We were blessed with a trip to Walt Disney World through Make a Wish earlier this month. With 2 kids ages 5 and under. It was a bit much, but fun. There are definitely some things I would do differently (like not breaking my leg!), but much I wouldn’t change.
If you’re planning on visiting the Disney Parks anytime soon (through Make a Wish or otherwise), and it’s your first time going with young kids, there are a few things that you definitely need to do (like buy some super comfy shoes (like these ones) and live in them).
Don’t Spend All Day In The Parks
This may seem silly, but when you’ve got small kids, it definitely isn’t. The days that we spent 6 hours or less in the park were the best days. The kids had fun, they didn’t burn out, and we were able to do a lot in that time. I would recommend that you alternate your times and days.
For us, it worked well to go when the parks opened, and then head home after lunch. We were able to relax at Give Kids The World, and the kids enjoyed a nice nap. The next day, we went after having lunch at the resort, and were able to enjoy the parades and a nice dinner as well.
Go In With a Plan
We chose to break up the different “Lands” inside Disney on different days. We did Fantasyland and Tomorrowland the first day, and then Frontierland, Adventureland, and Liberty Square on a different day. We mapped out the rides that Smalls could ride, and planned to switch off between parents so that The Baby wouldn’t be left alone.
Know that you can bring small babies on most of the rides in Fantasyland, so if you have younger children, this would be an excellent place.
The lines are insanely long on most every ride (and don’t even get me started on characters!), so having FastPass will save you both time and a migraine. Now, we were extremely lucky to have a Genie Pass which is only given to Wish Kids-it works kind of like a FastPass, but without the actual times. It was awesome to be able to board rides quickly compared to the “regular” line.
Bring Snacks With You
Disney will allow you to bring a soft sided cooler into the parks with you. Since an Uncrushable is around $6.00, I recommend bringing your own. Pack easy snacks for the kids, and lots of water. Regardless of when you go, all that walking (and the heat!) can get to you.
Make Dining Reservations
If you want to eat at any of the character restaurants, make reservations as early as possible. I believe that Disney Dining actually allows reservations up to 180 days in advance of your trip. I would also recommend that you make not only dinner but lunch reservations as well…though not necessarily on the same day. Dining at Disney can be very expensive!
If you are going to be in the park early, make a lunch reservation and go home afterward, or if you plan to go later (perhaps to see the Main Street Electrical Parade), make a dinner reservation.
Oh, and if you have food allergies or sensitivities, make sure you note that on your reservation and remind them when you check in.
Know Where The First Aid Station Is
…it’s at the end of Main Street. If you need ice, ibuprofen, or a quiet place to rest for a few minutes, it’s perfect. Behind First Aid is the Disney Baby Station. You can buy diapers, wipes, creams, food…and there’s a private nursing mothers room.
Don’t Purchase Souvenirs The First Day
If your kids are like mine, they are going to want everything. So we kept a list of Smalls’ “must have” items, and when we went back, the few that he really, really wanted (meaning he actually went looking for and remembered) we purchased. He ended up with a sword, a Mickey Mouse, and a map. Not a lot, but he loves what he chose.
I loved waiting because there are a lot of shops (every single ride, plus Main Street USA!), so it can be overwhelming. Waiting allowed us to think about what we really wanted to remember this trip with.
So that’s it! In a nutshell:
- Have a plan.
- Know where you want to eat, and make the reservations.