I’ve done a lot of research in planning Disney vacations over the years. It seems like I’m currently writing the book on planning a trip to Disney World. This one is a little extra special to me as I finish up the final plans fin taking my daughter on her first trip. It’s a completely different vantage point than all of my other trips which were go, go, go! While I’m not following all of these rules for my trip, following several of them will help make your vacation a success.
- Stay in close proximity to one of the parks. Magic Kingdom has the most kid friendly attractions so that’s my first choice for anyone with kids. Although many of the resorts on the monorail are more costly, it’s invaluable to be able to walk or take a quick ride for nap time (instead of waiting for a bus and then riding it back to your resort). A good alternative is Wilderness Lodge. While it’s not on the monorail line, it’s close enough to give you good access to Magic Kingdom with a shortened travel time. Another great resort option would be the hotels near the rear entrance of Epcot. This offers a short walk to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios. If you want to save your feet, take the Friendship boats which drop you off just steps away from entrances of each park.
- Take a break in the middle of the day. This advice isn’t just for those with kids, it’s good for everyone! I think that many people try and go, go, go their first day and get worn out. Take a break when park crowds get heavy (or when the sun gets too hot). Go swim in your hotel pool, have lunch at a nearby restaurant (in or out of the park), explore a nearby resort, or take a little cat nap. Return late in the afternoon and then stay until park close (or post fireworks show). With FastPass+, you have the benefit of using your evening park time for big attractions without the wait!
- Take an off day. When staying 5+ nights at Disney, it’s nice to have a down day with no parks. Enjoy a pool day, explore another resort, head to Downtown Disney to shop and sleep in! There are so many exciting things to do at all the Disney resorts outside of the park like movies at your resort (or another – check out ones that have them on the beach), a marshmallow roast, Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach of one of the monorail resorts, animal watching at Animal Kingdom Lodge are just a few of my favorites. Plus these are all free! What a great way to save a little money.
- Decide if park hoppers are for you. There are pros and cons to park hopping at any age. For short trips, I suggest that guests add on park hoppers. I also suggest them for adults and seasoned vets regardless of how long the trip. You get to see more in less time with Park Hoppers and it kind of forces you to take a little break during the day (see #2).You also can use the FastPass+ system to your advantage. Schedule those FastPasses in the second park of the day and enjoy shorter lines for major attractions. I wouldn’t say don’t park hop with younger kids and longer vacations by any means! If you have it in your budget and you want to park hop, do it! Just know that it adds more travel time and a little bit more planning up front.
- Bring snacks. Did you know that Disney allows you to bring snacks and drinks from the outside into the park? Yep! As long as bottles are not glass or alcoholic beverages, you are free to bring in what you choose. Little snacks are great to have while waiting in line or to take a small break. Plus it saves you money for other things!
- Don’t try to do too much. Take it slow and don’t rush around with little legs trying to catch up. The vacation is for all of you. Enjoy some of the magic as they see things for the very first time.
- Plan your dining. If you want to see characters while in Disney, dining is a great way to accomplish it. Check out what characters are available and where they dine and make your reservation early! Cinderella’s Royal Table (for dinner) and Chef Mickey’s (any meal) fill up fast. Remember, if you book your trip 6 months out, you can take advantage of the 180+10 rule which allows you to book dining for your entire trip before others! If you are doing a character meal, book it in the middle or later in your trip. This gives you ample time to cancel if your little one doesn’t do well with characters!
- Know height restrictions. Some Disney rides have a minimum height restriction. Many of the major ones are 42 inches or under, but there are some that are taller (Space Mountain is 44 inches). You don’t want disappointment on arrival, so measure before you go and plan accordingly.
- Find characters for Meet & Greet. Plan ahead and know where you can find each character. For example, Rapunzel is ONLY in Magic Kingdom. The best place to meet princesses outside of dining experiences is in World Showcase in Epcot. Mickey is almost everywhere, but the shortest lines tend to be in Animal Kingdom. You can also have an air conditioned character meet in Epcot. Pick up the a schedule at the park on your way in for more details. Little bonus tip. If you see a photopass photographer in a random location (often shaded), it usually means a character is coming soon. Feel free to ask the cast member for details and wait around for a few minutes. It could be your shortest way for a character meet in your time at Disney!
- Set a budget for souvenirs. Like anyone, kids want to take home something from their vacation, especially from the House of Mouse! There are several ways to combat excessive spending during their trip. You can give each kid a gift card for spending money, bring little gifts with you each day and distribute when you return from the parks (as Tinkerbell’s Pixie Dust), or set a special time aside to shop in Downtown Disney which has the most to choose from. It will help combat questions every day in the parks. If you do allow them to shop in the parks, you can have your items delivered to your resort at no charge (then you don’t have to carry things around every day!)
Enjoy the time with your little ones and capture every moment. To make things even easier, add Memory Maker on to your reservation to enjoy as many photos as you’d like! What’s Memory Maker? AWESOME. Check out the details and what it’s all about.
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!