Disney World in Diapers (a mom’s survival guide)

Pluto FoF

It’s the age old argument – is a child in diapers too young to experience Disney World? If you would have asked me before I had a child, I probably would have said yes, but taking a child to Disney World THREE times before potty training, it was actually a really easy experience! It also brings up the questions “how young is too young for Disney?” and “what’s the point if they won’t remember it?” That’s another conversation for another day, but back to diapers.

So why did I like taking my child under 3/in diapers to Disney? Because it was EASY! No asking “do you have to go potty” before we got into every queue/line. No worrying about accidents in line or trying to keep up with potty training while exploring the parks.

Every single bathroom we encountered (both mens and ladies) had a diaper changing area in them (the mens line was always shorter and I’m very appreciative my husband was up for regular diaper duty and investigation when he didn’t have our girl with him). You also have the baby care center which is located inside each of the parks as well.

The only “bad” part about a kiddo in diapers is the additional supplies you need to bring with you to the parks – extra diapers, wipes, and an extra change of clothes (or two). That also means a bag of some sort to bring with you. For us, it didn’t take up that much extra space and we had a bag with us anyways – backpack mama here, but for those that are used to touring without a backpack, it may be cumbersome! In general, most families that have a child in diapers will also have a stroller, so plenty of storage with a stroller.

In the hot months, hydration is important so being able to keep your child well hydrated without worrying about running to a bathroom after every attraction you experience is also helpful!

A little bit of a look into the question of “what’s the point, my young child won’t remember the experience”. Yes, this may be true. My kiddo remembered the experience from her first to her second trip and after our third adventure, she talks about visiting her “friends” at Mickey’s house. I don’t know that she’ll remember those specific experiences forever but SOME of the trip is honestly for us as well! For me, making the memories with my family is the best art of bringing a young child to Disney parks. It’s pure magic and brings tears to my eyes! Since we know that trip is also for the adults, rider switch is also a helpful piece of taking a child in diapers to Disney. Rider switch is used for attractions with height restrictions. This allows adults (and older siblings) to experience these attractions while avoiding the wait time! For a full rundown on Rider switch, visit my Mom’s guide!

So you’re on board with bringing your little one to Disney. The other great benefit is that children under three are FREE! And

My girl with her main man...I mean mouse!

My girl with her main man…I mean mouse!

in an era where almost nothing is free without any strings being attached to it, this is a wonderful benefit. Children who arrive before their third birthday do not have to pay for park admission, don’t count toward room maximum occupancy, and can share from an adult plate at no additional cost at any dining location. If the dining location is served family or buffet style, children under 3 may have their own plate of food at no cost to the parents! That’s an amazing benefit for me and why we went THREE times before my daughter turned 3.

So how do you get your diapers and supplies to Disney? You have a few different options!

  • Pack them and bring them with. If you are driving, that’s easy! If you are flying, you can pack them in a carry on bag, or pack them with your luggage. We often fly Southwest because we get 2 free checked bags. One bag is often filled with diapers, wipes, snacks, and other supplies to keep kids and adults happy while touring the parks. Some carriers charge for checked AND carry on bags, so know your options and any additional cost before you pack.
  • Ship them to your resort. You can ship them from Amazon or other online retailers directly to your resort without paying a premium for the supplies themselves. You will need to property address them to ensure they go directly to your resort and not a receiving and distribution center before making its way to your resort. Shipments should arrive no earlier than 7 days from your arrival date.
  • Order them from a local delivery – GardenGrocer.com is a great option. You can also get some other basic food options including fresh fruit, milk, juice, or maybe even some breakfast items.
  • Purchasing them from your Disney resort. This is a really expensive option, but in a pinch, it’s a viable option.
  • Don’t forget the swim diapers too!
A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 or 2017 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!

 

When should I take my child on our first Disney vacation?

Disney-World-First-Visit-Button

So you want to go to a Disney World with a toddler or baby but they think are too young? I thought the same thing, but when we took our daughter for the first time at 19 months in December of 2014, it ended up being one of the most amazing experiences and something could have never imagined! We had an absolutely amazing time! First, this is not the vacation you’ve done in the past if you’ve been to Disney without kids. The pace is slower, your list of attractions is different, and you’ll be more mentally exhausted than you’ll imagine. That being said, it will likely be your most memorable vacation ever. I talked earlier this week about memories being the best souvenirs and this first trip with my little girl really, taught me that it’s the truth! Since her first trip, we’ve been two more times and it gets a little easier each time but it’s still a little exhausting.

