Ask Jennifer – Get Real Tips for Disney World
My family and I went to Disney World in June. Now that I’m back and had time to process everything I learned, I want to share with you some get real tips for Disney World that you may not see in other places.
When I started planning our Disney World vacation, I scoured the internet for tips. I created a Pinterest board, and I read everything I could find. I wanted to be sure this was the BEST VACATION EVER (in my epic announcer voice). There are websites that tell you everything from how to tour the parks to how to save money to what to eat. These are not those kinds of tips, but they are things that I wish I had read before we arrived at the house of the mouse.
1. Bring two pair of underwear for every day. The very first thing I wanted to do when I landed in our hotel room every night was take a shower. And the very last thing I wanted to do was put back on the same sweaty pair of underwear I wore all day. Gross. I know. That meant I had to wear the pair that I slept in to the park the next day. (Is this TMI?) That may not bother you, but as someone who showers every morning no matter what, it held an ew factor for me. Fresh undies are totally worth the room in your suitcase.
2. While we are talking about booties, pack flushable wipes for your day bag. Disney is raking in the bucks, but they are NOT spending it on quality toilet paper. Your heinie will be happy you thought of it.
3. Make a budget then wad that bitch up and throw it out the window. This is Disney and there are five souvenir shops, three snack stands, and two restaurants for every attraction. You are going to spend money while you are there. Our meals ranged from $30 (for quick service with sharing entrees and water) to $200 (for nice restaurants and character meals). Make a general plan (i.e., we will do two character dinners and a nice restaurant), but know that it is going to cost. If you accept this up front it makes it a little easier to handle along the way. I wish that we had done the dining plan. I think it would have helped me not worry about money as much.
4. Take a lot of photos. Duh? Right Jennifer? I know this seems kind of like numbskull advice, but when you are caught up in the moment you can forget. My suggestions are to buy Memory Maker before you go and take advantage of every Disney photographer you come across. Also, keep your phone accessible, not buried in a bag. Sometimes the photo opportunities pass quickly. You want to be prepared when they arrive.
5. During the shows, don’t go first. Follow other people down a row so that you aren’t stuck at the end. The queue line for all the shows starts in a room with doors that open when it is time for everyone to go inside. Most people gather around the door to try to be first. The disadvantage to that is that you have to go all the way to the end of the row on the other side of the theater. If you want seats more to the center, follow a group of people down a row.
6. Fast Pass+ is totally awesome, but you still hurry up and wait to try to meet your timeline. When you have to be at a meal at this time and a ride at this time, it takes some of the spontaneity out of your day. You can decide if this is good or bad. You can find websites that will help you plan how to schedule your fast passes before you arrive at the parks. My advice is to do this as soon as possible but to also talk to your family before that and decide together what you want to do. It was easy for us because we could all ride the same rides, but if you have younger family members you will want to schedule separately so that everyone has fun and smaller kids aren’t waiting on older ones or vice versa.
7. The lines aren’t that bad. I feel like I may be stoned for this one. Sure, it depends on what time of year you go (the holidays and spring break season are the busiest), but David and I both commented that it seemed like we did not have to wait in line for as long as we did several years go. Yes, there is a lot of standing and waiting at Disney, but the new fast pass system definitely makes it better in my opinion. The longest we waited was an hour, compared to over two hours for some rides the last time we went.
8. For the love of not getting dehydrated, drink a lot of water AND make sure your kids are drinking water too. We saw several people, small children, teenagers, and adults, that were being treated for dehydration. Some of them were on stretchers. You do not want to ruin your vacation with a trip to the ER because you were not drinking enough water. One of the tips you will see a lot is that a cup of ice water is free. Yes, it is. Also? Carry water bottles with you even if you don’t carry anything else. Every night I would freeze a couple of bottles in our tiny in-room refrigerator. The next morning I would wrap them in a rag to absorb the condensation and seal them in a storage bag with a couple of other bottles of water. We drank those plus refilled them multiple times in the park.
