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  • We will be at Disney for 8 days in early Feb with boys ages 5 & 7. We have been several times in the last few years, but this will be our longest trip. Can you recommend some "off the beaten path" activities that we may not have experienced i
  • - Asked by Allison from Alabama on 12/28/2011
  • Hi Allison!

    Our boys are just about the same ages as yours, and we tried something new for the first time on our last trip...The Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage!  You start off at Disney's Contemporary Resort to check-in and receive your official pirate bandanas, and then meet your hosts for the evening as well as Captain Hook and Mr. Smee!  Then you feast on goodies, snacks and CAKE until it is time for your voyage to depart.  Once on the boat, your wonderful hosts engage the guests in celebrations, and trivia (with PRIZES!).  There also may be some singing, and dancing as well!  Then, you get an amazing view of the fireworks, and it's back to the dock for a surprise encounter with Peter Pan!  It was a wonderful evening, and something my boys still talk about!

    Have a magical vacation!
    Amanda


  • Hi there! I will piggy-back off Amanda P's earlier answer and add that a visit to the Pirates League inside the Magic Kingdom, prior to sailing on the Pirate and Pals Fireworks Cruise, would make your boys feel as though they have just joined Jack Sparrow's crew AND might result in some extra attention by "Patch", your comical pirate host!

    Details can be found at this link to the Walt Disney World website.

    Bon Voyage Ye Landlubbers!


  • A trip to Downtown Disney is always a hit with my son! Boys will find lots of fun activities there:

    • If your sons like video games, DisneyQuest is not to be missed. This indoor interactive theme park is filled with virtual-reality rides and games. Your boys will love CyberSpace Mountain, where they can design their own roller coaster and then take a ride on it, the virtual Pirates of the Caribbean, where they'll fire cannons aboard a pirate ship, and the Animation Academy, where they can learn to draw Disney characters!
    • Also consider visiting the Ridemakerz shop inside Team Mickey, where your sons can build their own remote-controlled race cars, and the Lego store, where they can gaze at amazing giant Lego creations and build a few of their own. (I think my husband has as much fun as my sons at these shops!)
    • Finally, take a ride on Characters-in-Flight. This giant tethered balloon soars 400 feet above Downtown Disney and offers a thrilling view of Disney World.
    Wishing you a magical February vacation!


  • Hi, Allison!

    We've traveled to Walt Disney World when our son was both of those ages, too, as well with another family whose son was just a year younger.

    Along with the other great tips offered by the other panelists above, I also recommend spending some time at the interactive exhibits offered at Innoventions, at EPCOT.  A link to Innoventions at Epcot can be found by clicking here.  The boys also love the interactive play area recently added to the Spaceship Earth Pavilion entitled "Project Tomorrow: Inventing the Wonders of the Future." You can check out some of these activities by clicking this link to Spaceship Earth's webpage.

    Whatever you find, I'm sure that you and your boys will have a magical 8 days!  Have fun!


  • Hi Allison!

    I know you are excited about your upcoming trip to the Happiest Place on Earth! My family was lucky enough to visit for eight days when my daughter was five, and we chose to rent the Sea Raycer boats at The Grand Floridian Resort.  They are small, motorized watercraft that are available to rent for up to an hour. The boats have side by side seating for two, and lifejackets are provided for your safety. The age requirement for driving is 12, but I am sure your boys won't mind being the first mates!  Patrol boats are cruising the area to make sure everyone is safe and sound while boating!  These boats are available at other locations throughout the Disney World Resort, but we loved being able to zip around the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.  The scenery is breathtaking, and it offers a great opportunity for unique photo ops so don't forget your camera.

    Please call (407) WDW-PLAY or visit  Disney World Recreation for more information on the specific rental locations.

    Have a magical time,

    Nancy


  • Hi Allison!

    We love visiting the Walt Disney World Resort in February. It is such a wonderful time for weather and crowds!  I understand wanting some recommendations for different activities and experiences for you and your family. As soon as I read your question two different experiences popped into my mind.  

    The first is an attraction/experience at Disney's Animal Kingdom: Rafiki's Planet Watch. Since Rafiki's Planet Watch is tucked in a back corner of the park just beyond Kilimanjaro Safaris it is often overlooked. This is the home to The Wildlife Express Train, Affection Section, and Conservation Station. All of these attractions offer wonderful, interactive experiences for kids of all ages (both young and not so young!) There are a variety of Character Meet and Greet Experiences and live animal experiences. The best part of Rafiki's Planet Watch is that it is included in your theme park admission to Disney's Animal Kingdom!

    The next activity I would recommend is not located at a theme park, but at the resorts. Occasionally our family loves to go resort hopping. We love getting to see all the different resorts on property and how they are all themed so wonderfully and different. Each resort tells such an awesome story and we love experiencing their stories when we visit the different resorts. It also give us an opportunity to sometimes dine at different resort restaurants that we normally wouldn't be able to experience.  

    I hope these are a couple of things that you and your family will be able to experience during your upcoming trip in February!  

    Have a magical trip!

    Scott


  • Greetings Allison!!

