5 tips on how to survive disney world
I am a former Disney cast member. I decided to write a Disney World Mom blog on how to survive Disney World because I’ve been thousands of times. I am now a mother to three. Going to Disney as an adult is very different than planning a Disney World vacation with toddlers! After going several times with kids, I thought a Disney Magic Kingdoms guide to planning a Disney World vacation with toddlers was in order. Knowing how to visit Disney World is the first step to a magical day!
I still love and believe in the magic of Disney. Once upon a time in a faraway land, I was “very good friends” with Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, Pluto and other Disney characters (see picture!) I am also the daughter of two former Cast Members and originally from Orlando. I know how to visit Disney World and over the years have picked up some great tips for how to survive Disney World and maintain your sanity! I am still very much covered in Disney World pixie dust and find the place absolutely magical. You just need to know how to visit Disney. Cue the pixie dust and survival tips…
Do not, repeat do not, buy a balloon for your kids on Main Street when you first enter the Magic Kingdom park. Planning a Disney World vacation with toddlers means setting their expectations and setting yourself up for success to mentally handle the day!
If you buy a balloon as soon as you walk into the Disney park, your husband will hate you when haven’t even been in the park three minutes. The balloons are gigantic. When tied to a stroller they will bang him in head and block his view the entire day. He will curse the entire day and you within minutes. Trust me. I experienced this.
We went with friends years ago. All of us bought balloons. Our husbands wanted to abandon us before we got to the statue of Walt Disney. Promise your child you will buy them a balloon but at the end of the day on your way home!
Look at the size of this monstrous balloon. Then look my husband’s oh-so-happy face with the balloon shoved into the stroller. Avoiding the traps that will put you in a bad mood are key in learning how to visit Disney World!
Disney toys. Very expensive Disney toys, and Disney toys sold every ten feet all within your child’s eye line. Planning a Disney World vacation with toddlers is expensive just getting there. But once you’re there your wallet will start to cry!
My Granny taught me a fabulous rule about toy purchases when she would take us on “Disney staycations” growing up. We never went on a family vacation without her telling us at the start of the trip that we would get a present. It was up to us when we wanted to buy it – but we would get one. She would tell us to go into the gift shop and get it now if we wanted. Alternatively, we could hold off. But it was enforced and made clear ahead of time that we were only getting one Disney toy!
This made the gift special. Knowing we got a present up front made us picky but happy. Recently, my girlfriend told me she’s having her kids do chores around the house to earn “Disney dollars” which I love. She already has a leg up in knowing how to survive Disney World!
Do not say “we’ll see” when asked for a Disney toy, because I swear on my life your child will drive you crazy asking for something every 4 minutes. Maybe even 30 seconds. Mark my words.
Know where to go for quiet. Any Disney World mom blog will tell warn you that you’ll need to put yourself in time out a few times a day. And a good Disney World Mom blog will tell you where.
I may regret sharing this but a long time secret of mine is the “People Mover” ride. It’s in between Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland. It has an escalator that goes up and it’s where we go when we need a “break” from people. There’s no line, it’s a “ride” for the kids, but really it’s a “sanity break ride” for the parents. There’s no crowd. It’s on an upper level so you feel a sense of space from people touching you and it’s an easy way to catch your breath. Caveat – I went to Disney last year and for the first time in my life I saw a line. My mouth dropped. Never in almost 20 years have I seen a line for this so-called ride. Some other Disney World mom blog tipped people off and I’m not happy about it. And yet here I am tipping you off – stupid, stupid, stupid me.
Preparation does not equal perfection.
Remember no matter how much you prepare for how to survive Disney World , it will NOT GO AS PLANNED. It just won’t so stop stressing about it. It’s a giant park full of people. And when have you seen hundreds of thousands of people make something go smoothly? You haven’t. Your kids will whine and someone will overheat. The FastPass thingie will get mixed up. And if you’re like me you’ll do “one more ride” before eating and then get crazy HANGRY.
my own favorite disney horror story
When our identical twin boys were three years old and our daughter was six we went to Disney. The boys were potty training. One refused to use a “big boy potty”. He would only use his dinky Fisher-Price “froggy potty” so he literally held his bladder for seven hours until we got back to the hotel room. He whined all day but he REFUSED TO GO on a real toilet.
On a stop at the bathrooms across from Pirates of the Caribbean, his identical twin was sitting on the potty (they were still sitting, not standing due to height constraints.) I was kneeling in front explaining to his brother how he too could use the toilet. At that moment, his brother swiveled and said “yeah, it’s so easy!” and peed all over me. Yep. He was covered in pee and I was covered in pee. And his brother was still crying that he had to go to the bathroom.
