Family Travel Questions Answered - Disney World

I always thought I would wait until my kids were older before taking a trip to Disney World, but this past year has reminded me that life is too short and we need to make as many memories as we can. I went to Disney when I was 10, so things have definitely changed since then. I really want tips/advice from those of you that have taken your young children in the past few years.

I think that we're going to book our trip in the next few days and I want to hear you feedback. Talk to me as if I've never been and tell me what works for you(especially in the saving money department). In September, Evan will have just turned 5, Isabella will have just turned 3, and Kallie Jane will be about 6-7 months old. Here are a few things that I've read from others-
-Do the free dining plan that is offered in Sept(this deal runs out May 18th)
-Stay at Pop Culture
-Take Ponchos
-Something about pins and buying them on ebay before we go?!? They trade them with the employees?!?
-Wear sneakers
-Take snacks/drinks in with us in soft sided coolers
-Ask for a fridge in your room
-Fast Passes(this I have no clue about-I just read about it)
-Take tylenol/bandaids into the park with us

To do the free dining plan, you have to stay 6 days. Is that going to be too much for three small kids? Are there "must-do" rides and attractions? Places we definitely need to eat at? Also - Sea World - Do it, or no?

  Pin It!


Shannon V said...

3 parks for little ones: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom. If you want to eat @ MK, MAKE RESERVATIONS ahead of time, if you can get the meal ticket with the hotel. Also at MK, Go to Peter Pan 1st or there will be 90 min waits ALL DAY; Stay left at Pirates, stay right at the haunted mansion and small world. If you can only have one person or no one carry a bag in. Park at polyenision resort and say your their to meet up with friends, (parking should be free) and you can take the monorail in, Epcot you will probably want to break half way through the day so you can make it for the fireworks. If you have an IPHONE, they have an app that lets you know all the wait times for the rides, I suggest it, so you know which sides of the parks to be on. Save wet rides for right before you leave, nothing worse than being soaked all day; or bring a change of clothes...

Margaret said...

Six days will not be too much because you do not have to do whole parks in one day. I fact I recommend breaking it up some, may Animal Kingdom in the morning and Magic Kingdom in the afternoon. I HIGHLY recommend afternoon pool trips/naps since you are staying on property. It helps minimize the meltdowns and the parks (and heat) can be overwhelming for little ones. This worked so well with my children that even when I took them a few years ago, we still did this and they were 16 and 9!! LOL!

Shannon V said...

Sea World has changed so much in the recent years, my kids (5,4, 17mo) like the shows and aquariums. Not so many rides geared for them. I would def bring double to all parks, and wear the infant. If you bottle feed, get the PODEE from BRU it will help for those times you need to be hands free. It was a life saver for us, we'd have our little guy around us, the bottle was in a pocket while the pacifier nipple was with him... so we could be holding hands with the other ones, or holding on to somethings... sorry second post. We have been their lots and love it! (

Conservamom said...

Also remember there are so many great things to check out in the Orlando Area that aren't even Disney Related:) Check out the character meals which you can do reservations for online because depending when you go they might be booked once you get there. Definitely do the fast past..make sure and keep your park tickets handy because you will need that. These Fast Passes will help you by giving you a time to come back to and not have to wait in line. Peter Pan gets filled up very quickly and has the most line so either do that one first or get a fast pass and cross over to It's a small world in the mean time. Take lots of WATER! Also pack bathing suites if you want for the kids or extra close because there are parts at all the parks where they can splash around in the water and believe me it gets hot!

wendy said...

