This time last year we were gearing up for our winter adventure to Disney World. It was an unexpected jaunt that turned out to be possibly one of the most joyful family travel experiences ever.
As I sit here awaiting the great blizzard of 2016, I am seriously wishing I were there again, soaking up the sun and magic of the happiest place on earth. And not hunkered down in my house praying to he who is mighty that the electricity and, please, Lord, please the wi-fi hold up through all of this.
Because Disney is truly a destination that our family enjoys visiting together. And, we’ve been fortunate to visit it enough that we are well acquainted with all of the different aspects of it. I could plan a Disney trip in a day if I had to!
But, when I think back to when we were planning our first trip, it was all a teeny bit overwhelming (I lie, it was a lot bit overwhelming) –so many things to consider and plan and pay for and figure out. And, while Disney makes it as easy as possible, there is nothing like having a friend to guide you through.
Let me be that friend for you!
1. Disney can not be done in a day. Quit your playing, there’s just no way. Walt Disney World Orlando includes four theme parks and two water parks. Throw in Downtown Disney, the new Disney Springs, a bunch of seriously dope resort activities, and you can see why people spend many days , sometimes even weeks, exploring the parks and the resorts.
2. There are a number of ticket options. We always go Park Hopper because it means we can enjoy Space Mountain twenty-one times in the day and still have dinner in Epcot where most of the joyful food lives. We like the flexibility of that option and think it is worth the higher cost. However, if you’re on a strict budget and need to cut some corners, this is a corner that can be cut without much pain and suffering.
3. You don’t have to stay on property but you might want to. There are so many benefits to staying on property –you can book your Fast Passes further in advance, you can take advantage of your Magic Band in more ways, you can use Disney transportation to get around, and Tinker Bell sprinkles pixie dust on you while you sleep the magic surrounds you even as you sleep.
4. The Magical Express will take you from the airport to your Disney resort and back, free of charge. The airport is a pretty legit distance from the resort so expect to pay a nice chunk of change if you take a taxi or a non-Disney shuttle. Note, when they book you home they will put you on a shuttle three hours before your actual departure time. Go with it, it really may take that long.
5. You won’t need a car to get around the Disney properties. They have busses and boats and the monorail to get you from place to place and it’s all free of charge. Only thing, it’s not speedy. Buses come every 20 minutes or so and the park and resorts may take another 20 minutes to commute between. Add in local traffic and stopping to load and unload passengers and every trip takes really close to an hour.
6. If you do drive, parking at the resort is free.
7. There is a dining plan. Sometimes, it is free. When we went on the dining plan, we purchased the option where you get two to meals (one quick and one sit down) per day along with two snacks per person. We came home with more brownies than our bowels could comfortably handle. This blog will tel you how to find out when the dining plan is free: 2016 Free Disney Dining Plan
8. You should make reservations at popular sit down restaurants to ensure you get a table. You can do so up to 180 days before you trip. Unless you are us and you kinda don’t care where you eat because you really, really just are super happy to be in the parks again.
9. To have a better chance of getting into places you want to eat at, think about booking a lunch reservation as opposed to a dinner one. These are often easier to get.
10. Don’t panic if you don’t get the reservation you want. You may change your reservation up to 24hours before your scheduled time and, because many people actually do that, you may wind up with a slot if you’re diligent and check back often. You can even make changes from the My Disney Experience app.
11. But if you forget, you can try to walk in. Just know that you may have to wait a LONG time and you also may never get a table at those popular establishments.
12. You can bring in outside food. Disney is cool with that and water bottles too. They want frugal families to have fun too.
13. You can rent a stroller. They’re $15 per day. Some off site vendors rent them for cheaper.
14. They have a health center on site. If your kid skins a knee or spikes a fever you can go there for help. Ask me how I know this.
15. The Magic Bands are your key to the world. You can set them up to charge while you are in the parks and at the resorts, so when you (or a member of your party who you give charging privileges to) wants to buy something, they just swipe it at check out. They are also your FastPasses and can be used to open your resort door (if you stay on property).
16. You don’t have to stay at a resort to rock a Magic Band. You just have to buy them and they won’t include charging privileges (or open your hotel door, obviously).
17. People like to fancy up their magic bands. You can buy adornments at shops around the park.
18. Fast Pass+ is everything. If you are staying at a Disney property you can book your Fast Passes up to 3 months before your trip. Each person gets 3 in advance. You can book more after you use those. Read this post for all the info: how Fast Pass+ works.
