Here it is. My BIG Disney World tips post.
**disclaimer: this is just my own thoughts and tips after our very first trip to Disney World with two young kids.
Before your trip:
1. You can make dinner reservations 180 days in advance, so as soon as you book your trip, get on My Disney and book away!
2. If you can swing it, I would highly recommend staying at a Disney property. We stayed at the Grand Floridian and it was so beneficial.
*If you stay at a Disney resort, they will provide transportation to and from the airport
*They will take your luggage from the airport directly to your hotel room.
*If you stay at the Grand Floridian, you are one monorail stop away from the Magic Kingdom, literally about a 3 minute ride.
*Free transportation to any of the parks. We took a bus to Animal Kingdom and Disney Springs.
*You can book fast passes 60 days in advance. Fast passes are basically a cut to the front of the long line by getting in the shorter line. You can pick three fast passes per day at the park. These are HUGE TIME SAVERS if you pick the right rides/attractions. You sign up for a fast pass time on the My Disney Experience (either website or phone app). You have an hour window to use the fast pass. There is actually a 5 minute lag either way, so if you’re fast pass is from 2-3, you can get on from 1:55- 3:05.
On your trip:
1. IMHO, only plan for one park per day. I think the park hopper tickets would be a waste of money with young kids.
2. Plan for a rest day. It’s hot in Florida. The pool is a great place to spend the day and rest your feet.
3. Bring snacks.
4. Plan to spend a ton of money on food and for it to not be good. Seriously, the food was awful and super spendy. *Dessert from the candy store at Magic Kingdom was the exception* Character buffets are worth it to be able to sit down in air conditioning and get something to eat while meeting all the characters. We did one with Cinderella and one with Winnie the Pooh and I would recommend both for the experience, not the food. . . I will say that Luke seemed to enjoy the food and they definitely did a great job catering to the kids with mac and cheese, pizza, chicken nuggets, etc.
5. We usually made one food reservation per day and then ate snacks or stopped for a quick bite to eat along the way.
6. Plan ahead for what/when you’ll eat. .. or at least think ahead. Lines tend to be super long so if you wait until you are already hangry, it’s not going to be fun to wait another 20+ minutes before you get food once you decide where you are going to eat. . .
Decide ahead of time if you are going to do signature books for Characters to sign and/or pin trading.. . and come prepared. We didn’t know about signature books for the characters to sign, so we missed out on that one. We got some pins for Luke to trade on our last day and he LOVED it. I wish we would have gotten him started sooner, and I wish we would have bought some ahead of time to trade as they are pretty spendy in the park.
All of our character visits were worth the wait. We tried to fast pass most of them, but they were really the highlight of the trip. Other fast pass suggestions for Magic Kingdom:
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Jungle Cruise
- Pirates of the Caribbean
Another highlight, the Safari ride in Animal Kingdom – so cool! Try to do it early in the morning when the animals are most active. .. and fast pass it!
Beware of FOMO. You can’t, won’t and shouldn’t try to do it all in one trip/day. Seriously, you could drive yourself nuts because every time you turn around something new or different is going on in front of the castle or down main street. My best tip is to just enjoy the trip. Take your time and soak it in, and just stick to one or two areas per day.
I wasn’t sure what the dress code is for Disney. . . I went for the comfortable Lululemon route and would highly recommend that to anyone. Comfortable tennis shoes are a must!
If you have a young baby, Disney has a Baby Center in each park. They have a quiet room for nursing, changing tables, a place to mix up formula and warm up bottles. They also have a room for the bigger kids to watch a movie or read books while Mom and Dad are taking care of the baby.
We carried around a backpack for all the things we would need while at the park. We had sunscreen, a small first aid kit with band aids and Advil, water bottles, snacks (granola bars, applesauce packets, fruit snacks), backup phone charger, supplies for Jake (light blanket, diaper, wipes, bottles, etc.)
Random suggestion for parents with kids – have a souvenir rule and prep kids ahead of time. Scott and I decided that Luke could pick out one souvenir per day. We prepped him for that rule ahead of time. So, no melt downs or fights while we were there because he knew the expectation and rule ahead of time.
It is a truly magical place. Enjoy it and enjoy watching the kids soak it all in!