    There are so many great suggestions listed above!  Extended Walt Disney World Resort vacations are our favorite because there is so much to do and see outside of the parks!  One of my favorite things to do is visit the Fort Wilderness Resort and attend Chip n' Dale's Campfire Sing-a-long.

    It's free and open to everyone!  There will two large campfires, perfect for roasting marshmallows for s'mores (or even hot dogs if you choose). You can either bring your own s'mores fixin's or purchase a kit for a small fee.   You'll sing songs and, on most nights, Chip n' Dale will make an appearance!  After the campfire ends, cozy up under the stars and watch a  Disney film.  I suggest bringing a blanket or two so you can snuggle up and keep warm!  

    The Chuckwagon sells the s'mores kits as well as other light snacks and beverages.

    All of this is weather permitting.  Just give the folks over at Fort Wilderness a call to confirm event times earlier in the day.

    Have a most magical vacation and enjoy taking the time to explore the hidden treasures of Walt Disney World Resort! 


  • Hi Allison!

    Something we always do whenever we visit Walt Disney World is to book a Character meal at Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort (4th floor).  This could be either breakfast (7.00 am -  11.30 am) or dinner (5.00 pm - 9.30 pm), and usually features Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Minnie Mouse and Pluto, although characters are subject to change without notice.  I would definitely recommend making an advance dining reservation as this is very popular.  You can either call (407) WDW-DINE, (407) 939-3463, or make your reservation online by clicking here Dining reservations.  If you are staying on-property, you may be using the Disney Dining Plan, and Chef Mickey's is included on this plan.  Following this your boys might like to experience the Contemporary's large high-tech game room, which is also located on the 4th floor. 

    Afterwards, something we like to do is board the monorail at the Contemporary Resort and take the circular route around Seven Seas Lagoon - this stops at the Transportation and Ticketing Center, Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and the Magic Kingdom, then returns to the Contemporary Resort.  This is a cool little trip, and gives you beautiful views across Seven Seas Lagoon at all the resorts, and the Magic Kingdom.

    If you are here in the evening, and your boys still have plenty of energy, you could end your day by watching the Electricial Water Pageant which stops at the Contemporary Resort on Seven Seas Lagoon/Bay Lake at 10.10 pm, weather permitting.

    I hope you all have a magical vacation!


  • Hi Allison,

    My husband and I have been traveling to Walt Disney World with our son since he was five and we always make a point to experience some of Disney's "off the beaten path" activities while on vacation. 

    One of my son's favorite Disney memories was the time we rented bicycles at Teton Boat & Bike Rentals at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.  We followed the beautiful, safe, and quiet path that runs between Disney's Wilderness Lodge and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.  At the campground, we took time to visit with the horses at Tri-Circle-D Ranch and then we stopped for snacks at the Meadow Trading Post.  It was a lovely, low cost afternoon.  If you've got two enthusiastic boys with energy to burn, this is a great activity!  You can rent bikes for your family any time between 8 am and 5 pm daily.  No reservations are necessary.

    If you return to Teton Boat & Bike Rentals by early afternoon, there's still time to take your boys out on a fishing expedition from the dock at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.  My husband and son went on one of these excursions when my son was eight.  You should have seen the wide grin on his face as he hoisted several large mouth bass from Seven Seas Lagoon!  These catch-and-release fishing expeditions can be booked by calling (407) WDW-BASS.

    Best wishes to you as you plan your magical Disney adventure in February!

    Jill


  • Hi Allison,
    How exciting that you will be visiting Walt Disney World in just a few short weeks! We have also been fortunate enough to have extended trips to Walt Disney World and there are so many exciting things to experience outside of the parks.  One of our favorite places to visit is the Epcot resort area.  We love to spend an evening in this area as there is so much to see and experience.  One of our favorite restaurants on all of Disney property is Beaches and Cream over at the Beach Club resort.  They do not take advance dining reservations at this dining location, but we usually have no problem getting in quickly.  To ensure a shorter wait, we try to arrive before the dinner rush. You can check out the menu on allearsnet!  A "must do" is to order the Kitchen Sink!  It will not disappoint!  We then like to catch one of the Friendship Ferry boats over to the Boardwalk resort.  There are street t entertainers along the Boardwalk at night that are great fun to watch! Surrey bikes are available to rent at the Boardwalk.  You will definitely get a work out if you choose to rent one, but your kids will love it!  Grab a spot along the Boardwalk to see the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks for a beautiful ending to your night!  I know you and your family are going to love spending 8 days in the Happiest Place on Earth!  

    I hope you have a magical vacation!!
    Jodie 


  • Hi, Allison! If you haven’t already played one of the great miniature golf courses at Walt Disney World, this would be the vacation to give one (or both) a try!  There are two courses: Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland.  My family and I prefer Winter Summerland, but both complexes are great.  Each is made up of two courses.  Fantasia Gardens and Fantasia Fairways at the first, and the Snow Course and the Sand Course at the second.  The above link provides their locations, hours, and prices.  Happy planning and have a Magical vacation! 