Here’s a survival guide for moms, dads, and grandparents!

STEP ONE: PLANNING

Know the limitations of your little one. Don’t assume a stroller nap, don’t assume they’ll handle things as if it’s daily life or

My girl with her main man...I mean mouse!

My girl with her main man…I mean mouse!

that they will stay at their regular routine. It likely won’t happen! Yes there will likley still be a nap, but it might be earlier, it might be later, it might be for 20 minutes while you wait for the bus and that’s IT (those lucky parents need a hug).

Resort choice. We picked Art of Animation for extra space which proved to be helpful. Going back in time, I might have chosen something closer to Magic Kingdom since it’s where we spent the most time. It would have been a convenient break to get back there faster when it was nap time and to return after the nap. Our daughter loved the splash pad at the resort. It was the perfect place for her to play in the water and run. Of course, the strong Disney theme was well loved by everyone in our party! Not something you’ll get at a deluxe resort.

Our second time around, we went for convenience – Wilderness Lodge. It gave us a quick escape from Magic Kingdom (which we spent 3 days in) so we had a solid nap/break each day! We didn’t have a suite here but it was a great place, kid friendly and had some amazing cast members. It’s my favorite resort and we’ll most definitely return back there because of our wonderful experience! It’s in the Magic Kingdom area but it’s a bit off the beaten path so the resort it’s fairly quiet which makes nap time easier (a note that there is construction on the resort through 2017).

When to go. If you don’t have older kids to worry about school breaks, go during lower crowd times: times in January, February, end of April or early May, September, and parts of October (this one is a little iffy!), November, and December. Check crowd calendars first! If you can stay away the hottest summer temps and the rainy season, you will all have a better time.

PhotoPass_Visiting_Magic_Kingdom_Park_7123356048To dine or not to dine? Dining plan with a kid? We did it. Would do it again! We were pretty full with our meals and had enough to share. We got a nice surprise at Via Napoli and our princess received a free meal off the menu! The other locations, she shared off our plates. Most of our snack credits went right to her. Yogurt, milk, and more. While it’s not the best use of our credits dollar for dollar, it was free dining, so no big deal in my book and she was happy!

Our most recent trip we opted to pay for a dining plan. With our daughter still under 3, it was worth the $$$ for us, as we chose mostly character dining (buffet style) and family style meals like Ohana. Snack credits were used more for pretzels, popcorn, LeFou’s Brew, and coffee for mom and dad. We had a grocery delivery of milk, juice, yogurt, bread, peanut butter, etc so the picky princess had food to eat without us paying for something she might eat. Being outside the home makes for a struggle to keep routine (as my girl is all about her routine so mealtime was difficult!)

Kids splash area at Wilderness Lodge. A nice little afternoon break from the action!

Kids splash area at Wilderness Lodge. A nice little afternoon break from the action!

Day off? If your trip is more than 5 nights, YES take a full day off. If you’re staying 5 nights or less, a half day off would be welcomed. We went to breakfast and went shopping and splashed around in the pool. It was great! We didn’t have to worry about sticking to a schedule. I’d argue to potentially make the first full day an off day and NOT go to the parks while you get used to your new surroundings. If you have a creature of habit, it makes for a less intense shock of jumping right into the theme park experience. I wouldn’t have said this until our most recent trip (which was our third with her). The first time, we jumped right now, the second we took 2 days to get used to the time change, being in a new location, and just hung by the pool and had dinner, and then hit the parks on the 3rd day of a 10 day vacation. I know that length of time is not available to everyone, but it made for a bigger success story!

STEP TWO: DINING RESERVATIONS

If you’re planning any dining, make sure it’s not within an hour of when they normally go down or wake up from a nap at home. That gives you some flexibility. Don’t plan a dinner too late in the evening when they are ready for bed.

Character meals?Make it at least your 2nd day in to give your child an opportunity to meet a character in the parks to ensure that up close experience with a character isn’t terrifying!That gives you a chance to cancel without penalty. Try out a character or two early in your stay to see how your kid does. If they are terrified, don’t force them into an experience and be mindful of other families around!

Think about places with larger portion sizes so you can share (or something your kiddo would enjoy sharing). If you choose a family style or buffet location, toddlers get their own plate of food. We enjoyed Boma for breakfast. Our pumpkin got a whole plate of food – pancakes, eggs, fruit, yogurt, and more! It was the perfect way to start our day.

