We have made it back from Disney and our trip was a little different than lasts. This year we were a family size bigger! Our oldest at just over two and a half and our youngest nearing eight months, quite frankly, I thought it was the perfect time to go. At these ages they're still free but still able to pick out their favorite characters and activities to have an enjoyable time. One of the things I hear most is that they're too young. But what about us parents? I cannot stress enough how vacation isn't about if your children will remember. Your getaway is about you too! If you know you are going to have the time of your life at your set destination, don't hold back, go. The memories you'll make through their priceless reactions will last a lifetime and that alone makes it all worth it. Doing Disney two years in a row, I wouldn't say I am an expert but I definitely have picked up on some valuable tips and tricks that I think could help the next family planning on visiting!
1. Disney Movies Anywhere
If you're Disney feens like us this will help you in more ways than one. Disney Movies Anywhere is a mobile app where you can purchase Disney movies that you can take, well, anywhere! Without the use of wifi you can enjoy your mobile theater to keep your kids occupied during your drive to the happiest place on Earth. But that's not even the best part. Each Disney movie you purchase turns into collective points that you can redeem at any time. Before packing up I cashed in and got gift cards, allowing us each to get something a little special from the parks, with some left over.
2. My Disney Experience
While your searching for the app previously mentioned, you'll also want to download My Disney Experience. I saw so many people struggling with the traditional paper maps. Having to stop, pull it out, and unfold is a constant battle for you and those trying to get around you. My Disney Experience is your personal Disney assistant. You're able to do anything from pick fastpasses, to make dinner reservations, or even see what characters are out, all in the same place. It tracks your locations so it will keep you up to speed on turn by turn directions or exact times of events happening. It also reminds you your itinerary for the day. So you'll never forget a parade or which hotel room is yours. This is a must have!
3. Get A Car
Maybe I'm biased when it comes to taking your own vehicle, since we stop halfway seeing relatives, but taking your own car is much more convenient with little ones. A bus full of complete strangers and foreign languages, trying to keep up with your belongings, a stroller in one hand and your children in the other, can be very overwhelming. First thing in the morning is the busiest. At this time lines are long and your wait is longer. I have found it's easiest to take your car first thing in the morning. There's no struggle when all of your things are already packed inside your ride. If you come back to the resort half way through your day, like we do to rest, take the bus back to your park. Odds are you'll be the only rider and your kids will be able to have their feel without the crowds.
4. Shoe Check
It's hard to think your two year old ball of energy can tire out. On the second day our oldest was begging for us to carry him. I knew I was sore from all the walking so I just imagined he was too. Upon further inspection he had blisters up and down the tops of his feet! Always pack a variety of shoes and don't forget to check.
5. Save It For Next Time
Last year I planned to spend two days at the Disney parks. We all left feeling like we just hadn't had enough. This year I planned four days and it was too much. After all the walking, by the second day, my husband and I were looking at each other trying to figure out how we were possibly going to get through the next two days. These parks are so big. I'll be honest with you, you are not going to see it all in one day. But I think that's the magic of Disney, it leaves you wanting to see more next time. And next time it will almost be a completely new trip by doing the things you didn't before. Don't force more days on yourself than you should fearing you won't get the most out of it. Take in all that you can and start planning your next trip!
6. No Shame
I'd be lying if I said I didn't hate seeing those kids in line being stuck on a screen. I am a firm believer in vacation is all about disconnecting and reconnecting with your family. But unfortunately without a fastpass you can be in line for what feels like a eternity, especially if you're two. I overheard a couple say they waited over three hours to ride one of Disney's newest attractions. I don't even have that much patience. It was hot and we were bored. Our two year old quickly grew uninterested. I found myself downloading his favorite app, YouTube Kids, to get through the rest of our duration. Never say never because I truly ate my own words that day.
7. Pack For Every Season
Before we left I asked my husband how many outfits he wanted me to pack for him. I was in complete shock when he told me twelve. Twelve outfits for six days! That's two outfits a day not including pajamas. But maybe he knew something I didn't. Going to Florida during January I didn't expect it to be snowing but I didn't expect it to be bathing suit weather either. I packed pants and light jackets for everyone. To my surprise Florida winds felt exactly the same as the below freezing temperatures back home in Tennessee. We all shivered as my husband reminded me he "told me so" just as we reached eighty degrees on our third day. But packing doesn't stop at how many socks you want to bring. Although the winds were cold we all got sunburned. Don't forget your sunscreen!
8. Cheating The System
Each guest is allowed three fastpasses a day. In case you don't know what a fastpass is, it's basically your cut-in-line free card. After you use your three you're stuck waiting like those you're cutting. If you've downloaded the app, talked about in my second tip, you will see your fastpass selections. Immediately after using a fastpass jump onto your app and cancel it. You've already cut in line so you don't lose your spot. What this does is cheats the system into thinking you haven't used all your selections allowing you to pick another. And just repeat. You'll thank me later.
9. The Dining Plan
I love the dining plan. At just sixty nine dollars a person for their most basic package you get: one sit down dinner, a quick stop, two snacks, and a refillable drink every day. A single days payment for the dining plan is cheaper than what it cost at just one restaurant visit. You are able to pick anything off the menu whether its two dollars or one hundred and two dollars. It even come with dessert. Not to mention kids are free and it also includes character dinners! It pays for itself. Just keep up with your receipts! It will tell you exactly what you have left. I didn't pay attention and made everyone stuff their face with food on the last day so we weren't wasting anything. Typical mom, right?
10. Get A Disney Agent
I cannot say enough great things about our Disney agent, Susan. All I do is tell her when I want to go and she plans the rest. She gives me options based on budget along with payment plans. She even goes the extra mile in alerting me of discounts if I book during such dates or at such resorts. She takes care of our dinner reservations. If we want to fly or rent a car she will even handle that. Before our trip she always sends us a little care package in a Disney themed bag full of our favorite goodies and go to necessities. If we have any issues she's always willing to take our calls. She is so great at what she does, relieving all the stress of planning a vacation, allowing us to enjoy our time away. She is truly what makes them as great as they are. Afterwards we even got a custom, hand drawn Mickey, with our family's name on it, from Disney's animation team. I don't know how she does it but I won't use anyone else.
I hope this has helped out someone planning their next trip to the happiest place on Earth! We always enjoy these special moments. Until next time Disney!