By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor



Category — n. Approaching Dates at Disney World

To-Do List for the 2017 Basic December Itinerary

This To-Do List is for the 2017 Basic December Itinerary. For To-Do-Lists for other itineraries, see this.

A. MORE THAN 180 DAYS BEFORE YOUR PLANNED ARRIVAL DATE

(Note that a good travel agent, such as Kelly at Destinations in Florida at 980-429-4499 or at Kelly@DestinationsInFlorida.com can do almost all of this for you, for free. If you use Destinations in Florida as your travel agent and tell them you came from this site, then they share a bit of the pixie dust they get from Disney with me.)

1. Confirm your budget, planned dates, intended hotel, kids’ development and heights, and your transportation choice and its availability for your planned dates.

2. Make your plane reservations, if flying. Make any other needed transportation arrangements.

3. Create your My Disney Experience account here and add your family members to it

4. Set up your hotel and tickets. Call 407-939-7675 (preferred, because this allows you to tell the reservationist which building at your resort you wish to be in), or click here to use Disney’s online system.

  • If you are following my itinerary, you want the hotel you’ve picked for 8 nights, nine day, no hopper tickets, the Dining Plan, and Disney’s Magical Express
  • You also wantto order your MVMCP tickets for your planned date there. These may not be on sale until later May or even later.
  • Itineraries other than mine will have different requirements here

B. 181 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

San Angel Inn at Epcot from yourfirstvisit.net1. Login to your MyDisneyExperience.com account, click the “Things to Do” tab at top right, under Dining hit “Make Reservations,” and practice trying to reserve restaurants (hint: use the search box at the upper right).

This may well drive you crazy, but the site works better than it used to…and is likely the only way you can get your Cindy reservations done! (as the site opens up a new reservable day at 6a, whereas the phone reservation line opens at 7a).

2. Collect your planned restaurant reservations together. You will want to do them online in order of hardest to reserve first. This is how they are listed below. Note that the two dining packages–Rivers of Light and Candlelight Processional–may not go on sale until later in the summer.

C. EXACTLY 6am EST, EXACTLY 180 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

(For an 180 day calendar, see this).

1. Be on the restaurant website by at least 5:50am EST, and have your Cindy reservation all set up on the page. Keep refreshing, as you will be let in as soon as Disney’s system decides it is 6a.

2. Make the following reservations in the exact order listed (the two dinner packages may not yet be open for booking at 180 days):

  • Cinderella’s Royal Table Lunch (dining plan, two credits): Thursday at 11a or later if you can; earlier than 11 only if your sole option…
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue (dining plan, two credits): Thursday 6.15p show. The later time will keep you up later than you need to be, OK if all you can get. Avoid the earlier time–it’ll cut into your park time too much
  • Crystal Palace (dining plan, one credit) Second Saturday 6p.  Later is OK, but not a whole lot earlier as you have a late lunch this day
  • Tusker House as Rivers of Light Dining Package (dining plan, one credit). First Sunday 5.30p. You can schedule for as late as Disney will allow you to do so, but not earlier.
  • San Angel Inn as Candlelight Processional Dining Package (dining plan, two credits): Friday 5.45p. Can be earlier but not later.

For any you don’t make online, make them by calling call (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463)

D. 60 DAYS BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

Liking the Name on This MagicBand1. Go to your MyDisneyExperience account at 7am and set up the following FastPass+

  • First Saturday evening at Epcot: Book just one, Test Track, for 6-7p
  • First Sunday at the Animal Kingdom: Na’vi River Journey, Finding Nemo: The Musical, and Kali River Rapids. Set Na’vi for 10-11a, Nemo 11.30 to 11.45 for the noon show, and Kali River Rapids at 12:40p
  • Monday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Tier One: Toy Story Midway Mania. Tier Two: Star Tours and Frozen Sing-Along. Set Toy Story Midway Mania for 1.30-2.30p, Star Tours for 2.30 to 3.30p, and the Frozen Sing Along for after.
  • Tuesday at Epcot: Frozen Ever After 12.30-1.30p, Mission Space 1.30-2.30p, Spaceship Earth 2.30-3.30p
  • Wednesday at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Tier One: Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Tier Two: Tower of Terror and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Set Voyage for 12.30-1.30p, Tower of Terror for 2.30-3.30p, and Rock ‘n’ Roller for 3.30-4.30p.
  • Thursday at Magic Kingdom: Book FastPass+ for Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain. Design the times for them around the time of your reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table, and don’t set one for 2.30-3.30p, as you will need that time for the afternoon parade. (A FP+ 2-3p and/or 3-4p is OK, as you can use them at the beginning of the 2p window or end of the 3p window without interrupting your parade viewing.
  • Friday at Epcot: Soarin’ 11a-noon, Living with the Land noon-1p, Turtle Talk with Crush 2p show
  • Second Saturday at Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 1-2p, Peter Pan’s Flight 2-3p, Haunted Mansion 3-4p
  • Second Sunday at the Animal Kingdom: Avatar: Flight of Passage and Festival of the Lion King. Set Flight of Passage for 9.30 to 10.30a, and Festival of the Lion King for 10.30-10.45a for the 11a show.