If your little one falls asleep in a stroller before a dining experience, you can absolutely take your stroller into the restaurant. If he or she is awake, you’ll have to bring them without the stroller.

STEP THREE: FASTPASS SELECTION

60 days prior to arrival, you choose FastPasses. An exciting milestone for your trip! This is a great way to meet characters MK_PFTHBLUEC1CHAR_7258351032if it’s on the to do list! You can meet Mickey, Anna & Elsa, Tinkerbell, and Cinderella & Rapunzel in Magic Kingdom; Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy in Epcot; Mickey and Minnie in Animal Kingdom. Previous to traveling, I would have said seeing a character more than once would be overkill, but after coming back, we couldn’t get enough characters! We looked for Goofy and Mickey again and again and the less times we had to stand in the line, the better! Our favorite new home is Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Magic Kingdom. We got to see most of our favorite friends: Minnie, Daisy, Goofy, and Donald. They are not dressed in their traditional attire, but it was still a great experience with lower lines. It’s indoor and air conditioned and lines are really low the first couple hours the park is open.

If characters are scary, find all of the family friendly rides and things without height requirements. Know which attractions are dark rides. My daredevil loved everything from Haunted Mansion to Pirates of the Caribbean but they can be scary for toddlers. She just yelled “DARK” every time we went to a dark ride.

The second time around, the rides were not top billing and we found ourselves meeting more characters and the third time it was ALL about the rides. She even braved Barnstormer – a mini-coaster in Magic Kingdom, something I never would have believed would happen!

STEP FOUR: PREPPING FOR TRAVEL

Bring snacks so your toddler can eat on demand. Pack lots of extra clothes for varying temperatures. Bring a backpack or comfortable bag to bring to the park to store all of your stuff. Think about the stuff you use all the time at home – sippy cups, toddler silverware, place mats, and bibs.

You may want to purchase things for delivery to keep in your resort’s mini fridge: milk, fruit, yogurt, etc. This is expensive stuff from Disney’s little “markets”. We were fine without it!

How about diapers? Thanks to Southwest, we brought an entire suitcase of diapers, wipes, and snacks! If we had to pay for baggage, we wouldn’t have as much flexibility.

Stroller? Do you want to bring one or rent one? We rented one and it was great! It folded easily and quickly and was delivered right to our resort. It was less expensive than renting it daily from Disney as well and more comfortable for our daughter to sit in! After our first trip, we purchased the same style stroller for future use as we are frequent travelers and brought it with us on future vacations. It’s nice to have a stroller in the airport and you just gate check it. I thought it would be a nuisance but it’s actually quite helpful to have navigating the airport!

STEP FIVE: TIME FOR TRAVEL!

Be flexible! Things don’t always go as planned. Know how to change your FastPass reservations through your My Disney PhotoPass_Visiting_Disneys_Hollywood_Studios_7126418491Experience account. Get to the parks early! Don’t try and stretch your kid too far for late fireworks if they are tired. Don’t try and do too much and enjoy the moments! Don’t stand in really long lines where your toddler will get bored and frustrated! While we didn’t do much “big kid” stuff, it was still a great time! We didn’t see much late night activity, but it was a totaly different pace which I really enjoyed. My feet were less tired.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! We’ve done it a total of 3 times and we’ll go back again and again as long as she enjoys it!

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 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 vacation 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!

Disney World With toddlers and babies: Do I need a car seat?

 

For first timers or traveling for the first time with kids, I get this question a lot: Do I need a car seat? Generally the answer is NO and here’s why…

If you are taking Disney transportation around all of the theme parks, car seats are not allowed. Not allowed on Magical Express and you’ll be asked to stow it under the bus where the luggage is. Your little ones can sit on your lap or in a seat next to you. There are seat belts available inside Magical Express buses although I don’t know that I’ve ever seen them used.

Disney theme park buses. These are more like city buses – hard plastic seats and no seat belts available. Again, you can keep your little ones on your lap or in the seat next to you. During peak travel (as parks are opening and closing), you’ll find that buses are often crowded. Most guests will get up and allow a parent with a small child to have a seat during the quick ride home. If you are concerned or unsure if the kindness of strangers will prevail, you always have the opportunity to wait for the next bus and allow others to go.

