OT: Disney World

tom1944

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Wife and daughter want a trip to DW for granddaughter the summer after she turns 5.

Not my idea of a vacation but I realize it will have to happen

For all you Disney people what do you recommend

where to stay
How many days
What parks
Any other recommendations

Base it on what you have to do for a 5 year old

Thanks
 

brgRC90

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I would recommend staying at a hotel just off site. Disney prices are insanely high and reservations hard to get. For a fraction of the price you can stay in hotels, suites or apartments that are very nice and very close. I stayed at Hilton Tuscany Village in April 2021 for less than $100 night and it had a livingroom, balcony, kitchen, bathroom with separate tub and shower, bedroom and washer/dryer, with a supermarket literally across the street. It's beautiful and is exactly like the pictures. Freddy's right across the street was also good and affordable with large portions.

The Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom seem like the best parks for kids, EPCOT much less so.
 
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tom1944

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I would recommend staying at a hotel just off site. Disney prices are insanely high and reservations hard to get. For a fraction of the price you can stay in hotels, suites or apartments that are very nice and very close. I stayed at Hilton Tuscany Village in April 2021 for less than $100 night and it had a livingroom, balcony, kitchen, bathroom with separate tub and shower, bedroom and washer/dryer, with a supermarket literally across the street. It's beautiful and is exactly like the pictures. Freddy's right across the street was also good and affordable with large portions.

The Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom seem like the best parks for kids, EPCOT much less so.
We are staying in the park for sure

Cost will not matter
 

Luvscarletknights

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Loved staying at Wilderness Lodge. It is a lower priced deluxe hotel within the main park system. You can take the boat everywhere. My kids were 10 and 6 at the time and that was 2009.

We also stayed at Carribean Beach resort (Moderate Resort) when they were 6 and 2 and I drove to parks or you take a bus because you are further away.

You need to figure out what the 5 year old can handle.

If they still have all inclusive dining I recommend. You need to make reservations. The key is you can then schedule your day based on eating and it helps sitting and relaxing with the kids. When you factor in costs of Hamburgers/Hot Dogs/Chicken Nuggets you get to sit and eat better food for a little bit more.

 
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brgRC90

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We are staying in the park for sure

Cost will not matter
In that case, make reservations well in advance--like now. Rooms fill up like you can't believe. Restaurant reservations, if you can get them, also need to be made well in advance. I think you can make them sooner if you're staying at a Disney resort, 90 days ahead. If you stay at one of their hotels you also get free shuttle from the airport and you get to enter a different park early each day. I recommend going early if you don't mind waking up. You can go to some of the more popular rides early and then be more leisurely the rest of the day.
 
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Scarlet_Monster

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In that case, make reservations well in advance--like now. Rooms fill up like you can't believe. Restaurant reservations, if you can get them, also need to be made well in advance. I think you can make them sooner if you're staying at a Disney resort, 90 days ahead. If you stay at one of their hotels you also get free shuttle from the airport and you get to enter a different park early each day. I recommend going early if you don't mind waking up. You can go to some of the more popular rides early and then be more leisurely the rest of the day.
Since the Pandemic, dining reservations can be made 60+10 days out from check in versus the old 180 days.

Also Disney no longer offers the free Magical Express service from MCO to WDW.
 
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yesrutgers01

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I haven't done the resorts there in quite a while as I have a timeshare just a few minutes away. But, I do have what may be some great advice

For a 5 y/o and then a 10-12 y/o - Disney is completely 2 different places.

5 y/o- all about Castle, characters, parade, etc- just pure fantasy. Love it and enjoy it! Take all pressures and stresses out of your life, as much of what they love, would bore you normally, if not for their pleasure! But this is where they will see you as grandparents that are part of their greatest memories and maybe some of the only memories they keep at this age.

But then, plan on the next trip- 5 years later...for a 10+ - a "whole new world" - and even more fun for you.

All kids, if possible- should go twice.

Just need to mortgage the house. lol
 

brgRC90

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Since the Pandemic, dining reservations can be made 60+10 days out from check in versus the old 180 days.

Also Disney no longer offers the free Magical Express service from MCO to WDW.
Disney is raising prices and cutting back on services everywhere. They don't even let people with the Disability Access Services pass go on unlimited rides anymore. In any event, the general rule is to plan far in advance, as far as possible, especially if you want a specific room. Six months ahead might be too late.
 

knightfan2000

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Just went in August. Villas at Wilderness Lodge are great (Copper Creek and Boulder Ridge) with easy boat transportation to the Magic Kingdom. We actually had the most fun at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios with a 3 year old and 5 year old but there is plenty to do at Epcot as well. Only spent 1/2 day at Animal Kingdom. We had 6 total days in the parks. It was expensive, especially purchasing many water bottles per day due to the heat, but a great time. Recommend a character breakfast (we went to Contemporary). The Genie pass system is a pain and expensive but if going during a busy time almost essential.
 

