Young Kids At Disney – Tips to Survive (and Enjoy) Your Trip

Tips For Traveling With Young Kids at Disney

1 – Plan the Trip Around Your Children
While this probably seems obvious and makes sense, a lot of people first-timing it with childrenn forget that the trip needs to be planned around them.  If they have fun, you have fun (and you can still sneak in your own wants too).  More info in further tips…

2 – Prepare Your Children
Before going, make sure your kids are familiar with the characters they will meet at Disney.  If they haven’t experienced a parade, fireworks or other loud shows, determine if you think they’ll be able to handle it before getting a front row seat to Fantasmic or Festival of Fantasy.  YouTube has thousands of videos of the attractions, fireworkds, character interactions, restaurants, etc. that can be great to familiarize your children with unfamiliar aspects of the trip.  Disney also has a free Trip-Planning DVD available on their website.

3 – You Will Not Be Able To Do Everything
Know before you go that you will not be able to do everything.  Some shows may be too late, too long, too intense or too busy.

4 – Your Child’s Schedule Comes First
You know your child better than anyone else.  Are they more energetic in the mornings or afternoons?  Are they a napper?  Can they fall asleep in a stroller?  ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations) are great, and can help you pick the best meal times.

5 – Strollers? Yes!
Definitely use one.  Little legs will get tired quickly walking around parks, and carrying your child can get very tiring.  Commercial airlines will gate-check your stroller if you’re flying to Orlando.  If you are driving and space is limited, renting may make more sense.
At the parks, there are stroller parking areas that can get full, and Disney will move strollers around as people come and go, so make sure yours is clearly labeled to make it easy to find.
Use the parking: you can leave your stroller at the carousel, for example, and go to it’s a small world, Peter Pan’s Flight, Mickey’s Philharmagic, 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, etc without having to move it.

6 – Keep Your First Trip Memorable
If you are only going once, wait until your children are old enough to enjoy and appreciate it.  If you plan to go multiple times, this is not as important, but you’ll want to make sure your kids are at an age that they’ll have a good time (and you will too).

7 – Picking a Resort – Options for Kids
There are many activities for kids of all ages at the different hotels.  Some have better pools, some have more activities (Fort Wilderness Lodge has trails, bikes, horses, archery), some have better food options and others have various daily activities (Animal Kingdom has animals to see).  If you’re unfamiliar with the Walt Disney World resorts, do your research beforehand.  In general, the value and moderate resorts are more geared toward children, but the deluxe resorts can also be fun.

8 – ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations)
When making these, you need to include your kids in the numbers, it is based on how many seats you’ll be taking, not how many people will be eating.  Every restaurant has foods for kids, but it’ll be up to you to determine which places would work well foodwise, pricewise, and entertainment wise for your family.

 

what additional tips do you want to share? Please leave them in the comments below!

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Surviving Someone Else’s Disney Trip

Today, I want to talk about ways to survive someone else’s trip to Walt Disney World.

I had recently planned a trip to Disney after finding out about a ridiculously low rate at the Boardwalk Inn… and although I would have gotten a room for as much as $520 LESS than other people were paying for it, I decided that leaving my wife with our 2 year old and 2 month old (and paying $980 for the flight) maybe wasn’t the best husbandly thing to do.  However, my brother and dad (who is presenting a paper at the conference) will be heading down and arrive on January 1st.  Am I upset by this?  Nope.  Because instead of sulking sadly in the corner, I will travel vicariously to Disney through them!

Help them plan (if they let you)

My dad is not always the most organized person when traveling, so when I offered to help him plan his trip, he happily agreed.  He and I have talked together about some of the places he wants to see, restaurants he’d like to eat at, and activities he’d like to do, and I worked out a few possible itineraries for him.  Giving the person as much say as they want in their trip is the healthiest way to go about it.  If they’re comfortable giving you free reign: awesome, but don’t expect to get to tell someone else what to do every minute of their trip.  Plans may change, the weather may not cooperate, or he may decide to sleep in on certain mornings, but by offering to help plan it, I’ve been able to get some of that excitement and OCD out of my system.  If someone you know is traveling to Walt Disney World, take the time to find out what you can about their likes and dislikes.  Not only will this help you (and them) plan, but it can be a fun time to get to know someone better.

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Give useful/helpful tips

I’ve told my dad to stay away from certain areas that are likely to be crowded, as well as any that have maintenance scheduled for their visit.  Splash Mountain, for example, will be open during their first few days, but then closes for maintenance, so they’ll need to head their early if they want to enjoy it.

If they are a person that may buy something for you, have an idea of what you’d like and where from, if they ask.  HINT: the Turkey Leg air freshener can only be found in certain locations, so make sure you let them know where to get it!!!

A secret to tips: don’t go overboard.  My dad and I both love Disney, and can’t have enough of it, but texting at 12:40 am to let him know that there’s only a 40 minute wait to Peter Pan’s Flight when he’s not a night person and has probably been in bed for 3 hours… maybe not the best idea.

Schedule time to talk

I know that if my family is watching Illuminations at 9:00 pm, I probably shouldn’t call them at 9:05 pm and expect them to answer.  When my dad goes to Walt Disney World without me, he LOVES to send pictures, texts, voice mails and videos throughout the day letting me follow along with what he’s doing.  What we’re going to try this trip is FaceTime.  Without being that obnoxious person holding their iPad up to the sky during Wishes, we’re going to try a few times to video chat while he’s in the parks.

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Don’t be these people! (photo originally found here)

Back off if you need to

If you’re able to be involved with someone else’s trip, great!  However, it’s THEIR trip, not yours, and they may need time to enjoy things on their own.  Take the hint if they don’t answer your phone calls or texts: while you are at home living in ridiculously cold South Dakota winters, they are on vacation having a great time.

If they don’t follow your advice, your walking tour suggestion, your restaurant recommendations, and your detailed Excel spreadsheet that lists optimal times throughout the week for each of the ‘major’ ‘moderate’ and ‘low’ interest attractions, so be it.

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Hey, at least we’re above 0 this week…

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(photo can be found here)

Be excited when they return

If you’ve ever been on an amazingly awesome, super great, terrific trip, sometimes getting home afterwards can be a bit of a let down.  (I feel like I need a vacation after some of my vacations).  If someone you know if going, be there for them when they get back.  Ask to see their pictures, or if they have a link to their online PhotoPass page, check it out.  If you haven’t kept up with them during their vacation, find out how it went, what their favorite rides were, etc.

As you have read, most of these tips are for family members / relatives going to Walt Disney World, but they can be modified for friends, coworkers and other people you know who are taking a trip without you.  Are there any tips, tricks or pieces of advice that YOU would like to share?  Leave a comment below!