Traveling to Disney World

by Rumour Miller on May 15, 2012

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With your young kids and wondering if you are crazy? Well you might be but I think vacationing and traveling with my little family (while they are still little) is extremely rewarding.

The Traveling

We have done the Disney World experience three times now and while that does not make me a pro, I can tell you what has worked for us.

We have to fly to get to Florida in a day and depending on what airline or what route we take, there may or may not be a change of planes.  Our most recent flight was 4 hours.  That’s a long time for those little people to strapped to a seat.

Prior to our trip, I went to the dollar store and stocked up on a new activities for the girls.  Colouring books, stickers, games and some candy.  They knew that I was buying these things and they were anxious to use them, but they were not allowed to touch them until we were on the plane.  Those new activities kept them occupied for quite some time.

The big girls also had their iTouch with them and the night before our departure we downloaded new movies and music for them.

We made sure that one of us sat with Quinn so that we could keep her entertained.  She likes doing puzzles on the iPad and will watch a bit of a movie but she still relies on us so much for her entertainment.

Despite being up at 4:00 a.m., none of the Divas napped!

Plan Ahead for Weather

Prior to leaving for Florida I watched the weather forecast closely.  For a few weeks… hoping for awesome weather.  There were thunder storms in our future.  So we bought rain ponchos for everyone.  We took the parks each day it was calling for rain and they got used.  It was awesome.  When there were no threats of thunder/lightning, the rides still went on and so did we!

 

We were spending a lot of money and using up precious vacation time for our family trip.  We wanted to make the most of it and we didn’t want the weather to get us down.  I was determined to carry on!  Thank goodness everyone else felt the same way.  Then when the rain stopped, we took off our ponchos and no one was wet and miserable (at least not any one of us!).

We also planned accordingly for those hot sunny days.  We packed sunscreen and lots of water.

Make sure you have good walking shoes

This is crucial for a trip to Disney World.  You will be surprised how much walking you will do.  You will be surprised at how long you will stay at the parks.  Our first day, on this particular trip, we spent at Magic Kingdom.  We were there for 14 hours!  Thank goodness for a good pair of shoes!  Just before our trip, I bought myself and each of the Divas a pair of Keens.  I cannot stress how awesomely comfortable these sandals were!  My feet thanked me.  Although Davilyn and Quinn didn’t do much walking (thanks to strollers) Piper did.  Not once did she complain that her feet were bothering her.  Never underestimate a good pair of shoes or sandals.  You get what you pay for.

Pack your own snacks

Although you have to go through a baggage check entering the parks, packing your own snacks is worth it.  We made our own lunches/snacks and put them in a backpack with lots of water bottles.  We even brought along frozen yogurt tubes.  By the time the girls were ready to have them, they had slightly melted but lasted in the heat because we had frozen them ahead of time.  We packed about 8 small bottles of water each day (a good water bottle would do too, I am sure) and that got us through the heat.  There are some places to refill them but it’s nice having some really cold water to drink when it is so hot.  We still bought other drinks in the parks but having water and food at our finger tips was a life saver when line ups were long.  My girls love fresh fruit and there are some places that sell fruit, but not many.  I packed some Tupperware with cut up strawberries, grapes and apples.

Strollers

We have never rented a stroller at Disney World, so I cannot comment on that service.  Many people do, however.  Disney World is extremely stroller friendly.  It can be difficult to weave through the crowd at times or through the stores at times but don’t let that convince you to leave it behind.  We travelled to Disney World in May 2009 when Piper was 3 and mistakenly thought she could do without a stroller.  We ended up paying $50.00 and bought a stroller at our resort. It was the best $50.00 we spent that trip.

I love strollers for two reasons.  First, kids tire easily.  They get whiny when they are tired (at least mine do).  So, to avoid that we bought two umbrella type strollers before we left home.  One for Quinn and one for Davilyn (double strollers are great, but the wide ones are harder to get through crowds and it’s harder to separate the kids when you have a double).  Piper is over the weight limit for strollers, so she had to walk.  Second, it’s much easier to keep your eye on the little ones when they are in a stroller!  Enough said.

Most airlines allow you take strollers and car seats as checked items and don’t charge for it.  I found it much easier to bring my own from home then to rent them.  When Piper was 2 and Davilyn was 9 months old, we brought our double chariot (bike trailer/jogging stroller).  It was awesome for our Davilyn who still slept twice a day.  It also provided them protection from the weather (sun/rain and cold).  It was a bit harder to navigate through the crowds (especially at Magic Kingdom after the fireworks) but we just slowed down our pace and took our time getting home.

