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10 Things I Discovered About Disney World

10 Things I Discovered About Disney World

We did it! We survived a trip to Disney World. It was great fun, but not a relaxing getaway by any means. But we knew that going in. I picked up a few things along the way that I thought might be helpful for surviving a Disney trip with young children.

10 Helpful Disney World Tips

  1. The new Disabled Assistance System is in full effect

    We  got the card for Max, but never ended up using it. I will say that when we were in line, the woman in front of us tried to get one. She told the person at the counter she needed one. When asked what her concerns were, the woman simply said that she couldn’t wait in line. When prompted again what her specific concerns were, she just kept repeating that she couldn’t wait in line without providing other explanation. We were called up before I could hear how it was resolved but it really made me realize how many people must try that and why the system needed to be changed. That being said, I’m not convinced the new system is the right fit either.

  2. Bring along a pair of noise cancelling headphones. 

    If you have a child who is easily overwhelmed or has sensory issues, you may want to bring along a pair of noise cancelling headphones. Max wore his pretty much the whole trip, from the bus stop, on the rides and to the shows. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to stay at the Disney World parks as long as we did and his behavior would have been far worse.

  3.  Pinterest is your friend and your biggest enemy when planning your trip

    There are so many posts on secret stuff to do, things you can’t miss, photo opportunities etc. etc. that about a week before the trip, I cried uncle and decided NOT to keep reading those. I wanted to just go and experience the trip our way and that worked out just fine for us.

  4.  Don’t feel like you have to do EVERYTHING.

    The first day we went to Magic Kingdom we skipped a few “lands” and didn’t get back to them until the last day of our trip. We didn’t browse at any of the shops, but did see shows we wanted and rode the rides we wanted. My kids didn’t know what they were missing, there was less stress and we were able to do the things they loved more than once.

  5. Bring or rent a stroller even if your kids are older.

    Max spent the majority of time in the stroller versus walking around the park and I know this helped him save energy for our long days. It was nice to have all the kids contained when we were trying to rush to something as well.

  6.  Divide things up between two backpacks.

    You have to ditch your strollers a lot, so using them as a primary way to transport all your stuff gets annoying after awhile if you’re carrying valuables like a camera or your wallet. The first day we were there we loaded stuff into one backpack. It was way too heavy and too hard to keep going into it to retrieve water bottles, sunglasses etc. The rest of the trip we had one for kids’ stuff and one for adult stuff and that worked out much better.

  7. Some of the magic might be lost on your kids (and you!), if you’re not a “Disney World” family.

    My kids knew about Disney World as a place you go, somewhere their friends have been, that costs a lot of money and you have to take a plane to get there. My boys loved meeting the characters, but just as much as they have meeting Santa or a character at a children’s museum. Their favorite ride was the Tomorrowland Speedway (aka go carts on a track) which we rode five times I think. Max’s favorite part of the whole trip was the shuttle bus we took between the hotel and the parks. We basically could have taken a bus to the Go Cart track a few towns away and my boys would have been just as happy.

  8. Spend some time at the hotel pool.

    Especially if you go during colder months where you live. We had a great time spending one afternoon at the pool…knowing it was 80 degrees where we were and freezing rain at home made the pina colada I was sipping and the water slide my boys were going down feel that much more luxurious.

  9.  Set up a MyDisneyExperience.com account and get the app for your phone. 

    I think this is the most important tip. While there were some kinks, the app was a lifesaver for our large group. You can link accounts with others in your party (for us it was my parents, my in-laws, and my sister’s family), get Fast Passes ahead of time for up to three rides per day and see where the characters are that day as well as line wait times. We were able to look the night before at stuff we wanted to hit the next day, and then get back to back FastPasses resulting in virtually zero wait times for very popular rides like Dumbo and Space Mountain. You are also able to keep track of show times and restaurant reservations.

  10. Take a day after the trip before going back to work/school, if you can.

    We came home on a Thursday, so we all took the following Friday off. I did laundry, my husband caught up on some household things and my boys stayed in their jammies and lounged around all day.

kids and parents at Disney World

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5 comments

  1. Andrew December 18, 2013 at 3:42 am

    As a former emp of Disney World. I HATED the Disability line pass stuff. Large school groups would rent one wheel chair and get up to 16 people with them to skip in line. Or people would claim they could not wait in line so get the card. It angered me when people flaunt the rules. More so when a make a wish kid comes in and has to wait behind 16 brazilian kids who rented a wheel chair. When I read the news that it was changing I squealed with joy.

  2. Kathy Dettwyler December 21, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Great advice. We also just returned from a 5-day trip to Disney World with our adult son who has Down syndrome. We rented a wheel chair for him and used FastPass, as well as timing at other rides/attractions so we didn’t have to wait in line too long. If the wait was more than 10 minutes, we just went and did something else. He *loves* the Dumbo ride, but there are equivalent rides in Adventureland and at the Animal Kingdom without the long lines. One of my favorite parts of this trip was riding the boats between the parks and the various resorts. The weather was beautiful, the lights and full moon on the water were amazing, and it was so peaceful. We took a bus to the Wilderness Lodge one afternoon, had a snack on the patio, and then rode the boat around the lagoons to Fort Wilderness Campground, then to Magic Kingdom, then back to Wilderness Lodge. Another night we rode from Hollywood Studios to Epcot, stopping at several places along the way.

  3. Nicole Thibault December 26, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Just found your article — great insight!

    My name is Nicole Thibault and I am a Mom of three boys, two with Special Needs.

    I’m also a part-time Travel Agent, specializing in Walt Disney World travel AND helping families with Special Needs create magical vacations.

    If anyone has any questions or needs help with planning a Disney vacation with their family that has Special Needs, please feel free to contact me at nicole@carpediemrochester.com. I am happy to walk you through the vacation planning process and assist with any accommodations you may need,

    Cheers, Nicole!

  4. valhallaarwen January 10, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Great ideas and glad you had fun. I did a lot of those things too when I went.It’s been years since I’ve been but the best time I’ve gone I had taken a couple of nieces when they were two and three. We (hubby and I) got a room on the grounds (Disney value hotel), rented a double stroller everyday – it was affordable back then, had snacks for the girls, they passed out everyday at noon thank you stroller),went to buffets a couple of times for them to meet characters, had matching outfits for them, painted white t-shirts for them, one had the little mermaid (btw, she’s 14 and still believes in mermaids) the other one had a barney, I had beauty in the beast, I used the wdwig.com website to get info, decided to get big crayons (yes the big ones from back in the day) to have autographs for the girls, and they each had their own autograph books from the dollar store. they carried their own backpack with their supplies, snacks, juice box, water, we had hats, etc. YEs, we had leashes, but you know what, we didn’t have to use them.

  5. Pingback: I Bought My Son Pink Sneakers | Bright Horizons Parenting BlogThe Family Room |

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