I’m Going to Disney World!

Walt_Disney_World_Entrance

No, I didn’t just win the Super Bowl.  What do I look like . . . Joe Flacco?  I mean, yeah, maybe a little around the eyes.  But, that’s not what this is about!  Focus, people.  Back to the issue at hand . . .

This isn’t a post in the traditional sense.  What it is, is more of a cry for help.

My husband and I are planning a trip to Disney World at the end of March.  This will be our first trip as a family, the first time for our boys.  We already have the flights booked and the hotel reserved.  But other than that, we are still in the planning stage . . . including how we are going to tell the boys we are going.

I’ve been on YouTube.  I’ve seen the multitude of ways in which parents have surprised their children with news of their upcoming journey to the happiest place on earth.  In fact, just last week, a Facebook friend posted her own video of her and her husband telling her own boys they were going to Disney, that morning in fact.  That seems to be the most common trend in reveals.  The “we’re going to Disney . . . right now!” surprise.  We’re pretty sure we don’t want to wait until the day of to tell them.  We want them to have the chance to look forward to it and have some of that lovely anticipation, which I think is part of the joy of a great vacation.  But now we just have to figure out how to tell them.

Additionally, it has been many years since either the hubs or I have been to the magic kingdom.  I have a general idea of the things to do down there, but since the last time I visited, there are 2 new parks, I believe.  Quite a lot to see and do in just a short amount of time.  I’ve ordered the “planning video” from Disney, and looked online briefly for all the different activities there are to do, but to be honest, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing.

cinderella_castle_clipart_7

See, I’m a planner.  I like to know what I’m getting into.  And while I don’t need each and every moment of my vacation planned to the second, I at least like to have a general idea of what we are doing on what days, with some room for change if necessary.  My hubs is actually the opposite.  His father used to be a drill sargeant about vacations, and would yell and scream if everyone in the family wasn’t where they were supposed to be at the exact time he dictated.  My hubs’ reaction to this is to now hate all things planned and scheduled.  He is a very “go with the flow” vacationer.  I try to respect that as much as possible, but still need some kind of structure.  So it is very give and take with how we plan these things.

Being a first timer (be gentle, please), I need your help.  I know many of you have taken your kids to Disney, so I would like some real world advice.  First . . . how did you tell your kids?  Was it prior to or the morning of?  Did you give gifts, make posters, do a scavenger hunt?  Any tips or advice would be very helpful.

Next . . . what are some suggestions of things that we must see and do while we are there?  Obviously, we are going to try to hit each of the major parks, probably one on each day, unless something else is happening.  Any suggestions on must sees or things we could skip this first visit?

And finally . . . any other tips and tricks that might be useful?  Such as:  did you get the food plan?  Was that a good idea?  Did you rent strollers?  My kids are 7 and 4, but I’ve been advised that a stroller is key, even at these ages.  Did you do any of the character meals?  Which ones and was it worth it?  And . . . anything else you might be able to share to help me make this a great vacation for my kids, but also make my life a bit easier with planning and execution of this massive endeavor.  Tips people.  I needs ’em.  I wants ’em.  I gots to have ’em.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, as always.  I love all y’all.  Thanks for being my peeps!

disney

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58 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. renée a. schuls-jacobson
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 09:25:36

    How about this? I’ll be 1.5 hours away. If you get stuck, I’ll come and help you. For real, I’ll be in Florida from March 27-April 7. And we plan to do a stint at Disney!

    We took our son to Disney when we was about 7. He HATED it. So I guess I would say, go with low expectations. Someone is going to need to go to the bathroom while you are in a really long line. And someone is going to decide NOT to go on that ride that you waited in line for for forever! Plan to go to two parks. Don’t overload the kids. Try Magic Kingdom and that Animal Thing they have going on. I would say avoid Epcot because there is a lot more walking and it is geared a bit more for older kids. (Although, that is the part my son loved the most.)

