Yay!! Disney World!!
And really, that's an understatement - because I come from a HUGE Disney crazy family that's really into going to Walt Disney World... so Cupcake's first Disney trip is a big deal.
Although I consider myself a Walt Disney World veteran, this will be the first time I've ever gone with a small child. (Not as the small child.) And that makes me nervous. So I've decided to make a trip plan to figure out how I can make the trip go as smoothly as possible, while still accepting that meltdowns will be inevitable, and at some point I'm sure we'll be asking ourselves "what in the world we were thinking for bringing this upon ourselves".... but in the end when we look back on the trip, my hope is that we will think back on how fun it was... And want to do it all over again.
Hopefully being as prepared as possible will help.
Our plan is a whirlwind tour of Orlando, crammed into only a few days because we have a second destination we will be visiting before we are heading back home. So one day will be Disney, one day will be shopping (are you surprised?), and the last will be Universal's Islands of Adventure to see the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter (totally different blog post subject... but I became a secret Harry Potter nerd when I was pregnant with Cupcake). Currently, I'm thinking we'll just focus on Magic Kingdom for our Disney day, because doing one park with an almost 1 year old (10 months old, to be exact) is going to be exhausting enough... I can't imagine trying to work in park hopping too.
So here are the things I've thought of so far concerning our day trip into the amusement park:
- Bring in lots of snacks for Cupcake (things she's had before, that I know she likes), one because food in the park is so expensive, but two because I don't want to get in there and have to be hunting for something that she'll eat if she doesn't like the things we are having for meals.
- Bring a stroller that reclines... if we're going to be doing that park during the majority of the day, then I want to bring our own stroller in with us, that reclines so she can take her naps when she needs to. The strollers they rent at the park do not recline, so if you're planning on bringing a small child with you that still needs to take naps - that is something to take into consideration.
- Plan to take A LOT of breaks... I know we're not going to be able to keep up the pace that we used to go around the theme park without children with us, so I am going to try to remember that we may not if it all in, and we will have to take more breaks than we usually have in the past... and that will be fine.
- Magic Kingdom is probably the most baby friendly park out of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World Orlando (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney Studios, and Animal Kingdom), because an almost 1 year old should be able to ride the most rides at Magic Kingdom: It's a Small World, Peter Pan's Flight, The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Dumbo, Great Movie ride... (Things like Philhar Magic and Country Bear show may be too loud for her though...)
- Obviously, the statement of have the diaper bag stocked with extra diapers, changes of clothing, small toys, emergency bottles, and first aid kit is true - but I don't want to overload the bag either, so I will try to keep the "what ifs" to a minimum.
- Know the good "stopping points" around Magic Kingdom, and the restaurants or shops that have air conditioning. (Since it's going to be a totally different climate than Cupcake has ever been in!) The shows are all air conditioned, but may end up being too loud for her to sit through - however indoor stores like Pooh's Corner (by Splash Mountain) have air conditioning and make a nice pit stop for those who aren't used to 80 degree weather.
Here's hoping the advanced planning helps keep the day running smoothly, I don't want to go to the "Happiest Place on Earth" and just have a cranky child all day long!
And in all my Disney years... I've learned a few secrets that are universally helpful, regardless of whether you are going into the park with kids or not - these pertain specifically to Magic Kingdom:
- People with kids go into the parks early, and leave the parks early. If you're going into the park without small children (and it's not a peak day where there is a chance of the park filling to capacity) wait until 11am or noon to go into the park. You'll be on a different rotation than the main crowd and more than likely won't have as long of lines.
- Get Fast Pass tickets for the big attractions - Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, etc. and go back to the line at your designated time. There's no reason to stand in line if you don't have to.
- Likewise, if you're not with children that are going to want to watch the parade, try to hit the popular rides during the 3 o'clock parade (a daily special at Magic Kingdom) and the lines will be shorter.
- Go around the park counter-clockwise. After most people leave Main Street (the main entrance area at Magic Kingdom), they generally start going around the park clockwise, starting at Adventureland and working their way around to Tomorrowland.
- The one caveat to going around the park counter-clockwise would be if you are going to be focusing on the rides for smaller children. (This will be my first time trying this.) In that case, you will want to cut straight across the park, start at Fantasyland and continue working clockwise - IF you do an earlier entrance to the park. (If you enter mid-day, this strategy won't help - go ahead and go around counter-clockwise.)
- And this last one is opinion... but my favorite places to grab a bite to eat are Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe in Frontierland, and Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland - so I try to plan my food stops accordingly.
Here are some additional links to the official Disney's Magic Kingdom website to help you with your planning, if you are also planning an upcoming trip to Walt Disney World: