I am not at all proud of the fact that my daughter is 8 years old and has never been to Disney World. I know, I know, mother of the year right? Not!! Well when I was younger I vowed that I would not take a child to Disney under the age of 4 (remember I had my daughter fairly young so times were stressful enough back then). Well then life just took over and the next thing you know she is 8 and my son is 2 and they are the most Disney deprived kids on the planet! My husband and I love all things Disney. We have Disney ornaments, stockings and tree skirt for Christmas. My son’s room is mostly Mickey Mouse and Disney and luckily my daughter is just as into Disney as she was when she was younger. It’s my husband that has to stop at the Disney Store in the mall every time we go more so than the kids even! My husband and I kept talking about waiting until we can take the perfect vacation and go for 4 or 5 days and see multiple parks….pretty much do it all. After reality set in we realized its time to just bite the bullet and make the first Disney experience happen already. I’ve started planning and I’m pretty sure there are as many details in planning a Disney vacation as there are in planning a wedding.
My main concern is what hotel to stay in. We decided to definitely stay on Disney property however this has to be a budget friendly trip so we narrowed it down to the Value resorts like Art of Animation as our first choice and Pop Century as our second. We are a family of 4 and need the space however we only plan to be in the room for sleeping, napping, and watching a movie or something so no need for a suite if we can’t get one. I absolutely love the giant statues in the courtyards of the Art of Animation resort and the vibrant character decor is what makes it our first choice.
Next issue is the month to take the vacation and more specifically the exact date. I have pretty bad anxiety and sometimes get nervous in extreme crowds. Although the anxiety is maintained daily, I don’t want to worry about anything like that for the kids’ first trip so going during a “low season” would be ideal. I have been on Google and Pinterest researching as much as I can and I have found that the best time to go to Disney to avoid the crowds as best as possible are times that are not ideal for us to go right now, such as: beginning of December (which is right now), most of September (school just started and it’s sooo hot), and certain dates in other months. I have taken school into consideration and I definitely want to go before this school year is over since my daughter and her teacher have bonded very well and she is a very good student. I have no doubts that I would be able to take her out of school for a couple days and have make up work provided to her when she gets back. With that said, we pretty much have to pick a month between January – May. January and February are too close since I’m assuming we need more time to plan. I think May will be too hot so that pretty much leaves us with March and April. I know March is a big month for Spring Break which I absolutely want to avoid but then I keep thinking “April showers bring May flowers” which makes me think it will rain a lot in April. So now you see how my head is spinning off my shoulders. If I could find 2 days in the month of March or April that wouldn’t be too crowded or rainy that would be ideal – good luck with that, right!
We did decide on the park that we are going to do for their first time. For me it was a no brainer…Magic Kingdom all the way! I can’t wait for my son to ride Dumbo and for my daughter to see Fantasy Land and for them to get as many character signatures as they can. I was reading that it is important to study a map of Magic Kingdom’s layout so you don’t waste a lot of time walking in circles. Also I read that the most common time for people to enter the park is around 10:30am so waking up early and heading into the park when it opens will greatly benefit us. I am hoping that the park will allow us to leave in the afternoon and re-enter a few hours later because my kids are going to need a serious nap to re-charge.
Since this is a budget friendly trip, I have read some great tips that seem perfect to help keep the cost down without losing any of the magic. Some tips include:
Bring your own stroller for toddlers – I read that to rent a stroller in the park it is $31 a day so you can either buy an inexpensive umbrella stroller for the trip or bring the one you have at home.
Bring snacks – I read that you are allowed to bring food into the park, so my plan is to have both myself and my husband carry a backpack; one with an ice pack, water bottles, and snacks for us and the kids to keep the cost of park food down.
Eat kids meals – If it is necessary to eat lunch or a snack in the park then it’s way cheaper to order a kids meal as an adult rather than pay upwards of $20 for a meal at a concession stand.
Family meal plans – Although I haven’t looked into them as much as necessary, I read that a family meal plan can be beneficial. For as much as my family eats I will see what the deal is and weigh the pro’s and cons.
Souvenirs – Some articles read that you can purchase Disney shirts and some other items online from Amazon and other sites and bring them with you to give to the kids at the beginning or end of the trip to avoid spending hundreds at the gift shop.
I hope these tips really do work as well as others say they do. I will definitely be writing a post Disney vacation blog about how the trip went and what tips were the most beneficial for us.
In the future I know we will hit Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Christmas at Disney, for now our first family Disney trip will include Downtown Disney the night we get to Orlando, then a full day of Magic Kingdom with a nap break in the afternoon to finish with the fire works. And the day after we will be requesting a late checkout so we can hit the resort pool before heading back home.
Hoping that this will be the trip that I am hoping it will be. Please send me some comments with any Magic Kingdom must-do’s or budget friendly tips that you have used for those mom’s who have planned a similar trip. Thanks in advance and I’ll let you know how it goes!
The Hot Mess Mom
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