If You Can Dream It, You Can do It ~ Walt Disney

I'm kind of hanging on to this Walt Disney quote these days, rolling it around in my head, making a motto of it. Our family is planning a big trip south after New Year's and I'm in the early planning stages, thinking hard about the wide age span and the mixed genders and the vast resources for fabulous fun. I'm beginning to sketch out how we will use our time. We'll stay at a Disney hotel (it's an ESPN thing~my husband works for Mickey Mouse).  Right now, I'm very much enjoying Dawn's Disney blog, because I know Dawn and if anyone can approach Disney in an organized efficient manner, it's Dawn. I'm so grateful she went recently. I'm learning at the feet of a master.

I'm very much in the information-gathering stage. Have you been to Disney World? Traveled a long distance with nearly a nearly a dozen people? What are your best tips and tricks? Books? Resources? I'm all {mouse} ears:-).

Oh, and to give you full appreciation of what Disney is for little girls, you've got to watch this one all the way to the end. I smiled until I cried.

 

Comments

  1. angie says

    Oh, what a sweet video!! I cried too. I just LOVE Disney World so, so much. That is where we honeymooned 17 years ago. We have also driven from WI to FL twice, first time, pregnant with #3, next time, pregnant with #5.
    I really have no books or fancy tips to offer except to enjoy yourself. Don’t fret about anything once you are there. It truly is the happiest place on earth! My only suggestion would be if you plan on spending more that one day at the Disney parks, to maybe take a day break in between. For example, go to the Magic Kingdom one day, the next day bum around somewhere a little more low key, then follow with Epcot, etc. It really takes so much out of kids (and you!) to do their parks 2 or 3 days in a row.
    Have so, so much fun. I would pack up and go today if someone gave me a backpack full of goodies too! And now we’d have to drive with 7 kiddos!!!!

  2. says

    We did DisneyLAND (California)last spring. Traveled 2 days with the fam and did the whole park in one day. (We were in California for other reasons… not just Disneyland…)
    It was so awesome! I’m sure Dawn has all the bases covered, though. The best thing for us was using our cell phones to take the kids to different things at the same time, and then meeting up. We spent *most* of the day together, of course… but for a few rides, we split up and it really helped us to use our time wisely.
    I suspect you’ll be there for quite a few days, and with Disney World, there’s an infinite amount of things to do…. so, yes, you’ll need to be more organized than we had to be!
    Sounds like an AWESOME trip!! :)

  3. says

    We are going for the first time at the end of January! We’re so excited. It’s our Christmas gift to our children. I have gathered some info, but I’m anxious to read what’s here. I will email you when I have some more time to give.

  4. S.A. says

    We took our kids to Disney World twice and we didn’t really like it. The wait was way too long even though we went during the week in the “off season”. Waiting 1/2 an hour or more in each line makes for cranky kids (and parents).
    We really enjoyed Universal Studios and whatever the sister park is right next door to Un. Studios (we actually liked the sister park more- wish I could remember the name. The kids loved Dr Seuss land and the spiderman ride).
    We also loved Sea World. Not very many rides, but it was much less crowded. The shows were fun, the kids loved seeing all the animals, especially the beluga whales, polar bear and the excellent shark exhibit. They also loved the walrus and penguins.

  5. Kim S. says

    My family lives 2 hrs. from Orlando, so Disneyworld is our very favorite place to go, though usually only for long weekends. Here are my best tips (from a mom of 3 young daughters):
    1. Hotels with monorail access are fantastic. If cost is not an issue, I highly recommend one of these when you have young ones.
    2. The value resorts are not luxurious, but my girls love them b/c they have lots of cool Disney-themed decor all over the properties.
    3. Saratoga Springs resort has really neat treehouse “homes” for large groups…very expensive I’m sure but great location next to Downtown Disney.
    4. Speaking of…Downtown Disney is a free way to have some Disney fun & atmosphere, especially for little ones who might like to shop.
    5. I totally agree that you need an off-day after a big park day. Magic Kingdom & Epcot take a lot of time and energy–you’ll definitely need rest afterwards! Animal Kingdom and MGM don’t take as long, although with older kids MGM might be more time-consuming.
    6. If this is a once-in-a-lifetime type trip, I HIGHLY recommend making reservations to eat at Cinderella’s Castle. Make these reservations now, b/c it books quickly, but the wonder and delight on little one’s faces (and mommy’s) is well worth the expense :)
    I could talk about this topic all day! Disney is such a magical place, especially with little girls :)

  6. Elizabeth says

    Since you’re going in January this might not apply, but I’ll throw it out there anyway. When I was 8 (my sisters were 6 and 3), we went for spring break. We would make sure to go *early* in the day (this might not work as well with teenagers?) and ride the most popular rides first before the lines were long. This would be rides like the flying dumbos. Then we did other rides and lunch and by the time the afternoon heat came, we’d be back at the hotel for naps and the pool. Most nights we went back to the park in the evening for fireworks or other activities. And I’d definitely do a meal at Cinderella’s castle! This is a huge highlight for little girls.

