Walking down Main Street as you enter the Magic Kingdom is a wonder for the senses. The breathtaking site of Cinderella’s castle looms before you. You inhale the scent of freshly popped popcorn mixed with just-baked waffle cones. The sounds of a train whistle and a barbershop quartet mingle with children’s laughter … Disney World Vacation magic is real, y’all!
Our little family just returned from our first-ever Walt Disney World vacation, and it was everything I dreamed of. I spent a lot of time prepping for our big adventure, so here is my advice to any of you thinking about taking your young children to the “Happiest Place on Earth.”
Our Disney World Vacation
- Think about what you want in your accommodations. We chose to stay on site, partially for convenience, but mostly because we wanted this first trip to be as special as possible. I reserved a cabin at Fort Wilderness, and this worked out wonderfully. The cabin had a bedroom that sleeps four, a separate living area, and a full kitchen. Each cabin also had its own charcoal grill and picnic table. My husband and I slept on a pull-out couch in the living area so Mia and Miles could have their own bedroom and (hopefully) sleep well … tired, crabby kids are no fun in the parks.
- Bring food, lots and lots of food. We packed a cooler and tossed it in the car, but you can also have groceries delivered right to your cabin or room. I was pleased to learn guests can bring food and drinks into all Disney theme parks. Small containers of snacks helped us survive some of the longer wait times. We had breakfast and dinner each day in our cabin. This saved money and gave the kids some down time. It would have been hard for them to behave in a restaurant after waiting in lines all day. After the kids went down for the night, my husband and I sat outside and enjoyed a well-deserved glass of the wine I had packed before we hauled our exhausted selves to bed.
- Choose your travel dates carefully. You can find several different crowd calendars online that will help you decide when to schedule your visit. Since we didn’t have to work around a school schedule, we planned our trip for the middle of the week when the theme parks tend to be less crowded. Weather is also a factor to think about.
- Use your Fast Pass options. You can reserve a “Fast Pass” for most park attractions, giving you an hour-long reservation to visit the ride or show with little wait time. Each guest is allowed three Fast Passes per day, so I did a lot of research before choosing. Know what is on your family’s “must-do” list as well as which lines move quickly versus which ones are notoriously long. You can also use Fast Passes for character meet and greets. We used one of ours to see Mickey and Minnie and that was one of the highlights of our trip.
- Give yourself some downtime. I knew we were not ready to go, go, go from 8:00 am until midnight. We arrived at the park when it opened each day and left late in the afternoon. The twins were able to play in and around the cabin and take a break from the stimulation while we made dinner. After dinner, we explored the entertainment at the resort.
- If you do stay in a Disney resort, make time to enjoy its amenities. The Campfire Sing-A-Long at Fort Wilderness was one of our favorite parts of the trip. The resorts all have great pool areas and most have activities and entertainment scheduled in the afternoons and evenings.
- Be flexible. When traveling with young children, things will never go 100% according to plan. Remember that the rides and shows you have fond memories of may not appeal to your kids. I couldn’t wait for M&M to see the parade, one of my favorite things as a child. Mia was thrilled to wave at all the characters and dance to the music. Miles didn’t want any part of sitting still and watching people roll by. Rather than try to force him, my husband decided to take him to see another attraction.
Thanks to a lot of planning, a little flexibility, and a bit of luck, our Disney World vacation went even better than expected. Walt Disney World is truly a magical place for young and old alike. I am looking forward to visiting again. I am also excited about the prospect of future trips with my littles. But regardless of where we may choose to travel in the future, I loved having this little chunk of time to just enjoy my family and make magical memories.
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