Are you ready? A full Disney post. Personal favorites and tips from a Disney loving family!!
YES, yes. yes.
- Our family is obsessed with Disney and specifically the Magic Kingdom.
- We moved to Orlando over 18 months ago and it’s still thrilling we live this close.
- I am not a “Disney” blogger – there are some serious blogs on this matter that rule.
- My husband grew up coming all of the time and he might be the biggest fan ever.
- I went once when I was a child and I get panic attacks after three hours from heat and crowds.
- This is my husbands “thing” with my girls – they do dates, etc.
- It melts my heart to see my him turn into a kid each time we go.
- We buy the annual passes and it’s worth every penny.
- I know this is a big deal and I am so very grateful for this privilege.
- Remember, we have the passes – so our approach is different – we can go in and out often.
- My “tips” will be through the lens of a mom of two small GIRLS.
- We believe at this age – Magic Kingdom has plenty to do and is the classic park of all time. We LOVE IT!!!
Our First Trip
We brought the girls before we lived here when Ella was three and Larson was 10 months. It was so seriously magical. LOVED it. I cried. Often. We did Magic Kingdom for three days and it was perfect. Here were my takeaways from that trip – much of this was taken straight from Kelli. I just do what she tells me to do. Trustworthy friend are great.
STAY CLOSE – If it’s in the finances, staying close and on the property is awesome. We loved the Wilderness Lodge. It was the more affordable option in the bunch. It wasn’t on the monorail – but only a boat ride away. When you are “on the property” – you get many of the luxuries of being a part of Disney’s special guests. They pick you up from the airport. The hotels are amazing – Mickey shaped trees to pancakes. Everything is top notch.
BOOK WAY OUT – Most of the big fun experiences require 180 days to book. Our top recommendation is Chef Mickey’s at The Contemporary. It’s a restaurant that is YUMMY for kids and parents and so perfect for your first night there. All of the main characters come out. You get pictures with them. And, such a magical intro to all of them.
PRINCESSES GALORE – With Ella being 3, we went crazy and did the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Cinderella’s Royal Table (meal with all the princesses in the castle). If I had to pick one – I’d say the boutique experience. There is nothing like it. You can bring your own costume – any princess outfit and they do their hair, makeup, nails and it is incredible. In the castle – they look adorable!!! The lunch was really expensive and I didn’t think that great. All of the princesses come around – but there are other meals and places in the park where you can meet princesses for free. Book the boutique WAY out in the park or in downtown Disney.
STROLLERS – YES! If you have little ones (under 5), they will get tired. We only do an umbrella stroller for Larson now and they both fight over it. You can rent those hard plastic strollers from the park. Our first trip, we did Magic Strollers and LOVED it. They are high quality, light, comfy double strollers and easy to get in and out of the crowds. They delivered right to our hotel and I believe they were even cheaper then the park. And, they had dual shades. HUGE!
EXPECTATIONS – If you’re a little testy like me, you have to set your expectations. It’s stressful. There are a lot of people, it’s hot or cold (depending on when you go). There are lines. Your kids turn into glutenous pigs and your marriage is tested. Just relax – funny I’m saying this. Also – your trip is not over if you don’t see 24 things in 1 hour. Let loose and just sit on a bench. There is enough to see on Main Street from a bench. Let your kids stare at the balloons and the people. It’s OVERLOAD for them. They might cry and not want to go on YOUR favorite ride. Grace. Patience. That’s why we did three days in Magic Kingdom. By Day 3 – Ella loved Dumbo but not on Day 1. It took her a few days to get her courage. She was unsure at 3 years old. I don’t blame her. Don’t ruin a family trip bc of too high expectations. You’ll get your money’s worth if your family has fun – no matter how many rides you do. Take photos, giggle, sing, dance in a parade. Be a kid. Apologize when you snap and take a minute to pull it together. That’s what I have to do each time.
Our Favorites Now
Now that we are locals, it’s pretty fun. We have a ROUTINE! Here are a MUST SEE and DO things every time we go.