  7. ann says

    Love Disney we have been with the Kids three times and hope to go back in 2013 I second the monorail resort stay we always stay at the Poly but then again with nine childen it might be a bit much unless of course that is paid for. Planning a trip to Disney is half the fun just go with a plan and be open to change. Have a ball, is this the first time for your family?
    The book WDW with Kids is a great resource

  8. Kerri says

    (I’ve never commented before but I love reading your blog and wanted to offer my two cents since I’ve been to Disney quite a bit in recent years.)
    Just a few tips:
    1. Fastpass the really popular rides (Soarin’ at Epcot… maybe splash mountain, etc.) If you are going to MGM, the Fastpasses for the Toy Story Ride will be gone before noon. Chances are that if you get there right when the park opens, you can get a fastpass for 1:00pm. Send one of the boys ahead with everyone’s park pass to get a fastpass for everyone.
    2. Stroller pass if you need to! (Someone stays with the stroller while the others go on, and then that someone gets to go right to the head of the line while the others stay with the stroller.)
    3. You can bring food and drinks into the park, and you can get lockers if you want to stash a cooler, etc.
    4. Depending on where you are staying, see where/when they have “extra magic hours” – one of the parks will be open late/early for Disney guests only.
    5. Fantasia Mini-golf is really fun and it’s not in the park, so you don’t need a pass!
    6. The Nemo show at Animal Kingdom is Broadway quality and well worth seeing.
    7. If you are looking for cheap(er) food, (it’s all pricey, of course) the best deals can be found at France in Epcot – the ham and cheese or turkey baguettes… or at the Land in Epcot (near Soarin’) which is cafeteria style. I have filled up many water bottles at their drink fountains and it’s a good place to escape rain or heat, even if you buy nothing and just bring your own food to eat there.
    8. Try not to do too many parks in one day. I think one per day, or two most with small children (with a break in between!) is fine.
    9. It depends where you stay, but often if you buy something and don’t want to lug it around, it can be delivered right to your (Disney) hotel room.
    10. The monorail and the boats to some of the resorts (Boardwalk, the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian) can be treats in themselves for the kids.
    11. Everyone who works there is SUPER nice and they really want to make you happy! So if you want fresh popcorn, ask – or if you spill a soda right after buying it, ask for a new one! They are very accommodating.
    12. If you and Mike want to take a nice but easy date after everyone’s asleep, a cozy place is the bar upstairs at the Boardwalk. It’s very classy and they have boardgames and you can just sit and chat.
    13. The street shows/ character performances at MGM and Epcot are really funny for elementary age & up, with lots of audience participation.
    I’m sure there’s more, but I hope this helps and that you have a lovely time!

  9. Holly says

    I am from Orlando. Make sure to visit the Shrine of Mary Queen of the Universe – it was built specifically for (and by) tourists :) It is very close to Disney and I think they have shuttles going to and from all the major Disney hotels, although I am not sure when. I think there are two daily masses and Confession from 9-5 every day. They have a great gift store. Definitely worth seeing if you are in the area!

  10. Jennifer Francois says

    Okay, do I have to add a couple other things :0)
    Our group of 15 includes 6 adults and 9 children age 15 down to 2. So I would encourage you (and me!) to just do one park per day, bring strollers for the 2 littlest ones, they’ll get tired of all the walking. Get yourself a subscription to touringplans.com and follow the touring plans on there. Don’t feel like you have to do every ride in the park to “get your monies” worth because you will run yourself ragged doing that. That being said, I always recommend getting to each park before it opens and being there first thing and get a bunch of rides under our belts before the parks get crazy. January is not a typically busy month, but some of the lines still get long. Fastpass is a lifesaver, so tell one of the older kids to become a Fastpast expert and get it all figured out before you leave. Also, I’m pretty sure Free Dining is going on in January as well, so if you are staying on property, you can get your meals for free! So excited for you… it’s a great family vacation.
    Okay, I’m done now… Jennifer

  11. Jennifer Francois says

    Elizabeth, yes it got lost! My first post was all about Disney Homeschool days in January. HUGE SAVINGS! go to http://www.disneyyouth.com/home-school-days/ to see all about it. We saved about $100 per person on our 5 day park tickets because of Homeschool Days. Even Grandma and Grandpa got the discount because they are traveling with us. Once you get to the website, click on the register button and you’ll have to go all the way through the process to see the ticket packages at the very end. They offer discounted tickets for 2 to 10 days I think. We are saving $1400 on our group of 15. You must register for, and attend, a class offered by Disney at one of the parks in order to get the homeschool package. There are lots of choices for different age groups. We are signed up for a Ocean Discoveries class that starts even before the park opens at Epcot. From what I’ve read, we go behind the scenes and get a great tour/class/experience. Definitely look into it. Email me if you have any other questions! Okay, now I’m going to go and try to post this again… hope it works this time.