  • As the mother of an energetic son, we're always looking for great activities to do as a family. I love all of the suggestions above and have another idea for you as well!

    Reserve an evening at one of the Children's Activity Centers at select WDW resorts. This is a win for the young and young-at-heart. Let the kids play for a couple of hours while you enjoy some precious quiet time enjoying a wonderful meal, a spa treatment and/or shopping. The Cast Members at the Centers are top-notch and the kids will love the activities at their disposal for at least two hours of supervised play time.

    We've checked our son into Simba's Cubhouse at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and then enjoyed dinner and shopping around the resort. The most popular spot is the Never Land Club at the Polynesian Resort. On one trip, our son enjoyed supervised play time while we explored the monorail resorts. It was relaxing to have some time to take in the lounges, a nice dinner and shopping.

    Enjoy a fun-filled February vacation! Just remember, it's impossible to see and do it all so pick a few of your favorite suggestions to add to your regular itinerary.


  • Hi Allison,



    My fellow Panelists have given you a lot of wonderful ideas so far!



    My sons were always hugs Star Wars fans. One of their favorite things to do when they were 5 & 7 was to visit the "Build Your Own Lightsaber" kiosk at the "Once Upon a Toy Store" at Downtown Disney. There are 9 steps in which your boys can choose every part of their lightsaber - including the color of the blade, rings, ignition switches and more. The lightsabers feature authentic Star Wars sound effects. Your sons will get to choose whether or not they are joining the Dark Side when they opt for a Jedi or Sith lightsaber. Naturally, being brothers, my boys choose opposing sides so they could have proper lightsaber duels. ;) There is also a "Build Your Own Lightsaber" kiosk located in Tatooine Traders in the Star Tours attraction in Hollywood Studios. Speaking of Star Tours, your little Jedi may want to participate in the Jedi Training Academy. This exciting 30-minute live show is so much fun and is for children ages 4-12. You'll want to sign up first thing in the morning for this.



    One final suggestion, if your boys tend to prefer being Pirates instead of Jedi, is the Albatross Treasure Cruise at the Yacht Club. This fun adventure is for children ages 4-12. The kids will wear bandana as they follow clues and sail to many exotic "ports of call" around Crescent Lake and Epcot's World Showcase Lagoon looking for treasure. During the voyage, children will hear a reading of "The Legend of the Albatross." At the final port of call, children will have a snack and will split up the "buried treasure." This is currently held on Mon / Wed / Fri from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. and can be booked up to 180 days in advance by calling 407-WDW-PLAY.



    Wishing you a magical vacation with your family,



    Kaylene


  • Hi Allison!

    What a great question to ask the panel!

    If you're interested in an educational adventure, I suggest the Behind The Seeds Tour at Epcot. It's an economical "extra" to fit most vacation budgets. The tour takes place in The Land pavillion, behind the scenes of the Living with the Land attraction. You're guided through the greenhouses for 1 hr and witness hydroponic techniques, aquaculture including baby alligators and learn about natural pesticides used on site like ladybugs! Hands-on activities for the kids add to the fun and you learn interesting facts along the way! Current prices are $18/adult (10+ yrs) and $14/child (3-9 yrs). Reserve a tour date & time by calling (407)WDW-TOUR.

    My family's other favorite is a win-win for kids & grown-ups alike!
    Start the day with a light, quick service breakfast for the kids only - then head over to Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. Once there, check in at the marina for Disney's Pirate Adventure. The kids enjoy the reading of "The Legend of Gasparilla" before heading out on the water to search the Seven Seas Lagoon & Bay Lake for buried treasure. This adventure is similar to the one my friend Kaylene also advised you about - but takes place at another magical Disney Resort location and includes a different story & adventure. The added bonus we enjoy - while the kids are on their outing, mom & dad relax over a quiet breakfast together at the lovely Grand Floridian Cafe. Disney's Pirate Adventure is offered Mon-Sat and should be reserved in advance. Call (407)WDW-DINE to book your children's adventure & your 'Adult Brunch' at the same time!

    Enjoy a Magical time with your family Allison!

    Kirsten


  • Hi Allison!

         I would recommend the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party for you and your family.  It is hands down the best dessert party that I have been to in all of Walt Disney World!  I have done it three times so far with my son and we both love it!

    I recommend this to everyone I meet because the desserts are phenomenal and the view of Cinderella Castle is unobstructed! Tinker Bell literally soars right over your heads on her journey down from the Cinderella Castle at the start of Wishes! One of the best benefits to attending this incredible dessert party is that you do not have to fight the crowds to find a place to watch Wishes or show up two hours early to get a spot before the fireworks begin. You are assigned tables to eat your desserts at and you can watch from your table or stand up along the Tomorrowland Terrace railing to have a clear view of Wishes. Trust me, you will not be disappointed with your Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party view of the fireworks! You can book this dessert party by calling Disney Dining at  (407)-WDW-DINE (1-407-939-3463).