Situations where you would need a car seat – If you are renting a car to go off Disney property – beach day? Sea World? Visiting family? This is better than renting a car seat from a rental agency. From what I’ve been told they are less than ideal! Instead of renting a car, consider a car service. While it may be a bit more, there’s no chance you’ll ruin a car seat in transit on the airplane or worry about the extra piece of “luggage” to drag with you through the airport and getting your resort. The good private car locations have built in booster seats and/or car seats!

In general, just leave the car seat at home. Let Disney do the driving – sit back and relax! Let the kids stand up and look out the window and take in all of the magic of Disney World. For the very little ones, wear those babies! This may be a good reason to bring that baby carrier – if he or she is too little to sit in a regular stroller, it’s one of the few appropriate cases! Its also a nice way to cool both you and baby off because as a baby wearing mom, I know it can get warm!

Any questions moms and dads? I’d love to hear from you! I know bringing a really little one to Disney might be scary, so I’m here to calm your fears!

Tips and Tricks for Disney World Rider Switch

 

Rider switch is confusing, especially for first timers. Even this seasoned veteran was confused how it works and how we can maximize our FastPass allotments each day. There’s a lot of things you can ready online, but what’s up to date and what actually makes sense for the average user?

I read about Disney A LOT and this is one I read up on quite a bit before our last Disney trip in December, the first time we took our daughter. I also corresponded a lot with friends who have been traveling with little ones several times.

The point of rider switch is twofold:Rider Switch Ticket

1. Allow adults to enjoy the “big kid” rides at Disney
2. Allow families with children of varying age ranges and interest in thrill seeking attractions to enjoy everything Disney has to offer

Families with 2 adults and toddlers or pre-school age children only

For those without older kids, this guide is for you. Mom and dad are taking their 3 year old daughter, Susie on her first Disney World trip. SO exciting! Susie wants to meet Anna & Elsa, Ariel, and ride the Disney World railroad. Mom and dad really want to try the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and relive the excitement of Space Mountain from their previous trips before having a child. So how does rider switch work?

With or without a FastPass, your general instructions are the same – your entire party proceeds to the cast member at the entrance of the attraction. The majorly important part is that the child needs to be present for this. You request a rider switch ticket and it will be issued to you. This works like the old FastPass system and is a paper ticket with no expiration time. It can be used any time during that day.

  • Mom scheduled a FastPass for dad to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train while she and Susie go to meet Ariel at her Grotto using their two FastPasses.
  • Dad uses his FastPass and then meets the family at pre-determined location (Pete’s Silly Sideshow)
  • Mom takes the rider switch ticket she received earlier in the day while dad takes Susie to meet Goofy and Donald.
  • Mom gets to use the FastPass line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train utilizing her rider switch ticket
  • Mom meets dad and Susie back at Pete’s and then continue on with their park time
  • EACH GUEST ONLY USES 1 FASTPASS

Families with 2 adults with both older children AND pre-schoolers/toddlers

This is where I think the system gets a bit more confusing. The rider switch tickets clearly state that the pass is good for UP TO 3 guests per ticket. For a family of 5: mom, dad, Brian age 10, John age 6 and Susie age 3, everyone can still have fun riding rides with height requirements. I’ll use the same scenario as above but adding the other two boys into the mix.

 

  • Mom scheduled a FastPass for dad, Brian, and John to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train while she and Susie go to meet Ariel at her Grotto using their two FastPasses.
  • All 3 boys use their FastPasses and then meets the family at pre-determined location (Pete’s Silly Sideshow)
  • Mom takes the rider switch ticket she received earlier in the day while dad takes Susie to meet Goofy and Donald.
  • Mom takes Brian and John with her and uses FastPass line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train utilizing her rider switch ticket
  • Mom and the boys meets dad and Susie back at Pete’s and then continue on with their park time
  • EACH GUEST ONLY USES 1 FASTPASS

The kids are the huge beneficiaries of this system as they can ride both times (once with a FastPass and once with the rider switch ticket).

What if I don’t have a FastPass?

The system also works well without a FastPass. You will just have to use the standby line for the first adult (or adult and kids) riding. Same goes for the adult staying behind with kids that are too small to ride. They can enjoy a non-FastPass character meet and greet, splash around in Casey’s Splash and Soak in Magic Kingdom, grab a snack or find another nearby distraction.

