My little girl turns one today! In honor of this proud mommy moment and thoughts of taking her to Disney World for the first time next year, I wanted to pass along things you need to know when traveling to Disney with little ones for the first time. I did post some tips and tricks for traveling with kids 5 and under which were very well received. These are some mom tested suggestions and ideas that I think will really help make your Disney World vacation great.
- Bring or rent a stroller. I know your kiddo is turning 4 or 5 and they’ve been walking on their own at the zoo for over a year. Disney World is a whole different animal. We easily log 10 miles a day as we saunter around for several hours. The last thing your tired feet will want to do is carry around a 35 pound kiddo. Plus, now you have a place to store snacks, ponchos, an extra pair of shoes, sunscreen, and more.
- Know your stroller rental options and the cost. Renting a stroller from Disney is EXPENSIVE. A double stroller is over $30. Airlines typically allow you to check a stroller at the gate for no additional cost so if you have one you can borrow or bring, DO IT! If you do rent a stroller through Disney and you park hop, keep your receipt. When you get to your 2nd park, they will issue you a new stroller at no cost (as long as it’s the same day). You can’t take them from one park to another though, so plan accordingly. Also know that it’s a mad rush to return strollers at the end of the night if you rent through Disney.
- Bring a diaper or two. Every mom has a few leftover diapers after potty training. Even if you are past the point of diapers, it’s nice to have in case of an emergency. When you’re 5 minutes away from seeing Cinderella after waiting for 30 minutes, the last thing you want to hear is “mom, I have to go potty!”
- Don’t try to see everything in one day. Even as adults, we don’t try and do every attraction in one day. Slow down a little bit and enjoy the sights and sounds of Disney!
- Use the baby care center. Each park has one and has changing tables, rocking chairs, bottle warmers, and a nursing area. There’s also a baby specific store with extra diapers, baby food, formula, etc. So if you run out or forget to put something in the diaper bag, Disney has you covered (for a bit of a premium cost of course!)
- Prepare your kids for lines. We know everyone wants to see Mickey Mouse NOW. Prepping your kids for lines will help the wait process less painful. The more you can tell your kids, the better! If you need to bring a book or something to keep them entertained, do it. Just try and keep the noisy toys at home.
- Don’t force them onto attractions! While you may not think something is scary, don’t under estimate the power of kid minds. I’ve seen full out meltdowns getting onto Pirates of the Caribbean (and throughout the entire ride). Be mindful that other guests are trying to have a good time. There’s always an exit strategy if things aren’t going well and cast members are happy to help get you out of a sticky situation!
- Start your park day early. If you have a baby or toddler “alarm clock” like I do, you might has well start your day with early morning magic hours or for rope drop. I only suggest taking advantage of early morning magic hours if you have park hoppers to allow you to jump to another park the same day. This also gives you a great opportunity to get out of the park and take a break for lunch, a nap, or some pool time.
- Plan your FastPasses. Know where characters. Even though you still might wait 10 minutes to see Rapunzel, it beats the 30-60 minutes it normally is.
- Stay away from peak travel times. Traveling in October or early November is the most ideal (my opinion). Crowds are low, the weather isn’t as hot (but still nice enough for a swim), and you get the benefit of the Food & Wine Festival as well as special Magic Kingdom events (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party). You’ll also save money by traveling off peak. Spring Break, June, July, and most of August are pretty busy and HOT. Your little one will get more worn out in the hot sun and you’ll spend more on drinks while you’re there!
- BYOW. Bring your own water. There are no rules against bringing food or water into Disney parks. Word to the wise, no glass, no alcoholic beverages, and no hard sided coolers. Other than that, you’re free to bring what you please!
- Add on Memory Maker. While it doesn’t completely eliminate the need for a camera, it will allow you to have family photos, and enjoy some of the magical moments without being behind the lens. For more about Memory Maker, check out “What Memory Maker All About”
- If you want to dine with characters, make plans early. Seriously. 3 months out, don’t expect to get a breakfast reservation with Cinderella or dinner at Akershus before 8 pm. Plan ahead. Disney can be a 12 month planning adventure. Link up with a Disney travel agent to help make your plans easier!
- Consider spending a bit more for location! You’ll pay more for a prime Disney location, but when it’s naptime, you won’t want to wait for a bus! Also check out the deluxe villas. You can get a 1 bedroom suite to have separation between the adults and the kids who will likely go down to bed before you’re ready! Art of Animation (a value resort) also has this option at a bit lower cost!
- Let mom and dad have a break. Disney offers pay per service child care facilities. Take a night off from the kids and have a nice dinner or take a romantic carriage ride. Disney definitely thinks of everything!
- 10 Tips for Traveling with a children 5 and under
- Disney World Tips & Tricks
- Disney World Tips & Tricks: More Time Savers
- Disney World Tips & Tricks: Help for your First Visit
Ready to get started planning your 2015 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!