You know those old Super Bowl commercials where the reporter asks the football player “So you’ve just won the Super Bowl, what are you going to do next?” and the football player yells,“We’re going to Disney World!”? That’s basically what happened to me. My husband randomly calls me in the middle of the day, which he never does, and starts the conversation with niceties like, “how is your day going?” and “are the girls behaving today?” Of course, I was immediately suspicious. After he assured me he was neither fired nor dying, he excitedly told me, “we’re going to Disney World!” And then he dropped the bomb on me that we were going in two weeks!
I had two weeks to book, plan, and learn all I could about Disney. All I knew is that people blog, pin, google, and even read actual Disney vacation books, months and years in advance in order to plan the perfect Disney vacation. I only had two weeks. The planner inside me definitely got a high off the challenge and I dove right in, eating, drinking, and sleeping Disney.
Now, I know there are a ton of Disney blogs out there, but since I went to Disney World with a two and three-year-old and lived to tell about it, I’m going to do just that. Here are ten takeaways from our Disney World Vacation with two toddlers.
Full disclosure: This is not a blog with tips on how to save money at Disney. Because we didn’t. Disney charged us for the magical oxygen we breathed and it wasn’t cheap.
- Stay at a Disney Resort: This seems like a no-brainer, but there are completely different levels to staying on property. From Value Resorts to the Deluxe Hotels, there are so many price points and options to choose from. All of the resorts have transportation to the parks either by bus, boat or monorail. Since we have two toddlers, we knew we wanted to stay at one of the three resorts that had monorail transportation so we could easily get back to our hotel for naps or the inevitable meltdown. We chose the Contemporary Resort because it is walking distance to the Magic Kingdom. You can’t beat being able to walk to Cinderella’s Castle!
- My Disney Experience App: Download this app to your phone once you get your trip booked. From the app, you will be able to see your itinerary, make reservations, get Fast Passes, see your Photo Pass pictures, and so much more. We used this app throughout our entire trip and I can’t say enough good things about it!
- Vacation Nanny: We didn’t technically take a vacation nanny with us, but we did bring my mom which was even better. It was so nice to have an extra set of hands to help keep track of my overly excited girls. Another perk was Disney date night. My mom gave me and my husband a night to ourselves to go back to the park and have a nice dinner. I’m basically never going on vacation without her again.
- Pro Dining Plan: There are full on internet wars over the pros and cons of the Disney Dining Plan. Some people have very strong opinions on whether it is worth the money or not, with very good reason. It’s not cheap. Our family personally loved the Disney Dining Plan. It made the vacation feel “all inclusive.” I didn’t bat an eye when the girls wanted a $6 ice cream or cringe when I saw the prices on the menu before telling my husband to order water. Snacks, meals, and drinks were already paid for. I felt like Oprah, “you get a lobster, and you get a steak, and you get an ice cream.”
- Make reservations BEFORE the park opens: If you make breakfast reservations for a time before the park opens, they let you in the park early! There will be a cast member standing at the gate with an iPad to make sure your name is on the list. It was like getting into a really cool night club. You know, because we are cool moms.
- Bubbles: Every tip I read said to bring your own bubbles in the park so you weren’t tempted to purchase the Disney bubble wands. Disney bubbles are like crack. They are everywhere, flying around with all of their come hither magic. And they are ridiculously expensive. So of course, we brought our own Dollar Store bubbles, because blogs told me to. And you know what? We still bought $36 worth of Disney bubble wands. (See, I told you I wasn’t giving you money saving tips.) I did find an amazing use for these Dollar Store bubbles that I didn’t read mentioned anywhere else. We used them to REFILL the Disney bubbles wands! The bubbles that came with the wand lasted about a day, so Dollar Store bubbles for the win to keep our bubble crack going all week.
- Memory Maker Photo Pass: Worth every penny. For $149 a Disney Photographer will take your entire family’s picture (so mom gets in the shot too) all around the park and even add special touches like characters to the picture. Then with just a scan of your magic band, the picture is uploaded to your Disney Experience App almost immediately. You get unlimited downloads of your Disney Photo Pass pictures for 30 days after your trip. We got 254 pictures from this experience and I didn’t have to take out my phone for a single one of them.
- Plan a break day in the MIDDLE of your vacation: Everyone said to plan a day away from the parks to enjoy your resort. So I did just that…on day four. That turned out to be a big mistake. After three fully packed days, my toddlers were done. We ended up leaving a park almost immediately after we got there because they just couldn’t handle it. Our break day ended up being switched around and we were all happier for it. Go slow. Rest. And listen to your kids when they tell you they need a break.
- Animal Kingdom is basically an expensive zoo: Maybe we were too exhausted or having a heat stroke, but we hated Animal Kingdom. It was basically a zoo and my girls were less than impressed. It might be geared toward older kids who like watching bird shows, but it just wasn’t for us and I can’t really see spending money to go back. Like ever.
- It’s not all magical: See number nine. We fully prepared ourselves for toddler meltdowns. I mean we took a two and three-year-old to the most over-stimulated place on earth. You have to go into the trip knowing that not every single experience will be sprinkled with Disney magic. And that’s OK! You know why? Because there are tons of other kids whining and crying and having tantrums in the middle of the hotel lobby too. So just walk away and join the other parents at the bar. Now that is magical.
I have to say we definitely drank the magical Disney cool-aid and are already planning our next trip.
Have you survived Disney? What was your experience like?