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by JollyFrogger Diva

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a Disney loving family, and have visited the parks numerous times throughout my life. When it came time for our daughter’s first visit to Walt Disney World, however, I knew I was in uncharted territory.  Like any good Disney traveler, I did plenty of research on traveling with small children. For example, I learned about Baby Care centers I had never known existed and I studied up on the child swap program because we had never had need for it before. I gleaned a lot of good information from the experiences of others, and felt quite confident when travel time came.  Overall, I feel like I was pretty well prepared, but I did come across a few things during the trip that hadn’t come up in my research and felt I should share them for anyone else who is looking at taking their children for the first time. Here are some of my less common tips for traveling with kids to Walt Disney World.

  1. Be mindful of your room location at the larger resorts.
    We had never stayed at the Art of Animation Resort before and since we didn’t have a large enough group to warrant a family suite, we decided to stay in the Little Mermaid rooms. Unfortunately, those rooms are about as far away from the bus stop and dining hall as you can possibly get. That might not have been a problem if our party was all adults, but kids don’t understand a long walk to get a bite to eat or to get to their bed at the end of a tiring day. This might not be as big of an issue if you have a vehicle on property because you could drive to the dining hall if the walk is too long, but for those of us who rely on Disney transportation, you may want to consider the distance from your room of choice to the areas you’ll be spending a lot of time.
  2. Be sure to schedule some off time.
    My family has always built a little “off” time into our schedule, but that usually just means a day where we don’t go to the parks. Those “off” days are usually when we build in time to visit favorite resorts, take in tea at Grand Floridian, or do some shopping at Downtown Disney. However, what I discovered is, the little time we had nothing planned actually ended up being some of my favorite memories from the trip. We took my daughter to the pool for the first time and she absolutely loved it. Looking back, I wish we could have had more than one opportunity to visit the resort pool because it was such fun, but alas, we had scheduled things in such a way that we had very little time for true spontaneity.
  3. Consider letting Disney do the photography.
    My mother has always insisted on purchasing Disney’s photo packages when we visit. It’s really the only way to get my whole family in one picture, so we always humor her and pose for a few shots. I, on the other hand, have always preferred to take my own pictures and spend most of my time behind the camera instead of on it. The trip we took with my daughter was the first time I was truly grateful to have Disney doing the photography for me. Several times when we took her to meet a character, Disney photographers captured a moment I wouldn’t have been able to with my own camera since I was holding her. One of my favorites is where my daughter decided to see what Mickey’s face tasted like- luckily it’s preserved for all time for my continued nostalgia and her future embarrassment. Disney has trained their photographers well, so try letting them do all the hard work so you are free to enjoy the moment with your family.

The most important tip I can give, however, is to remember to have fun. In the end, your kids may not remember the details of your trip, but they will remember the time you spent together as family making memories at the most magical place on Earth.