2. Do online check in, requesting as you do special location points

3. Customize your MagicBands

E. NOTES ON PACKING ETC. BEFORE YOU LEAVE

1. Bring your MagicBands in your carry-ons

2. If you use Disney’s Magical Express, you do not need to collect your bags at the Orlando airport unless you arrive late in the evening/at night or are an international traveler. Disney will get them for you and, eventually, deliver them directly to your room. Your bags may arrive hours after you do; so, depending on the weather forecasts, have a carry-on with an appropriate change of clothes for Orlando weather on Saturday, as you will almost certainly go to Epcot on Saturday before your checked bags arrive.

3. Follow the instructions in the Magical Express packet you will receive in the mail regarding both tagging your bags pre-departure, and where to go at the Orlando airport to find your transport to your resort.

4. Bring a copy of your room reservation, confirmation numbers and any tickets for special events you may have received in the mail.

5. Pack breakfast utensils, as they are not always available in the gift shop: bowls, spoons, napkins

6. When you arrive at the hotel, look for the special “On-line Check-in” line, and get into it.

The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

May 7, 2017   No Comments

Basic 2017 December Disney World Itinerary

This draft Walt Disney World itinerary is designed for the three weeks following Thanksgiving 2017. Once Disney posts its December calendar–in mid-late May–I’ll update it, if needed, and also add detailed daily plans.

If you aren’t going one of those weeks, see Other Itineraries for alternatives the rest of the year, which are published about six months ahead.

You can enlarge the basic itinerary by clicking it. For a printable PDF version, click here.

A detailed draft To-Do List covers all the planning steps you need to undertake. And I’ll publish detailed daily guidance as soon as I can after Disney’s December 2017 calendar is out.

ITINERARY DESIGN GOALS

The basic December itinerary was designed to meet several goals: to ensure that you

  1. See the best that Walt Disney World has to offer, including all of its special Christmas season offerings
  2. See the parks in the order that works best for kids (essentially Epcot first, as it is potentially the most disappointing, and the Magic Kingdom last, as it is likely to be the best loved)
  3. Avoid unnecessary waiting, by using FastPass+ and other tactics…
  4. Given all the evening shows and late nights, have as few early mornings as practical

The 2017 version differs from previous ones in a couple of ways:

  • It incorporates the new Avatar: World of Pandora land in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • It now has two evenings in Disney’s Hollywood Studios so that you can see both evening shows there (as I write this, it’s unknown whether the Star Wars show there will be replaced with the holiday show Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam!, so one evening is reserved for Fantasmic, and one evening for one or the other of the other two).
  • It uses the Rivers of Light dining package at Tusker House to save a FastPass+ at Animal Kingdom. This added meal, plus the two evenings at the Studios, has caused some dining re-shuffling.  All the latest dining material is in the To-Do List.

If you can’t do the dates required for the Basic Itinerary, see Other Itineraries for alternatives for both the December week and the rest of the year.
The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!

May 7, 2017   7 Comments

November 2017 at Walt Disney World

May   June   July   August   September   October    November

OVERVIEW: NOVEMBER 2017 AT DISNEY WORLD

This page reviews November 2017 Walt Disney World crowds, prices, deals and discounts, weather, and operating hours; adds a few other notes; and ends with week by week summaries.

Very early, mid and late November are some of the best times of the year to visit Disney World, with cooler weather, low crowds, low prices, and fun special events.

Other parts of the month are not so good. Jersey Week see moderate crowds. Thanksgiving week, with high crowds and higher prices than the rest of the month, should be avoided.

[Read more →]

April 27, 2017   8 Comments

Thanksgiving 2017 at Walt Disney World

THANKSGIVING 2017 AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

Thanksgiving 2014 at Disney World

Thanksgiving week at Walt Disney World is busy–particularly Wednesday through Saturday.

While not as crowded as some other holiday weeks–Easter and Christmas, for example–it can be very challenging, and the material below gives some hints on how to deal with it.

WALT DISNEY WORLD 2017 THANKSGIVING WEEK ITINERARY AND DINING

Park schedules indicate that this site’s Higher Crowd Itinerary mostly works for Thanksgiving Week, with one change and one however.

  • The change is that you will be best off if you swap Thursday and Monday in both the itinerary and its To-Do List.
  • The however is that the parks–especially the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom–may open an hour earlier than it indicates many days Thanksgiving week, and may also have morning Extra Magic Hours added as well–making the day start two hours earlier than indicated on the itineraries.

