Cynthia from HappyGoStuckey.com is back today with part 2 of her miniseries on doing Disney with kiddos - welcome her back & stick around until the end of the post to learn a little more about her!
Hello again, friends of TheHomemadeFig! I'm glad to be back with you today sharing a few more Tips for Loving Disney World with Little Ones. We'll chat expectations, souvenirs, and those Magical Moments you do NOT want to miss!
(Disclaimer: most of my advice is Magic Kingdom based, just because that's our life-stage with little girls).
My best advice for keeping it "The Happiest Place on Earth" is to plan like crazy, and then be loosey-goosey flexible.
Go into the trip with proper expectations and then be prepared to manage those expectations throughout the trip as necessary. Our first visit with our then two year old, we spent 90% of one day only in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. There were entire parts of the park we didn't even step foot in. We rode the carousel nine times. We took a break so she could nap. We sat in the shade of the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups and enjoyed Mickey Ice Cream Bars and took plenty of pictures to document the moments. It was slow-paced and perfect. And guess what? We've never had another Magic Kingdom day quite like that one. Usually now we race around with FastPasses and autograph books. I'm sure it will continue to change with each trip and Im happy with that. Just one more tip, one day at Magic Kingdom is NEVER long enough for us. We have spent 2 1/2 days there before and it feels like just enough. We like to have at least one day where we have no FP's planned early so we can take our time walking down Main Street USA and taking it all in.
Ok - first, can I just say that if souvenirs aren't a thing in your house, that is 100% ok?! I'm all for simplifying and just being able to take a trip to Disney World is a HUGE gift for any child. That said, we usually allow our children to choose one somewhat inexpensive souvenir (back away from the Monorail playset, kid) during the vacation. We never let them choose on the first day unless it is something that they will not see again and we try to guide them a little, but mainly it's their choice.
The choices are endless and here's a little of what is available. (We buy ahead of time and pack everything else that could be a temptation to blow on in the park. Glow sticks, rain ponchos, stickers, autograph books, etc.)
- Disney Charm Bracelet. These are affordable and really cute. WE love to add a charm to their bracelet each trip. We even bought a few secretly and gave them at Christmas for a little mid-year Disney magic.
- Build your own Mr. Potato Head at Disney Springs with Star Wars & Disney accessories.
- Penny Presses. I cannot say enough about these. The little book, the fun of searching for machines and adding them to our collection - I *might* enjoy it more than they do.
- Stuffed Animals. Alas, I am best frenemies with the WDW stuffed animals. There are so many beautiful options with gorgeous quality. Our girls have chosen one nearly every time for their souvenir. Sure, we have too many. We do. But I know they will quickly grow out of this stage where a new cuddly Pluto spends the entire trip home tucked under their sleeping face. For now, it's ok. Plus, they take such good care of them that we are able to pass them on to others which is just fun!
- Mouse Ears. We bought the classic mouse ears for each girl on her first trip. They actually still wear them at Disney and even play with them at home. Again, the Disney quality is unmatched and I love that we have this sweet reminder of their first glimpse of the castle. There are so many fun options of these!
- The Starbucks Disney Parks Mugs. This is totally a Mom-Souvenir. But you cannot find them anywhere else and who doesn't want to drink their coffee from a mug that reminds them of their favorite place? It just makes those cold February mornings a bit brighter when vacation is ages away. *There is a mug for each theme park!*
What are your favorite Disney souvenirs? I've love to know!
And now for 7 Magical Moments you don't want to miss!
If you're only ad Disney World for one or two park days, then these are Magical Magic Kingdom Moments you don't want to skip with little ones in tow!
1) The opening show right before rope drop. Rope Drop is the literal gate opening - people coming in to begin the day time. It's the most perfect way to begin a Disney day. The train comes in and characters sing a little welcoming song. Get there about 15-20 minutes before the opening time. (As in, standing there, not getting off the bus at that time or walking in from the parking lot. That can take a few minutes in itself.)
2) Walking down Main Street USA and taking it all in. Stopping long enough to get a photo in front of the castle while everyone is still clean and fresh and not yet tired. If it's your very first visit, don't plan to skip this in order to get to a ride first i you can help it.
3) Snack Time! Even if your meals are covered, plan for a Dole Whip (!!) or Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar or any number of delicious treats at some point in the day.
4) A Ride on the Walt Disney Railroad around the park. Great way to cool off and get a feel for what's what.
5) The Teacups. The Carousel. Basically all of Fantasyland if you have littles! Peter Pan is an iconic ride that actually has a historically long wait. FP+ are available for this one, and you may want to consider grabbing one or heading there first. Heading there soon in the morning can be best, so you don't miss the new queue that takes your party through the Darling house.
6) The Three O'Clock Parade. You will see so many characters in beautiful floats with amazing music. It's a must-do but it can be hot so stake out a spot early!
7) The Nighttime Entertainment. In my experience, it's always been worth it to leave the park for awhile in the middle of the day if our kids needed a rest, rather than miss the night time festivities. The Electrical Parade and Wishes Fireworks show are worth the price of your ticket if you can stay until then. I've never survived it without a tear or two.
Cynthia's Favorite WDW Attraction: It's a tie between the Carousel and the Tea Cups. Same as when I was six. I couldn't live in a Disney World without them.
Cynthia's Favorite Snack at WDW: A Dole Whip Float (I'm such a cliche!)
Cynthia's Favorite Disney Memory: My very first visit to Disney, I was six years old. It was December and though my Dad and brothers also went, I remember exploring the park just me and my mom. We bought strawberry fruit bars and then had to smuggle them in her pockets to ride the train to Minnie Mouse's house. I remember thinking how very sneaky we were and that my mom was the coolest because no one else had popsicles in their coat pockets. (I didn't break a lot of rules as a child, clearly - so this was exciting!).