    Another "off the beaten path" thing that my son and I love to do is to play miniature golf together.  There is the Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course right in front of Blizzard Beach and Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course near the Swan and Dolphin Resorts in the Epcot area.  Our favorite is Winter Summerland, where you can choose from one of two Santa Claus themed courses, a Snow Course or a Sand Course (you can play them both too).  Miniature Golf in Walt Disney World is great family fun!

    I hope that your next trip to Walt Disney World is truly magical in every way!

    Keep Dreaming Big!
    Marc


  • Hi Allison! Wow, you've got some great suggestions from my fellow moms and dads! We'll keep you busy, that's for sure! One things that we have done since my daughter was five is to visit the Magic of Disney Animation at the Hollywood Studios. It starts with a great "discussion" between a real Disney animator and Mushu from Mulan. From there, you get to go behind the scenes and watch Disney artists in action. You'll end with character visit photo ops, as well as many hands on activities. Our favourite part is learning to draw a Disney character, taught by a Disney animator. Guests will each draw from their own desk, following easy, step by step instructions. Even those with no artistic talent (ME!!) end up with a piece of artwork to take home. The perfect souvenir!

    The whole experience is a relaxing break from the parks, and something my daughter looks forward to every trip. She loves looking back at her creations, and seeing how she drew when she was five!

    Wishing you the most magical vacation Allison!


  • Hi there!  My fellow panelists have suggested some wonderful ideas that I can't wait to try!

    My family just loved the Hoop-Dee-Do Musical Revue.  The restaurant is located at the Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort at the Pioneer Hall.  You'll experience a family style dinner brought to your table complete with the most delicious fried chicken (served in a big bucket) and BBQ ribs.  It is a Western themed vaudeville comedy show.  It is a great slap stick, foot stomping, and singing good time!  My kids loved it, and we laughed until our sides hurt.  The meal is all you can eat with unlimited soft drinks, beer, wine and sangria.I think that this is the best dinner show at Walt Disney World and a true gem!!   


  • Hi!  How exciting that you get to stay at Disney for an extended time!  It's always so hard to leave!
    I also have two boys and I would highly recommend that you check out the Disney Youth Education Series to see if any of the educational classes fit your schedule.  I homeschool my boys so we used it as part of their science curriculum last year, but I think that they would be perfect for anyone. 

    The classes are about 3-4 hours long and there is a wide variety of topics.  We did the "Disney's Ocean Discoveries" class and the" Dynamics of Technology" class.  The classes are held at different parks.  Some of them even include a little "behind the scenes" magic that my boys absolutely LOVED!  Because of the ages of your boys, there aren't as many to choose from, but there are some options and if you sign your older son up for one that is too old for your younger son, it's OK to bring along the little one.  I learned that last year when I didn't have anyone to keep my younger son but it was no problem to let him tag along.  The cost is low and the quality is high!

    The kids won't even realize that they are learning as they do all of the fun-filled activities for each class.  I hope your family has a wonderful trip!


  • Howdy Allison!

    I love your name! My fellow "Moms" have given you so many great suggestions you may need to extend your trip or start planning another one to experience all of them.

    I was just at Disney's Animal Kingdom with my boys and they really enjoyed all of the Kids' Discovery Club stops. There were 6 stops throughout the park, one in Africa, Dinoland, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Discovery Island, Rafiki's Planet Watch and Asia. At each stop, kids participate in a short activity about animals and conservation awareness. After they successfully complete the station, the Cast Member at that location will stamp their Kids' Discovery Club Membership Card with a stamp unique to that stop.

    After they have collected all 6 club stamps and take the Kids' Discovery Club pledge, they get a special Rafiki Ya Wanyama Stamp.  Kids can do these in any order. Just look for the red box with a "K" in it on your Animal Kingdom Guide Map to find the locations.  This is a great activity for kids and it quickly became a quest for my boys to get all of their stamps. 

    My boys love sports so we enjoy visiting the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. It is top notch! While you're at the ESPN WWOS, you can visit the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill and grab lunch. The PlayStation Pavilion is located at the back of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill. The cost to play is $5 per 30 minutes.

    This is home to so many fantastic sporting events. Since I don't know your exact dates of your stay, visit the ESPN WWOS website and search for events during your stay.

    Be sure to stop by the ESPN Clubhouse Shop and check out their unique merchandise.

    Wishing you and your boys minnie magical memories :-) Allison


  • A favorite activity of our children is collecting passport stamps at Epcot.  Available at most park stores, the passports add fun and interest to the World Showcase for children. As you walk around the World Showcase look for Kidcot Fun Stops in each country's pavilion. The boys can create a small craft and have their passports stamped at these stations. Cast members will sometimes write a few words in their native language in them. After your world tour your sons will have a souvenir they engaged in constructing! Perhaps everyone will even learn a fascinating fact or two about a different land.

    As a Tinkerbell loving mom with a sweet tooth I am booking the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party Marc suggested for our next trip.

    Hope you and your family create wonderful memories during your visit.


     


  • Hi Allison!

    In addition to all of the excellent ideas already listed by my fellow panelists, another one is going over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge at night. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is always a fun place to visit, but there are  couple of activities that only take place once it is dark outside.

