I can’t believe our Disney trip has come and gone! We had been planning to go as a family for a year and there was so much excitement and anticipation leading up to the week! My parents have a time share at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which is where we always stayed growing up as kids. It’s SO fun to go back now and bring our own children to experience all of the fun and magic that Disney encompasses! My sister and her family came on the trip as well - and we all stayed in a three-bedroom villa which was absolutely gorgeous with views of Magic Kingdom; we watched the fireworks every night from our balcony…it was amazing.
While we were there I got LOTS of messages from people saying they had a trip coming up and were super nervous/wanted tips etc. All I have to say is YES, Disney is a BEAST of a place and it’s completely exhausting, but it’s ALWAYS worth it. If you go in with a few tips + tricks and a plan, then you will dominate it! This was London’s third time at Disney World (she’s 3.5 years old) and each trip gets better because she remembers more and more. The look on her face makes it me so happy. Bringing Malia added a new layer and definitely took more thinking in terms of coordinating naps, mixing bottles etc., but it was absolutely amazing and I’m so glad she experienced it with us. I know people say “I’m not going to take my kids to Disney until they can remember it” and I get that, but for us we just feel like the entire process of travel in general brings new learning experiences for our children and opportunities for them to grow, step outside of their comfort zone, and expand their minds…plus THE MEMORIES.
Ok, it’s time for TIPS + TRICKS on how to get the most out of your time there and also the best parks/things to do if you have a toddler/small child! There are certain parks (ahem, EPCOT) that I wouldn’t take the time to go to if you have kids the same age as mine. I’ll get to that in a little :)
Bring your own snacks and waters to the parks. Unless you want to spend $5 on a bottled water I recommend you pack your own! They let you do this so we stashed 4-5 waters in the storage bin of the stroller. I also pack a bunch of snacks in my luggage or buy snacks at a store outside of Disney when we arrive. I bring individual packs of goldfish, raisins, cheez-its, apple sauce pouches, etc.
Plan Fast Passes in advance. If you want a super popular ride like Peter Pan’s Flight at the Magic Kingdom, I would book a fast pass ahead of time for this! We did our fast passes a few days before our trip and we were able to get on all of the rides / see all of the shows that we wanted too (I made a list below of our favorites by theme park).
Schedule a CHARACTER DINING experience. When London was 18-months old and obsessed with Mickey Mouse, we booked a brunch at “Chef Mickey’s” at the Contemporary so she could meet all of the characters in one place. We did this instead of waiting in line at Magic Kingdom to see each individual character which would have been less than fun with a child her age :) This year, we made reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table which is located at the top of the castle in Magic Kingdom! London was in heaven! Each princess (Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, and Jasmine) comes around to your table while you are eating to chat and take photos. It’s WELL WORTH the money to see them all in one place! (*book these experiences well in advance! We also did a separate fast pass to meet Tiana and Rapunzel because they weren’t at the breakfast)
Bring your own stroller. I don’t recommend renting a stroller there - mostly because they look SUPER uncomfortable and there’s no storage underneath (which I count on). As of May 2019, there are new standards for strollers in terms of length and width, so make sure you check on the website before you pack your own. I’m sure the travel umbrella strollers would work fine. My sister has an almost two-year old and they used something similar to this one. We love the Babyzen YOYO stroller (as I have mentioned a bunch before) and they have an attachment/ride along board which is AMAZING!
Utilize the Baby Care Center. They have these in all four theme parks and they’re wonderful. There is a private nursing room with rocking chairs, a place to change your baby and highchairs to feed older babies as well! There is also a shop that sells formula, diapers, sunscreen, wipes, baby food, etc., should you have forgotten any of those things.
Our Favorite Parks / Rides + Shows…
We spend the most time here every year, for obvious reasons - it’s the main park! There are amazing rides but also daily parades and shows! Here are our favorite rides/shows to see!
It’s A Small World (We never get a fast pass for this one - the line is always manageable)
The Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Peter Pan’s Flight (Crowd favorite! Book your fast pass well in advance for this one!)
Pirates of the Caribbean
“Festival of Fantasy” Parade at 3PM daily
Country Bear Jamboree
“Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire” show (On the stage in front of the castle)
*I HIGHLY recommend the nightly fireworks show! London is 3.5 so we had her take a later nap so she could go (It starts at 9:15pm), but it is SO beautiful and worth it. London was completely mesmerized and honestly, so was I!
We LOVE Animal Kingdom. It is so beautiful and probably my second favorite park after Magic Kingdom (It’s my husband’s favorite!) We never do many rides here because we’ve only always spent a half a day…but our top 3 are listed below. It’s just SO beautiful! The photo below of London meeting Pocahontas was when she was 2.5 years old - she loved it!
Festival of the Lion King Show
Pocahontas Character Meet & Greet
Hollywood Studios - If you only have 2-3 days at Disney as a whole, skip Hollywood Studios. We had 4-5 days so we went here, but I think you would want at least two days at Magic Kingdom and a day at Animal Kingdom! Here is what we did at Hollywood Studios…
Disney Junior Dance Party
For The First Time In Forever Frozen Sing-a-long
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
Character Meet & Greet: Princess Sofia
I hope you’ve found this helpful! If you have any questions you can post them here or on my latest Instagram post (not the giveaway) and I will probably be able to respond quicker! Love you all!