NickRU714

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Took 4yo and 5yo in Nov a year ago.

Bring a stroller.
Much easier to walk with them contained and not slowing everyone down.

If cost no expense - we stayed at Grand Floridian on the monorail.
Our room faced the lake. We were able to watch Magic Kingdom fireworks every night back at the room.
People also stood outside to watch from the hotel grounds.

It was a great little treat to end the night.
 

Scarlet_Monster

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Disney is raising prices and cutting back on services everywhere. They don't even let people with the Disability Access Services pass go on unlimited rides anymore. In any event, the general rule is to plan far in advance, as far as possible, especially if you want a specific room. Six months ahead might be too late.
People took advantage of that. The current solution is much more fairer...just because you have a disability it shouldn't get you to the front of the line. Now with the DAS Pass they give you a return time and you go through the expedited queue when your time is ready.

Also you don't need to book super far in advance unless you are using DVC. We just booked a stay for January 2023 and there was a bevy of options available. We're trying Gran Destino Tower this trip.
 

brgRC90

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People took advantage of that. The current solution is much more fairer...just because you have a disability it shouldn't get you to the front of the line. Now with the DAS Pass they give you a return time and you go through the expedited queue when your time is ready.
It was always that way but you had no limit to rides. I had a DAS pass 3 years ago and saw very few people using them.
 

tom1944

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Just went in August. Villas at Wilderness Lodge are great (Copper Creek and Boulder Ridge) with easy boat transportation to the Magic Kingdom. We actually had the most fun at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios with a 3 year old and 5 year old but there is plenty to do at Epcot as well. Only spent 1/2 day at Animal Kingdom. We had 6 total days in the parks. It was expensive, especially purchasing many water bottles per day due to the heat, but a great time. Recommend a character breakfast (we went to Contemporary). The Genie pass system is a pain and expensive but if going during a busy time almost essential.
I was told that with a 5 year old plan on Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios as the main parks to visit.

I planned to stay at the Contemporary because it is the closest to MK. Would switching hotels after a few days make sense and stay at a hotel closest to Hollywood Studios

Also is 5 days long enough?

Is the boat to the resorts better or as good as being able to walk into the parks from certain hotels?
 
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Scarlet_Monster

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It was always that way but you had no limit to rides. I had a DAS pass 3 years ago and saw very few people using them.
Disney had to crack down on people using the DAS pass as an unofficial VIP Tour Guide. There were people who had a valid DAS pass and then they would sell their "service" to guests since the DAS holder could have I think up to 5 additional guests with them.
 

Scarlet_Monster

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I was told that with a 5 year old plan on Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios as the main parks to visit.

I planned to stay at the Contemporary because it is the closest to MK. Would switching hotels after a few days make sense and stay at a hotel closest to Hollywood Studios

Also is 5 days long enough?

Is the boat to the resorts better or as good as being able to walk into the parks from certain hotels?
The closest hotel to the Studios would be Swan or Dolphin and then the Boardwalk there is a walking path from those hotels to the Studios if you wanted to hoof it for rope drop otherwise there is boat service to there from those hotels.
 

applesktrack

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Budget is a big factor in Disney. Value hotels are 200 ish a night and deluxe hotels are 700+ a night.
 

NickRU714

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We were a group of 10
Us: 2 plus 4yo and 5yo
Sister in Law: 2 plus 9yo and 7yo
Wife's parents: 2 with bad knees so they rented scooters........

We planned for 5 full days on site.
Stayed at Grand Floridian (on the monorail to MK)
Able to see MK fireworks every night from the resort so no need to stay late in the parks

Day 1 - arrive, no park

Day 2 - Magic Kingdom

Day 3 - Hollywood Studios

Day 4 - rest/pool day/character dinner at Contemporary (on Monorial as well)

Day 5 - Universal Studios (Harry Potter!!!)

Day 6 - Islands of Adventure (didn't end up going because everyone else was annoyed with how far and Day 5 was a late night. Our family of 4 wanted to go but we stayed with the group and just ate then tickets).
Note - tickets we paid for in advance for everyone - not sure we ever got fully paid back......

