Disney World Family Vaction
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It’s not that I have nothing to share this week (imagine that). It’s just that Leslie, our Integrated Campaign Specialist, had so much more.

You see, Leslie was away last week and we missed her terribly in the office. But it seems that her ninja coordinating skills came through in spades when she planned her family trip to Disney World—planning which has been going on for a year in fact!

She is so filled with excitement and great tips on how to do Disney that we thought it was only fair to share with our readers. It’s safe to say that Leslie’s enthusiasm was what caught my attention this week, so I co-opted her into writing my ‘Minnow’s Five Things’ post.

Before you read on, I should note that this is NOT a sponsored post. Disney did not supplement Leslie’s trip in any way. (Although that doesn’t mean we would have said no had they offered!)

1. Plan ahead. Did you know you can book hotels (by calling Disney directly) 499 days in advance, and dining reservations can be made 180 days in advance? If you want into one of the high profile restaurants (Cinderella’s Royal Table, anyone?), it’s important to reserve early as reservations are snapped up quickly. The online reservation system opens one hour before the phones, so that’s the way to go. However, there is merit in being persistent if you really want something. Even if there isn’t anything available when you first look, keep checking because cancellations happen.

Cinderella’s Royal Table

2. Know the FASTPASS and PhotoPass systems. There are many tricks to the Disney trade, and by arming yourself with as much info as possible, it will help make your vacation run smoothly. Disney’s FASTPASS system allows you to ‘reserve’ a spot in line and reduce your wait time. Not all attractions in the parks have a FASTPASS, but most marquee ones do. We checked the standby time and if it was less than 30 minutes, we lined up. If longer, we grabbed a FASTPASS and planned to return later. The catch—you can only hold one FASTPASS at a time (with a few exceptions), so use them wisely.

The Disney PhotoPass is a great way to make sure everyone gets in the picture. Park photographers are placed in iconic spots (i.e. in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom) and can also be found at character meet and greets (with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Mérida, Snow White, Mickey and Minnie Mouse—the list goes on) around the parks waiting to take your picture. They’ll snap the shot, then hand you a card so you can go home and review the shots and order them. Good to Know: The trick is that PhotoPass photographers will also take a picture with your own camera—we got lots of great family shots that we didn’t have to pay extra for, and everyone is in the picture.

PhotoPass Disney World Cinderella Castle

3. Get a stroller. There are lots of companies in Orlando that you can rent from—we used Baby Wheels Orlando. They deliver to your hotel and pick it up after your vacation is over. Our girls (4.5 years old) haven’t used a stroller in years but we needed it at Disney World. We were able to zip around the park quicker than their little legs would take us, they could hop in and out when they wanted and we were able to use the big basket for storing all the ‘extras’ (jackets, water bottles, sunscreen, extra clothes, etc). Plus, you can park it and walk around to all the attractions before going back to pick it up—you don’t need to haul it from ride to ride.

Baby Wheels Orlando

4. Accept that it will be busy. It’s Disney y’all—even in low-season, it’s busy. Kids wake up early, so take advantage of that time. Get to the parks early (for opening or ‘rope drop’ as the experts call it) and go to your priority ride first. Once you have the marquee rides out of the way, you can be a little more flexible with wandering the park, going on rides and meeting Disney characters.

Disney's Ariel The Little Mermaid

5. Know When to Quit It’s also important to know when to quit, head back to the hotel and go for a swim or nap or just some playtime. We spent two long days (11 and 12 hours) at the Magic Kingdom, but the other days were mixed with some theme park time (5 to 6 hours), some pool time and then some playtime in our hotel. By knowing when to quit, we were able to avoid major meltdowns by everyone (myself included).

Swimming at the Hotel

Have you been to Disney World with your kids? Do you have any of your own tips to share?

Comments | Tagged under kids, family, travel, fun
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