Friday, March 22, 2013

What to pack (+ tips!): Disney World

So i'ts been almost a month since I went to Disney World with the fam and I am just now getting around to posting about it. Go figure. Anyhow, while I was there I took a few notes in case anyone else out there was planning a trip and needed some tips. Below are a few of my suggestions.

Best time of year to go: Mid January - Early March. We went at the end of February and for the most part the weather was great. It was only really cold our last day there. But if you go during this time, definitely pack some layers! It'll be chilly in the morning, then warm up, then cool off again after sunset. Oh and the lines were not bad at all either.

Stay on the resort, buy the meal plans. It may seem like extra money spent, but it is well spent. Completely worth it. And that's coming from me, a cheapskate! But I also prefer to spend what I can up front so that there's no "surprise" costs along the way. It was also nice to have a bus take us to the parks each day and drop us off. And did I mention you get a free refillable mug to use at your resort?!

Make reservations. However, if you do get a meal plan, definitely make reservations for your "sit down" meals. They advise you make these at least 6 months ahead of time. I know, it sounds crazy, but just trust me on this one.

Bring your own stroller. My brother and sister-in-law had contemplated renting a stroller once we arrived at each park, but ended up buying one from Craigslist instead. Greatest decision ever. It was a little bit of extra work to bring it on the bus each morning, but it was definitely a better option than stopping every morning at the park to pick up a stroller and then returning it at the end of the day. Plus our stroller actually had places to put bags, backpacks, etc. The Disney versions we saw were very minimal. Pretty much just hard plastic.

Pay attention to park hours and magic hours. If you stay on the resort, you get "magic hours" at the parks. These are hours of the day that only those who stay on the resort can ride rides in the park. These times change every day as to which park has the magic hours and whether they are in the morning or evening. Knowing these will help you plan your days and time better.

Entertainment options for smaller children. My niece Callie is just a year and a half, so she was unable to ride a lot of the rides. Instead, we all took turns hanging out with her at the entrance of a ride, while the others would go first. If you need to entertain while the rest of your party is in line, check out the exit of that ride. There are usually gift areas or game type areas that riders have to exit through. It's cool inside and there's plenty in there to entertain little ones.

Rider pass. Also, you can get a rider pass at Magic Kingdom if you have a small child that cannot ride. Basically it allows you to switch off "babysitters" quickly. With a rider pass, you get to jump line and board the next ride after the other half of your party has exited and can trade places with you.

My favorite rides: 
• Toy Story Mania (Hollywood Studios)
• Rock n Roller Coaster (Hollywood Studios)
• Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Hollywood Studios)
• Soarin' (Epcot)
• Test Track (Epcot)
• Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)

Helpful apps:
• Disney World app from Touring Plans (gives wait times, FastPass info, etc)
• Walt Disney World Maps and More (GPS option for each park) 

Bring a first aid kit. You don't need every single type of medicine, but definitely bring a bag in the park packed with stomach medicine, Tylenol, band aids etc.

Prep for the next day, the night before at the hotel. First, get plenty of rest. I don't think I have to explain that one, but just know that everyone will be in better moods the more sleep you have. Second, be sure to group everything that you plan on taking in the park the next day, all in one memorable place. Things like sunglasses, cameras, jackets, etc. Also, charge batteries for video cameras, etc at night while you are sleeping.

Get up 15 minutes earlier than you think you should. This should really just be an everyday of life rule. But don't worry, I don't follow this one either!

Treasure the magical moments. I say this because when you visit Disney, you are usually traveling with family (which means you're prob gonna lose your patience quicker) and small children (who get hungry, tired, hot and cranky—oh wait, maybe I am referring to myself?). But if you just remember to treasure the magical little moments along the way, you will leave with a much better experience.

For me these magical moments include: 
• Witnessing my nephew Cade rode his first real roller coaster (space mountain)
• Seeing Callie's eyes during the fireworks at Magic Kingdom
• Holding Cade's hand in line at It's a Small World
• Watching Callie point at everything during It's a Small World
• Swimming in freezing cold water with Cade bc he just wanted to go to the pool so badly
• Carrying a sleeping Callie in my arms halfway across Epcot to ensure she wouldn't wake
• Slumber party every night with Cade in our murphy bed
• Noise contests with Callie
• The projection show on Cinderella's castle
• Sharing a late night laugh with my mom and Nikki about Cade's magic potion

Here are a few photos for me to leave you with! Enjoy!

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