Now that you are thoroughly schooled on our trip to Disney this year, how about a quick recap and a few tips for anyone wanting to go with a 5 and 1 year old? I included a few money saving tips, general stuff, etc.
Tip #1 – If you can pull off the surprise, do it! Gianna just told me the other night “that was the best surprise of my whole life” when talking about our vacation this year. Totally worth it!
Tip #2 – You really don’t need a double stroller. We toyed around with the idea of renting one but I’m glad we didn’t. Gianna whined a little bit here and there, but we just went at her pace. We let her ride sometimes and either carried Aleesia or let her walk, which worked out fine.
Tip #3 – Bring a waterproof bag with you. It rains a lot in Florida (esp. in the summer) and it was nice not to worry about our things getting wet. We also pack light – essentials only: diapers, wipes, autograph books, pen, camera, and a small board book that I didn’t care if anything happened to it or not. I packed bubbles but they never made their way into the bag somehow – I thought that would have been a fun way to help entertain Aleesia while we waited for Mike and G when they were riding things!
We are big proponents of staying on-property if you can for a few reasons. Convenience. The experience. Convenience. We have always flown to Florida, so not having any concerns over transportation is fabulous and we have been absolutely over the moon pleased with every experience we’ve had at the resorts.
We are also big proponents of utilizing the dining plan, especially if you plan to do character meals. They can be pricey, and sometimes, the food can be far inferior to what you might ACTUALLY want to eat but Doc McStuffins is there so who cares about the food. It’s nice not to have to worry about having money for meals (aside from tips) or snacks because it’s already handled. Disney is generous with portions so we usually just had Aleesia and Gianna share (or Aleesia and Mike or I) since kids under 3 are free/not dining plan eligible. My biggest tip here is just to try and schedule your meals near the park you want to go to that day so you aren’t traveling all over trying to get to/from the park or the hotel you are eating at!
We still bring some of our own snacks to try and combat Hangry Kid Syndrome. This time, we brought fruit snacks, cereal, and granola bars.
Tip #4 – Bring your own special souvenirs. The girls love these. Again, it saves a bit of cash from the get go and we didn’t hear too many “I wants” from the biggest girl since she “got” something new every morning! They each got a special souvenir (and picked one for baby sister) too!
FastPass+ was confusing to me at first, but once we got there it all made sense. I was worried that our days would feel super structured trying to keep up with our dining and FastPass reservations, but they really didn’t. As a quick recap the FastPass reservations we made per park were:
- Hollywood Studios: Star Tours; Toy Story Mania; Disney Jr. Live
- Magic Kingdom Day 1: Splash Mountain; Anna and Elsa Meet and Greet; Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
- Magic Kingdom Day 2: Ariel Meet and Greet; Story Time with Belle; Mine Train
- Epcot: Sourin’; Test Track; Nemo and Friends
My biggest suggestion, try and get your times as early in the day as possible so you can add on additional FP+ reservations throughout the afternoon and evening. It’s okay if you skip out on a FP you already scheduled – don’t sweat it! This is still a vacation after all, so try and go with the flow some and not follow a strict schedule. Unless you like strict schedules, then by all means, carry on!
Tip #5 - Park hoppers, for our family and for most families with little kids, will be an unnecessary added expense. It is hard to do everything in 1 park during the day, let alone packing up and moving to another park in the same day. If you are worried about feeling rushed, skip the hopper. We have yet to have a time where we were sad that we couldn’t hit up another park in the same day because we were all so tired by the end of the day just from enjoying one park at a time!
We don’t usually go to a park on the day we get there/day we leave. This time was a bit different but we didn’t go anywhere the last day. We “slept in”, swam, lounged, got caught in a giant thunderstorm, gift-shopped, and just took it easy. I highly recommend this wind-down time at the end of your trip – and if you are staying more than 4/5 days, try to add in a non-park day in the middle of the week too! Go to downtown disney, it’s super fun and Mike and I were actually really disappointed we didn’t make it down there this trip.
2014 was another super successful Disney vacation for the Dixon family and we are already excited to take baby sister when the time comes!
List of all 2014 Disney posts: