Tips for Surviving Disney With Kids
We have covered visiting Disney with children a lot, and we plan on covering it more in the future. Why? Because planning and visiting any Disney property can be stressful and overwhelming on a good day. Add a tiny human that is pumped up with energy, excitement and incredibly tired by early afternoon and you potentially have a walking disaster. Parents and children alike need as many tips and helpful advice as they can get to Survive Disney World With Kids
Don’t go broke
- Instead of buying souvenirs at Disney, buy them beforehand
- Buy a Disney lanyard from Amazon
- If you plan on being in the parks after dark, consider picking up glow sticks while you’re at it.
- Bring your own autograph books.
- Give everyone a spending allowance. You will see by the end of the second day, the asking of things will be greatly reduced when you tell them to use their own money.
- Prepare the kids. Talk to them about waiting in lines and the walking around. While it may be boring, long and hot, it just needs to be done in order to get on the attraction.
- Stay on property. This will save you time, get you into the parks that much earlier and a host of other perks. Many of which will help with the children. Check out other perks of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.
- Download the apps. There are apps that let you know how long the lines are at specific rides/locations/shows throughout the park. Other apps allow you to order your food, and some (at Disneyland Paris) allow guests to digitally queue for character meetings.
- Come prepared with line activities. The lines can be long and make it seem even longer when you pack it full of bored children. Have something in your bag to do, or a list of games/songs to keep everyone entertained while waiting patiently.
- Know where the characters are and when – to avoid them or to find them. Not all children can handle the characters. Some think they can, then get squeamish once it is their turn. Know your kid, be honest with yourself, and avoid walking near the characters if you think your child will demand an audience with them.
- Rest – at the hotel, at the splash pad, on the go? Just make sure to take a mid-day break
- Pack the perfect park bag. Bring everything you need and you won’t have to worry about purchasing it later.
- Avoid back to back big park days. The Magic Kingdom followed by Epcot is a recipe for exhaustion. Pick a slower park, or a rest day, after spending a big day at one of these Parks.
- Parent swap – slightly different than the rider swap. Rotate the buddy system so each child has a chance to sit with either parent on a ride or during a meal
- Also pack a power bank, just in case. Maybe your phone can’t wait until mealtime, or you aren’t sitting near an outlet. Either way, having a backup battery in case your primary charging plan falls through isn’t a bad idea.
- Get a PhotoPass. Make taking photos your goal of this vacation and you will never be disappointed and you will need Memory Maker to purchase these amazing images.
- Bring a cheap stroller, even if your kids don’t typically use one. Here are some reasons why it’s a great idea.
- Or… rent a stroller. If you haven’t brought a stroller, and your child is under 8 years old (10 if they really aren’t used to this type of long distance, multi-day vacations), then you definitely want to consider renting a stroller.
- Don’t try to do it ALL, every single day. Disney is epically huge. Unless you are staying for 30+ days, you won’t see it all. Just be honest with yourself about your families abilities and make a priority list. As long as you have checked out the Must Haves, this has been a successful vacation.
- Kids misbehave sometimes. Especially when they are overstimulated. Know what to do when they are misbehaving and keep your traveling partner on the same page.
- Bring your own food. Many will argue that food is not welcome in the parks. You are not allowed to picnic inside the parks; don’t bring your picnic basket and have a feast on the front lawn. You are, however, allowed to bring some snacks and maybe even a few sandwiches and find a bench to munch on for a few minutes. Technically, if you want to use your time wisely, I would suggest eating while in a long queue but that doesn’t give you the same satisfaction as resting your legs.
- Make your Advanced Dining Reservations early. They can fill up rather quickly, so be sure to get online exactly on your date and keep checking back if you didn’t get exactly what you wanted.
- Assess the dining plan. There are times when the Disney Dining Plan can work in your favor, or else no one would be purchasing them. Take a look at the discounts being offered, and compare them to your preferred restaurants and meals of choice. Check out our Pros and Cons of the Disney Dining Plan for more information.
- Eat during off hours. Eating during peak hours can be crowded, overwhelming and rushed. By choosing reservations that are during off-hours (before or after peak time), you are more likely to get a reservation as well as have a better time. Money better spent.
- Stay hydrated. Lack of fluids can take anyone down. Be sure to give the kids, and yourself, plenty to drink, early and often.
- Discuss ‘sticking together’. Not only do they need to be warned about the long lines and miles of ground that they will cover in a single day, children need to be warned about the dangers of wandering off. The very little ones need to sit in the stroller or hold someone’s hand. Slightly older ones need to walk next to someone, but always within eyesight and never allow a stranger to come between them and their ‘buddy’. As a traveling duo with two kids, we have created a buddy system. I’m with her, the son is with hubby. We are now solely responsible for the physical location of one child each. This greatly reduces the anxiety of always looking where both children are and divides the ‘workload’ evenly between both adults.
- Have a contingency plan. If someone does get lost or wanders off, know what to do and with whom to speak with. This is when safety tattoos come in handy.
- Take a photo of the family before leaving the hotel each morning. This way, you can remember what everyone wearing. Better yet, get matching t-shirts for the whole family.
Headed to Disney? Save money by buying these 5 items before you leave home:
- Mouse Ears (everyone has them on)
- Glow sticks (for the evening fireworks)
- Pins and Lanyard (Pin trading is HUGE with kids at Disney)
- Cooling Towel and Sunblock
- Water Proof Smart Phone Bag
Disney with a baby…
- Know where the Babycare centers and what they stock. If ever you run out of anything, know that there is a place in each park that can help you out, if at least temporarily.
- Always bring two changes of clothes for anyone in diapers. This is strongly advised for anyone under 8 years old because accidents can always happen, but we know park bag space is limited. Two changes for the youngest ones because statistically speaking, you will only need it when you don’t pack it.
- Rider Switch – if someone isn’t tall enough (or brave enough) to ride, there is always the option of staying behind and riding after.
- Get FastPass+ during peak times aka after lunch. Since most rides will still have a reasonable wait time in the mornings, and you have been there since the crack of dawn, why waste your precious FastPass+ selections for this time. Many would advise because then you can make more selections sooner. But what if you can’t? What if everything is already booked or only available at the worst possible times? By booking after lunch, you are bypassing the typical long lines during peak hours during the same time period that the children are at their most exhausted.
- Plan for a nap. Speaking of exhausted, the kids are going to want to sleep at one point. As a Type A personality myself, I book the baby’s nap time. I know when she is ‘allowed’ to nap and when she is probably going to fall asleep (aka desperately need a nap while fighting it the whole time). We make a plan to have hubby take the oldest on a big kid ride and we disappear for a quiet walk around the park or take a train ride. By planning her naps, we are able to maximize our touring time and not getting a surprise sleeping baby during our scheduled Table Service lunch or Fastpass window. Remember, strollers aren’t allowed inside most restaurants.
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