    Plan to go to the parks as soon as they open in the morning, and plan to spend money on food. Plan to leave when the kids get cranky. Go back to your hotel and let them play at the pool in the afternoon. They will need the chill time.

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 12:58:12

      Holy hell, Renee! We’re gonna be in the same place at the same time? Well, this definitely calls for a bloggy meet up! Which day are you planning to be in Disney? We NEED to make this happen. Screw the kids!! (Oh wait, did I just say that? Meh). Email me with deets!!

      Reply

  2. linda
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 09:37:12

    Mail’em. FedEX or USPS or a delivery service of some sort. When I was ten (too long ago to really remember, I think it was the same year as Woodstock), my family travelled to the Grand Tetons (Wyoming?) for a conference for my dad’s company, this has a point, I promise. I remember being in a tepee with adults drinking at a bar. The owner of the company, for some unknown reason (at least to me in that moment) told me that he was sending me and my family to Disneyland, but I had to keep the secret. I think given the fact we were on vacation, and there was still so much to see, Yellowstone, The Space Needle, Old Faithful, I really just put the whole Disneyland thing to the back of my brain. Kinda forgot about the whole thing, and most of my memories of that month long road trip are very fuzzy. However, and this is the point where I hope I’m responding to your happy happy dilemma, I have a striking memory of how I found out I was really going to the Magic Kingdom. Forty five years later, and I still remember the mailman handing me a fat stuffed envelope with my name on it and opening it and there it was, a letter from Jimmy J (owner and president of the dairy company) with a plethora of “E” tickets. I have this lifetime memory of a ten year old little girl screaming with joy and happiness at getting my tickets to the Happiest Place On Earth in the MAIL!!
    p.s. E Tickets used to be for the best rides, like the Matterhorn and Pirates Of The Caribbean.

    Reply

  3. pegoleg
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 10:06:10

    I went to Disney as chaperone on high school band trips for BOTH my girls, so I ended up going like 5 times in 7 years. After 20 hours on a bus, ANYthing you do is heaven. I basically just hung out at Epcot, but little kids would probably like that one the least.

    We went in spring on those trips and sometimes it was downright cold! Make sure to bring heavy sweatshirts, especially for watching stuff at night (light parade on Main St., water/laser show at MGM not to be missed.)

    We took the girls for the family trip when they were 6-1/2 and 4 and I thought those were the PERFECT ages. They’re old enough that they’re not cranky, overstimulated toddlers, but young enough to buy into the magic.

    It was hotter than Dutch love when we were there. The best thing we did was stay “on campus” and go back to our hotel each day for lunch. My hubby and the youngest took a nap and we all had a dip in the pool before heading back out, much rested and refreshed.

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 13:01:28

      Yeah, we are definitely still in the nap stage for the youngest. I foresee trips back to the hotel in the afternoon for nap time for 4 AND mom. Thanks for your suggestions, Peg! Much appreciated.

      Reply

  4. Go Jules Go
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 10:21:40

    Sigh. I’ve never… I’ve never… been to Disney World. Or Land. Or Florida.

    Please don’t make me talk about it. The 28-year-old wounds are still fresh (yes, having my mom take my sister there and not me is one of my earliest childhood memories…and here you thought Babs was sooooo great. So what if I was two and couldn’t ride on anything and could barely eat solid foods?! SO. WHAT!!!).

    I can’t WAIT to hear how you tell them – will you videotape it and share it with your favorite blogger (ahem)?

    Reply

    • Angie Z.
      Feb 19, 2013 @ 11:28:51

      Try growing up next door to Disney World and then moving away before you could walk. That’s my sad tale that I just shared in my comment. And now I’m tell you. Every time I tell the story, it hurts a little less. My therapist encourages it.

      Reply

    • Angie Z.
      Feb 19, 2013 @ 11:31:07

      …*telling* you. Sorry, the longer I’m away from blogs, the more errors I make, the less control I have over the English language. Sometimes I also speak in gibberish.

      Reply

    • She's a Maineiac
      Feb 19, 2013 @ 15:35:01

      Never been?! I am in shock.

      Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 13:06:23

      Jules!! Never been? GASP!! I can’t believe that. If I could, I would stuff you in my suitcase and take you with me. How do you feel about chasing kids around a huge park for 6 days straight? I’m just saying, we may be able to work out a deal. 😉

      I went for the first time when I was 3, I think. All I really remember is kissing Mickey’s nose. I can’t believe Babs would leave you behind! I may need to rethink this whole adoption thing . . .

      Reply

  5. Transformed nonconformist (Brett Minor)
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 11:15:06

    I have never made it to Disney World.

    My idea is that you should lave a reader contest with the prize of taking a loyal reader with you, namely ME.

    As for telling the boys, I would set up some sort of scenario where they are encouraged to sit still and silent for a period of time in order to get some prize they really, really want. Get them all excited about whatever it is you are about to give them, IF they can stay quiet. Then in the midst of their struggle to be silent little boys, tell them about the trip.

    Be sure to get it all on video.

    Reply

  6. Angie Z.
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 11:27:00

    Okay here’s my sad, sad story. And my parents could’ve videotaped it when they told me — that would’ve been magical. I was born in Florida. But I never knew exactly where my birth city resided. One day, after noticing the many, many photos of my brother at Disney World, my parents broke the news that (1) we lived 30 miles away from Disney World, (2) that they spent about every weekend there, and (3) that we moved to Chicago six months after I was born. The End.

    I’ll pause to let you compose yourself. I have never been there since I was an infant, but have a friend who goes almost every year. She and her family get matching t-shirts with their names on them, which she insists every chronic Disney Worlder does. I think it sounds cuh-cuh-cuh-razy. But then, looking like a band of weirdos is one way to keep everyone from getting lost.

    Also, I would leash my kids. Even if they were teenagers. Leashes and collars.

    Have FUN!!!

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 13:12:05

      Leashes, check. Collars, check. Matching T-shirts . . . um, yeah I just don’t think I can do it.

      I am saddened and horrified for your childhood trauma. Such cruelty would necessitate years of therapy. Either that or maybe you should sue for intentional infliction of emotional distress. I know a good lawyer. 😉

      Reply

  7. Kay
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 12:09:23

    We just got back from Disney trip… and my daughter enjoyed it. Here are my recommendations.

    1. Watch the Main street parade in Magic kingdom.. find a comfy spot to sit – on main street. Also, later there will be fireworks, in front of the castle.. check that out. Key is finding a comfortable spot to sit!!

    2. Get fast pass!! it’s a life saver – It doesn’t cost anything.. put your ticket in the fast pass machine in front of each show / ride and it will give you a ticket with specific time slot.. say 9:30-10.30 AM.. You need to put each of ticket separately to get a fast pass for each of us.

    Here’s how you can use fast pass better.. right when your time slot begins (in above case 9.30 am), you’ll be eligible for another fast pass.. So before you go into your ride, get fast pass for another ride… go to first ride..when you come out, you don’t have to wait in line for another ride..

    Point to remember is your next fast pass might not be right after your first ride.. it might be for 10.30-11.30 … or even for 2-3 pm …and you cannot take another fast pass in the mean time.. There are only so many fast passes available for each ride for each time slot and when they run out, you have to stand in line anyways.

    Reply

  8. Kelly of Blogical Reasoning
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 13:27:39

    I have been to Disney Land many, many times but never Disney World. So, so, so jealous. You MUST immediately buy the Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2013. It has all kinds of fantastic tips and tricks that you have no way of knowing about otherwise. And, the parks change constantly so even if you had been last year, there may be new things now. Using the guide for Disney Land when I treated my brother, I found out you can have a dessert buffet in the Victorian house above the Pirates of the Caribbean and watch the Mickey water light show, whatever that was. Ordinarily, you can’t see anything much and can’t get close. It was like box seats at a game, with a dessert buffet! So awesome. The book also tells you the best times to rest by the pool and stuff like that – peak busy times – best times for lines. I’m tempted to buy the book too just to see what fun things you could do. Be sure you get the UNOFFICIAL guide – it’s the only one that is really helpful.

    I think you should try to remember when you were seven and think how would it have been the most exciting to hear about any fantastic news. Is there a Disney store in Maryland? Maybe you could take them there. They might have Mickey or Tigger or someone working there, after saying boy this is all so fun, I wish we could go to DisneyWorld – then have Mickey or whoever (provided they have someone like that) hand them each an envelope with their name on it with something in it – an itinerary or something. Brochures or tickets to something you can do there. And tell them they are so special that they actually get to go!

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 13:17:35

      Between you and Carrie below mentioning it, I totally ordered the unofficial guide. It is travelling to me as we speak (type?)! Thanks so much for the suggestion.

      They do have Disney stores in MD, but I’ve never seen characters dressed up there. But that is definitely an interesting idea! Thanks!!

      Reply

  9. She's a Maineiac
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 15:47:49

    I’m still trying to get over the fact that there are people out there that have never been.

    We took our two year old son the last time I was there and here’s a bit of advice for you: never do that.

    Okay, now that that’s out of the way. Your kids are the perfect ages. I’ve gone a few times before my kids and once with the boy. My son only wanted to swim at the hotel pool and/or ride the Monorail. We took him to see the Disney characters and he practically socked poor Winnie the Pooh in the nuts, then ran away screaming. (Both Winnie and my son)

    Best parks to spend lots of time at: Magic Kingdom and MGM

    Park that is okay, but the kids get a bit bored: Animal Kingdom

    Park that really sucks for kids: Epcot (but they have lots and lots of alcohol there! Adults LOVE that)

    Good things to see/do: Soarin’ (awesome) Tower of Terror (I got a migraine but still…very awesome) Toy Story ride with Buzz, Rockin’ Rollercoaster (I didn’t go on that hell train, but Jim LOVED it) Raft rapids ride at Animal Kingdom (my fave)

    Bad things I didn’t like one bit: any musical thing like Lion King or little plays like Indiana Jones etc. You stand in line forever, then it’s just ho-hum, Space Mountain (again, I got a migraine and motion sickness)

    As for food: we did the meal deal, we liked it. We didn’t do character meals but my friends have they LOVED them. The kids will be mesmerized. Downtown Disney has some great restaurants, but the kids will get bored there, I find that more for adults.

    Reply

    • She's a Maineiac
      Feb 19, 2013 @ 15:54:52

      Oh, I forgot: the strollers! Good god, yes. Get one of those. Your four year old will be whining and dragging after a few hours and basically all you do at Disney is walk. Actually you might want to get one for your 7 year old. And for yourself. Have your husband push you around. OH! And here’s a good trick: Tie a brightly colored string or balloon on the stroller because when you exit the ride? Yeah, you’ll have to find your stroller amongst a sea of thousands that look alike.

      Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 13:21:30

      Darla!! These are all such brilliant suggestions. The balloon/sash around the stroller especially. Although, I am quite offended that you would assume that my 4 year old will be anything but a model of patience and well-behavedness while at the park. Apologize immediately!! :p

      Good tip on the rides and parks as well. I have been looking forward to Epcot, but so many have said it’s a no go for the kids, who are young. I DO like booze, though, so it’s a tough one. I wonder which instinct will win out? 😉

      Reply

      • She's a Maineiac
        Feb 26, 2013 @ 13:29:58

        Well, you can do what we did, drag the in-laws along with you. Jim and I got to spend an entire day at Epcot sans hellion. I had about three strawberry daiquiris, then jumped into a pool.

