Today I’m going to give you some of my tips for planning a Walt Disney World vacation! I’ve planned three of them in the last 5 years and I’m currently planning my next one! Some people like to just go with the flow on their trips, but not me. Especially at Disney World, I like to have about every aspect of my vacation planned out. The way we do it, you almost have to! So here you go! Here are my tips for planning your Disney trip!!
- Have a budget in mind when it comes to your resort. There are levels: Value, Moderate and Deluxe. The names are self explanatory. If you are wanting to not spend a lot of money, value is the way to go. If you have the money and you want more amenities, deluxe is where you want to be. And I would definitely recommend staying on site. There are many pros to staying at a Disney World Resort as opposed to staying offsite, like Magic Bands and Extra Magic Hours.
- Do your research on the resorts to see which one will accommodate your family better. Pinterest is my best friend when I need to look for something Disney related. Some resorts are more family friendly than others. Some are in walking distance to certain parks.
- If possible, figure out which park you will visit each day, especially if you don’t take advantage of the park hopper option. Once you do that, plan your dining and rides based on the park you’ll be visiting. That way, you won’t be running everywhere on site just to make reservations.
- In speaking of reservations, make your dining reservations in advance. You can start making your dining reservations if you are staying on site at the 180 day mark for your trip. I would also consider getting a dining plan. I feel like it takes a lot of the guess work out of paying for the meals. We usually get the Deluxe dining plan, but that is a lot of food. Most people could probably get away with getting the normal dining plan, especially if they don’t plan on eating at a lot of signature restaurants.
- If you stay on site, you can make fast pass selections starting at 60 days before your trip. You initially get three selections at one park and once you use them, you can add one at a time as you use them. Some rides, you must fast pass if you don’t want a huge wait. The Frozen ride in Epcot and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are two that you definitely need to get fast passes for to avoid waits over two hours at times.
- Consider getting the park hopper option added to your tickets. We use this all the time! For example, this past trip, we spent maybe an hour in Hollywood Studios and then left and went back to Magic Kingdom. No separate ticket, just used the park hopper option and went back. We could have gone to every park if we wanted to in one day (some people try that!). Park Hopper saved us this time around, since Maddie enjoyed Magic Kingdom so much. We spent a little time there about every day.
- Consider adding the Memory Maker to your tickets as well. I carried my camera too, but it’s nice to be able to have someone else take pictures of us as a family and not just two of us at a time. And they have nice cameras and can add little things to your picture. And seriously, those people are EVERYWHERE. You won’t have trouble finding them. They’ll take your pic, scan your magic band, and it’ll link to your account. It’s wonderful!
- Budget your money for souvenirs! We saved money through various means throughout the year and then used what we saved for souvenirs, tips at restaurants and gas money for the drive. Never worried once about having money or having to use a credit card.
- Relax and enjoy your family. Don’t get upset if you miss a reservation or a fast pass. Just spend time with your family and enjoy! It’s the most magical place on earth! And you’ll be making so many memories on your trip! I can’t wait to go back this fall and make more memories with Kenneth and Maddie!
Any questions about anything I covered??? Any questions about something I missed??? Comment or email me and I’ll answer your questions!!
So the rest of our Disney World trip was fairly eventful. Maddie either developed reflux or motion sickness and spent Saturday evening getting sick a few times. This was after I was wearing her on me with the baby carrier and fell, thankfully I fell on my one knee and kept her safe. But it was so rough of a night that Ken wasn’t sure he was going to run the marathon that next morning.
He did, however and finished his first marathon in about five and a half hours. What better place to reach a goal like that than to do it at Disney! I couldn’t have been more proud of him.
We had planned on going to Hollywood Studios that Friday and then Animal Kingdom on Saturday, but our plans changed. We rode one ride at Hollywood Studios (Toy Story Mania) and then went back to Magic Kingdom. And it rained most of the day we planned on going to Animal Kingdom, so we just decided to hit Disney Springs instead.
But all that aside, here is my top three restaurants outside of the parks that we hit!
- Chef Mickey at the Contemporary Resort – We ended up doing this one twice! And it’s one of the harder to get reservations, so I was pretty excited! Maddie absolutely loved it! The first time we went there, she went crazy the first time she saw Mickey and his friends. This breakfast was a buffet style and as you eat, the characters come around and get pictures with you. She couldn’t have been more excited! Definitely get this reservation if you can.
- Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club Resort – This, by far, is our number one restaurant when we go to Disney. I’m going to write a full blog post on just this restaurant, so I’ll keep this one short for now. Just know that it is amazing!
- Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge Resort – This one is a lot of fun!! Great food and a great atmosphere, plus a lot of fun shenanigans from the wait staff. Definitely a must, especially with children.
Those are just the ones we hit on this visit, but all the resorts have amazing restaurants that you should check out!!
My next post, I’ll go into detail about he Yachtsman and then after that, I’ll show you what I do to plan our Disney World visits!
Sorry for the huge delay in updating! Vacation and traveling wore me out completely and I’m still trying to catch up on things here at home!
I’m going to start out by talking about our favorite park, the Magic Kingdom. This park is easily the best one for children, as it has the most rides for kids and a lot of characters they can meet. We spent not only our first full day there, but I believe we went back just about every day with our park hopper option. It was the perfect place for us to take Maddie because she absolutely loves Mickey Mouse.
Out of all the rides we rode at Magic Kingdom, Maddie’s favorite ended up being “It’s a Small World”. We weren’t really surprised, seeing how much she loves music. I actually have a video of her dancing to it. If I were to make a list of the top three rides for Maddie at the Magic Kingdom, I would say:
- “It’s a Small World” – Again, no brainer. The ride has music throughout and bright colors in every room. I would say most babies would love that ride. Take Dramamine beforehand if motion sickness is a problem, since it is a water ride.
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – Now, Maddie didn’t like Winnie when we met him and his friends at the Crystal Palace, but the ride was entertaining and while you’re in line, there are toys/activities for children to play with while they wait.
- People Mover – This ride is in Tomorrowland and it’s fairly uneventful. You sit on the ride and it takes you around Tomorrowland and you can see inside some of the other rides. It’s quiet and doesn’t move very fast.
Honorable mention goes to the Tram that takes you to your vehicle. You may laugh, but Maddie loved it! She would get all excited and scream as it made its way through the parking lot.
Now, when it comes to restaurants, we had a few in Magic Kingdom that we’d been to in the past and wanted to do again and a few we tried for the first time. My top three at Magic Kingdom this time around would be:
- Be Our Guest – We had planned on doing this one the last time but we planned it on our last day and instead we just left and started off for Ohio. The restaurant is beautiful, the food was delicious (especially the Grey Stuff) and the service was wonderful. I would definitely recommend this place to anyone. It’s a very hard reservation to get, so it needs to be the first one you try for.
- Liberty Tree Tavern – Again, we had never been here before, didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew I had heard good things about it. It was delicious!! We got what is called the “Bill of Fare” and it had a bunch of foods like turkey, pork, mac &a cheese, mashed potatoes, and more. Maddie even ate what we got and loved it! I would definitely go there again!!
- Crystal Palace – This one is a must every time we go. It’s usually a breakfast for us, which is a buffet, and you get to meet the Winnie-the-Pooh characters. Maddie got to eat off my plate again and got her own drink. Food is always good, service is good. Love this place!
Honorable mention this time goes to Cinderella’s Royal Table. I’m sad that I couldn’t put it in the top three, but we had some poor service there that night. Let me explain a little. Most of the restaurants we went to, either Maddie could eat off my plate (whatever we were eating was easy and bland enough to share with her) or we just got a kid’s menu and bought her something that I knew she could eat. Usually it was not more that about $11 to buy her a meal. We got to CRT (Cinderella’s Royal Table) and we were initially told we couldn’t check in until right at our reservation time, which was frustrating but not a big deal. Once we were seated, I noticed that we weren’t given a kid’s menu. The waitress informed me that I could go that route, but it would be $40 for a kid’s plate! Forty dollars!! I was about livid. She suggested that Maddie just eat off my plate. But the thing was, there wasn’t a lot that I felt she could eat. The only thing that saved this dining experience for me was when Maddie got to meet Snow White, who played games with her and she loved that. But I was pretty upset about everything else.
I’ll end this post with a few of my favorite pictures from Magic Kingdom. Tomorrow I’ll share when you all my overview of Epcot!
At 12:15am today, we hopped into my Kia Sorento and started off toward Disney World. Ken’s plan was to drive as far as he could and just make quick stops to try to make it as soon as possible. According to our GPS, it was already going to take about 14 hours to get from our house in Blanchester, Ohio, all the way to Lake Buena Vista, Florida. We made it to the hotel we were staying in tonight at around 5:30 or so, but that was after stopping for a quick bite to eat. We made pretty good time! Here are some reasons why I think it went well.