    My family really enjoys viewing the animals with night vision goggles. It is free to guests and it is a huge hit, especially with children. It is usually a nightly event and traditionally takes place between 8:30 pm / 9:00 pm and 11:00 pm.There are a limited number of goggles, so on some nights you might have to wait a few minutes before getting a turn, but it is well worth the wait.

    Another unique activity at the lodge is African story-telling. African cast members will tell you a story each night around the fire pit at Jambo House (the original part of the Animal Kingdom Lodge). It traditionally takes place at 7:30 pm, but that can change without notice at any time.

    You might consider making it a night over at the Animal Kingdom Lodge by first having dinner in either Boma or Sanaa and then doing the special activities. Boma is located in Jambo House while Sanaa is located in Kidani Village. Both are fabulous places to dine (and Boma is a personal favorite of mine); both restaurants are very popular with guests so be sure to make an Advanced Dining Reservation if you are interested!

    If you go over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge one night, be sure to stop in the lobby and pick up a Guest Activity schedule for the specific times and locations for both night vision viewing and the African story-telling when you are visiting. There might also be other activities going on that night as the lodge has very good interactive programs for guests of all ages!

    Have a magical time! 


  • Hi Allison,

    It sure looks as though my fellow panelists have made some great suggestions for you!

    As my family travel to Walt Disney World from the UK, we usually stay for at least 14 nights and like you, are always looking for some new activities to try on each and every visit.

    I would recommend that you head on over to the Tri-Circle-D Ranch at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground for a couple of hours one afternoon. There are lots of recreational activities on offer here which I am sure your boys would really enjoy which include pony rides, wagon rides, carriage rides and even a small petting zoo. 

    Pony rides are available on a walk up basis from 10am - 5pm seven days a week at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch and Farm. These are available to guests ages 2 and older who are under 45 inches tall and cost approximately $5.00. For a riding experience, such as a wagon ride or carriage ride, you can call 407-939-7529.

    There was a great post about this on the Disney Parks Blog last February which you can see HERE.

    I will however also say that DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park at Downtown Disney has been my 8-year-old Son's absolute favourite thing to do outside of the Disney parks for the past couple of years hands down. 

    Wishing you a magical trip filled with memories which will last a lifetime!


  • Hi Allison,

    I think all of our Moms Panelists have covered a lot of  "special" or "off the beaten path" activities already and if you even just try a few of these suggestions I am sure it will make for a memorable trip.

    Before reading the other answers, I was planning on mentioning one of my favorite things to do and see at WDW that is a bit different than your usual stuff which is the "Behind the Seeds Tour".  I see that my Canadian pal Kirsten beat me to it, but I definitely second her suggestion and hope you will try this tour.  It is very unique and full of learning potential mixed with a lot of fun!  My daughter had a blast when we did this tour a few years ago and our whole family (of all ages) enjoyed it thoroughly.  We have since been back another two times to enjoy it again. It is incredible to learn not only about the hydroponics part of the tour, but also the other things such as the insects that are good and bad for the plants (your kids will even have a great time with some hands on insect releasing during the tour) and this is just the begining of your one hour fun learning experience.  You will also see different varieties of live fish, baby alligators and much more as well as being able to have a taste test of some of these amazing vegetables and/or fruits.  It is very reasonable as far as the cost to take the tour and I cannot see anyone who could possibly be disappointed with this decision.....it's a win, win in my opinion! My daughter actually bought a book on hydroponics after the tour and did a really neat science project for school when we arrived home with all that she had learned during the tour as well as afterwards with the book she purchased from the little gift kiosk just in front of the attraction Soarin'.

    Have a magical trip to WDW.

    Best wishes,
    Brigitta


  • Wow!!

    Alison, have you ever been given some great ideas here by my fellow panelists!  Well, truthfully, I 've been given some great ideas as well!  Off the "beaten path" can mean so may things to so many people.  You have been given a huge new variety of things to see, feel and experience!

    Have you ever heard of the Hidden Mickey's?  Finding these little gems has become a new favorite past-time for our family.  They are all over the Walt Disney World Resort.  You can find them in restaurants, hotel lobbies, the waiting areas for shows and rides.  They are everywhere and are just waiting to be spotted by the sharp-eyed adventurer!

    There is an app available to help you in your mission and also a resource book.

    If your children are anything like mine, they will create an adventure out of this.  I've used the Hidden Mickeys Guide to give hints to my little ones and then they compete against each other to see who can be the first to find the most.  It's great for passing time and keeping little eyes sharp in the process.

    Have a great and very magical time!

    Carrie




  • There are a TON of great ideas here!  Every time I thought of something to do, someone had already beat me to it.  Although I do think I might have come up with a couple ideas that haven't been mentioned.

    Downtown Disney is always a great way to spend some time.  My kids also love Disney Quest.  Another place on our "not to be missed" list is Goofy's Candy Co, where you can design some delicious confections dipped in chocolate, of course.
    I've also wanted to try the AMC Dine-In Theatre where guests can watch the latest movies in comfort while ordering dinner from an extensive menu that includes items like quesadillas, burgers, flatbread pizzas, and desserts.


