Planning a Disney trip can be a bit overwhelming, especially when you are traveling with young children. While we were there for Disney Social Media Moms, I was in conference for a full day and my husband braved Disney World with 2 kids by himself. I don’t know about you, but I don’t even like going to the grocery store by myself with 2 kids. I half joked that I’d be getting tracking bracelets for all of them, but he rocked it and was Super Dad! They spent the day at Epcot, the perfect park for an easy day, rode a few rides and enjoyed the Monster’s Inc playground area (which my almost 5 year old still raves about). Now that my husband’s even more an expert at navigating Disney with kids than I am, he’s taking over my blog for the day. Here are his 20 tips from a Dad for planning a Disney World vacation.
1. Stroller: bring your own if at all possible, especially if you have younger children. This is a life saver both at the airport and at the parks, as little legs get super tired and the whining and tantrums will follow. You can also rent from Kingdom Strollers, but we preferred to have our stroller at the airport.
2. Disney Bus System: if you must use it, be prepared for long waits during peak park times. I think I’ll rent a car next time because the dual stroller folds up, but not very small and I ended up having to stand almost every trip and use every muscle in my body to keep the stroller from hurting others on the bus while maintaining my balance.
3. MyDisneyExperience App: If you have a smartphone, get the MyDisneyExperience app, but don’t expect the maps feature to be that great. I ended up using my phone’s GPS and a compass app in conjunction with the MyDisneyExperience app. The app is great to find out wait times on attractions and to see a full listing of restaurants too.
4. Fast Pass +: The Fast Pass + (plus) system is such a great concept. You get 3 per day, and you schedule them down to a one hour window. Do this as far in advance as possible, because they will fill up and you might not get on Star Tours (I loved Star Tours).
5. Disney Resort Mug: approximately $16 USD gets you a cool Disney mug that will allow you to refill it as many times as your heart (or stomach) desires during your Disney Resort stay. The mug only works on the resort grounds, not at the parks, so keep that in mind. Totally worth it! I must have drank $1,000 worth of soft drinks during our 8 days there.
6. GardenGrocer.com: visit this site a few weeks before you get on the plane for Orlando. You can order groceries and have them delivered to your hotel on the day you arrive! Bell service will keep things refrigerated for you until you’re ready to pick them up.
7. Sun Hat: get one of those big sun hats that covers your head and neck if you’re going in the spring or summer months. My hat was a life saver for me. It kept me a bit cooler than normal and I didn’t have to worry about sun burns. We also purchased sun hats for the kids, but the stroller visors did a good job at keeping them shaded.
8. Quick Service meals: have your significant other grab seats while you order food for the family. You would not believe how hard it is to find seating at these quick service places at the parks. They are insanely busy.
9. Pack your entire medicine cabinet: our kids inevitably come down with some kind of illness while we’re away on a vacation, so plan ahead and pack the works when it comes to child medications. You don’t want to have to take an expensive taxi ride trying to track down medication (I speak from experience).
10. $1 Bills: take a bunch of ones ($1 George Washingtons) with you, because tipping happens frequently, from the time you park your vehicle at the airport if you’re like us and have to grab a shuttle from a parking garage offsite to the airport gates.
11. Jedi Training: if you’re like me, you love Star Wars. Get your kid to Hollywood Studios at least 30 minutes ahead of park opening, and start running for the ABC Sound Stage as soon as they let you through the gates. There, you’ll find a line forming just to sign up for Jedi Training later that day.
12. Rider Switch passes: these are cool. If you have a little one that’s not tall enough or old enough for a certain ride, but you have another little one that is, you can take turns with your significant other riding with them. Just ask the ride attendant for a “rider switch pass.” Your little one will get to ride twice, and both of the adults will get to enjoy the ride once each.
13. Water bottles: take water bottles with you to the parks, they are allowed. Water at the park will cost you at least $2.50 a pop, so with a family this adds up to a fortune very quickly.
14. Extended Magic Hours: each park will have a different day that they stay open for a few hours longer for Disney Resort guests only. The rest of the park goers will leave while you can enjoy shorter lines and wait times! Check the schedules and plan ahead.
15. Souvenirs: buy your Disney souvenirs ahead of time at places like Amazon for the best prices. Then surprise your little ones with them on the trip. They won’t know the difference and you’ll save big time! It’s a dirty trick, I know.
16. Snack Suitcase: pack an entire small to medium sized suitcase with snacks. I’m serious. Check this bag at the airport, and enjoy your snacks throughout your stay in Orlando. This is a serious money and life saver!
17. Be Patient with the kids: more than usual. They are just not built for all the hustle and bustle of a long trip, and in our case a 4 and a half hour flight each way. Expect a few tantrums and meltdowns.
18. Magic Bands: these things are cool! You can tie your credit card to the band and never have to carry your wallet to the parks. I only had my Magic Band and smartphone on me at all times. Sure you’ll need your $1 bills for tips, but not at the parks.
19. The “Nicer” Restaurants: there’s quick service, and then there’s the “nicer” sit-down restaurants. These almost always require a reservation, so plan accordingly. Our favorite was Tusker House at Animal Kingdom. Buffet!
20. My top attraction picks: Jedi Training, Star Tours (200 variations, some are scary for the little ones), Dinosaur (scary), Haunted Mansion (scary but such cool hologram tech), Mine Train, Soarin’, Pirates, Spaceship Earth, Lion King Show, Nemo Show.
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