Well, I’m going to go ahead and say that our first family Disney trip was a total success! I put the trip together in about three months, which is too close to departure date for most real Disney planners but everything really came together exactly how I envisioned it would. We ended up splitting the trip between Aaron’s Dad’s house in Jacksonville, Disney, and Winter Park for my best friend’s wedding so it felt like we had three vacations for the price of one!
With the help of a Disney Travel agent (we used Anna T. from Wishes Family Travel, which is completely free by the way!) and a pretty awesome Facebook group, I learned the basic ropes of everything I needed to have a good trip and got some great tips on dining, rides, and other fun things the park had to offer.
After staying in Jacksonville for a few days, we packed the kids up early Tuesday morning and drove straight to our resort. We opted to stay at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa because it was close to the park, on the monorail, and had great dining options. Walking into the resort felt like a dream. The grand lobby is really stunning and I couldn’t have envisioned a better start to our Disney experience.
We had a few FastPasses+ made so we dropped off our bags and went straight to the rides. Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, and Princess Hall Meet & Greet with Elena and Cinderella. We ended our day with a character dinner at The Crystal Palace and the girls had the best time meeting Eeyore, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh, and Piglet!
The next day we started with an early morning reservation at the Be Our Guest restaurant. Edie loved being inside the Beast’s castle and the food was pretty decent. They bring out extra pastries so the girls were in heaven.
We made our FastPass for Enchanted Tales with Belle for directly after breakfast and this was one of the girl’s favorites. Edie got to participate in the story and Lilah was happy to wear her Belle dress. We also rode Aladdin’s Magic Carpets, Dumbo, Its a Small World and The Teacups. We had an early dinner at the California Grill and Lilah and I went home after while Edie went with Aaron and his parents to see the fireworks show.
Our last day we had breakfast at our hotel at 1900 Park Fare. It was the Winnie the Pooh characters again along with Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland. The buffet breakfast was really great (they had the Mickey Mouse waffles!) and it was nice to take it slow. Our last day Edie and I went crazy riding all of the big rides. We went on Big Thunder Mountain three times, Splash Mountain twice, Seven Dwarves Mine Train, and Space Mountain. This girl wasn’t scared for anything. She had her hands up in the air almost the entire ride. I think I may have even been more afraid than she was. Something about being bigger and older on these rides makes it way scarier.
We had such a great time I’m already planning our next trip back. I think when Lilah is a little older it’ll be easier to do a few more parks and now I feel confident in navigating the parks and scheduling in advance.
I wanted to share with you guys a few tips for having a great time in the park and what I wish I had known and what I’ll definitely be doing next time!
TIPS FOR A GREAT DISNEY VACATION!
+ Plan your trip with a Disney Travel Agent. It’s free, they know what they’re doing, and have tons of information that is really helpful!
+ Plan early! We planned our trip 3 months ahead of time but most dining reservations (which include all character dining and most all of the popular spots) open up for reservations 6 months in advance and really fill up! We weren’t able to eat at the two restaurants we really wanted to because of this.
+ Know your limit. If you get overwhelmed really easy, take it slow. Thats why I chose to only do Magic Kingdom over 2.5 days. We go to ride everything we wanted to at least once, if not more, and didn’t feel pressure to stay later than we wanted to wait in crazy lines.
+ Use your Fast Passes! We only waited in line for 2 or 3 rides. We booked our 3 daily Fastpasses 2 months in advance (a perk for staying on property) so we rode the popular rides during the busiest time of the day, then once we used those, booked other Fast Passes for after dinner. And we checked the My Disney Experience App frequently to see the latest wait times so we would ride things with 5-15 minute waits in between our Fast Pass+.
+ Rent a stroller through Kingdom Strollers. They were amazing! They delivered to our hotel and they’ll pick up from the hotel too. It was so nice not to have to bring ours down and we definitely needed it. We brought a big pom pom tassel to tie on our handlebar to help us spot it in the big crowds of strollers.
+ Book an advanced dining reservation for early in the morning before the park opens. It lets you get in before rope drop and then you can get a good picture before all the crowds rush in.
+ Mickey’s Philharmonic was the highlight of their trip. We almost didn’t go on this ride for a few reasons – I couldn’t remember what it was, there was never a wait, and that made me think people didn’t like it. Welp, I was was wrong! This 3D movie has Donald Duck jumping in and out of all of the kids favorite scenes from Disney movies and it was easily the girls’ favorite attraction in the whole park! Plus it’s a nice cool, air conditioned break from the heat!
+ Disney is always crowded. There really isn’t such thing as a good week, there are just bad weeks and REALLY bad weeks. Just be prepared for that.
+ Have fun! The kids are going to have fun if you are. Stay calm, stay cool, and just soak up the magic!
Have you guys done Disney before? Do you have any tips that made your Disney experience extra special?