I started planning our trip about four days before our departure, which didn’t give me much time to prepare, but since we only spent one day at the park, it turned out to be a good trial run. There is a plethora of information about Disney on the world wide web and you seriously could research until the point of nausea. Which is what I did while I drove myself crazy trying to find the best ways to meet characters at the park. Here are some things that I learned that I wanted to share with you!
- Disney’s most popular resort is their campsite called Fort Wilderness which just happened to be where we wanted to be. We hauled our pop-up camper down there and enjoyed the gorgeous park, clean bathrooms, and complimentary shuttle and ferry rides. Plus, they offer so many activities day and night, that it would be virtually impossible for anyone to be bored! You could seriously play there all day long and not even have time to go to the Magic Kingdom. Chip & Dale come to the campsite every night at 8pm for a campfire, singing, dancing, and pictures with your kids. There are also daily pool parties, craft time, outdoor movie on a big screen, and much much more.
- buildabettermousetrip.com – If you sign up with their site, they will automatically email you a list of 45 things you can do for free at Disney. The list was very helpful and has several gems that you wouldn’t know about otherwise.
When you arrive, go to guest services and request buttons. They have buttons you can wear for “1st Disney Trip” or “We’re Celebrating” and often if cast members notice you wearing them, you will get extra attention!
- If you have a smart phone, download the Disney World app. This helped us tremendously with planning out which characters we were going to meet where and when. In addition to that, the app also offers information about wait times, dining info, and park hours. That is just the tip of the iceberg with this app. There’s so much information on it, it will blow your mind!
Ask yourself, “What is the most important thing for me to accomplish at Disney?” Make a MUST-DO list and get it done first thing. Here’s a little story- When we walked into the park, I immediately felt overwhelmed with the thought that “One day at Disney is not enough to do everything!!!” So I turned to Roo and asked her, “What do you want to do the most?” And she replied, “Meet Cinderella!” So I found a cast member (employee) and asked how to make this happen. Five minutes later we were in line for an intimate meet & greet with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. (Bonus!) Once I had that out of the way, I felt relieved because I had met my daughters expectations for Disney and we could just play and ride the rest of the day!
Another tid-bit I recently found out, is there’s an area called Downtown Disney and it is free. Although we did not get to experience Downtown first hand, we hope to go next year and use this information that my girl friend Jill wrote up.
- Important: parking! You want to park in the “Marketplace” area (sections A-D). Downtown Disney has three areas: Marketplace, Pleasure Island, and West Side. In my opinion, the Marketplace section is the only one worth visiting if you have young kids. Pleasure Island is closed for construction, and if you accidentally park on the West Side, you will be walking a long long way. Also parking is free, but the lots tend to fill up fast, so I recommend getting there early.
- Lego Store: it’s worth walking around on the outside to see the Disney characters they built out of Legos. There’s also a section inside with legos and tables that they can play with for free. And there are Disney characters made out of Legos on the inside too.
- World of Disney: It’s huge and one of its entrances has Stitch, who shoots water at people as they pass. It’s also fun to look up at all the characters on the ceiling inside the store. If you go into the Princess room, in the very back, near the Bippity Boppity Bootique (where you can pay like $100 to make your kids look like they stepped out of Toddlers in Tiaras), on the wall, there’s a mirror, and if you stand in front of it, it’ll make you look like a princess.
- Restaurants: be prepared to wait and pay a ton of money. It’s good food and a good atmosphere, but it’s expensive. Be sure to bring lots of water, snacks, hats, and sunscreen for children.
- Carousel & Train: they have both in this area. I think it cost $0.75 for my child to ride the carousel. My husband was able to ride for free because he sat on the bench and didn’t use one of the “moving” animals.
- Ferry: It comes by every 20 minutes or so. It docks by the Rainforest Cafe.
If you have any tips or tricks to share about your Disney experience, please share in the comment section below!