Next month 100+ social media mavens and their families will be converging at Walt Disney World for the first Disney’s Social Media Moms Celebration. With just four weeks to go, the excitement is starting to mount…and the nerves are beginning to fray. For many attendees, this means their first trip to the World with their children – in some cases their first trip ever – and now that the excitement of registering for the event has passed, the realization of what is to come has begun to sink in. It’s time for a crash course in Disney.
- Know a ride’s typical wait time: Some rides simply load faster depending on the type of ride (stop and start or continuous load), popularity, and even location in the park. If you’ve chosen rides that all have long wait times, chances are you will not cover much ground. I always say two “It’s a Small World’s” in the hand is better than one “Peter Pan’s Flight” in the bush. The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World has the most useful information about ride wait times.
- Travel from park to park takes time: While I always utilize park hopper tickets to move my family from one park to another in the same day, it comes at a cost, and that cost is time. There is no fast transportation from one park to another…anywhere. Period. If you’d like to see the animals bright and early at Animal Kingdom and view the Spectro Magic Parade at the Magic Kingdom later that evening, be sure to account for your travel time when planning to arrive to see the parade.
- Travel within the park takes time: In my opinion, the easiest park in terms of transportation within the park is the Magic Kingdom. The layout somehow remained ingrained in my brain from my childhood, and we are able to cover ground while there with the kids in a fairly effortless and efficient way, dodging up and down less crowded walkways and taking advantage of loops. However, the other parks were not so kindly designed. Instead, the designs prevent crowding by spreading folks out everywhere…and I mean everywhere. I believe I’d pay just about anything to be able to teleport from The Land at EPCOT to the back of the World Showcase loop. Disney, if you’re listening, can we get to work on that?
5. Be prepared to spend money, but know that there are ways to save Two things that I never pay for at Disney: breakfast and “cheap” souvenirs. No, my children are not deprived, but I’m sure that some folks have heard me say politely to my children, “This trip is your souvenir.” That said, I’m not one for spending money on things that light up for an hour or two…so I bring my own. Try to anticipate these expensive little desires and then run to a craft store for a giant box of light up bracelets that are $1 for fifty. You’ll feel great handing them out on the dark buses on the way back to the hotel at night. Likewise, if Cheerios and milk fits the bill at home, why would that not be the perfect foundation for a day of walking in the parks? If you’re staying at a hotel with a fridge, you’re already set. Upon arrival simply visit the general store conveniently located inside your resort and buy a half gallon of milk. Pack a box of cereal and some paper bowls, plastic spoons, and napkins, and you’ve got breakfast taken care of before you head into the parks. We also pack snacks – bananas, pretzels, those little boxes of raisins – and refill sports bottles from the large water bottles we purchase at the hotel. If you have a large family, a lengthy visit, or are going with a group, consider having groceries delivered from Garden Grocer and you’ll even be able to take in PBJ for lunch!
6. Pack for strange weather The most predictable thing about a Walt Disney World vacation is the un-predictability of the weather. The two weeks leading up to our May vacation were the rainiest in Florida history…but our trip was four of the bluest-skyed, breeziest, most beautiful days I’ve ever seen. Just this week it snowed in Orlando without the help of Disney magic. If you’re planning a trip from July through September, be prepared for heat and humidity like you’ve never felt, and grab some bug spray wipes. If you’re travelling during the winter months, don’t assume that sunny Florida will deliver. Pack thin knit gloves and a cute scarf, especially if you’re planning on entering the parks after sundown.
7. Last minute dining reservations are a thing of the past During our last trip we were unable to make any dining reservations while we were at Walt Disney World. Many of the restaurants now allow online booking, and guests book multiple reservations for every meal in order to have options. Unfortunately, that leaves no reservations for the rest of us, despite open tables. Your best bet is to try to get a walk-in seating. The best meal of our last trip was enjoyed because we took advantage of the no-shows. Also, don’t discount the quality of the counter-service meals available to everyone without reservation. To see menus and prices for all restaurants – both full service and counter-service – visit All Ears.
8. Relax Chances are that if you miss a must-see or you can’t book the meal you wanted, the kids won’t even know. Yes, this is incredibly frustrating. I’m the queen of being bothered by a glitch in my intensely scheduled day, but be sure to take time to relax and experience the magic. Some of my favorite memories from past vacations resulted from events we happened upon while walking from one must-see to another. Don’t forget to enjoy your vacation. 🙂
Do you have more questions? Ask them in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer!