If you’ve tried planning any sort of trip to Disney World, you are probably well aware that it requires a Herculean effort. It can leave you worn out before you’ve even left! But, once you make it to Orlando, I’ve got a few tips that can make your trip easier, more enjoyable, and in some cases, cheaper.
Let’s be honest, Disney isn’t cheap. But they do offer a few items that the kids will think are magical, that won’t touch your wallet at all.
Even if you don’t have themed shirts, you can get in the spirit with stickers. Almost every sales outlet keeps a roll of Mickey head stickers at the register – and they will happily give you one if you ask!
Each park has a designated location where you can get celebration buttons. Options vary, but you can almost always get a good old-fashioned “I’m Celebrating” pin, which they will customize in black Sharpie for you. This is a great way to get some extra attention for any member of your party who may have a special day during the trip, or just add some pixie dust for you!
Any outlet with soda fountains will give you a free cup of ice water if you ask.
A Pirate’s Adventure
Located in Adventureland in Magic Kingdom Park, this free interactive game begins in a small building located near Pirates of the Caribbean. You check in quickly at a kiosk. A game is assigned to your Magic Band and you’re sent on your way with a great-looking pirate map (which you get to keep!). Once you find the correct designated area in the surrounding land, you touch your Magic Band to a sensor, and magical things occur around you. There are multiple adventures, and if you’re not careful, you may spend an hour or more running around the park completing them all!
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
Also located in the Magic Kingdom, this is an interactive game that mixes game cards and various stops around the park. Participants use their cards to cast spells on Disney villains and cause all sorts of craziness using screens that look like windows throughout the park. Best part, it’s also free, although there are restrictions on how many cards, and when, you can get them.
Agent’s P’s World Showcase Adventure
Like the others, but located in Epcot, you are provided with a device to complete what equates to a scavenger hunt around the park.
Food and Drink
They’ve recently launched Mobile Ordering at a few locations, and it.is.amazing. You order ahead of time, let the app know when you’ve arrived, and stand in a VERY SHORT LINE to pick up your food. As a matter of fact, I realized we wanted an extra drink after we’d already sat down after using mobile ordering. Instead of waiting in the 20-minute line, I placed a mobile order, and picked the drink up almost immediately.
The menus and pictures will show specific sides with kids’ meals. In all reality, most kids’ meals include two sides, and you can choose any two they offer – not just those listed with a particular entrée.
There are a ton of services in Orlando that deliver both onsite to Disney hotels, and offsite to condos, hotels, etc. Make an order just for the basics – milk, standard snacks, or even for laundry detergent if you have access to a washer and dryer. So much easier, and well worth the $5-$10 delivery fees to not have to pack it or stop at a grocery store.
These are at a kiosk in the France pavilion at Epcot. Trust me.
In Case of Rain
Stay put. Sure, your shoes will get wet, but more likely than not, the park will empty, and the rain will pass. And you’ll have the luxury of shorter lines! We also tend to put our kids’ Natives shoes in our backpack, so they always have a pair of dry shoes (or shoes that can get wet).
Buy some decent rain jackets, and bring them to the park if rain is in the forecast. Everyone in your party will be more comfortable than if they’re wearing ponchos, and they’ll dry better and be more reusable than a poncho. If you must use ponchos, buy some at the Dollar Store before traveling, because they are not cheap at the parks.
Get Ready at Night
Every night, regardless of how tired we are, we get ready for the next day. It makes the mornings so much easier. We lay out our clothes, pack the backpack and make sure we could walk straight out the door if we needed to. Our last trip it was so hot and we were so sweaty, we adjusted our showers to nighttime and got a little extra sleep in the mornings.
In the Backpack
We believe less is more when it comes to the parks – there’s really not much we need. Here’s what we pack, every day: tickets or Magic Bands, debit card, a small amount of cash, driver’s license, hats, sunscreen, baby wipes and Tylenol. We throw it all in a backpack, and maybe toss in some granola bars or small snacks.
If you bring a kid that is six or younger, plan on a stroller. It will make your life easier. We averaged 7-8 miles a day the last time we were there. While their legs may handle it for the first day or two, it can ruin the remainder of your vacation if you’re not careful. There are plenty of rental options that deliver, and almost all of them are preferable to the very large strollers Disney rents (which you can’t take out of the park). You’ll want to have access to a stroller to get your completely asleep kid to the car at the end of the night.
Only wear ones you’ve broken in before. Even better, bring two pairs and alternate each day. Your feet will thank you.
Before you head into the park, take two specific pictures. First, your parking aisle number. Second, a picture of each kid. If you are separated, having a photo of what they are wearing will help tremendously.
This is my favorite tip – these beautiful silhouettes take five minutes, and cost less than $15 each. I get one every time we go, and I love watching my kids “grow” through them. My preference is the cart on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, but there are options all over the resort.