MyChild graduated Kindergarten in May.
The morning after her last day of school we woke her up with a fairly large surprise
Oh, yes. We did that.
MOSTLY because neither MyHusband nor I wanted to deal with the constant “is it time for Disney World, yet?” questions we would get [constantly] if she knew we were going.
So, major surprise and epic vacation ensued.
I’m not generally one for “c’mon over and look at our vacation slides for 4 hours.”
What I DO have to offer is a few tips we picked up along the way.
Helpful Tips to Disney World, etc.
Disclaimer #1: there are SO many amazing recaps and Disney hacks out there, I am NOT trying to compete with any of these wonderful people who have mastered visiting the Disney properties.
Disclaimer #2: We did not go into planning this trip on a budget. We wanted it to be epic and memorable. Again, there are awesome people who have done bigger/better trips than us on probably a lot less. We knew what we wanted to do/see/include and went from there.
Disclaimer #3: We did not use a travel agent. We DID speak with the free consultants at 407-WDisney SEVERAL times in planning this trip and every single person we interacted with was professional, polite, SUPER helpful, and great.
For reference, the trip was MyHusband, MyChild (6yrs – on the downhill slide to 7), and myself.
This list is mostly things we came across that we didn’t know about or didn’t realize was how it worked.
1. The bus ride from the airport to the Magic Kingdom resorts was 35 minutes.
No, this is not long in the grand scheme of things.
No, I never looked at a map to see how far the airport was to our resort.
Was it a slight in convenience for two adults and one 6-year-old? A bit. Mostly just because we each were so excited to see our resort and get to the parks this further delay was a bit irritating…. And one or more of us may have been verging on hangry.
2. You can have your luggage checked from the airport to your hotel if you are staying on a Disney property.
Didn’t know this, didn’t mind that we didn’t use this service, but saw several families with multiple children and I’m sure this helped them out.
3. You need Water Parks Plus on your Magic Bands to go to either water park.
Didn’t know. Didn’t know to ask. Didn’t realize there were levels of our Magic Bands (MyHusband set them up – no blame, we just never saw the option)
Obviously, it didn’t stop us – we just purchased park entry at the gate, which we would have paid for when setting up our reservation anyway.
Again, just a slight inconvenience to a swimwear-clad, sunscreened-up 6-year-old.
Side note: despite this initial panic that we weren’t going to go in, this ended up being one of her favorite days because we ran into one of her classmates while there.
4. Magic Hour doesn’t get you on the rides early.
“That’s the ENTIRE reason we are here!”
– MyHusband when we went to the Magic Kingdom early one morning to get on Space Mountain.
For real. An hour early to let people in to shop and take photos.
Maybe it’s common knowledge, but I did NOT know that “lands” didn’t open until 9:00 am despite the Magic Hour at 8:00 am.
5. You are going to not like children, adults, the human population at some point.
I HAVE a child. I nannied in college. I taught preschool AND Sunday school. I’ve dealt with it all.
The Happiest Place on Earth is not always so and there are SO many kids running around. Just focus on your own family and remember that YOU are having fun (hopefully).
6. If you can/want to, splurge on a resort room facing the park.
Each night, we sat on the balcony watching the Happily Ever After Fireworks at Magic Kingdom.
MyChild doesn’t like the loud noises and I don’t like the large crowds. This was perfect.
Our resort even played the music from the park, so we really got almost the whole show.
7. Rides you can skip:
– Goofy’s Barnstormer – rollercoaster in Magic Kingdom: it was so jerky, neither MyChild nor myself enjoyed it.
– The Jungle Cruise – Magic Kingdom: It was NOT worth the line, but I don’t know if I’d waste a Fast Pass. The ride was a boat cruise around a small island – probably the same as it’s been since the 70s. The “tour guide” WAS hilarious with terrible jokes and puns, but the exhausted/bored kids on board didn’t get any of them.
– TriceraTop Spin – Animal Kingdom: so jerky. From the looks of it, I was expecting the spinning tea cups meet a roller coaster. NOT the case. No spinning, just jerk to the left, jerk to the right, slide forward, repeat.
– Dinosaur – Animal Kingdom: the sign said “dark, with scary dinosaurs.” It didn’t lie. MyChild didn’t full-on freak out, but she did NOT enjoy this – and dinosaurs (of any type) don’t usually bother her. I didn’t enjoy that we were pretty much in pitch black the whole time – not my thing, you never know who’s there, what’s going on, etc. We do have an awesome photo with My Child with her hands over her face, me leaning over to ask if she’s okay, and MyHusband looking like he’s on a leisurely afternoon drive.
8. Get the Memory Maker (again, if you want it/it’s in your own budget)
We couldn’t get into the Boutique due to the holiday weekend, but replaced it with the Perfectly Princess Tea Party – which was WAY better (in my opinion).
I am the photographer in the family, but I wanted to be IN the photos. The Memory Maker was awesome. We opted for the full package, so ALL photos linked to our bands were immediately ours – we didn’t have to pay per image. Because of this, I never had the thought, “Oh, do we REALLY need a photo of that?”
It was much more, “Quick, go get in line!”
And truthfully – these photographers were GREAT. The were so ready for those first meeting with characters, I am so happy with this.
9. Plan downtime.
By days 4 and 5, MyChild would make it to lunch and then start asking, “Are we going back to our resort now?”
It was Florida. In May. On the dirty side of low pressure system Alberto.
It was hot and HUMID. And we live in Houston. #weknowhumidity
But, honestly, we all enjoyed just lying around in the air conditioning and relaxing*.
*also a MAJOR goal of this trip – MyHusband and I had both had stressful weeks/months leading up to this trip. We were both completely unplugged from work and it was wonderful.
10. Bring Laundry Detergent.
Our resort had a laundry room in each of its buildings.
Even if it didn’t, I was prepared to do some minor laundry in the sink as necessary.
Through the course of our stay, I did 4 loads of laundry with that one 10 oz. bottle of detergent, which left ONE (and a half [#nice clothes]) load to do when we got home.
It might seem strange, but it was so nice. Which also really helped with my packing, because I wasn’t so worried about having enough shirts or shorts for each of the days.
Hope you have magical day!