19. You can go out without your kids. And they probably won’t even miss you. Disney resorts have babysitting.
20. You can enjoy a dessert party while you watch the Illuminations fireworks party in Epcot. The dessert are spectacular and the seats are great.
21. Be careful about when you book. Personally, we’ve had great success in fall (late September and October) and in the winter, after the holidays (February/March) because the park isn’t extremely crowded and the weather isn’t oppressive. We still even swam while we were there at those time. This post includes a good list of major Disney events you may want to avoid at all cost book your trip around if you don’t intend to participate.
22. The pools are heated. And not none of that skimpy heat you can’t really enjoy. They keep those babies at 85 degrees so you can swim whenever you want as long as you’re cool with the mad, shivery dash back to the hotel.
23. The pools are a thing. Some of them are like mini water parks and well worth a visit. We always schedule a chill day right in the middle of our vacation. On that day we plan to hang around the pool and go to Downtown Disney for dinner then over to one of the parks for fireworks. If you have toddlers, this post shares the Disney toddler play areas you may want to take advantage of for a break from the rides.
24. Sign up for My Disney Experience. It helps you manage all of the things.
25. Then, download the My Disney Experience onto your portable device. You can use it for quick access to in park info.
26. If you have little people that are too small to ride, take advantage of the Rider Switch Program. This gives parents of small children the opportunity to ride all of the rides so one person doesn’t get stuck standing by baby Johnny’s stroller or holding hands with scary cat Stella. You all wait and then you take turns riding without having to wait in another 40 minute line.
27. You can order snacks and other food for delivery to your resort. That way you save cash while you’re there. Garden Grocer is a good option.
28. There is a lot of walking. Turn your FitBit on baby, it’s about to be really happy.
29. There are a ton of special Disney tours and experiences you can enjoy. Many of them are educational (like the behind the scenes tours and the Wild Africa Trek) and allow you to learn more about the magic of Disney and their efforts to be conservationists and environmentalists. All of them have an additional cost associated with them and usually require advanced booking.
30. Disney has a ton of special events. Stuff like the annual Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party the Magic Kingdom hosts every year. the It’s important to know about what these are and when they occur because, a) you might want to go to one, and b) you might want to avoid one (they increase crowding and wait times basically everywhere).
This post was first published on the Dude Mom by Amanda Rodriguez
It was slated to be a quick 3 and a half day excursion to the parks to learn about doing Disney right with tweens, but thanks to the Winter That Won’t Die, it turned into a 5 and half day action packed, fun-filled all out adventure about doing Disney BIG with tweens (and a down-for-whatever 7-year-old sidekick).
Before I jump into the meat of this thing though, we need to agree on a few things (and no, agreeing to disagree doesn’t work for me)…
First, it’s hard to believe I’m old enough to have two tweens. It is, do not argue with me.
Second, traveling with three kids alone is hard. Even if two of them are tweens. There’s just a lot of do this, move that, go there, STOP, seriously be quiet, hurry up, OMG! STOP! Do you have a drink in your bag? You can’t take drinks through security, now they have to search us! ugh, please stop, BARF IN THE BAG, as you move from place to place.
And, last but not least, Disney truly is magical.
STAY ON PROPERTY
Listen: It’s expensive.
But when it comes to Disney and small children, convenience is the name of the game. Staying on property gets you transportation from the airport to your resort on Disney’s Magical Express. You don’t even have to worry about your luggage: you go straight from the plane to Disney transportation. Your luggage is tagged with special Disney tags and they transport it to your room for you. With a small child, I can’t tell you how priceless that is. We had online check in about a week before our trip and the day of, they texted me my room number when it was ready. Thanks to those lovely magic bands ( that you can use for every single thing, including your room key),we were able to get into our room with no problems, without even stopping in the lobby.
Disney Moms of Color would like to thank La Shawn Wiltz of Everyday Eyecandy which is a blog where La Shawn shares a record of all of her everyday eyecandy moments. It is also an online resource for moms, women, daughters, and wives who also want to make their everyday lives beautiful too.
I always hoped that someday I’d have a child who loved Disney as much as me. Although growing up I was a huge princess fan, I really have a love of all things Disney, especially the animated movies.
