Do Disney Your Way, pg. 2
The Best Way to See the Characters
To make sure your kids get to see their favorite Disney icons, schedule a character meal where Mickey and the gang meet and greet every child as you enjoy a family-style or buffet meal. These can be reserved 60 or sometimes 120 days in advance (call 407-WDW-DINE), which is essential for the most popular locations, like breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom. Other popular venues include Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary, the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom, 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian, 'Ohana at the Polynesian, and the Garden Grill at Epcot. If your child is set on meeting a particular character, check out www.wdwig.com, which lists the characters that appear at each meal. These are great autograph and photo opportunities.
All the parks post character appearances on maps and boards near the entrances. And instead of queuing up in the endless line at Mickey's Toontown Fair, be open to serendipitous sightings: "One morning as we were strolling through Epcot, a double-decker bus with nearly every character unloaded in front of us," a Child reader reports. "We were able to get pictures with everyone -- there was hardly anyone else around!" Young children may enjoy collecting character autographs in books available at every souvenir stand. Some parents say this was great fun; others found it a huge time-waster and preferred to snap a quick photo instead.
Rules for the Rides
Ease preschoolers into rides that take place in the dark by starting with something cheerful, such as It's a Small World. Move up to Peter Pan's Flight, then maybe Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. Bring along a light-up toy (there are plenty of fun ones at Disney) to ease fears of the dark. "Don't assume that a theater presentation will not frighten your child," adds Bob Sehlinger, author of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World With the Kids. "Rides like Splash Mountain may look scary, but they do not have one-fiftieth the potential for terrorizing children of attractions like Alien Encounter [a super-scary Star Wars-related ride] or It's Tough to Be a Bug [a show in which insects seem to be crawling on viewers in the dark]." On the other hand, if your child is a thrill-seeker, you may want to wait to visit Disney until she's 40 inches tall (in shoes) or she'll be endlessly frustrated that she can't go on some of the most exciting rides.