This is our first time to Disney World with my two daughters, one which is a preschooler and I learned quite a whole lot of things. Seeing their eyes go wide with amazement is true joy and exhilaration when they enter and see a real castle for the first time. It’s best to be organized and prepare for smooth sailing without any unnecessary mishaps that might make the trip any less enjoyable. There are some things that I found to be really helpful to keep in mind that I’d like to share:
Firstly, let’s start with some packing tips. THE most important thing to pack, I believe, is a single stroller, and if not, get it at the park because although they are full of energy, preschoolers tire out really fast in a place as big as Disney. There’s tons of walking around involved and unless you want to be carrying around your tired preschooler around all day when they get hot and tired, stroller is a necessity! Always pack 2-3 outfits per day, just in case the weather does not go according to forecast (which we all know happens now more often than ever before). Also, you never know if your preschooler might have some kind of accident or maybe make a mess in all the fun their having. There’s also lots of water splashing rides that maybe your child will want to stand by and get splashed, or even you and your entire family might unknowingly be in a splash zone (really… that happens).
Now if you're flying to Florida on a plane, sometimes toddlers need their afternoon nap and it’s best to find a flight sometime in the morning rather than in the middle of the day. I would say between 9am-10am is your best bet. You don’t want it to be too early because you have to get them up and also allow yourself enough time to make it to the airport without any rush, because let’s be honest, rush = stress = everybody is upset. Then it’ll work out perfectly that by the time you’re on the plane, your kids can distract themselves with something like a movie or the iPad and then eventually fall asleep. And the next thing you know, they’ve landed and you are trouble free for the duration of the flight plus they’ll be fresh and ready for the start to Disney World.
The flight on the way home we like to approach a little differently. I recommend finding flights in the later afternoon around 3pm-4pm, after their naptime. The reason I say this is that the timing will work out perfectly that when the flight arrives home, it’ll be just in time for dinner and then they’ll perfectly tire out from the flight (and the entire trip to say the least) just after, in time for bedtime. They’ll wake up back home the next morning, wide eyed and well rested, with most magical memories of Walt Disney World!!
We had the pleasure of staying at the Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, which has the largest pool of the Disney World Resorts. It is beautifully made with a Finding Nemo theme which was design for the kids to feel as if they were playing in the water as Nemo did with his friends. Though that was not the only theme there are also The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and Cars, which is the suite where we stayed. There were Cars animations all over the walls and hallways, as well as Cars models scattered around for the girls to pose cute pictures with. Disney really know how to integrate a theme in to all parts of to make the kids feel like they’re in the movies. Might I add, for the parents, they had great service and were sure to have our stay be as easy and convenient for us as possible. They have two location at which you can eat where the service was impeccable. One of them was by the pool for the adults and the other one is a dining hall which serves a delicious assortments of hot foods, all including the choice of pizza which is the favorite food to both my daughters… and I’m sure that stands true for many kids!! We got to use these Disney Quick-Service Dine Cards which is a great option because these gift cards have more value that the price you pay for the card. You can using them at many dining locations around the park for your meals and snacks. It’s so quick and easy and rids you of the burden of carrying around any money with you!
It’s really unbelievable how Disney World makes each park seem as if your stepping out of reality into another world! Unlike any other park, the Animal Kingdom was so full of green and nature everywhere you look. I was happy to see my kids enjoy a jungle like, natured theme park so much. We had gone on a few rides as a family such as the Triceratops Spin which is a perfect ride for preschoolers and small children. My youngest is in love with dinosaurs so she was definitely ecstatic about that one. But the most extraordinary ride was the Navi River Journey, located in Disney’s new (Avatar movie’s) Pandora themed area.
My goodness, it’s really something that has to be experienced for yourself and that words themselves could not do it justice! The Navi River Journey is calm boat ride, which can be done as a family even will small children, which takes you through the world of Pandora. Even if you’ve never watched the movie Avatar, this is something you’re going to want to experience… and then will probably end up wanting to watch the movie afterwards. You’re sitting in this boat that flows down the “Navi River” through this science fiction, luminescent jungle of glow lights, immersing you in the theme of the earth and animal, shining a light (literally) on the feeling of being one with nature. Everything is this area is very grand and colorful creating a very realistic environment as if you were really living in the Avatar movie.
We also experienced the River of Light which was a night show with these beautiful fixtures in the water, using tons of colorful lights and beautiful dancers dressed in marvelous costume designs. The show included some extravagantly designed animals and water structures that synchronizes to the music. What a magical way to end the night!
As mother and parents, we are well aware of how tough it is to travel with young children. Especially somewhere such as Disney World where they have many resorts and parks in which car travel between the destinations are unavoidable. It’s always a concern of mine in the back of my mind that my girls won’t have car seats… We mothers just can’t help ourselves from worry for our most precious cargo! But boy does Disney know how to allow you to enjoy your stay as worry-free and comfortable as possible!
They have this service called the “Minnie” Van Service where they partnered with LYFT. Its an absolutely adorable van covered in Minnie Mouse polka-dots—which might I mention, our girls were freaking out about. It so incredibly convenient and most importantly cheap! It's an easy thing to do, just order it off the LYFT app on you phone - you can just easily choose the 'Minnie Van" car. For $25, the Minnie Van will pick you up from your resort and drive you to almost any of their parks and vice versa. I know you might now be thinking, “well I can just call my own car service and they would do the same” or “well I can just take the bus with my family instead.” But firstly, let’s be honest with ourselves and think for a second… if you are a mother you know the difficulties of what it means to ride a crowded bus with your strollers, all your bags, and two little children. The Minnie Van Service also provides two car seats for children and babies which was invaluable for us. As I mentioned earlier, the girls were freaking out about the Minnie Mouse theme of the cars… to them it almost counted as an amusement park ride on its own!
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we had breakfast at Disney Junior Play ‘N Dine where we were able to dine with the characters my daughters grew up watching on tv! Their favorite character is Sophia so for them to be able to wake up in the morning and first thing was to have breakfast with Sophia and friends was an absolute joy for them. Even though at times, our youngest was upset because she wanted to go to the pool everyday (irrational children problems… helloooo we still have all of Disney World to see!).
One of the best things that Disney built for families with young ones and babies are the Baby Care Centers in all the parks. These are air-conditioned lounges set up for families with infants or children who need assistance with feeding or changing or cleaning. They also have on-site shops where you can buy formula, baby food, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, or any emergency over the counter medications. This full service facility is definitely welcomed and shows Disney's true commitment to making helping families out along with providing all the fun in the world!
Later that day, we went to see “First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along Celebration”, which you already know they had the time of their lives… ‘cause what child doesn’t love Frozen! The girls were singing their heads off to “Let it Go” with the live characters. The show later even had really snow that came down which was impressive and made the girls feel like they were really in the movie with the characters as they’ve always wished to be.
Us moms got a presentation of the upcoming Toy Story Land that is coming to the park this summer in June! It’s be a world created based on the Pixar’s Toy Story films, making you feel like you have shrunk to the size of toys as Woody and Buzz and all the other toys had felt, bringing the character to life on scale that you could only imagine!
With all the excitement during the day we ended going back to relax for a bit before our next stop: EPCOT and Magic Kingdom!
This post is sponsored by Disney. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Inrachelshoes.