Everyone who blogs and goes to Disney writes a blog devoted to Disney tips. Of course I have to jump on the bandwagon! Here are a few things that I have learned from our recent July Disney trip with 2 very active grandparents, 2 parents (us) and 3 sweet girls (5, 4, and 11 months).
1. If you have a choice, avoid June, July, or August. It is hot and yes, it rains every day. I’m not complaining, I am just saying that if I were to do it over, we would do it during a different season. Disney is expensive. When you spend that kind of money you want to go at a time where everyone will have a good time. (Which we did, but it was hot….very hot).
2. Best tip EVER….from friends- if you have small ones (ages newborn to 7ish) rent a stroller. A good one! Rent it from a place outside the park. I was recommended Kingdom Strollers and that was the best thing we did!!!! It was very easy (I ordered it online). They delivered and picked up from our hotel. They didn’t have BOB strollers, so we ordered the next one down (sooo nice!!!). We paid about 20.00 a day for a double and a single stroller from Saturday to Friday. All three of my kids used them a lot!!!! They were lightweight, easy to fold, had a long shade visor (for rain or sun), came with a free small cooler and cover, sat up, but folded down for them to sleep. Once we got to the parks I felt SO sorry for all the kids in the awful Disney rental strollers made of hard plastic. Apparently they are very expensive and you can’t bring them from park to park (and they looked awkward to push).
3. Fly to Disney if you can. Dave wanted to save money and drive. Luckily we had airline miles we could use. If you can only go in the summer, save to fly because driving with small ones plus the heat and rain could send you over the edge:)
4. Don’t feel you have to do all of the parks. We went to Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Magic Kingdom 2 days. We also went to Downtown Disney (I was not impressed…I think because of the construction). Pleasure Island has closed the night spots, so I probably would not do this again. Epcot seems to be more for older kids or adults. Smaller kids get bored.
5. Alcohol- Every park except Magic Kingdom sells beer and wine. There is only one place at Magic Kingdom that sells beer and wine and it is at dinner service.
6. Babies- if you have a baby- Disney is good about having a Baby Center at each park. It is a place you can go to buy supplies (we brought 1 bottle to Orlando…how crazy is that!). It is also a place to chill out, sit in air, have the babies play, and nice changing stations. Finley and I spent an hour at Epcot in one when she was overheated and just needed air conditioning and some crawling time.
7. Fast Passes- Ok…remember years ago when we all went when we were kids (probably in the hot summer) and we had to wait in lines for hours? Well, Disney has tried to figure out a solution. Fast Pass- you make reservations for rides/ attractions beforehand for free (part of the park ticket). You can book up to 3 Fast Passes a Day. This just entitles you to a short line for a particular ride. Here is my advice: Book your 3 fast passes, but don’t feel like you HAVE to use them. If you have a 5 pm Pirates of the Caribbean fast past and your small kids have had meltdowns and are ready to leave- don’t feel like you have to stay. We found that if we had later fast passes, we could go to them earlier and just have a short line in the “stand by” lines.
8. We did 2 Princess Dinners. One was early 5pm and one was late 9pm. I recommend doing one princess dinner and booking it way in advance so that you get a reasonable time. The girls loved both, but we had to be very good at planning our nap times.
9. Buy the autograph books (either before or after) and bring a sharpie for the characters to sign.
10. We read about the pins that people trade, I bought the pins on Amazon before, lanyards when we got there, but our girls weren’t into it. Sophia traded once.
11. We spent $16.95 for each of the girls Mickey Ears. I don’t regret buying them because I felt like we won’t be back for years. However, spending 60.00 for 3 set of cheapo ears is crazy. If you can buy them beforehand, do so. I wanted to buy Isabella a Frozen t-shirt for her birthday coming up, but couldn’t manage to dole out 30.00 for a t-shirt. My advice- online, online, online!
12. A friend suggested ordering groceries to be delivered. We didn’t do that because we stayed at a hotel that had a food market.
13. Lodging- my in-laws have a Marriott time-share. We were lucky enough to stay at a 3 bedroom condo (it was NICE) and close to Disney. Don’t feel like you have to stay on the grounds. We didn’t and we were about 4 or 5 miles from the parks. We had a great experience.
14. Photo pass- Disney has professional photographers all around the park. To start you just go up to one, they will take your picture and then give you a card. Anytime you see another photographer you can ask them to take your picture and they will swipe your card. At the end of your trip you can go online and buy the Picts individually or buy all of them for (200.00). (150.00 if you pre-order way in advance to your trip). I loved the idea in theory, but ultimately we did not have enough pictures taken for it to be worth buying. Some people I know use it and love it.
15. Finally- A Disney trip is a BIG DEAL!!!! Plan accordingly and plan it where you will not regret the time or money (it is expensive). We have had crazy drama (purchased a new house the day before our trip) but had a good time. Our 4 and 5 year olds were good, but they had lots of melt downs. I think when we take Finley next she will be 7 and it will be during Spring Break.