To date, I have 102 Disney Animated movies from all the Classics to their sequels and prequels.
My mom collected them on VHS growing up and my sister and I watched them all summer long. Now I have them on DVD as well as digitally.
My daughter is well on her way to being as Disney obsessed as I am. And my son seems to be picking it up as well (he loves Dumbo and Mary Poppins right now). You don’t have to go on big elaborate Disney trips to breed a Disney nerd. There are so many more ways to do that. Here are 10 tips to making magical memories, and starting fun family Disney traditions in your home.
Last year when my husband and I debated which popular Disney theme park we wanted to visit as a family he argued for Disneyland–The one he grew up visiting, and I lobbied for Walt Disney World. –The one I visited once as a child. With four parks vs just two it had to be better right? Wrong.
People who have been to both parks say it’s like comparing apples to oranges and it’s true. Having visited both popular Disney theme park resorts within five months I have a several differences to share about Disneyland vs Disney World and some may surprise you.
I started out with a small list but it kept growing and growing and I wound up with 10 reasons to consider one over the other. And I also am sharing some important amusement park safety tips to keep in mind when you visit either!
My nieces and nephews loved the Disney Boardwalk so much last year, I suggested we go again during our family trip in Central Florida. Our villa rental was about 15 minutes from the Disney theme parks, so travel time was a breeze. If you’ve never been, here’s a list of fun things to do on the Disney Boardwalk.
Jugglers, comedians, magicians and musicians often come out to perform. Each act lasts about 10-15 minutes and they even pull out participants from the crowd.
There are a number of chain and private restaurants on the Disney boardwalk as well as vendors selling snacks and treats. If you don’t plan on eating lunch or dinner there, get the kids some cotton candy, funnel cakes or candied apples.
Visit the “Beach”
Disney Moms of Color would like to thank JoAnna Niles of Joanna E.com which is a travel and lifestyle blog that includes topics on culture, beauty, fashion and technology for this wonderful look at things to do on the Disney Boardwalk.
Packing for Disney World can be tough because you want to be prepared for everything. At first, my husband thought I was overthinking it, but he was really happy when we got there and we were prepared for just about anything. He was especially happy about the ponchos, candy, snacks, and shades.
- Underwear – 1.5 pairs per day. So if you are going for 10 days, 15 pairs of underwear.
- Socks – 1 for each day – sneakers without socks with the amount of walking you will be doing = torture.
- Swimsuits – 2 so that one can be drying, while one is being worn
- Beach Cover Up or t-shirt – putting on real clothes after the water park is irritating
- Beach Towel – for the water park
- Jeans x 2 – It can get chilly at night
- Shorts and t-shirts – 1.5 of each per day – unless where you are going has a washing machine
- Prince or Princess outfit – so you don’t end up having to buy one there
- Ears with their names on them – get them online, and they can have them on the first day at the park – also keeps you out of gift shops
- Light Jacket or zip up sweatshirt
As you can see form the photo, it was really hot and that explains my fuzzy hair not all of the WE that make up the Dude family were able to attend.
I have to admit, I thought it would be easier to go without Dudes 1 & 2, but I was a little broken up about it. I even had a full cry on the Magical Express (the Disney airport shuttle) because I was missing my big Dudes so much.
Thankfully, Disney magic helped me get over it and focus on having a memorable trip with the little guy as the only guy!
I know most of you don’t care about the social media parts of our celebration very much, so I won’t bore you with the details on that (even though, if I’m honest, we didn’t have a single boring moment the entire time we were there), but I know that everyone loves hearing about a good celebration! Especially when it uncovers some secret Disney magic info that anyone planning a Disney trip can use.
And yes, there are secret tunnels at Disney World. The staff uses them to go from place to place without dealing with crowds and to move things that are un-Disney-ish.
A few people have stopped me after reading my posts about our trips to Disney Parks this year and asked me when the best time to go is. Not as in best time of year, but the best age to visit Disney World, or Disneyland (here’s a recap of my Walt Disney World & Disneyland comparison).
So many people worry their kids will be too young, and won’t remember. Or too old and “cool” to truly enjoy it. What’s the perfect age to visit Disney World?
After rehashing about our trips this year, and going to a Disney Social Media Moms “on the road” conference that expressed more about the mission and goals of the company for the parks, I think I have an answer that could surprise you.