A HUGE ASTERISK to this plan. While it has been tested and works for families, it is up to the discretion of the cast member to make changes to this policy. It is a slight risk not including all of your party members in big ticket attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train if you plan on rider switching. For our upcoming trip, I did book my husband and I both FastPasses for that attraction but SPLIT our passes for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. If for some reason, I couldn’t ride it, I wouldn’t be as upset as not riding Seven Dwarfs again.

Still have questions about this process? Feel free to comment below and I’d be happy to clear up any pieces to the puzzle! While this process is still newer to me (having traveled as an adult without kids more than with them), I have a firm understanding of it!

 

Which Disney destination to take my child under age 3

Disney Cruise or Disney World for kids under age 3

I often get questions about what the most appropriate age is to take your child to any Disney destination. I think any age is a great time to take your child to Disney! Well diapers aren’t extremely easy (especially to pack), neither is taking a recently potty trained child. So what’s the best destination to take your under three-year-old child? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each one.

Disney World

Pros:

  • Any child under age 3 is free for park tickets and dining plan. They also do not count toward the room maximum.
  • It is a great way to introduce your child to their favorite Disney characters
  • No worries about seasickness
  • Rider swap option on many major attractions will still allow adults have fun
  • Ample food options throughout property
  • No age restrictions on any pools or swimming opportunities

Cons:

  • Only the more expensive accommodations makes taking a break outside of the parks a convenient option
  • Parks are very large and pushing a stroller might be tiring
  • Lots of noise

Disney Cruises

Pros:

  • Leans itself to an easy opportunity for frequent breaks
  • No issues getting back to your room for naptime
  • Lots of character interaction with shorter lines

Cons:

  • Regardless of age Disney Cruise Line requires you to pay for children in your room
  • Even children under three count towards the room maximum
  • Kids activity center start at age 3 (under age 3 is a fee-for-service “nursery” which isn’t cheap)
  • Some pools are off-limits for kids that aren’t potty trained

The final decision of where to take your child on their first Disney trip is up to you, my strong recommendation is that Disney World is a first choice until they turn at least three years old. You’ll get more for your money and they will enjoy the Disney Cruise Line experience more as they are able to enter the kids activity centers as well as some of the more elaborate pool adventures for kids that are three and older. While both locations have a fee-for-service/babysitting options for children under three, Disney Cruise Line offers the kids activity centers which are included in your cost for your sailing while Disney World child services are paid regardless of their age.

If your child is over age 3 and you’re looking for a destination think about how active you’d like to be during your time. Disney World is less of a “vacation” then lots of activities, while Disney Cruise line is more relaxing. You can enjoy adult only activities,  adult only dining, and the kids can meet new friends all well and enjoying the magic of Disney in a family friendly environment. You also have to decide how long you’d like to stay. Cruises are a bit better for shorter trips. Disney World is best for a longer period of time where you can take your time a bit and enjoy everything the parks have to offer!

I highly recommend both opportunities as your family continues to age and grow. You’ll notice some major differences between the two, but both are amazing and unforgettable experiences!

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!

Disney World under 3 – a survival guide!

Disney World Under 3: A Parents Survival Guide

So you want to go to a Disney World with a toddler. I did it, survived it, and had an absolutely amazing time! First, this is not the vacation you’ve done in the past if you’ve been to Disney without kids. The pace is slower, your list of attractions is different, and you’ll be more mentally exhausted than you’ll imagine. That being said, it will likely be your most memorable vacation ever.

STEP ONE: PLANNING

Know the limitations of your little one. Don’t assume a stroller nap, don’t assume they’ll handle things as if it’s daily life or that they will stay at their regular routine. It likely won’t happen! Yes there will likley still be a nap, but it might be earlier, it might be later, it might be for 20 minutes while you wait for the bus and that’s IT (those lucky parents need a hug).

Resort choice. We picked Art of Animation for extra space which proved to be helpful. Going back in time, I might have chosen something closer to Magic Kingdom since it’s where we spent the most time. It would have been a convenient break to get back there faster when it was nap time and to return after the nap. Our daughter loved the splash pad at the resort. It was the perfect place for her to play in the water and run. Of course, the strong Disney theme was well loved by everyone in our party! Not something you’ll get at a deluxe resort.

When to go. If you don’t have older kids to worry about school breaks, go during lower crowd times: times in January, February, September, and parts of October, November, and December. Check crowd calendars first! If you can stay away the hottest summer temps and the rainy season, you will all have a better time.

