We recently returned from our first family trip to Disney and I wanted to share some tips!
Our best trip to Magic Kingdom was the first night we were there. I pre-purchased tickets for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party (right around $160 for two adults, our daughter was free since she’s under three). We got to the park just before 5 the first day and had to exchange our vouchers for the four-day hopper military ticket ($167 each, purchased at the Shades of Green Resort–so easy!). The helpful ticket mousketeer saw I was holding the Halloween party print out and explained to us that we could save our hopper pass for the next day and enter solely on our Halloween party pass. Awesome! An extra day at Disney.
We had dinner reservations at Cinderella’s Castle, so we went straight there. By the time we finished, the park emptied out, except for those there for the Halloween event. If there is anything like this when you’re visiting DO IT. There were no lines. We went on the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups three times in a row, the Dumbo ride about twenty times, the new Ariel ride was empty, and everything in between. They advertise “trick or treating” which was pretty lame, so I’d skip that, and just do the rides. At the end of the evening, there was a parade. There were certain parts that may have been too scary for young children, but the music was fun and mostly upbeat, so our daughter danced around in joy, not noticing Maleficent casting her spells on the crowd. Cinderella’s castle was lit up green and the fireworks didn’t disappoint. Truly a great night.
I had done some research several months before our trip and discovered that it’s recommended you book your dinner reservations 180 days in advance for the more popular restaurants. I did and, even still, could not get in to Be Our Guest to save our lives. The next morning we tried to sneak in early for lunch there and were told that there were no openings, but they then issued us a card to come back an hour later and have lunch. I’ll be honest with you, as we walked up to Beast’s castle, I turned to my husband and said, “This is for me, okay?” and my inner ten-year-old self wanted to start singing “Little town, it’s a quiet village….every day like the one beeefore…” but I held it in. The environment there was amazing. The line moved quickly, then you order and choose where you want to eat: the great room (look outside the window when you’re there: it’s “snowing”) , the ball room, or the West Wing (complete with hologram rose losing its petals and a shredded portrait of the prince hung above a fire place). The food was fast and phenomenal, especially the cupcake with the “grey stuff.” I would have eaten every meal there if (1) there was an opening, and (2) we could afford it.
The other homerun restaurant choice I made was Le Cellier Steakhouse at Epcot. It was a b*tch to get to Epcot and took way longer than expected; we had to sprint to make it to our reservations (twenty minutes late), but it was totally worth it. Mommy and Daddy enjoyed some amazing Canadian beer over fantastic food, and our darling girl ate her weight in pretzel rolls. After dinner, Epcot was nearly deserted so Charlotte was able to run free–chasing ducks and exploring all of the countries.
We chose to arrive on Labor Day, as that’s supposed to be one of the least crowded weeks of the year to visit. It was still crowded, and SO hot, but absolutely less crowded than the other times I have been there.
With a toddler, we spent most of our time at Magic Kingdom and found a good schedule in heading to the park as early as possible, returning back to our hotel room for lunches and naps, then heading back to the park for an early dinner and more fun. I knew I wanted to be able to splurge on our dinners, so I made a bunch of muffins/granola/etc to eat for breakfast, and brought sandwich materials to make lunch every day. My husband made fun of me for this initially, but he appreciated it once we got there!
I was also pleasantly surprised that we were able to bring in food and drinks. At 90+ degrees every day, we were going through liters of water like it was cool (pun intended). Every morning we loaded the stroller up and no one ever said anything. Much appreciated.
Things we wished we knew ahead of time:
1. Bring twice as much water as you think you’ll need.
2. Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride is exactly the same as Dumbo, with a fraction of the line. 3. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is entirely too scary for anyone under….25. No
matter how funny it is to you, in your childhood memories.
4. It’s a Small World is actually pretty scary too, and was a little intense for our first
ride…especially when it stopped moving for 15 minutes and we were trapped in the
loudest country, seemingly. Charlotte started crying and pointing at the water, saying,
“All done boat!!!” I was ready to jump in too.
5. If you want to meet Elsa and Anna you better find someone to bribe, somehow. The
wait times at Magic Kingdom were astronomical. I’m talking 60+ minutes and no
6. Speaking of FastPass, research it and use it. You have to choose three at a time, so
pick the best time for the most important activity and don’t worry about the other two.
7. Toddlers love the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. Any time our gal needed a
break from the constant stimulation, we would go there and she was happy as
8. Hollywood Studios is in need of a face-lift and they’re trying to use Frozen to do it.
The Frozen show that they put on is cute, but is essentially a group sing-a-long that
lasted thirty minutes. We used our FastPass for that and were able to get in early
and sit in the front row. *Spoiler alert, it snows!
9. The Wandering Oaken’s activity center is fun. They have a big ice-skating rink and
a big snow pit. A certain amount of families are allowed in, then you can build
snowmen and castles, etc (all building materials are provided).
10. Allow the kids to pick out one toy that they love from the park. Charlotte liked a thousand things that she saw. But she only loved one. So we bought her that one, and she didn’t ask for anything else.
Have you been to Disney recently? Post your comments below!