We recently had the holiday of a lifetime at Walt Disney World in Florida. Before I visited I did quite a bit of research to ensure that our four year old son and six year old daughter experienced the best two weeks of their life. And I can hand on heart say that they did. So I have narrowed down the best tips that I have found worked with younger children who may be overwhelmed with jet lag and heat.
Before You Go!
When you arrive at Disney World you little ones will be drawn to the sheer amount of merchandise on offer. It's everywhere! So it may be a good idea to pop to Primark or Matalan and invest in some cheap, light Disney t'shirts. I also took along some treats from The Disney Store as a surprise. As well as packing their favourite Disney character outfits which will be much more expensive in the park.
If In Doubt. YouTube It!
I watched LOADS of YouTubers who visit Disney World regularly. They give you insights from everything like the best places to eat to where to take the best instagram shots! My favourites are The Tim Tracker, Oh Yeah TV and Krispy Smore. For family videos take a peak at my Disney World playlist here. It is also a wonderful place to check out rides to make sure your kids won't be scared.
Buggies Are Essential
Despite our son being long out of a buggy we did take a cheap one along with us. And it was worth every penny. Even though he gave up naps over a year ago, the heat and the vast amount of walking means that a buggy is a lifesaver. You are allowed to take your own food and drink into the parks so you can fill up the bottom with all the snacks you require. You can hire buggies in the park. But it may be cheaper to buy a cheap one from Aldi and leave it there.
So What's A Magic Band?
If you are staying in a resort and go online to My Disney Experience a few months before your holiday you can customise your magic band rather than getting the standard grey one. The band is invaluable. It gets you into the parks, is your hotel room key if you are staying on site and works like a credit card whilst you are there. You can pay the balance off regularly at the front desk of your hotel or at the end of the holiday. Don't worry if one of your party loses one. They will replace it with no fuss. It also? Holds your fast passes.
Fantastic Fast Passes
Fast passes are vital for a smooth day at Disney World. You are entitled to three a day, and once those have gone you can get another one. I booked a lot of our rides before we went (you can do this 60 days before) to ensure that we I had the major rides and meet and greets covered. With the My Disney Experience App downloaded on your phone you can change them whenever you want, which we did quite regularly thanks to the wifi available on site.
Best Time To Go
As we were staying at The Animation Studios resort we used the Extra Magic Hours available which meant we could get into the park at 7am some days. This sounds an insane time to go but at that time rides have no queues and characters such as the Princesses are available to meet instantly. We found it was best to stay in the parks between 7/8am-1pm. The afternoons just seemed too busy and hot. So we spent these around the pool before hitting the parks again around 5pm.
See A Show!
If you would like to stay in the parks a bit longer during the day then perhaps book an afternoon show so you know there will be a portion in an air conditioned room. We loved Finding Nemo at Animal Kingdom as well as The Lion King. These can also be booked on Fast Pass so you can ensure that you are able to get in early and grab a great view.
Character Meet And Greets
For me this is the most magical thing you can do at Disney World. Watching your children meet their favourite characters is just wonderful. These can be booked in with Fast Passes but we found early in the morning you could meet any Princess your heart desired, which may have had an hour long queue in the afternoon. Check the schedule leaflet for the places they will be each day and you should be able to find them easily. The My Disney Experience App also tells you the wait times. So if you have a few minutes spare? Pop and see Olaf or hang out with Mulan. Hollywood Studios is fantastic for Star Wars fans as well as Jake, if Anna and Elsa aren't your thing.
There are lots of Disney Character meals on offer. We opted for one in Norway in Epcot which was the lower end of the price range but still wonderful. With plenty of Princesses on offer, they come and chat whilst you eat. It made my Dad cry, it made me cry. It was beautiful. Meals can be booked with the My Disney Experience 180 days before you go. And do it as they book out fast. If you are in the Quick Service Dining Plan you can book in a breakfast/lunch to Be Our Guest which is lovely.
As part of our package we also got the Memory Maker photo pass. This means at every character meet and greet, as well as around the park you have your photograph taken. They tap your magic band and the photo is uploaded to the My Disney Experience App which you can then download to your phone. It really is amazing, especially for those who aren't great at taking photos. You can be promise you will walk away with 100's of memories.
I will be doing a few more posts about Disney World so please let me know in the comments what you would like to know. There will be one coming specifically on character meet and greets and well as how to make the most of your quick service dining plan. For more Disney World fun take a peak at our adventures below!