Left: The famous Teacup Ride / Rigth: Anna and Elsa Meet & Greet at Fairytale Princess Hall
Left: The Pool at the Art of Animation Resort / Right: All four of our Disney Magic Bands
Left: A mosaic wall at Be Our Guest Restaurant / Right: Getting a Princess makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
So Part One of our family trip was two days in Disney World! This was our first time going so we weren't entirely sure what to expect. All we knew was that we hate to be over-scheduled or feel chained to a bunch of reservations. Yet, from what I kept hearing, a lot of that is required. Also I hate planning. So we decided to do Disney a bit differently than most people may do it. Here are a few general thoughts and tips from a very low key, non-planner. Please note that we are a family of four and our children are ages 6 and 4. Our family didn't feel over-scheduled at all and still had so much fun. This is for anyone who is thinking about a Disney trip but not sure if it's your thing because it seems so overwhelming.
- DON'T FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO STAY FOR A WEEK // We very intentionally chose to keep our trip at only two days and three nights. We knew that given our personalities and vacation preferences, spending a whole week there just wasn't in the cards. It was a great way to dip our toe into the Disney experience and decide how we would do it differently next time. Therefore, with our kids being ages 6 and 4, and only two days to explore, we decided to keep it simple and only visit the Magic Kingdom. This was the best thing we ever did. We got to see the entire thing and didn't have research too much or worry about hopping around to the different parks.
- MOUSE COUNSELORS ARE AVAILABLE TO HELP // The very best thing we did was hire a "Mouse Counselor" to plan the entire thing for us! Bethany made all our reservations, advised me on fast passes, gave us advice on meal plan options, booked our hotel, shuttles, and even woke up at 6am one morning to ensure that we got a fast pass to see Anna & Elsa (which is currently a 5-hour wait if you don't have a fast pass). She was hands down the reason I enjoyed the whole process. I was even texting her from the park asking her questions! If you'd like to use the complimentary Mouse Counselor service to help book your Disney trip, please contact my amazing friend Bethany Chapman through her facebook page here.
- FAST PASSES ARE GREAT // It wasn't too important to us to see IT ALL or do every ride or meet & greet. Our style is to see where we feel like going and if the line is too long, or we change our minds, no biggie. I did do some minimal research ahead of time on the rides that seemed appealing to us, and assigned our fast passes based on that. The kids are at a great age where they loved it all and didn't know that there was anything to miss out on anyway. We used the My Disney Experience App to change up our fast passes as needed and it made things very easy. We even hit a few of our most desired rides early one morning which then freed up our fast passes for other things later in the day when it got busy. I love that you can change things instantly using the App.
- MAKE ROOM FOR DOWNTIME // Pool time was key! Y'all it was 96 degrees in Florida in May. We were more than happy to set aside a few hours a day to hang at our hotel pool. The pools at the Art of Animation Resort were absolutely beautiful. Swimming there felt like an event all on its own and it gave us a nice little break from the constant herding of people at the parks. Again, we weren't worried about missing out on something at the park. It was all about maintaining a nice balance of fun, downtime, and mental health.
- PACK LIGHT TO THE PARK // We got away with not using a stroller and it was wonderful. Getting on and off the transportation buses and navigating through all the people in a stroller just didn't sound appealing or worthwhile to us. So we nixed it. If the kids got a little tired, one of us would hold them on our shoulders or we would just take a break and sit down. Never once did we ask the kids to push themselves for any reason. It was all about fun and taking breaks when needed. And all we carried with us was a backpack with waters, sunscreen, and souvenirs. It was an easy, no-fuss way of getting around the park. For us, packing light meant freedom! Obviously this is all dependent on the ages of your kids but I highly recommend waiting until everyone is out of diapers and done with naps!
- USE THE QUICK SERVE DINING PLAN // We found that the Quick Serve Dining option was more than enough for us as a family of four. There are plenty of options at the Magic Kingdom and the food is decent. Be Our Guest Restaurant was our favorite Quick Serve options for lunch. We did splurge one night and went to Ohana at the Polynesian Resort for dinner and paid out of pocket for that. Worth it!
I realize these are all pretty general so let me know if you have any specific questions about our experience!