Smith (Road Trip Mom)
A few tips to make your Disney experience
a little easier and less expensive, without sacrificing fun!
If you're heading to Orlando
this year, I strongly recommend the book, "Unofficial
Guide to Walt Disney World" by Bob Sehlinger. I was a WDW newbie
when we took our family in November. The last time I went to Disney World,
I was 11 years old, and had a completely different perspective. The
Guide was invaluable to me in our planning. (UPDATE: The latest
edition of this book now includes in depth information about Universal
Theme Parks including the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter! See
article regarding my family's visit to Universal Studios Parks for
trip was actually a sort of a last minute one since I hadn't really thought
about taking the family to Disney World for a couple more years. But as
luck would have it, my husband had a business trip to Orlando, so we decided
to tag along. We had to get back home for school that week, so we could
only stay for the weekend. Despite our time shortage, it was worth every
minute. We spent one day at the Magic Kingdom and one at the Animal Kingdom.
(Hubby managed to sneak away for one day and go to the Magic Kingdom with
us). It was a quick trip, so time was of the essence. The
Guide helped us prioritize so we didn't waste a minute.
things we did helped us to save money and time, so we could maximize our
fun at Disney World. Here's what we recommend --
best thing we did was to bring a backpack full of snacks, water, and our
lunch. We packed sandwiches, pretzels and portable yogurt. We had cold
juice bags and water bottles. My backpack had a built in cooler on the
bottom of it to keep things cool -- very similar to this cooler/backpack
found at Amazon. I
love it! I have also gotten a LOT of great feedback about this line
of Dads Gear diaper packpacks
for traveling with kids. TIP: Don't put ice loose in the bottom unless
you like it to leak all over your back when you bend over. Put ice in ziplock
baggies, or use those blue igloo cooler packs. (Don't ask me how I learned
our own saved a lot of time and money. We had more time for rides because
we didn't waste time standing in line for food. In fact, so as not
to waste a single precious minute, we ate our lunch while we were in line
for the Haunted Mansion (my personal favorite ride). And just so we wouldn't
feel totally deprived of good vacation food, we did buy yummy Mickey Mouse
ice cream bars each afternoon. That held everyone over until dinner at
the hotel that night. I cannot stress how delicious those ice cream bars
were. Of all our attempts to stick to our budget, bringing in our own food
was the biggest help of all.
Your Own Staples
ahead with the regular staples that cost a lot more at the park, especially
your own sunscreen, hats, film and batteries! Be extra sure that you don't
forget those extra camera batteries. Also - wear comfortable shoes
and bring a change of clothes (at least a tshirt) for everyone.
Ahead for Souvenirs
budgeted for souvenirs and discussed ahead of time what we would be allowed
to buy. Everything else was off limits, so they didn't even ask for other
stuff. For us, it was one t-shirt and Mouseketeer hat each (names were
embroidered on for free). We stressed that we were there to have
fun DOING things, not to buy things. Our best souvenir was our photos --
we had triple copies made of our prints so we could put together a special
album of our trip for each child when we got home. This was the best souvenir
you can have your photos put right into a book! The best souvenier we've
ever had is a photo memory book filled with all the pictures from our trip.
It's not expensive and it's really easy. Upload all your pics and order
a hard-bound copy for yourself, and extra copies for each of your children
to keep forever. The best place I have found to do this online is at walmart.
a Hotel that has Conveniences You Want
did not stay on site since we were accompanying my husband on his business
trip, but we made sure the hotel choice had a free shuttle to the parks.
This we saved us money on a taxi and parking, and we didn't need a rental
car either. We also picked a hotel that had free breakfast. It was only
a mile away from the park, so it was still very convenient.
you do stay at a Disney hotel, shop around online and on the phone, and
figure out what you will need. Don't forget to check out character breakfasts.
Also, on-site guests have opportunities for early entry into the park.
Entering an hour earlier than the rest of the public gives you a chance
to hit those favorite rides before the crowds get there, and it also gives
you more time in the park. This is especially important in the Winter when
the park closes earlier at night. Staying at a Disney hotel is an
option we will explore on our next trip.
tickets in advance.
waste time standing in the line when you get there! Also, rumor has
it that park entrance fees are increased every year in May, so buy before
that if you are planning a trip for later that summer. Unused tickets used
to never expire, however, once a ticket has been used in the parks, it
expires 14 days after the first day of use. If you have unused days
left at the end of your vacation you can purchase the no expiration option.
Finding discounted tickets is difficult, but your local auto club may save
you 5% and there are sometimes discounts for military families. You can
also purchase "hopper" tickets to allow you entrance to several parks over
several days at a discount.
the "Fast Pass" arrangement and the Child Swap
loved the "Fast Pass" arrangement that Disney offers, so that we never
had to wait long for the most popular rides. You can go ride one line and
come back later to a long one to use your fast pass. Read up on how they
work since there are a few rules involved. It's definitely worth using.
Around and Wear ID's
Even children who have outgrown
the regular use of a stroller get tired of walking at a big park. We made
it easier on my tiny crew by renting one of the double strollers they have
available right at the park, and all three of my children piled into it
happily. They were reasonably priced and worth every penny.
There are parking areas for the strollers outside each ride. They provide
an ID tag to identify your stroller when you come out.
traveling with three small children and touring Disney World, one of the
things I worried about was losing track of one of my children in the crowds.
Using the stroller to move around eliminated a lot of that worry, but even
still, I recommend outfitting each child with an ID
bracelet that has your cell phone number on it, just in case.
time we go, we're bringing our copy of Hidden
Mickeys with us just to add a little extra adventure. I plan to let
the kids peruse this on our journey there as a distraction for the road.
I can already imagine the anticipation of the "hunt" for hidden Mickeys
everywhere we go. I imagine they will come up with their own little competition
of sorts to see who can find the most.
that we've had a taste, we can't wait to go back and explore some more.
And of course, with the Unofficial
Guide to Walt Disney World we'll be even more prepared next time we
go. ALSO: See
regarding my family's visit to Universal Studios Parks for more
I recently discovered this helpful book that you can download: Disney
Vacation & Savings Travel Guide
-- written by an Ex-Disney Employee who reveals Insider Secrets!
This book is updated every year, and buyers who download it get a lifetime
of free updated tips.
Happy Travels everyone!
--Laurel (Road Trip Mom)
~ ..· ´¨¨))
..·´ Road Trip Mom -:¦:-
P.S. Don't miss all the FREE Printable
Car Games at Momsminivan.com!
Smith is a former schoolteacher and currently a stay-at-home-mom who has
logged thousands of road trip miles both as a kid and a mom. Visit
her website for more than 101 travel games and activities for kids at MomsMinivan.com