First Disney Trip With Kids? Here Are 10 Things to Prepare Yourself For
Not matter how much prep work you've done before your trip to Walt Disney World — planning the perfect park-day schedules, making dining reservations, researching trusted tips and hacks, and packing all the essentials you'll need to tote with you in your Disney-day backpack — we guarantee there will still be many surprises once you arrive.
Most of those unexpected events will be magical (it was hard not to be charmed by every cast member referring to my daughter as a "little princess," no matter how many feminist books I stock her library with), but others can put a damper on a superspecial day . . . unless you already know what to expect and have prepared accordingly. Here are 10 things you should brace yourself for on your mecca to meet Mickey.
Just how packed the park will be during your visit depends on the time of year and even day of the week, but rest assured, you will be dealing with crowds. If that's not your thing, schedule your visit during a less popular time at the park, and if you know you're going during a high-traffic period, make sure you've done your due diligence by making dining and FastPass+ reservations as early as possible.
Lots of Walking
During our last one-day trip to the Magic Kingdom, my husband's pedometer logged almost 20,000 steps (that's around 10 miles!) of walking. Appropriate footwear is a must.
You might be fine walking 10 miles in a day solely to counteract all the French fries and Dole Whip you'll likely be consuming, but your kids will not be. Even older children who haven't ridden in a stroller for years will be thrilled for a free ride, so bring your own stroller, rent one at the park, or prepare yourself to carry a 5-year-old.
Expense of Food and Souvenirs
"Disney is cheap" said no parent ever, and things don't get less expensive as you enter the parks. Mitigate the cost by bringing along snacks (and almost any other food you want) and buying Disney merch before you go. Since your kids still won't be able to avoid the call of the gift shops, buy them Disney gift cards (try this Target hack) in advance of your trip, and they'll have a set spending limit.
Florida weather can be all over the place, so be prepared for short rainstorms, cooler mornings and evenings, and some pretty intense heat by stocking your park backpack appropriately with ponchos, light jackets, sunglasses, and hats.
Nothing's worse than telling your superexcited kid that they can't ride the Seven Dwarves Mine Train or Splash Mountain because they're not tall enough. Check out ride height requirements before your trip to avoid disappointment.
Waits, Even If You Have a FastPass
Undoubtedly, FastPass+ reservations will save you a ton of time, but that doesn't mean you won't have to wait at all. On my last trip, my family and I waited in the Peter Pan's Flight FastPass line for about 15-20 minutes before getting on the ride, while the regular line was more than 90 minutes. Still a major win, but don't expect your FastPass to come without any wait time.
If your child is most excited about meeting tons of characters at Disney, know that means you'll also be waiting in tons of lines. You can FastPass some characters experiences, including Mickey Mouse, Ariel, and Cinderella at the Magic Kingdom, but also consider character dining experiences (Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Resort is a good one for meeting Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto) to knock out a bunch of characters at once.
If your child is on the tentative side (or scared of everything like mine), know that some of the rides that you are dying to go on might be out of their comfort zone. Each kid is different — some might love roller coasters but be freaked out by animatronic figures — but prepare yourself for some potential kid scaries.
Exiting the Park After the Fireworks
If you have small children, it makes sense to leave the park right after the fireworks show, which is probably already way past their usual bedtimes. Unfortunately, everyone else has the same idea, and leaving the park with a herd of people (especially if you were viewing the fireworks from the back of the park) can be a superlengthy and annoying experience. A workaround: make sure you get a fireworks viewing spot up front, closer to the exit, or force yourself to stay for an extra ride or two until the majority of the crowds clear out.