We’ll start this blog post with TWO things – the first is the most important action that I would recommend you take as you’re planning your trip to Disney World. And the second is a “must have” to pack along in your proverbial suitcase. Are you ready? OK here it goes … first, to have a successful Disney World trip with three tiny humans under the age of five … you MUST (::drum roll please::) …. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS!! And then as a secret step two … LOWER THEM AGAIN! Second, are you ready to hear what you need to bring in that proverbial suitcase? Here it comes … you will definitely need to pack … YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR! Maybe even pack a little extra to give out to those who have forgotten they need one in Disney World (oh and you will meet some of those characters!)
I promise there WILL BE laughter, smiles and magical moments – but you need to go in realizing it’s not all going to be rainbows and tinkerbells!
OK … so do you want to learn more about the details of our amazing trip and how we survived? Keep reading below!
Pre-Trip Planning 101: You’re going to need a dream team … I would recommend “Me and the Mouse Travel Agency”!
No matter where you spend the hours of 9-5, you MUST enlist the help of someone other than yourself to help plan the vacation of your dreams. Enter stage left: Me and The Mouse. Their services are completely FREE to you. Note that this post is in no way sponsored by them – I just simply cannot say enough great things about the services they provided to our family.
- Who are they? They are an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner who brings deep knowledge and expertise of the Disney Parks along with their own tips and tricks to fit your unique family needs. In other words, they are a team of magical individuals sent from the Disney heavens to help moms, dads and caregivers alike plan for the Disney trip of their teams. They plan everything “soup to nuts” – from transportation to and from the Orlando airport, to hotel accommodations, to stroller reservations, and the booking of all park reservations (tickets, fast passes, dinner reservations, etc.) I know there are probably hundreds (thousands? millions?) of other agencies that do this work, but I simply think this team must be the best.
- This sounds too good to be true? I know. But it is true. And it’s amazing. We worked with a woman named Janene who knew so much about the Disney Parks I’m confident she was Walt’s first cousin. She was THE BEST. Get this (wait for it): she even reached out to us proactively after we had booked to let us know that our hotel was running a promotion and she SAVED US MONEY from our original reservation. I don’t want to ruin any surprises for those of you who end up booking through them – but let’s just say that Janene was extra organized and thoughtful with her “pre-trip” package that made it extra special for the kiddos!
- Did you really feel like she knew Disney though? YES … I would pick her brain on any and all questions that I had (appropriateness of rides, best time to visit certain restaurants, troubleshooting magic band questions, etc.) and she was thoughtful, informative and timely in her responses. She even helped us confirm that The Contemporary Resort was the perfect choice for us, given its proximity to The Magic Kingdom (she was right!). I couldn’t have asked for more!
Non-Park Tips for Those with Small Kiddos
In additional to the planning phase, I wanted to also include a few “non-park” related tips for things such as transportation, strollers and grocery delivery service for those of you staying on Disney property with kiddos!
- Transportation to/ from Orlando Airport:
- We used Disney’s Magical Express, which is a free shuttle to and from Orlando International Airport for those guests staying on site at a Disney Resort. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant about using a free service – with visions of long lines, lost luggage and cranky bus drivers swirling through my head. I was really pleasantly surprised – it was incredibly organized, the buses were in tip-top modern shape (with plenty of cool air pumped on board and great clear TVs with fun Disney-related content that kept the kiddos occupied from the airport to the hotel). The only cost incurred was a tip to the bus driver each way for helping us handle the luggage that we had carried on.
- Speaking of luggage – that was the BEST part about the Magical Express!
- Before your trip, they mail you yellow tags that you place on your luggage. So when you get to the airport to depart, you check your bags and they’re checked through to the hotel! Which means nothing that you need to claim or lug on the bus with you once you’re in Orlando. However note: that means you won’t have it for the first 1-2 hours after arrival though – so make sure you pack an extra Orlando weather appropriate outfit for everyone!
- Upon check-out from the hotel, you are able to check-in, obtain your boarding pass and check your luggage at your hotel! Again – nothing that you need to worry about in terms of carrying luggage on the Magical Express – which is a huge literal weight off of our shoulders, especially when traveling with what sometimes felt like 22 children.
- Janene from Me and the Mouse helped us organize two stroller rentals through Kingdom Strollers and we had a FANTASTIC experience through them. When we arrived at the hotel, they were already waiting for us at bell services. They looked brand new and had a cooler along with rain cover in a bag on the bottom. The cost was relatively inexpensive too. It was SO much more convenient than carrying two strollers on the plane with us. Please check their website as I believe individuals renting strollers will now need to meet with a Kingdom Strollers representative to pick up the rentals as opposed to being able to collect them through bell services. Below, please see how we “rolled” as a family of five casually strolling through Walt Disney World. Yes, two strollers are magically aggressive.
- Need groceries?
- We were able to easily do a grocery order on Amazon Prime the night before our arrival – we ordered critical items like milk, diapers and approximately 652 pounds of cheese-its. When we picked up the strollers, our grocery bags were also there waiting for us upon check-in in a climate-controlled conditions with the bellhop!
