So, we conquered Disney World. Jeff had a work trip come up and at the last (I’m talking very last) moment, we decided to tag along. We spent a few days at the beach near Tampa and one full day at Disney World. We also ended up going back for the Disney Halloween Celebration on Thursday evening.
I was super anxious about Disney. I have seen people plan for years to attend this Magical (pardon the pun) kingdom. I was going in with about 10 days to plan. I put out the all call for tips from my Facebook friends and got back advice ranging from…
Three key strategies: 1) Rent a stoller / it’s good to keep him from having to walk from attraction to attraction which will save you grief and you and use it to carry your bags 2) if you are staying for the fireworks take a break mid-day and go have a nap or rest at the hotel (or find a place in the park to sit and relax a while) 3) dress him in a highly bright / visable shirt. I use to give my kids shirts “from Mickey” (they would wake up with a shirt from mickey in the hotel room – think santa) I bought at a discount Disney store before arriving. This saved me money and I knew I could dress them in things that I could see.
Drink heavily. At all times. And also enjoy what I refer to as the “3p Meltdown” – this is where parents and children alike completely lose it due to exhaustion, crowds, and frustration and everyone begins screaming at each other at once. There will be tears.
Damn, I love my friends. So, after all of that, here is what I learned after doing 15 hours in the Magic Kingdom with a toddler…
Go to the back of the park first.
For us, the back of the park – specifically Fantasyland was the place we knew we wanted to go to first. I wanted to catch Cameron while he was still not too overwhelmed and tired to have that amazing picture on the Tea Cups. We walked right on to all the rides at 11:00 AM. When we came back through there around 3, there was a longer line. The Tea Cups, the Disney Ride and some Winny the Pooh ride were all back here and a great way to slowly get us all in the Disney spirit.
Do the Photopass, but have them always take pictures on your camera also.
Unless someone else takes a picture, I would never exist in family album. At 7 months pregnant, the last thing I wanted was my picture taken, but this is a big trip so I tried to put on my best smile. There are photographers all over the park who are willing to take your picture with their camera. Then then scan a card for you and you can go online when you get home to download the pics. They don’t tell you that every DOWNLOAD, not all but each individual one, is $14.99 each. For one picture. So, every time they took a pic, we had them take one with our camera too. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but at least we didn’t feel as obligated to spend that much on pics with all three of us in it.
Don’t rush your meetings with the characters
Granted, we didn’t have to wait in too many lines just given the time of year that we went, but when we did get a chance to meet a character, we really made sure that we took our time and didn’t feel rushed out by others waiting in line. This was a one time thing for Cameron to meet these “people” and he had plenty of questions. The characters are in their own environments which is different than when I went as a kid. It is much more organized and civilized so be sure to make the most of the time you are spending to meet the characters. Also, be sure to see the note above about the pictures…
Pack for a hike with a stroller
We brought our own stroller, but you can rent them there. If you have two kids or maybe a bit older kids than Cameron, those strollers are a lifesaver. I will say, there were times that we felt like we walked 5 feet and then re-parked our stroller, but overall, it was totally worth it. Also, every time you leave your stroller, we felt like we had to unpack it again. To do it again, I would have brought a smaller backpack and a camera with a smaller lens. I didn’t want to feel like a shirpa, but at the end of the day, it was unavoidable.
This pic is Jeff, trying not to ruin the memory, but not get an “accident” on his shirt. Let the memories begin!
Bring snacks and extra clothes
You pay alot for food in the park. They do allow you to bring in snacks and I’m really glad that we did. We were able to time it out so that we only did one meal and one popcorn snack in the park. Everything else was stuff we brought in from granola bars to fruit pouches. We did break down towards the end and go into the candy store, but luckily Cameron was sleeping so Jeff and I didn’t have to share our loot. Disney is for the kid in all of us right?
Also, about extra clothes…Cameron had a little accident on the monorail on the way into the park. Luckily, I had extra clothes. In addition, we worked hard to help him avoid the new splashpad that they added in Fantesyland. In any case, I would suggest extra clothes or even swim suits if you are going on a warm day.
Buy water there – Drinking Fountain water is AWFUL
We brought collapseable water bottles in our backpack thinking we could fill them up at the water fountains at the park. Let me tell you, that little plan backfired. The water was terrible and I was worried it was going to make us sick. We ended up buying water bottles at the park, but saw a bunch of people bringing in water bottles as well so to do it over again, we would have bought water outside of the park and brought that in or filled up our bottles before we got into the park.
We also did the ticketed Boo To You Halloween event one evening as well. It was amazing and I am so glad we spent a little extra for that. Well worth it. October was a great time to go. Not as many lines, still warm enough but not too hot. Hope this is helpful for those of you wanting to make the trip to the Magical Kingdom!