We went last year in September with our 4 year old, 2 (but turning 3 that week) year old and 1 year old, and it was amazing! We did the dining special (that is going on right now) and it was an even better deal than we thought it was going to be. We got the 3 meals a day for me, my husband, and 4 year old (didn't have to get tickets for the 2 & 1 year old so they don't get the dining plan) but it was more than enough food for the 5 of us. You actually don't have to stay the full 6 days. You can change that when you are booking the trip online, but you still get the great deal. (We stayed 5 nights and got 4 days of tickets).
We did pack snacks and drinks in a cooler and stuck in in the bottom of our stroller. On the stroller- we took our double umbrella stroller and our single umbrella stroller and so glad we had both of them.
We stayed at the Disney All Stars Movies resort and loved it for the short time we were there. We rode the Disney bus to the parks and back to the resort everyday. We got there on a Sunday and left on afternoon and didn't move our car once after we parked it when we got there.
Look at the days the parks have "Magic Hours" and plan your trip to those parks according to those days.
When we went last September we didn't even have to worry about the fast passes because we never had to wait in that long of a line. (LOVED that!)
I know of course the obvious choice would be Magic Kingdom, but Hollywood Studios was our second favorite by far. They have awesome shows and so many characters to meet. If you do go there, head to Toy Story Mania as soon as you get there to either ride the ride (depending on how long of a wait time) or get a fast pass.
We went on this trip on a super tight budget, and didn't spend any additional money after we booked the trip online other than to buy our children an autograph book (which I definitely recommend getting for each kid!) and their grandparents gave them some money to buy a Mickey hat (which they still wear a lot!). If you want any more ideas/advice I'd love to share!
Have fun!!

Jenny said...

I am interested in reading the comments. I went in 5th grade and now I'm 32. I probably wouldn't even recognize it.

Jamie said...

We are going Sept 8-13. We are doing the dining plan. This will be our first time with kids. No will be nearly 5 and my girls will be days from 3.

Anonymous said...

I have been going to Disney for years as we have annual passes & live about 45 minutes away. So...

1. Each park has an immaculate baby care center. (The one at EPCOT is the best.) You can take all of your children there to cool off, watch videos and use the restroom while you change & feed your tiny one. You will find these hidden wonders on your park maps.
*another wonderful feature in the parks are companion restrooms. They are big enough to take all your kids in at once without being disturbed.

2. Carry re-fillable water bottles. You can also ask for water at any counter-service restaurant & they will give it to you for free.

3. Carry food for your children and eat at counter service restaurants to save money. Typically we will do this for breakfasts & lunches and then go out for a nice dinner when we are there with friends. You truly must make reservations if you plan to eat at any sit-down restaurant. Otherwise you will eat counter-service for every meal which gets old quick. You can make dining reservations online.

4. I agree with an earlier comment to take a break at lunch & go back to the resort for pool time and rest time.

5. Bring your own stroller(s). The stroller rental prices are ridiculous.

6. Get a fast pass for the ride you can't live without as soon as you enter the park.

That's all I can think of for now. I might think of some more ideas later....feel free to e-mail me anytime. :)

Carrie said...

Fast passes have a time on them, but they're really good from the start time through to the end of the day.

For DisneyLand, i got the Unofficial Guide and it was AMAZING. Recommend SO highly. there is one for Disney World as well.

To save money, we took snacks with us as well as water and pop. Also, I shopped ahead of time at the dollar store and got a bunch of Disney stuff, and the kids got to open a small Disney gift every night. The only money we spent in the park was on hats.

Lyn Mack said...

This is a perfectly timed post! I have posted the last couple weeks that we will be taking a trip to Disney this fall too. I am going to enjoy reading all of the comments you get on here. We could use all the tips we can get!

Crystal said...

I worked at Magic Kingdom for a while, and then was a concierge at one of the Disney Resorts for several years, so you can imagine the things I've seen! ;)

One thing I'd suggest is to pay attention to what the kids actually want to do, not just what you "think" they should want to do. It's sad to see a little kid totally into looking at something simple (like flowers or a fountain) and hear parents say "I didnt spend all this money to come here so you can sit around and do that!"

It's also amazing how many parents you see with small kids at the parks at like 10pm that don't seem to understand why their kid is throwing a tantrum.

Hit the parks first thing in the morning when they open, play for a few hours, and then when the hotter part of the day hits, head back to the hotel for a few hours for a nap. You'll feel so much better when you go back later, and you'll be more refreshed for all the cool nighttime stuff!

Crystal said...

Just noticed the comment about the baby care centers above, which reminded me- all 4 parks also have really nice first aid stations! If someone in your group gets an icky blister or a headache, stop in for free band-aids and asprin.

Melissa said...

We have gone the past two years-this last January the boys were 5, e, and 4 months. I wore the baby in the moby wrap and my husband wore a backpack diaper bag. We did Seaworld, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. I could have done without Magic Kingdom-it was by far the most crowded. The other two were great.

