Our first family Disney trip

Rena - posted on 01/05/2009 ( 27 moms have responded )

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So we have booked our very first Disney trip for March 2-9 of this year. It will be myself, my husband, a 5 year old and my little guy will turn 3 in Disney! I'm looking for any advice and do's/don'ts. Also I want to make his birthday extra special because we are away from home. Are there any special birthday things to do, other than the character breakfast, which we are already planning to do.

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Michele - posted on 01/08/2009

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The guide said to bring a birthday card and when you see all the characters have them sign it. My friend received one I think through Disney with his favorite Toy Story characters signing it. I would ask the disney personel about it. I am sure they will do something great.

Karen - posted on 01/07/2009

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Get the dining plan, it will save you a lot of money.  You can contact Disney & they can add it to your package.  Also, take bottled water with you to stay hydrated.  Dress in layers.  We would head out with sweatshirts on & would get a locker as soon as we entered the park, then when we got hot we'd peel the sweatshirts off & not have to drag them around all day.  We went in November 2007 and are going again December 2009.....it is soooo much fun.  We also tracked our spending everyday to stay within our budget.  Wilderness Lodge is a fun place to have breakfast, very entertaining!!  I'm sure if you contacted a Disney rep they could make some suggestions to make your little guys birthday extra special. 

Karen - posted on 01/07/2009

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Get the dining plan, it will save you a lot of money.  You can contact Disney & they can add it to your package.  Also, take bottled water with you to stay hydrated.  Dress in layers.  We would head out with sweatshirts on & would get a locker as soon as we entered the park, then when we got hot we'd peel the sweatshirts off & not have to drag them around all day.  We went in November 2007 and are going again December 2009.....it is soooo much fun.  We also tracked our spending everyday to stay within our budget.  Wilderness Lodge is a fun place to have breakfast, very entertaining!!  I'm sure if you contacted a Disney rep they could make some suggestions to make your little guys birthday extra special. 

Karen - posted on 01/07/2009

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Get the dining plan, it will save you a lot of money.  You can contact Disney & they can add it to your package.  Also, take bottled water with you to stay hydrated.  Dress in layers.  We would head out with sweatshirts on & would get a locker as soon as we entered the park, then when we got hot we'd peel the sweatshirts off & not have to drag them around all day.  We went in November 2007 and are going again December 2009.....it is soooo much fun.  We also tracked our spending everyday to stay within our budget.  Wilderness Lodge is a fun place to have breakfast, very entertaining!!  I'm sure if you contacted a Disney rep they could make some suggestions to make your little guys birthday extra special. 

Karen - posted on 01/07/2009

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Get the dining plan, it will save you a lot of money.  You can contact Disney & they can add it to your package.  Also, take bottled water with you to stay hydrated.  Dress in layers.  We would head out with sweatshirts on & would get a locker as soon as we entered the park, then when we got hot we'd peel the sweatshirts off & not have to drag them around all day.  We went in November 2007 and are going again December 2009.....it is soooo much fun.  We also tracked our spending everyday to stay within our budget.  Wilderness Lodge is a fun place to have breakfast, very entertaining!!  I'm sure if you contacted a Disney rep they could make some suggestions to make your little guys birthday extra special. 

Karen - posted on 01/07/2009

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Get the dining plan, it will save you a lot of money.  You can contact Disney & they can add it to your package.  Also, take bottled water with you to stay hydrated.  Dress in layers.  We would head out with sweatshirts on & would get a locker as soon as we entered the park, then when we got hot we'd peel the sweatshirts off & not have to drag them around all day.  We went in November 2007 and are going again December 2009.....it is soooo much fun.  We also tracked our spending everyday to stay within our budget.  Wilderness Lodge is a fun place to have breakfast, very entertaining!!  I'm sure if you contacted a Disney rep they could make some suggestions to make your little guys birthday extra special. 

Kelly - posted on 01/07/2009

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One thing I haven't seen mentioned, and depending on where you are coming from, you may not realize (we're from North Carolina and didn't know Florida weather), if you are going to Orlando, TAKE lightweight rainjackets or "ponchos". We had them for the kids but ended up buying them for us (much more expensive there), because at least in the winter time when we went, it rained for at least a few minutes every single day. It would just suddenly pop up with a rain shower, then suddenly stop. You can carry something lightweight with you all the time, or you can be slightly damp all the time. Have fun!