        Reply

        • mistyslaws
          Feb 26, 2013 @ 13:47:35

          No in-laws, but we ARE bringing the au pair. Probably won’t get an entire day, but maybe we can sneak off for a few hours for some cocktails. I’m putting it on the list! 😉

          Reply

  10. Don't Quote Lily
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 16:29:08

    Aw, fun…good luck! I don’t have kids and therefore won’t be of any help, but I did go as a kid…um, I was probably 10. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. There’s so much walking…and so many long lines… I remember Epcot being SO DAMN BORING! For a kid at least. Everything else was okay although I feel like there should have been more rides? Hmph, idk…things have changed. I hope it’s great. 😀

    Reply

  11. Vesta Vayne
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 18:12:13

    Wow, things have changed since the last time I went to Disney World…informational videos? Oh my.

    When I was a kid we used to go to Disney World every time we visited my grandmother in Florida. One year it started storming about two hours into our visit. My mom decided to wait it out. After an hour or so, the park had pretty much cleared out while we sat in a restaurant. Thirty minutes later the downpour stopped, and we spent the remainder of the afternoon having a blast. Hardly anyone was there, no waiting in line, it was pretty awesome.

    Oh, by the way, I haven’t been in years, but like several other commentors, I remember Epcot as being incredibly boring.

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 13:26:33

      Another boring Epcot vote! Wow.

      That rain delay advice is good. I actually read that somewhere else. They said that you should pack parkas or something and if it’s rainy one morning, go anyway, because you will be the only one there and it will probably clear up pretty soon but the place will be empty for a while. So now I’m just hoping for a rainy morning! 🙂

      Reply

  12. bluzdude
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 18:16:40

    I’ve never been, cut my brother and his family has gone with their boys several times. What I gleaned from their experiences is that while it’s fine to hang loose, you should decide where you’re going to eat, or see particular shows, and make reservations. It’s better to do something you know you want to, rather than at whatever place has room for you.

    Reply

  13. Fresh Ginger
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 19:12:43

    I just got back from Disneyland. Literally, I was there all last week. LOVED IT. Soooooo completely worth the two years of saving and planning and planning. My son is 4 and we also went with great grandma (80). Son did not need a stroller. The place is overrun with strollers and families that have packed too much into their strollers. Madness. However, I would have given ANYTHING to have grandma in a scooter. (just sayin) Pack your patience. The lines are crazy and you will not accomplish as many rides as you really want in one day. We were there for a full week and we stayed in a hotel on property so that we could just go back to the room for a nap or whatever. That helped considerably. But, it was expensive (and worth it).

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 13:29:27

      We are staying on campus, so to speak, but not in an official Disney hotel. But we will be close enough for naps, I hope. Depending on what park we are in, I guess. I will probably get a stroller, but just one. They can take turns if they are tired. There will also be the liberal use of daddy shoulders as well, so there’s that. 🙂

      Reply

  14. Jennifer June Clark
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 19:14:38

    We recently took our twin 7 year-olds to Disneyland. Indeed, strollers are absolutely key. Get one for each kid. Do mark them with colored ribbon or something; we got the wrong stroller on the way out and lost a stuffie. Next, let go of your plan, ’cause it won’t happen. I can practically guarantee your kids will NOT be on board with your agenda. Pace yourself; you cannot see everything. Pick a few priorities and stick to ’em! Take a break after a few hours, sit down for a snack and a cocktail – yer gonna need it. Then go back into the park(s) for another round.

    Have a wonderful time!

    Reply

  15. Carrie - Cannibalistic Nerd
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 20:05:13

    If you are a planner, this should be a great book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Unofficial-Guide-Disney-World-Guides/dp/1118277600/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361322054&sr=8-2&keywords=unofficial+guide+to+walt+disney+world+2013

    I have used the one that isn’t specifically about bringing kids for my trips and I’ve found it extremely helpful. They have several approaches that should help you feel like you planned but your husband feel like isn’t too structured.

    Fast Passes are your friend.

    If you wanna ask me any questions you can e-mail me. I love living vicariously through other people’s DW trips.

    Reply

  16. Valerie
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 22:51:12

    Omg! You’re gonna have a wonderful exhausting time! I have girls, so a must for us was the Bibity Bobity Boutique and lunch with the princesses in the castle. You simply must do a character meal. The kids will love it. For those you have to reserve ahead of time online. The magical kingdom was out fav. The girls could have spent the entire time there. They also loved the animal kingdom. They hated Epcot tho. But Eddie and I enjoyed it.

