When traveling to Walt Disney World with children of different ages it can make for a hectic schedule when trying to fit everything into one day and include time for little ones to nap, diaper changes, and big ones to ride the thrill rides they’re dreaming of.
Here are some tips from the Budget Diva on how to make the most of your time at Disney with both older & younger children (including babies).
Step 1: Have a plan! Don’t make the same mistake that many families do of rushing out of your hotel room at 8:00 am to catch the buses or shuttle and not discussing your day ahead of time. This usually results in some crazy fights from miscommunication. Having a spreadsheet “plan” for the day and knowing what rides are appropriate for what ages will help. You can find those sheets HERE.
Step 2: Pack accordingly! Be sure to pack everything you may need to accommodate all of the members of your family. The article on the Perfect Backpack will give you some good ideas. If you feel that your little ones can nap in the stroller while the older siblings enjoy the rides then be sure to pack blankets, pillows, your little one’s favorite ‘lovey’ or stuffed animal to make them as comfortable as possible. If you need some tips on the best place to rest/ take naps at WDW read THIS ARTICLE.
Step 3: Make it possible to split up. If you decide to temporarily split up the party be sure to separate admission tickets, car keys, room keys, etc so that the parent who goes back to the hotel with the little ones can re-enter the park at a later time. And, of course, make sure any pre-teens or teens have a charged cell-phone that makes it possible for you to contact one another. If you have more than two children who need strollers plan for two umbrella strollers instead of one double stroller in the event that one parent does need leave the park with the other child. Teenagers usually want to sleep in, which can cause a problem when you’re trying maximize your morning ride time. If you opt to stay in an “on-property” resort consider letting your teen sleep in some and catch a bus to meet you in the park later. A little freedom for your teens will go a long way in making the family vacation work.
Step 4: Plan some one-on-one time with your older child. It is a great idea for one parent to go back to the hotel with younger children while the other parent stays in the park with the older child (or children). This is a great way to squeeze in ‘one on one’ time with an older child which they might act like they don’t need, but they do! You may even want to splurge on a special character meal during that one-on-one time which would help to save money since you’d only be paying for one adult and one child instead the whole family.
If character meals aren’t in the budget then you could simply walk around Downtown Disney with your older child and do some window shopping and split an ice cream sundae at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop. Downtown Disney also offers a huge 3,000 sq foot Lego imagination center complete with play center for children of all ages! If you have an older Princess who wants to have a princess makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique this would be a perfect opportunity.
Almost all children under age five are going to need a nap at some point during their Disney vacation (and most adults will too in order to avoid a Huge Meltdown! ) Having a plan ahead of time so that you are not standing in an hour long line for Dumbo with a cranky, whiny toddler AND a cranky, whiny teen can be avoided by letting your children help plan ahead of time and taking these tips into consideration. It may be hard, but it CAN be done. Look for a way and keep coming back to Tips from the Disney Diva for tips to plan the best holiday ever!