Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Guest Blogger - First Time With Kids!

Heading to Disney World for the first time can be overwhelming to anyone.  Throw a child (or two or three) into the mix and the stress rises to a whole new level.  With so many things to do many parents hold off on a Disney trip until the kids are “older”.  When are they old enough?  It’s like waiting to have kids until you think you can afford it - does that time ever come?  Our first trip to Disney was one that I had just a couple of days notice to plan.  My husband came home from his new job that we moved 1,000 miles across the country for and said “let’s go to Disney this weekend”.  Having never been to Disney before, I was excited and very anxious about taking a fifteen month old and three year old without doing much research.

One of the first things I researched was cost.  As I said, we’d just moved across the country with two young kids, so we certainly didn’t have a ton of money saved up for a fancy trip.  For this trip, we stayed at a cheap local hotel near Disney and it worked out for us.  If you have time to plan: decide if staying on property is worth the cost to your family.  Disney’s got some awesome resorts on property - there are lots of options there! - but there are also some great places off site that may better fit into your budget.  If you’re on a deadline: see what’s available on and off site and decide what’s best for your family.

Tickets were another thing we needed to consider.  We were only visiting for a long weekend so we settled on three day park hopper tickets so we could try and fit in as much as we could.  If you have time to plan: look into the costs of the different tickets offered and see what you’d like to see in each park.  If you’re on a deadline: start off with admission for each full day of your visit.  You can always upgrade your ticket if you need additional days or want to “hop”.

A stoller was another big consideration for our family.  I was worried about taking two strollers so I started searching for a double stroller that would work for us.  I found one at Target that worked out and fit into our budget but it certainly wasn’t anything fancy at all.  If you have time to plan: read through threads on Disney sites and take a look at reviews from other people who have used the stroller in the parks.  Even better - if you can try out the stroller, do that!  Once you load it up with kids and stuff, it gets very heavy.  Make sure you can still handle it for several hours while you’re in the parks.  If you’re on a deadline: Check out some reviews and see what your local stores have to offer.  I wouldn’t suggest purchasing anything without actually trying it if you won’t have time to exchange it before your trip if you don’t like it.

I will proudly say that I’m an over packer and going to Disney is no different.  That means having a good bag for the parks is a must for our family.  Disney allows you to bring in snacks, food, drinks and other items (check here for the complete list) which is both a curse and blessing.  If you have time to plan:  look over the list of items not allowed and figure out what you’d like to take into the parks.  Once you know what you’d like to take, you’ll know what type and size bag you will need.  If you’re on a deadline: generally speaking, a backpack type bag should work for your family.  Try to find one with lots of space (pockets are good to keep you organized) and comfortable straps.

Lastly, but probably most importantly, is food.  Disney offers tons of options from counter service to table service to snacks.  As I mentioned, you’re allowed to bring in your own food and beverage as well which can help save quite a bit of money.  This will also help save your sanity if you’ve got a picky eater or someone with specific dietary needs.  If you’ve got time to plan: take a look at Disney’s offerings.  There are sites out there with the menus from Disney’s restaurants and snack carts to give you an idea of what’s available as well as the costs.  Take a look at the Disney Dining Plan to see if it can save your family some money during the trip.  If you’re on a deadline: plan on eating one meal a day in the parks and figuring out the rest - either off property or on your own with food you’ve brought with you.  If you want to try and eat at table service restaurants, make a stop at Guest Relations when you enter the parks to see if they can make an Advanced Dining Reservation for your family.  Sometimes you can have great luck this way!

There are so many more things that could go into planning the “perfect” Disney trip but these things were the most important for our family and are a good starting place for your family as well.  One thing I read over and over and made the mistake of discounting was that you won’t be able to do everything on the first trip.  I truly had no idea how big Disney was and all the things for us to do while we were there.  You won’t be able to do it all and if you try, you and your family will be miserable.  Take time to enjoy yourselves and know when to take a break.  Enjoying the time with your family is the most important part of the trip.

Lynn Wiltse is the mom of two boys and a princess and is always planning a Disney trip. Find her on Facebook or Twitter. Lynn is also the creator of My Pixie Dust Diary.

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