We went to Downtown Disney to shop and it rained

Day 7 - left
 

T2Kplus20

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We are staying in the park for sure

Cost will not matter
Good move. For WDW, you get what you pay for. Time is money and the logistics are very important. Stay on property and close to the Magic Kingdom! The last thing you want to do is have a tired cranky child when you leave a park only to have a 30-45 minute journey back to your hotel room/villa.
 

T2Kplus20

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Wife and daughter want a trip to DW for granddaughter the summer after she turns 5.

Not my idea of a vacation but I realize it will have to happen

For all you Disney people what do you recommend

where to stay
How many days
What parks
Any other recommendations

Base it on what you have to do for a 5 year old

Thanks
Wow, tough to answer without some more info, but here is some general advice:

- Younger children are normally most interested in the Magic Kingdom, as such, plan your accommodations wisely. As in, think about the logistics. Spend more money to be close to the park (even if you reduce the trip by a day or two).
- Look into the resorts on the monorail and also Wilderness Lodge (which has a direct boat to MK). We personally stay at Bay Lake Tower, which is the villa building of the Contemporary Resort. Best location! Very child friend pool and water area.
- Plan to stay 5-7 nights
- DO NOT TRY TO DO EVERYTHING! WDW is way too big and it would be way too hectic to check all boxes.
- Remember, you are only as strong as your WEAKEST LINK. Which means, don't push the 5-year old too much. If she starts a downward spiral in a park, you are all going down too! LOL.
- Plan to spend the majority of your time at the Magic Kingdom, especially if your granddaughter is a "repeater". As in, if she likes a ride, she wants to do it again and again. My daughter is like this.
- The second park recommendation should be based on her interests. Does she like animals? Then go to Animal Kingdom. If she is into Star Wars (probably not) or Toy Story, perhaps Hollywood Studios is best. If she would like to see national pavilions and shows, then Epcot!
- At 5 years old, there are some rides she won't be tall enough for. Check on this.
- Plan for downtime during the midday. We all need some rest, especially kids.
- Is your granddaughter a waterbug? If yes, try Typhon Lagoon. Best water park!

I can type a lot more, but let me close with this. Planning for WDW is a serious matter. You can't wing it. You need to book a hotel reservation, link it to your online account, then buy park tickets, make park reservations, make dinner reservations 60 days out, and figure out the new Genie+ app for booking Lighting Lane passes (or you get stuck in standby). Lots to learn! :)

But yes, it is worth the effort. Your little GD will love it.
 

NickRU714

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Good move. For WDW, you get what you pay for. Time is money and the logistics are very important. Stay on property and close to the Magic Kingdom! The last thing you want to do is have a tired cranky child when you leave a park only to have a 30-45 minute journey back to your hotel room/villa.

This was our problem with attempting Universal.

Our family was fine with the late night and late travel back to WDW.

But rest of group (both young and old people) are annoyed and hungry and frankly PITA.

Wife and I decided that next time we are doing WDW/Universal just our family leave the others behind.
 

T2Kplus20

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I was told that with a 5 year old plan on Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios as the main parks to visit.

I planned to stay at the Contemporary because it is the closest to MK. Would switching hotels after a few days make sense and stay at a hotel closest to Hollywood Studios

Also is 5 days long enough?

Is the boat to the resorts better or as good as being able to walk into the parks from certain hotels?
For all the effort it takes to do a WDW vacation, you should try to book for 6 or 7 days. Plenty to do. As per my post above, we always stay at Bay Lake Tower since our little one came along (already 7 trips to WDW with her). This is the villa building right next to the Contemporary and it's awesome. Literally a 5-7 minute walk to the front of MK. Can't beat this!
 
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RUref

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I'd suggest the Polynesian, Club level. When you return to the grounds of the Polynesian, after an over-stimulated day in the parks, it's a welcome respite. It's quiet, and dark, with a cool Pacific Island vibe. With Club level, there is a lounge with breakfast, a half hearted lunch, a dinner, then drinks and snacks in the evening. All contained in the same building where you are staying. Young kids really enjoy simply walking down the hall, to get a bite to eat. Gives them (and you) a certain VIP feel. The beach is perfect for viewing the fireworks and the water pageant. You're right on the monorail, as well as a boat that triangles from Polynesian to Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom. Not cheap, but well worth it. You are fully immersed in the experience with none of the driving/parking hassles that anyone offsite experiences.
 

T2Kplus20

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This was our problem with attempting Universal.

Our family was fine with the late night and late travel back to WDW.

But rest of group (both young and old people) are annoyed and hungry and frankly PITA.