  • My fellow panelists have given you some fantastic ideas!

    As a frequent Disney guest myself, I understand the need to change up the vacation plan a bit from time to time. In addition to exploring new and off the beaten path activities, my family often spices things up by adding a new twist to old faithful activities. Usually this takes the form of some self-devised game. For example, if you love meeting characters, make it a game to see if you can meet every character in the Magic Kingdom in one day, or see if you can meet 10 new characters during your trip. Everyone can get in on the fun by keeping score or planning strategy.

    A recent success for my family was the self-planned "candy crawl." We love to explore Epcot's World Showcase pavilions and have done so many times, but to add some fun we decided to choose and sample a new kind of candy at each country. My children had a great time deciding which kind to try!

    You can make up Disney versions of classic car trip games. For example, see if you can find a sign starting with each letter of the alphabet during your time in the parks. Or count the number of times you see an image of Mickey Mouse during a specific time period.

    And if none of those ideas work, head on over to Goofy's Candy Company at Downtown Disney. They have a create-your-own dessert station there that's out of this world!

    Have a wonderful vacation!


  • Hi Allison! My fellow panelists have provided so many wonderful suggestions! The great think about Walt Disney World is that no matter how many times you visit, there is something new and exciting to explore. Our family has traditions that we love to experience each time we visit, as well as exploring something new that is "off the beaten path." 

    As some of the other panelists mentioned, the Behind the Seeds tour and scouring the park for Hidden Mickey's are two of my family's' favorite activities.

    We also love to eat our way around the world at Epcot. We will start in Mexico make it all the way around to Canada, ordering a meal, snack or drink at every country to sample the best of every country. My favorites include the pretzel bread at Le Cellier, the lamb gyro at Tangierine Cafe and the Kringla Sweet Pretzel at Kringla Bakeri og Cafe

    We always buy the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) and little secret is that you can use your DDP Snack Credits in some of the shops around the World Showcase. I buy candy and treats from around the world and bring them home as souvenirs for my friends and family! 

    I hope you have a magical tim  and create new traditions with your family by exploring some of the hidden gems at Walt Disney World! 

    Magically,
    Stacy


  • Wow!  The moms sure have some great plans for you!  One thing I always recommend is just kicking back at your resort.  As vacation planners, we always seem to spend so much time choosing the perfect resort for our families, then we never take time to enjoy all there is to offer.

    During our last trip to Walt Disney World, we stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter.  We really took time to enjoy this amazing resort.  Throughout our stay, we enjoyed watching a movie on the giant screen, walked down to sister resort Port Orleans Riverside, got beignets at the bakery, and participated in pool-side game and activities. 

    I do not know where you are staying, but you will find that each resort offers unique and fun family entertainment.  Review your specific resort's activities and dive right into the fun!  It will be the perfect way for some down-time during your extended vacation as well as some great family fun.

    Have a magical Walt Disney World vacation!


  • We love to find the off the beaten path things to do when we hit Walt Disney World!  One of the things my girls love best is wandering the Boardwalk!  Being Jersey girls, their all very used to be "down the shore" and walking the boardwalks here, but we find things at Disney's Boardwalk that you just don't see here in Jersey!

    Go early in the evening and rent one of the surrey bikes to take a quick ride and see what the Boardwalk has to offer.  Grab a nice dinner at Kouzzina or a quick slice of pizza at the Boardwalk pizza window, then check out the Boardwalk entertainment.  You'll find it varies, but we've seen jugglers, magicians, and other types of entertainers.  Play a couple of midway games before watching some of the fireworks that accompany Illuminations from EPCOT.  

    Before heading back to your own resort for the evening, stop in at Seashore Sweets.  There, you can get a delicious hand-dipped ice cream cone or some other candy or sweets.  I recommend the salt water taffy - the best you'll find south of the Jersey Shore!

    Have a wonderful vacation!


  • Hi there, Allison!

    Like you, I am the proud mom of two boys (currently ages 8 and 7), and I know how much fun they can have just running around.

    I was thrilled to find the hedge maze in the United Kingdom pavilion at Epcot. Tucked away between the Toy Soldier and the Twinings tea shop, you'll find the maze surrounded by beautiful landscaping and welcoming benches.

    It's a great spot to sit and relax with a cold drink and a snack (the Yorkshire County Fish Shop takeaway is just adjacent). But it doesn't always stay quiet and peaceful .... take note of that gazebo. It becomes the mainstage for house band British Revolution, a crew that plays cover versions of classic British hits by bands such as the Police, The Kinks, The Clash, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who, and more,

    Grab a sat in front of the gazebo and rock out with British Revolution as the little ones run and play with the new friends they're sure to make as the explore the twists and turns of the child-sized maze.

    Have a wonderful trip!

    See you later, celebrator,
    -Deborah B.



  • Hey Allison!



    You have asked a GREAT question, and great questions receive great responses!  All of our incredible MOMS have given you some great "off the beaten path" suggestions!



