Last week my family and I went on vacation to Disney World in Florida, this is our second time going with the kids and I have to say with them being older it was easier. I do have a few tips for the moms out there planning their Disney vacations:
1. Plan ahead. The sooner you book Disney the sooner you can make reservations at your favorite restaurants including eating with the characters. Unfortunately when it comes to FastPasses you only are allowed to book them 60 days in advance so set your alarm for the day they become available to make sure you get on all the rides you really want to get on. As for hotels they all seem pretty great but there are advantages and disadvantages to all. We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge which was a beautiful hotel, we saw animals from our balcony and the restaurant Boma was delicious but the only downside was the 15-20 minute bus ride to Magic Kingdom area, it is the farthest of the hotels from that area which is where you are most of the time unless you are just going for Animal Kingdom, that's right next door. My husband and I decided next time we go we want to stay at a monorail hotel which are pricier but so much more convenient. Yes of course we are planing years in advance it's Disney!
2. A few weeks before your trip buy some souvenirs for the family and pack them away so no one sees them. Once your on your trip while everyone is sleeping setup the souvenirs and write a note saying Mickey stopped by and brought you some gifts, this will save you money and time going into stores looking for stuff. Also pick up useful items like water bottles, mini fans, t-shirts, etc. This is all stuff you can use on your trip and don't have to buy while at the parks. Kohl's sells a lot of Disney branded tees for kids and adults. Also the Disney store does have pretty good sales to look out for.
3. If possible bring bottled water, snacks, muffins, etc. with you (don't forget you can ups to your hotel). It's hot in Florida, we went in August it was crazy hot, so water is a MUST and why pay $3 a bottle when you can pay $1.50 at home. The more you buy at home the more you save on vacation!
4. FastPasses can be a little tricky so planning ahead is necessary. First download the Disney World app and link your reservation. This app will allow you to book restaurants, book FastPasses, view maps of the parks, pick out your bracelets and more. Once your allowed to FastPass make sure you know in advance which parks you are going to go to each day because you are only allowed 3 FastPasses a day per park, once they are used in a park you can't fastpass other parks but when all 3 are used you can look for available FastPasses in the park your in. My kids are 5 and 7 so Buzz Lightyear, Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan were my choices at Magic Kingdom. Toy Story is a must at Hollywood Studios if you don't want to wait over an hour. If you have girls then Frozen at Epcot is a fastpass must, other Epcot rides like Nemo and Fidget move pretty quick. As for Animal Kingdom the new Pandora world is beautiful and a fastpass is a must. Also don't miss out on the safari we saw so many animals! If your kids are older or you love roller coasters then focus fastpassing on those rides, like splash mountain, tower of terror, etc.
5. What to pack? Always check the weather because Florida is typically hot but nights can be cool and during hurricane season there are always chances of afternoon showers. I made sure we had rain coats on us all the time since besides being super hot August has chances of thunderstorms everyday. I also had a backpack which made everything pretty easy when going to the parks. My one backpack held water bottles, raincoats/ponchos, snacks and my wallet and there is always space on every ride to put your bag down by your feet. Also one backpack was perfect size for the four of us. The bracelet Disney gives you (which you can personalize before the trip) not only has your room key on it but also your fastpass entry, credit card and entry into the parks so even having a wallet may not be necessary. The pools at the hotels are great and open late so we would jump in after a long day at the park so definitely pack that bikini!
6. HAVE FUN! Enjoy every moment even if you are waiting in line. It is the happiest place on Earth and it's so much fun!! Seeing your kids reactions is truely priceless!
After three PACKED days in Disney my husband and I decided when planning our vacation to head down south and stay in Venice, FL as a vacation from the vacation. It was about a 2 hour ride and the Gulf of Mexico is beautiful. Disney is nonstop so those three extra days gave us time to relax by the pool and enjoy each other before heading home. If you are looking for a great spot on the Gulf, Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota is one of the top beaches in the USA but Florida has so many great spots on the east and west coast if your looking for some downtime after the craziness!