And guess what I did? The Disney expert that I was on planning a Disney World vacation with toddlers FORGOT THE CHANGE OF CLOTHES. I wash my skin and shorts in soap and water, and my other son comes walking out naked in a diaper. And So off we with with pee soaked clothes. I’m soaking wet and my husband was wondering what the heck took us so long. I gave him a “don’t even ask me or I’ll either scream, cry or laugh look” $80 later we were the proud owners of new Disney clothes. Which leaves me to…
You can borrow clothes from Disney in instances like this. While yes, when planning a Disney World vacation with toddlers, you should plan to bring extra clothes and ponchos for rain. But in case you forgot, ask a friendly Cast Member where the family help area is and they’ll fix you right up. However, when I see pictures of my son in those Mickey socks I laugh every time. So I guess they were worth it. One for the books!
bonus tip #6
The husband 5 Alarm Meltdown. If you’re husband looks like he’s in dire need of a beer, a bullet to his brain, or may ask for a divorce because the crowd/heat/whining is killing him, ABORT MISSION and run to Adventureland for a Turkey Leg. They sell them at a cart across from the Diamond Horseshoe. No Disney Magic Kingdoms guide will have that listed I’m sure of it. Your husband will feel like a man again eating this turkey leg. So when he’s losing his mind and masculinity get him a turkey leg and all will be forgiven.
the most important rule for how to visit disney world
DECIDE, and I mean this, DECIDE to have fun at Disney. Planning a Disney World vacation with toddlers is not easy. And don’t let any Disney Magic Kingdoms guide tell you otherwise.
Put on your Pixie Dust Panties, or Mickey Mouse ears or whatever you gotta do to remember this really is The Happiest Place on Earth. And before you set foot onto that monorail, or tram from the parking lot, see the place through a child’s eyes and see it for the magic that it is.
If you go in already upset about how much it costs, claustrophobic, annoyed with the lines, or mad at your wife/kids/father in law, you’re in for a long day of pain. 🙂
So get optimistic, get full of wonder. And when your kid screams through “Small World” get off and say “well, you can’t tell your therapist that I didn’t take you to Small World because I did and you still hated it, so it’s not my fault.” Because for the record, I have the mantra that no one should go through childhood not going on that ride. And yes, my husband suffers through it every time we go and he hates me for it.
But then we get a Turkey Leg and all is forgiven. This is how to survive Disney World.
why I wrote this disney world mom blog
The internet is inundated with Disney Magic Kingdoms guide to success. A dear friend of mine is going and she asked me for tips. I gave the Disney Magic Kingdoms guide advice I’ve given many times.
This isn’t the travel agent’s guide to Disney, or even overwhelmingly practical advice like I’ve read on the standard Disney World mom blog. My advice comes from a girl whose “playground” as a teenager was Disney. When we went out as teenage malcontents where did we go? Disney hotels. The back roads of Disney, as we used to call them, are now all hotels. I grew up going to Disney on a weekend for an hour or so just because we were bored. We would ride one ride or see a friend dance in a parade. The fireworks heard from my house told me the time.
After talking with my friend, my husband and I were sitting down having a glass of wine. and I was telling him how I talked to my friend about how to survive Disney World. He laughed and told me I had to share this Disney Magic Kingdoms guide because it was all so true and useful.
I’m behind the camera. My heart melting watching my daughter meet my beloved Alice in Wonderland.
a little about me
I began working at Disney when I was 16 and stopped when I was around 20 years old. It was my first job and I loved every second of it. My father was one of the original Jungle Cruise members and my mother sold tickets. I can recite the entire Jungle Cruise script “Welcome aboard danger lovers and thrill seekers….whose here for the first time? Oh good, me too!” My Dad and I still love to wear our name badges when we go. My Dad especially loves when people ask his advice because he too knows the park very well!
Every one of my old friends “knew” a princess well. Belle, Jasmine, Esmeralda, Cinderella, Alice, Ariel, the world. Someone I went to school with was “special friends” with each of them. It was a blast and some of the most special memories of my life. “Underground” Disney is a series of rooms I’ve been in more times than I can count, and I can walk the park with my eyes closed.
My husband loves going to Disney with me for two reasons main reasons. The first being that Disney is still absolutely magical to me. Still. I’ve been literally hundreds of times, but every time I walk down Main Street I feel giddy and happy and excited. He feels that through me and sees the park through my eyes – therefore our experience with our kids is truly magical.
Secondly, he gets to turn his brain off. So he doesn’t have to worry about knowing how to survive Disney World. I know all the back walkways around the park. I know where the bathrooms are, I know where the rides are so he literally goes into “just follow her” mode and he’s happy as a clam not having to be in charge. 🙂
Also, when visiting characters I like to whisper to them that I knew Pluto or a Disney princes. It always buys my kids extra time with them! It’s a special club to be a part of. Hint: if you’re planning a disney world vacation with toddlers and a character visit is high on the list, either book a character breakfast or get a fast pass for the princess. The lines are awful for those.
Sleeping Beauty, my daughter and me. See any resemblance? A few wrinkles ago I knew her well. 🙂
So fellow Disney Princesses and Princes, what is your favorite advice for how to survive Disney World? Do tell…
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If you’re going to luxury route, this is my review of the Four Seasons Orlando.
cute items when planning a disney world vacation with toddlers