Walt Disney World has always been on the top of my list to visit, and now, we have finally made the leap. We weren’t dissapointed. It was a first for all of us and we were warned that with small children (a four year old & a two year old) that it would be “challenging”. This couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Here are the 4 things we did to insure a melt-down free, fun, and magical experience with small children.
- Plan Ahead! I understand that creating an itinerary, for some people, feels like too much constraint for a vacation, but if you want to make the most of your time at Disney, it is necessary. When I say plan ahead, I mean about six months in advance.
- Dining Reservations: You can make dining reservations six months in advance. That may seem like a long time, but if you have certain places you really want to dine at, like Cinderella’s Royal Table, you will need to reserve it early. If you are flexible with dining times, you will be more likely to get into the restaurants you want even if you are a little behind on planning.
- FastPass: FastPasses are possibly my favorite thing about Disney. When you make a reservation to stay at a Walt Disney World resort, you will be able to book your FastPasses 60 days before your arrival. There is no additional charge for this service! You can book 3 FastPasses for each member of your family per day. You’ll want to schedule them for earlier in the day because once you are in the parks and you have used your first 3 passes, you can book more at a FastPass kiosk or on the mobile My Disney Experience App. I highly reccomend downloading the app if you have a smart phone. You can see wait times, make/change reservations, and find characters on the go while in the parks.
- Stay on Site: We stayed at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and it was wonderful! The pools were fantastic. That is one of the primary differences between the value and moderate resorts. We spent almost an entire day just hanging out at the pool, which was great because with all the excitement of the parks, having time to decompress and relax is vital. When you stay on site, you can opt for a dining package, use Disney’s transportation, and have anything you buy in the parks sent to your room so you don’t have to tote it around in the parks.
- Dining Plans: There are three options for dining packages. Check them out here and choose one that is right for your families needs. We selected the Disney Dining Plan which includes 1 table service, 1 quick service, and 2 snack credits per person per night of your reservation. Table services are where you get to meet various characters during your dining, so for us, this was a huge hit. You can use your dining credits at your Disney resort as well. This is great if you’re spending a day relaxing by the pool.
- Pictures: A balance I always struggle with is being part of the action but also getting pictures to look back on. Even though I took a great deal of pictures with my phone, I only took my Nikon to the parks on two of our seven day trip. We took advantage of the Memory Maker. Adding this to our package before hand allowed us to get all the photos taken by the onsite photographers and even the shots taken on various rides. You can buy individual photos that you select once in the parks, but we got hundreds of photos which I think was completely worth what we paid for it. This includes “magic photos”! You can ask a photographer to make your photo magical.
This trip was absolutely wonderful, and I attribute that to proper planning and simply the magic of Walt Disney World. I will never forget the looks on my kids faces as they met their favorite characters and the giggles as they rode their first roller coaster. This is definitely something we will do again.
Something I did when we got home was create a photo album with Shutterfly so I could look back and remember all the little details. You can get a free Shutterfly album HERE.