What Not To Do; or Musings from a Rookie


I've been perusing trip reports lately; I'm so excited about our upcoming trip I could burst. Alas, I cannot share my excitement aloud because we are waiting until Christmas to reveal the trip, so you fine folk are my captive audience until then!

Meanwhile, I thought I'd post an amusing look back at our last trip (May 2011) just so we could all have a good laugh at what people who don't use easywdw look like.

Cast of Rookie Characters: Myself (31), DH (39), DS (8) and DS (5)

We felt like the boys were at the perfect age to experience Disney and we contacted a well-respected Disney TA to plan our trip. My husband surprised me about a month before by stopping in at our local Barnes and Noble to pick up a Disney guidebook. This may be the most romantic thing he's ever done. Not because he's not romantic, but because I loved it the most! I mean, Barnes and Noble AND Disney--this is heaven! Following some tips from this book and gathering the itinerary from our TA was the extent of my "planning".

We decided we could drive down (about a 14-drive) and save money on the flight. We chose the day after school got out in May to leave. Exciting, yes. Overwhelming, yes. Exhausting, you betcha. Give a girl a day to pack! And...we were taking two days to drive there. Not because we wanted to, but because at least one friend had told me that if we were able to make it the whole way we might call Pop Century and see if we could check-in a day early. Rookies! It was the week before Memorial Day! At one point, I actually remember asking my DH, do you think it'll be crowded yet? :RpS_blink:

We left home about 3 a.m. and decided to drive as far as we could and then stop for the night somewhere in Georgia. Nice clean hotel, but it just wasn't Disney yet. We had a nice dinner at a Japanese Steakhouse and talked to some nice folks who were contemplating making a trip with their kids who were the same ages as ours. I lent them my advice...poor people. Wonder if they ever made it.

Next day we drove about four hours and made that call to see if Pop had a room available. Sweet CM told me they sure didn't, but not to worry tomorrow we'd be there! She sounded so happy, but maybe she was just snickering at me.

We stayed about two minutes from Disney and enjoyed the resort as much as we could. Awesome pool, movies at night for kids, great breakfast buffet. My youngest really didn't want to leave the next morning. In his defense, there wasn't much to get excited about. He had no idea what to expect, and this pool was COOL! Besides, he didn't have a chance to play shuffleboard yet. :RpS_bored:

We rolled into Pop Century about 10 a.m. on our arrival day. We were already amazed. I don't think enough can be said for the theming of this place and the detail Disney puts into everything. I'm not a value resort kinda gal. I won't stay anywhere but the Bellagio in Vegas (read: snob). But, I loved it here! I think it's just that it's so different from a hotel anywhere else. I mean, this place oozes Disney magic.

A wonderful CM whose nametag showed she was from a hometown about 20 minutes north of ours checked us in and found a room already available in our preferred 50s wing. Our TA had recommended this because of the laundry faciliteis and pool nearby, but without the noise of the main hall. It was a great room, quiet enough for a nap and still not a terrible walk from the main lobby. But it was a walk. So I decided to wear...my flip-flops. Great idea.

Well, we had planned on arriving in the evening and our TA had dutifully suggested staying at the resort, heading to DtD to do some shopping, or maybe to MK for EMH if we felt up to it. But, we were all checked in by 11 a.m. so...why not head to Magic Kingdom!? (Because it's stupid, that's why. Where oh where was my little Josh on my shoulder?) We were drunk on Disney at this point and I think I probably cried about three times before we even made it through the turnstiles. We were here!!! I have a Photopass pic from in front of the castle and I have the biggest, stupidest grin on my face. Oh, and we're surrounded by four gazillion people. Guess I didn't notice them there?

We started in Tomorrowland, because, I don't know, it was there? Rode Buzz and then, lo and behold, Buzz Lightyear was signing autographs. We got in line. A very hot line. Kids didn't even know what a character autograph was at this point, but I was prepared with fat pens and books and by-golly they were gonna get an autograph. So...second DS had a real problem with characters. He didn't like that he couldn't see their faces. He muddled through it, but wasn't enjoying it at all. That's what every person wants to do, wait in a long, hot line for something they don't want to do.

