So if you are coming from colder climates like we were, we heard Florida and we broke out the shorts! Well, allow me to tell you, South Carolina, Georgia & Florida can get down right chilly in the winter. After living in South Carolina and Florida you would have thought I would have remembered that. I didn't which lead me to way over pack. Check the weather and keep it simple. If you are at a place that has a washer and dryer you can get away with just a few outfits per person. If not it gets a little trickier. Have your clothes at the ready but really don't pack your clothes until the very last minute! Bring rain gear. Orlando has these pop up thunderstorms at all times of year. Even if you have just silly cheap ponchos that will disintegrate after the first wear. Why? Because you will be dry the first time! Which can make the difference of you enjoying the park for the rest of the day or having to break up your day to go back to change!
Shoes, now this is a big one. Sneakers with socks, for little ones, period. Unless they have some sort of supportive sandal that they have worn for 2 months prior. The biggest mistake people make when going to a place like this is that they buy new shoes and try to break them in while there. Not good because kids end up with blisters on their feet and if their feet are miserable, they are miserable and that means you are miserable...In Disney! Boo!
I have thought a lot about this because it is tough when you are expected to spend 5-8 hours with your children in a place that is not home. Think about it, we may run 4-6 hours worth of errands in a day but are we ever more than 20 minutes away from home? I did a lot of trial and error when I was there last and I am not sure I ever quite got it right. There is a lot to juggle but here are the essentials.
Take only what you need.
An extra change of clothes for little littles (something small like a onesie and a pair of leggings),
Drink for baby, you don't have to bring a full day supply just enough to get through the first time its needed.
Changing Pads. I have a GREAT changing pad that I actually sell in my store. It is made by a local company here called Baby Goin' Places. It is a terrycloth towel that has fabric pockets sewn on the front. It was a dream! I didn't have to lay my baby on anything hard! Disposable ones will do just fine though, but please use them, people are rude and don't clean up after themselves, yuck!
Bags for bad diapers, I get the scented ones they are great for clothes from blow outs too!
Rain Gear (Only if they are calling for rain)
Camera, I would recommend getting a little snapshot camera if you have a big one. Just because there are professional photographers all over Disney to take your pictures.
A few special snacks, rewards, bribes, just to get them to stop crying long enough to get out of the park!
First Aid Kit You can get little ones at the store, I usually add my band aids so that they have the characters they like. I always have a little first aid kit in my diaper bag.
Pens, simple but necessary!
If you forget or lose anything not to worry! There are baby care stations located through out all of the parks and they have everything! From bottles to formula to clothing, they even have little wrist slips that you can put one on your 2 year old that keeps bolting away from you and one on you! Sounds wrong but you will see the need for one if not by you personally then the person in front of you. They will be having a nervous breakdown because they have run about 5 miles just to keep up with 2 year old Timmy!
You may need something other then your usual diaper bag because your day to day bag may not be able to carry all of your needs. We usually dawn the backpack for these occasions, its just easier for all of us. Now, sometimes people think that they could just get through the Walt Disney world experience without a diaper bag. Just carry a few diapers and that way we won't have to stand in line to have our bag checked. If you are traveling with little ones you need to deal with the fact that you are going to have to have a diaper bag, so get over it!
Its all in the timing and on vacation we all take our definition of time and literally throw it out the window! Kids stay up later and sleep in longer, parents seem to not care about schedules as much and meandering is highly encouraged. Now, there are the exceptions. A trip to Walt Disney World is expensive and some people like to get their moneys worth so they come equipped with schedules agendas and plans. That is totally fine, please be ready for those plans and schedules to be altered. You are running on kid time here and they do not understand that if you ride every ride in Magic Kingdom 4 times you will get your moneys worth! Also this place is distracting! The phrase of “Oooo! Look Something Shiney!” takes on a whole new meaning! Relax, you are at the happiest place on earth, remind yourself of that, often. Yes, you paid a lot for this vacation and your kids are melting down, you have ice cream on your new shirt and your spouse looks like they are going to climb a tower and start taking people out if they don't start walking faster. Its these times that you need to find a place to sit down and people watch for a few minutes and come up with a new plan. Remember those special snacks you packed? Perfect time for them. Breath, remember where you are and come up with a new plan. I f you take anything away from my little rant here remember this. It cannot ALL be seen, so pick out what is most important to you.
This leads me to breaks. Not all children can make it through an entire day and night without a reset or a break. We all would go back even if it was just to change and grab a quick snack just to get out of the over stimulation for a little while. Do watch your kids and see what their needs are, I promise it will make your trip a lot more enjoyable if you do.
Entering and Exiting. Do keep in mind that if you are in Parks it can take up to 30 minutes to get out of the park alone (depending on where you are) and 15 more minutes to get the tram back to your car. Strollers also must be folded on the trams.
I have to once again climb up on my soap box here. This was the most annoying thing to us and it had absolutely NOTHING to do with the parks but everything to do with the people that were there. This is Disney World people, they have been getting people out of these parks for decades! Millions of people have been there! They know the most efficient way to get you in and OUT. There is absolutely no reason to take out a 6 year old because your family found a pocket in the sea of people and moved up a little further. This isn't the Titanic, you will see them again! I promise! Take your time leaving, seriously, everyone gets out! It may take some time but there is reason to why the wait is so long. If it is that important to you to get out quickly then please leave prior to the closing of the parks. Otherwise, accept the fact that you are going to be sitting and waiting to leave.
One thing we didn't do was make reservations for every night we were there. Dinner is hard to get reservations for especially when you are trying to feed a bunch of kids at their usual time. Make reservations early as in the 90 day time period before you go. You can always cancel them, well most of them. Some of the character dining experiences require full payment and no cancellations but for the most part you can just cancel on a whim.
We had 2 experiences that I really encourage you to have. The first is have a meal at Cinderellas Castle. This was a wonderful character breakfast that we went to. The food was also exceptional! We went for a 9:15 reservation, the park wasn't even open yet when we got there to walk to the castle (about 20 minutes for us from the entrance) the people at the gate let us in before everyone else! There is a show that goes on prior to the park opening (of course there is its Disney!) and here we are walking down Main Street USA, all the girls dressed up as Princesses, Dean as Prince Charming, and all the cast mates of WDW wishing us a good morning! AMAZING! Then if that weren't enough Aladdin and Jasmine scurry down in front of us leading us the way to the castle! GREAT memory that none of us will forget!
The second was a dinner at Chef Mickey's located in the Contemporary Hotel. This was fantastic! The food was wonderful and the interaction with the characters was exceptional! I always tended to shy away from hotels and their dinners, I won't be doing that in the future.
Disneys Dining is amazing. Compared to the reputation it had in the 80's early 90's, the food it exceptional. However, it does cost a good amount of money. There are dining guides out there as well as a really cool app for your phone that tells you what to expect. MiMi downloaded this app to her phone and was a life saver when they tried to book us at the 5 star French Restaurant that was between $30-50 a plate! Plan ahead!
So there you have it, a few tips that will hopefully make your trip a little bit easier. The next blog I have ready is what we did to save A LOT of money! So stay tuned!