and thanks!

Your dates–around President’s Day–are among the busiest of the year. You will want to arrive well before the parks open….if you can, bring a scooter/wheelchair with you, as the line to rent them can be long, and there’s a fair amount of walking before you get to the rental site.

Given the crowds, I’d advise just MK, as it’s a two day park even at un-crowded times. If you do AK as well, do it the 21st.

Havoing a wheelchair does not get you moved to the front of the line, except on a few rides where the wheelchair loading area is different than the regular one…

7 Keli { 02.08.12 at 10:08 am }

Hello,
We live in Tally and are going to Orlando just for a quick trip we do plan on going back for longer anyway We will drive down Weds Feb 22nd and will have Thurs 23rd and Fri 24th to stay at the parks. We really want to go to MK and AK but I am not sure hwo the crowds are going to be those days seeing how Presidents week is the week before BUT there is also Mardi Gras and the Daytona 500 happening around this time….Are we crazy going at this time??? I WAS REALLY hoping it being mid week and the week AFTER a holiday it would not be as bad or crowded as usual…..*sigh* any advice???

8 Dave { 02.08.12 at 10:54 am }

Hi Keli!

Sadly the entire week of President’s Day is VERY crowded, tho the end of the week is a little better than earlier.

If you can go another time, I would–you can have a good morning those days if you arrive well before the parks open, hit the most popular rides first, and use FASTPASSES, but things will be rough by 11a…

MK is currently opening at 8a that week, AK 9a your days, but that may change. For calendars, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/07/05/how-to-use-the-online-park-calendars-at-walt-disney-world/

If you do go, I’d suggest AK the 23rd and MK the 24th…

9 Aru { 02.16.12 at 9:13 am }

Hi Dave,

We’re arriving tonight to Orlando from Caifornia with a family of 4 with 2 kids ages 8 and 2. We’ve plan to visit WDW from 17 Feb to 21 Feb. Could you pl. suggest which theme park to begin with given this is a president week.

Thanks for help, Aru

10 Dave { 02.16.12 at 9:56 am }

Hi Aru–if you can get the family up in time to be at the turnstiles of the park 30-45 mins before it opens, I’d go with Magic Kingdom. While it will be busy, it will be less busy than it will be your other days.

Note that while currently scheduled to open at 9a est, it likely will open in fact 15-30 minutes before then. If you are coming by car, allow 20 minutes beyond the car time to park and take the monorail/ferry to the park.

If because of travel/time zones/cranky kids you can’t get up that early, then Hollywood Studios is the best choice for a later arrival park…but the earlier the better!

11 Melinda { 04.03.12 at 12:15 pm }

This will be our 1st trip with our girls 6yrs,3yrs,and 5mons. Are babies aloud to do anything? Like the shows or 3d shows? What days are the fireworks? We will be in Florida April 26th- May 1st what days to you suggest would be less busy?

12 Dave { 04.03.12 at 1:42 pm }

Hi Melinda, lap babies can come along on many rides, and on some others you can do a “baby swap”–the parents stay in line, at ride boarding, one boards and the other holds the baby, and when the first parent gets off they swap the baby and the second parent rides without another wait.

Fireworks are every night.

Your week overall is a low crowd week, but the weekend will be busier than the weekdays.

13 Jen { 04.26.12 at 11:00 am }

We are planning a trip December 23-29, 2012. We want to spend 1 day at each of the 4 Disney parks and then spend 1 day at LegoLand and1 day at Kennedy Space Center. Any suggestions on which days would be better to visit each of these parks? I know that it is one of the worst weeks to go but that is the only time we can arrange it. Thanks!!

14 Dave { 04.26.12 at 11:51 am }

Hi Jen, coupla things.

First, the Disney part will go much better if you can stay at a Disney resort hotel–you both get certain privileges and avoid certain risks if you do so. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/11/30/park-closings-at-walt-disney-world/ this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/12/19/holiday-crowds-at-walt-disney-world/ and also this http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/01/12/extra-magic-hours-at-walt-disney-world/

Second, the December schedules won’t be out for another 20-30 days, and I need them to advise you. Come back in 3 to 4 weeks and re-ask, and also let me know then if you will be staying at a WDW hotel or not…

15 Michele { 05.14.12 at 6:08 am }

Hi Dave We are coming from Australia so this really could be a once only trip. We are there 1-3 Jan 2013 (3 days). We have a 5 & 7 year old girls and we were thinking of going to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios is there a particular order you would suggest to visit the parks in and will there some parades we shouldn’t miss. We are also thinking of staying at the Grand Floridian is this a good location for the parks we want to visit & considering the age of the girls. Thanks for your help. Michele

16 Dave { 05.14.12 at 12:05 pm }

Hi Michelle!

Given the ages of your kids, and the incredible crowding you’ll face, I would advise focusing solely on the Magic Kingdom. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/

For where to stay, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-stay/next-best-resort-choices/

17 Michele { 05.16.12 at 8:05 am }

Dave
Thanks for the recommendations. I know you say only do MK but since we are travelling so far I think we have to have a look around as well- now I see that some of the rides look like they will be closed do they stop the shows and parades as well? Thanks for a very informative website it is fantastic.