DH wanted to ride Space Mountain, so he got a FP, because I was schooled in how the FP system worked (or so I thought) but I'd never heard of a single-rider line. We headed to IASW because this was the ride I remembered riding with my parents. We must've waited about an hour. Just thought that was typical. It was so hot that I actually started to get sick. I kept laying my head on the rails as we would pause. There was no air moving in there. By the time we got on the ride, I had a raging migraine. I had no medication on me (who wants to carry a bag) and no water either. Let me just tell you, singing dolls don't do a thing for a headache.

I didn't think I could take anymore and we had a 5 p.m. dinner reservation at Wolfgang Puck. By this time it was probably about 2:30, but we thought we take a break by riding over to DtD in an air-conditioned bus and stroll around there. Headed out of MK looking for the (non-existent) DtD bus and was told by a CM to walk to Contemporary and catch it there. We did. It was hot.

Ok, so finally a little Disney magic comes our way. Waiting at the bus stop at Contemporary and who steps off the bus but a family we go to church with! Imagine, all this way and we run into people we know! They had just come from HS and told us it was crazy there because they were having "something about Star Wars". Hmm, "we love Star Wars" my DH tells them, to which they kindly advised that we hurry up and check it out! Bless their souls!

By this time, I'm pretty sure I'm going to throw up from said migraine/heat and there is no bus in sight. We head inside the Contemporary and ask CM how to get to DtD. CM sends us back to MK, says it's only a short walk. :RpS_mad: Then, gives us option of riding on monorail back to MK. MK sends us back to Contemporary. I slowly go insane.

Somehow, who knows I may have blacked out in there, we made it to DtD. Feeling a little better from the a/c and break, we jump off the first bus stop and hurry (because it's now getting dangerously close to our ADR time) to the other end of DtD for Wolfgang Puck's. It was a great dinner. Or so I hear. I spent it in the ladies' room.

We head back all the way through DtD (not stopping at a single store, mind you) to the first bus stop. On the bus, back to Pop, I decide to pull out the detailed itinerary which our TA had lovingly provided and read "head to Downtown Disney. Get off on the SECOND bus stop."

SECOND. Right next to Wolfgang Puck's.

I went to bed. Figured it was my best option at this point. I think the guys went swimming.

Lessons learned: 1) Follow the dern itinerary! 2) Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Take the water bottles with you. 3) Lots of people go to Disneyworld. It is not your own private vacation.

I gets better from here. Then worse. Then better again. Actual Day One at the parks coming up.


does anybody know how to change this?
Oh man, I really feel for you with the migraine! I can't imagine having one and suffering through It's A Small World. Eeesh.

I'm loving your "what not to do" trip report! You had to suffer through a few mistakes, but by posting a TR about it, think how many people you're keeping from making the same errors!


Active member
Oh Boy! This is great! I can't wait to hear more. Insert some pics if you can. I'd love to share my rookie "on a whim visit to Disneyland on Pres Day" trip but I blacked out for most of it! Keep it coming.


So, we woke up refreshed on Day One (two, really, since we pushed ahead yesterday) and headed out to Epcot. I carefully reviewed the itinerary and carried it with me in my bag stocked with water bottles and necessities (like basic medicines). And, I donned my best ugly tennis shoes. I would not even touch the other sandals I had packed for the rest of the trip.

We arrived at EP early, but not at rope drop. Following the itinerary, we went straight to Soarin' and did Future World before heading up to WS about 11. We loved Soarin'--in fact, it ended up being our favorite ride for the whole trip. My youngest and DH rode Test Track while my eldest and I headed to Character Spot. Line seemed short enough looking through the window. Well played, Disney, well played. It was about an hour wait. So, we took a seat on the bench and watched all the other happy, well-prepared children meet Mickey and Goofy.

After that break we headed to the Seas. The kids really enjoyed playing around in here. We had a noon ADR for Coral Reef. Not our best pick by far, by my youngest son still talks about it and ranks it as his top pick from the vacation.

We mulled around WS a bit, taking in some entertainers and looking in some shops. We didn't ride any rides here, and for my taste didn't get nearly enough time to look around. On my next itinerary, I've tried to build in lots of WS time, not just FutureWorld. We decided to head back for a nap. Best plan ever. We would follow this pattern for the rest of the trip.

We headed back to WS after a long nap and parked ourselves in Mexico for some pretty good CS food and to snag a seat for Illuminations, again per the itinerary. Another Disney moment: first-time viewing Illuminations. It's like no other. Definitely cried here. (But, I'm a cryer if you can't tell.) Checked Facebook while we sat there and saw yet another of our friends was at Epcot with us. They had posted a pic of them buying hats in Mexico. We never did see them in the park, but we had good stories to compare when we got home!

We left with the mob that evening. I get so tense in crowds like that, especially trying to keep us with the kids. I vowed to avoid crowds at all possible expense next time (enter easywdw). Buses at these times were also crazy. Packed to the gills and we usually ended up holding the kids on our laps. We all handled it in good humor, after all we were all in the same boat (or bus, as it were).

Tomorrow, Day Two: Animal Kingdom and first RD.


New member
This is great! I often wonder what the crowd calendars looked like the 5 days of our first trip, pre-Josh! Based on what we encountered, I can only imagine we were at every non-rec'd park every single day!!


does anybody know how to change this?
We decided to head back for a nap. Best plan ever. We would follow this pattern for the rest of the trip.
You are very smart, see, you're already doing not-them kinds of things on your first(second) day!


Netflix queue currently at 3,912 - all Disney rela
Great report! I think many of us had a not great first trip followed by a much better second one! Our honeymoon in WDW was like that, our trip with our kids was MUCH better. But at least on our honeymoon we were just two adults and could suck it up, with kids in tow would be much harder. :)


Well-known member
This is great! Our first trip was our honeymoon, and we had a reservation at CBR and nothing else as far as a plan. I didn't like it all. Much better with a plan!


New member
This is interesting, because I was just wondering how many people making their 2nd or more trip do NOT do online research because they figure they learned what the need to know the first time. Clearly you figured out that there is more to know.

I also think it's a bad sign when you see people you know in WDW. It just means there are way too many people there!


Day "Two" - AK

So we headed out for RD, not by plan, but by accident. We were mildly amused by being one of the first in line and if I remember correctly there was a little bit of a show with Safari Mickey and Minnie. By this time we were coming to expect a little awe and wonder everywhere we went. I will say that there really is only one first time for all things Disney. As we would continue to find out, magical moments happen all the time and are sometimes even better when experienced without planning for them. The magical feeling of just wandering into the special happenings is really unmatched.

We were determined to head for the stroller rentals today, though. And I again was more than a little uncomfortable with the hoardes of people to work through. At least I had figured out that it was indeed crowded at the end of May. We snagged a stroller and wheeled the little guys around all day. Looking back, I should've realized something was amiss by this point, because both of my boys are usually fit for a day of waking, but they were spent already. But, I had not a clue of the impending doom... (overly dramatic?)

We headed to KS per the trusty itinerary and rode with a 20 minute wait. We all really enjoyed the guide's "show" with the poachers. I understand this part of the ride is no more? Disappointing.

EE we guessed would be too much for the kids, so we skipped that and headed over to DINOSAUR. They'd been really looking forward to this one, as dinosaurs are one of their favorite things. No princesses for us. :( I really regret not buying the photopass pic for this. It really told the story of our ride. DH was grinning ear-to-ear, having the time of his life. DS8, sitting next to him, has his face buried in his hands and I think if he could've gotten into the fetal position he would have. I'm sitting in between him and DS5, who has his face buried in me and is holding on for dear life. I'm trying desperately to soothe either of them and failing on both sides. I think that was a really cool ride, not that I actually saw any of it. DS5 jumps off the ride at the end and screams, "That was the worst ride ever!" loud enough to scare all little children waiting for the ride. Oops. Anyway, I thought the pic was hilarious! Yep, I'm that mom.

We took a break at the first CS we found, Pizzafari, and had some truly nasty breakfast. Sticky eggs, dry biscuit. We choked it down and I believe it was here we decided we would be TS people on our next trip. If I'm gonna pay that much for a meal, I'd rather go all the way and have better service and better food. Of course, in hindsight and after much review of eateries here, I now know there are much better CS locations.

At this point we were already thinking about leaving the park early. A late night last night and rough beginning to the trip were taking their toll on all of us, and this park is so vast, and the Florida heat so intense, we just weren't feeling it. We wrapped things up at Lion King, and definitely ended on a high note. The show was one of the highlights of the trip.

We jetted out of there about noon, right after passing Flame Tree BBQ. Really...that's CS?? Rookie mistake.
We had an ADR that night, though for the life of me I can't remember where. Maybe we skipped it? Must not have been impressive anyway. What I do remember from the evening was one of the best experiences of the trip, and completely unplanned (of course).

