We are back from Disney World and already planning our next trip! I know. I know. We just got back. My husband and I both love Disney, and always try to plan a trip each year. This year we didn’t take our little guy because we couldn’t conquer sleep training at home and we it would not be any easier in a hotel. This makes me want to plan a trip for him so much sooner. We first took my daughter when she was three and that trip did not go so well. Since then, we’ve taken her three more times and acquired some ‘lessons’ and tips along the way.
1. Bring a stroller…with a canopy
I can’t stress enough to bring the stroller….a good stroller! I was so nervous to fit an umbrella stroller through the airport and on the plane, that the first time we went to Disney I packed a really cheap umbrella stroller without a top. Big mistake. It was so hot and my daughter had no shade which made walking through the parks really hard. Plus, it rains in Florida a lot so a canopy helps keep some of the rain off your child in those downfalls. Check a stroller, invest in a lightweight one, or just rent one when you get to Disney…. Whatever you do, get a stroller. I can’t tell you how many times my 6 year old sat in the stroller this year so we could get more time in at the park without her complaining about being tired.
2. Bring ponchos
Speaking of rain in Florida, it rains a lot. However, not for long periods of time. Just enough to soak you and make the rest of your time at the parks uncomfortable. Go to the dollar store, or Target, or wherever you grocery shop and find some cheap ponchos. The ones where if you shove them back in the bottom of your stroller, or throw them out you won’t be upset. The forecast showed no rain while I was packing for our trip. I threw the ponchos in the suitcases just in case. Then, when I got to Disney, I threw the ponchos in my purse before we went to the parks. The last day it down poured and we slipped them on. I heard so many other people saying they wish they would have brought their ponchos. We kept walking to rides while other people were huddled under roofs and restaurants from the rain.
3. Utilize the Child Care Center
If I had known about this place our first trip when I was potty training my daughter our trip would have been so much more enjoyable. The child care centers are tucked away and quiet for those hard potty training moments. I carried a little potty chair around Disney! Next time I bring my son I will be changing him in these spots away from the crowd. I still brought my 6 year old in because at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood studio locations the toilets don’t flush automatically and are air conditioned. They have everything you need for your little one. If your child struggles with overstimulation, or you just need a minute from the heat take a break in the child care center. These cool little breaks can extend your day at the park so much. They are looked at the entrance of Hollywood Studios, by the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom, by the Odyssesy Center in Epcot, and left of the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom.
4. Make some Disney purchases at home before going to the Park
I love looking at the shops at Disney. However, I don’t love looking at the shops with my 6 year old that wants everything. Prior to our trip I bought a few less expensive Minnie ears during one of the Disney Store’s sales and also at Claires. I also bought a few t-shirts and other Disney themed items through Etsy so we were fully decked out in Disney outfits and didn’t need to buy any Disney apparel while at the park.
5. Bring Disney gift cards for your kids to buy items at the gift shops
However, I do like buying my daughter a few trinkets to remember our trip. For her birthday this year Disney cards were an awesome gift for our upcoming vacation. It made going into the shops a little less stressful when I could tell her to pick out what she wanted with her money. She was excited to get a belated birthday gift and I was not upset spending excess money on an already very expensive trip.
6. Bring multiple pairs of comfortable shoes
I learned this lesson the hard way. On our first trip my only pair of comfy shoes were soaked the first day. I can’t tell you how uncomfortable it is to walk around in wet shoes. Ugh. Always bring two pairs of good walking shoes for each member of your family.
7. Eat at one Character themed meal
There are fast passes to meet the princesses throughout the Magic Kingdom, but then your fast passes are used for those experiences and not rides. We had a princess fanatic a few years ago so I get why this might be appealing with younger children. However, this year we wanted to use the fast passes soley for some of the harder to get on rides. That’s why I always try to schedule one princess themed meal so that we can get the autographs/photos with more princesses in one spot. The Akershaus Royal Them Hall in Epcot is our favorite, but Cinderella’s royal table in the Magic Kingdom has a lot of the princesses too. The princesses come to your table and your daughter can meet each one individually instead of waiting in lines. This year my daughter wasn’t as princess-loving as past years (insert sad face) and we ate at the Crystal Palace buffet that is Winnie the Pooh themed (per my husband’s request) and it was so good. I highly recommend that one as well!
8. Ride the Carousel of Progress, Ariel Ride, or of course It’s A Small World when YOU need a break at the park and are in between Fast Passes
We walked a ton the first day of our trip. This mom was not used to all the heat and walking and just needed a minute to put my feet up. Then, I realized we were in Tomorrowland by MY favorite ride…the Carousel of Progress. I love this ride. There are never lines or a wait and you can sit for 15 minutes. It’s a little easier to take a break in one of the slower pace rides than walking all the way back to the hotel for a breather. We are really bad about returning to a park once at the hotel. I know there are people that like to go back and forth, but for us once we are at the hotel we aren’t returning to the park that day.
9. Don’t go to the Park that has the Extra Magic Hours
Speaking of returning to the park, a lot of people utilize the extra magic hours for later nights or early mornings at the park. We did this the first year and all I can say is that the park with the extra hours is way more crowded. Huge crowds are not really my thing so I stay clear of the park with the extra magic hours when I schedule our fast passes for the day.
10. Try to Enjoy Every Minute with your little one
Last but not least, take advantage of this time with your little one. I loved unplugging and not having to worry about laundry/meal plans/homework and just being able to give my daughter my undivided attention. It was so nice catching up with her about school and she told me things she doesn’t usually express to me when we are home. Now that we are back to the daily hustle and bustle routine, she’s already asking when we can go back to Disney. And of course I’m already thinking about the next time too 😉
Hope these tips are helpful for you!