18 Dave { 05.16.12 at 9:52 am }

Michle, the ride closures, I’d guess, won’t start til around Jan 4 or 5 given the massive crowds earlier in the week…

19 Barbara Schan { 06.07.12 at 12:54 pm }

We will be staying at the Wilderness Cabins. Should we take beach towels in the suitcase, or will they be provided at the pools? Suggestions? Barb

20 Dave { 06.07.12 at 5:42 pm }

Hi Barbara. My recollection is that they do not provide towels at the pool. Most people bring them from those supplied in their room, rahter than packing their own…

21 Carol { 07.19.12 at 8:40 pm }

Hi dave-
My family is planning to go to wdw October 30 through November 5. We want to be part of the Halloween party at mk. I am thinking to stay at polynesian, but am considering the conte,portray since it has the pirate cruise and character breakfast- we would like to do each and one for my son’s 12 th birthday on nov. 3. The boys will be 5, 12 and 13. Any advice and itinerary is welcome. Also, how many day pass?? Hopper? We will probably not go again!!
Thanks!

22 Dave { 07.20.12 at 10:38 am }

Carol, see the material that begins on the home page–you’ll find there links to how long to stay, itineraries, hotels, and meals!

23 Angie { 07.27.12 at 2:18 pm }

We are going to Orlando 03/22 – 03/28 & plan on visiting Disney: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, & Hollywood Studios. Then going to Universal Studios. Which do u recommend in order? Do u recommend Hollywood Studios or just Universal Studios in place of it? Thanks for any help.

24 Dave { 07.27.12 at 3:19 pm }

Angie, how old are your kids?

25 Janet { 08.28.12 at 10:16 am }

Dave, We are planning a family trip to Orlando Nov. 4-11. Our grandchildren are 5 & 4 and planned to spend 2 days at the park. Which park would you recommend for that age and is 2 days too long? Is their an itinerary that I can get for 2 days? Which part of the week is best? Thanks for your time.

26 Dave { 08.28.12 at 10:58 am }

Hi Janet, two days at the Magic Kingdom is just right–you’d want to spend two mornings, one later afternoon (for the 3p parade), and one evening for the evening parade and fireworks.

You’ll be there during Jersey week, which is moderately crowded–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/05/02/jersey-week-at-walt-disney-world/ The best MK days that week will be the 6th and 7th. Right now, neither date has an evening parade scheduled (though one may be added later), but both have fireworks at 9p

I don’t have a two-day itinerary, but see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/

27 Annette Britto { 09.07.12 at 5:52 pm }

Sorry for interrupted information. Goes to show how confused I am! My kids will be 13 and 11. We were advised to do a western carribean cruise to relax after the theme park packed fortnight. However, I feel we may be missing out on other stuff florida has to offer… Nonetheless we would really like to chill out for the remaining week of our holiday before returning to uk….
Thanks again
Annette

28 Dave { 09.08.12 at 10:42 am }

Hey annette, just so we don’t get lost, my answer to the first part of your question is here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/how-long-to-stay/other-trip-lengths/designing-your-own-walt-disney-world-itinerary/#comment-57531

On this issue–I only know about WDW, not the rest of Florida, but if it were me, I’d stay near a quiet, peaceful beach with some fun but casual restaurants nearby –for example, on Sanibel or Captiva…

29 Maddy { 09.16.12 at 2:47 pm }

Im going to WDW from october 31 to november 6 2012 with my two kids(3&9). How is the best way to use my 7 day tickets. Shoul I add water park and more options? If I use a day for water park do I lost that day park ticket? Can I use two tickets at different parks the same day?I am lost and need advice.

30 Dave { 09.16.12 at 5:20 pm }

Maddy, see this for an example itinerary–it’s not an exact fit, but close enough to demonstrate how to make a visit work: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/basic-itinerary/alternative-itineraries/itineraries-for-the-rest-of-the-year/v2-of-2009-autumn-winter-spring-itinerary/

I would skip water park and more options until you know you want them–that is you are on site, have seen all 4 of the main theme parks, and would rather do a water park than go back to a main park or take a day off. If you buy the water park option, and use it, that will not affect how many main theme park days you have left, and you can visit both a main theme park and a water park on the same day…

You can’t go to more than one different regular theme park in a day (although you can leave and re-enter the same park) without buying the “hopper” add on, which you shouldn’t need.

See also this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/how-long-to-stay/other-trip-lengths/designing-your-own-walt-disney-world-itinerary/designing-your-own-itinerary-continued/

31 Krista { 09.20.12 at 9:57 am }

Hi,Great website !! We are travelling May 10-19 2013. 3kids, 4,6,8. We are buying a 5 day park pass but want to incorporate Seaworld .Any other suggestions on how to do this trip smoothly, and not seem so overwhelmed? Thx Krista

32 Dave { 09.21.12 at 7:49 am }

Hi Krista and thanks!

Come back to me in a month–when Disney’s May calendar will be out–and I’ll be able to get you some specific suggestions.

In the meantime, note that Seaworld will be best over the weekend–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/07/31/the-best-and-worst-days-of-the-week-to-see-the-wizarding-world-of-harry-potter/

33 Amy { 10.25.12 at 3:16 pm }

what do you think of the pirates and pals fireworks boat cruise?

34 Amy { 10.25.12 at 10:26 pm }

sorry- a few more questions. First, I booked the Hoop De Do Revue and got the time I wanted (6:15 show) and category 1 seating for Monday, April 15th. At first I was psyched for the good seats, but then I read that I can’t apply the dining plan to category 1 seating at this show. Do you rec’d that I cancel the booking and purchase category 2 or 3 seats or should I just pay for it out right and reserve the table credits for another day?
Also, you had suggested in a response to one of my earlier posts to do HS on Sunday, April 14th for the week we are there (April 12-18). I just noticed that HS has extra magic hours that night from 8:30-10:30 and only one Fantasmic show. Do you think this will make it tough to ensure a seat for the Fantasmic Show? Thanks again! Our trip is going to be so incredible thanks to your advice.