Michele - posted on 01/07/2009

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We are taking my 4 year old daughter for the first time. We are on the dining plan. Any suggestions on planning dining reservations.

Kelly - posted on 01/06/2009

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We went at Christmas in 1998 when our boys were 4 and 7. We are going again in September this year; kids will be 17, 15, 7, and 3. We are staying this time in a park resort (didn't last time, have heard this will be much better). We did take backpacks last time and packed lunches, snacks, and drinks, and saved a ton of money. Unlike many places you take the kids, they have plenty of places to sit down and eat the food you bring in, and they don't seem to care. At least that's the way it WAS, hoping for the same this time. The only downer was that our younger son who was almost 5 then, told me he doesn't really remember anything about it. So, enjoy it while you're there, take plenty of pics, and plan to go again when they're older. BTW, I'm talking Fla.

Cassie - posted on 01/06/2009

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There is a lot of great advise on this page. I just wanted to add that Disney has a baby care facility near main street. It is a great place to take your 3 year old (and your older one too) to take a minute breather. It is mainly geared toward babies, but I take my 2 year old toddlers to put water in sippy cups, clean messes, change diapers, etc. There is a sitting area with books and a TV. 



Disney food is not that bad. It is cheaper than SeaWorld and they have some "fresh" options to snack on around the park (oranges, bananas, apples, etc...) for around a dollar each (grapes are kind of expensive). 



Have a great time. We go a lot and always have a great time. So enjoy!

Beverly - posted on 01/06/2009

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The Parades are awesome, Magic Kingdom and MGM. The little guys will really love Animal Kingdom, my son enjoyed seeing all the animals and getting autographs form the Disney Characters. We purchased an autograph book there but I'm sure you can find one cheaper at home and take it with you. Your boys also might enjoy going and eating at Downtown Disney because they have enormous lego statues everywhere that are fun to look at and take pictures with them.

Ronda - posted on 01/06/2009

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Definitely get the Disney Dinning Plan in your package....it will save you a ton of money and almost all resturants accept it. It includes a fast food meal, snack and a sit down dinner each day. Go to Animal Kingdom Safari first thing in the morning...more animals are out early. Did you check into the newest advertisement about getting in free to a park on your birthday? Check into Fastpass...it's a great way to take advantage of popular rides. Make sure you get autograph books for your children....my kids loved that and enjoyed meeting all the characters and then bringing the book back home and showing everyone. Have fun!

Judy - posted on 01/06/2009

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Hi Rena,



I just got back from my first Disney trip with my husband, my 11 year old daughter and my 9 year old son. While my children are older than yours, my advice will still apply. Since it was our first time, I shared ALL of the same concerns as you so I visited the travel section of my local bookstore. The publication I decided on was Birnbaum's Pocket Guide. I have to tell you it was the best $10 I ever spent! We read it cover to cover on the days leading up to our trip, on the plane ride down, and then used it as a reference when we decided what to do on what particular day. Right down to listing the places to look for the Hidden Mickey's (which my son and I enjoyed doing together) it was a fantastic supplement to our trip. No, it was a life saver! Whichever publication you decide upon, it will surely prove to be a wise investment to maximize your time in Disney. Have a great time.

Penni - posted on 01/06/2009

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Quoting Rena:

Our first family Disney trip

So we have booked our very first Disney trip for March 2-9 of this year. It will be myself, my husband, a 5 year old and my little guy will turn 3 in Disney! I'm looking for any advice and do's/don'ts. Also I want to make his birthday extra special because we are away from home. Are there any special birthday things to do, other than the character breakfast, which we are already planning to do.



in downtown disney they do prince and princess. they dress them up and do their hair and make up. it is so cute. i was there in august had a fab time x

Kimmy - posted on 01/06/2009

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Good for you!  My husband and I took our 4 kids in May 2008 and we loved it!  We stayed 12 days and loved it. (and felt it still wasn't enough).  I recommend PARK HOPPER w/ WATERPARK option!  It's the best deal!  Let your kids guide what your schedule will be.  I also recommend staying "on-property" if you cann afford it.  We stayed at Port Orleans Resort and loved it!  They cater to families.  If you stay "on-property" you get to use the bus shuttle system to the different parks incl water parks for free.



 



I didn't think the food in the park was that expensive.. you just need to know where to eat.  I thought it was cheaper than SEAWORLD or eating at our local zoo!! :)



 



I found it was easier for us to just rent the strollers there at the parks for our 2 year old.  It cut down on the stress and annoyance of folding up and hauling around the stroller on/off the bus and through the resort.



