We are all about keeping the Disney blogging community healthy here at Tips from the Disney Divas and Devos and so we’re taking Monday’s to highlight some of the great other blogs out there that will help you plan fantastic trips! We hope that you will visit these blogs, like their pages, and keep coming back here for more referrals to some great perspectives on Disney Trips!
Today’s article is from Tracy Hurdle, Magical Vacations by Tracy
Trippin’ With My Toddler: The 5 Things I’m So Glad We Did on Our Disney World Trip (And The 1 Thing I Wish We Hadn’t)
Let me start by saying this: The question I got most frequently (and hated most vehemently) while planning my DisneyWorld trip for December 2013 was, “Why are you going now? He’s only 2; he won’t remember it.” For the parents of toddlers out there that are dreaming of a Disney trip but are thinking the exact same thing, I say to you, “Go anyway. Just go.” Are there challenges to traveling across the country with a toddler? Duh. Of course there are. But, guess what? You will remember this trip for the rest of your life. The challenges will become fodder for laughs and “embarrass you in front of future boyfriend/girlfriend” stories. The rewards will make your heart melt long after the last Mickey waffle has been digested and the pixie dust is gone.
The following list comprises a few things we did on or before our trip that served us well (and the one thing we forgot to do that we really regret). While some are specific to traveling with a young child, every family type can find a nugget of wisdom here or there.
1. Plan Early: I booked my December-2013 trip in January-2013. Up until 45 days prior to your trip’s start date (if you booked a package, that is), you can change your itinerary to your heart’s content. I think I changed our dates at least 3 times based on flight schedules in order to find the best deal. And, you can start making dining reservations 180 days out which is a necessity (particularly if your toddler would love character meals). To some extent, the 10.5 months of waiting was a killer. But, it also gave me plenty of time for Tip #2.
2. Research, Research, and More Research: You’d think I was preparing a doctoral dissertation on Walt Disney World with as much studying that I did in the 10.5 months prior to our trip. And like most situations in life, the more prepared you are the less you have to worry about once you arrive. Now, you die-hard “fly by the seat of your pants” types will need to grit your teeth and heed my warning: Having a solid plan at Disney World is the best way to go. When you’ve saved thousands of dollars for the trip of a lifetime, you don’t want to be among the dazed and confused standing in the middle of Main St. USA trying to figure out where to find Space Mountain. Little ones in particular do not want to stand around waiting for the unknown, so do the research and have a plan.
3. Be willing to throw away the plan: We have a joke in our house; more like a catch phrase for our son. It goes something like this, “Hi, my name is Alex and I do what I want.” Toddlers know what they want and they want it right now. You want to ride Space Mountain? Tough. Your toddler just discovered a line of ants on the sidewalk. You’re going to be busy for the next 18-45 minutes. Because I had done all of the research, it was easy to adjust on the fly to accommodate my son’s sudden fascination with finding all of the trash cans in Tomorrowland. It was also easier to completely modify several days of our trip when my son woke up one morning with fever and congestion. I was able to reschedule a character meal and our Christmas party tickets for another day so that we could take it easy that morning. I know it seems counterintuitive, but more planning ahead of time equals more flexibility later.
4. Pack for a range of temperatures: Ahh, Florida, with your unpredictable temps and darn near predictable bouts of rain. We arrived to Central Florida in early December expecting temps in the low-70’s to high 50’s with a few afternoon showers mixed in to make it interesting. Some of you may remember the memes floating around during that time that showed the country’s weather map. Every single state in the continental U.S. was a vibrant blue or purple with many state’s temps in the single digits or negatives. All except good ol’ Florida which was awash in bright red, otherwise known in meteorological circles as “surface of the sun” degrees. It was hot all week and there was not a drop of rain to be seen. Now, “why look a gift horse in the mouth”, you ask? Because, the gift horse was wearing jeans while spending all day walking around outside. Thankfully, I packed several pairs of shorts for all of us so we didn’t suffer horribly all week (though I did end up having to use the laundry facilities once because we ran out of said shorts halfway through the trip).
5. If you fly to Orlando, take your toddler’s car seat: This might not be applicable for the slightly older kiddos (4 & up) but it was a lifesaver for us. My son is a squirmy worm and would have completely freaked out if confined to an unfamiliar airplane seat for 5 minutes, let alone a 2 hour flight. Not to mention he’s smarter than both his parents, and would have figured out how to get out of that seat belt before the flight attendants could even begin the safety demonstration. He knows what to expect in his car seat though and had absolutely no problems on the flight. Check the back of your car seat to ensure that it is FAA approved.
I could probably regale you with 5 more blog posts worth of tips, but I’ll leave you with our one regret.
We didn’t physically prepare for a trip to Disney World. At all. Now, my husband and I aren’t in the best shape in the world but we’re not complete slugs either. If you even remotely consider yourself to be of the couch potato set, I strongly urge you to start walking in the months prior to your trip. Adrenaline and Dole Whips will only get you so far, my friend. I didn’t realize it but my smart phone has an app that was counting my steps on our trip. When our tired feet were finally propped up at the end of our trip, they had traversed over 44 miles during our 8-day adventure. That’s a ton of steps for a moderately out of shape housewife and her software developing husband. We were tired, guys. Bone tired. This leaves me with my last tip:
Thank you for reading this and if you have any questions or would like to see more from me, please feel free to track me down on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/magicalvacationsbytracy.