I’ve had a lot of people ask me for advice about going to Disney World, which is awesome but I was like, "Why are people asking me this? I've never worked there?"
Then I felt dumb because DUH ... we go there fairly often with TWO TODDLERS. Our jobs allow us to get up and go -- what a blessing during these very special years with our little ones.
We are season pass holders but we've done the long trips (resort stay with meal plans) and the day trips.
One does not just show up at Disney world thinking they will be the only ones there.
FACT: Disney World is crowded. Especially during Spring Break, holiday weekends, summer months, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years. My favorite months to go for our week long trips is in September or February. The weather is chill. The crowd are less. And my two wild toddlers can experience more magic.
To save you time, money, sweat, tantrums, hunger pains and passive family feuds... here are my tips:
HOW LONG TO STAY:
Two or three FULL days in the parks are ideal -- you'll get a taste of the magic without overdoing it (because it's amazing but exhausting).
WHEN TO GO:
Go in the off-season. Parks are least crowded January, September, October and the first two weeks of November and December.
WHERE TO STAY:
This is certainly up to your taste. If you don't mind spending a tad more for convenience then the Polynesian hotel, the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa or the Contemporary are great hotels. There are quick monorails to travel you back and forth from parks. Guarantees you a quick trip back to the room for naps, outfit change, quick pumping session, forgotten items, lunch, etc.
Staying onsite at Disney also gives you access to their "Extra Magic Hours" which will let you enter the parks early and stay later.
BEFORE YOUR TRIP:
- Order or watch the FREE Disney Planning Video
- Watch videos for rides on YouTube to get excited: My Park Guides
WHAT TO BRING:
Stroller: If possible, bring your own (instead of renting, just my opinion) so your child is familiar and comfortable to nap. A sling or carrier is helpful too because you aren't able to tote strollers through lines. There will be safe stroller parking in front of almost every attraction.
Day Bag Essentials: Pack a light bag with change of clothes, extra diapers/wipes, snacks, drinks. It's just helpful to have essentials ready at your finger tips instead of saying, "wait until we find a snack place." And PS. mid-afternoon thunderstorms are common. So not a bad idea to plan on going back to the room for a nap before evening adventures.
WHAT NOT TO BRING
No worries about cribs. High chairs. Coolers for rooms. All of that is obviously accommodated because Disney is smart. If you are flying in and need to lighten your load, don't be afraid to buy the extra diapers and wipes when you arrive OR even have them delivered from diapers.com or Amazon Prime.
AND... you can get by without a car. There are free shuttles everywhere when you are staying on a Disney Resort property. My kids love the shuttles and think they are rides.
The entire experience is magical. Especially Magic Kingdom for the kids. Grab a brochure and look at the times for the parades & shows. Go ahead of pick our a few "FAST PASSES" around the parades/shows you do not want to miss. You can also see when the character meet & greets are scheduled. Your kids will love that.
Here are our favorite rides:
- Peter Pan's Flight
- Adventures of Winner the Pooh
- Under the Sea (Little Mermaid)
- It's a Small World
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Jungle Cruise
- Monsters Inc, Laugh Floor
- Mickey's PhilharMagic
- Mad Tea Party
I recommend you snag a Fast Pass for the following because they are MOST crowded:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Enchanted Tales with Belle (never been but I've heard good things)
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
BEST KEPT SECRETS:
We recently discovered this and it blew our socks off. Since you have little ones... you cannot leave them and ride your adult rides. However, you can get a rider-swap card. Simply ask of the Disney employees managing that lines about the rider swap. Here is how it works: one parent goes first (waits in line) while the other stays with the kids (bless your heart). However, when the first parents comes out, the second parent can use that rider swap card to break to the front of the line so NO WAITING. boom.
Our toddler loves this one. He wants to ride rides with both mommy & daddy sometimes, but what if we aren't able to carry the baby on... that is where parent swap saves the day. One parent can take the child through the line and ask the Disney employee for a parent swap card. And when the child and that parent are complete with the ride... the other parent can take that same child through the ride again (so parents can witness the joy on their little ones face. We love this one.)
ALL IN ALL -- I'm not an expert about Disney, but I do make sure that we have enough time to enjoy the day without exhausting ourselves, so nobody ends up with tantrums and meltdowns.
I think that's only happened once, and we go quite often.
You do not have to ride every single ride. I know it sounds fun and it's exciting and if you've never been before you want to experience it all.
But, if you ask around and ask advice for the top seven rides or top five rides this will make things much easier.
That way you're not overwhelming or exhausting yourself and your children.
If you go and enjoy the day, enjoy the food, enjoy the pet parades, you're going to have a fantastic time. No matter what you were able to "fit into your schedule." Just focus on enjoying each other. Being grateful that you are there. Smiling a lot and snapping good photos and reminisce about soon.
Thanks for reading and I hope this was helpful -- I encourage every one to ONE DAY take a family Disney Trip. To make the of your time, plan ahead, be prepared and.. relax!
If this has helped you and you want more family fun tips like this, join my #LoveFastLiveSlow community who receives tips like this a few times a month. I don't spam. I am just all about helping you a live healthier, happier and more fulfilling life.
Disney for the win!