Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved fairytales and happily ever afters. Her mother took her to a magical land with its very own castle. There, she met princesses, pirates, hitchhiking ghosts, and a big talking mouse. She road flying elephants and runaway trains. And at the end of her day she watched the night sky light up with all the colors of the rainbow. This little girl carried that place in her heart through all of her life. Whenever she felt sad she’d think of her adventures there, where time stopped and nobody ever grew up. Where innocence still lives, and laughter fills the air. No matter how many years passed that girl never forgot the feeling of being in that enchanted place. The wonder and joy never faded, it’s still safe in her heart. One day she met her very own prince and had children of her own. She just knew she had to share the magic with them. So off they went, towards the second star to the right and straight on till morning, and had many many new adventures. They flew on magic carpets and traveled through the jungle. They met space rangers and cowboys, aliens, fairies and a big angry duck. Now, her little boys have sparked their imagination, they grew to believe in wishing upon a star, and they learned how to keep moving forward. It was wonderful to share that love of her fairytale land with them. But this brought on a terrible thought, a realization of the inevitable. With all the times they got to return there, she would always have to leave. Her heart ached as her journeys ended, even though she knew she’d go back again some day. She thought of her children and herself as a child. She wished and hoped and planned, that one day she would be able to finally call her most favorite place, her forever home. To live out the rest of her days alongside mermaids and wizards, dragons and queens. And one day, with a little faith trust and pixie dust, her wish was granted. A new chapter in her story, her family’s story was about to be told, though it was a little bit frightening she reminded herself to always trust the magic of new beginnings, and to truly believe in the magic that lives inside of you. To never give up, and never be afraid to leave your tower. The little girl that stared at a castle in awe and amazement. This girl who believes this place, is not just a place, but a feeling and emotion, unlike anywhere else. Her, the now grown woman, who remembers how the sight of that castle made her dreams take flight. This place had brought her so much joy, it inspired her to dare to be more. A place that gave her hope that somehow someway those fairytales she loved so much really could exist. A world of her own where anyone can become anything and there’s always room for one more. Where nothing is impossible, each moment is incredible, you can fly, you can race, you can spin you can paint, with all the colors of the wind. Where her children find pure happiness, for the rest of their days. That’s where she has always belonged. That’s where you will find her one day soon, for forever and always, because dreams really do come true.
The things that most people pack for vacations are standard you don’t really have to make a list for. But Disney vacations are a bit different. You are packing for different weather, a lot of walking, and probably an outfit change or two a day. Going to Disney with kids is so much planning you might forget some important things in your bags, here’s what I felt were some must haves for our magical vacations.
If you’ve read my earlier blog you know my view on the importance of stroller care. Stroller fans will be your best friend on warmer park days. When you’re walking around Epcot there aren’t many shady areas, toddlers and infants won’t get out of the stroller much for a trip around the world showcase. They might even take a nap while you walk. When it’s mid day and it gets hot there’s not much to keep your kiddos cool while they are riding along. With a clip on stroller fan or two you can be at ease knowing your babes aren’t roasting in their strollers. While there is one stroller fan you can buy at the park (and it’s always sold out when you need it), it’s clunky, expensive and never stays clipped on well. You can find some affordable and good quality fans on amazon.
Broken in shoes
Please for the love of those little feet, don’t buy new shoes for them to wear to Disney. Even though the thought of the bright red Vans with their cute matching outfits is so picture perfect, blisters and achy feet are not. Bring the most busted, worn in pair of shoes they own no matter what they look like. Crop their feet out of the photo. I made the mistake of buying new shoes for my then two year old and he spent the first day miserable. We ended up buying $40 crocs (with socks, shame on me) and those were the only thing comfortable for him for the rest of the trip. Those muddy blown out Nikes I left at home were calling my name and calling me stupid.
Snot suckers (nasal aspirator) infant Tylenol or other cold and flu medicine of your choice.
When you head to Disney every kids is touching all the things, and if that kid has a cold your kid will get it. I walked into a sneeze while going through the Winnie the Pooh ride line. Let me tell you how thrilled I was. So chances are if your on a week long vacay, your peanut is getting sick. My then 18 month old son got hit the worst when we went to Disney World around Christmas time. It was 3am nothing was open and he had a fever of 102. He was stuffed up and coughing and just so sick I wanted to cry. My panicked husband ran to the front desk to see if they had any infant Tylenol (which thank goodness at the deluxe resort we were staying at they did) I packed a snot sucker (that’s what we call them) so I was able to get all those boogs and he could breathe. I suggest packing for just Incase of illness. There is nothing open past midnight at the resorts and a cab ride to Walgreens isn’t always an option. Anything you would use at home to make your little ones feel better, bring even in a travel size. It might just save you pulling an all nighter with nothing to comfort your small sweetheart.
Florida can be tricky to pack for clothes wise. Some nights in November and December can get chilly. January and February evenings can get to freezing. We have braved some nights getting as low as 40 degrees even when the day time saw 75 degrees. You just never know. Pack night time gear, hoodies, coats, even hats and gloves. Disney clothing is expensive! They do offer this apparel but at a price that’s not so magical. Be on the safe side and bring what you can from home. You don’t want to be stuck with nothing but a t-shirt on a random chilly night watching fireworks, and have to buy a $50 blanket.
Extra pro tip:
Send your things down ahead of time!!
