Last week was our spring break and we decided on a Disney World vacation with kids. I planned and researched for months. You knew it was coming. After the Frozen party and the making of the Elsa dress ( because I assure you there are none available to buy anywhere, not even at Disney World), it was time to go all in ..Disney World style. We love all things Disney.
The Big Guy and I have been to Disney World many times but never with children for an entire week. In fact, my first trip to Disney World was 15 years ago on our honeymoon. Believe me when I tell you that Disney World is not just for children. It can be as romantic and magical as you want it to be. It’s all in the planning. But this trip was all about our girls so I wanted to make it magical for them not like last time.
Here are 25 top secret tips that every parent should know to rock their Disney World vacation with kids.
1. There is a fastpass+ in Beta for the “you can’t get a reservation for the next 8 months” Be Our Guest restaurant. Yep. That is right. It’s not advertised and you are welcome to wait in line on Stand by for a couple of hours if you prefer but if you don’t….check out this secret squirrel beta testing link to fastpass+ for Be Our Guest Reservations. The food is great and reasonably priced and the décor is gorgeous.
2. If you are planning to see Anna and Elsa, they are in Norway at Epcot until the end of April 2014 and then they will move to the Magic Kingdom. If you want to see them at Epcot, plan on arriving when the park opens and plan on standing in line for a minimum of 3.5 to 4 hours. My husband ran to Epcot when the park opened and we still had to wait for 4 hours. Even if you do the princess breakfast at Askershus Royal Banquet Hall 1) Anna and Elsa are not included only princesses before 1993 and 2) you get no line privileges other than starting out in closer proximity. Also, wear lots of sunscreen and bring water. You will thank me when your child doesn’t have a heat stroke.
3. Wait for Anna and Elsa to go to the Magic Kingdom and fastpass them. Fastpass is your friend. Here are more tips for having the best day at Magic Kingdom.
4. Speaking of fastpass, with the magic bands you are able to select 3 fastpasses per day. Take advantage of that feature. I suggest using them wisely on character meets and roller coasters. The new Enchanted Tales with Belle is a must do for any Beauty and the Beast fan. The animatronic Lumiere was awesome.
5. If not using the fastpass feature, hit the princesses and popular attractions first thing in the morning. It can mean the difference between a 15-minute wait and an hour and a half wait.
6. Take advantage of “Magic hours”. If you are staying on Disney World grounds, you can qualify for extra magic hours which means the park is open an hour earlier or a couple hours later depending on the day and the park. I suggest using this tool when planning your stay. If you think it’s not worth it, look at the photo below with maybe 100 people in the park, at 9 am that would quickly become 85,000 people in the park that day.
7. Schedule your trip ahead of time using your MyDisneyExperience.com. Honestly, you will be able to make sure that you don’t miss a thing and if you are a Type-A mom like myself, you’ll be thrilled at how much easier your days go knowing when things start and where to go.
8. Download the Walt Disney World app. With this app, you will be able to make reservations and check availability. You will be able change fast passes. Several times we got to an attraction before our scheduled time and rode the ride and either saved our fastpass to go again or changed the fastpass for a different attraction.
9. Schedule down time! I am so serious. Between the heat and all the walking, little ones ( and big ones too) will need naps or pool time. I took no less than 3 naps during our spring break.
10. Make sure to see the new for 2014 3 pm Disney Festival of Fantasy parade at the Magic Kingdom. It has all the princesses and princes and is sure to delight children of all ages.
11. Hit the Kilamanjaro Safari at the Animal Kingdom first thing in the morning. The animals will not be as active later in the day when the sun is high in the sky and beating down on them. They will be resting and hiding in the shade.
12. Make sure to see the Wishes nighttime spectacular. It truly is a magical experience and you will all get swept away in the moment.
13. Soarin is awesome! I love to fly and this felt like I was flying free as a bird. My girls loved it too but be sure to fastpass it because the stand by line was never under 180 minutes the whole time we were there.
