Been there, done that. The trip to Walt Disney World is a one and done kind of experience for us, its expensive and a lot of work. But, Disney did not disappoint. The hype, the feeling of it being a ‘must-do’ is true. It felt more like a trip than a vacation, but maybe that’s just my life with #4boys. Here are some tips from a novice and first timer- who enjoys traveling with kids and nice things. (Oxymoron?) Even during a pandemic.
There are some things – I recommend to my friends who are considering making the trip.
A little background information to set the stage. My boys are ages 7-11. My 8 year old was the perfect age. He loved it all. If you have an 8 year old, now is the the time.
We visited Disney during the pandemic. Occupancy was somewhere between 25% and 35% and many of the ‘normal’ things Disney does were not on offer. Social Distancing and mask wearing, temp checks- all the things are there in place to do Disney safely.
Find a Disney Magic Maker (travel agent). This person knows all the details about all the changing rules, regulations, park occupancy as well as the best things and times to do them all. They’ve been, lots, they love Disney they can be a huge help in figuring out what will be best for your family. This is free service. They make a commission off your purchases- but nothing more- and there is a lot of leg work involved. This is the way to go. They make your reservations; for dinning and tickets to the park- I have no more information on any of that- just hire a person. They will hook you up.
Stay ‘off campus.’ Many people will say otherwise- but for our family of 6 this was a must. During the pandemic especially good- because the normal perks of staying ‘inside the Disney bubble’ don’t exist. This saves a ton of money and allows some freedoms a hotel cannot give. Like space.
We had a three bedroom condo with three bathrooms. The perfect apartment, complete with a kitchen and washer and dryer. Key. So key. It was also a water park resort with restaurants and lots of other activities. The Grove. If I had a smaller family – The Four Seasons would be my choice.
Uber. We used ride share everywhere. So easy. So great. Following all protocols and plenty of availability. This is the way to go. As a large family, we did have to split into 2 Ubers often, but this wasn’t an issue. From the airport to the resort, to a different Disney Park each day- this is awesome! Dropped right at the front, less walking, no parking fees and a time saver.
Use a grocery delivery service like Walmart+ or Instacart. We had groceries and snacks and alcoholic beverages delivered to our resort. Plan ahead and have a delivery coming the day you arrive. I also brought some snacks in our luggage- like granola bars etc.- just in case- also pack swimsuits in your carry on for immediate swimming once you arrive to the hotel/resort.
You can bring in food to Disney and we had a soft cooler that worked perfectly inside my husbands backpack. Things like bars, frozen uncrustables, trail mix, bottles of waters…all the things to keep us going in between meals. Totally made our lives easier without hangry kids.
You will want to bring a battery pack for your phones- they will die. Don’t forget the cord to attach it to your phone….we did that one day. opps.
Plan a day of rest. I so wish we had done this. A full day to chill, sleep in, enjoy the resort. Most of the parks open early and you’ll spend all day there- the kids really do enjoy the pools and fun at the hotels, so make some time to enjoy that- and you will need the rest. A break from the lines, gift shops, from the walking, from the food- from it all. We walked an average of 9 miles each day with kids in tow- all day long out and about- we were so tired at the end.
Skip Animal Kingdom. We had fun here, but it really wasn’t all that great in comparison to the other parks. Kind of like a big zoo with a few cool rides. Once area completely shut down- most of the exhibits are what you see back home. Not worth it in my opinion.
A Fanny pack/ Back Pack is needed. I used a fanny pack and my husband carried the back pack. We visited Disney in December so light weight (easily squished) jackets were needed in the morning and evening, but during the day we stuffed them in the backpack. It also held our snacks.
My boys loved the frozen lemonades for sale around the park, churros and Mickey pretzels. We ate a couple of restaurants but had to split up into 2 tables. The food there, in my opinion, isn’t that great. My own packed sandwiches and snacks were better choices for us.
Masks- you have to wear them. Bring extras, change throughout the day. No buffs or single ply face coverings allowed- only real masks.
Pre-purchase Disney Gift Cards from Sam’s Club. We purchased each child a $50 gift card and they could use that to purchase their own souvenirs. This was handy because it kept things fair and gave them a sense of ownership to what they really wanted. Tacky hats and all.
Motion sickness peeps- you know who you are. Wear the bands, take the meds. Pack Gallon Size Ziplocks. They come in handy for lots of things.