Anyone who knows my family knows we're a bit obsessed with Disney World. The place is truly magical!
Of course, traveling with children can be anything but magical, and navigating around the happiest place on earth can definitely involve its share of tears.
Here are three tips I've learned over the years -- tips to make your family vacation to Disney World as magical as possible!
1. Be scheduled but flexible
I know that scheduled flexibility seems like a bit of an oxymoron, but hear me out. One of the keys to enjoying your trip is making sure everyone gets a chance to do the thing they've been dreaming about. So plan out your days enough so that you can fit in those absolute musts. Wake up at 6 a.m. a month (or two months if you're staying at an onsite hotel) before your trip to score that "Frozen" ride Fast Pass. Plan to get to the Magic Kingdom at opening to get in line to see your little princess's favorite Disney princess. Make reservations at some of the really good restaurants.
But, here's the second key to enjoying your trip -- Once you've scheduled the things everyone in your family absolutely has to experience, make sure your plans include plenty of downtime. On that day you have to get up super early to get to the parks at rope drop, plan to spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool. If you have some really tight Fast Pass reservations one evening, plan to sleep in that morning and just meander around some Disney hotels in the afternoon. Relaxation and flexibility are just as important as fitting in all those awesome activities!
2. Pack snacks
We all know the fastest way to a grumpy kid (or adult!) is an empty stomach. All that walking throughout the theme parks, on top of weird mealtimes dictated by restaurant openings and unfamiliar food that your picky eater might not be that into eating, lead to hungry kids.
The good news is that Disney World has an awesomely liberal carry-in policy. As long as you don't mind carrying a backpack loaded down with snacks and water bottles (and, hey, isn't that what your stroller is for?), you can bring in all of your little ones' favorite foods, and a tummy full of satisfying treats leads to a happy day at the happiest place on earth!
3. Keep an eye out for extra special magical opportunities.
People get obsessed with Disney World for good reason. The customer service is simply amazing. Cast members go out of their way to make sure your stay is magical. One way they do that is by giving guests extra special, unexpected goodies. We've been given free Fast Passes because a cast member liked our daughter's shirt. My kids have been given free pins (Disney pin traders know how awesome that is!), elaborate creations out of Mickey stickers, have been dusted with glittery pixie dust outside stores, and my food allergic daughter, who can rarely eat french fries in everyday restaurants, has never been refused safe fries in a Disney restaurant.
Keep your eyes open. When cast members stop your little prince or princess to chat with them, take advantage of the opportunity; it will make your experience that much more magical!