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Your Family Guide To Walt Disney World

What are you doing this summer?  

Disney Destin 30A Moms Blog

I’m going to Disney World!  

Cue the excitement and happy dance!  That phrase makes even the oldest seem like a giddy kid thinking about Disney World…Or maybe it’s just me. And I’m ok with that! 

I’ve been going to Disney World since I was 3 years old with my parents and older bother.  When I was in college, I went on a paid internship working for Disney, and now I love going with my husband and children.  So needless to say, I have some tips to help you plan your big trip!  

What to do before you arrive:

  1. Book your Disney Resort!  You can navigate through to view resorts.  I’ve stayed at all the resorts, from value to deluxe, so you can definitely stick to a budget with your accommodations.  There are lots of perks to staying at a Disney Resort: you get early access to fastpass planning, one extra hour at all Disney theme parks, Disney MagicBands give extra vacation choices, complimentary transportation to theme parks and airport, vacation packages, Disney themed rooms, and Disney dining plans.  There are vacation perks to booking a package too, especially for us Florida residents. Keep in mind kids under 3 get in to the park FREE! { Helpful tip: Ask all your questions by calling 1(407) 939-5277. }
  2. Make restaurant reservations.  Try to do it as soon as you book your trip.  It’s busy these days, and unfortunately you can’t just walk into a restaurant at Disney and expect to get a seat anymore. Our family loved being on the Disney Dining Plan. It saved us a lot of money, and is typically great for families with children. 
  3. Download the Walt Disney World ‘My Disney Experience’ App.  Type in your confirmation number.  From there, you’ll be able to access your dining, fast passes (yes, you need the fast passes), wait lines, tickets, etc. 
  4. Get your Disney MagicBands (aka bracelets) in the mail.  They’re an electronic bracelet that have your room key, photos, and park tickets linked to it.  Your ID and credit card are also linked to it so you won’t have to carry around a wallet.  You can make purchases through your bracelet and they’ll get charged back to your room.  Super convenient, just don’t lose it! You can choose your favorite colors, too.   
  5. Keep personal necessities at home.  Like what?  Razors, shampoo, hair dryer, soap, lotion, Q-tips, etc.  The hotel will provide these at the front desk or you can call from your room to request (check before arrival that your hotel provides extra toiletries). It’ll save you space in your luggage for all your extra plush mickeys you’ll buy.  
  6. Call to request early check-in.  If you can arrange an early arrival, the concierge will hold your luggage so you can enjoy your stay right away!  Your luggage will be waiting of you in your room by the time you get back.  
  7. Check the weather before you leave so you know what to pack.  It may rain so you can pack an umbrella, poncho, or extra pants incase it’s cool one evening.  Also check with the hotel for their events for the days you are there.  I went during Easter, so we made sure to bring Easter baskets from home.  

Tips while you’re in Disney World:

  1. Bring your own stroller!  If you rent one at each park, it’s $15 a day, $31 for a double.  They’re hard, bulky, you’ll have to wait in line to purchase one and wait in line to return one.  When you’re little one is sound asleep you’ll want him to be able to recline and relax.  Plus when it’s time to go, the last thing you’ll wanna do is bring back the stroller, and then you’ll have your carry your little one who is already exhausted and cranky.   Your stroller also serves as a great cargo carrier for the diaper bag, drinks, shopping bags etc. I’d suggest bringing a baby wrap as well for the little babes who might need a break from the stroller.  It helped save my arm strength in the long lines and I wore him during shows, as well.  
  2. You can keep your food in your stroller!  Unlike other amusement parks, Disney lets you bring in food and drinks to the parks!  You can’t bring in a cooler but you can bring in your Starbucks and all the snacks and baby food you can hold.  This is extremely helpful with babies and picky eaters. 
  3. No need to overpack for the park.  Forget diapers, socks, or wipes? No prob. Disney provides all of that, ether in your hotel or at the parks. I would recommend bringing an extra change of clothes for babies and toddlers though.  All the parks also have Baby Care Centers, which provide a pretty fabulous break in the midst of chaotic days. Like a little baby oasis, they are fully staffed and have great amenities. Check the maps and make sure you know where they are for feeding time, changing time, or just “mama needs a minute” time. 
  4. Know your rides ahead of time!  You’d be surprised how many rides my 7 month and 23 month old went on. You’ll want to know before you go to beat a meltdown from happening if your little one doesn’t quite make the right height.  See the height requirements for all attractions here:  And don’t forget the FastPass, especially for new or popular attractions.
  5. Go in non-peak seasons and times.  In my personal opinion, it’s busiest (and more expensive) during spring break, summer, and holidays. In general it also always seems busiest in the parks around lunchtime.  When I was growing up, we would swim all day and then go to the parks later, until closing, which I loved. However, now that I have tiny little early risers, we are at the parks right when they open.  For planning, just keep in mind that sometimes when crowds are low, the park hours are shorter and certain parades/entertainment may not be shown daily in the off-peak seasons. If you’re not a parade fan, take advantage of that too, and go on attractions at that time.  {Disclaimer, I don’t know how accurate this is, but we did find this handy calendar to check the peak times.}
  6. Sit at the end (and/or in the back) of shows and 3D shows.  I made it through “It’s Tough to be a Bug”, “Mickey’s PhilharMagic”, and “MuppetVision 3D”  wearing my then 7 month old.  I made sure I was at the end incase I needed to step outside if the sound was too loud for him.  I’m still shocked he slept through all 3!  
  7. Eat with Disney characters!  This can be a bit more expensive than grabbing food to go but in my opinion it is so worth it, even if you do it just once.  It is definitely a fun experience for your children and the whole family.  Plus, it keeps the little ones entertained while they are confined to a highchair, booster seat or car seat.  These are some my favorite character dining places:
  • Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.  Enjoy breakfast or dinner with Stitch and friends at this Hawaiian themed restaurant.  Yes, you will see Mickey!  You can make a reservation even if you’re not staying at the resort.  Any chance to get to ride on the monorail is a win in my book.  On the monorail ask if you can sit with the conductor for a front row seat!
  • The Crystal Palace at The Magic Kingdom.  Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner buffet with Winnie the Pooh and friends.  I love this restaurant because it’s already right in the park.  You can arrive at the park early and won’t need to leave the park to eat. 
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table at The Magic Kingdom.  Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner inside Cinderella’s castle with all the Disney princesses.  This is more on the expensive side, and even if you have all boys like I do, it still was pretty awesome to be inside the castle looking down outside on Main Street.  Even if you just do it once, it’s pretty cool!  This is one of the few restaurants that serves alcohol in The Magic Kingdom (just saying, Moms and Dads 😉).
  •  The Garden Grill at Epcot.  Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner family style with Chip, Dale and friends.  Yes, you will see Mickey!  I love this restaurant because the whole restaurant revolves and you get see a new views of Living with the Land.  It’s vibrant, fun, and keeps the kids entertained.  
  • Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Enjoy breakfast , lunch or dinner with Donald Duck and friends.  Yes, you will see Mickey!  I love the African theme of this restaurant and the variety of food was delicious.  

A final note: 

Your children are probably going to have tantrums and meltdowns. The odds aren’t in your favor here. There will be tears…Don’t sweat it!  They’ll be completely out of their routine, going to bed later than usual, eating way too many Mickey ice cream bars, wanting every single toy in sight, and won’t understand waiting in lines. I brought my 10 year old, 7 month old, 23 month old, my husband, my mom who is 64 and her aunt who is 77.  It took about 2 full days for my 2 under 2 to get use to being in the stroller everyday and waiting in lines, but it was so worth it! I would do it all over again.  It really is the happiest place on earth!  

I hope this list was helpful and would love to hear about any tips you have to making your Disney trip even more memorable!

Have a magical time! 






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3 Responses to Your Family Guide To Walt Disney World

  1. Jacqui June 7, 2017 at 9:54 am #

    Thank you for this! We are in the process of planning our first Disney trip as a family (with our 2 year old). This builds more excitement than I can contain!!!!

    • Sara Tallent
      Sara Tallent June 13, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

      Jaqui you’re welcome! So glad it helped 🙂 Have fun at Disney!!

    • kristenwebb
      kristenwebb June 25, 2017 at 9:44 am #

      Hi Jacqui!! I hope this helped!! I’d love to hear your feedback one you get back from Disney! I miss it already! 🙂