Walt Disney World Tips for Traveling with Kids
It's been a while since I blogged about my trips. The last time I talked about a trip was right after Hurricane Irma. Since this trip, we have been to Disney World a few times and it's a completely different experience with two kids. One of the time I went when my husband had a convention he was attending, so he did his thing during the day, and I went with the kids to the parks on my own. That was a learning experience for me. I have gone alone to Disney World with my son when he was 2. When my husband had to go on a business trip, I would take off to Disney World for a few days so that my son wasn't dwelling on the fact that dad was not there. That was hard and it was only one child; two takes superhuman abilities.
Park Changes and New Experiences
- Pandora opened at Animal Kingdom since the last time we went and it is pretty spectacular! If you're an Avatar fan, you will like this area. We did get to ride on Na'vi River Journey but not Avatar Flight of Passage. The wait times for these rides are insanely long and we were not about to wait 3-4 hours for one ride. These are definitely rides you need to get Fastpasses for because you will spend all day waiting to ride it via standby. I also highly recommend trying out Satu'li Canteen for one of your meals. It is a completely different concept from all of their Quick Service restaurants and the food is so delicious!
- Another change to the parks, and one that I'm really saddened about, is the end of the Main Street Electrical Parade. This parade was a part of my childhood. Every time I would go to Disney World as a kid, we would stay and watch this parade. Its final run at the Magic Kingdom was October 9th, 2016. I wanted so badly to watch it that one last time, but it was impossible for my family. Thankfully we watched it when we were there in December of 2015, but it makes me sad that Madison will never get to see it.
- Hollywood Studios is currently a mess. If you've haven't kept up with Disney World news, Hollywood Studios is building Toys Story Land and Star Wars Land, and Disney's Imagineers are also working on the new Skyliner in the parking lot, so from the moment you arrive, there is construction everywhere! Toy Story land is slated to open June 30th, so that portion of the construction will soon be done, but Star Wars land and the Skyliner will not be complete until 2019.
- The picture spot with Lightning McQueen and Mater is no longer there because that is part of the new Star Wars land, but Cruz Ramirez was brought in and is located next to Pixar Lane. She revs her engine for you and the kids think it's the coolest thing in the world.
- What we did discover is that a lot (if not all) of the Quick Service restaurants have mobile ordering which is pretty amazing. If you download the My Disney Experience app, beyond being able ot see the wait times for all the rides, you can purchase your food ahead of time and it will be practically waiting for you when you arrive at the restaurant. This is the best way to get around long waiting lines for food ordering and cut down on wasted time in the parks.
- Sebastian partook in the Wilderness Explorers at Animal Kingdom and he may have learned a few things. It's always tough to know with a 4-year old because the attention span is that of one of the bugs he may be exploring. It was a fun way of bringing a learning experience into a Disney trip though and teaching your child about animal conservation and why he should have green practices (recycling, etc.).
Tips For More Disney Fun
- I personally love to go during the fall and winter seasons. I love to see the castle decorated for Christmas or Main Street decorated for the holiday season. It just makes the experience that much more magical. Because of this, we need to plan not only for rain, but also for colder weather. Twice we went when the temperatures were in the 40's at night and I mistakenly did not properly prepare for that. Thankfully I usually keep warm baby blankets in the car so we lucked out. Take my advice and check weather forecasts ahead of time and always plan for worst case scenarios. For cold weather and kids in strollers, blankets work great. I was able to bundle Madison up nice and warm. But when she didn't want to use a blanket, I would place her in a carrier and then zip up my sweater over her, so not only did she have my body warmth, but we were both bundled up. It was perfect!
- Lots of moms love to take their girls dressed up as princesses. I had designed and sewn two outfits for her for when we met the characters. I decided to keep the dress packed in the bag and she wore more comfortable clothes to play in the parks. This way, when it came time to take pictures with the characters, her dress was not full of food stains or dirt.
- I had serious stroller issues with this trip. I took my Joovy Ultralight Caboose which is a Sit n' Stand stroller. Even though it's a smaller stroller than a regular double stroller, it was still big and bulky. Getting two kids, a stroller and myself into the parking tram was not fun, especially during the rush when everyone is trying to get to their car. I actually had a pair of older woman who cut in front of me and the kids when I was trying to accommodate everything so we could get into the tram and we ended up missing that tram. Instead of helping, they were apparently in a hurry to get to their car. These are the people that make Disney unenjoyable, but I digress. It's easier to walk than to take the tram with a big stroller when you’re alone with little kids. And even easier than that would be to stay on the Monorail line. This would be at either the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian or the Contemporary because you don’t have to fold the strollers on the monorail and the train drops you off practically at your door.
- They have made changes to bag check that makes it quicker to get through. Instead of bag check being right outside the park for everyone, it is now outside the bus, ferry, and monorail terminals. It contains the mob a little better. The only thing I wish they would do differently is not make park hoppers have their bags checked every time they visit a different park. I understand why they do this but it’s a minor annoyance and it causes such a delay. As a mom with kids, I have to carry a bag of stuff in the park so I end up having my bags checked multiple times during my trip.
- I mentioned in a previous article the necessity for Fastpasses, and I just can't stress it enough! Get Fastpasses, especially for newer rides. Just do it and do it early because they go fast. You don't want to spend your entire time at the park waiting for one ride.
- If you are flexible on when you can visit Disney World, check their event dates and make sure it's not going to be an overly crowded day. Here's an incomplete list of events they host that could make a difference to your trip:
- There are lines for characters. Mickey and friends always has a long line, except at Pete's Sideshow Circus in Fantasyland. This is a hidden jewel. Minnie, Daisy, and Goofy are there and every time I have gone, there are no lines here. For any Mickey spot, if you can, get a Fastpass. The wait can be 30 minutes or more if you do standby, depending on how busy the parks are. Some of the other characters can also have long lines and they don't have Fastpasses for them, so make a plan for which characters are an absolute must to visit and get pictures with. An easier way to see certain characters may be to do a character dinner. These are usually a bit more expensive than regular meals but the experience is amazing and you can get the pictures with the characters you want while eating (something you have to do anyway) so it saves a bit of time, but not money.
Madison did get to meet plenty of characters while we were there these past couple of times. She was a bit hesitant to get close to them, which I expected, but she still enjoyed being able to see them.
We had so much fun and had several firsts. Madison enjoyed the slower rides and Sebastian even got to experience new things, even with how many times he's already been. That's the magic of Disney World, there is so much to experience and so much to do that every time can be a different experience.
There is so much I can write about Disney World and so many different experiences I could share that I could just go on about it forever, so I’ll leave you with a few pictures from our past trips.
Do you have any tips or experiences you’ve learned from while visiting Disney World that you would like to share?
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