35 Dave { 10.26.12 at 9:42 am }

Hi Amy, Wishes is much better from Main Street near the Castle than from this cruise…

36 Dave { 10.26.12 at 9:59 am }

Hi Amy–on the 2nd point HS has pm EMH on 4/215, not 4/14, so you’ll be fine! On the first, if you can productively use the extra credits, then stick with Category 1. If you really already have enough sit downs, then convert to 2. So glad the site is helping!!!

37 Faye { 11.16.12 at 11:25 am }

My military (retired) family of 4 (children 7 & 9) will be staying at Westgate Town Center for 4 nights arriving (9-11 hour drive). late afternoon or early evening on 11 Feb & leaving late morning early afternoon 15 Feb. We have 2 free military appreciation nights @ Town Center & purchased two additional nights. Where should we purchase theme park tickets or make arrangements for dining without spending too much? We would like to participate in at least 1 character meal. My special needs daughter doesn’t like to walk a lot & sometimes is sensitive to noise. What suggestions do you have to make our trip more enjoyable?

38 Dave { 11.16.12 at 5:08 pm }

Hi Faye–first, on tickets, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/08/08/new-disney-world-armed-forces-salute-announced-fy-2013/ You can pick up these tix at Shades of Green, a military hotel in WDW.

For help in thinking through how to make things work for your daughter–and what help Disney can provide–I’d advise buying and reviewing the relevant chapters of this book: PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line: Easy Access Vacations for Travelers with Extra Challenges

All the character meals are pretty noisy…that suggests a buffet, in a park, so that your dining time is more under your control, and if you have to abandon, you are still in a fun place. Crystal Palace at MK meets these criteria…

39 Faye { 11.16.12 at 8:58 pm }

Thanks Dave! I read a few reviews on the book. It seems to be outdated. Do you know of another similar source? I’m looking for some help with setting an itinerary as well.

40 Dave { 11.17.12 at 7:07 am }

Hi Faye, it’s not outdated on anything important, and I’m not aware of anything better …sadly, I don’t have itineraries for trips that short. Given the ages of your kids, you may want to skip Epcot, which makes things a little cleaner.

On the 12th I’d suggest MK, the 13th, HS, and the 14th AK. On the 15th you can return to your favorite–which will almost certainly be MK–before you leave.

41 Faye { 11.18.12 at 7:29 pm }

Dave,
Thanks a lot for your help!

42 Bethany { 12.17.12 at 10:48 am }

We are planning to relax at the beach for a few days and take our animal loving kids (2 and 4 yrs) to animal kingdom on feb 27h 2013. Since we are just planning to go to the one park would it be best to stay at the animal kingdom lodge? What do you recommend would as the best attractions at AK for our kids? Thank you.

43 Dave { 12.17.12 at 4:47 pm }

Bethany, I don’t focus on kids that young, but you can get some ideas here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/ And AKL is a wonderful choice!

44 nikki { 12.26.12 at 11:12 pm }

Hello, I am running the half marathon for my birthday on January 12, 2013. We are taking our 3 and 5 year olds to MK following the race. This will be our first trip. Any special tips recommended for the 12th?

45 Dave { 12.27.12 at 9:25 am }

Nikki is the 12th the only day you’ll be in the parks?

46 Ginette { 12.27.12 at 12:14 pm }

I’ve been on mobile disney a few times to check wait times for attractions. Often there is a wait period of up to 120 minutes. My question is do people really stay in line for that long to get on a ride?

47 Dave { 12.27.12 at 5:02 pm }

Ginette, yes they do! I’ve seen people waiting in lines with 180 minute waits especially at this time of the year…

48 Jeanne Soltis { 01.27.13 at 11:43 pm }

Hello. I am going to Disney for the first time on Feb 25 through March 1st. Do you think it will be crowded at this time?
Also, I have 3 boys 10, 8, and 5. Do you think that Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror will be appropirate for them?
Thanks

49 Dave { 01.28.13 at 5:49 am }

Hi Jeanne! Crowds will be low then–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/09/12/disney-world-crowds-in-2013/

Tower of Terror has a 40″ height minimum (see http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/04/21/ride-height-requirements-at-walt-disney-world/ ) but will be fine for the older boys. For the 5 year old it’s an issue not just of height but also how much he enjoys wild rides. Test him on some others first…if he reacts well, then go for it if he’s tall enough!

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50 Bernadette { 01.31.13 at 9:09 am }

We are planning a 5 night trip in May of this year. This is our first visit to Disney and our children are 11, 10 and 7. We were going to purchase the Park Hopper to have some flexibility amongst the parks. Do you recommend purchasing the WaterPark option? Wasn’t sure of the value of that add-on or if you think it is something we will be able to fit in. By the way, LOVE your site…it has been so helpful to me. Any suggestions/advice you have on ticket options would be great!

51 Dave { 02.01.13 at 7:13 am }

Hi Bernadette, and thanks!

Honestly, seeing the 4 theme parks fully takes a hard 6 days, and, in general, they are better than the waterparks. ANy extra time you have you should devote to resting and relaxing, so I’d say skip the waterparks and more option.

The hopper is a little less clear. Generally it’s easy to design an itinerary without one, but they can come in handy if you can afford the extra cost!

Hope this helps…

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52 Alisha { 02.07.13 at 12:58 am }

Hello! Your site has been a tremendous help to me. Our girls are 9, 4, 3, and 6 mo. (I know, we’re crazy, but we wanted the oldest to experience WDW before teen angst set in.) We are staying at the Polynesian, 2/12-2/15, and are only dedicating our visit to MK. What would be your game plan on touring each “land”?