    I have to say I TOTALLY agree with one of Jodie's suggestions!  My five kids (ranging from ages 11 to 2) love this restaurant, and I bet your two boys will LOVE this place as well.  After a MAGICAL day at EPCOT, stroll on over to Beaches and Cream Restaurant located on the walkway between The Yacht Club and The Beach Club Resorts.  There you will find the most colossal ice cream sundae famously named "The Kitchen Sink Sundae."  Served in a bowl that looks like a kitchen sink, this scrumptious sundae includes eight scoops of ice cream, different cakes and brownies, and every topping you can think of!  As a Cast Member brings "The Kitchen Sink Sundae" to your table, emergency lights go off as a huge (and very loud) announcement is made of your grand dessert!  This experience is so much fun!!!! 



    Disney World + Family + Ice Cream = The BEST Day EVER!



    Have a MAGICAL time on your vacation...and watch out for those "brain freezes" eating your ice cream!!!











    Wes































     

















  • Hi there Allison,



    Thanks for writing.  On a quick trip to celebrate the holidays last week, my boys and I were able to secure some impromptu tickets to Cirque du Soleil, La Nouba at Downtown Disney.  My guys are 7 and 9 and, although I was a bit skeptical at first, absolutely loved the show!  They were sitting on the edge of their seats the entire performance and were sad when it ended.  We all had a fabulous time and have added it to our log of Disney favorites.  We followed up our evening with dinner at TRex, another family favorite of ours and ice cream at Haagen Daz.  It was a magical night!



    Have a wonderful trip!



    Tanya



  • Every idea has been listed here already, right?

    WRONG!

    That 's what is great about Walt Disney World! There is always MORE to do!

    My idea is simple, but try one park-free day. Instead spend a day at the pool. Remember this is a VACATION, and the mid-week relaxation will help you recharge.

    If you want to "plus" it, consider renting a cabana. My girls loved having their own "base camp" to play games and have lunch. It was more affordable than cabana rentals at other resorts. Not all Disney pools have cabanas, but consider checking it out!

    Have a magical vacation!


  • Hi Allison,

    Welcome to the Moms Panel!!  I am going to piggyback on my fellow Mom, Amanda P., and suggest The Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage.  I surprised the Pirates and Princess in my life with this special voyage last June and it was the highlight of our vacation. 

    I would also like to suggest that you visit other Disney Resort Hotels.  I love to "Resort Hop" when I'm at Disney.  It's a great way to see what other resorts have to offer and maybe choose the resort where you would like to stay on your next Disney vacation.  Make a day of this and have lunch and/or dinner at the Resort's Food Court. 

    I hope this helps!  Have a magical day!

    Ca'Sandra



  • You have received some great answers from all of my fellow panelists!!  Any of these suggestions are a great way to make your family trip a little more magical!

    I also have a five-year old and a seven-year old, and in addition to all of those suggestions, I'd like to recommend that you add one fun new component to your family vacation.  Whether it's searching for Hidden Mickeys throughout the "World" as suggested by my fellow panelists, collecting pressed pennies at each kiosk you find, or trading pins, your kids will likely get a kick out of adding a scavenger hunt to your vacation.

    Have a great time!


  • Great question and I have an answer for you that I just recently discovered.  Fort Wilderness is in my top 3 favorite resorts at Disney World.  I love all the activities that they have to offer that are very family oriented and just plain fun!  Just a couple of weeks ago, my family went on the horse drawn wagon ride at 9:30pm.  We were literally taken "off the beaten path" in our wagon, we stopped on a quiet spot on the beach at Fort Wilderness and watched the Electric Water Pageant AND the Wishes fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.  It was really neat to see the fireworks from that perspective.  I do have to tell you that they will be doing away with the 9:30pm wagon ride soon.  Our cowboy told us they will still be giving the rides if asked, but it's definitely something to ask for!  The current price for a wagon ride is $8 per person.

    Why not make an evening out of it and catch the Chip'n Dale Campfire Sing-a-long!  This is my FAVORITE activity to do at Fort Wilderness and it's absolutely free!  Want to make your own s'mores?  For a few dollars, you can buy a kit and roast your own marshmallows over one of the two campfires. 

    Take a look at all the recreational activities Fort Wilderness has to offer and pick the ones that sound fun to your boys!

    Have a magical time!
    Leslie


  • It is great to be back answering questions for upcoming Walt Disney World guests.  All of the suggestions have been wonderful and would be fun things for your two boys to enjoy during a lengthy Disney stay.
     
    Our family vacations were often up to about ten days when we traveled to Walt Disney World and one idea that I used for my own children was a scavenger hunt.  You can pick a park or a specific area and develop ideas that they would relate to for a "hunt".  This is not only different from just strolling parks and resorts but they often learn new things along the way.  Being that they are too young to be out on their own be sure and take a video camera to record their experience. You will find you have as much fun watching as they do "hunting".

