Tips for Traveling to Disney with Kids
Hi friends! We just got back from our trip to Disney and I am here to tell you that yes traveling to Disney with toddlers is a bit hectic and not really a relaxing vacation but yes it's the most amazing time and you'll create memories you'll look back on forever. I was 7 the first time my family took my brother and I to Disney and I have been back almost every year after until college. Matt and I went a couple times together and then went on our honeymoon. I have been dreaming of taking my own kids to Disney for as long as I can remember! I kept seeing pics on Instagram of friends or bloggers going and then decided why not go?? Life is way too short!! My friend Amanda is a Disney travel agent so I immediately reached out and within a couple days we were booked for our trip! I HIGHLY recommend reaching out to Amanda to book your trip! Many moments on our trip felt like something out of an SNL skit or a Chevy Chase movie but I am still laughing about them now!
Here are some things I feel might be helpful for planning your trip:
1. Pick a resort that's on the Skyliner route
We stayed at Caribbean Beach (first place I ever stayed back in 1997 - cue the straight across bangs and short hair!!) and it was SOOO nice. Makes you feel like you are in the Caribbean and it was reasonably priced. It's right on the Skyliner route (Disney's so you are able to travel to Hollywood Studios and Epcot in a matter of minutes. Read more about it here!
2. Stock up on Disney Gear!
Minnie ears from Amazon are WAY cheaper
Also not Disney related but I LOVED these biker shorts and want to order more pairs next summer. They have built in pockets which was huge. So comfy!
3. Pack the essentials!
We brought our Baby Jogger Double City Tour and it was perfect, not too big or too small. You'll need to fold up your stroller every time you go on the Skyliner (unless it's a tandem) or a bus so you'll want one that's easy to fold up
Here are some things that we brought or I wish we brought on the trip:
2 pairs of sneakers - you'll want to be comfortable as you do so much walking. Bring bandaids for blisters.
Ponchos and stroller covers - it did rain 2 days we were there! Did we have rain coats? No! Did we have ponchos? No!
Portable Charger - this one came in handy and we used it every day in the parks!! You use your phone so much to check the app for wait times, Genie, ordering food, etc.
Medicine - we ended up getting sick so made multiple trips to the store. Pack everything you think you might need (tylenol, tylenol for kids, tums, nasal decongestant, the list goes on and on) and you'll be so happy to have it! Turner Drugs is available if you are staying in the resort and they will deliver anything you need right to your room - this came in handy!!
For food - we used Instacart when we got to the hotel and it was so convenient to stock up on snacks and not have to pack too much in our suitcases.
4. Lower your expectations
I knew it would be a lot taking a 1 and 3 year old to Disney so really tried to lower my expectations about how "magical" it would be. I realized they were completely thrown off schedule and overwhelmed by all that was going on in the parks. However, the magic does happen when you least expect it. Honestly, moments like seeing Buzz on the Disney bus made them so happy. We tried to go with the flow as much as possible - let them nap in the stroller, let them eat ice cream at 11am, run around acting silly, and tried to not over do it!
5. Don't go crazy on the Disney dining reservations
I joined a few Disney dining groups on FB and people take dining very seriously! I joined a site called mousewatchers.com which sends you alerts when reservations become available. It was great to use however I ended up canceling almost all of the reservations and just doing mobile orders right on the Disney app. It's too hard to plan with toddler schedules and the food is so easy to order right from your phone. Plus it makes for good people watching and there's plenty of room to sit and enjoy your lunch on the go.
With that said, we did eat out twice and I definitely recommend both places:
T-Rex Cafe in Disney Springs - I definitely recommend going to Disney Springs at least once during a Disney trip and T-Rex was a fun place to take the kids. It's super hard to get reservations but if you become a Landry's Select Club Member you increase your odds of getting a table. Landry's Club Members get priority seating so after hearing that I immediately signed up. It's $25 and then you get a $25 reward in the mail. When we arrived I went to the host stand and told them that I was a member. I'm not sure if it works during really busy times but we were seated within ten minutes!
Boma in Animal Kingdom Lodge - Boma is Matt and I's favorite restaurant in Disney so we were so excited to take the kids. From the lobby, to the gift shop, to seeing the animals right at the resort, it's truly an experience all in itself. Boma is a buffet and has the best food - literally something for everyone. It was pure chaos taking the kids but we took turns going up to get food and Teddy ate more mac n cheese than I've ever seen a kid eat! We did not have too much trouble making this reservation which was a plus!
6. Plan for low-key days
We had a blast in the parks but I feel like some of our best memories are from the low key days. Here are a few things we did that I would recommend:
Quick service breakfast at the Riviera - it's a beautiful new resort and it's on the Skyliner route!
Take the Skyliner to Art of Animation Resort - again, this is a fun experience for the kids because the hotel is separated into themes and have huge statues from different movies like the Lion King, Cars, Finding Nemo. Both boys loved it!
Walk around Disney Springs! They have awesome shops, restaurants, and everything needed to get you in the Disney spirit!
7. Get to the parks early
This is my biggest piece of advice if you are going to Disney. No matter if you are staying in Disney or not, get to the park as soon as you are allowed to enter and you will not regret it!! We got to the parks within 15 minutes of them opening and each time I had wished we had gotten there a little bit earlier because the parks got so busy! We went to Magic Kingdom on a Friday right as they opened and we were able to go on a bunch of rides without any waits. By noon the park was packed, the wait times were nuts (75 min for Peter Pan yikes!!) and it became so overwhelming especially with small kids.
8. Plan your day
I know it's hard with kids schedules but if you can plan out which rides you definitely want to go on, that will help ensure you get to go on them! Here are rides the boys loved from the parks we went to:
Animal Kingdom - Safari first thing, Dino Land, Lion King Show (oh wait just Matt and I went on that because Ryder was losing it haha!!)
Hollywood Studios - Minnie's Runaway Railway, Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers, Frozen Show, Cars Show
Magic Kingdom - The Carousel (3x!!), Speedway, Little Mermaid, Winnie the Pooh, Mickey's Philharmagic
Side note on the new Genie! So the new Genie is Disney's new fast pass system and you do it all through the app. We used it for Magic Kingdom Day ($15 extra per ticket) and used it on one ride at Hollywood Studios. My overall thoughts: we got there so early for MK day that we didn't need to use the Genie until the afternoon and by that point it's just hard to plan rides with two small kids. I don't like that you can't use it on the most popular rides like Space Mountain and Seven Dwarfs. For Hollywood Studios, it did come in handy to skip the line and get on Minnie's Runaway train.
9. Buy the Mickey Bubble Wand
This one makes me laugh but came in handy. We kept seeing all the kids in the strollers with the bubble wand and finally got one on our last day. They may be hard to find but we got ours right past the ice cream shop at the end of Main Street at Magic Kingdom. Believe me this thing was a lifesaver!!
10. Bring help if you can!!
My parents have a timeshare in Orlando so they were also there with us during our trip. If they weren't, our trip would have been very different and I'm so grateful for them. If you are able to go with family and friends, I can't recommend it enough. Power in numbers!
Last tip...get ready for the time of your life!!!
Like I said..life is too short, book the Disney trip! Just go with flow and have a blast. Let the kids stay up late, let them have ice cream for lunch, throw away any worries you may have. Walking down Main Street with my family was something I've been dreaming of for so long. I'm so glad we went and can't wait to go back!