How to make the most of your Walt Disney World Vacation!
Traveling to Walt Disney World for the first time is so exciting, but can also be a little overwhelming…especially if you’re traveling with kids! I know this first hand as we get ready for our trip to Disney Social Media Moms (which will be our first time to Disney World as a family). So, I turned to my friend, Jill, for her tips! She’s a Walt Disney World annual pass holder, mom of two little guys, and former Disney Cast Member! So, she’s “in the know”. And, Amy and I are thrilled to say that she is going to be a regular contributor here on Disney Mentor Moms!!
Take it away, Jill…
How to make the most of your Walt Disney World Vacation:
1. Don’t be afraid to take breaks- if you are staying on property take advantage of the transportation and go back to take a nap, cool down or go for a swim. Not only will this revitalize you and your kids but it will make going back one more time that much more exciting. (I love when we stay on property for this very reason!) If you’re not staying on property there are plenty of “break spots.” I’ll just leave it at Hall of Presidents! ;) 2. Bring your own snacks or lunches – Let’s face it part of the fun of going to Disney is all the amazing food choices, but when you’re on vacation, you’re usually off of your normal routine and meals can come at off times. Being prepared with snacks will help keep your princess from becoming a diva, queue Snicker’s commercial.;) So, we always take snacks and not just for the kiddos. Keep in mind that unless you take a cooler or a fancy shmancy lunch bag, you’ll want non-perishable snacks. The applesauce squeeze pouches are great! The small water bottles are perfect for little hands and you can always refill them without them taking up too much space. We usually throw a few Capri Sun’s or juice boxes in our bag too!
3. Use the baby care centers!!!! When I worked at the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I sent people over to the baby care center near there all the time. Now that I have kids of my own it’s become my favorite spot in every park. Why? Well, it’s a space made for babies and toddlers. It takes all the extra park stimulation out of your immediate vicinity. If you are nursing, they have quiet, air conditioned rooms for you to feed your baby. And if you are pumping, they will hold your pump for you so you don’t have to lug it around all day( (However, they are unable to keep any milk for any guests, so be prepared to carry that with you). There are plenty of changing tables, high chairs and supplies you may need to purchase such as Tylenol, diapers, diaper cream, wipes, pacifiers, etc. By far this has become one of my favorite spots when the boys need to regroup. 4. Use Fastpasses! When getting your fastpasses, just have one person from your group get all the fastpasses while the others stay behind (or go do something else). My husband usually holds all of our tickets anyway and then gets the fastpasses without us following. This saves time and helps to keep the area flowing for other guests. This is also convenient if I need to send him to get more fastpasses while I take the kids on a ride he doesn’t want to do.
5. Pick up a park map and times guide when you first get there. Even if you don’t need it, if you have kids, it can be a great distraction. Someone will always want to know when he or she can see a character or when a show begins so it’s nice to have one readily available. Although, they are throughout the park at almost every stand should you be caught without one. It’s also makes for a cute photo prop. 6. Travel with a stroller. pick up a poncho at the dollar store to cover your stroller up while it’s parked. Speaking of strollers, may I suggest the Mommy hook? This is by far one of the greatest tools I have added to my collection. If you are staying on property you will likely have to fold up your stroller to get on the buses. That means everything in your basket could fall out, ugh. So if you use the hook, you can just unhook, fold stroller and hop on (ok not that simple when herding the cats, I mean kids, but you get the picture). Oh and if you need a stroller recommendation, our most favorite stroller is the City Mini! We have both a single and a double and it is one of the lightest and easiest to fold strollers I’ve ever had/seen.
7. Have your pen out! If you have an autograph book when greeting Characters, it’s always good to have your pen out and the book open to the page you want signed. I know it’s a little harder for the kids to get this right 100% of the time, but it’s very helpful for the Characters! 8. Take time for magical moments. When I was on my second college program, I shared an apartment with really good friends of Mickey and Chip. These friends shared some amazing stories with me, but the ones that stuck out the most were the ones that came with souvenirs. One of our many trips, my son Jack was adamant we were going to sing Happy Birthday to Minnie Mouse. He wanted to give her a card and sing, so before we left, he told me what to write and put stickers all over the card. I accidentally left it in the car, WHOOPS. While we were in line, I tore out a paper from his autograph book and wrote “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MINNIE!” and told her the story of my forgetfulness. Jack, who can’t read, very excitedly handed Minnie his “card” between guests. When we finally had our turn, she gave him extra smooches and kneeled down while he proceeded to sing Happy birthday at the top of his lungs. While Minnie didn’t get his real card that day, she got the full story and I know that hit her. Magic is not just for the guests! Those moments that mean a lot to you mean a lot to the Cast Members, too. Keep that in mind as you experience your magic. 9. The four parks aren’t all Disney has to offer. There is so much to see and do! I know it can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to be in a park to experience the Magic. The resorts and Downtown Disney are great places to see so much more without an admission ticket. If you want to shop outside of the parks there’s plenty of opportunity. After all, Disney wouldn’t want you to miss out on spending money. ;) There are some really good family photo spots around the hotels, not to mention some AMAZING restaurants. So, make sure to get out and explore! 10. Soak in the details. There is so much time and effort put into each attraction, restaurant, bathroom, store, etc. From hidden mickeys to hand washing directions, you’d never believe how many people played a part in making that happen. And because there is SO much to do and see at Walt Disney World, remember to experience what you can and not stress too much over what you didn’t get to do. No one has ever come to Disney and seen everything in one trip. My favorite Walt Disney quote sums it up nicely; “You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world…but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”
Enjoy the magic of your vacation! Maybe we’ll see you there.
Jill DuBose is a stay at home mom to two boys, 3 years and 16 months. Before her life as a wife and mother began, she spent 9 years working for The Disney Company in many capacities. She started at the Disney Store in Phoenix, Arizona right out of high school and finished nearly 2000 miles away at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Her favorite roles were Safari Driver at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Professional Recruitment Coordinator for Walt Disney World. Disney has been a part of her life since her first trip to Disneyland in 1987.