Expect some crying

From the kids or even yourself.  Prepare for it.  As awesome as Disney World is, those kiddos get overwhelmed and tired.  Don’t get too hard on them, or yourself.  It’s a lot to take in.  I, thankfully, have only had to deal with a crying child at the parks on one occasion.  It was February 2009 and I carried Piper kicking and screaming out of Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, in Tomorrow Land at Magic Kingdom, because I wouldn’t let her play in the sink in the bathroom.  Also, really pick your battles carefully.  Lesson learned by me.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

To really enjoy your trip, don’t sweat the small stuff.  Don’t worry about getting a little bit lost.  Or having a schedule.  Or having the perfect family vacation.  It’s hard to do, but try not to bicker with your spouse.  I know that I am guilty of this but I found that when I just took a few minutes before reacting to something that Craig was doing (or not doing) I was less likely to be upset.  Who wants their vacation plagued with memories of fighting with their spouse.  How many children want to remember Disney World because their parents were bickering so much.  So don’t sweat the small stuff.

Fly by the seat of your pants

At least just this once.  Don’t pressure yourself with a strict plan or schedule.  The parks are huge and there is so much to do… and sometimes, the lines are really long.  Like really long.  Did I mention the lines can be long?  Davi and I waited for almost 2 hours for the chance to meet Rapunzel.  For her and I, the wait was well worth it.

Use the fast pass wisely

Check out the notices regarding the wait times for certain rides.  You can get a fast pass but you cannot get another fast pass for another ride until you use the first one.  Plan accordingly.  Jump on a ride that has a short wait time even if it doesn’t interest everyone.  It breaks up the wait times and makes one feel as though they are getting that bang for their buck.  Plus, there aren’t too many rides at Disney World that aren’t worth it.  They might not all be an adrenaline rush, but they are all good!

Take a stink load of photos

We love our hundreds and hundreds of photos.  We look at them often.  Take as many as you can.  And, at the same time, use the Disney Photo Pass.  You can have more than one card being used and then at the end of your stay, you can have all of your photos from each card put on one.  When you get home, go online and scroll through your photos.  Edit them and add smart boarders (like above).  You can buy individual photos or you can buy all of them in digital copy.  The cost has gone up quite a bit since the last time we were in Disney World, but we were lucky to split the cost with my sister and order an extra copy for $20.00.  I am a lover of photos, so for me the cost was well worth it.  It took a few weeks to get my CD of digital copies.

Watch the fireworks

At Magic Kingdom at least once.  They truly are magical and the best of the best.  You can see them anywhere in the park, it’s true.  The best view, however is in front of Cinderella’s Castle.  Tinkerbell makes a special appearance and you can’t see her from every location in the park.

Character Meals are Worth It

They are a bit pricier but if you want to meet characters without a long wait then you should book a meal with them.  We have done breakfast meal three times and lunch twice.  Both meals are well worth it, buffet style.  The early morning ones are by far the best, for us.  We rise early and for us to make an 8:00 a.m. breakfast is easy, plus we are done by 9:00 and the first people in the park!  We have done a breakfast at Animal Kingdom and Epcot.  We met Mickey and his gang and most of the Princesses!  It was great.  I also find breakfast much easier to plan around.  We didn’t have to wait around a certain area of the park nor did we have to boot it back to one to make our reservation.  You eat while the characters make their rounds.  They come to your table for photographs and signatures.  You should really book ahead of time to make sure you get the restaurant of your choice.

Buy a Disney Autograph Book and Pen

We brought our own the first time but really buying one at the parks isn’t much more.  Plus, they are a bit more special and a keepsake of your family vacation.  This past trip, each one of the girls got to pick their own book and pen.  It belongs to them (even though I keep it in a safe place.

Be prepared for unexpected expenses

Most people travel on budget.  But prepare yourself for things you might not be expecting.  Many rides exit into a gift shop.  The big attractions take your photo and if you want a copy of it, you have to buy it.  There will be thousands of children with Mickey Ear balloons that your children will be begging you for.  They are $15.00 each!  I recommend travelling with an Aunt that has no children of her own and lives to spoil your children (haha… my sister came with us and she did indulge the Divas a bit).  I am not saying that you have to buy these things… goodness knows we said “no” a few times, but we gave in on the light up toys when it got dark.

Sometimes calling it an early day is necessary

I know the park passes are expenses.  It’s true, they are.  Sometimes an early day is necessary.  Kids are tired.  Feet are sore.

Some of our best memories were from the house we stayed in.

Do something for everyone

Even you.  Disney World is for kids old and young.  There are things for people of all ages.  Craig and my sister went on the big rides, while I waited with the kids or moved onto something else.  We kept in touch with text messages and caught back up with one another easily.  Don’t forget to indulge your inner child too.  For me, waiting in line with Davilyn to meet Rapunzel was a big deal.  I would have continued to encourage her if it was 3 hours!  The idea of this wait for the rest was too much, so they moved on.  We were all happier for it.

Have fun

Above all else, HAVE FUN.  Be somewhat organized but be prepared to go off the beaten path.  Grab a park map at the entrance to each park and use it.

I cannot wait to go back.

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah May 23, 2012 at 6:20 am

A whole lot of brilliant tips! We are traveling to Disneyland next month and your tips are just very helpful.
Sarah recently posted..Negotiating obstacles in a stroller

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Hershey May 23, 2012 at 6:22 am

Thanks for the tips! I am dying to take a trip to Disney!
Hershey recently posted..Negotiating obstacles in a stroller

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