PhotoPass_Visiting_Magic_Kingdom_Park_7123356048To dine or not to dine? Dining plan with a kid? We did it. Would do it again! We were pretty full with our meals and had enough to share. We got a nice surprise at Via Napoli and our princess received a free meal off the menu! The other locations, she shared off our plates. Most of our snack credits went right to her. Yogurt, milk, and more. While it’s not the best use of our credits dollar for dollar, it was free dining, so no big deal in my book and she was happy!

Day off? If your trip is more than 5 nights, YES take a full day off. If you’re staying 5 nights or less, a half day off would be welcomed. We went to breakfast and went shopping and splashed around in the pool. It was great! We didn’t have to worry about sticking to a schedule.

STEP TWO: DINING RESERVATIONS

If you’re planning any dining, make sure it’s not within an hour of when they normally go down or wake up from a nap at home. That gives you some flexibility. Don’t plan a dinner too late in the evening when they are ready for bed.

Character meals? Make it later in your trip. That gives you a chance to cancel without penalty. Try out a character or two early in your stay to see how your kid does. If they are terrified, don’t force them into an experience.

Think about places with larger portion sizes so you can share (or something your kiddo would enjoy sharing). If you choose a family style or buffet location, toddlers get their own plate of food. We enjoyed Boma for breakfast. Our pumpkin got a whole plate of food – pancakes, eggs, fruit, yogurt, and more! It was the perfect way to start our day.

If your little one falls asleep in a stroller before a dining experience, you can absolutely take your stroller into the restaurant. If he or she is awake, you’ll have to bring them without the stroller.

STEP THREE: FASTPASS SELECTION

60 days prior to arrival, you choose FastPasses. An exciting milestone for your trip! This is a great way to meet characters if it’s on the to do list! You can meet Mickey, Anna & Elsa, Tinkerbell, and Cinderella & Rapunzel in Magic Kingdom; Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy in Epcot; Mickey and Minnie in Animal Kingdom. Previous to traveling, I would have said seeing a PhotoPass_Visiting_Epcot_7123755462character more than once would be overkill, but after coming back, we couldn’t get enough characters! We looked for Goofy and Mickey again and again and the less times we had to stand in the line, the better! Our favorite new home is Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Magic Kingdom. We got to see most of our favorite friends: Minnie, Daisy, Goofy, and Donald. They are not dressed in their traditional attire, but it was still a great experience with lower lines. It’s indoor and air conditioned and lines are really low the first couple hours the park is open.

If characters are scary, find all of the family friendly rides and things without height requirements. Know which attractions are dark rides. My daredevil loved everything from Haunted Mansion to Pirates of the Caribbean but they can be scary for toddlers. She just yelled “DARK” every time we went to a dark ride.

STEP FOUR: PREPPING FOR TRAVEL

Bring snacks so your toddler can eat on demand. Pack lots of extra clothes for varying temperatures. Bring a backpack or comfortable bag to bring to the park to store all of your stuff. Think about the stuff you use all the time at home – sippy cups, toddler silverware, place mats, and bibs.

You may want to purchase things for delivery to keep in your resort’s mini fridge: milk, fruit, yogurt, etc. This is expensive stuff from Disney’s little “markets”. We were fine without it!

How about diapers? Thanks to Southwest, we brought an entire suitcase of diapers, wipes, and snacks! If we had to pay for baggage, we wouldn’t have as much flexibility.

Stroller? Do you want to bring one or rent one? We rented one and it was great! It folded easily and quickly and was delivered right to our resort. We didn’t have to worry about bringing one with us on the plane and checking it either. It was less expensive than renting it daily from Disney as well and more comfortable for our daughter to sit in!

STEP FIVE: TIME FOR TRAVEL!

Be flexible! Things don’t always go as planned. Know how to change your FastPass reservations through your My Disney PhotoPass_Visiting_Disneys_Hollywood_Studios_7126418491Experience account. Get to the parks early! Don’t try and stretch your kid too far for late fireworks if they are tired. Don’t try and do too much and enjoy the moments! Don’t stand in really long lines where your toddler will get bored and frustrated! While we didn’t do much “big kid” stuff, it was still a great time! We didn’t see much late night activity, but it was a totaly different pace which I really enjoyed. My feet were less tired.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! I can’t wait to take her back to see her favorite friends more and try a character dining experience. I can’t wait for her to remember the experience for the rest of her life!

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

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!

Planning a trip to Disney World with children under 5

disneyunder5

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. 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!
  10. 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.

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

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!