Disney World. I feel like you either love it, or you hate it. I grew up going to Disney World with my family several times a year (Florida native over here) and have the best memories! I knew once I had a family of my own I wanted to create those same kind of memories. It’s so nice being able to take an impromptu weekend trip to Orlando when its only 3 hours away. When Harper was 2 years old we decided to take her on her first trip and it was indeed, magical. We’ve been passholders ever since. There is just something so heartwarming when you see your kids light up from excitement at Disney. Yes, it’s hot as heck, the lines are hours long, and the princess bubble wands that light up cost as much as your weekly grocery bill. However, there are a few hacks to make your time a little less stressful and a lot more enjoyable. I’m no expert but can tell you what has worked for us each time. We are already booked for our next trip to kick off summer break and can’t wait to share our experience at the newest Disney Resort, The Riviera! Here are my top 10 tips + tricks to do Disney right:
- Get Annual Passes. If you go to Disney twice a year this makes the most sense. We have found that not packing all the rides into one day helps us to feel less stressed. If we only go on 5 rides and head back to play at the pool, we don’t feel guilty. For our girls we also alternate each year between a birthday party or family Disney trip for a night so we definitely find that we utilize the passes enough.
- Stay on Disney Property. In my opinion this is the way to go when you have little ones. They provide transportation to and from the hotels which is huge and the overall experience and feel is “Disney.” We typically stay at Wilderness Lodge or Animal Kingdom Resort – they are our favorite. We made a bad decision (well, it was actually really good) and stayed at the Four Seasons as part of the girls Christmas gift in December. OMG. If you ever decide to splurge, this is the place to go. The service, food, transportation to parks, rooms and pool were over the top. Warning- once you go Four Seasons everything will feel like the Motel 6 after. 😉 When I booked our upcoming trip I did first look at Four Seasons but almost fell off my chair when I saw the prices for May. We are super excited to explore the Riviera Resort- I have heard only good things!
- Bring Snacks & Bottled Water. We bring a backpack filled with Uncrustables, bottled waters and LOTS of snacks to avoid meltdowns at the parks. Waters are overpriced and if your kids are picky eaters like ours its best to pack known crowd pleasers before they have Mickey Ice-cream or cotton candy.
- Buy Disney Treats at Target or Amazon. Do yourself a favor and buy a few “Disney” themed items for half the price on Amazon or at Target. I love surprising the girls and having treats when we get to the hotel that they can play with (princess bead making, coloring books, barbies, etc). We usually get suckered into a treat at the park but we don’t go overboard.
- Fast Passes & Dining Reservation. Don’t skip this step. Set up your Fast Passes and make dinner reservations as soon as possible. Especially if you want to do a character breakfast (Ohana at the Polynesian Resort is a must) or dinner. There are a ton of great options at Disney Springs too!
- Take a Nap. Staying on Disney property allows you to have “Extra Magic Hours” so get to the park early, but plan to head to hotel around 2pm for naps. Then you can head back to the park for dinner or after dinner for shorter line times and fireworks.
- Stock your Hotel Fridge. We usually eat breakfast at hotel before parks and because our kids wake up at sunrise. We bring bananas, cereal, milk, granola bars, etc. to keep in the room so they don’t get hangry!! We also bring adult bevs for when the kids are napping. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?
- Keep your Magic Bands. Until recently, Disney sent you Magic Bands for each trip you booked. We always lost them post vacation but now you have to pay to replace them. So, make sure you collect them from your family and keep in a safe place for your next trip.
- Download the “my Disney Experience” app. It is so helpful to see wait times for rides, park maps, your fast passes and so much more.
- Outfits. Naturally, I have to touch on this because I love dressing the girls in matching clothes while I still can. We find cute Disney tees at Old Navy, Gap Kids and Target. Mickey overalls from Pepperkids are darling, Eli and Emery have custom shirts, and June and January have comfy solids that pair with Disney graphic tees.
Alright friends, as always thanks for following along! If you haven’t been to Disney yet I hope this helps in making your first trip a magical one.