Last time you joined me I was discussing some of the best tips for hitting Disney with a toddler, which is no easy task. We discussed the almighty stroller; first aid kits and the Disney Baby Care Centers with their heavenly vibes. So now onto more tips, tricks and pieces of advice from a mom whose been there and done that.
While it feels like Disney is working hard to get your money there are a couple of ways you can beat the system. You are more than allowed to bring snacks and drinks into the parks. Yes, this might sound like a pain and who wants to lug around a heavy backpack but hear me out. When you plan ahead and bring your food and drinks you spend WAY less than if you buy everything there. Sometimes bottles of water are as much as $4! Special secret ALERT bringing a full water bottle is not even a necessity, water fountains are all over the park and if that is not your style you can get a free glass of water at any counter service restaurant and dump it in your bottle.
Now, I have seen people walking in with what might as well be big coolers, if that is your plan than good for you BUT remember you have to cart this around ALL DAY, even after the food and drinks are gone. If it is you, your spouse and one or two kiddos you should be fine with a good-sized backpack. We were able to fit three bento box lunches, three bottles of water and three extra snacks into ours. Make sure that each of the lunches has some form of protein, some sort of fruit or veggie (carrot sticks or apple slices do nicely without being refrigerated even in the hot Florida sun) and something special, we did trail mix, to keep you going. I will refer to this snack pack throughout the rest of the post, so watch for it!
If you had to pick one thing that stinks the most about taking a toddler to Disney I am sure that the thought of standing in those ridiculously long lines hits the top of that list. I could tell you to go on a weekday, I could tell you about those awesome FastPasses (which I highly recommend, more about that later) but my best advice would be distraction. The art of distraction varies from child to child and Disney does try their best to assist in the art of distraction. They know you don’t want to be standing there with a fussy child. I have to say they are doing it right with line activities. On certain rides, such as Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pans Flight and now the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train they put great little surprises in the lines. Areas where kids can play while parents stand in line. They have drums, games, lights even a character or two. I saw plenty of adults who also got very distracted (Ahem! Hubby of Mine J) because they are so fun.
Being those are only on a select few rides and only for a short time you need a plan B. Our daughter loves snacks; she would live on crackers, Gerber puffs and goldfish if we let her, so we decided to give her a full sandwich bag of one of those things per day. Those keep her busy for a while, (HINT – Only break out those special snacks while standing in line, they take longer to eat, hopefully will last you more than one line and will occupy them so they are not wiggling as much).
In another attempt to help with what can be long lines I want to mention the My Disney Experience App quickly. This is free in the app store for both Apple and Android devices. I will say it is kind of polarizing, I have loved it and hated it all in one breath. It can get stuck buffering, in my experience, but when it works it’s magic. You can make reservations, buy tickets, find characters, get ride line times (HINT – a star means the ride is closed or it’s a show so there is no wait), dining, and so much more with the app. The best part is that you can control your FastPasses though it! If you change your mind or want new times it can all be controlled via this app. Once we changed ours in the middle of a ride. Talk about multi-tasking!
You can and should get your FastPasses in advance, but remember you only get a select amount so if you are traveling with a toddler get FastPasses to their favorite rides, or ones you think they will like. We chose Peter Pans Flight, Winnie the Pooh and Ariel’s Character Meet and Greet. Best decisions! The character meet and greet lines are longer than the ride lines 9 times out of 10 so if that is important to you or your toddler do it! I also highly recommend moving through the park in a thoughtful manner. Head to the rides your toddler will like first (early in the morning when they are fresh), they fill up the fastest. Maybe in the future I will break down each park and how to move through it, YAY for more Disney posts!
I love plans and lists; they are two of my favorite things in this world. My packing list is an absolute MUST for Disney and I would highly suggest setting a plan for Disney. Do it. Get your map online and plan out how to move thorough the park. Plan your rides, get those FastPasses, you can book those bad boys 30 days in advance with a ticket and 60 if you are staying on property! Got it…done with you beautiful (if you are like me, laminated) plan? GREAT! Now get ready to throw it away!
While I am the biggest proponent of planning on the planet, it doesn’t always work at Disney. The problem is that you never know how long the lines will be, how the crowds will be, how your kids will be. When they will need a break, when you will need a break. Have a plan but be ready to throw it out. Never look at this like a failure, look at it as your family is having a great time and simply adjusting to the rhythm that is Disney. You have a different clock when you are there. Sure your toddlers will want to nap, maybe, at some point, if you are lucky, but if they don’t it’s okay! (Mine chose not to the first day) You will survive.
Do not stress about their schedules. Sleeping is what nighttime is for. They will tell you when they need to rest. Imagine being thrown into your perfect idea of amazing and then being told but remember you have to sleep. Impossible! I have been there, millions of parents have been there, we have all survived, I promise you will too.
The Perfectionist Mom
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