Disney will allow guests to ship things down 10 days before check in. I know people who ship all of their luggage down! What an easy way to get through the airport on travel day! Send travel size toiletries, diapers, wipes, bottled water. Anything you can think of that you can’t fit in your carry on or luggage, ship it there before you go, bell services will bring your boxes to your room for you at check in. Also anything you can order from amazon is great to ship down ahead of time too. That’s all they need is the name the reservation is under. Trust me on the sending diapers down, it was a weight off of our shoulders!!
We are a Disney family. We make Disney inspired apparel, we have Disney tattoos, we have Disney artwork all over our house, our second two children have Disney inspired names, and we go to Disney about three times a year. Get it? I feel like I’m not expressing HOW much we love all things Dis. Kidding, I know it’s excessive. But it’s something that my husband and I agree with whole heartedly and that’s pretty fricken rare for anyone.
So being that we basically don’t vacation anywhere else. And being that I have braved WDW with a child, three months old to four years old, and then with two kids, an infant and a preschooler, I have some advice to give on the subject of trips. I have to honestly tell you how unbelievably exhausting it is. How much you will fucking loathe every single other family with a stroller (they will clip your ankles or run your toddler down and keep going. And your blood will boil). Sometimes it’s not always so magical, but you can survive the it if you know how. Don’t expect it to just be wonderful because it’s Disney.
Timing Is Everything:
If you have a choice, never ever ever go to Walt Disney World in August with young children. It’s is so god awful hot your stroller will melt and stick to the pavement, and inside those scalding hot pressure cookers on wheels, are your tiny precious humans. Sugared up, over stimulated, probably lacking a nap and now sweating their teeny asses off. Most stroller parking is smack in the middle of the blazing suns path. There is no shady area to hide it in. Your stroller is your only savior, when your tantruming princess can’t walk anymore, or throws her bibidi bobidi booty on the ground in protest. And lord knows you’re not about to carry them because THE WALKING is unbearable on its own. So why bake your stroller to burnable degrees when it’s done nothing but be kind to you. It may seem stupid now, but wait till you have to throw your perfect peanut over your suburn shoulder and haul ass to the nearest air conditioned store.
Get the room that is most like home:
When we brought our three month old for the first time along with our three year old, we booked a Studio Villa at The Wilderness Lodge. These rooms I think are meant for DVC but you can still stay in them even if you aren’t. These rooms have a little kitchenette with a sink, a microwave and a fridge. Cups, plates, dish soap, silverware a coffee maker...the whole set up. This made our life so much easier. We warmed up left overs from the amaze-balls (does anyone still say that? Ha, ha!!) dinners we had on property, ordered from Instacart some microwaveable snacks. The little store inside of the lobby has food as well, but I’m a fan of not spending a million dollars on a packet of ketchup, so I go the amazon prime and other delivery services route. The fact that I could make our home away from home just as comfortable as home, and bring and order things we would normally have in our pantry and fridge was a small victory.
These rooms have a bed and a whole cute living room area. We brought our Apple TV from home and easily connected it to the tv In the room. We were able to kick back at the end of a hectic park day with a little Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Making your kiddos, especially the ity bitty ones, feel like they’re at home, makes staying in an unfamiliar place a little less scary and everything a little more tolerable. The cabins at Fort Wilderness are also great and honestly a more affordable choice, especially if you have a bigger family. So when booking a room, look for these amenities.
Don’t over do it!!
The character breakfasts, fast passes, rides and the lines, character meet and greets, parades, fireworks, sit down dinners.. ALL...THE...WALKING.
There is so much you want to do in each day. And so many people will tell you how you’re supposed to do Disney. And you feel the pressure to pack all that magic into your trip, short or long, and it’s so overwhelming. Don’t do it!! You will end up needing a vacation after your vacation from the stress of it all. You will be completely burned out and fucking hate everything. You can’t expect to go from 7am to midnight non-stop and not feel worn out and miserable by the time you ride that jam packed bus back to the hotel. And yes the Disney buses are so crowded that you will probably have to stand holding your child or even children, you might even cry because you will be literally standing with your body smashed into a complete stranger, who is sweating and also carrying a child. Your children will be double the crabby and exhausted. Don’t make your children do anything you wouldn’t do at home, don’t expect them to eat at a sit down restaurant and act like humans after an intense park day, it’s just not fun for anyone. I have made that mistake. And do you know what happens? No one is happy! It’s a complete shit show!! I suggest taking breaks mid day to go swimming. Do half park days, half day exploring your resort. Or taking a complete day off to sleep in, get breakfast at your hotel, and hit up one of the two miniature golf courses. Go explore other resorts for a day, like the Boardwalk which is so much fun and has lots to do, then call it a night early and get the rest you will need. You may think if you don’t park hop till you drop you won’t be getting the most out of your vacation but if you’re tired and stressed and your kids are miserable in the process it’s not really a vacation. WDW has so much to offer, and so much to see and do that doesn’t require you to be burned out. Take a boat ride, check out the spa, sit on the beach at the Polynesian and enjoy a drink in a pineapple. But don’t drive you and your kids crazy by creating an unrealistic schedule that you would never attempt at home.
Disney is expensive, it’s a lot of planning, it’s very very crowded. It’s also a dream come true. A once in a life time, bucket list, beautiful place, and you should enjoy it, take your time and experience it. If you do it right, you will have the time of your life.