53 Dave { 02.07.13 at 7:42 am }

Hi Alisha, I’d devote one morning to Fantasyland, one to Frontierland and Liberty Square, and one to Tomorrowland and Adventureland. You’ll need also an evening for the fireworks and evening parade, and a late afternoon for the 3p afternoon parade. Of your dates, the 12th and 13th will be the best, and the 14th the worst…

54 Alisha { 02.07.13 at 10:40 pm }

Thank you! Are you aware of any special events going on for Mardi Gras or Valentine’ Day?

55 Dave { 02.08.13 at 7:13 am }

Hi Alisha, there’s a valentines day event, but it’s booked up–see this: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/tag/limited-time-magic/ Disneyland in California has a Mardi Gras thingy going, but I don;t think Disney World has anything for Mardi Gras going on…

56 Jessica { 02.12.13 at 1:20 am }

Hello Dave, We have 3 children ages 10,13,and 15 who we are bringing to WDW for the first time! We will be there from the 18th-22nd of Feb. I know I want to go to AK and MK what would you recommend us and what parks? THanks in advance

57 Dave { 02.12.13 at 7:31 am }

Hi Jessica, that’s a rough week because of the crowds that have the whole week of President’s Day off. It gets better later in the week, tho. At those ages I’d spend two days at MK and one day at each of the other parks. I’d do Epcot the 18th, MK the 19th and 20th, HS the 21st, and AK the 22nd.

For how to spend your days, look through one of my itineraries (e.g. http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/basic-itinerary/alternative-itineraries/itineraries-for-the-rest-of-the-year/v2-of-2009-autumn-winter-spring-itinerary/ ) filtering it for your shorter trip using this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/

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58 Amy { 02.17.13 at 5:07 pm }

Hey Dave! I’m planning my military family’s first DW visit for April 29th thru May 4th, do you think this would be a big crowd time of year? My boys will be 8, 6, and 1 during this time, can you recommend a general game plan for which parks to hit for this week? Thank you for running this site, it’s a great help!

59 Dave { 02.18.13 at 6:43 am }

Hi Amy and thansk for the kind words!

I expect that to be a great time to visit, with low crowds and nice weather. You didn’t say how many ticket days you have–are you using the 4-day Military Salute? If so, I’d devote two days to MK, and one each to HS and AK. On your dates, avoid AK May 1, MK May 2, and HS on May 4…

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60 Amy { 02.20.13 at 3:02 pm }

Hello again!
You’re correct, we are using the 4 day park hoppers! I noticed that the days you suggest to avoid coincide with the extra magic hours, is that a coincidence or do those days tend to be busier?
Another unrelated question, I just realized that our flights both come in before we are able to check in and leave after we have to check out of shades of green. Any suggestions on what to do with our luggage since we planned to take advantage of an early arrival and late departure to get in extra park time…
Thanks again!!

61 Dave { 02.21.13 at 8:02 am }

Hiya Amy–yes that’s exactly it. The EMH parks are more crowded on their EMH days than on nearby better days. This is because EMH-eligible guests without hoppers preferentially go to them and then stay…

I don;t know the answer to your Shades luggage question–my guess is that you can drop your stuff off with bell services there–but will see if someone else knows the exact answer!

62 Steve From MilitaryDisneyTips.com - YourFirstVisit.net Military Moderator { 02.21.13 at 8:21 am }

Hi there Amy,

Dave asked me to chip in.

Shades, just like the Disney resorts has a bell staff which can take care of your needs. Upon arrival, they’ll store your bags until you return from your day’s events and they’ll hold them on your last day too.

If you are flying Shades also has the BAGS (Baggage Airline Guest Services) which is a remote airline check-in service allowing airline passengers to check their luggage and receive their boarding passes from the hotel lobby. Visit the Bell stand for price, instructions, and times. Participating airlines: American, Jet Blue, Alaska, Northwest, Air Tran, Continental, Delta, United, and US Airways.

Have a great trip!

63 Candace { 02.24.13 at 3:06 pm }

Hi! great website! my husband has been to WDW several times as a kid but this will be our first trip with our kids age 6 and almost 3. We planned our trip for march 29-April 2 because that is the best time for us to go but I did see on your sight it will be really crowded. We will be staying at the Gaylord palms (we have points there so it’s free) and plan on doing magic kingdom 2 days. we are flexible which days we go, but would you suggest going Friday and Monday being better then a weekend day? Also when you say to get there before gates open how early? like an hour before? Rides are important but probably top on our list would be to locate the princesses in the MK and get pictures with them. We are less interested in the character dining with the princesses at the grande Floridian and may do breakfast there to meet whinnie the pooh and friends, so given that info how would you schedule in getting to the princess characters within the park along with getting the most of of rides…I know we naively picked a crappy time to go I didn’t realize it was the same weekend as Easter and it is during both kids birthdays so the trip is for their birthdays. this won’t be our last trip we are moving within a short driving distance and plan on coming back yearly as long as we are living there.

64 Dave { 02.24.13 at 4:47 pm }

Hi Candace, I don’t really have any good ideas for you. All those days will be just horrible, and making it worse for you, MK opens an hour early each of those days to WDW resort guests, so it will already be pretty crowded before you can even get in. There’s one group of princesses you can fastpass–at Town Square just as you enter on the right–but the rest all involve long lines…Moreover, a lot of the best dining books up 5-6 months in advance, especially for such a crowded week. Honestly, I’d reschedule if there’s any way you can…

65 Elizabeth { 03.02.13 at 10:29 am }

Me and my husband are going to Disney 4/11 to 4/18 for the first time (we have no kids and are in our early 30’s). We are planning on getting a four day MYW without park hopper option. Planning on doing one day at each park. We arrive at the Orlando airport at around 11AM on the 11th and want to go to a park on that day since we have other plans throughout the week (i.e. Universal Studios, Hard Rock Casino in Tampa). Which park do you suggest going to if we can arrive at a park around three PM on the 11th? Do you have any other suggestions on days for the other three parks. Thanks for your help and I am enjoying looking through your website!

