Last month we got to go on a trip to Disney with our kids. It was one of the best family vacations we’ve ever had. It also took 6 months to plan and caused me alot of anxiety! Check out Disney Bound for more about my experience planning our trip.
I was lucky enough to have some friends who gave me lots of good advice. I also joined a Facebook group where I learned about the best restaurants and which rides we had to go on.
So I wanted to share some of those tips with you in case you’re trying to plan a trip to Disney with kids.
10 TIPS FOR SURVIVING DISNEY WITH KIDS
1. Lower your expectations, and then lower them again.
You’ve probably heard people say that Disney is the most magical place on earth. Don’t get me wrong, it is pretty magical and my kids will tell you that this is true. But if you go to Disney with kids thinking everything is going to be unicorns and rainbows, you will be disappointed. If you go to Disney in July it will not feel magical the whole time. It will be hot and it will be crowded.
Expect long wait times and don’t expect every Disney employee to be willing to bend over backwards to make your trip the most magical vacation you’ve ever had. I’m not sure where that came from, but our experience at The Beach Club was far from it. The resort was beautiful and the pool was amazing. We enjoyed our stay, but all of the cast members working there didn’t seem to love their jobs like we expected them to.
2. Bring water and snacks.
Most moms know not to leave home without a bag full of snacks, but I didn’t realize how important this would be at Disney World. Having a snack on hand when waiting in line with bored and hungry kids can be a lifesaver! Or maybe my kids are the only ones that get hungry when they’re bored.
I also wish we would have brought our own breakfast. We ended up ordering breakfast from the store in our hotel every morning. Not only was it expensive, but it took time that we could have been spending in the parks.
Another thing I wish we had brought was water. Again, I almost always bring water with me when we go anywhere, but for some reason we didn’t bring any with us.
One night we stayed at the pool until closing, and by the time we got back to our room the hotel store was closed. My husband searched the whole resort for at least 30 minutes trying to find bottled water. He never found any. We could have easily brought our own, and I actually saw several people bringing it in by the case at check in.
As far as bringing water to the parks, you can bring 1 or 2 bottles and then fill them up at the restaurants for free.
3. Choose your bag carefully.
I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to bring a bag with me to the parks. I didn’t want to have to find a locker to put it in while we went on the rides. But of course, like usual, I ended up carrying everyone’s water bottles, ponchos, sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats. Also there was a space to put your bag on every ride so finding a locker wasn’t necessary.
I brought a medium size Kavu sling bag, but there were times I wish I had a larger bag.
Of course, the bigger the bag you bring, the more you’ll end up carrying and the heavier it will be. So I would keep that in mind when deciding which size bag to bring.
4. Make dinner reservations ahead of time.
This was something knew to me as a Disney rookie, but I’m glad that someone told me ahead of time. Right now, you can book your Disney dining reservations 60 days in advance if you’re staying in one of the Disney resorts.
I recommend setting a reminder in your phone once you know when you’re going that way you won’t forget. You can book the reservations for all of the meals during your stay 60 days in advance from the first day of your stay.
We had some really good meals on our trip, and I’m so glad that we had reservations for them. We were lucky enough to get dinner reservations at Be Our Guest, and I think this was our favorite meal.
Not only was the food really good, but the service was amazing and it was really cool when the beast made his guest appearance. I thought maybe my 9-year-old was too old to appreciate it, but the next day he asked if we could go to more restaurants with characters.
Other restaurants that we enjoyed were:
- Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Hollywood Studios
- Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
- Enzos Hideaway in The Landing at Disney Springs
- Tiffins at Animal Kingdom
5. Use the Disney app.
We loved having the DisneyGo app. You can not only use it as a map, but you can also see wait times for the rides. We decided what to ride next based on the wait times and could avoid walking all the way across the park for a ride that had a really long wait.
The app is also helpful for ordering quick service food and finding last minute dinner reservations.
6. Build in some down time.
This was one thing that we failed to do this trip. We learned our lesson the hard way, but now we know. Next time we go to Disney, we will make sure to plan an extra day where we don’t go to any parks. If you’re staying at one of the Disney properties you can lounge at the resort pool or you can spend a whole day shopping at Disney Springs.
7. Wear comfortable shoes.
We walked over 5 miles every day that we were in the parks, so having comfortable shoes is essential. I recommend wearing tennis shoes and if you can bring an extra pair. There’s nothing worse than having to wear wet shoes and you’re bound to get caught in the rain at least once on your trip. Since we didn’t bring extra shoes we were able to dry off our shoes a little bit using the hotel hair dryer.
8. Pack sunscreen.
Comedian Jim Gaffigan said “Going to Disney in July is like walking on the surface of the sun.” Even if you don’t go in July like we did, it’s always sunny in Florida. And no one wants to be miserable after getting sunburn the first day you are there.
9. Expect it to rain.
It rains almost every day in Florida. Usually the rain showers are short and sweet, but it still stinks to walk around Disney with wet clothes.
So come prepared for the rain and bring ponchos! If you forget, most of the gift shops carry them, but you can get them much cheaper at Target or on Amazon ahead of time.
10. Don’t forget to have fun!
It’s easy to get caught up in trying to ride as many rides and see as many shows as possible. But unless you’re willing to wake up at the crack of dawn and drag your kids through the parks until closing for at least a week, there is no way you can physically do it all.
My husband and I decided before we even left that the most important thing about our trip was for our kids to have fun. We knew that it was going to be hot and if everyone was miserable we could go back to the pool at our resort.
So on the 2nd day when our boys wanted to do just that, my husband had to remind me that we were there for them. Who cares if you don’t get to close the park down? Maybe you miss the fireworks show, but if your kids are happy that’s what should be most important.
What tips would you add for surviving Disney with kids? Tell us in the comments and be sure to share this post with your friends!