Last weekend was a VERY big weekend for
us… Kiki and I went to Disney World for the first time (her first time)!
For the last few weeks, I’ve been prepping her by telling her we were going to a hotel. The Disney part was one big surprise and I could not wait to see her face once I told her where we were really going! When I finally did tell her…there was a big pause and her comment was “why do we have to go to a hotel to go to Disney when we have Disney store here by our house?”. Obviously, she didn’t get the concept of the park…or maybe I didn’t explain it to her correctly. None the less, in a car we loaded and made a 4-hour drive to the most magical place in the world. Thankfully I made this trip with a very good friend of mine and her five-year-daughter. Everything with a friend is easier!
Since we were there only for a weekend, we decided to visit the Magic Kingdom only…plenty to see and experience. Depending on when you go and what time you arrive, Magic Kingdom might be very busy. Your best bet is to plan out which rides and attractions are must-dos for you, and aim to do those first. Seeing Cinderella’s Castle in the distance from the start of Main Street, USA is just as magical a view for a toddler as it is for an adult. The Main Street exuberates magic! There was magic in the smallest of details…let me just say that Disney World is a well oiled (money making) machine! Not a detail was missed!
We did not stay on Disney property, but if you are staying in Disney for more than one day, I would highly recommend it, it’s worth it. We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, which was absolutely charming, but I will leave that review for a separate post.
As soon as we got to the hotels, Kiki went to sleep, and I stayed up a bit setting up my wish list. Next morning we had a nice quiet protein breakfast at the hotel and headed to the Magic Kingdom.
As soon as we got off the bus we went to pick up our tickets and our “Magical Bracelets”! Disney World was built around the concept of families. The magic bands provide such carefree Disney experience – with a little bit of magic, our bands were synched to my profile on the my Disney experience website and they hold all the information for your trip: hotel stay (if you are staying on property), tickets to the park, fast passes, dining reservations and even our credit card. Believe it or not, you don’t even need your wallet! I was pretty impressed. It was pure magic! They have made life as easy as possible for parents and fun for kids.
Kiki’s favorite rides and huge success included the carousel (more than just one time), Dumbo the Flying Elephant and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin!
“Under the Sea” – visiting Ariel at her Grotto and “It’s a small world” ride.
She was in her element at the “Mad Tea Party” and could have gone again and again, but I was seeing stars by the end of the first ride…
Cinderella’s Castle of course….and an adventure of the Swiss Family Treehouse
The next day we had a date with Chef Mickey for brunch!
Here are a few tricks and tips on Disney
experience with your toddler
- The Disney App – make sure you download
my Disney experience app to plan your trip. It offers a map, wait times, fast
past selections, dining reservations, personal wish list. It really gets you
(an adult into the Magic of Disney and you will feel better going in prepared).
- Bring your stroller – a stroller in Disney is a
must. I brought Kiki’s stroller, but you can always rent one as well. It’s
great for long days, naps, carrying all the snacks, all the toys you’ve bought
and what’s best there was supervised “stroller parking”. It’s a lot
of walking even for grown-ups and unless you want to carry your 40lbs kid, give
them a place to rest. Kiki took a beautiful hour long nap and she was like new
for the second park of the experience.
- Naps – Disney is overwhelming, a lot to take
in, so count on meltdowns , encourage your child to take a nap…it didn’t make
sense to me to go back to the hotel and take a nap, when I got a good walk around
and she got a great nap and everyone was happy. This is where strollers are
key. She was able to rest as I moved around the park and she had energy for the
second part of our day.
- Food – One of the great things about Disney
Parks is they don’t blink twice about you bringing in your own food and drinks. That said, however, eating at the Magic Kingdom is
as junky or as healthy as you want to make it. The healthiest menu I found was
at Pinocchio Village Haus (Fantasyland) and I actually enjoyed it. The kids’
meals come with carrots or grapes and milk, and if you would
prefer a different (read: less healthy) side or drink you must specifically
request that substitution. Character dining is great fun but usually,
always must be booked in advance (sometimes MONTHS in advance), but we opted
out of it since we had a date with Chef Mickey the next morning.
- Snacks – bring snacks!!! Bring lots of snacks!
Of course, every corner is filled with snack options, but having your
child’s favorite is definitely a big help. I certainly overpacked on snacks but
was thankful to have them at moments’ request. I packed a variety…Annie’s
gummy rabbits, go-go squeeze, organic fruit roll ups, veggie chips, sesame sticks, apples…
- Toy purchases – We are definitely in the “I want, I want..” stage…she wants all the toys. So before we even got to the park, we made a pact/pinky swear that she will get one toy on the way out of the park. We agreed that she could look at all the toys during the day, pick her favorites and then at the end of the day we will purchase one toy. This worked magic…though it might have also sped up our exit out of the park because she was eager to get her new toy. We both kept our promises and bought one toy with no tears and no asking for more toys. She was overjoyed to get the Ariel doll! and I was overjoyed that there were no tears and negotiations!
- Saftey – Disney is busy, Disney is crowded and it takes a second to loose a sight of your child, so talk to them about safety before you get there. Make sure your child knows your name and not just mommy/daddy, make sure they know exactly what you are wearing and who they should talk to if they get lost. For a younger child or one with limited verbal skills, a basic ID tag with the child’s name and your cell phone
the number will be a big help in case your child were to become separated from you at the parks.
- Let them pick their rides – as a type A person this was a tough one for me, so I suggested the rides and then Kiki picked them. She was quite shy and timid and I let her choose her comfort level. I wanted her to experience it ALL, but after all, this trip was for her.
Besides being excited about our little getaway,
I was more excited to share this experience with Kiki for the first time. A quick
summary of our experience – I am glad I waited until she was four…she was
very shy, timid at times, overwhelmed by everything. Even meeting Princesses
and other Disney characters were too much for her. Though she’s obsessed with
Princesses, her favorite was Minnie Mouse character and she was going crazy
looking for Daisy the whole time. Her favorite ride was the carousel and Aladdin’s
Magic Carpet! All in all…we will do it again…but not any time soon. Perhaps
waiting a bit and her expressing the want to go will be my que. In a mean time,
we will make a few extra visits to our local Disney store and the carousel that is a few blocks away from our house that seems to provide endless hours of joy and entertainment!
Until next time…..Disney, Disney for toddlers, summer, vacation