66 Dave { 03.03.13 at 5:56 am }

Hi Elizabeth! The rides at any park will be mobbed at that hour, but Epcot has lots for adults to enjoy (in the World Showcase) that doesn’t involve much in the way of lines, and a great fireworks show at 9p, so I’d advise that for the 11th. You want to do Universal over the weekend, as it will be less busy then.

Otherwise, on 4/12 avoid Epcot, on 4/13 avoid HS, on 4/14 avoid MK, on 4/15 avoid HS and AK, on 4/16 avoid Epcot, on 4/17 avoid AK, and on 4/18 avoid MK!

Hope this helps, and have a great trip…

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67 Nic { 03.09.13 at 9:00 am }

I will be heading to Disney 3/16-3/23. I have been to Disney more times than I can count so I have a somewhat skewed view of what to do. However, there will be 4 of us all mid/late 20’s and one has never ever been and another last went 12 years ago. I want this trip to be special for them. We are staying at Saratoga Spring and also plan to spend 1 day at IOA and Tuesday(3/19) at Busch Gardens Tampa… The rest is somewhat up in the air. What tickets to get ect. I did make some reservations for Hoop de doo and I think I want to add a character meal. We were also thinking about quick service dinning plan just to make things easier. Basically I don’t want to miss good experiences for people who rarely go because I go so frequently… was just there in Nov/Dec.

68 Dave { 03.09.13 at 12:53 pm }

Nic, one thing you might do besides looking at the image on this page is to read through one of my itineraries, making notes on what you want to do! Check out this one, for example: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/basic-itinerary/alternative-itineraries/itineraries-for-the-rest-of-the-year/v2-of-2009-autumn-winter-spring-itinerary/

You’ll need to decide between base and hopper tickets. See this for prices http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/06/03/disney-world-ticket-prices-2012-to-summer-2013/ and this for hopping: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/07/16/park-hoppers-hopping-walt-disney-world/

For a character meal, consider Akershus at Norway in Epcot. Adults like EPcot anyway; the food is better and more interesting than most character meals; females will enjoy the princesses, and males the cleavage!

Hope this helps, and have a great trip…

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69 Mrs B { 03.21.13 at 6:58 pm }

Our family will be going in August 8 – 14th. Yes HOT & busy, but our only time with our schedules. My Husband & I have been before (several times & different parks) but it has been quite awhile. My daughters will be 9 & 13 and their 1st visit, we are staying on property & getting 6 day pass w/ park hopper & water/fun as well. What park itinerary would you suggest. We are a fast paced family on the go, but also want this to be a stress free vacation.

70 Dave { 03.22.13 at 9:54 am }

Hi, I don’t have an itinerary that’s a tight fit to your arrival day or length of trip, but this comes closest: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/01/16/seven-night-walt-disney-world-summer-itinerary-v2/

71 Amy { 04.18.13 at 10:33 am }

Hello! I’m back for more of your great advice! I booked breakfast at chef mickeys for our group and thought it would be perfect to spend the day at MK since its so close. The problem is that it’s on a day that we should avoid MK (5/2). Will it be that big of a deal if we have to leave say HS to go to breakfast at 945? Thanks so much for this site, it’s such a great help!

72 Dave { 04.19.13 at 7:26 am }

Amy the most valuable time in any park, including HS, is the first hour it is open.

If you are at the turnstiles 30 minutes before open, then you can see 3-4 rides in an hour that would take 2-3 hours later in the day.

As a result, breakfast at a “normal” hour on a park day is pretty much always a mistake. Breakfast is much better wolfed down in your room early, or as late as you can schedule it, or skipped entirely and replaced by an early lunch…. This is particularly a problem for MK on 5/2, as the park opens at 8a for WDW resort hotel guests…so my advice would be to cancel Chef Mickey and rebook it for lunch on a good MK day…

73 Keith B { 04.23.13 at 1:09 am }

Hi Dave,
We are starting to book our vacation…wondered if you had a suggestion on the sequence if we go Oct 17-22. I was thinking
17 (Thur)-epcot (day we arrive, not quite a full day)
18-MK
19-HS
20-AK
21-MK again
22-open
We have 3 kids who will be between 9 and 4.
Thanks!

74 Dave { 04.23.13 at 8:16 am }

Hi Keith! Given the ages of your kids you look thin on MK–but can do that again the 22nd if need be. You stuff generally looks good, but HS has am EMH on 19th, pm the 20th, and MK has pm EMH the 21st. So I’d move things around these days. Of these three days, MK will be least crowded the 20th, so do it then, AK has am EMH the 21st, so do it the 19th, and do HS the 21st.

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75 Irms { 04.29.13 at 5:30 pm }

Hi, great site….SO much info! We are a party of 12 travelling from Canada and South Africa. Kids ages 4-7. We will be in Disney world for 5 days at the end of june. Would you think we need 2 days for magical Kingdom? Then we were thinking. Seaworld, waterpark and not sure what else to go for!???

