1. Make sure your children know your cell phone numbers. Even older children can easily get separated and scared at a big place like Disney. If you bring younger children try to buy one of these Shoe ID ideas so that your child has your name and cell # with them at all times. If you do not plan to wear sneakers you can also try these Safety Tats. If all else fails, write your phone number on their arm with a sharpie.
2.Bring with you a stroller that folds up easily. You will be folding your stroller multiple times each day. Trains, trams, monorails, in the car, out of the car, buses. Your stroller needs to be able to fold in seconds. I have used at least 20 strollers in my life and the best stroller to bring to Disney is the Baby Jogger City Mini. It also comes in a double stroller if you have two small children. Kids get tired at Disney. They need to rest and ride a little. The sun protection on the city mini is awesome too. Buy this splurge before you go and thank me later!
3.Children get scared on the dark rides. Being scared on a ride can ruin the rest of your Disney experience. When my little girl was 2 the first ride we went on was Pooh. It was dark in many places and she cried when we tried to get her on any other rides the rest of the week. This flashing flashlight was a total lifesaver. Any ride that we got on, I took out the flashlight and my daughter would hold it. If the ride got dark or scary she would turn it on and wave it around a smile. This made a huge difference on our trip this year.
This picture is blurry but it gives you a good idea of how cool the flashing flashlight is!
4.Go to the dollar store and buy your ponchos for rain (it pours a little every day!), your autograph books, your sharpies, and other small toys to keep the kids happy on the way to Disney.
5.Save up your shiny pennies so you can have them ready to make into pressed pennies. Also bring along your quarters for the machine.
6.Go "off campus" sometimes and eat a nice filling cheaper meal at a non Disney restaurant. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, but there was a huge Target and mall with many restaurants 5 minutes away. We really enjoyed the sweet tomatoes restaurant which had an enormous salad bar and a self serve frozen yogurt machine. What else could you want?
It would have been even nicer if the machine had worked!! Better luck next time.
7.Book a late breakfast/ early lunch and save money!! The Disney breakfast buffets are awesome. They are super filling and are much cheaper than the lunch or dinner buffets. What we usually do is keep breakfast items in the room, bagels, yogurts, cold cereals, etc... Then we go to a park early after eating a little bit. We book the last possible breakfast seating, usually around 10:45 or 11 and we eat a late breakfast and then we are basically full until dinner time!
8.Book your Dining Reservations far in advance. The restaurants fill up and you cannot just walk into any of the popular restaurants and expect there to be an open table. Many restaurants, especially the biggest attractions, are booked 60 or even 90 days in advance! You can also book these dining options online now.
9.Florida is HOT! You will need a lot of sunscreen, hats for all of you, and lots of water to drink. We like the Coppertone Foaming Lotion. It is easy to put on the kids and the adults. A good hat is important for everyone too. Sunglasses to protect your eyes and misting fans are so refreshing especially when you fill them with ice water. Bring along some Aloe Gel in case you do get a sunburn.
10.Everyone needs a water bottle, unless you enjoy spending $5 for a water bottle at each of the stands. We liked the Osprey Lumbar Water Bag for each of the adults. This way we were able to carry a bottle for ourselves and for one kid. One really great tip for you. You can get a free glass of ice water at any restaurant or quick serve location in Disney. You just have to ask for it. We stopped constantly and filled up our water bottles with the free refreshing ice water.
11.If you want help with your planning you should consult Tour Guide Mike. His information is so valuable. He can give you daily touring plans. Tell you which parks will be least crowded on what days. I really doubted some of his information. I could not believe that the Magic Kingdom would be empty on a Sunday morning at 9 am. Boy was I wrong. We rode Dumbo four times, Barnstormer 4 times, Pooh, Small world, Peter Pan, carousel and more. All before 10 am with NO LINES! SPend the money and listen to Tour Guide Mike!
12.If you are travelling with small children, use the Baby Stations. Each park has its own Baby Station. It is an awesome place to cool off, change your babies diaper, feed your baby in a high chair, or even go into a quiet room and nurse your baby. TVs are playing for older children with Disney cartoons. Comfy chairs are relaxing after a long day. We all need a small break from the park, and the Baby Station is the place to do it. Baby items are on sale here also, diapers, baby food, pacifiers, all easily accessible.
13.Have a plan! Decide where you are going each day. Look online, make a park tour for yourself. Be prepared to either save a whole day or at least a few hours each day for the awesome pool at your hotel. The kids love cooling off and taking a break from the constant hustle in the parks.
14.Use the fastpasses! Each park has many fastpass locations. Once your family has entered the park, hand all your passes to the fastest adult in the group. That adult should quickly head towards the most popular attraction in that park and get fastpasses for everyone in the group. The rest of the group should leisurely head to the same popular attraction. You all will basically meet up at the same time. Ride the attraction all together and then you can use the fastpass to ride it a second time. For some attractions you can be holding more than one fastpass at a time.
15.Enjoy the little things. One of my favorite moments of our trip last month was after a hot and tiring morning at the Magic Kingdom, my little girl and I shared a mickey ice cream sandwich. We were so hot that the ice cream tasted so cold and amazingly delicious. We both smiled at each other and lived in that moment. She told me that she was having the best day ever. I will never forget that moment and many other times from our trip. Enjoy each moment with your family. Make memories. Share a Mickey Ice Cream Cone and have fun!