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Let the Magic Begin: Tips for a Disney Vacation

Recently, we took our two children (ages 4 and 2) to Disney World for a week. Maybe an ambitious adventure, but we had a wonderful trip and learned a few tips along the way. Here’s a few tips!

Get a Disney Planner

Four parks, multiple characters, rides, shows, food, memory maker…what could be so hard about planning all that fun? Once I dove into planning I quickly became overwhelmed. My head was swirling with all the decisions involved with a Disney vacation. If you are not a Disney aficionado, I highly recommend using a Disney vacation planner. Their services are free to you! I would not have survived without our Disney planner. She took care of every detail from hotel accommodations, transportation from the airport, making reservations, reserving fast passes, and she wrote a detailed daily schedule for each day of our trip. She was extremely knowledgeable about Disney and gave us her personal recommendations for each park. The best part of all, she made herself available to me throughout our trip. 

Dining Plan

I was skeptical about purchasing a dining plan at first, mainly because of the cost. Now, I am so happy that we did! We used our table service meals for character dinners. The character dining experiences are expensive to pay for out of pocket, especially if you plan on doing multiple. Character dining is worth it! The smiles and look of joy on your child’s face is unforgettable.  They are a great way to meet characters without waiting in long lines. With the dining plan, there is not a lot of thinking and worrying about how much you are spending. It is easy to check your balance and keep track of how many meals and snacks you have remaining. The dining plan we chose allowed each of our guests over the age of three to have one quick service meal, one table service meal, and two snacks per person for each night of our stay. We had snack credits leftover and we were able to purchase non-perishable Disney snacks to bring home. The kids have still been enjoying Disney after our return home!

Navigating the Parks

During our visit, we chose to only do three parks: Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and the Magic Kingdom. We did not do Epcot because we thought our young children would not enjoy it. However, this was our personal opinion and it could be a great experience for your family. Due to the long days at the parks, we opted out of purchasing a park hopper pass. This worked well with our two littles. The days are long and tiring, and we did not feel like they would have done as well moving between parks. Plus, it allowed us to take our time in each park and not feel rushed. 

If you have children who are still able to ride in a stroller, I highly suggest that you bring one.  The strollers are a hassle getting on and off buses, but definitely worth the effort once you are in the park. Our four-year-old would not have made it through the day without being able to occasionally ride in the stroller. Plus, if you bring a stroller you can store your things in the bottom and not have to bring a bag. This is an advantage because you do not have to waste time stopping at the entrance to have your bag(s) checked. Although cups of water are available free of charge at quick service and snack stands, we also brought bottles of water. Just take your time and enjoy the parks! It can be a long day so breathe and do what you can.

Before going, download the Disney World Parks app. You can begin to check in and skip the front desk when arriving at your hotel. It allows you to check your dining plan balance or make/modify reservations. It is a very helpful tool when navigating the parks. We used it constantly to check ride wait times, show times, remember our fast pass time frame, look at photos taken on rides or around the park, order food or reserve dining, etc. It is an essential tool to your making your Disney experience go smoothly!

Expectations

Traveling with children of any age can be difficult. They are out of their normal routine and in an unfamiliar setting. Disney can especially be overwhelming for younger children. There are crowds of people, lots of visual stimulation, and tons of noises. They will have moments of acting out. My kids mostly acted out when exhaustion set in! Be kind and show grace. The days are long and everyone gets tired and slightly grouchy. Do not set the bar too high. The day is much more enjoyable when everyone is relaxed. Take your time and enjoy the magic each park has to offer! 

Disney made me feel nostalgic! What is your favorite memory of Disney as a child? Is it visiting the parks or your favorite movie?

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