76 Dave { 04.30.13 at 8:18 am }

Hi Irms, for kids that age–especially the 4 year old–MK and SeaWorld are a great choice. I’d spend two-three mornings, an afternoon, and an evening at MK, and a day at Sea World…the water park is highly optional…

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77 Ames { 05.02.13 at 12:54 am }

Dave,

Thank you so much for all of this great information. We have our trip, by necessity, scheduled May 25-June 1, with 6 park days Sun 5/26 through Fri 5/31; we are staying at the WDW Animation Resort (two kiddos, 5 and 7). Will we be able to get into all four parks early that week? Is the Star Wars Experience at Hollywood Studios worth going on Sunday the 26th? I have already scheduled dining reservations for the following parks on the following days; I would really appreciate your opinion on any glaring mistakes in my planning that I should reschedule:
Saturday 5/25 HoopdeDoo revue at 4:00
Sunday 5/26: HS (Star Wars Experience, PrimeTime Cafe)
Monday 5/27: MK (Crystal Palace character dinner)
Tuesday 5/28: AK (Tusker House dinner)
Wednesday 5/29: Epcot (Nine Dragons dinner)
Thursday 5/30: MK (Tony’s Town Square–only one we could get in to!)
Friday 5/31: Epcot (Akershus Princess storybook lunch)
Also, any recommendations for how we could spend our time on Saturday the 1st before we leave for the airport early afternoon? It will not be a park day for us. Thank you so much for any help you can give–will definitely use this site BEFORE our next trip scheduling! ;)

78 Dave { 05.02.13 at 7:21 am }

Hi Ames, and thanks!

The Star Wars weekends have become a zoo, with massive crowds, so I’d avoid them.

Moreover, MK is likely to be pretty crowded on Memorial Day.

So I’d do AK the 26th, Epcot the 27th, HS the 28th, and MK the 29th and 30th. I’d leave the 31st open for whatever park you wish to return to–given the ages of the kids, unlikely to be Epcot…

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79 Alessandra { 05.08.13 at 1:04 pm }

Hello Dave;

Too bad I didn’t find your website before planning our 1st trip to Disney World. We are coming from Canada arriving on Sunday May 19th and leaving on Sunday morning May 26th . We only bought 5 days pass (no meal plan) as we are planning to go to Universal Studios one day and Disney Water Park another day. We’ll arrive to the hotel around 10:00 am and head out to the park right away. Your Autumn-Winter-Spring Itinerary V3 suggest Animal Kingdom for the 1st Sunday so I guess we should go to this park based on your suggestion and follow your itinerary. Probably use Thursday May 23rd to go to Universal Studios and Saturday May 25th to the water park which is our last day. It is a tight schedule but enough for now. I was thinking to buy the water parks pass upon our arrival. I would like to know which water park would you recommend for a family with two active boys, 7 and 10 years old. Also which park should we focus on during our stay based on our kids gender and age. I am sure there are lots of things we should consider for our trip to Disney but I am already feeling stress and overwhelmed with so much information on how to do Disney World. Part of me wants to play by ear and not feel anxiety. A friend of mine suggested to download the Disney Application on my smart phone so I would know line up timing, game schedule, shows, crowds… OMG, I feel like we’ll be on the Amazing Race….. go, go, go. :)
Anyway, thanks for your great and useful website. Look forward to hearing from you soon.

80 Dave { 05.09.13 at 8:20 am }

Hi Alessandra! A couple of thoughts.

First go to Universal Saturday, Sunday or Monday, not Thursday–see this for why http://yourfirstvisit.net/2009/12/15/when-to-go-to-the-wizarding-world-of-harry-potter/

Second, you said Universal Studios–did you mean Universal’s Islands of Adventure (a different park)? Harry Potter is at Universal’s Islands of Advenute, not Univeral Studios, and there’s not much at Universal Studios for kids that age.

Third on the waterparks–I have no strong sense that one is better for the kids than another. Each has their fans.

Finally on the Disney parks, I’d go with two days at Magic Kingdom, one each at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Your fith ticket day you could either retunr to your favorite from among these, or go to DIsney’s fourth park, Epcot.

Use this to help with picking which day at which Disney park:

5/19: Avoid HS and MK
5/20: Avoid HS and AK
5/21: Avoid Epcot
5/22: Avoid HS
5/23: Avoid MK
5/24: Avoid Epcot and HS
5/25 Avoid AK and HS
5/26: Avoid MK and HS

Hope this helps!!

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81 Alessandra { 05.09.13 at 11:55 am }

Dave… thank you so much for your respond. Your are the best! really!

I actually meant Universal’s Islands of Adventure, so we’ll probably go Monday or Saturday the day before our departure. For the water park I am sure both are fantastic…. so we’ll just pick up one and have fun.

82 Dave { 05.10.13 at 1:18 pm }

OK Alessandra!

83 Mariela { 05.28.13 at 5:51 am }

Hi Dave,
I have two toddlers age 2 1/2 and 18 months old that I would like to take to Disney in Orlando this Summer. Any day this Summer is good. I’m a Florida resident; I would like itinerary for a couple of days that will best suit my little ones. Do hotels on site offer an express pass? Should I take the kids to animal kingdom or should I just focus on Magic kingdom?

Many thanks for all of your input.

