I am not a Disney pro by any means...but I do know enough about pretty much all the rides, all the parks, and now, exactly how to maneuver through any of these places with children under 3. So I've accumulated a few tips that might help other people, but also, that I want to remember for myself! Some of them are tips just for babes, some are just money-savers that I picked up through my research.
1. Make meal reservations! Especially if you have specific characters you know your kids want to see - knowing we would meet them at the meals was nice because we could say for sure "We are going to see Ariel today!" instead of, "Maybe! I hope so!". It was a fun thing to look forward to and to get excited for with the kids. Reservations also make so much sense if you are on the meal plan - you have one restaurant meal per person, per day (at least)! You paid for them, you might as well use them!
2. If you have toddlers, get a stroller! And book it through an outside company, don't get the ones the parks offer to rent. Here is the simple reason why:
On the left is the Disney rental double stroller that they charge $35 a day for. On the left is the stroller I got, through Kingdom Strollers, for $12 a day! And it came with a cooler bag for waters, and a plastic rain cover (which was a LIFESAVER!). The stroller was delivered to our hotel and was waiting for us when we arrived. It was a dream. I was nervous that it would be a hassle lugging it back to the room and things, but it ended up being amazing! We would stroll and sleepy baby on the monorail, and she didn't have to be disturbed until we were in the room, ready to put her in her crib! It was so convenient, and so much cheaper. Besides the fact that Reilly, who NEVER wants to be a stroller anymore, was so hot sometimes that she would ask to stroll. There is no way that she would ever ask to go in that plastic stroller! So uncomfortable.
3. Pack lollipops. Even if your kids never eat lollipops. This trip was pretty much Reilly's first lollipops. Just trust me. You will thank me on the bus home from MGM in the sweltering heat, when there are no seats and your Hubby is standing holding the folded stroller and all the bags, and you are sitting with a squirmy, tired 16 month old on one knee and a sqiurmy, tired 3 year old on the other. And both are borderline poking/grabbing the stranger next to you who does not look amused. Cue: lollipops. Happiness. Joy. Contentment. Hypothetically, of course.
4. Go to www.gardengrocer.com, and order some groceries for your room! We got cases of water and brought tons into the park each day. We brought snacks for the girls that wouldn't spoil in the sun like rice cakes, nuts, raisins, bananas, apples, and granola bars. We spent no money in the park, unless Mommy asked Reilly if she wanted ice cream, and pretended it was her idea. ;) Garden Grocer also sells wine and beer! And they deliver right to you room or hotel bell service. I had them delivered the night before, and bell services kept them nice and refrigerated for us! No brainer!
5. Listen to you kiddos. If they say they are sleepy, take them back to the room to sleep. If they are hot, bring them to water or air conditioning. Don't be concerned with the schedule or the next big ride or having them "see it all". Go with what they need, and the whole trip will be happier! And they will love everything they see even more if they are happy and rested.
6. Plan for A LOT of travel time in between the parks. If you plan to park hop for meals or anything, make sure you plan for a decent amount of travel time with little ones. It's not easy maneuvering the strollers too quickly, and entering the parks could take a bit with all the bag and stroller searches.
7. Don't pull out your wallet if you have the meal plan. Use that always first, no matter what you might be buying. What a shame to have paid cash for an ice cream, just to have leftover "snack" points at the end of the trip.
8. Don't feel pressure to hit all the parks. We don't regret at all that we only did Magic Kingdom, because that was what was best for our girls. And because of it, we all had the best time. I'm sure when they are older, we will have plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the parks!
9. Bring some essentials so you won't have to buy them in the parks: like rain ponchos, and the spray fan! The spray fans were being sold about every 16 feet in every park. If you didn't bring one, you were definitely dropping the $17.99 for one of those babies - they were unavoidable! Meanwhile, they actually retail for half that price.
10. When in doubt, take a break and have an ice pop! It was a great way to cool down, observe the beauty of the park, and decide what we wanted to do next.
11. Research research research! I read blog upon blog before we left and picked up some of these tips along the way. Then I would go on the Disney website and saturate every area that said anything about "toddlers", "kids", or "babies" (that's how I learned about the Baby Centers in every park!). Then I went on Pinterest and searched things like "Disney Tips" and "Disney Musts for Kids". By the time it was time to go, I knew there was no tip I hadn't read. The research really helped - and it was fun research!
Those are all my tips for now. These are some things that helped our Disney trip go much smoother, hope they can help you to! :)