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Post Disney Update - Tips From a NOT "Disney" Mom

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*Post Disney Trip Update*

Ok, I’m going to provide you a post-trip experience recap with some of my first hand tips, tricks and a few funny stories that happened along the way. Unfiltered, as a first time Disney mom.

Yes, I recognize there are about 86,593 blogs, pages, books, webpages and hand-written documentaries on how to optimize your Disney World trip from parents who have done this every year for 16 generations. I am not one of those parents.

We did do some research ahead of time and had an incredible Disney Travel Planner (the amazing Magical Vacation Planner - Jean Roberts – I HIGHLY recommend her if you’re planning a Disney trip – see #2 on the below list) but let’s be honest, we still went into this blind. Disney World is basically an alternate universe filled with sorcery that does not exist in the outside world. It’s overwhelming, exhausting, and a magical fairytale by every definition.

First time, real-life Disney mom tips:

1. Enlist help to join you. Don’t try to be a superhero here. If you have more than 2 kids, bring someone to help. We all know you can handle your kids by yourself 99.9% of the time. Disney World is not one of them. You can do it, but you don’t want to. One adult for every kid will maximize your experience. If you have 3 kids… bring a grandparent. Or an older cousin. Or a bored neighbor. Bring an extra set of hands. This is not a joke. This will allow you to enjoy and appreciate your vacation. And if it’s a grandparent, the kids and grandparents will be super excited. Everybody wins.

2. USE A DISNEY TRAVEL PLANNER. Ok, wait. Did you catch that? USE. A. DISNEY. TRAVEL. PLANNER. While we are not the people who know those 86,593 things to know about Disney World, they are. And guess what? It doesn’t cost you ONE CENT. Disney trains these people to help you plan this trip. They help with every detail start to finish and you guys – it is the best decision you can make when it comes to these trips.

3. SURPRISE THEM IF YOU CAN. If you missed our surprise video- go to my Facebook page to check it out: We didn’t tell them until we got to the airport. It was up there with my top 3 moments ever as a parent. The look on their faces and watching their reactions was absolutely priceless.

4. Age Matters. Not that I am judging anyone who takes their one year old to Disney World. It’s about the experience and not all kids are the same. But I will say I did not envy the parents dealing with the naps, bottles, diapers, etc. Our twins are 8 and the little guy is 4. We could not have picked a more perfect time for them to enjoy the magic. That said – ALL ages can enjoy this experience. Personally, I just prefer them to be a little older. Personal preference.

5. There are these lanyard/pin things for kids to trade with all the workers and other kids in the park. Go to Amazon – order the lanyards and 50 misc. pins each to start the trip. Then go Google Disney Pins. It’s a cool little scavenger hunt and our kids had a lot of fun with it.

6. Wear tennis shoes. Every day. And bring an extra pair because if your weather is anything like ours was, it’ll rain every day and they’ll get wet. Pro Tip: if you have little boys, bring gold bond or some sort of baby powder because 6 pairs of tennis shoes in a small hotel room that are damp after running around all day = EW.

7. This place is not the place to make a fashion statement. Do the matching shirts if you want to – they’re super cute. But don’t pack anything that isn’t comfortable. I recommend gym shorts and tank tops if possible as moms. No, seriously. Your AppleWatch/FitBit will actually question if you gave it to someone else for the week because of how much you’ll walk.

8. Two words. Sports. Bras. Don’t even take a real one. You won’t need it.

9. Girls – don’t even bother worrying about your hair and makeup. It’ll either frizz out, sweat off, get blown out on a ride or all of the above. Wear some mascara if you want to, bring some headbands and a ponytail and call it a day.

10. If you’re insane like us and plan all 4 parks in one trip – plan a resort day in the middle. To do nothing except swim and enjoy the resort. If you’re staying at the park, there is so much to do at the resorts the kids won’t even realize they aren’t at a park. And you can rest. It’s needed. Right in the middle of the week is best.

11. Bring back the fanny pack. I mean… I do this anyway because I work Harley-Davidson events often so I always wear one but if you don’t, get one. Rock that thing with pride. You don’t need your cards because your wristband has your credit cards synced. What you will need is a little cash for tips, gum, hand sanitizer, a compact (if you so choose. I so chose), and some wipes. That’s about it. Kids are messy and gross.

12. Ponchos. Hit amazon and get a 20 pack of disposable ones. Cheap, easy, worth it.

13. If you have a kid 5 or under, rent a stroller. Even if your kid doesn’t use one anymore (our 4 year old doesn’t) but he did the entire trip. It also allows them to pass out if needed throughout the 14 hour days. Don’t use the hard strollers in the parks. I recommend - very affordable and they deliver them straight to the resort. Opt for the rain cover, bag hook, and drink holder. Trust me.

14. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions. These people are literally trained to answer everything with a smile and will make you feel like the most important person on earth. Even if you’re asking which way the bathroom is. You’ll walk away feeling like royalty. No question is a dumb question. Honestly. Braxton broke an ornament in a gift shop and instead of making us pay for it, 3 “cast members” - this is what they call the workers, came up to console him and gave him a gift to stop his crying because accidents happen. These people are amazing.

15. Fast Passes. You get 3 per day. It does not cost extra. After you use the 3rd one you can jump on the app (see below) and add another one right away. If you use this app correctly you can jump lines like no one’s business. Most people are either too lazy to worry about it or don’t understand how it works. It’s a life saver. Also as long as you can get a fast pass for the majority of your group – they’ll let you all in, even if not everyone has a pass. These people are trained not to say no.

16. Download the My Disney Experience App. It lets you know so much information (meal plan remaining, resort charges, maps, photos, fast passes) but one of the coolest things is it gives you a locator and wait times for every single ride in the park.

17. GET THE MEAL PLAN. You get 1 table service meal, 1 quick service meal (all over the place) and 2 snacks per person per day. Y’all… this is A LOT of food. Make your reservations for dinner as soon as you possibly can (typically 6 months in advance). Pro Tip: even if you miss your reservation time, they always let you in. You can use all the snacks at the end of the trip and get tons of snacks for the trip home. We had 29 snacks left and at about 10 last night went and stocked up on breakfast foods and snacks for the plane. Also the dinners are unreal. So much delicious food. I’m telling you this as I’m back home eating a hot pocket and drooling over the steak and shrimp I had at the Rainforest Café.

18. Dude. Stretch. Your whole body. Stretch it out each morning. You’re about to work out harder over the next few days than you have in months. Even if you’re a runner. You never. stop. moving.

19. Bring blister pads. You’ll likely need them. And thick socks If you don’t have them – take advantage of the First Aid stations. They are ready and waiting to treat those blisters quickly and get you back into your magical adventures.

20. Double up on lines. If you’re waiting to meet characters, send one adult to one line and one to the other. Then run and join each other when photo time is ready. I thought it was frowned upon at first so we didn’t do it at our first park. Then we met a ton of “Disney regulars” who said they do it all the time and it’s a huge life saver.

21. If you get a birthday pin (my birthday is next week so they gave me a pin) – be prepared to be told “happy birthday princess” about 9,000 times during the trip. It’s cute, but a little overkill.

22. Tip: If you decline room service, you get an extra $10 per night per room. But BRING LYSOL. Because boys and toilets and ew.

23. Last, but certainly not least… let the meltdowns happen. Do not be ashamed or embarrassed of your overtired, overstimulated children’s behavior at times. You will never feel the solidarity in parenthood than you do at a Disney World park. There are more threats, bribes, disciplining, timeouts, passouts and meltdowns than you’ll see anywhere else in your life. We’re all in this together. Just smile at each other and keep on walking. We all get it and it’s fantastic.

There are my real time tips for you. Use them for what they're worth. And ya know what… if you don’t want to… don’t. Make your Disney trip your own. I could not be happier with how ours turned out. It was absolutely-without-a-doubt the best vacation of my life. We had more fun as a family than we’ve ever had. We brought my mother in law along and we all had a perfectly magical time.

Did things go wrong? Sure. Did we have meltdowns of epic proportions? Absolutely. Did we threaten our kid’s lives and bribe them with chocolate and ice cream 18x a day? You better believe it. Do I regret any of it? Nope.

Disney World truly does live up to the hype. There is no trash on the ground. Everyone is super happy. Characters never break character. Customer experience is not just next level, but superhuman level. If you can afford to start saving now, I recommend doing it. If only once. I can say will confidence that it was a week our kids will remember for the rest of their lives.

Our itinerary (for anyone looking for suggestions) – you can do park hopper passes but we opted to do one park each day since we were staying for the full week

•Day 1 = Travel from Chicago to Orlando via plane, stay at Orlando Airport hotel
•Day 2 = Magical Express from Airport to Resort – ours was Caribbean Beach Resort •Day 2 = Drop of bags at resort, pick up stroller at bell services, head to Magic Kingdom •Day 3 = Animal Kingdom
•Day 4 = Resort Day/Rest Day (rained most of the day but we swam anyway)
•Day 5 = Hollywood Studios (my favorite by far!!!)
•Day 6 = Epcot
•Day 7 = Magical Express to airport fly home from Orlando back to Chicago

Love & Hugs,

Momming all the Boys


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