I know it’s been like 6 months from my last blog update and I never really finished my last blog because it was part one and part two never appeared.
BUT when it comes to Disney..I’ll find the time!
I’m just gonna hit the highlights of our trip, the meh aspects of our trip, what surprised me, what I’d do differently, what I suggest you pack, and tips I’d tell other people about bringing a toddler to Disney.
So first the facts of the trip:
It was a FAMILY affair. My parents, Dustin’s parents, and Dustin, Lucy, and I all shared this vacation together.
Dustin, Lucy, and I drove down 12/1/2016 from our house to Lake Buena Vista and stayed at the Springhill Suites.
12/2/2016 we checked into ALL STAR MOVIES RESORT and visited Disney Springs.
12/3/2016 MAGIC KINGDOM DAY
12/4/2016 Pool Day + Chef Mickey’s
12/5/2016 Disney’s Animal Kingdom
12/6/2016 drive home…
Seeing Lucy just in LOVE with the characters. It didn’t matter if she knew them or not, she LOVED THEM. It made the entire trip for me. She gave them the biggest hugs, kisses, high fives, etc. She was just the sweetest thing and in those sweet amazing moments the whole trip was worth every penny.
Lucy loved the petting zoo at Animal Kingdom. She just loves animals.
She enjoyed the rides at Magic Kingdom. No real “ohh and ahhs” over them, but she seemed to be intrigued by all of them. I’m just proud we didn’t have to stop on any rides because she was throwing a fit..she behaved on them all and that is a win in my book.
I actually really enjoyed exploring our hotel and the other Disney hotels. It was really fun to see the different themes, pools, grounds, and of course how each hotel decorated for Christmas!
Animal Kingdom day was hot and I think she was already worn out by all of our adventures and festivities the past couple of days she just wasn’t feeling it that day.
The food. Mehhh.
The new FastPass + system
What I was surprised by:
–The crowd. I know..I know..it’s Disney..there is obviously going to be crowds. When we went at the exact same time in 2012 we didn’t wait for anything. Even if we didn’t use our fast passes like we did, there was hardly a wait over 30 minutes for any ride or character meet up. When we went this year..wow..I mean sooo many people. You could barely find a ride that was under 30 minutes + all the fast passes were pretty much gone by lunch.
–How quick the buses came to the resorts and parks + how quickly they loaded. When Dustin and I stayed at Pop Century back in 2012 my only complaint from our entire trip was the Disney transportation system. It was slow. It took forever for the bus to show up at our hotel or at our pick up spot in the parks + you had to wait for all the scooter people to load WITH their massive families and by the time they all got on and settled the bus was full and you had to wait another 15-20 minutes for ANOTHER bus to come and HEAVEN FORBID more scooter people showed up then…ugh…BUT this trip the buses came to our hotel and our pick up spot so fast. We loaded quickly..I don’t know if there was less people in scooters at our resort or they didn’t allow all their family to load with them but I was pleasantly surprised by how efficient it was this year. I was super shocked as well because I had heard and read that the ALL STAR RESORTS all shared a bus. 3 hotels sharing a transportation bus..yikes..But we only shared with the hotels ONCE and it was from Animal Kingdom back to the hotel and even then, for us it was still pretty fast.
–I was surprised by the food. We raved about the quick service and the sit down restaurants back in 2012. Everything we ate was like heaven in your mouth. This trip…not so much. Mediocre at best. It’s disappointing especially when you pay $9-$13 for an entree alone at a quick service spot.
–I was honestly surprised by how well Lucy did on the trip as a whole. We certainly had moments each day (especially Animal Kingdom day), but overall she did really well. Maybe my expectations were super low, but I just think there were a lot of sweet, happy, precious moments that made it easier to let the less amazing moments go.
–The child napped in her stroller. Y’all if that isn’t the most amazing/magical thing about the trip I don’t know what is..She doesn’t nap in her stroller….ever…she barely naps for me….ever…SHE NAPPED IN HER STROLLER. SHE NAPPPPPPEEDDDDDDDDD. Surprised? No…SHOCKED?..yes..yes we were.
–I was expecting to be super anal this trip. Dustin was probably the most nervous I was going to be a little too bossy, but I surprised myself and probably everyone else with how “not so bossy” I was the entire vacation. I went with the flow more than I expected to and even let other people make decisions for the group. Yup..it’s the truth..just ask Dustin. :-]
What I’d do differently:
There isn’t really anything I would do differently to be 100% honest. I think we planned everything really well. I think we had realistic expectations of what we could accomplish and what we couldn’t accomplish. I think everything that was in our control went just fine and I can’t think of anything other than..maybe bringing shorts for Lucy and I to Animal Kingdom that I would change.
What I suggest you pack for your toddler at Disney:
- a change of clothes for almost every day. That includes socks and shoes
- Disposable bibs
- sippy cup, but we used those Horizon Organic milk boxes when we were in the parks mostly.
