Disney World – Where Dreams Come True? For parents of little kids, it can be a dream or a nightmare. I guess it is all about how you plan? Not sure you can truly prepare for little kids being at Disney World. You are up against hyper excitement, over stimulation, sugar highs, long waits, big crowds, overpriced merchandise and dumping a ton of cash. Park tickets alone for an adult are approximately $100/day if you do single day passes. Kids 3-9 years old are about $90 and kids under 3 are fee! Yes you heard me – 3yr are FREE!
I know you are thinking to yourself, why would I bring a 3 year old kid there? They are too young. Let me tell you, we had the exact opposite experience with my son. He was almost 3 and we took him to Magic Kingdom for the first time. It truly was magical. It was the best day of his life (so far) and honestly, it was spectacular for us parents too. We got to see the sparkle of Disney through the eyes of our son – it was like reliving our childhood. Enchanting! Disney may be a huge corporate money making machine but they really have something special that cannot be duplicated. You walk into those parks and every care you have melts away.
Disney may be magical but your kids … well they might not be quite so magical. How do you help them manage all of it? It is a lot for a young kid to handle. So I set out to do some research on how to help my kids cope with the stressors of the day. Also found some great tips for saving money. I talked to parents. I connected with Authorized Disney Vacation Planners. Googled. Pinterested. Called Disney.
There are a ton of good tips and tricks. I will talk about some basic big ones here. For more tips you can see my free printable at the bottom of this post.
Waiting in line sucks. Waiting in line with kids sucks ass! Do your family a favor and make sure to book FastPasses prior to going to the parks. You can book them up to 60 days prior (online or with the My Disney Experience app) and it is recommended you do so right away because they fill up fast. Alternatively, you can reserve them at the parks at designated kiosks. These passes will help you to bypass the regular line at a specific reserved time of day. There are lots of strategies for how to book your FP. You can only book 3 at a time so book smart. Some suggest you book the FP back to back so you can get more passes for the afternoon. Others say to book them with time in between to allow for time to walk/rest/eat. Still others reserve them for times of day when the rides are super busy. Some recommend that you book FP for rides that are located near each other. Not all rides offer FP. Suggest you book FP for the rides that tend to be the most popular with the longest wait times – duh 🙂 Take a look at the list below that helps to prioritize FastPasses and lists height requirements.
So for those who are traveling with kids that are of varying ages/heights etc. Some rides cannot be ridden by the entire family. So what do you do? Rider Switch is a great offering. Basically, you get FastPasses for all who intend on riding, then you get a Rider Switch which allows Dad and son to FP and then ride the ride. Mom is waiting with little sibling. Then when son and dad are done, mom gets on ride with son immediately with no waiting. Dad assumes care of little sib. So the son gets to ride 2x back to back! This is also a good way to get double the use of your FP because in effect, the son gets to ride the ride 2x on one FP. Sounds complicated but it isn’t really. See the graphic below for visual.
My Disney Experience:
Very cool way to create an itinerary for your day at any of the parks. Here you can link your Disney Hotel reservations, ticket purchases, dining reservations, Book FP, get GPS Maps of the parks, see wait times in real time, see show times. It is awesome. My favorite feature is the maps. With your phone, the app plots where you are in the park and guides you to your desired attraction. SO FRIGGIN COOL! Note that it does drain your battery!
Authorized Disney Vacation Planners:
Using these specialized Travel Agents can be a godsend. They need to be accredited by Disney so make sure they can call themselves/provide their credentials as an “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner”. There’s no cost to you … sort of. Typically you have to book 5 nights at a Disney Hotel or purchase 3 days worth of Disney park tickets in order to be eligible for their services. Authorized Disney Vacation Planners are paid commission by Disney on the trips they book, so you’re not paying anything extra. Disney ‘outsourcing’ the planning resources they’d otherwise need to provide. They are so very worth it. They are like a concierge and will make your trip a truly magical journey. THey do more than book the trip. They are experts in all things Mouse. They answer every question and are so passionate about what they do. They get great discounts and priority bookings. Google “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner” and find one near you!
If you stay at a Disney World Hotel, you are eligible for “Magic Hours”. Guests of select hotels can enjoy extra time in one of the theme parks each day, either before it opens or after it closes—so Guests can enjoy select attractions. Check the schedules of what hotels are offering Magic Hours. It changes daily for each resort/park.
Ok so these are the biggies. There is a lot of stuff to cover and opportunities for you to maximize your visit and save some cash too. I have created a free printable with some other tips and tricks for you! Check it out.
In closing, I would like to say, there is a fine line between planning and over planning. Some things are smart to plan ahead and others you will need to go with the flow and see how your kids are managing in the parks. Try not to get caught up in the details and the schedules or you may end up missing out on the “Magic”.