  12. says

    Love your blog! I just nominated you for the stylish blogger award. See my blog for more information on accepting the award, entry dated October 15. God bless!

  13. says

    We’ve been to Disney twice with our brood…and are going again next year (though all three of our kids currently at home are going as a part of their marching band to perform, so this next trip will be a bit different for us!)
    When we made our first trip, we had a fuller house – from age 4 to 15 – and I have to say that we all enjoyed the trip! We definitely had to plan the days…Mom with the littles and Dad with the older kids. (Mostly because Mom did not like the faster rides, which, conveniently, the littler kids did not meet the height requirements for!)
    Epcot was enjoyable for all, as was Animal Kingdom. Not so much MGM Studios (enjoyed by the teens, but not by the younger ones).
    Best advise I’d offer – take a break in the middle of the day for pool time or naps (depending on ages). Oh, and make sure to make time to relax! (Five days straight of amusement parks is never a good thing – well, maybe it’s okay for teenagers, but not for the rest of us!) A day at the pool or the beach can make a world of difference!
    Enjoy your vacation, and take lots of pictures!!!

  14. says

    Please excuse me if some of these are repeats:
    1) Staying on resort is good. One park will open early each day for those staying on resort. Be there 30 minutes before open. There will be some kind of entertainment — sometimes character meet and greets.
    2) Fast pass is a must. Get them early. I have heard that even if you miss your FP slot you can still go to the FP line later, but I have not verified.
    3) If you are doing Fairies and Princesses go to that area of the park first (mickey cartoon world or something?). It opens 30 minutes after the rest of the park. Wait at the rope near the front if possible. The day we were there the employee asked who was there on their first trip. A nice family got to walk in early before everyone. Pays to be at the front. See the fairies first, then the princesses, and then Mickey in that order for the shortest wait. We did all three in about 1.5 hours during peak season.
    4) If you go October – Feb (minus Christmas break) the weather and the lines will be great.
    5) You can take your own food into the park for snacks or meals. There is a wonderful picnic area near the castle in MK. I am sure in other parks as well. If money is tight, you can do it even though the logistics is a bit inconvenient.
    6) Mark your strollers with a big, fat, colorful ribbon. There will be others that look like yours, there are 100s of them outside any given ride, and they do move them while you are inside. This will make it easier to find.
    7) If you purchase meal plans (never have done, but friends have and enjoyed them) one meal plan will feed two little girls — maybe even three if they share with someone else. It is tons of food. Friend brought home many Mickey-shaped krispie treats to share because it was use it or lose it.
    8) Some character meals book up 6mos in advance. Call early.
    9) We went our last morning to Downtown Disney to get our souvenirs. They had the big shops there with a huge variety of items. That way everything was in one location and everyone got to pick their one favorite item to take home.
    Let me know if any of this is cryptic and you need more info.

  15. says

    Oh I forgot. At Animal Kingdom I second Nemo being a must see, but get there early and stand in line to get a good seat. The show is not good from the back. On the other hand, almost every seat in the Lion King show is excellent, so don’t worry about standing in line for that one. You can walk up after the theater is seated and still be able to see everything. We did Lion King first and tried to pull the same deal on Nemo and were so disappointed.

  16. Amanda says

    Dollar store glow sticks are great for keeping track of people at night, and your stroller too.
    You are allowed to bring your own food, even a cooler. There are lockers near the entrance that you can keep everything in. We always bring our own food (sandwiches, pitas, fruit, snacks, etc).
    Do long-line rides early, before the lines get too long, and take advantage of the fastpass system. Long lines (especially roller coasters) are much shorter during parades.
    The fireworks shows are all awesome and worth seeing!
    There is a disney app that has current wait times for all the rides — super nice!

  17. Amanda says

    One more thing, if there are rides that littles can’t go on, but others want to, they have an awesome rider swap program that lets you split up. The second group goes to the front of the line, so you don’t have to wait for the same ride twice.

  18. Liz Latorre says

    Our family went to WDW last year for the first time, and we found a book called “the Unofficial Guide to WDW” to be very helpful.

  19. Amie says

    Went last year for my eldest daughter’s birthday. Mousesavers Newsletter was awesome at helping us navigate the territory and save money both at Disney & Universal studios, from discount tickets, hotel specials, lots of discounts and ideas to save $$. Check it out at mousesavers.com

  20. maureen says

    hope you all have fun on your trip :)
    just a comment regarding the very sweet you tube video – when the video ends, a preview to a pretty raunchy video titled “motorboating virgin” pops up. i know you can’t control this, but thought you might not have noticed and would like to know.

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