9. Trim your toenails before you go. Or get a pedicure or something. Basically, do some foot maintenance. I wore comfortable sneakers the entire time I was there, but even so, my toes were kind of squished together. I wear these shoes every day (I have tendinitis, long story). They have never bothered me before, but with the constant walking and being on my feet, I noticed a difference (and of course I forgot to pack clippers, so also pack clippers). Take care of your feet.
10. Dress for comfort, not for cuteness. Can you do both? Sure, but if you have to sacrifice one for the other, sacrifice cute. There are 10 million people there and not one of them cares what you look like. T-shirts, shorts, easy breezy sundresses (if you don’t have a wicked case of thigh rub like I do), whatever floats your boat, but know that you will be hot and sweaty and you quite possibly will get drenched in a rain storm. Make sure your clothes can stand up to all of that.
11. In that same category, make sure your kids are comfortable. I saw tons of little girls in princess dresses everywhere, hot, itchy princess dresses. Seeing them made me want to scratch. I get that little ones want to dress up like their favorite characters, and I think it is so awesome and adorable, but think about how this can be done in a way that keeps your kid cool and comfortable. And not itchy. One mom on our resort bus dressed her daughter in a cute fluffy skirt and a t-shirt and put her hair in a bun with a flower crown. She was adorable. Buy a tiara or headband, some glitter hairspray, a cute skirt and shirt, and dress her up yourself. Save a billion dollars and you will not have to listen to her complain about being hot and itchy. Bonus.
12. The characters love the characters. Before leaving, I made an autograph book by downloading character clip art and printing them on post card stock I purchased at the office supply store. The characters loved seeing themselves and other characters and interacted with us a lot more because of it. So buy those character shirts, wear the pins, dress up, share your love for them and they will share their love for you.
13. Unless you have a Star Wars fanatic in your family, skip Hollywood Studios. Of everything we did, we all agree that we wish we had not gone to Hollywood Studios. The Little Mermaid and The Beauty and the Beast shows are pretty awesome, but for us, they were not worth visiting that park. It is a lot of walking and there is not much else to do. Plus, it seemed to us, that it was the hottest park. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it is not as shady as the others. I wish we had spent another full day at Magic Kingdom (which, I think, takes a full three days to appreciate).
14. Plan for the rain. Everyone is going to tell you about the rain. I’m going to break down your options for you.
- You can carry around ponchos, which are heavy, for your entire family and pull them out when it starts raining, which is a huge pain in the butt. Then fold them all up and put them back in your bag when it stops raining. This option has the added bonus of making you look like you are wearing a giant size garbage bag. I know I said to not worry about being cute, but I think there’s a line.
- Carry a couple of small, foldable umbrellas in your day bag. You can also use the umbrella as shade from the sun when needed.
- Get wet. This was the option we chose, and it really wasn’t all that bad. Sometimes you have to embrace the weather.
Regardless of which option you choose, know that Florida thunderstorms can be pretty violent. Find cover if there is lightening. Don’t take any chances.
15. You will leave knowing that your kids aren’t the worst in the world, but that you probably should work a little bit more on manners and consideration of others just to be sure. Other people’s kids, amirite? I think that’s all I need to say about that.
Most of all, have fun. Be silly. Laugh. Bond with your kids. Say yes more than no. Apologize for losing your patience (because you will). Talk to strangers in line. Drink something fruity. Indulge. Go down the waterslide at your hotel. Embrace the experience. Then come home and show me your photos. I want to know all about how fabulous your trip was.
It’s YOUR turn!
Have you got a question, problem, or situation where you’d like a little guidance or an independent opinion? The questions/problems can be about anything: parenting, relationships, marriage (25 years of experience, yo!), work, home improvement, craft projects, sewing, living with ADD… whatever. They can be serious or silly or outofthisworldyoubettercallapsychiatrist. The only thing is that you have to remember that I am NOT a professional, and none of my advice should be considered that of a professional. I’m just a girl who’s been through a lot and likes to share what she has learned.
Ask your questions here and you just might see the answer next week!
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This content was written by Jennifer Williams exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC