Make a list, check it twice:
The biggest piece of advice I have is to research everything and plan ahead. Know what days you plan on going to which parks and write it down, because even though when you are sitting there in your house at your computer you think you will never forget, you will.
I love lists. I love research. I love researching things and making color coded charts and lists.
So, I wrote out all the rides we wanted to go on in the order of popularity so we could tackle them first thing in the morning before any potential lines would form. It turned out not to be neccessary, but I felt prepared in a way that I would not have if I just showed up at the park with zero knowledge.
Be aware that you may need to reassess and alter your game plan due to the weather, your children, or just plain changing your mind.
Having a game plan=good
Having an itinerary carved in stone=not good.
On our third day we went to Animal Kingdom. We had planned to leave the park at 5:00pm when it closed and go to another park. But a meltdown by one of the children ::cough 3.5 yr old cough:: convinced us that going back to our condo for dinner and a swim would be much more enjoyable. I certainly don’t want my children to reminisce abut their trip to Disney World and say, “Hey remember when Mom got so mad that her eyeballs popped out of her head rolled away and then Dad clutched his chest and fell to the ground?”
Some of the things that turned out to be the most fun were the unexpected things along the way that we hadn’t planned. Like the day my daughter played in a fountain for hours at the Animal Kingdom and several other mother’s with toddlers let their kids join in. There was something about all those naked little toddler butts running around and having fun with water amid the extreme commercialism that is Disney, that warmed my heart.
Matching clothes, yes I am guilty I figured if one of them got lost I would be able to remember what the lost child was wearing. I didn’t sew them myself so we didn’t look like the Duggars going out en masse. The clothing wasn’t identical, just matching.
What if I Lose them, and want them back:
BRING YOUR CELL PHONES. Yes, I am shouting. Put cards in their fanny packs with your names and cell phone numbers. It’s a big place. This will help not drag out the trauma any longer.
I read about people who made phone number necklaces for their children to wear who were not old enough to memorize their phone numbers or pull out a card. I thought it was a great idea for the 3-5 year old set, and if they helped make the necklaces perhaps they would also have the phone number memorized.
Also, make sure to point out to your children what the Disney employees look like. If they get lost they should immediately go to one of them. They are easy to spot. If they can not spot a Disney employee the next best thing is a Mommy with little kids. I had a child come up to me while were there and tell me she couldn’t find her mom and dad. I brought her over to a Disney employee.
Keep these in mind when planning your trip. There are many rides which require a 40″ minimum height and the attendents are strict about it, as they should be. But if your child is 39.75″ tall you might want to make sure they are wearing sneakers which will elevate their height over the 40″ mark.
Also, practice with them how they should stand when being measured. Feet together, head straight, etc. My son was exactly 40″ and was denied entry to quite a few rides because he wouldn’t stand up straight to get measured. The one ride he did stand up tall to be measured and insisted he was going on… Tower of Terror. He is still talking about that.
But my 12 year old doesn’t want to go to Storytime with Belle:
Depending on the number of children you are travelling with and their heights, you might want to split up for the afternoon. We did this at the Magic Kingdom.with me taking the smaller children on rides like DUmbo, Peter Pan, etc that the older children wre not interested in. And Rob taking the bigger kids on rides that had height restrictions like Spcae Mountain and Alien Encounter.
you can never have enough of them. They are useful in so many situations. Especially to keep things dry in the rain or on the water rides, like your wallet.
Put them on a necklace, yes like old people use, so you won’t lose them on rides or break them in your bag if you take them off. This goes double for your children.
Small children hate standing or walking, unless they are trying to get away from you:
Bring your sling. You will not be able to bring the stroller in lines with you. If you are taking advantage of the Baby swap you will be holding your child for a long period of time. Your arms will get tired and your neck cramp up if you try to hold them in your arms the entire time. I held my daughter in the sling while waiting in line for the Dumbo ride, for example. If I were going now with an almost two year old i would still bring it to contain him and prevent him from running away.
Want to make sure that you go when there is the most amount of people because you love being pressed up against the unwashed masses?
Check this website for the historical attendence records. Meed my advice and go when the park will have the least amount of people.
Fantasmic Dinner Package:
Fantasmic is the popular water fireworks show that happens nightly at MGM studios. By purchasing a dinner package you by pass the long wait time, which is upwards of an hour during peak season. You will get a special pass to go in the “secret” entrance. Even though the meal was a bit pricey for budget minded people, we thought it was worth not having to stand in line and also ensured the children were well fed and not cranky before the showtime.
You will still have to parent
As much as it stinks your children will not be perfect little angels. We had to get out of one line when my children began having a fist fighting meltdown. Other people in line thought I was horrible and had no problem commenting out loud about my horribleness. And I modelled excellent self restraint by not punching them, the line standers not my children. We all calmed down, had an ice cream, discussed appropriate behavior, and tried again. This time successfully.
This is the website from which I purchsed our tickets. By buying them from a recognized legitimate broker you will typically save about 5% over buying them from Disney directly.
It is important to notice that the price per day drops significantly the more days you buy. Can’t decide if you want to go 4, 5 or 6 days? Well a 4 day Adult Base ticket (anyone age 10 and over) is $210, a 5 day is $212, and a 6 day is $214. As you can see the price difference is negligible. If you think you might want to spend an extra few days, buy them in advance.
If you end up after 5 days thinking you are spent and don’t want to go to Disney for a 6th day you are out only $2, or if you decide to only spend a half day there one day, you won’t feel the pull to keep on treking in spite of small people unhappiness if you think in terms of the 5th and 6th day only costing you $2 a day.
Decide if the Park Hopper pass is right for you. The Park Hopper Pass is just what the name suggests. You can hop from one park to another in any given day. It costs a significant amount of money more to do this. We bought this option when we went and never used it. I would not do it again. But for your family and the needs of your family it might be worth it. Think about your game plan before you purchse.
Don’t leave home without them:
The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World: by far the best guide I have seen.
Walt Disney World Trivia Book: this one is excellent for kids who can read. My children loved knowing all sorts of fun facts about Disney World.
The Official Disney Guide: lots of pictures and descriptions which was great for the chidlren to browse through and get a feel for what the rides were going to be like
Websites of interest:
All Ears :an unoffical guide to Disney World that covers every topic you could possibly imagine
message board: where you will find the answer to any question you could possibly have. And if you can’t ask it yourself.
Official Disney website what else could you want to know?