Disney Tips (...Besides Bring Sanitizer)
During the first few days of our Disney trip, I wanted to move to Orlando, or at least buy a Disney time share. By the end of the vacation I settled into the more reasonable idea of a well-planned visit once every 2 years... Along the way, I gathered a few tips. There are a butt-load of other blogs with better and more comprehensive tips, but here are a few thoughts...
Pack massive amounts of your own snacks, beverages, juice boxes, etc. There are actually are healthy options all over the parks but they are repetitive. There are only so many packets of baby carrots, grapes or pre-sliced apples that you can stuff into your children over the course of 5 days. Pack a huge variety of shelf-stable stuff your kids love and will eat and that you can bribe them with during tough moments. The parks actually do a fantastic job of feeding tens of thousands of people efficiently and quickly from a 10,00-foot-view, however, each individual lunch line is a gamble for your personal party in terms of the time you'll wait and the kind of food you'll get. For example, we had reasonable lunches even during busy times, but the day we left we had one hour to eat before needing to leave for the airport. The only option was a baseball-themed hotdog joint and they served only hot dogs, cracker jacks and fries. Literally nothing else, except the omnipresent pre-bagged apple slices offered throughout the park (the sight of which at this point would have made the children wretch from repetition). I had to feed my whole family from this giant pile of bogus.
Mom in Mascara to the rescue: I made myself a meal of my own packed Larabars, Wheat Thins and coconut water, and whipped out some organic cranberries and seasoned chickpeas for the kids, all the while looking calm and cute (most notably except for the Florida humidity-fuzz hair, and my need for armpit Kybella as revealed by my halter dress).
2. SKIP BREAKFAST
Along the same lines as above, you can do more in the park if you skip the sit-down hotel-meal-type breakfast, at least for days where you are trying to do a ton of stuff. Pack oranges, pre-made muffins, granola bars, apple juice, whatever, and just munch and go. We wasted lots of time waiting for Mickey-shaped mini waffles...
3. WEAR SNEAKERS... I MEAN IT.
Your smart friend over here was one of maybe 12 people in all of Disney World who thought she could get away with jeweled flip flops for 4 days straight. I decided not to complain about it because I'd never hear the end of it from my husband, but me and those other 11 dummies looked like we had ankle gout by the end of each day. Get some sneakers you find to be minimally adorable and pack outfits that you think are not offensive to said sneakers. Strappy sundress and sneakers - no. Go with the flow and go sporty.
This is a highly personal choice about which I will not make any recommendation, but I will share with you that I personally would NOT rent a stroller from Disney when we go again. You definitely benefit from a stroller even for older kids, and it was cheap and easy to rent one, but it was a bad stroller model and made things uncomfortable. (It was not our particular stroller piece... each day you leave it and get a new one, and the following issues were global to all the strollers we used.) The hood would not stay up and plopped down on the kids heads. The back did not recline, and adding insult to injury, the back STOPPED around the neck line, so they really couldn't lie back to rest or nap. There is no chassis or undercarriage to carry a bag, so our backpack had to go where the kids feet were... See pics. Probably worth the hassle of bringing your own stroller, especially if you have one you adore.
Also, Disney has a program where you tag your bag and they bring it from the airport to your Disney property. In other words, we checked our bags at Westchester Airport and the next time we saw the bags was in our room at the hotel in Orlando. Now that's Disney magic. So we wouldn't have had to lug our own stroller through the airport, which is a plus on the side of bringing your own.
Now that's Disney magic.
The only drawback to bringing your own stroller is having to deal with it on the bus or monorail to get to the parks, but to me that might have helped herd the cats uphill. But, it's a personal choice.
5. CONTEMPORARY HOTEL
I don't know much about the other properties, but we walked 8 minutes to Magic Kingdom and did a 10 min monorail back, so it was easy. It's the closest property, but the monorail goes only one way around the loop, and Magic Kingdom was the other way around the circle from us so getting there by Monorail was unnecessarily lengthy - it would have meant doing the whole loop - so walking was easier. However, getting back was just one stop. (Did that make sense? It makes sense in Mommy in Mascara Math.) Either way, getting there and back was easy. Stay there if you can.
6. MAGIC BAND & FAST PASS
Use the band to get into your room, buy stuff, enter the parks, collect the pro pics taken by Disney staffers, and find your kids if they wander. Also - buy the photo package. The pictures were relatively professional looking. Much better than our iPhone shots. See Tink?!?
7. BOOK DINING MONTHS IN ADVANCE... OR DON'T
Book 10 months in advance to get a seat at Cindy's Castle, and "character dining". For "character dinner", we showed up with no res at 5:00 just as the facility opened and conveniently collected a just-canceled seat. It had otherwise been booked for seasons in advance. It may have had something to do with flattering to the hostess ("you pronounced my husband's name right! Only smarties do that!") but was probably just superlative timing.
Side tip: your kids will f#$%ing kill you if you don't do character dining.
Apparently the famous quote, “laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And dreams are forever” is actually falsely attributed to Walt Disney, but I place my heart untoward this notion regardless. And anybody whose name is Walt is super cool simply by proxy to their moniker.
Xx, Mom in Mascara