OPENING CEREMONY – Did you know the Magic Kingdom has an opening ceremony 15 minutes before the park opens? It is amazing!!! Seriously. Get there. Make sure you check the time the park opens – varies sometimes. They do a song/dance and a train comes in with characters on it. Then, a countdown for the park to open. It is so cute and so magical. We are always there for it. And, we have it memorized just in case a dancer falls out – we’re available to step in.
BUZZ LIGHTYEAR & TEACUPS – We bee line – like walk swiftly down Main Street straight to Buzz Lightyear and then to the Tea Cups. Take a RIGHT past the bakery and sneak over to TomorrowLand and you’ll beat the crowd. Teacups – nothing like getting dizzy first thing in the morning. And, Alice is often there for photos!
EASY GOING – We are not roller coaster, high-thrill people. We like to chill. So, you can often find us on the Train or the People Mover or Small World. These slow moving rides are just perfect for little girls that like to take it all in.
FAST PASSES – We don’t do lines. Really – you have to do Fast Passes. Pick your favorite rides and get your fast passes and come back. You just slide your ticket and it give you a “fast pass” and a time to come back. It saves so much time and you feel so awesome walking up and getting right on the ride!
BE PATIENT – When I know they seriously love something, I will wait (if the fast pass timing didn’t work out). I waited forever yesterday for my sweet Larson to meet Tinkerbell and to see the Princesses again. It was worth it. Oh my. It’s all she wants to do. It makes my heart swell to watch her. So stinkin sweet. We got to show Tinkerbell the photos of Meese’s Fairy Garden and she LOVED it. She said, “I think it will only take me 1 cup and 1/2 to get to South Carolina. I’m coming!” Larson ran out squealing and jumping! “She’s coming mom! She’s coming to my fairy garden!!!”
PARADES – If you want to cry, please go to the 3 o’clock parade*. Get a spot around 2:30 on the front row with your child and prepare to tear up. There is nothing like those little faces gasping when they see their favorite character. Disney does it right. It is truly special. All of the parades are special and so worth it. Don’t miss them. (Night time ones are as well – Tinkerbell flies in – electric parades – fireworks – oh my)
*time may be different now
TODDER FRIENDLY – Other toddler friendly rides my girls love – new Ariel ride, Dumbo, Carousel, Alladin, PhilharMagic). We pushed Ella to Big Thunder Mountain coaster too soon and pretty much scarred her. You have to know your children and when they are ready for coasters and scary stuff. You can see the princesses and Minnie/Mickey right when you walk in on the RIGHT.
FOOD? It’s hard for me to comment on food because we live here. I have friends that love doing the Meal Plan thing. We don’t because we are just in and out.
COMFORT NOT STYLE. Trust me ladies. I’ve tried to be cute before – and my feet have hated me. Just wear your running shoes – workout outfit, whatever. Dress for a marathon.
OTHER TIPS: Try to come off season, if you have little ones that aren’t in school yet… your best bet is to come when everyone else is in school. There are so many sites that tell you when the park is the busiest and not. It is really so much more enjoyable when there is room to move. HEAT! I almost passed out yesterday. Holy hot. If you have to come in the summer – take breaks and buy one of those misting fans from target BEFORE you come. They are $17 in the park and you will want one.
FAMILY: And invite family. Not just for the help – but the chance for them to see Disney through a child’s eyes. I loved watched Grammy cry tears of joy yesterday. Being with all of us. Seeing her sons so happy. Seeing her grandkids with such joy. It’s a magical place.
Go early and go far. People lounge through. Go back to Fantasyland or Tomorrowland to beat the crowds. – Ron DeFeo
AMAZING photos (well, the really good ones you see) – courtesy of Uncle Todd DeFeo. His travel blog here.
NOTE: This post was written prior to the launch of Magic Bands. Definitely check those out and do research on the fast pass changes.
OTHER TIPS? Please share if you have tips! (excuse spacing issues on this post. i’ve tried. giving up.)