We stay in a suite hotel and avoid restaurants both to save money and frustration. I made breakfast at the hotel and we drove to the parks to arrive right when they opened. I pack a cooler and leave it in the van and we go out to the van for lunch. That way we get to all sit-put on a little video for the kids to relax and save money. I cook dinner at the hotel too.

Let me know if you need any specifics of where we stayed, etc. we had a great time!!

Francie said...

We just took our kids ages 15 months and 4 yrs for the first time last week to Magic Kingdom. We had a lot of fun and I was surprised that actually most of the rides you can take a baby on with you so you don't have to wait for your partner to go and then swap who is watching the kids and wait through line again. Fast passes were really just take your ticket to a machine in front of the ride and swipe your park entrance tickets and it prints out a time when you show up and you get in a really short line to be able to ride. My husband and I switched out who was watching the kids and used fast passes to do Space Mountain and both of us got through within about 35 minutes that way. We always try to go to the busiest rides first because the lines are always shortest first thing when the park opens. With young kids, we get there when the park opens and stay 'til the kids are worn out, LOL. We actually made it all the way through the fire works with our kids this time.

Christina said...

We are in Florida and my absolute favorite time to go is in December! We try to plan a 4-7 days atleast every other year.

They are changing the way the Fast Passes work and getting stricter about only allowing you in during the times on your pass (so I've heard). Even not using fast passes, we've only ever had a long wait for the Toy Story rides (more so HS than MK) and we've always been able to ride everything we wanted to atleast once during our trips. Just research what parks you are going to (best days to hit those parks) and then the rides you want to hit (if you make rope drop, try to hit the must haves first).

My kids (8, 7 and 2 - we have a newborn now but she's obviously never been lol) have loved Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot - the older two didn't care for Animal Kingdom so we skipped it the last time.

There is so much to do outside of the parks. We love the Boardwalk at night. We can spend an entire day at Downtown Disney.

With little ones I would definitely try to break up the days with hanging out at the hotel and taking naps when needed. Six days is not too long, it will fly by. If you are going to have a car, there is a lot more to see and do in Orlando too, if you need a break for Disney for a day.

We always bring snacks and water bottles to the park.

Anonymous said...

Go with the mentality that you have never been and you'll figure it out as you go. You WON'T see everything in a one week trip (I doubt you'd see everything in a 20 day trip). If you try you'll be miserable - there is just too much to do.

Let the kids pick what they want - if you're at a Disney Hotel there is a channel that will review all the parks and highlight rides, shows, etc. Have it on in the room and let the kids tell you what they'd like to do.

If possible be early birds - if a park opens at 8 be at the bus stop by 7 - get there early, get bag checked and beat those just rolling out of bed. Plan to take afternoons off - go back to the hotel, rest, swim, etc. and then decide if you want to go back to a park in the evening or do Downtown Disney, Boardwalk, etc.

In my opinion pins are just money thrown away and time suckers - observe before you jump in.

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

If you're going in September, you may not have to worry to much about fast passes. The crowds will be way down since kids are back in school.

Snacks and drinks with you are a must and will save you money big time!

tms295psu said...

Way too much info to share in just one post!!!

First, visit these websites:;;;
They have tons of info, menu prices, discount/coupon codes. Make/save an itinerary on they will randomly offer pins/discounts especially for you.

Stay on disney property (highly recommend if you can get a decent airfare into Orlando International) Disney offers free transportation (and magically claims your luggage and delivers it to your roon) from MCO to the resort. No rental car expense... or dealing with kids and luggage.

Get a Target Credit card... buy Disney gift cards w/ the credit card @ target... and save 5%. There are tricks to how many GC you can purchase at one time. Visit the sites above for the details. Then use the gift cards to pay off your trip (including hotel, meal plan, park tickets, souveniors, etc) you save 5% on your entire trip!!! Just for planning/buying the GC ahead of time.

Ohhh I could go on and on... We actually leave for Disney in 2 weeks!!!!

tms295psu said...

Also, if you don't own a double stroller... Rent a baby jogger city mini from an offsite company that will deliver and pick up @ your resort. orlando Stroller Rentals, Kingdom Stroller are 2 popular companies. Definately more stroller for your $$$ compared to the plastic tubs on wheels Disney rents in the park, plus you get to use them outside of the parks!

Nellie said...

Hi! I am going to disney in 2 months, I've been many many times with my husband this time will be with two small kids. Dining plan is so worth it, less hassle(and $!) make sure you do your reservations online too. I will take some of these tips myself! Happy to have found your blog, now following!

