Our Disney Trip and Useful Tips for Families with Small Children

We just got home from our first Disney World trip with all three children. We had a great time during our short trip and we learned a lot about flying with small children, Disney with small children and just traveling with small children in general.

Friday morning we surprised the children by waking them up super early and telling them we were going to Disney World and that we would be flying. They were so excited! We got to the airport with our three children, three carry on bags, three car seats, stroller and diaper bag. Allegiant Airlines kindly checked the car seats, carry on bags and stroller at the check in, free of charge. I had read several places online that it is okay to bring liquids in excess of the three ounce limit if it is for your child. I brought a few juice boxes and some yogurt for the kids. When we got to the TSA check point, I unzipped my lunchbox containing said juice and yogurt and showed it to the TSA agent, who was very nice. She asked if I was responsible for the contents of the lunchbox and I said I was. I then received a lovely TSA pat down. Apparently, that is required since the TSA could not test my kids' juice boxes and yogurt since they were sealed. This brings me to Tip #1: If bringing yogurt, applesauce, juices, etc. on board a plane for your children, make sure it is contained in something that can be opened. Otherwise, you may have the pleasure of really getting to know your TSA agent.

The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful except that it was a bit bumpy at one point and Cadence yelled "Are we going to crash!?!?" Tip #2: Explain the concept of turbulence to your children ahead of their first plane ride. Liam spent the entire plane ride tucked into my Ergo. I touch more on baby wearing in a little bit.

We arrived and had lunch with one of my mommy friends and her daughters. After lunch we tried to check in to the hotel, but there wasn't a room ready for us. We headed to Downtown Disney for some shopping and to meet Chris's aunt for dinner. When we got to Downtown Disney, Gabriel immediately went into a full blown meltdown because we "told him we were going to Disney World." I explained that Downtown Disney was part of Disney World, but he wouldn't hear any of it. He was curled in a fetal position in the floor board of the rental car sobbing. This brings me to Tip #3: If you are arriving in Orlando in the earlier part of the day and not planning on visiting the parks until the next day, either a.) change your plans and go that day or b.) make it very clear to your children that they will see Mickey the next day.

After dinner we checked into our room. Chris headed out to the store to pick up a few things. There are a few things that we always bring with us into the park. Tip #4: Pack an empty soft cooler in one of your suitcases. The night before going into the parks, put some water bottles in your freezer (Tip #4a: ALWAYS get a room with at least a kitchenette.). In the morning, pack your soft cooler with the frozen water bottles, some juice and some soda. Put some cookies and crackers in your diaper bag or backpack. Tip #5: Keep some beer in the fridge for after you return to the room.

On Saturday we went to Magic Kingdom. We brought the stroller, my Ergo, our soft cooler and our diaper bag. The Ergo was worth its weight in gold in the parks. Seriously, if the only two days I ever used it was this past Saturday and Sunday than it was a well worthwhile purchase.Tip #6: If you are a baby wearer, for the sake of your sanity and the sanity of your family, do NOT forget your carrier of choice. I was able to wear Liam on Snow White, It's a Small World, Peter Pan, Aladdin's carpets, all of the show type rides, the carousel and many more. It was amazing! He was able to nap, undisturbed, through several rides. Best. Idea. EVER. The stroller ended up being more of a luggage cart than anything. I contemplated leaving it behind the next day, but it was a nice thing to have. We would basically park it in an area of the park and ride everything around that area. Then we'd get our stroller and move to the next area. It held our snacks and drinks and was great when one of the big kids got tired or we needed a portable time out spot.

Obviously, there are some rides that you cannot wear your baby on. For example, I would not suggest wearing a baby on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, etc. ;) Tip #7: For those rides that your baby cannot go on, go visit a cast member at the entrance to the ride and ask for a rider switch ticket. One parent can take the bigger kids (or just go by themselves) on the ride. When he/she comes off, the other parent can take the rider switch ticket and go in the Fast Pass lane. The bonus to this is that a person with a rider switch ticket can have up to two additional people with them. Therefore, Chris could take Cadence and Gabriel on a ride. When they got out, I'd take Cadence and Gabriel back on the ride in the Fast Pass lane. It worked beautifully!

We were only in the parks for two days, so we did not want to spend a lot of time waiting in lines to see the characters. I highly recommend scheduling at least one character dining experience while you are there. Last time we visited we did two and this time we did one. I don't think the kids felt like they missed out.

We went to Epcot on Sunday. Tip #8: If you can, plan to spend two days in Epcot. We had to zoom through it since we had to do it all in one day, but we still had fun. Epcot is my favorite park, and Chris's too, so we would have liked to spend more time there. We got a table at the Rose & Crown about thirty minutes before the fireworks. Tip #9: The Rose & Crown has a private viewing area for the fireworks. If you get a table there, your server will escort you out to the viewing area just before the fireworks. It is well worth it! It was rainy and yucky outside and we were able to wait for the fireworks to start in the comfort of our dry dining room, sipping on a beer and munching on a cheese platter. Fantastic.

We thought we woke up this morning in plenty of time to eat our free hotel breakfast (another must for traveling with kiddos) and get to the airport. However, it took us about 20 minutes longer than anticipated and the drive to the airport took another 20 minutes longer than anticipated. Before I knew it, we were arriving closer to an hour before our flight took off rather than the suggested two hours. I was starting to worry. Tip #10: Allow yourself more time than you think you could possibly need in getting back to the airport. We dropped off our rental, checked in and got up to the gate about 25 minutes before our scheduled departure time. A few minutes later, an airline employee came over the speaker. I expected him to announce boarding. Instead, he announced that our flight was delayed for about two hours. Luckily, the airport had a kids' section that was showing kid-friendly movies. We watched movies for the next two hours and then boarded our plane.

All in all, it was a great trip. It was a little stressful, but we survived. We'll definitely do it again when Liam is a little older and can enjoy it more.

Here are a few pictures. The first is my favorite as it pretty accurately sums up the chaos of the weekend. :)


drew said...

Really fun pictures you have. Love it. Your tips are helpful too. Thanks for the post.

Laura said...

We are headed to our first trip with the kids and your tips were brilliant. Will make use of them definitely..Thanks for sharing!

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