    I can’t wait to hear all about it!!

    Hugs!

    Valerie

    Reply

  17. prttynpnk
    Feb 20, 2013 @ 07:11:10

    We are twice a year mousewhores- email me if you want to see my bizarre excel spreadsheet trip planning fiesta- planning is half the fun.

    Reply

  18. Rosie
    Feb 20, 2013 @ 11:51:56

    When i was 11, I thought Epcot was the only interesting part of all the parks. Maybe that’s the age cutoff.

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 13:36:54

      Hmmm, yeah, it’s seeming like older kids are the thing, mostly. Then again, my kids are kind of dorks, so maybe they would enjoy it as well? Not sure.

      Reply

  19. thoughtsappear
    Feb 20, 2013 @ 12:53:03

    My advice? Take me with you.

    Reply

  20. rachelocal
    Feb 20, 2013 @ 15:44:47

    I used to love Epcot when I was a kid, but I think that’s because we would always eat at different places in the World Showcase, and I love food!

    I think someone said to bring a stroller (yes. do this) and take the afternoons off for the hotel pool (double yes). Naps are a must too. For kids and parents.

    Have a blast!

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 13:38:41

      My kids are NOT fans of food. Boo.

      Why am I not surprised you liked it because of the food? 😉

      Naps. Got it. I love naps. If I had my way, the fam would go to the parks, and I would just sleep the whole week. Hmmm, wait a minute . . . 😉

      Reply

  21. Valentine Logar
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 06:30:43

    We started taking the boys at about that age. Scratch Epcot for now. Strollers are not optional, they are a must. Some rides are size limited, your four year old may not be able to ride, so check.

    For you? Take a book to read in the long lines, I always did.
    Carry snacks. Food in the parks will break any budget!

    Don’t plan, go with the flow. Pick the parks you want to see and then let the day unfold. Have a blast!

    Reply

  22. Steve Bruno
    Feb 26, 2013 @ 11:39:29

    I love Disney and just returned from a 10 day visit and I have a 7 year old. Have been taking him since a baby and I love talking about Disney so here is my advice.

    1) Definitely rent a stroller;
    It also doubles as a shopping cart that carries all your belongings and makes it comfortable by all.

    2) If you can afford it and want to rent a car.
    We rent a home when we visit but 2 years ago spent a weekend there in a Disney hotel. After using a car for years the bus system was annoying. you have to head to the nearest bus stop at the resort and hope the bus is not full when it arrives. Not great for tired kids and parents waiting for the bus at the end of the day

    2a) with a car you can eat at the many restaurants nearby on 192
    2b) Dave hubby get up early before traffic starts and drive around to get accustomed to the area. Great mini golf courses around.

    3) Every hour or two sit for 15 minutes
    The rest will keep you going all day

    4) Using the fast pass
    Have one person hold the tickets so they can run ahead and get a fast pass for some rides. They look like atm machines usually near the rides that print out a ticket for a return time so you won’t have to wait long in line. it will give you a window like return between 10:45 am and 11:45 am. Show up in that time frame and on you go with little wait. Rides on the map marked with a ‘FP’ are fast pass rides

    4) Magic Kingdom for the kids (and big kids)
    Go to the park early when the gates open and head behind Cinderellas castle
    The children”s rides have the longest wait so try to get in:
    winnie the pooh
    Peter Pan
    Snow white. (use the fast pass for one of these rides

    MUST SEE Mickey’s philharmagic
    try to see these rides. They are the better attractions
    Buzz light year space ranger spin
    Pirates of the Caribbean
    Jungle Cruise

    Great rides to take a break:
    Webway people mover
    Steam train that circles the park

    Haunted mansion if you think they won’t scare easy
    Big thunder mountain
    Barnstormer (smaller roller coaster for kids)

    Have more advice but need to run out right now

    Reply

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