Surviving Disney with Small Children

Traveling to Disney World with little ones can be the most magical (and exhausting) trip you will ever take!  The first time we took our little princess, she was 2.5.  At that point, I had only traveled to Disney as a child and as an adult with no children, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into!  After asking friends and scouring the internet, I found lots of good tips and tricks.  We have now taken Princess L to Disney at 2.5, 3.5, and just two weeks ago for her 5th birthday.  Every trip has been different because of her age and interests, but I have used a lot of the same tricks to keep myself sane throughout our trips!  So here are my top tricks and tips for traveling with little ones to Walt Disney World!

  1. Schedule around your child’s “magic” time. This is the time of day your child is most agreeable/best behaved.  When Princess L was 2.5, her “magic time” was morning.  Anywhere between 7am-Noonish, she was almost always in a great mood and the most cooperative.  As soon as lunch time would hit, she would turn into a hangry beast and NOTHING was going to happen until she ate something and took a nap!  disney-tiredWith that in mind, I scheduled the majority of our character meet & greets and fast passes during those hours and planned to head back to our resort at lunch time to get her fed and down for a nap.  Once she was well rested, we would take her back to the park and figured anything we got done between then and bedtime was a bonus!  It worked out great and we had very minimal meltdowns.  We still do this, but our resort time is getting shorter and shorter.  She hasn’t taken a regular nap in a couple years, but Disney tired is a special kind of tired!  Also, going back to the resort for a break gives your kids a break from all the excitement, which can get overwhelming and lead to more meltdowns!
  1. Ziploc bags & Take n toss sippy cups are your friend! Seriously!  We used Ziploc bags for everything like leftover food because Princess L is a grazer (and takes forever to eat), dirty clothes, snacks, etc.  We took a gallon Ziploc bag to the park every day with a full change of clothes (shirt, shorts, underwear, socks) just in case.  You never know when spills or accidents will happen and this will keep you from having to spend Disney prices on a new outfit!  Bonus, the mess can be contained in the Ziploc until you get back to your resort.  In 3 trips, we have had to use our change of clothes twice.  Once for a potty accident and once because of a spill!  Plus it’s easy to just grab the bag and toss under the stroller.  We also bring a few take n toss sippy cups.  My kid loves chocolate milk, but they are always in a bottle that she can’t really drink out of.  Animal Kingdom does not have lids and only paper straws because of the animals, so a sippy cup comes in handy there!  They are great on the plane as well.  If you don’t want to wash them out, you can throw them out when you’re done.  They’re fairly cheap and come in all sorts of Disney prints!
  1. I guarantee you will LOVE and HATE your stroller at Disney! Having a good stroller is key!  A cheap umbrella stroller is okay, but you will appreciate something that rolls a lot nicer (and has storage) when you’re pushing around a child (and their gear) all day.  We have a City Mini stroller, which we love.  lila-strollerIf you don’t have a nice stroller, there is really no need to go out and buy one just for vacation.  There are several companies that rent strollers out in the Orlando area and they will deliver to your resort.  The majority of rented strollers are Baby Jogger City Mini or City Mini doubles.  You will see them all over the parks and for good reason!  They push easily, fold one-handed, and have a decent storage.  There are other options for rented strollers as well, but the Baby Jogger brand in particular is my fave.   Bonus, they’re fairly easy to fit on a crowded bus, because they fold almost totally flat.
  1. Yes, there are TONS of things to do at Disney, but I’m talking about waiting in line and waiting for food.  Those are the times Princess L struggles with.  Not only at Disney, but in our regular life I always have a play pack in my purse.  You can find them at Dollar Tree, Target, Walmart, etc.  They’re a little Ziploc pack that includes a small coloring book, crayons, and stickers and they’re usually around $1.  There are loads of Disney ones as well!  I also keep a couple games on my phone that I know she likes but that I don’t let her play often.  When the coloring book isn’t going to work and she’s burnt out looking for hidden Mickeys, I whip out my phone with her fave app open.  I also bring a few power banks to charge my phone.  (There are also fuel rod kiosks at the parks!) Between taking a million pics, looking up fast passes, and letting the kiddo play with my phone, my battery doesn’t last long!
  1. Expect nothing, appreciate everything! Taking a little one to Disney can feel (at times) like walking around with a ticking time bomb!  i-hate-akToddlers can be so unpredictable and you never know what they will like/dislike!  Don’t be afraid to switch up plans because your kid just isn’t having it!  Maybe s/he is afraid of characters.  Don’t force it because that isn’t fun for anyone! There are photopass photographers everywhere, with and without characters.  We have our share of pics where Princess L did not cooperate (see the Animal Kingdom picture!)  It’s ok!  Maybe they just want to ride Carousel of Progress six times in a row.  (L’s was Haunted Mansion over and over again!) Maybe they want to watch the ducks swim around the ponds at Epcot for 30 minutes.  Flexibility is key and sometimes you just have to roll with it!  If you don’t force a hectic schedule, it will make for a happier trip for everyone.  And no, you won’t get to see and do everything, but that is ok!  I guarantee that your kid won’t remember that they hated Elsa or didn’t get to ride a certain ride.  They will remember the little moments like riding on the “Mickey Bus”, eating a dole whip for breakfast, and Mickey waving to them from the parade float!

