And if you have any tips for taking munchkins to a theme park, or any other vacation destination, I'd love to hear them in the comments section!
Tips for a Fun, Safe, and Well-Planned Trip to Disney World ::
- Saving Money for the Trip ~ Let's face it, taking your family to Walt Disney World is not cheap. Even if you take measures to be thrifty, it's still a costly adventure. I wanted to be able to splurge a bit, as our trip was only going to be 3 days and 2 nights. I wanted to be able to eat dinner out and stay in a nice resort on the WDW property, and be able to spend a few bucks in the gift store. But nothing is cheap in Disney World....so we had some saving to do! I wanted the kids to be a part of the saving. I wanted them to understand that it was an expensive vacation, and that it would take alot of saving for us to be able to go. So we had a big coin jar in the living room to save change for years, and we saved money from every yard sale we had until we had enough money saved to pay for the trip. I think this was a very important lesson for them, and made them feel good to help save for the trip.
- Planning your Trip ~ I highly suggest using the services of Magic For Less. Carla Gessel-Streeter did an amazing job planning our trip for us! carla(at)themagicforless(dot)com She saved my sanity and saved us money too! She also wrote a great series about planning a Disney Vacation on Family Friendly Cincinnati. I simply told her what we were looking for in our vacation and she helped guide me in my decisions and then booked the whole thing for me. And then she kept a look out for deals for us even after we had already booked!
- Disney Gift Cards ~ If anyone asks what to get your kids for their birthdays or Christmas before your trip suggest Disney gift cards! My kids loved getting them, and then I was able to tell them that they had X amount of dollars each to spend - when their gift cards were gone they were gone and I wouldn't buy them anything else.This saved us many tears when dealing with the 15 million gift shops at Disney World.
- Purchase postcard stamps & print address labels to take with you. Sending postcards would be a great educational but fun thing for the kids to do while traveling!
- Purchase a Vacation Countdown App. We used this one, and I loved it...but there is another app that is specifically for counting down to a Disney Vacation.
For the Long Ride ::
- Read this post about Taking Kids on a Long Car Ride - I have all kinds of tips & ideas!
- Pack snacks and water bottles
- If your children have devices such as the iPod touch be sure to have a charger near them (we have outlets in the back of the van).
- Drive safely and SLOWLY! Holy Moly, we saw a LOT of law enforcement out with radar guns in Tennessee and Georgia during our drive!
- My Disney Experience App ~ If you are going to WDW I strongly suggest you get this app! It really made our trip so much easier! It lists everything you need to know...using your location the app will tell you what rides are nearby, what their wait time is and FastPass info! You can find out where all the characters are, where to eat, and much, much more. I really cannot say enough good things about this app...it was AWESOME! We would have been lost without it.
- Matching Shirts - When I'm out and about with all four kids I like to have them in the same colored shirt. I have a set of bright yellow shirts, tie dyed shirts, orange shirts and bright green shirts. And for this trip my Mother in Law made adorable Red Mickey & Minnie Mouse shirts for the kids...love them! I like them all in the same bright color so they are easy to keep track of. (See picture below)
- Phone Numbers ~ My kids don't all know our cell numbers by heart, so we wrote my cell phone number on their backs and told them it was there just in case we were separated. Which luckily, we never were. On that same note, we gave the kids a very serious talking to before going to the parks, and told them that there would be serious consequences if anyone wandered off. We talked about the crowds, and the importance of staying close to mom and dad.
- Naptime ~ Take a break mid-day and go back to the hotel for some downtime. Even if you don't actually nap, a rest is good for everyone!
- WATER WATER WATER. Drink it.
- Rent a stroller ~ Even if your child is a bit older, they might get tired of walking! And you can stash your stuff in it! Even Ella, who will be 10 this summer took a few turns in the stroller. WDW requires so much walking, that they all get tired eventually!
- Want to eat healthy in Disney World? Tammy from over at Skinny Mom's Kitchen wrote a great post about healthy eating at WDW!
- Cast Members ~ Have a question? Ask one of the Disney employees - they all seem to know EVERYTHING! I found out everything from asking random cast members...hey, where is the best place to watch fireworks? Can you tell me the quickest way back to the main gate while avoiding the crowds on Main Street? What's the best restaurant in this park?
- Sunscreen ~ Even on an overcast day you can get a sunburn. Sunglasses/hats for the munchkins are also a good idea. It was only April and it was HOT while we were there.
- Pack a Backpack ~ We brought water bottles for everyone, and snacks like granola bars and pretzels. This saved us so much money.
- Jedi Training ~ Do you have a Star Wars obsessed child? If so, you do not want to miss Jedi Training at Hollywood Studios! The trick is...you have to get there FIRST THING in the morning to sign up and reserve your spot! We got there when the park opened, went straight to the sign up location and after waiting in line for a while, we got a time slot of 4:20, all the earlier times were taken. The shows run every 20 minutes all day long, and they take a group of children onto a stage, give them a brief light saber training and then bring out Darth Vader to battle with the kids. Each child gets to battle Darth one on one. My boys LOVED it! And the show was comical, not at all scary. I'm so glad we got them into this, I think it's something they will remember forever.
So there are my tips for a "Magical" vacation in Walt Disney World. What tips do you have to share? I'd love to hear them!