84 Dave { 05.28.13 at 7:47 am }

Hi Mariela, I focus on kids 8 and older, so I’m afraid I don’t have much to offer…There’s no “express pass” at Disney WOrld–that’s only at Universal, and the summer is wildly busy until late AUgust. You can get some itinerary ideas for such young kids here http://touringplans.com/magic-kingdom/touring-plans?utm_campaign=referral&utm_medium=website&utm_source=yourfirstvisit&utm_content=r1&property_id=1 and here http://www.leaveittogenie.com/

85 Stephanie { 06.28.13 at 1:13 pm }

Hi Dave!
I’ve been reading through trying to find my scenario, but couldn’t. This is far from our first visit (we LOVE Disney), but its our first time with Christmas decorations! So, here’s my question, we’ll be in Orlando 11/5/13-11/13/13. We want to goto the MVMCP but I’m struggling between the first show on the 8th or on the 11th? My concerns are Jersey week, marathon, and Monday the 11th being no school! Please advise! Thanks!!!!

86 Dave { 06.29.13 at 10:14 am }

Hiya Stepahnie!! Disney limits the MVMCP tickets it sells, so either night would be fine.

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87 Stephanie { 06.29.13 at 11:03 am }

Thanks Dave! We used your advice last year, and split our stay between the AoA and Poly. We had a great time, and were able to enjoy the best of both resorts! Thanks again!

88 Dave { 06.30.13 at 11:47 am }

You are welcome, Stephanie!

89 Hi Dave { 08.06.13 at 2:04 pm }

Hi Dave, we will be arriving from Canada on Dec. 14-21 with our 14, 12 and 8 year old daughters. The park hopper passes are on sale get 5 for the price of 3 days. Given this is a last minute trip can you give me some advice of what to do and see based on our girls ages? We are staying off-site, about a mile from MK & will have a car rental. Your advice is awesome & appreciated. PS our first time visit. Thank you. Sally

90 Dave { 08.07.13 at 7:51 am }

Sally, at those ages, pretty much everything is appropriate.

I recommend at least 6 full days in the parks. For your five day tickets, I think the thing to do is to plan one day in each of the 4 parks, and then on your fifth day to return to your favorite or the one that you think you’ve not seen enough of–most likely the Magic Kingdom. (You may also want to split up the fifth fay if wishes vary–eg one parent and the younger one to one park, the other parent and the two older ones to another.)

You can use this to target rides http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/ , but do read through one of my itineraries so that you understand the basic approaches–like this one http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/basic-itinerary/basic-itinerary-daily-links/

I don’t single day itineraries–all my itineraries are integrated longer itineraries–but you can find them here: http://touringplans.com/magic-kingdom/touring-plans?utm_campaign=referral&utm_medium=website&utm_source=yourfirstvisit&utm_content=r1&property_id=1

On your dates,

The 14th avoid MK and HS
The 15th avoid HS
The 16th avoid MK and AK
The 17th avoid Epcot
The 18th avoid AK
The 19th avoid MK
The 20th avoid Epcot
The 21st avoid HS and MK

Hope this helps!!

91 Chera Tinker { 08.07.13 at 12:19 pm }

Hi Dave, My Family of 5 will be visiting WDW for the first time 10/20-10/26/13. My husband, Myself, daughter age 7, twin boys age 4. We have bought a 2 quick serve dining option and a 5 day base ticket no add-ons. After researching some and realizing that we can’t do it all in the time span, budget and the age children we have, I have narrowed down that we most likely will focus on MK and HS with the possibility of a short (not full day visit) to Epcot. My kids are not Animal lovers so AK ranks at the lowest for us. We are staying at Port Orleans Riverside b/c of the 5th person murphy bed option. We booked this visit only 95 days out and since the kids no nothing about character meals and we are on a budget we opted to do the two quick serve meal plan. I’m trying to get an itinerary planned out figuring that we will spend 2 days at MK 2 days at HS and may or may not use the 5th day ticket depending on how the week is going. The kids will want to enjoy some time at the pool and also downtown disney. Any suggestions for our itinerary would be helpful. I feel overwhelmed by looking at the itineraries posted b/c we will not be doing any of the sit down meals :(. Thank you for your help and the website it has been the most helpful as I quickly plan this trip.
Thank you
Chera

92 Dave { 08.08.13 at 7:22 am }

Hi Chera!!

First, I’d take a slightly different approach. Honestly, at those ages, HS is is not worth 2 days, but AK absolutely is worth one day. There’s only one major ride at AK that’s deadly dull if you have no interest in animals–Kilimanjaro safaris–and lots of fun stuff. See this for more: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/

Moreover DTD is pretty dull compared to the parks, so what I’d do is save “day 5″ for the decision the night before–either a return to a favorite park, or a day off/at DTD.

Here’s how the days lay out (ignoring Epcot but including AK)
21: Avoid MK and AK
22: All OK, MK best
23: Avoid MK
24: Avoid MK
25: Avoid HS

Even tho I have the 23rd as “avoid MK,” it’s the best day among your options for the evening fireworks and parade. So here’s how that then shakes out: On the 21st, do HS, do MK the 22nd and 23rd, and the 24th do AK. As noted, the 25th either return to your favorite or take the day off or go to DTD or combine all 3!

Hope this helps!

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93 Jennifer { 10.19.13 at 2:04 pm }

Hi Dave-
I will apologize in advance for all the questions I am getting ready to ask….

1.- If I got tickets from undercover tourist can I add on a day without starting from day one like you can if you order them directly from disney? I am trying to decide if we need to get a ticket for the first day we arrive. Late morning or early afternoon Sun. after driving 12 hrs. with a 6& 9 yr old .
2.- Would this day be a good day to go and start a park, see the parade (to knock that out) and fireworks or maybe do a waterpark OR should we hang out at the pool and go to downtown disney (would like to go there) and see circque del sol if its ok for the kids? All the others days will be packed going to one of the parks so I dont think we will be able to enjoy the hotel or go to downtown disney due to leaving early mornings and getting back late from parks. I assume??????
3. – If we do a 5 day park pass what do you suggest ….all the theme parks and skip a water one or skip one of the theme ones and do a water park we are going middle of May.
4.- Also I saw where someone already booked their dinning reservations for May I didnt think the window had opened yet, when I looked at the calendar on disney it stopped in the middle of April?
Thank you for this site and all the very useful information you provide in planning a disney vacation and helping to make it a little less stressful.