Not all these tips will work for every family, but hopefully one of two will help your family have a more magical vacation!

l-and-mickey

Vacation Planning That Makes “Cents”

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Recently, I read an article on another site that asked the question, “Does Disney Ever Help with Low Income Families Visit Disney World?” (their wording, not mine).  Of course, I knew the answer to the question being asked, but as a Disney NUT, I was curious how this question was to be answered.  The response was, as I expected, “no,” Disney does not offer any specific service to assist low-income families with their Walt Disney vacation.  What I did not expect, was the alternative suggested by the author.  The writer went on to suggest that a person’s best approach would be to finance their vacation; either through your personal bank or a credit card.

No…  Let me say again, No…

A Walt Disney World vacation is an absolute amazing experience that you and your family will treasure for years to come.  What you don’t want to do, especially if you are on a limited income, is to have the expense of that vacation follow you home for years to come too.  I am a big believer that everyone NEEDS a vacation.  We all need that opportunity to allow our personal batteries to recharge while we reconnect with our loved ones.  However, financing your vacation, at what can be ridiculous interest rates is not the way to go (as of the writing of this article, the Disney® Visa by Chase® has a 16.24% interest rate, ouch).

Let me offer you an alternative, and one of the great benefits of working with a Disney Travel Agent like the folks here at ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE TRAVEL, LLC (AIOT TRAVEL).  A good agent will listen and get to know you.  Many of us take pride in developing personal relationships with our clients while working with you to plan that memorable vacation.  That’s what we do, we work for you, and that includes understanding your financial situation.

BLT Door

We know when Disney typically releases their deals and can help plan accordingly.  Are you worried that there may not be a discounted offer when you’re ready to book?  Book anyways, many times Disney will announce these discounts up to 4 months ahead of time.  Your AIOT TRAVEL Consultant is constantly checking for these great offers and will automatically apply them to your vacation when they can.

If you find yourself struggling with the idea of how you will pay for your Disney vacation, let’s talk!  We can help you plan your vacation several months or years in advance.  Did you know that Disney prices are available up to 499 days in advance; that’s almost a year and a half of saving!  If you can put away $100.00 a month for 16 months, you’d have $1,600.00; $150.00 a month would equal $2,400, and $200 a month…  Well, that would give you $3,200.00 to put towards your dream Disney vacation.  Hey, this is just putting money in a sock drawer, I’m not even going to discuss compounding interest! 😉

Your AIOT TRAVEL Consultant will also help you budget out and plan how much you will need to save to meet Disney’s “Paid in Full” deadline (typically 45 Days prior to arrival).

BLT Room

Not a natural saver???  That’s OK.  Many direct deposit companies will allow you to set up an allotment that allows a portion of your paycheck to go into a designated account.

Afraid of having easy access to and spending the money, Disney can help with that!

Disney now offers the “Disney Vacation Account (DVA)!”  This tool, operated by Disney, is an online savings plan that can help you save for your Disney vacation.  When you’re ready to book, your AIOT TRAVEL, Independent Travel Consultant will book your reservation and then provide you with a confirmation number.  All you will need to do is contact DVA and they will deduct the money directly from the account.  Your AIOT TRAVEL Consultant will handle all other arrangements for you beyond that.

So please, take the time to contact an AIOT TRAVEL Consultant.  Our time is free and many times we can save you money.

-Rob Edwards

rob@adventureisouttheretravel.com

Family Vacation

Have you ever thought about vacationing with your entire family?  Last summer, my husband and I went on vacation with our two adult children and their spouses and their children.  What a great way to create heart-warming memories!1st day on ship

We were fortunate enough to go on the Disney Dream for 5 nights and experience a

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Tequila Tasting Setup

“double dip”.  We went to Castaway Cay, Nassau, back to

watching sunrise on Dream
Watching the Sunrise

Castaway Cay, day at sea, and back to port.  While on the ship, some of the adults had spa treatments, went to a tequila tasting, ran on the running deck (Deck 4), enjoyed a tour of the galley, and just took time to relax alone.

 

The kids went to the kids club, swam with family, spent time

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Finishing 5k

with grandparents and cousins, and saw Disney characters & Princesses.  We all saw several of the shows offered on the ship.  While on the island, one of the adults ran the 5K and one went snorkeling.

 

After our delightful and memorable cruise, we all went to Walt Disney World for 5 nights.  We stayed at the Polynesian Village Resort.  It was so nice to be able to hop on the Monorail to get to the Magic Kingdom and also Epcot.  In addition, there were Monorail stops at the Grand Floridian, the Contemporary, and the Ticket & Transportation Center.

3 angels on Castaway Cay
Cousins Playing in the Sand

This was convenient to reach the parks, of course, and dinners & shopping at the Contemporary and Grand Floridian.  The Monorail isn’t the only transportation guests can use.  We also took advantage of the water transportation and the bus system.

Thanks to great pre-trip planning, we were all able to do & see everything we wanted.  Some days, Papa & Grandma went with daughter & family, while on other days we went with son & family.  Most nights we all had dinner together.   It was a nice way for everyone to have their own experiences and then meet to talk about them in the evening.  Papa & Grandma were fortunate enough to have visited WDW several times in the past.  This time, went on the Keys to the Kingdom Tour.  This tour took us on a behind the scenes look at WDW and gave us insight into the planning and layout of WDW.  If you have the time, I recommend this tour.

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.  Here is a photo of me while I
was waiting for the Magical Express to give us a ride to the airport for our flight home.

goodbye vacation

Claudia Eggenberger

Co-Owner/Agent Adventure Is Out There Travel, LLC