A few weeks ago the fam and I experienced Disney World for the first time (the kids first time). We were completely blessed by a family friend who put us up on Disney property- such a treat! We were already in Florida vacationing on the beach so we decided to surprise the boys with a few days at Disney at the end of our trip. They were so surprised, it was adorable! When we told them, Shaeffer actually said, “OH MOM I THOUGHT YOU WERE BEING FOR REAL” to which I responded, “I AM, WE ARE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD” and then his excitement set in! Because of the ages of our boys we decided to only do Magic Kingdom this trip, but in hindsight I think they would have enjoyed seeing the Disney Junior Characters at Hollywood Studios. I did some research before heading to Disney and learned a thing or two while I was there. Our next trip is bound to be even better than this one and honestly this one was pretty amazing! Here’s what worked for us and what we plan to do if we go back:
1. I preordered their Mickey Ears, T-Shirts and Trading Pins from The Disney Store to save a little time and money at the park! The Trading Pins were a lot of fun… Basically the kids can trade the pins they have with Disney employees all over the park. It was fun for the boys to try to find their favorite characters and it also involved them with the “cast members” a little bit. We gave them all their “SWAG” when we surprised them with the trip!
2. We did a Character Breakfast the first morning. This was so much fun and I highly suggest it. Next trip I would actually probably do more than one Character Meal. It allows you to meet the characters in a more intimate setting and then you don’t have to wait in line to see them at the park! I also have a nut allergy and the executive chef came out and explained to me what I could eat off the buffet and then made me my own special waffles just incase! I felt so special!
3. The Fireworks and Parades are a MUST… Our kids thought these were so much fun! The Main Street Electrical Parade is pretty amazing and the fireworks are honestly the best I’ve seen. One hint we received from a couple people was to sit in “Frontier Land” for the parade as it’s less crowded! This was GREAT advice!!! OH AND DON’T FORGET THE SPARKLEY TOYS 🙂
4. Someone told us about the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Adventure. It sounded so AMAZING. We did not do this, but it’s on my list for our next trip! My boys favorite character is Peter Pan and we couldn’t find him any where. I heard he comes to the Pirates and Pals Fireworks so that has turned into a must!
5. Meeting the Characters is a must for small children. Like I said, the Character Meals are one way to do this. We didn’t get to meet all our favorites at the breakfast however. The lines can be pretty long to meet the characters. We found that Mickey’s line was only 5 minutes long immediately after the fireworks (90 minutes the rest of the time). It’s also a pretty cool experience as you are in a little room with him by himself. We also waited in line to meet Tinker Bell and Videa, two of Peter Pan’s favorite Fairies… This experience was at the top of our “best of” list. The fairies spent so much time with our boys- just our boys. We were with them in a private room for a good 10 minutes. They played with our boys, joked around, asked questions, etc.. It really was a blast!
6. Staying on property was a great experience. It’s close, free transportation etc.. I do know that staying elsewhere often provides transportation, as well. The villa that we stayed in had a full kitchen so we would leave the park to come home for lunch and rests and then go back in the evening with a packed dinner. This saved us a lot of money and also made it so our boys could last until 11pm. I’ve also heard that the Disney Dinning Plan saves a lot of money..
7. We had our 2 year old with us the entire time and he was able to go on all the rides we went on. Our bigger boys were not interested in roller coasters yet, so this trip it worked out!
8. I’m sure you’ve heard that getting fast passes is a must to shorten the lines! I completely agree! I will say, however, that our boys did not complain ONE time about lines… They were just so excited to be there! Getting fast passes and having a “plan” for what rides you want to go on was extremely helpful for us! The other MUST HAVE is the Disney App. It gave us wait times, maps etc.. it was the best suggestion we got prior to going! Don’t forget to get ice cream, and take a pic of your kiddos when you’re leaving! You’ll see all the fun they had not only on their faces, but all over their clothes too!
10. My take on autographs… My kids of course loved getting autographs. I decided that instead of getting an autograph book I would have the characters sign a photo frame matte. I think they turned out really adorable and we are letting the boys pick which photo they want to put in their special frame (they each have a matte). There is even room for the few we missed (Minnie and Peter) to sign next time :).
If you are planning a trip to Disney, the most important part is to RELAX and enjoy the magic. Look at everything through your child’s eyes and I assure you – it will be an amazing family vacation!