94 Dave { 10.20.13 at 6:54 am }

Hi Jennifer and thanks for the kind words!

On 1, I’m actually not sure. I’d suggest reaching out directly to them! (And then coming back here, with your findings, so that I and everyone else knows!! :) )
On 2, the cost of an extra ticket day once you’ve bought three or four days is tiny, so I highly recommend knocking off a park’s evening shows–particularly at the Magic Kingdom! I get you on the rest of the days being packed…but getting some stuff done night one will give you more flexibility on late evenings…
On 3, the theme parks are so much better than the water parks that you should skip the waterparks on such a short visit. Aim for 2+ days at MK, a day each at the other three parks.
On 4 You can book dining 180 days ahead, so today you can book into mid-April.

Was this even remotely helpful?

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95 Samantha G { 11.14.13 at 9:56 pm }

Hi.
I’m going to Disney during spring break and I ‘m wondering if it would be smart to go to the water parks? Also if the list you show here is all the rides in the whole entire parks. ( including the new Fantasy Land)
Thanks,
SAM

96 Samantha G { 11.14.13 at 10:14 pm }

Hi, DAVE we are staying in Orlando for five days and I ‘ m wondering what parks we should go to.
I ‘m not into culture (plus I ‘m vegetarian) so Epcot is out. also the time we are gong I heard it cool so would it be a good idea to go to the water parks?? Is the spring break the most busy time to go?

97 Dave { 11.15.13 at 7:41 am }

Samantha, spring break is so crowded that you will likely need all the time you have for the theme parks themselves. So I wouldn’t plan on a water park. And the answer to your second question is yes–everything that’s open now is on it.

98 Dave { 11.15.13 at 7:43 am }

Sam, Epcot is great fun and has as many vegetarian offerings as any two other parks. See this for building an itinerary: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/how-long-to-stay/other-trip-lengths/designing-your-own-walt-disney-world-itinerary/

99 Michelle { 01.15.14 at 4:07 pm }

Hi Dave,
I’ll be in WDW Oct 19 – 25 with my parents and my son, who will be almost 4. In light of my son’s age, I’m planning on a 5-day base ticket to avoid any temptation to run around from park to park. I figure MK and AK are the only parks that make sense for us at this point. I’d like to fit in as many character dining events as possible. I was thinking 3 days in MK (though likely not full days), 1 day in AK and 1 day to play it by ear. Does this make sense? Any thoughts on how we should schedule the days? I’m not sure I’m interested in the Halloween party, but maybe it’s worth looking at – what do you think? Thanks so much for all your help – your site is tremendous!

100 Dave { 01.16.14 at 7:35 am }

Hi Michelle, and thanks for the kind words!!

I’d add a morning at Hollywood Studios too. Think 2 mornings, one afternoon, and one evening at MK, and mornings at AK and HS. Day 5, return to your favorite–almost certain to be MK!

I won’t be able to make specific day suggestions until Disney’s October calendar is out–which it’ll be in about 2 months…

The Halloween party is so expensive that I’d hold on that til he’s older… 6 or older…

101 Michelle { 01.19.14 at 3:48 pm }

Thanks, Dave! If you don’t mind, I’ll follow up with you again when the October calendar comes out. I like your thought of part of a day at HS. Thanks again!

102 Dave { 01.20.14 at 6:30 am }

Of course, Michelle!

103 Cynthia Oliver { 05.06.14 at 11:54 am }

Dave, I’m planning a trip to DW and I’m trying to determine the best way to do it. We will have 4 adults and 2 children with us ages 7 and 3 both boys. Not sure where to stay since they want to do Disney and Univ. Studio and Sea World. We will only have 5 days. What would you recomend? I haven’t a clue about any of it. I have never been to DW although DL was a child hood hangout when you bought a book of A-E tickets. Was there for the opening of Pirates of the Caribean. So that kinda dates me. Thanks in advance for your assistance

104 Dave { 05.07.14 at 12:16 pm }

Cynthia, will this be your only visit, or will you return later?

105 Lucia { 06.25.14 at 10:26 pm }

Hi Dave,
We have booked our WDW stay for the last week of April 2015. We have a lot of time left, but I was planing on getting a fantasmic dinning package as one of our ADR. We have a 4 year old and I noticed you recommend avoiding it for this age, why?

106 Dave { 06.26.14 at 8:15 am }

Lucia, see this for why Fantasmic is now in the “avoid” box: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/10/22/kids-fear-and-walt-disney-world/

107 Renae { 11.19.14 at 9:35 pm }

I have to disagree with a few of these choices in the avoid category. My family went to disney and I had my two kids (just turned 3 & 5) with me. My 3 year old celebrated her 3rd birthday in the MK. During our trip the 3 year old went on the gran fiesta tour and loved that. She rode that about 5 times one night. She also loved Soarin’ and rode that twice, she even loved Star Tours and rode that 2 times as well. She is not a dare devil by any means of the word. She is usually a a bit of a scaredy-cat :) My suggestion is to try a “test” ride with small children. If they seem like they aren’t into the more drastic rides then steer clear. However, you might be surprised about what they like.

108 Dave { 11.20.14 at 11:36 am }

Great advice, Renae, as every kid is different!

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