I had been planning the trip since maternity leave with my second child, Jack. Staying up all night every night with the baby, Pinterest became my favorite site, and I kept seeing Disney World pins every time I looked. I considered how fun a Disney World trip could be when the kids were older. I am a planner, and I needed a fun distraction from the drudgery of the newborn stage. A trip to Disney World was perfect!
I set a goal: in January 2017 I would take the kids to Disney World. My husband was planning to lead a study abroad trip with his hospitality management students to Dubai in January, and being the only parent at home for two weeks while he was gone did not sound enticing to me. So I invited my mom and my younger sister to join us on our Disney trip. They enthusiastically agreed to come!
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World is almost as fun as the actual trip. I read several websites dedicated to WDW planning, listened to podcasts, scoured Pinterest, and asked my friends about their WDW trips. All the planning was worth it. We had an amazing trip. When you’re planning to go to Disney World, which is not the cheapest destination, you want to make sure you maximize your time there. Here are my tips for a magical Disney World trip.
1. Do your research.
Use websites and podcasts dedicated to Walt Disney World planning. My favorite is WDWPrepSchool.com and her podcast WDWPrepToGo. She has a fantastic crowd calendar, park itineraries, resort and ride reviews, packing lists, and more!
2. Pay attention to deadlines.
Get your dining reservations and FastPass+ selections at the earliest possible date for best selection. I got every reservation and FastPass+ that I wanted. We had breakfast with the princesses at Cinderella’s castle, breakfast with the Disney Junior characters at Hollywood & Vine, and dinner at Chef Mickey’s. We also got to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Toy Story Mania – crowd favorites – several times.
3. Plan fun outfits.
My kids and I had matching outfits for every day on our trip, which made getting up early every day a bit easier to do! Kids can wear costumes in the parks, but that’s not allowed for adults. So instead, I went “Disney-bounding,” where you use a color scheme similar to a Disney character without wearing a costume.
On our first Magic Kingdom day, I wore a Minnie Mouse outfit, then a Doc McStuffins nurse outfit at Hollywood Studios, and a Jessie (from Toy Story) outfit at Magic Kingdom again. We wore matching Animal Kingdom shirts from MiMisMouseHouse for our safari day. I love skirts from DamselDuds, ears from Mila Mouse Ears, and kids outfits from Bitts&pieces and Mom Approved Costumes for Disney trips.
4. Get to each park by rope drop.
“Rope drop” is the opening time for the park each morning. To maximize your day and avoid lines, get to the park before it opens in the morning. The kids had a lot of fun walking right onto rides with no lines, and I was impressed by how much we accomplished before lunch each day.
5. Stay flexible, get pictures and have fun!
Every day we followed our itinerary of rides, based on popularity, so we could avoid lines. Then in the early afternoon we had FastPass+ selections when the lines got long. We had a flexible schedule for the rest of the afternoon, which we used to go back to our hotel room to rest. The kids were 1.5 years and 4 years old during the trip, and they were completely wiped by 3 p.m. each day. We weren’t able to go back to the parks for fireworks in the evening (especially because bedtime is important when getting to park opening in the morning), but we will get to fireworks when they’re older. Staying flexible and responsive to the kids’ needs was crucial to success on this trip. Another favorite feature of our trip was the PhotoPass photographers. They were stationed around the park so we could get our photos taken easily as a whole group. We took advantage of this perk as much as we could. I love remembering our trip through these great photos.
A trip to the most magical place on earth can be both exhilarating and exhausting, especially with kids. Make sure to plan your day, take breaks, and focus on the fun. If you’re headed to Disney World, have a magical time!