There isn’t much to say about Disney that hasn’t already been written. We went to Disney at the beginning of May for four days so we certainly didn’t see or do everything. Finnegan had a great time and loved everything. Declan was afraid of almost everything, but had his moments of fun. Declan’s favorite part of the trip by far was swimming in the hotel pool.
There are some true (certifiable crazy) Disney fanatics that have researched and experienced every last detail so it’s best to follow their advice when planning a trip. The most helpful site that I found was WDW Prep School. The author’s advice about planning a Disney trip with a toddler was spot on and she has a schedule outlining which parks will be the most and least crowded on any given day. I learned from her site to avoid the parks with the Extra Magic Hours since they tend to be the most crowded on those days even if people don’t get up early enough or stay late enough to take advantage of the extra hours.
So, what can we add to the collective wisdom of the internet regarding a trip to Disney? Very little. If you want to learn from our mistakes, avoid the following:
- Don’t bring a sleeping toddler into the “Tough to be a Bug” show at Animal Kingdom. They will wake up during the show (because it’s loud) in complete darkness with bugs yelling about how they are going to destroy all humans. That was Declan’s very first introduction to Disney on his very first day. I think it somewhat soured the rest of his four days. As a side note, the show is fantastic and was my favorite one of the whole trip. Finnegan liked it too.
- If you plan to stay on one of the Disney properties and take the buses to the parks, bring strollers that are very light and easy to fold because you may get stuck standing and holding your stroller for the 20-30 minute ride. This is how tired Finnegan and Declan were at the end of every day and bus seats were rarely available around park closing time (even in the off-season).
- Don’t get the Disney dining plan unless you are willing to make reservations months in advance. This requires you to plan your whole trip around meals, which seems a bit ridiculous to this non-foodie family.
- It’s easy to change the time of your FastPasses so don’t stress too much about your times (at least it was during our visit in early May).
- If your kid is afraid of one 3-D show, he will be afraid of them all. When we needed a break from the heat, we dragged Declan into every kid’s show, which inevitably included 3-D glasses. He was freaked out that the objects were going to hit him every time.
And here are some general thoughts:
- It’s hot in May. Don’t even think about visiting in the summer. Go to Seattle or Bali or Sweden or Maine instead.
- If you can afford a trip to Disney, you can afford a trip almost anywhere. It’s a great place to take your kids for a few days of fun, but there is no need to spend every vacation there. See above for some alternative summer destinations.
- Women should never wear Minnie Mouse ears, bows, or dresses. Ever.
Highlights for Finnegan:
- All of the rides. The scarier and faster, the better. His favorites were Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Dinosaur (Animal Kingdom), and Star Tours – The Adventure Continues (Hollywood Studios). My mom looked like she was going to throw up coming off the Star Tours ride.
- Getting soaked on Kali River Rapids. We got the two ‘lucky’ seats and came off dripping wet. It was hot out so we didn’t mind.
- Watching the 3-D shows with his cousin Corbin. They would try to grab everything flying off the screen and generally annoy my dad.
- Watching the Electrical Parade. It took us forever to find a place to sit, but we eventually ended up with good seats.
Highlights for Declan:
- Swimming in the hotel pool
- Driving the race car at Tomorrowland Speedway. Declan drove and neither one of us could stop laughing the entire ride. Declan was laughing because we would go flying across the seat every time the car would slam against the rail that keeps you on the track. I was laughing at him and his proclamations of being a great driver. This ride is extremely dull with an adult behind the wheel, but highly recommended with a little one in the driver’s seat.
- Dinner with Winnie the Pool and friends at the Crystal Palace.
- The seagulls outside the Nemo & Friends ride in Epcot. He liked the ride too and we were there late at night so there was no wait.
- Donald Duck checking up on him while he was sleeping. He obviously doesn’t remember it happening since he was sleeping, but he still asks to see this picture.
They both loved the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure in Hollywood Studios so we were there for a long time.
My nephew also did the Pirate League where he was dressed up like a pirate and loved it. Declan wasn’t old enough so we skipped it, but would highly recommend for pirate loving boys older than three.
What are your favorite attractions and things to do in Disney?