our family has been to Disney World in Florida twice, and it definitely ranks as one of our favorite vacations. both times, we completely surprised the kids and didn't tell them we were going until the DAY OF! i wrote about our first trip here and our second trip here. but i get asked a lot about tips for taking kids to Disney World. if you are planning a trip to Disney World, first and foremost, make the most of it and have FUN!
here are my 6 quick tips for taking the kids to Disney World:
1. best time to go: i have heard from "insiders" that the best time of year to go to Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida is after Easter, after Spring Break, and at the first of the New Year when everyone goes back to school in January. we went the week after Easter in 2009 and it was perfect weather, and smaller crowds. we went the week before Easter in 2013 and it was unusually cold and crowded. that said, the weather and crowds did not spoil our fun. Disney World is special, magical, and memorable regardless. other than the time of year, also consider your children's ages for the best time to go to Disney World. the first time we went, Bubba was 9 months old and Big Girl was just 4. we were contending with naptimes, strollers, diapers, diaper bags, newly potty trained, breast-feeding, and sippy cups. lots of work, still fun. this time, our kids are 4 and 8 and it was a breeeeeeze in comparison. no strollers, independent potty-ers, no naps, no diaper bags, self-feeders! at 8, i was a little worried that Big Girl had outgrown the Disney Princesses, but when we got there and she saw that big beautiful castle, she fell in love with them all over again! and at 4, Bubba was the perfect age to get the "magic" of Disney.
|watching the parade at Magic Kingdom|
|Hollywood Studios in coordinating colored shirts|
|meeting Donald Duck at Animal Kingdom|
- ID bracelets - definitely get these and put them on your child(ren) each day for your peace of mind. these also make great "if found, return to" tags for backpacks, bags, and strollers.
- Parades - try to catch at least one during your visit to Disney World. they are entertaining, a few minutes to sit and relax, and an opportunity to see multiple characters at once.
- Photo Pass - Disney park photographers will offer to take your picture with characters and at scenic areas of the parks. take advantage of this! it's no obligation, you get to see the digital copies when you get home and decide to purchase if you choose. if not, no big deal.
- Autographs & Character Greetings - definitely get/make an autograph book and make this part of your Disney experience. (i made our autograph books) the lines are sometimes insane, but the look on your child's face when she gets up close and personal with her favorite Disney character is well worth it! i have waited in line for more than an hour so our family could "meet" Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and i will never forget the looks on my children's faces!
- Fast Pass - this is a line-jumper option for some of the rides and shows at the Disney parks. think call-ahead seating. before you go to the park, map out which rides or shows you want to do, and see if they offer a Fast Pass for it. if there is a Fast Pass for your favorite ride/show, get it first thing. this is a huge time-saver! it can mean the difference between waiting in line 75 minutes or 15 minutes. on our last visit, we got a Fast Pass to meet four Disney Princesses, and we got in to see them in 5 minutes whereas others were waiting in line for more than an hour!
- Play areas & Baby centers - each park has play areas and Baby Centers. the play areas make great spots to wait for a Fast Pass to start, have a snack, or let restless children run off some energy. Baby Centers are clean and air conditioned buildings for changing diapers, nursing, bathrooms, and first aide. look for them on the park maps and take advantage!
- Souvenirs - gift shops and kiosks are every where you look at Disney World parks. plan ahead to prevent your kids from catching a case of the "i wants." what worked for us was letting our kids know ahead of time that they had a certain dollar amount to spend on 1 souvenir but they couldn't buy it until the last day of our visit. that way, they had all week to "shop." we gave them other guidelines, too: their souvenir had to be Disney unique - it couldn't be something that we could buy at Target, it had to be a long-lasting gift (no balloons, candy, coloring books) and it had to be something that every time they saw it or played with it, it would remind them of this vacation. on our last day at Disney World, both kids were so excited to choose their very special gift.
what am i forgetting? what tips can you share from your experience at Walt Disney World or Disney Land?