Anonymous said...

I didn't read everyone's comments so this may have been mentioned, but the Southern California CityPASS would be worth looking into. Kathy

Anonymous said...

Oops! I meant to leave the link for the Southern California CityPASS:

Happy Brat said...

It is funny to read this as I am going back to Disney in 2 days with a 2 year old and 6 year old. I always stay at The Swan/Dolphin which is the cheapest of the Disney resorts and still gives you the character breakfasts and extra Magic Hours. I live in Florida and drive , so I just park there and we use the boat system back and forth. This is ideal !!!It takes you from hotel to park entrance with kids in their strollers in a few minute ride. When we need a break for naps, we just hop the 2 min ferry ride back to the room. This is only for Epcot and Hollywood studios. Disneyworld has to be trammed to,unless you can pay to stay at the $500 a night places with monorail access (not me).

Shaky Mommy said...

We have been to Disney World several times. Our most recent trip was with our 8 year old, 7 year old, 6 year old and 5 month old. Go to They have "touring" plans that help you navigate each park in an efficient manner and they will educate you about FAstpasses. The plans are set up to minimize your time in line and they really work. Their plans can be designed for young children so that you skip attractions they aren't old enough for and focus on the ones that will mean a lot to them. Get to the parks early, before opening, to be one of the first ones in. Then take mid-day naps/breaks. This sounds counterproductive, but it's one of the best things we do each time we're there. It refreshes everyone and since there are so many great parades and fireworks at night (and it's cooler in the early mornings and at night) it really makes a lot of sense and is totally worth it. Make sure you have a good double stroller. EVen your oldest child will want to ride sometimes, probably, so I would suggest bringing a carrier like an Ergo for the baby. This will also be helpful when in line since you often have to leave your stroller outside an attraction and then walk a decent distance to the actual rides. We used our stroller as a packhorse holding the diaper bag, as well as ponchos, water bottles, and snacks last time. I mostly carried the baby in the Ergo because it allowed him to sleep and nurse easily and we didn't have to disturb him getting on and off each ride. I wouldn't worry about trading pins. With your kids ages, I think the effect may be lost on them. My kids did, however, enjoy the Disney autograph books and getting Mickey and Minnie to sign them.

online kindergarten said...

Great article.

Tammy said...

We have been to WDW 10 times since my oldest was 2 in 1998. I have four kids now (15, 14, 10, 8) and were most recently there in March 2011 and are going back again in August for yet another trip with kids. We have taken each one as an infant (youngest was 3 months.) It is the easiest place to take your babies! I have a Word document that I can send you with all kinds of trips and strategies based on our trips with kids as well as research from books and tips from my brother-in-law who was a college intern at WDW. Email me and I can send it to you.

1. Stay on property!
2. Magical Express - great! Don't bother with a car.
3. Bring your own collapsible stroller. Not too big because you need to be able to break it down and get it on the bus with you.
4. DEFINITELY go back to your hotel in the afternoon to take naps and re-charge for evening.
5. We do the dining plan because part of the entertainment are dinners. They have lots to keep the kids entertained. (I have a list of recommended restaurants in my Word doc.)
6. Six days is not long enough actually for your first trip but is fine. Forget Sea World - you will have enough to do at Disney.
7. Baby Swap - you can stand in line with one child while your husband takes the older child on a ride. When he gets back, you can go on the ride. No need to wait in line twice, just tell the ride attendant that you need a baby swap.
8. The extra hours that you can get in as a Disney Hotel guest sound great but those parks are often the most crowded. We always to to the park that had the late hours the next morning. So many people stayed late the night before, it tends to not be crowded the next morning.

Too many tips to put on this comment so please email me if you want the strategies of which rides to go on first, etc.

Anonymous said...

If you can get to Disney before your one child turns 3, you won't have to pay for her park admission. You start paying for kids at 3 years old.

Wise Owl Designs said...

We are heading their in December with 4 kids. I have a ton of information for you but a lot to list.

Feel free to email me wiseowldesignsinc at gmail dot com


A. Smith said...

I've never been there but planning a trip really sounds like something not to take lightly. I think I'm going to start a folder on my desktop with tips and activities so when we do finally go I'll have something already started.

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Design by CGM