OK … let’s get to the Park Information! Starting with Magic Kingdom
All three of our kiddos LOVED the rides at Magic Kingdom. Honestly, you would be surprised at the number of attractions even tiny humans are able to enjoy!
- Attraction Thoughts:
- Both Lucy (4 years) and Teddy (2 ½) loved: It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo, Mickey’s Philharmonic, Carousel, Ariel’s Under the Sea Adventure, Enchanted Storytime with Belle, Winnie the Pooh, The Peoplemover and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
- Note that Lottie (7 months old) was able to also ride all of the above attached to me in an infant carrier (with the exception of the Carousel and Dumbo)
- Peter Pan and Ariel were the “fan favorites” … and if you’re looking for a great princess photo opportunity, would recommend Enchanted Storytime with Belle … a fun, interactive story attraction!
- Something special for a little lady?:
- You may or may not have heard about the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique … it’s a magical place where every little soul is transformed into the princess of their dreams. This experience comes at an expense; however, we treated this as one of Lucy’s special birthday presents. She may not be able to attend college now, but she was Tinkerbell for 24 hours and therefore her life is complete.
- As you can see below, she LOVED every minute of it. Two tips:
- 1) We watched a few YouTube videos ahead of time so she would know what to expect and it also got us excited for the adventure!
- 2) Visit “Sir Mickey’s” afterwards and have some additional professional photos done. There’s no extra cost and you get access all of them through your linked photos!
Have kiddos under four? See ya next time, Hollywood Studios:
- We spent two days in the Magic Kingdom … and we could have spent three! If you have kiddos similar in age, I’d recommend you skip Hollywood Studios for now.
- But WHY?!
- While Hollywood Studios has fun shows (Beauty and the Beast! Frozen Singalong! Muppets 4D!) and parts to the park have a strong “pull” like Toy Story Land, there simply aren’t a lot of attractions that those under 40 inches can enjoy.
- Also to note, there is little to no shade in Hollywood Studios, which makes it very hot with the exception of morning and evening!
- Ok if you insist!
- If you DO plan to visit with small kiddos, then I definitely recommend the Disney Junior breakfast at Hollywood and Vine. It was a fun way to meet different Disney characters (Vampirina, Goofy, Doc Mcstuffins and Fancy Nancy).
- Would also recommend the Disney Junior Dance Party as well! My kiddos literally were rocking out to it.
Our last day adventure? Welcome to Epcot!:
I’m not sure what it is, but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Epcot! When we visited, it was still the Food and Wine Festival, which was amazing to walk around with the smells wafting through the air of different cultural cuisines. It did also mean that there was a lot more “spirited” energy in the air, especially toward the end of our day there when people were perhaps ending their day-drinking. Just a note to those with tiny humans to be mindful of!
Here are some highlights!:
- The Frozen Ride is definitely worth the fast pass! It’s fun for kiddos of all ages … and do you have a little lady (or little guy!) who would love to meet the princesses? We did lunch at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, which is also in Norway, directly next to the Frozen ride. It was PERFECT timing – the food was delicious – and our Lucy and Teddy were able to meet all of the princesses!
- Another fan favorite of ours was the Finding Nemo ride … it’s slow moving but entertaining – and you end the ride in an aquarium, which is cool temperature wise and also lots to see!
- As a family, we all enjoyed Spaceship Earth … perhaps simply because it was a slow moving relaxing ride and if you closed your eyes for a moment, you were given a secret nap.
- One of the surprises of Epcot was how much Teddy LOVED the “Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros” ride in Mexico. Think of it as a Donald Duck ride meets It’s a Small World. Note to self: try and eat in that amazing Mexican restaurant during the next trip.
What surprised me about the Disney Trip with young kiddos:
Would love to close out this post by sharing a few “surprises” from the trip.
- First, I’m not sure if I’m alone on this one – but I absolutely feel like I need a PhD to understand the Disney Dining Meal Plan system. Despite the incredibly thoughtful guidebook that Janene gave us, I was still confused about how many snacks and meals we can/ should be using each day. This is the one area that I wish I had done just a bit more research on!
- Prior to the trip, I ended up making the decision to buy the Memory Maker Photo option, which provided us with unlimited access to all photos taken throughout our time at Disney World. When I made the purchase, I really didn’t think I would want or need all of those pictures – but I was glad that I did it.
- I was reminded how hard it can be to travel with strollers – and that’s no exception in Disney World. You will need to collapse your stroller for most of the transportation – with the exception of the monorail. (PS if you’re looking for an alternative to the bus or monorail, we tried the Disney Minnie Van (offered through Lyft), which got us to Epcot in great time! They also had car seats for the kiddos, which was perfect. They have been around now for about two years and offer a great option, especially to families like us.
We really had an AWESOME Disney adventure and left with some really special memories. We’re already thinking about when we should return! Hope you found some of this helpful!
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