Coming up... EMH at MK


Thanks for reading, and for the encouraging comments! I did try to post pictures, but I get the message that all my pics are over the 97.7 MB limit ?? Alas, looks like I'm a rookie at this, too.


After a long nap and a swim in the bowling pin pool (again, theming is wonderful), we were feeling quite refreshed and decided to try out the EMH at MK running from 11-2. This was quite adventurous for us. We are morning people. We do well to see 10 p.m. at home. But after that nap, there was no turning in early. We had park hoppers so we figured we might as well use them and get a head start on our MK day tomorrow.

Shortly after 11, it seemed everyone had cleared out of the park. We rode all the rides we wanted to with absolutely no wait, including JC, PoTC, HM—all favorites from DH and my childhood—Dumbo and Tea Cups over and over and over (darn kids!). There in Fantasyland, we looked up and caught…wait for it…fireworks! Who knew there were fireworks in Magic Kingdom! Ok, I know how naïve that sounds, but it was truly amazing to be surprised by Wishes. Sure, we’ll be the ones staking out the best viewing spot this year, but to experience Disney magic spontaneously like that, I just can’t tell you how amazing it was. And yes, I cried.

I probably have the sequence of events out of order here, but we also magically happened upon the castle picture show. We paused for the Photopass picture in front of the castle, having no idea it was about to “come to life” as my kids said. The photographer actually captured several images of us before he told us to look at the show. I was blubbering again.

This is the only Photopass I opted to download after the trip. Of course, I had no idea you could pre-purchase a Photopass CD, and each picture is like 15 bucks afterwards. They were all great, but that’s a lot of money POST vacation. Another rookie mistake—I purchased the download within the timeframe, but failed to actually go into my email and download the picture within a month. Without reading the fine print, I didn’t realize my rights to that picture would automatically expire within 30 days. So now I had purchased a really expensive picture, and I don’t even have a print to show for it. This year, I’m pre-purchasing the CD.

We stayed nearly to 2 a.m. Our kids were wide awake the whole time. We hit a lot of what we wanted to do in MK, including the few rides we got to the other day, and we were set for a sleep-in day and late start in MK tomorrow. Sounds like a great “plan”, huh?


does anybody know how to change this?
You have a couple of choices with pics. First, you can resize (and save copies) your photos to be small enough to fit the size limit using photo editing software. Second, you can upload your photos to an online service like imgur or photobucket (have the host size your photos to no more than 1000px wide, I like 800pixels for use on the forums) and then post them here by doing this:

1. navigate to the image you want to post (open a separate tab, keep EasyWDW forums open also)

2. This step depends on where your image is hosted. Places like imgur and photobucket will have a list of options below your photo, copy the html tag for that specific photo. It will look like this http: //farm3.staticflickr.com/2071/2270036116_e4a508ea02_b. jpg (whatever it says, the ending has to be .jpg, if it's not, you're grabbing the wrong link).

2a. If you are using Flickr, it won't show the html tag, but you can access it by right clicking on the photo, selecting a size, then right clicking on the image that shows up and choosing "Copy Image Location" (if you are using Firefox), or "Copy Image URL" (if you are using Chrome)

3. Come back here and right click in the reply box, choose "Paste", this will paste your image location: http: //farm3.staticflickr.com/2071/2270036116_e4a508ea02_b. jpg

4. Now we need to turn it in to a photo instead of a link. Type
after the link. It should look like this: [img ]http: //farm3.staticflickr.com/2071/2270036116_e4a508ea02_b. jpg[/img ] (without the spaces after "img")

The picture will now show up in your post:

You can check to see if things are working properly by clicking the "Go Advanced" button at the bottom of the reply box, from there you can type up your reply and then click "preview post".

You can test this here by simply right clicking on the percheron pic above, select "Copy Image Location" (if you are using Firefox), or "Copy Image URL" (if you are using Chrome), right click in the reply box, choose Paste, add the


Ok, these aren't the quality photos I've seen around here, but here goes. I'll let this one be my test photo post. This is the first shot I took on our extra day one. I couldn't get the shot I wanted because all these people kept getting in the way. Hmmm...


New member
That's a cute pic! As nice as that setup is for a photo, it's in a terrible location! Super sunny and everyone scrambling to enter the parks and get a similar shot! I've seen so many "squinty" pics from this wall :) But it has to be done!