Wife and I decided that next time we are doing WDW/Universal just our family leave the others behind.
+1
Most people only think about the logistics of going to the park.....but not leaving! After a long day when everyone is tired, logistics are the very important! :)
 

tom1944

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Younger children are normally most interested in the Magic Kingdom, as such, plan your accommodations wisely.
Thinking Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios

As in, think about the logistics. Spend more money to be close to the park (even if you reduce the trip by a day or two).
Yes I want to know which hotels are closest
Is 5 days enough time
When I was a kid my parents stayed close and we went to the park in the morning. Came back to the hotel and pool for a few hours and if we wanted to we went back to the park at night. Staying close made that easy



- Look into the resorts on the monorail and also Wilderness Lodge (which has a direct boat to MK). We personally stay at Bay Lake Tower, which is the villa building of the Contemporary Resort. Best location! Very child friend pool and water area.
I think for us the Contemporary seems to make the most sense at least for a few days
Does it make sense to switch hotels to get close to the 2nd park we plan to go to?


- Plan to stay 5-7 nights
Thanks. Makes sense


- DO NOT TRY TO DO EVERYTHING! WDW is way too big and it would be way too hectic to check all boxes.
- Remember, you are only as strong as your WEAKEST LINK. Which means, don't push the 5-year old too much. If she starts a downward spiral in a park, you are all going down too! LOL.
That is why I want to be close so we can take her back to the room if needed to nap or at least relax

- Plan to spend the majority of your time at the Magic Kingdom, especially if your granddaughter is a "repeater". As in, if she likes a ride, she wants to do it again and again. My daughter is like this.
- The second park recommendation should be based on her interests. Does she like animals? Then go to Animal Kingdom. If she is into Star Wars (probably not) or Toy Story, perhaps Hollywood Studios is best. If she would like to see national pavilions and shows, then Epcot!
My initial thought is plan on 2 parks and a water park at most

- At 5 years old, there are some rides she won't be tall enough for. Check on this.
I believe this is how we determine what the second park will be
- Plan for downtime during the midday. We all need some rest, especially kids.
Absolutely
- Is your granddaughter a waterbug? If yes, try Typhon Lagoon. Best water park!
Thanks for that recommendation
 

T2Kplus20

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I'd suggest the Polynesian, Club level. When you return to the grounds of the Polynesian, after an over-stimulated day in the parks, it's a welcome respite. It's quiet, and dark, with a cool Pacific Island vibe. With Club level, there is a lounge with breakfast, a half hearted lunch, a dinner, then drinks and snacks in the evening. All contained in the same building where you are staying. Young kids really enjoy simply walking down the hall, to get a bite to eat. Gives them (and you) a certain VIP feel. The beach is perfect for viewing the fireworks and the water pageant. You're right on the monorail, as well as a boat that triangles from Polynesian to Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom. Not cheap, but well worth it. You are fully immersed in the experience with none of the driving/parking hassles that anyone offsite experiences.
I grew up going to the Poly. My family did WDW every other summer from when I was 2 thru 20! Love the place, but we now like to book 1BR or 2BR villas and the Poly doesn't have these rooms.

Even though the Poly is awesome, this resort is to be avoided for now. There is MAJOR construction going on. They cleared land for the construction of a new DVC building.

 

T2Kplus20

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Younger children are normally most interested in the Magic Kingdom, as such, plan your accommodations wisely.
Thinking Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios

As in, think about the logistics. Spend more money to be close to the park (even if you reduce the trip by a day or two).
Yes I want to know which hotels are closest
Is 5 days enough time
When I was a kid my parents stayed close and we went to the park in the morning. Came back to the hotel and pool for a few hours and if we wanted to we went back to the park at night. Staying close made that easy



- Look into the resorts on the monorail and also Wilderness Lodge (which has a direct boat to MK). We personally stay at Bay Lake Tower, which is the villa building of the Contemporary Resort. Best location! Very child friend pool and water area.
I think for us the Contemporary seems to make the most sense at least for a few days
Does it make sense to switch hotels to get close to the 2nd park we plan to go to?


