1. Disney is affordable, and fits in every budget. Talk to a travel agent, they know and will get you the best deals for your travel time frame. I used AAA, and loved them. They keep things in order for you, and keep on the lookout for any changes with your reservation or airline information.
2. Disney is for everyone. From the infant who hangs out in the Baby Bjorn, to the elderly. We saw so many babies go nuts for Pooh, Tigger and Piglet. It really warms your heart.
3. Disney resorts are not always as they seem. You can stay at a moderate, but it feels like a deluxe. J and I have stayed at the Grand Floridian in the past (we paid about $700 a night) and this trip we stayed at Port Orleans, French Quarter and paid about $170 a night. While the service wasn’t as great, the grounds were prettier (in my opinion) than the Grand Floridian. The pool was also a million times better because the continuation of theming.
4. Disney provides transportation if you’re staying on site, at a Disney Resort. Take a few hours to familiarize yourself with the system and utilize the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC on the bus scrolls). It will get you anywhere in a jiffy.
5. Sign your family up for the Disney Deluxe Dining plan in advance. Get it paid off when you pay off your trip, and you will spend NO money on food what-so-ever. Our bottled water was covered under this plan, as well as the chocolate covered strawberries in Hollywood Studios. It was well worth the price. This also includes the refillable resort mugs. Alone, these things are EXPENSIVE, however, they save you a ton of money while at your hotel.
6. Character meals are a must-do and are worth their weight in gold. Not only are they entertaining, but you kill two birds with one stone. You have to eat, right? So why not see the characters then, instead of hunting them down in the park? The only one I felt rushed at was the Cinderella’s Royal Table breakfast in the castle. The food was terrible, the waiter was rude (I know this was probably just our experience, but I felt it was worth mentioning) and I felt like the princesses rushed through the room. All in all, it took about 40 minutes for that particular meal.
The rest of them though, the characters interacted with my child well, signed autographs and posed for pictures, so the rest of the day we got to spend time on the rides, and fit in some shows. Make sure to have your reservations at least 90 days out (they are switching back to the 180 day reservation system soon, I just don’t have a date for it yet). Call with your reservation number and credit card in hand. Many meals still require a credit card to reserve, however it will not be charged UNLESS you cancel within 48 hours. Trust me, they DO. They did it to me.
7. You can’t do the Magic Kingdom in one day. Don’t even try it. I don’t think you can do it in 2. You might be able to squeeze it into 3.
8. Most dinner theater shows include unlimited beer and wine for those over 21. Hoop De Doo review includes bottom-less sangria. A big thank-you from the parents!
9. The spray fans being sold in the parks for $17 are worth it, if it’s hot. I cringed when I handed over my money, but thanked them later when the temps hit the hundreds (or seemed to). You can also take them to any station selling them, and they will refill them with ICE water for free.
10. Have a plan. And a back up plan. Know where your reservations are, and make a map. Get the most out of your time by checking the schedule boards first thing when you walk in.
11. Little ones (under 6) need a stroller. No ifs, ands or buts. Bring one, or buy the Kolcraft one in the parks. You can also rent them. We bought the Kolcraft one, and LOVED it. M really needed it, even though she hadn’t been in a stroller since she was 18 months. This also helped keep her rested, so no naps were needed.
12. The monorail is your BFF. Get used to it.
13. Bring ponchos from home and keep them with you. You can buy clear ones from Wal-Mart in the camping section for 88 cents a piece. We forgot ours in our hotel room, and had to buy the Disney ones, and paid $22.50 for 3 of them. Florida can rain without warning. I kid you not.
14. Utilize the photopass system. Recognize the photographers and pull your 1st card out immediately to hand to them. This will keep your number of cards you have to enter later on down quite a bit. It gets monotonous. Trust me.
15. If you have a princess, the Bippity Boppity Boutique is worth the money. Really. I know, it seems expensive, but it’s not for what you get. Again, trust me on this one. Plus, your little princess gets recognized throughout the whole day. People go NUTSO for little girls dressed up. I’ve seen it first hand.
16. As a parent, you might be overwhelmed with emotion the first time your child steps into the Magic of it all. It’s OK to cry. Really it is. I did it. I think J even might have shed a tear.
17. Take a Disney vacation. Just do it.