If I Ever Go Back to Disney: 6 Major Trip Tips for Families
There is so much I could write about our first-ever Disney Trip as a family. And I will, someday soon. For now, I thought it would be fun to start my Disney series by writing about the things I learned as a newbie while at the parks with 3 & 5-year-old children. Be sure to read through the end to find out the 6 tips I learned that would make traveling to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida much easier.
If I ever go back to Disney (which will not come soon enough), there are a few things I would do differently. For any momma's planning their first Disney trip, I hope this blog post will help you avoid some mishaps & save you time/money!
Tip #1 Use a Disney travel agent.
Hear me out, I had no idea certified Disney travel agents were included in the ticket packages. This means last time we went I paid for it but didn't use it. What. A. Waste. Finding deals, a hotel, and restaurants was such a hassle, you guys. I spent WEEKS looking for the perfect place to stay and researching dining options that would best fit our family. After all that planning, our hotel wasn't the right fit for our needs and we ended up spending more than we should of. The travel agent will save you from endleecision making and everyone I know who has used them says they are the best.
Tip #2 Research rides & learn how to use the Genie app
This is something I thought I did but did not do enough of. We opted not to get Genie+. We took things at our own pace and had the time of our lives doing it. However, a few of the rides had crazy long wait times. The kids handled it well, but I wonder how much more we could have done if I had researched and used the Genie app more. The Genie app is important because it will give you a map of the park with the wait times of all the rides in real-time. Also, there are some rides you can only get passes for by booking them on the virtual queue. I had no idea about that, so we missed our shot at riding rides like Remy's Ratatouille Adventure because it was sold out by the time we got to the park. (The queue opens on the app before the parks open in the morning) We still had TONS of fun, so if you can't navigate or afford the extra passes don't stress. Just don't mention that specific ride to your kids and you will be golden. ✨😉
Tip #3- Rent a stroller from Kingdom Strollers.
If you have young kids like us and are traveling from out of state, this one is a must. On our first Disney trip, we rented a stroller from the Disney World Parks. We found this did NOT work for us for two reasons. First, pickup/drop off is located inside the park. I know you're probably thinking,"Kaylin, that sounds perfect! We won't have to transport a stroller everywhere," but trust me it's not. Doing this is asking for a workout before you ever enter the parks. I'll explain. The walk to and from your rental car has got to be close to a mile. If you are dropped off by shuttle it may be closer, but still a small trek. If you are going to Magic Kingdom, just forget about it. You have to travel by foot and boat or monorail to get to the park. This was way too far for our littles. We ended up carrying them the majority of the way. After we had already purchased the 4-day stroller package from WDW, we found out that Kingdom Strollers will deliver the stroller to your hotel & you get to keep it the entire length of your stay. Secondly, cost. We thought we were getting a good deal with $27 per day for 4 days. That's $108, plus tax. Kingdom Strollers charges $90 total for a length of stay of 4-7 days. AND you get it 24/7 y'all.
Tip #4- Instacart snacks & drinks from a local grocery store.
We didn't do too terrible with this one, but definitely could have saved some money by having refillable water bottles & snacks from the store. Towards the end of our trip we got smart and went grocery shopping. The next time we go to Disney World we will 100% be using Instacart. Don't get me wrong, I will continue to set aside money for the can't miss treats the parks have to offer, but my kids are like little gremlins. They eat all day long and the $$$ can add up quickly.
Tip #5- check the shuttle times for your hotel
I wish we would have done this before we booked. If you use a Disney travel agent, they will be able to pull this information for you. I honestly didn't even think about it. The hotel said they had a shuttle so my mind instantly said, "perfect", and didn't ask questions. The lesson I learned real quick though was that the hotel we picked only offered a shuttle at select times. Most being at park open and park close. For families with older or no kids, this would be just fine. For our family of littles? Absolutely not. We ended up renting a car and paying to park each day. I really wanted the shuttle to work, but our kids are not old enough, or "go with the flow" enough for an all-day experience with no breaks. We needed daily hotel pool time to cool off and unwind. On our next trip, we plan to stay on Disney property so hopefully, it won't be an issue!
Tip #6- Have a list of showtimes/parades in advance.
This is my biggest regret of our Disney trip. I don't know this for sure, but I'm guessing the travel agent can help with this too (see why they are so important?). When we went we missed EVERY single show and only saw 2 parades. The kids were super excited to see all the characters and we only got to see Tinker Bell and the Mini-Mouse Clubhouse crew. I'm sure this was a total newbie mistake on my part, but it seemed like the parades always passed us as we were waiting in lines. Next time we go we will be much more planned out!
To wrap this up in a pretty bow (preferably covered in black/red polka dots), the 6 tips I am recommending to you are:
Use a certified Disney Agent (make sure they work for Disney if they do they will not charge you a fee)
Do as much research on rides as you can & learn how to use the Genie app!
Rent a stroller from Kingdom Strollers
Instacart snacks & drinks from a local grocer to your hotel room. You will save money in the parks by bringing snacks/water with you
Be sure of shuttle drop-off/pick-up times for your hotel to the parks. You will want to be sure times will align with times your kids need breaks/naps.
Have a list of showtimes/parades in advance.
I hope this helps all of you plan out the perfect (for your family) Walt Disney World trip! We had some mishaps our first time but it was still an absolute blast. The kids still talk about it 6 months later and are begging to go back! My goal is to be a bit more efficient, cost-effective, and organized the next time we go.
💕sending you love & momma to momma support,