We brought our 5 year old daughter "S" and our 17 month old son "E" to Disney in December 2013 - here are my take away tips for what made our experience MAGICAL!
1. Pack a Grab Bag
I used a backpack with several pouches. No, my husband didn't care at all that it was pink - he doesn't mind our life of glitter and princesses ;) This is what I included in my bag so we could grab and go quickly when we had to park the stroller. FYI : All bags have to be checked before you enter into the park.
- T-shirt, shorts, pants, long sleeved shirt, socks, underwear in a large plastic ziploc bag (which can be handy to repurpose in case of vomit, accidents or wet clothes) for each kiddo plus a jacket if necessary.
- Sippy Cups filled with ice (they will melt throughout the day keeping water cold) - plus at any quick service restaurant at Disney they will give you a FREE cup of water and ice to refresh your sippy cups throughout the day.
- Snacks - I used a snack tower that had freeze dried yogurt, crackers, puffs, honey nut cheerios, and goldfish. The squeeze apple sauce was great too - perfect for when you're waiting in line and the kids are hungry between meals.
- Mini first aid kit - band aids, alcohol swabs, triple antibiotic, advil
- Sunscreen - spray, cream and stick - multiple applications will be necessary
- Diapers/Wipes (grab 3 more than you think you'll need).
- Toys/Entertainment - I brought tiny play dough containers, bubbles, crayons and a small pad of paper. Using small light things that will entertain the kids are great for when you're waiting in line or at a restaurant.
- Autograph books w/ attached pen
- Ponchos (if we thought we might need them) if the weather looked good we left them in the car.
- Camera, camcorder
- Phone & charger
As of the writing of this blog Disney will give you a free cup of ice water at any quick serve location, and we poured those cups of water into our wide-mouthed water bottles to keep hydrated around the park. We used the frozen water bottle as an ice pack in our insulated bags with our lunch, cheese sticks and frozen yogurts (a frozen cup of yogurt that thaws over the day) to save $ on food.
3. Get a mommy hook - or two! We used these to hook our back pack on for easy grab and go access, and it came in handy for any purchases we made around the park.
4. Find your stroller day or night.
Stroller parking is required for the majority of rides, and those
I combated this in two ways.
Daytime: Flag or balloon attached so you could look out over the sea of strollers and spot yours. I think a neon flag would be best.
Nighttime: Bike blinker to help us locate it. The parking areas are not well lit and finding the right stroller in the dark can get.. time consuming.
I've never seen so many double strollers in my life.
5. Buy glow necklaces at the Dollar Tree before you go - this will save you mad $ and help keep track of your kids when the sun goes down. We got matching ones for the whole family for easy visualization in the crowds of people.
6. DIY personalized autograph book and save $$.
Ours cost about $3 and we were able to personalize it instead of the $15 they charge in the park. I got the notebooks at the Dollar Tree, we had the pens, and I bought the stickers at Hobby Lobby. Attach a click gel pen to the book with a ribbon so everything is all put together and you're not left looking for the pen.
7. Label your kids Magic Bands with Information - I used a sharpie and wrote "S's" name and our cell phone numbers in case she got lost. We also instructed her that if she did get lost to find an adult that had a kid with them, or find a cast member that was wearing a Disney name tag for help.
8. Let your kids nap wherever, and take the day as it goes - I read a lot of blogs urging me to go back to the hotel for nap time with our 17 month old. I felt like this was going to KILL our ability to see everything. We decided to press our luck and let E just pass out where he may in the reclined stroller - and it worked like a charm.
He'd fall asleep for an hour or so as we were walking from ride to ride and we would pick attractions where one of us would have had to wait anyway, like Splash Mountain. We also got them up earlier than normal and they went to bed far later than normal. We didn't go back to the hotel once for a nap and had no melt downs - Disney Magic.
9. Park & Eat at the Hotels - We went and grabbed a quick breakfast at the walk up counter at the Polynesian and parked our car there letting them know we were getting breakfast. Then we were able to check out the hotel (for future stays) and take the monorail right in to Magic Kindgom.
When we were going to Epcot we would park at The Boardwalk and were able to walk right into the back of Epcot by England. This was helpful when we had reservations in the World Showcase and didn't have a lot of time to get there. It's also helpful to cut the cost of parking at the park's lots and will save you $18 a car if you're not staying on site. I'd rather spend that on breakfast than on parking! An added bonus is that you don't have to fold up the stroller to get on the trams from the parking lots at the parks.
10. Make sure you have comfortable sneakers - I had to end up buying a new pair while we were there. They felt OK at home but after hours of walking, not so much. The new Nike Airs worked wonders for my poor feet.
11. Fully charge your electronics (cell phones, cameras, camcorders) - Bring an extra memory card and your cell phone and camera chargers into the park - you can often charge while you are eating lunch.
12. Have fun, take lots of pictures and video and check out my other Disney Tip Blogs below!
The 'Must Know' for Planning Disney World with Kids