- hand sanitizer and face wipes if you don’t want to use baby wipes.
- diapers, wipes, diaper cream
- a diaper changing mat. They have stations in all the restrooms but a mat might help you feel like you are being a little more sanitary.
- bathing suit or two. Pools were heated and it’s still HOT in the fall and earlier winter months. Don’t forget swim diapers and sun screen!
- Your phone charger so you can take lots of pictures!
- comfort items like their favorite stuffed animal, lovey, paci, etc.
- SNACKS. Snacks are so expensive in Disney so certainly bring a lot of snacks that you can whip out of your diaper bag when you are waiting in a long line. We brought the works. Raisins, animal crackers, veggie sticks, cheerios, fruit bars..
- light jacket (especially for those who are traveling in December or in the early spring). We never needed one surprisingly but you never know if it’s going to be cold in the morning or in the evening. It doesn’t take up much room so I say pack it just in case.
- baby medicine. never hurts to make sure you have that baby Motrin on hand.
- stroller! You can rent there, but they are plastic material and don’t seem very comfortable if you want your kid to take a nap at the park.
- We forgot a clip on fan, but that would be super helpful when it got really hot.
- Some sort of diaper bag (obviously).
- pack ‘n play. I believe Disney resorts can provide you with cribs, but I knew Lucy would sleep well in her own pack ‘n play and since we were driving down and had room..it wasn’t a big deal for it to come along with us.
Personal Advise I’d give to someone who is bringing a young toddler to Disney:
- Plan. Plan. Plan
Read blogs about Disney with a toddler, ask advise from people who have been, research popular rides and their typical wait times, look up YOUTUBE videos, go ahead and think about where you want to eat for lunch and dinner, think about what you might have to do if your toddler starts throwing a fit in line, get acquainted to the map of the parks, figure out what rides you know your little one is going to really enjoy. Just read, plan, ask for help planning. It’s not going to hurt anything to do some research or…ASK ME. :] :]
2. Plan buttttt be prepared to go with the flow
Life with kids is unpredictable. I know that and I’m just (almost) 18 months in. One minute they are happy and the next a siren is going off in your ear. That’s life. You’re plan of events for the day might not happen. You might be jumping out of line to find the nearest restroom to change that explosive poopy diaper after waiting for 45 minutes..You don’t know what is going to happen when you bring a toddler along, but come up with a plan of how you want to tackle each day, but definitely leave yourself some room for an unexpected surprise or two.
3. Plan a down day.
Our trip was pretty short in comparison to our last Disney trip. We only planned for two park days, but I’m so happy we took a day in between the two to relax. If you are doing more than two parks I beg you to please schedule a hotel day or even two. There is so much going on in the parks and even if your toddler is in the stroller the majority of the time that’s still a lot of stimulation they are taking in. It’s good to recharge and have a day just to recover and give them a break from all the noise, colors, excitement, etc…AND it gives your legs a break from all that running you’ve been doing.
4. Download the My Disney Experience App!
You can view your Fast passes, add new fast passes, check out the park map, edit your reservations, check wait times, etc all on this app. Get it. It’s awesome and free.
5. Use your FastPass + wisely for Magic Kingdom
If you’re going at a busy time of year or any weekend, my bet is that you’ll probably only get to use your first three FastPass + options and maybe one or two more if you’re lucky. We only were able to snag 2 extra FastPass + times during our Magic Kingdom day and they were pretty spaced out times. We had finished our first three by 11:10 and you can sign up for ONE additional pass at a time after you use your initial three. Our next Fastpass time we were able to grab was for Pirates of the Caribbean at 1:20 and then we couldn’t get another one until 7:10 and that was for Buzz. Pretty much everything else was gone by noon or the next available Fastpass time wasn’t until 9:00PM. So research the most popular rides or the rides you really really want to do and grab those passes first! I suggest doing all three of your passes in the morning that way you can quickly get your next pass ASAP. The more thrilling rides usually are the first to go along with Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh. With a toddler, I suggest you select Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh for your first two passes and then it’s up to you on your third. We chose to do Under the Sea Journey of The Little Mermaid as our third pass option and I think it was a wise choice for our family.
6. Take it all in.
Who knows how often you’ll get a chance to take your kid(s) to Disney World. It isn’t the cheapest vacation so for most of us we probably won’t get to go every 6 months, so take in every minute you can. I read somewhere before that some of the most magical moments happen at the most unpredictable times and places at Disney World, so keep your eyes open and remember they will never experience Disney like this ever again. The next time you come they’ll be older. Whether that’s just 4 months older or 4 years older they’ll never have this exact experience ever again. That’s important to remember.
So yeah..if you are wondering if I’d do it again the answer is YES. I certainly would. However, it’s probably going to be a few more years before we make another trip down to hangout with Mickey and the gang. I’m really glad we got to take Lucy this year and I do look forward to our next trip let’s say….2019? :-]