 



Anal Retentive planning is a DON'T!!  Start out the night before asking which park(s) the kids want to do the next day, and hit it up!  Planning every attraction down to the minute is a waste of your time, and it just drives the kids and husband nuts!



 



Another thing about staying "on-property".. you get special treatment as in park hours.  When you check into the resort, they give you maps of all the theme parks and a schedule of which park opens early or closes late for resort guests only.  With this option, we hit up the parks early in the am.. ate lunch.. swam at the resort/hit up the water parks, napped.. then, either my husband or I would take the boys (ages 11-15) to the parks opened late until like 2am.  it was great!  You're in the water for the hottest part of the day, and in the parks for the coolest and less crowded parts of the day!

Christy - posted on 01/06/2009

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I would definately say to know the forecast and to have your days planned. We went for our first disney trip when my son was 4 (now 10) and the whole trip on the way there, and while we were there was just horrible. We did finally have some ok times near the end. Just remember that it is a vacation and to have fun, kids will be tired and running all over the place, just stay positive and have fun.

Sara - posted on 01/06/2009

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Almost forgot....be prepared to maybe shed a tear or two (joyful tears) when they do the show in front of Cinderella's castle at the Magic Kingdom. It makes you feel like a little girl and you can't hold in it. I get goosebumps every time I think about that feeling. And I'm 37.

Sara - posted on 01/06/2009

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They sell spray bottles with fans on them for $19.99, They're flashy and have the Disney logo on them and everyone seems to use them on hot days. Not sure how sweltering it will be in March though. I've seen similar spray bottles, also with the fans at drugstores in their seasonal aisle for less then $5. They don't have the fancy Disney logo on them, but hey - for $5 you can't go wrong. Also, we mailed a box of snacks to ourselves at our hotel several days before our trip. In it we packed fruit snacks, granola bars, mini boxes of cereal, snack size packages of Goldfish crackers and pretzels, and sugar free Kool-Aid and iced tea/green tea powder packs and an empty 16.9oz. water bottle per family member (to make our own drinks). We made the drinks up at night and filled a trash can (take out the trash bag) with ice from the hotel ice machine and put the juice on ice overnight so we had very cold drinks to get us through the majority of the day. One adult (usually mom) carried a backpack that held drinks, wet wipes, hand gel, snacks, park maps, a camera and batteries every day.

Johanna - posted on 01/06/2009

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Your talking Disneyland? Or Disney World?



Since I have just came back from Disney World my biggest recommidation is to bring lots and lots of snacks and fruit. Food in the park is very $$$$$$$$. We saw people bring in backpacks (there are lockers to rent) and they had picnics in Disney. It was actually really cute. They would find a spot and break out the chow. PB&J's of course where popular. Our tummies where really a mess at the end of the day because we ate fast food, park food all day long. By the end of the day we where all just exhausted and depleted. Also bring a lot of little handy wipes and hand sanitizer. I know as a mom of little ones you will have it but bring extra. The bathrooms are less then appealing and you have little ones that will need to go a lot.



Now my children are 13 and 10 but I went over the emergency "Can't find mom or dad" drill. Yours will be a little different since my kids can communicate a bit better.



You might want to Pin in their pocket all the Find Mom and Dad info you can and back up stuff like a close relative or friend info as well. And put your hotel info in there as well. I did that to my children when we traveled and was in a lot of airports. I would pin my cell number into their pocket.



Disney in Ca is awesome for little children. Have fun. Don't forget to the autograph book. Go get all the character autographs. Disney really does a great job with the character signings.



Have fun......

Rena - posted on 01/05/2009

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wow, you guys are awesome. I'm thankful for all of your help! I'm keeping track of all of your wonderful ideas in my planner!

Michelle - posted on 01/05/2009

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Have a blast and don't try to do everything. We just came back we were there over halloween. The kids ages are 4 and 18 months!! I think I pushed to much to do things though. Just take your time and enjoy!!