14. Get the Memory Maker. You know all those photographers that are standing around asking to take your photos? Well, just spend $150 for the Memory Maker and you get to digitally download all of those photos and bonus, YOU Get to be in the photos!! No more being the photographer. Your kids will look back and know that mama was actually on vacation with them.
15. Twilight Zone’s Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, Rockin Roller Coaster and Splash Mountain are all must rides for us. The kids will love it and you will LOVE the photos, especially if this is their first experience on the rides. The faces are priceless.
16. Breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table is a once in a lifetime must for every little girl. Be warned it is pretty pricey for breakfast just under $200 for a family of four BUT to see my girls’ faces when the princesses came to our table was something totally worth the price. That magic and belief is a fleeting part of childhood so savor it and indulge while you can.
17. Meet Mickey and have your photo taken with him. Firstly, Mickey’s mouth actually moves know. Holy high-tech animatronic head and it’s actually a tradition we’ve been doing since our honeymoon trip and it’s kind of cool to see how we’ve changed and the girls grow over the years.
18. Be sure to enjoy a Pineapple Dole Whip (sold at the Dole stand at the Magic Kingdom), a turkey leg or a funnel cake from the funnel cake cart at the Boardwalk. I also highly recommend taking your family to Restaurant Marrakesh in Morrocco at Epcot. The food is fantastic. My kids loved it because who doesn’t love sweet and savory together. There is a live belly dancing show every hour on the hour and it is amazing to watch and there is huge chance that your child will get pulled onto the dance floor. Have your cameras ready!
19. Spend an evening at the Boardwalk. Get a pepperoni pizza from the Boardwalk Pizza Window and grab a seat on the Boardwalk at sunset. Take a surrey bike ride, get a family caricature portrait sketched and watch the street performers. It’s lots of good clean fun and my kids always seem to get pulled into the shows, so have your camera ready. When the Boardwalk is all lit up at night, it is absolutely magical. End the night with dessert from the Boardwalk bakery ( my favorite is the Tiramisu) or if ice cream is your preference, check out Seashore Sweets. Try saying that 3 times real fast.
20. Late night, Sushi at Kimonos in the Swan is fun for the entire family. First, enjoy some amazing sushi and follow that with some karaoke on the Kimono stage. But be warned, if there is a large convention in-house, you may have to wait awhile to get your food.
21. The Flying Dumbo ride now has a gigantic indoor play area built into the line wait. It is amazing because kids are notorious for getting squeamish and whiney when in line for too long so how awesome that you get to the middle of the line and enter the play area. The hostess hands you a pager and you can play until it’s your turn to ride. Genius. Bravo Disney.
22. Plan your visit during the International Flower festival and it will make your walk around the countries while you snack and sip even more breathtaking and the kids will love the topiaries of the Disney characters.
23. Cool off at the new Casey Jr. splash pad in Fantasyland. It’s cute, it’s convenient and a welcome reprieve from the blistering Florida heat. Make sure the kids have swimsuits or a change of clothes on the day you visit the Magic Kingdom because they won’t want to miss the fun. If it rains and you take a day off of the parks, might I recommend bowling and pizza at Splitsville in Downtown Disney. It’s fun, indoors and very reasonably priced and the food is YUM!
24. Bonfire and s’ mores on the Boardwalk followed by a free outdoor movie by the pool under the stars.
25. La Nouba is 110% worth the cost. My girls are 6 and 9 and they were enthralled with the entire experience. The trampolines and the diabolos were their favorite parts. Myself, the silk scarves and ariel ballet blow me away every single time.
These are all things that I’ve learned over the years of visiting Disney World. The most important thing you can do at Disney World ( or anywhere for that matter) with your kids is just enjoy the moments, being there and remember not to sweat the small stuff because in the grand scheme of things…none of it matters. Make a plan but be flexible.
What is your best tip for having the best Walt Disney World Vacation with kids?