Our family just got back from a surprise trip to Disney World over fall break! Briton and I surprised the kids! They had NO idea!! You can see the scavenger hunt we did here! The kids had a blast! You guys were so great offering tips and tricks before we left! So I decided to put all that I learned into one post! I hope you find this helpful!
I cannot tell you how much this helped!! It was a first time trip for Lucy, but it was the first time for our entire family to stay at Disney for a PLANNED trip! Amber from Starting with a Mouse was the biggest help! She planned every detail of our trip – including booking our hotel, fast passes, and meal reservations! As a first timer, I did not know what to do! Amber made it so much easier for us! You can also email Amber – firstname.lastname@example.org!
You can book fast passes 60 days before your trip! And I would highly recommend doing so! Especially if you have young children, fast passes are a way to avoid long lines and make the most of your trip! Three can be booked at a time! Once those are used the day of your visit, you can even book more if they are available! It was so nice for us to have these and helped the day go so much smoother!
If you familiarize yourself with the My Disney Experience app before leaving, it will really help your trip go smoother too! On the app, you will see all of your fast pass reservations, dinner reservations, see maps of the park and so much more! The map of the park was the most helpful to me! I was not familiar with the parks! The app knew where we were on the map of the park, and it gave directions on how to get to our next spot! You can also reserve more fast passes, change reservations if needed, and see wait times on all the rides! This was incredibly helpful!
If you can afford to do so, staying at a resort that is connected to the monorail (The Polynesian, The Contemporary, or The Grand Floridian) makes for easy access to the parks! It also helps you avoid so many lines! The monorail has access to Magic Kingdom and Epcot! You can also stay at a resort connected to the skyliner which has access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios! If you stay at any Disney resort, you also have access to the bus to take you to and from the parks. No matter where you stay, I would give yourself an hour of travel time! Plan on time on the bus or monorail plus time to go through security and walk to your destination!
Again, if you can afford to do the meal plan, it makes things so easy and convenient! Our family did 2 meals and 2 snacks a day for each person! Meals at a sit-down restaurant can be close to $200 PLUS tip for four people! The meal plan came with a refillable cup for each of us which could be filled with a soft drink, tea, or coffee! A snack credit can also be used for bottled water! Most of the meals we went to had characters too! This was the perfect time for photos and autographs!
The meals are bigger! We split the Quick Service meals most days! We would order two breakfasts and share them! Then we would have a snack later that day. We then would order two lunches and share them! Then for dinner, we would each have our own meal. This was a way to stretch the meals plans to help it work better for our family without spending too much extra money!
Okay, I know…. this sounds silly! But Disney only has paper straws, and those things drive me (and Lucy!) bonkers! I wish I would have brought a metal or silicone straw to put in my refillable cup to use every day!
You never know when it might start raining! But don’t let that ruin your plans for the day!! I bought this 8-pack of ponchos (4 adult, 4 child), and it was perfect! They also come in handy for any water rides you may be doing! The kids and I wore them for Splash Mountain! It’s also a great idea to put some flip-flops in your backpack too! If it does start raining or you do a water ride, you can change into them to keep your other shoes dry! It was POURING the day we left, and we still had ponchos left! I was able to give them away to people going to the parks that day because, as you can imagine, the Disney ponchos are pricey!
We were lucky enough to be at Disney when Mickey’s Not-So Scary Halloween Parade was going on! Yes, it is an extra expense, but it was a fun experience with WAY less people in the park than a typical day! Our family dressed up (as did most families) and went to Magic Kingdom for a fun night! The rides were all open and wait times were WAY less! Most rides had a wait time of 5-10 minutes! The parade is also really great! Briton saved seats for us for almost an hour so that we could see everything well! I rotated Henry and Lucy to do a few rides before the parade started! You can shop our outfits here!
Did you know that you can purchase a Disney gift card from Target?! And if you use your Target card, you can save 5%! This is a great way to pay for your entire trip! If your trip cost $5000, purchase $5000 in Disney gift cards and save $250! It may not sound like much, but this is a great way to save!
We gave each of the kids a $30 gift card to pick out a little souvenir to take home!! There were SO many choices around the park! Henry picked out a Star Wars hat, and Lucy chose a Little Mermaid set! They LOVED doing this!
While you can use your snack credit to purchase water bottles, I also recommend taking a refillable water bottle with a lid to the parks each day! We took two of these and filled them with ice and water before we left!
I took two pairs of shoes for each person on our trip! We rotated which shoes we would wear every other day! I knew how uncomfortable it would be for us to try to walk around with blisters! I took these sneakers for me and a pair of Birkenstock sandals! They were perfect!
I bought each of the kids autograph books and Sharpie retractable pens ahead of time for them to get signatures from the characters! We can also put their pictures with the characters in the book! The kids LOVED getting the autographs!
Another fun tip that several of you recommended was to purchase a lanyard and lot of pins ahead of time! This was something that my kids loved so much! They wore their lanyards and pins throughout the day! Many of the cast members also have pins, and you can trade them! It was really fun!
I was using my phone quite a bit on our trip! From fast passes to checking wait times to maps of the parks and taking pictures, my phone got a workout! I brought a portable charger with me, and it was a lifesaver! I only needed to take it out once a day! But if you need to do it more than that, Disney even has kiosks throughout the parks! For $30, you can buy a portable charger! You can recharge it yourself or swap it out for a fully charged charger for just $3!
There are workers in vests throughout every park and with almost every character! It is worth the money, in my opinion, to splurge on the memory maker! A photographer takes your pictures, scans your magic band, and the pictures are almost instantly on the My Disney Experience app for you to download! We were able to get so many great family and character photos!
There are so many things to carry into the parks – water bottles, sunglasses, bandaids, ponchos, autograph books, long sleeve tops, etc. A great backpack is a must! I brought my favorite Stella & Dot backpack, and it was perfect! Several pockets and compartments, adjustable straps, and water resistant! It was perfect for the parks!
If there is one thing that you will do quite a bit of…. it’s waiting! Lines can be long, transportation from one spot to another can take a while! I played games with the kids in line to keep them distracted from all of the waiting! We played “I Spy”, “I’m thinking of a number between ____ and ____”, anything to keep them from complaining about the waiting!
Yes, I definitely went into the trip knowing that we would be go, go, go for the majority of the trip! However, we did take some time to relax! The kids truly enjoyed going to the pools at The Polynesian! So when we had a late start to the day or an early end to the day, we took the time for some down time! The kids played without having to rush around, and Briton and I relaxed on the lounge chairs! It was much needed! We could have pushed through and done more at the parks, but we would have been so exhausted! I am glad we took the time to have a small amount of down time! Shop the kids’ swimwear here!
I hope these tips will help you have a more magical and less stressful trip to Disney!!
You can see how we surprised the kids with a scavenger hunt here! They had no idea we were going to Disney!
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