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This summer I had a last minute plan to have a Disney vacation before school starts. It was literally 6 days before the check-in date. We live in Florida so it was a road trip for us.We just got back from Disney World and as my family said, we had more fun this time. It is our 4th time with our little one. We usually go around December for her birthday. We have learned a few things from previous visits, and still learning.
I am the planner and organizer for our trip as usual. I try to research the best tips for making our trip more fun, memorable, and less stressful. But no matter how I plan, there are some things that is out of my control, gets missed or realized it wasn’t a good plan, or not everyone agrees to it. I have a Disney Packing list that I have customized since now we have a 5 year old with us. As we settle in our hotel room I realized I forgot to pack the comb. No biggie, I had “beach hair” during our trip. I could have done an Ariel thing with a fork. So while browsing the Hotel Disney store one last time, guess what? they actually sell a comb.
The little things
Book your vacation ahead of time. So they have time to send you your magic bands (if you’re staying in their resort hotels). You can have dinner reservations you want and fast pass choices you want.
Wear walking shoes, your tried and tested shoes. I used my Skechers Go Walk shoes, I’ve had it for for 3-4 years and used it every time we go to Disney. It’s durable, light, slip-on, and low maintenance. I also brought my white slip-on Crocs, comfortable for short walks, but not at Disney.
Back pack. We always carry one, and put all in there so only 1 person go through the security bag search. I think it also helps if your bag has minimal pockets, because you have to open each and every pocket. You can check my packing list for our backpack here.
We just beat the December crowd last time by coming to the theme park really early.
In my opinion it is better to stay in the resort hotel for ease of transportation to and from the theme parks. We have stayed outside of the resort before, though they’re more economical and nicer than the Value Resorts, the transportation to the theme park involves several steps. The bus can pick you up from your hotel, then they drop you at the transportation center where you ride a shuttle or bus depending on where you are heading. It was hard with a little one with transferring from one bus, climbing stairs, ride a shuttle, climb down stairs, and waiting for buses. She did like the shuttle ride though.
With the resort hotel, we just ride one bus to and from, the wait is bearable, and their stations are closer.
Use their pool at night. It’s less crowded, avoid heat/sun, thus making it more relaxing.
On our first day we tried to be clever and had our breakfast at the nearby McDonalds, spend around $20 and lots of leftovers that we had to throw because who wants to carry extra stuff at the park.
On our second day we had a great breakfast at the resort food court. We ordered a big breakfast for 1 adult (with eggs, bacon, potatoes, 1 waffle), a kid meal (2 waffles, eggs, bacon), 2 coffee, and a refillable mug (get this right away to get the most out of your money). I just love those Mickey waffles. I like my carbs in morning. So we hardly had any left over, which is awesome (I hate wasting $), and spend about same amount.
Free fast passes are awesome. Use it responsibly, to optimize your magical experience.
Make sure you can make that fast pass appointment, know where it is located. If you miss one of your fast pass, you can add another one.
I had regrets when we missed one of our fast pass and wasn’t able to add one due to slow connection.
I know most people go for the rides as much as possible. But with a little one who is very cautious, we are limited. Now we have a much appreciation for this shows. Our little one actually enjoys it. It pretty much pay for your tickets.
Know where you really want to eat ahead. What food or restaurant do you want to experience?
You don’t want to drag your family around the theme park where there are so many options, and everybody has different opinion of where to go. Don’t waste your time walking aimlessly.
We learned this the hard way on our second day. We are in a rush because we are all hungry and tired. I heard about this restaurant but didn’t exactly know where it is, and hubby just wants to go to the nearest food place, but there’s a long line, and little one is cranky already. So we decided to go back to the hotel resort. We ordered 2 adult meals and a kid meal at the Resort food court. Food is mediocre of course, and the servings are pretty large. Spent around $50 and plenty of left overs.
We did better on our first day. I wanted to go to Satuli in Pandora in Animal Kingdom and try the night blossom drink. The food was great with a unique twist, it was quite an experience for all of us. Spent around $50 and worth it.
This is one of the best tip I have learned from other bloggers and youtubers. Especially if you have little ones. And this is another reason why we opted for a resort hotel. We head back to the resort hotel after lunch and recharge. Around 3-4pm we head back to the theme park. It is more calm, less people, and less hot. Everybody is in good mood again.
On our first day before heading back to the theme park in the afternoon, we grab McDonalds. Sure we saved money, $18 and we had to throw some left overs again. On our second night, we stayed in the theme park for our dinner time. The one we really want to go to has a waiting time of 45 minutes. I honestly don’t mind that, but hubby doesn’t have that kind of patience. So we went to a different food place, this time we only ordered 1 adult meal and a kid meal and we still have minimal left overs. Spent around $26, felt good about my decision. My only regret was not able to have that dining experience.
Souvenir is part of the experience. You can have free souvenirs, from the theme park map guides, free pins (if you’re celebrating something), your refillable mug, your magic bands, free Mickey straw that they give at the food court, or the disney plastic bag with your purchase.
We always wanted to have some kind of matching Disney shirts. Since it was a last minute vacation plan, that did not happen. We bought some shirts at the park, it’s kind of bitter sweet because of the price. We let our little one pick one item she wants to buy, her latest pick is a minnie mouse emoji pillow.