First, let me preface...this is not a post about my wonderful children and our family trip. Stay tuned for that one...but for now, I wanted to share how to do Disney in a stress-free, perfect, and extremely organized way.
Tip 1: Forget what I just said, that’s impossible. Lol. Disney is crowded, stressful, unpredictable....but oh so much fun (when done right!)
I have been to Disney 12 times. No, we are not wealthy, it has been a mixture of dance trips, band trips, husband is a band director so I go with him now too, and family trips. Over the years...I have learned many do’s and well...many absolute nightmares. Let’s begin.
1. If possible, stay on property. There are MANY resorts that cost less than regular hotel rooms. The All-Star resorts are GREAT and so affordable! Of course, there are expensive ones too...but you don’t spend much time in the room...so don’t stress about booking the Grand Floridian...go for All-Star or another place that is in your price range! We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge this last time. It was gorgeous but transportation was a little flawed. No biggie, but it’s a tad off the beating path. It is also pricey! Still amazing though!
2. With Disney Resorts, you get Disney Transportation to the parks. The transportation runs every 20 minutes. Plan ahead though! The transportation takes some time depending on where you are staying. Nevertheless, it is amazing! You save so much not having to rent a car or pay for parking.
3. Food. We do not do the dining plan. I feel it is a waste. Many don’t believe me...but we eat much cheaper than the dining plan. There are also many restrictions...so check into those beforehand if you choose to do the dining plan.
In the same category, when ordering for kids, they get dessert with their meal! However, most places won’t ask you what they want! Be sure to include that in your order for the kids (it is on the menu.)
4. Disney Magical Express. Do it. You book it ahead of your trip, but it is easy! Basically, they are waiting for you at the airport (and they have your bags delivered to your resort for you!) Free of charge! Same thing when leaving. You can check your bags in (for the airport) AT THE RESORT. They take your bags to the airport and provide transportation for you. Guess who didn’t do that this time?? Me. I didn’t know about it! We paid $120 for Mears Taxi to take us to the airport. And we had to take our bags with us. So stressful. (First world problems? Yes. But oh well.)
5. Stroller options. 1. rent in the park for terrible strollers and pay by the day. 2. bring your own and have it destroyed on the flight...(I’ve done both of these) 3. OR...rent a stroller from Kingdom Strollers! $60 for the whole stay, it is a BOB jogger ($499 value) and it is delivered to your resort and you drop it off there too at the end of your trip! Best decision EVER! Livi LOVED hers!
6. Fast Passes and Disney App. These are a must! We did the magic bands this time. It was awesome. You just get them scanned to go into the park, they are scanned for fast passes, and are linked to your app.
Download the My Disney Experience App. It has an interactive map while you are walking around the parks, you can book your fast passes (these keep you from waiting in lines) and keeps track of dining reservations!
7. Dining Reservations. Book one dining reservation a day to sit down and enjoy a meal with your family. It is a nice break and the restaurants are amazing! Other meals can be snacks or quick service meals.
A few of my must-see recommendations for dining are:
Epcot: Coral Reef and/or Rose and Crown
Magic Kingdom: The Plaza and/or The Crystal Palace (if you have kids—its character dining.)
Hollywood Studios: The 50’s Diner and/or The Brown Derby
Disney Springs: T-Rex Diner
8. Plan your fast passes ahead of time! You can book fast passes 60 days in advance! Do it! The popular rides can have 3 hour waits if you don’t book them! The other rides have a 30 minute to 1 hour wait which isn’t bad! Parades are also a great time to ride the rides. The crowds are swarmed for the parades!
9. Don’t be bashful about asking Disney employees for help! They are so accommodating and want to help! Along those same lines...they have first aid in every park and will give out free medicine. They also have Baby Care Centers. These are nothing short of amazing for moms of little ones! Diapers, baby food, formula, places for moms to nurse, etc! Even rocking chairs so you can rock your baby while he or she naps! So amazing!
10. Security. Pack lightly to go in the parks. Security is tough. You need to have everything unzipped and ready for security to sift through! I’m glad it is so strict but...it can be a pain!
11. Decide what is most important! Fireworks? Rides? Characters?
We skipped the fireworks this year because they are so late at night! Well, late for us. 9:00 or 10:00. They are great, but transportation, after it is over, is a nightmare! Everyone goes to the show, then leaves at the same time! We waited two hours one year for our turn on the bus! If you do the fireworks, leave about 10 minutes before it is over to beat the crowd to the transportation spots! Also, find a spot early for the fireworks. Grab some ice cream and camp out for at least an hour before!
Characters are great but there is no way to see them all! Disney Mommas are a little cray about getting their baby’s picture with Mickey! Lol. The lines are insane! Check your app for character spots and you can beat the line!
Rides are awesome, but as I said earlier...use fast passes! You are only allowed 3 per day. Plan them wisely!
12. My personal preference on parks. Magic Kingdom on Day 1...while you are excited and not exhausted. It is a beating. It’s crowded, people are selfish, and the lines are torture. Do it, have fun, and go drink some wine in your room. You will need it.
Epcot is so fun and relaxing! We do a whole day and a half there! Tons of great things to do!
Hollywood Studios can be done in half a day but is a great place for characters!
Animal Kingdom is great but a tad overrated in my opinion. You can do it in half a day.
And Universal is amazing but not so great for younger kids! Too many big rides! We skipped that this year. But man, I love it. You need a whole day there!
13. Lastly, expect to be a little stressed but breathe and take in the moments. You may not meet every character, and you won’t ride every ride. Your kids will whine about it...but that’s life. Take time to rest during the day so you can recharge!
If you are looking for ride suggestions for each age for each park and which rides to book fast passes for, check out my Disney Ride Post!
Also, here is a link to my favorite Travel Toys for ages 2-6! I hit the jackpot on these! I highly suggest ordering a few (or all of these) to keep your little ones busy on the plane, in the lines or in the car/transportation!
I hope this post has helped any fellow parents that don't just want to survive Disney but want to have a memorable time!
Note: I am not being paid to write this. Also, please forgive any errors. I’m Disney Tired. It is a thing!
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