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Disney World with kids: how we survived a week in the parks!

As most of you know, we recently took the kids on a week-long trip to Disney World! We braved 6 days in the parks with a 1 and 4 year old and believe it or not, it was one of our favourite family trips so far – and actually felt relaxing! I got many questions on Instagram and Facebook about where we stayed, what we did and whether or not I had any words of advice so I’m giving away all my Disney secrets today ;) Here are my top tips for surviving Disney World with kids:

  • Plan ahead: We booked our trip about 3 months in advance, which in the world of Disney planning, is pretty short notice! I had NO IDEA that people booked accommodations, dining and rides soooo far in advance. Thankfully I came across Julie at Pixie Dust Holidays. All I had to do was send her my dates and she did EVERYTHING else! She came back to me super quickly with Disney hotel options, provided information on the Disney Dining Plan (which we didn’t take, by the way), secured our dining reservations (even the ones that are apparently impossible to get), and booked all of our Fast passes, taking into consideration the girls’ ages and what they would enjoy most. I highly recommend you get in touch with her if you’re thinking of planning a Disney holiday!
  • Visit the dollar store before you go: Not only did I pick up random things to keep the girls busy on the plane, I also stocked up stickers and Anna & Elsa glow stick necklaces. This saved me lots of money in the parks once it got dark and all of the overpriced glow sticks, lights and bubble machines came out!
  • Stay on Disney property: Obviously this might not be a feasible option for everyone but having stayed off site during our last trip in 2015, I wanted to experience the benefits of staying at Disney this time around. We splurged a little and booked a Royal Room at the Port Orleans Riverside resort. This particular resort is one of Disney’s moderate resorts and we were very happy with it! We used Disney’s Magical Express from the airport (complimentary when staying on Disney property), check-in was speedy and our room was ready early (win!). The room was clean, the staff was friendly, we loved the boat ride to and from Disney Springs and the Disney bus system to and from the parks made mid-day naps back at the hotel SO much easier.
  • Order groceries ahead of time: Because Disney ain’t cheap, I did my best to try keep spending at a minimum where I could. We decided that in order to save a little bit of money, we would eat breakfast in the room before starting our days and we’d bring drinks and snacks to the park for us and the kids. So about a month before our trip, I submitted my grocery order online (we used Garden Grocer), paid and picked a delivery date and time. When we arrived at the hotel, our grocery order was there waiting for us – the hotel will refrigerate your dairy, meat, etc until you arrive! It was so convenient because the girls were starving as soon as we got there and thankfully I didn’t have to run around the hotel looking for food.
  • Rent a stroller: At the time of the trip, my daughters were 4 (almost 5) and 1 (almost 2) years old. I knew we would be in the parks every day so a stroller was a must – especially given that my 4 year old is the laziest walker of life. Instead of lugging strollers from home, we opted to rented a double stroller from Kingdom Strollers and couldn’t have been happier with the service. The stroller was waiting at the hotel when we arrived and when we had an issue with one of the wheels, Kingdom Strollers brought us a replacement stroller the following day. It also made travel through the airport lighter, since we didn’t have to worry about pushing a stroller around (I just used my Lillebaby carrier for my youngest and she was happy with that!).
  • Leave the park mid-day for naps: I know how tempting it is to try to tough the whole day in the park with your kids so that you can see as much as you possibly can – especially if your trip only allows for a day or two in the parks (and with passes being so expensive). But honestly, don’t do it!! I’ve been there… and it led to an EPIC meltdown and I know now that everyone (including mom and dad) is happier after a short break. This time around we made a point to leave the parks each day just after lunch time for an afternoon nap and we’d return to the park around supper time or shortly after. Staying on Disney property and using their bus service to and from the parks made this really easy and that was definitely one of the reasons we opted for a Disney resort vs. staying off site.
  • Go with the flow: While I had a loose plan for what days we’d be in which park (because we had pre-booked Fast Passes), I know from experience that it’s unlikely that 7 days of travelling with kids will go as planned! Sure enough, both of the girls came down with a stomach bug on two separate days of the trip, so we had to adjust our activities at the last minute - including cancelling some dining reservations. Disney was AMAZING and so accommodating, so this was a non-issue. And there was so much to do around the resort that we were able to easily keep the girls busy during those days.

What I’ve learned about Disney is that a bit of planning goes a LONG way! If you’re looking for a more comprehensive guide to Disney, then I recommend you visit Disney Tourist Blog – they cover EVERYTHING Disney and more. And of course, if you have any questions about our trip, leave them for me below and I’ll try to answer them as soon as I can.

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February 18, 2018 by Sarah Hampel

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