So you’ll need to stay in touch with schedules–even on the night before–to make sure when you need to arrive to beat park openings.  

Moreover, a couple of other things are worth noting.

  • First, making the suggested change has you off mid-day on Thanksgiving, and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Thanksgiving morning and evening, with counter service meals
  • Believe me–that’s a wonderful way to spend Thanksgiving.  Hollywood Studios  likely will be the least crowded park (in the past, it would have been Animal Kingdom, but with the openings of Avatar and Rivers of Light and other evening options, I don’t expect it to be so in 2017), and you’ll need an afternoon break by this point in your vacation anyway.
  • However, if you are looking for something both more formal and fun in your Thanksgiving meal, then consider skipping 50’s Prime Time and booking a mid-day table service meal elsewhere.

Note that to get a sit-down meal on Thanksgiving it’s critical that you make your dining reservations well in advance. See this for more.

SEEING EPCOT’S CHRISTMAS PROGRAM

Starting the day after Thanksgiving, Epcot is open thirty minutes later, and a special Christmas version of Illuminations is shown nightly at 9.30p rather than 9p. Moreover, the Candlelight Processional also begins the Friday after Thanksgiving.

UPDATED PARK SCHEDULES

You can get updated park operating hours when you arrive at Walt Disney World. If you want to know what’s up before then, check the park calendars a day or so before you depart for Florida on the My Disney Experience website. and while you are there as well.
The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

April 27, 2017   2 Comments

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (“MVMCP”) in 2017

DISNEY WORLD’S SPECIAL CHRISTMAS PARTY IN 2017

While Christmas itself is December 25 of course, Walt Disney World provides a special Christmas celebration at the Magic Kingdom many nights in November and December.

This celebration is called “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, or “MVMCP” for short.

At the party, many of the Magic Kingdom’s rides are open with really low waits, and cookies and hot chocolate, special events, a Christmas parade, special fireworks, and even snow (!) are offered.

The official Disney World page for this event (where you can also buy tickets, once they become available) can be found here. For a review of the 2016 version of MVMCP, see this.

MORE ON MICKEY’S VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY

This party occurs from 7p-12MN on certain evenings at the Magic Kingdom in November and December.

The 2017 dates for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party are as follows:

  • November 2017: 8, 9, 12, 14, 16, 17, 26 and 28
  • December 2017: 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21 and 22

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party from yourfirstvisit.netYou need to buy a special ticket for this party. This ticket is different from regular Walt Disney World park admission tickets.

  • The special party ticket does not allow you to enjoy the rides and attractions of the Magic Kingdom before the Party starts–you need a regular ticket for that (note that you can usually enter and enjoy the rides as early as 4p–although your ticket will say 7p)
  • Regular tickets used to enter the park earlier the day of a Party do not give you access to the Party–you need to have the special Party ticket

Mickey and Minnie at Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at MVMCP 2014 from yourfirstvisit.net_

The party tickets are expensive, so why would first-time visitors be interested? A couple of potential reasons

  • Evening fireworks shows are rare this time of year, so going to one of the parties is a way to guarantee you can see them
  • Operating hours at the Magic Kingdom are shorter this time of year, so the Party allows you more time there within the same visit
  • Walt Disney World sells only a limited number of tickets to each party, so the evening can be less crowded, particularly compared to whenever the Magic Kingdom is doing evening Extra Magic Hours that week

Many families go the first time for one of these reasons…and then going becomes a tradition!

On the other hand, families following one of the standard 8-night itineraries on this site will see the fireworks and evening parade, and have plenty of time at the Magic Kingdom. For that reason, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is not designed into this site’s pre-Thanksgiving itineraries.

It is, however, built in to this site’s Christmas-oriented Basic Itinerary, which works for the three weeks beginning the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

For details on what the party offers, suggested approaches, etc., see this!

Here’s the 2016 brochure–as always on this site, click to enlarge:

2016-mvmcp-brochure-side-1

2016-mvmcp-brochure-side-2

The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

April 7, 2017   4 Comments

October 2017 at Walt Disney World

May   June   July   August   September   October   November

OVERVIEW: OCTOBER 2017 AT DISNEY WORLD

This page reviews October 2017 Walt Disney World crowds, prices, deals and discounts, weather, and operating hours; adds a few other notes; and ends with week by week summaries.

Later October has some of the best times of the year to visit Disney World, with nice weather, low crowds, low prices, and fun special events.

The first half of the month is not so good, as

  • The first week is still in the peak of the hurricane season
  • Both the first and second week see extra crowds from fall breaks, and
  • The second week sees higher prices from Columbus Day.

[Read more →]

March 25, 2017   13 Comments