- Plan to stay 5-7 nights
Thanks. Makes sense


- DO NOT TRY TO DO EVERYTHING! WDW is way too big and it would be way too hectic to check all boxes.
- Remember, you are only as strong as your WEAKEST LINK. Which means, don't push the 5-year old too much. If she starts a downward spiral in a park, you are all going down too! LOL.
That is why I want to be close so we can take her back to the room if needed to nap or at least relax

- Plan to spend the majority of your time at the Magic Kingdom, especially if your granddaughter is a "repeater". As in, if she likes a ride, she wants to do it again and again. My daughter is like this.
- The second park recommendation should be based on her interests. Does she like animals? Then go to Animal Kingdom. If she is into Star Wars (probably not) or Toy Story, perhaps Hollywood Studios is best. If she would like to see national pavilions and shows, then Epcot!
My initial thought is plan on 2 parks and a water park at most

- At 5 years old, there are some rides she won't be tall enough for. Check on this.
I believe this is how we determine what the second park will be
- Plan for downtime during the midday. We all need some rest, especially kids.
Absolutely
- Is your granddaughter a waterbug? If yes, try Typhon Lagoon. Best water park!
Thanks for that recommendation
Good stuff! Speaking of little ones, gotta help with bed-time. I'll reply later tonight. :)
 

Scarlet_Monster

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I grew up going to the Poly. My family did WDW every other summer from when I was 2 thru 20! Love the place, but we now like to book 1BR or 2BR villas and the Poly doesn't have these rooms.

Even though the Poly is awesome, this resort is to be avoided for now. There is MAJOR construction going on. They cleared land for the construction of a new DVC building.

That construction is all off to one side of the resort near where the Luau Cove was, the bulk of the resort and it's amenities will not be a construction zone.
 

T2Kplus20

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That construction is all off to one side of the resort near where the Luau Cove was, the bulk of the resort and it's amenities will not be a construction zone.
While true, 3 of the Poly longhouses are on that side of the resort and adjacent to the construction. Even if you book the club longhouse or a DVC room, it's still going to impact the stay and ambiance. I bet you will hear the construction from the main pool area. No doubt.
 

tom1944

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We will not be going until the end of August 2024.

So it will be hot

My daughter is a teacher so we need to book around that

I am told the last 2 weeks of August are basically people from NJ and NY because all the people from the south are back to school

Crowds are supposedly reasonable
 

Scarlet_Monster

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While true, 3 of the Poly longhouses are on that side of the resort and adjacent to the construction. Even if you book the club longhouse or a DVC room, it's still going to impact the stay and ambiance. I bet you will hear the construction from the main pool area. No doubt.
It might impact it, but it's nowhere as bad as when they were rebuilding the lobby, transitioning a few long houses to DVC, when they redid the one pool or the when they built the bungalows.

Plus Disney is usually pretty good only doing construction during the day when most people are at the parks.
 

Scarlet_Monster

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We will not be going until the end of August 2024.

So it will be hot

My daughter is a teacher so we need to book around that

I am told the last 2 weeks of August are basically people from NJ and NY because all the people from the south are back to school

Crowds are supposedly reasonable
End of August is pretty slow, the week after Labor Day is even slower.

It will be hot, extremely humid, and peak hurricane season.
 

RUBOB72

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Both my kids are teachers in LI… so that could have presented an issue but fortunately it did not. September there was much less crowded this year .
 

RutgersLifeR

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A lot of good advice in this thread. We take our kids to Disney at least once a year. Two periods with very low crowds are early February and the last two weeks of August. You'll appreciate the lower crowd volume when you visit in August.

Don't worry so much about the heat during that time. If you plan indoor dining and make reservations spaced out right for lunch and dinner, that's a big plus as you can enjoy the AC and some nice quality meals. It sounds like you're doing Hollywood Studios. We always try to eat at Brown Derby and 50s Prime Time at that park. Nice places to have a meal with your family. Baseline Taphouse is another nice place for drinks and appetizers at Hollywood Studios.

I'll be honest and say the sit down restaurants at MK are not on par with Hollywood Studios or Epcot but your grandchild may like Be Our Guest -- the atmosphere and meeting characters is what you're paying for here. The food itself is nothing spectacular.

I'll throw one option to think about if you want to also spend some time at a resort near Hollywood Studios. I would highly recommend Beach or Yacht Club. They share a pool that is the best on Disney property for kids. If you want to use the resort for its pool, dining options, and proximity to all of the Disney Boardwalk options for dining, this place is perfect. It's about a 10 minute walk too to Epcot and around 20 minutes by foot to Hollywood Studios. As others said, the logistics of getting to the park and back to your room is important. My 6 and 10 year old kids don't mind the walk. If you have folks with any disabilities you can also opt to take a ferry from the resort to either park. Overall, for Disney standards, it's a good deluxe resort and its pool is just the best for younger kids.

You'll need to have someone in your group do a lot of planning. At least you have ample time to plan but try to do everything as early as you can with all the various reservations. Good luck and have fun.
 

RUBOB72

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And if you are going in August 2024 we will probably be there as well. Lots of NY /NJ people before school begins.