    We would often include ideas where they would have to stop and ask cast members for information which we found was a wonderful way for them to grow in confidence and learn from others. It might be something simple about how many Hidden Mickey's are at a resort or what was the first attraction built in a park.  Add to the hunt some simple items to puchase such as a magnet or a sweet treat and give them a specified amount of money so it can also become a math lesson even for the younger one.  And if you aren't aware you can purchase the great Disney Dollars at the parks and resort Guest Service locations.  These work for anything on property just as normal money and the kids will love using the special dollars!

    As my own children grew older they expected at least one scavenger hunt per trip and turned tails on us one year by sending us on one of our own.  It became a wonderful family tradition and it is never too early to start with those!  Enjoy!


  • It never ceases to amaze me how many great ideas my fellow panelists have. You could spend your entire vacation just taking their awesome suggestions. Mine is actually ‘on the beaten path,’ but often overlooked. As the child of a model train enthusiast, I have always been fascinated by the tiny model village and railroad located just between Germany and Italy at Epcot World Showcase. Most visitors pass right by, but it is a great hidden gem worth exploring.  Your family will enjoy watching the three trains twist and turn through this elaborate and extensive miniature town. During your exploration of this treasure you will see the quiet village comes complete with carefully crafted mountains, ‘trees’ and scenery that is built with careful attention paid to proper perspective. Spend your time viewing the tiny village from all sides and, if you look closely, you might just find some special ‘hidden’ magic in one of the buildings in the rear of the display. It is a nice spot to take a few minutes and enjoy the parks in a whole new way.



  • Hi Allison!  Extended stays at Walt Disney World are my favorite!  It takes all the pressure off because we are able to do all our "must do's", and still have time to explore and find new adventures to add to our treasure trove of family memories.



    We also have two boys, ages 9 and 3, and sometimes they get a little bit "over-stimulated", shall we say, with all there is to do and see within the Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts.  To blow off some steam and get us back into the groove, we take a "time out", and spend some time putting on our "Exploring Ears" for real adventure!



    Our first favorite is Tom Sawyer Island in the Magic Kingdom.  After the river raft ride over, we hop off to explore the caves, forts, and swinging bridges all over this paradise for little boys.  And, if you get there early enough, you may find some "Paint Brush" treasures, which your family may be lucky enough to redeem for a special prize!



    Our other favorite activity is a home-made scavenger hunt through the World Showcase of EPCOT.  We have lots of fun trying to find the funniest hats or costumes in each country (Viking helmet or German lederhosen?), or the creepiest indigenous snack food (dehydrated crab from Japan, anyone?)!  Don't forget the camera, because you will most definitely be creating some of your fondest memories together during this time!



    Have a wonderful vacation with those precious boys!



  • Hi Allison,

    Isn't it amazing to read about all the many, many options out there that help guests enjoy adventures "off the beaten path!"  My family (all sons, too) has two favorites that they have had fun with since they were toddlers and still continue to make part of each of our trips to Walt Disney World now as teenagers.

    The first is the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade at the Magic Kingdom.  We love to escape here during the afternoon crowds & heat.  For just a few dollars, we all get to be sharpshooters from the Wild West.  And best of all, the targets are interactive, so they come to life when you score.

    Our second favorite activity is the quest for Hidden Mickeys scattered throughout all of the Walt Disney World resort area.  For example, on the Haunted Mansion you can see a dining room scene.  One of the place settings has the dinner plate with two salad plates at the top of it, which form an iconic Mickey head.  Similar shapes can be found everyone, so we are always on the look out for them. If you'd like to get a  few hints beforehand, a quick search on Google will lead to many websites on Hidden Mickeys.  There are even books available on them:  Walt Disney World's Hidden Mickeys by Steve M. Barrett.
     
    Have a wonderful trip!   


  • Aloha!  My family loves to devote an entire day to visiting the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, and oftentimes we wind up spending a great deal of time at Disney's Polynesian Resort.  There's so much to do at this Pacific-Islands themed resort.

    After being welcomed with flower leis, you will quickly sink into the laid back vibe of the islands.  I absolutely love taking in all this fabulous place has to offer from friendly cast members to authentic decor, plant life, and waterfalls.

    The Polynesian has fabulous shops including my favorite, "BouTiki", and if you're into pin trading, you'll be pleased to know another shop, Trader Jack's has a pin board which they unveil daily between 5-5:30.  I always have a lot of luck finding rare and limited edition pins here!  You can also take in a hula lesson right in the lobby around 3:30 Daily!!!

    I would suggest making an advanced dinner reservation at on of my family's favorites, 'Ohana, which features a island-inspired family style meal!  If you time your reservation right, 'Ohana provides a unique vantage point from which to view the Magic Kingdom's nightly fireworks display, Wishes.

    If you hurry after dinner, and you're not too full, you can stop by Captain Cook's, the Polynesian's snack bar to grab a self-serve Dole Whip (a very popular frozen pineapple snack), before hitting the beach in time to watch the Electrical Water Pageant make it's way along the Seven Seas Lagoon.

    For an even more authentic Island experience, consider checking out The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, located at the Luau Cove area of the resort.  Advanced reservations are recommended!

    Hope you have a very magical adventure to Walt Disney World.
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