Well, this is my last official Disney post! Here are some things I thought I'd share for any of you planning a trip to the magical place!
· I looked at a lot of guide books, and my favorite was Walt Disney World With Kids 2009 by Kim Wright Wiley. It doesn’t have the most information, but it has the most important information for people going to Disney with kids. It’s really easy to read and laid out well.
· Have a quiet week before you go…we planned way too much the week before we left, and I think we started our vacation “tired.”
· We weren’t able to do the Dining Plan because we were with a group, but if you can do it I think it’s worth it!
· Unfortunately, most of the character meals are buffets. If you’re not on the Dining Plan, try to limit the buffets to the ones w/ your favorite characters—it’s $100 for two adults and two kids. We loved Chef Mickey’s, but we ended up cancelling most of the other ones. I’d recommend picking the one with your favorite characters.
· We got to the parks early each day and then came back for ALL of us to take naps in the afternoon.
· Our boys loved the pool at the hotel so much that we tried to work in time for that most days after our nap—even if it was just 30/45 minutes.
· We spent one entire day at the pool and were SO glad we had planned that—it satisfied the boys’ pool longings and gave us a day to relax (since the parks are not relaxing ). We did it our last day, but I think it would be great to do it in the middle of the week too.
· If you can possibly take two days for the Magic Kingdom I think that’s the way to go! We did Fantasyland, Toontown, and Tomorrowland the first day and Frontierland and Adventureland the second day. Also, if you are able to go two days I would spread them out and go to either Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios in between.
· I checked our local Disney store from time to time before we went and bought some things on sale to bring with us. I just packed them in my suitcase, and every now and then I’d pull something out to surprise them. I think this really helped curb their desire to stop for those expensive souvenirs at the parks. They actually didn’t even ask for much, so I brought a lot of the stuff back with me and returned it when we got home.
· Make reservations for T-Rex and Rainforest Café before you go—when we went to T-Rex for dinner the wait was very long, but with our reservation we sat down right away.
· Dollar Tree ponchos came in handy and were much cheaper than the ones at Disney.
· We let the boys wear swim trunks to the parks because they are cool and they dry fast after wet rides.
· At Animal Kingdom, I’d recommend skipping the animal exhibits if your family goes to a zoo at home. We wish we had spent more time at the rides and shows. We ate lunch at Pizzafari—it was very reasonable (a fairly small pizza and Caesar salad for around $7).
· Obviously the summer months are not the ideal time to go, but with St. Farm that was our only option. Although I know the other months would definitely be cooler and less crowded, it really was doable. I think you just have to be a little more strategic about getting to the parks early and getting fastpasses, and if you’re prepared it’s not THAT bad. Disney has done a good job of making the lines for most attractions in shade or air conditioning, so we never felt like we were just out in the blazing sun for a long time. As far as the crowds, we never had to wait longer than 20 minutes for a ride, BUT there were mobs of people walking around the parks and sometimes the Disney transportation (buses, boats, monorail) were totally packed!
My last tip is to ask everyone you know that's been to Disney for tips! I did that and loved hearing many different opinions. When I first started planning our trip I was very overwhelmed, but talking to many people and doing research was actually fun! Thanks for humoring me with all my Disney fun!!! Now, to catch up on the rest of the summer...