Brandi - posted on 01/05/2009

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Hi Rena. I have had the opportunity of going to Disney many times and when we attended a National Dance Competition in Orlando in July, I was able to bring my 4 year old son. Because I knew we wouldn't be there long, I bought a book called Birnbaum's Walt Disney World Guide. It talks about how to make the most of your trip when you will not be there for many days. I read it and thought to myself if other people bought this book and they also do what it states in the book, then this will never work...but it did. It tells you things like: if you get there when the park opens and you have kids, where to go first and what "lands" will have the least people. I was shocked that it really worked!! My son enjoyed everything and we were there for 2 days, but then decided to go ahead and stay longer. I would definitely try to go in the morning then possibly head back to the hotel and rest. Then, possibly go back in the evening. If you are staying at a Disney Resort, different parks on different days will stay open one hour later just for Resort Guests. All in all, if you have a chance to buy the book, it is worth it! I thought I was a pro at the whole Disney thing, but after buying the book, I was even better! On the Disney website they also have a place for you to plan out your vacation and customize your own map! Good Luck with your trip and I am sure it will be something that your little one's will never forget. It has been a year and a half since I took my son, and every now and then he will still say things like, "Mom, remember when I was a little boy at Disney World and Snow White kissed me?" I hope you have a wonderful time!! Good luck with your trip!!

Shannon - posted on 01/05/2009

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you should try to book a dinner at the Hoopty Doo Revue at the Fort Wilderness Campground. My whole family loved it. Fun for all ages. Call ahead of time it fills up fast. There is also a Chip and Dale campfire at the Fort Wilderness as well. They have a fire and roast marshmallows with a sing along time and movie after. Check it out!!! l

Cathy - posted on 01/05/2009

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I took my kids last year, 4 & almost 2. It was a blast, we are planning another trip for next year when they will be 6, 3 & 1. The best suggestion I can make, start the day early... go to the park & then go back to the hotel for a rest time in the early afternoon & head back to the park later. That way if you stay all the way up to the fireworks at the end of the night you are less likely to have a total melt down from one or both of your kids.

Julie - posted on 01/05/2009

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Make sure to get buttons that say it is your first time to Disney. You will be amazed at the attention you get from the Disney staff and a few free things too...if you are lucky!

[deleted account]

Hi Rena... Check out this link to order a free Disney Vacation Planning DVD: www.disneyvacations.com/dv/en_US/VacationPlanningDVD/index?sourcecode=11834&referrer=dp&hdrType=default&vcnType=genv&bhcp=1

You may already have done so or if you like send me your address and I will send you mine - we are done with it. The Planning Video has a lot of info about staying at the Disney Resorts (we did not) but also has some other helpful hints.

Do you know you can register your younger child's birthday and get a free birthday ticket to be used only on his birthday? That saves a little money.

Another suggestion is, if either of your children get a little sick (our daughter had a fever of 102 with no other symptoms besides lethargy the whole time we were in Orlando!) you can rent an affordable wheelchair that allows you to stroll and roll and sometimes move to the front of the line. This saves your child's energy for the rides and not the endless walking.

We took our daughter to Disneyland without ever going to California Adventure - simply because Disneyland was enough and we did not want to overwhelm/over-stimulate her or exhaust ourselves! She is turning 11 in January and we will go to Cal Adventure for the first time - now she has earned it!

The food at Disneyland is, overall - not good, very expensive and only available after waiting in long lines! So take some food if you can - it will be more convenient. Since your kids are little, you will probably rent a double stroller that can carry a lot of stuff.

Also, learn about the FAST PASS and take advantage of that! It works if you work it!
Let your kids go on the Disney web site and show them how the park is laid out, etc..
Talk about the different rides and then let them take turns choosing their favorites. Bring a birthday card (bring two) and every time you see a Character, have the Character sign the card for your birthday boy AND your other child, and you can give that birthday card when the time comes.

My daughter had an autograph book and she asked Captain Hook why he didn't like Peter Pan... Hook had to draw the answer - it was a picture of the crocodile! Priceless.

Have fun and let me know if you want my Vacation Planning Video, I'd be happy to send it to you. Best, Kellie (Coarsegold, CA. near Yosemite).

Krys - posted on 01/05/2009

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Hi Rena,

We just went to Disney in August 2008. My kids are 8 and 5 and had a blast. They enjoyed the characters more than the actual rides and activities which I was surprised by - so the character meals are awesome. My best advise is don't try to do it all. I am neurotic and had every moment planned and it made us crazy. My kids would not have known or cared about half the stuff I made us do in the name of getting it all in. I would def. suggest working in down time by the hotel pool and relaxing to make it actually feel like a vacation. My kids were worn our and crabby from all the "go, go, going" that we did.



Good Luck!

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