- We left when no one was on the road. I’m not even kidding, I-275 in Ohio is creepy at 1:30 in the morning. We were one of very few cars on the road. Traffic was non-existent for the first part of our trip, which got us through Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee and we had already started into Georgia. Once we hit Atlanta, we hit some rush hour traffic but even that wasn’t as bad as we have experienced in the past. Starting out when we did definitely helped a lot.
- Maddie slept a lot. That goes along with why we left so late at night. It was her normal sleepy time. Now, she wasn’t used to sleeping that long in her car seat, and that made her upset a few times, but she really was pretty laid back and calm unless she got hungry. That leads me to my next point.
- Try to schedule stops with feedings and meals. If we stopped to get gas, I would breastfeed Maddie. If we stopped at a restaurant to eat, I bought something for Maddie to eat. And once she was full, she would fall asleep. Which meant we could just chill and keep moving. I know not all babies are as calm as Maddie, but God blessed us and it made it very easy on us.
- Sometimes all baby needs is someone to sit in the backseat with her. She kept crying once we were outside of Lexington and wouldn’t calm down. I even fed her and nothing helped. So instead of getting back into the passenger seat, I sat next to her in the back. I held her little hand and sang to her and eventually she fell back to see. I think she really wanted to make sure someone was still there in the dark. I even ended up dozing off sitting next to her! It was nice!!
- Bring plenty of toys for baby. Bring enough to keep her occupied. I brought all the toys I could think of because she gets bored very quickly with one toy and will fuss and fuss until I do something about it. Eventually she finds one she can play with long enough to calm down and sometimes she falls back to sleep!!
So that’s what I learned today! Tomorrow starts our big Disney vacation!!! I will be taking pics all day and post about day one tomorrow night when we get back to the resort!!
Some people may think this is absolutely insane. Why in the world would I even dream of taking a 10 month old on vacation, let alone to Disney World?? When I first mentioned to my dad that we were going in January, he made a comment that Maddie could stay with him while we were gone. I laughed and told him that she would be going with us. I love my dad and I would trust him with Maddie in a heartbeat, but if we were going to Disney World, she was going to be coming with us. I’m going to list reason I’ve heard to NOT take her, with my response to each!
- “It’s so expensive” – While Disney vacations CAN get a bit pricey, that has nothing to do with Maddie. Up until she turns 3, she is free. We don’t have to buy a ticket for her. We don’t have to put her on our meal plan. No fast passes for her either because she doesn’t have a ticket. So taking her at 10 months is the same as Ken and I going by ourselves.
- “It’s not like she can ride any rides” – NOT true. Most rides at Disney World have no height requirement. Because of that, Maddie can ride most of the rides there, even at 10 months old! Plus, whatever we choose for our Fast Passes, she can come too, even if she doesn’t have a real ticket. I’ve picked rides based on their lack of a height requirement, and we can ride them all together as a family!
- “It’s not like she knows any of the characters anyway” – Again, not necessarily true. She may not know all the princesses, and she may not be able to speak real words yet, but she knows Mickey Mouse. She LOVES Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and watches it whenever I see it’s on. She gets excited when she sees them on the show. So will she know all the characters? Probably not! But I know she knows some of them and will be excited to see them in person.
- “She’s not going to be able to be at the parks all day” – Well duh! I wasn’t planning on going from sun up to sun down at each park. We stay at one of the resorts for a reason. Sometimes you need a breather. Babies will definitely need a breather and a nap. And we drive down, so it makes it easier on us with the car seat available to just drive back to our resort and chill out for a while. And if you get Park Hopper on your tickets, you can go to one park in the morning, go chill in your room for a bit, and then go to a different park in the evening!
- “You aren’t going to be able to nurse her there” – I’m not one to just whip it out and feed her anyway. And one huge plus? All of the parks have a baby center where you can go and feed your baby, change their diaper, or just take a break. I think all public places should have something like that! Being a breastfeeding mom, I would love privacy when I nurse. I know some women don’t care, and that’s fine! But just not me.
- “She won’t remember it anyway” – This is the one I hear about the most. No, she’s not going to remember her first Disney trip. Heck, she won’t remember her next one either (we’re going back in December of 2017 for our 6 year anniversary). But guess what? I don’t remember my first vacation and I was 10. And that is what pictures are for! She will be able to look back one day and see all the pictures from her vacation and we will be able to tell her stories about them. And Disney has a thing called Memory Maker, where you can get your picture taken by a cast member and they will scan your Magic Band and you can look at it online almost instantly. We got it the last time we went and I plan to get it every time! Too good to pass up and they take pretty good pics! So no, Maddie won’t remember going to Disney, but we will always remember Maddie’s first trip.
Have you heard any of these? Any I missed? Comment to let me know!!
(Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Disney World or any of their parks or companies. This blog, and the posts to follow are all based on my own experiences, personal opinion or by research I have done. I’m not getting anything from Disney by writing about this.)
So tonight, I’m going to give a brief explanation as to why everyone should visit Walt Disney World. It’s simple: IT’S AMAZING.
I know, that sounds very vague, but it’s true.
When my now husband and I were trying to figure out where to go on our honeymoon, I don’t remember why we decided on Disney World. We both had never been there before and we had always wanted to. And honestly, if I had the money, I would go back every year if I could. There is something magical about it, as silly and corny as it sounds. We’ve been there twice, the first time being our honeymoon and the second time for our 3 year anniversary. On January 3rd of 2017, we will be driving down for our third trip starting on the 4th. And this time, we’ve got Maddie to take with us!
So here are a few (and there are MANY) reasons why everyone should try to go to Disney at least once.
- The parks are immaculate. No joke, you will be hard pressed to find garbage or anything lying around. They go above and beyond to make sure that your park experience is magical, and rarely do they disappoint. Fun fact, they do not sell gum at Disney World, which is one way they can keep their parks clean.
- Kids get in free from newborn until they turn 3 years old. Hence why we are taking Maddie (twice next year, weirdly enough). She won’t need a ticket, won’t need a meal plan (she’ll share with us or we can buy her something separate), and she’ll be able to ride many of the big attractions. As long as the ride doesn’t have a height requirement, she is free to ride. For example, she will be able to ride “It’s a Small World” and the famous Dumbo ride. But she will not be able to ride Expedition Everest or Splash Mountain.
- There is something there for everyone. Some people thought we were weird wanting to go down for our honeymoon, but again, Disney goes above and beyond. Every step in the planning process, especially if you call, they always ask you if you are celebrating something specific. When we got there, we had buttons to wear that showed we were newlyweds and because we wore them, everywhere we went, people knew why we were there. We got special desserts, balloons, and many congratulations from people just because they saw our button. And honestly, we never felt like we were weird for being an adult couple at Disney. We chose restaurants that were a bit nicer than what we were used to and used the time to just be together. The last time we went down, I went and got a pedicure at my resort. I loved it! We talked about visiting there so much, that both of my best friends went there on their honeymoons.
- The food! Oh my goodness. Ken and I, both times now, have gotten the Deluxe Dining Plan (definitely check out the dining plans if you plan to go, such a great deal). With our meals, we got an appetizer, an entree and a dessert, plus a non-alcoholic beverage. We had SO much food. And they have some amazing restaurants. My husband’s favorite is the Yachtsman Steakhouse, which was our first dining reservation when we went for our honeymoon and a must when we go. They also have some awesome character dining experiences. This time around, we are making sure we hit a lot of those for Maddie. We especially are excited to hit “Be Our Guest” for dinner on our first night, a restaurant in Magic Kingdom devoted to Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite movies.
- The ease of transportation. Even though we drive down (all the way from southwest Ohio), the transportation on site is pretty amazing too. We especially love the monorail, which is connected directly to three of their Deluxe Resorts (Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and the Contemporary). When we went back for our 3 year anniversary, we stayed at the Grand Floridian (AMAZING), and I loved being able to just leave our room, go to the 2nd floor of the main building and hop on the monorail. The monorail from Grand Floridian goes to the Magic Kingdom and from there, you can hop on another one to lead you to Epcot. Other transportation includes buses, which most resorts have one that comes there, and a ferry that can take you from certain resorts to the Magic Kingdom. A big reason why we drive down is because we then have our own vehicle and do not need to rely on their transportation, but we have had pleasant experiences with all the transportation.
- The atmosphere. Again, it sounds corny but it really is a magical place. I honestly don’t care if we ever vacation anywhere else (we plan to, but I don’t need to). I would go to Disney any time.
I’m just scratching the surface. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting more about Disney World (mostly because we’re getting ready to head down there ourselves). Have you been to Disney? Let me know what I left out!!