We broke down and took our one year old to Disney World. I was sure that I would never take her until she was at least three which is when I thought she would best appreciate it, but when an impromptu trip to Orlando came up, we figured why not?! The problem is, I had never been to Disney World myself - not since I was about 7 years old (maybe?) I truly do not remember how old I was - and then I went once again in high school when we used to Dance for Disney Music Days. Either who, I had no references on how to prepare to take my child to Disney World and ensure that we wouldn't be just pushing her around LOOKING at rides. I didn't even know if SHE liked rides.
This was going to be an adventure for sure!
I of course took to google to see if anyone had at least written something that I could garner some tips but what I did find helpful is Disney's Mom Panel. There were some really great tips on there as well.
However, let me give you a bit of my own advice.
Tip #1: DON'T WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE TO PAY TO SEE IF YOUR CHILD LIKE DISNEY... take them as early as you can. Let them get used to the idea of Disney World while it's not costing you and then take them back again when you have to pay for them and pay for the memories. Disney World doesn't charge for anyone under 3 years old.
Tip #3: PLAN AS MUCH OF YOUR TRIP AHEAD AS POSSIBLE. I will elaborate on how to further do this, but it is crucial! If you want to beat lines and have on-going fun get familiar with the websites and what they offer and make sure you plan an itinerary EVEN IF you are a go with the flow kind of person. Trust me on this one.
Tip #3: DRESS THEM IN THE CUTEST DISNEY THEMED GEAR YOU CAN FIND! It's all a part of the experience.
(Yes, I have on a Frozen T-Shirt and yup Gracie got more than a few things from Disney even though I told myself she was only allowed to have ONE souvenir).
My husband and I consider ourselves to be "Travel with Children" masters. We have been traveling with Gracie on airplanes since she was 3 months old and not once was she a bad traveler. We pick times for flights that coordinate with nap times and skip the rush of the frequent travelers. After all, when you are traveling for fun - there is NO RUSH!
We get so excited especially when we Master the Art of wearing our Toddler out before we get too tired to enjoy ourselves on our trips! We used to burn ourselves out with lugging all of her strollers (yup the big boy britax and the umbrella stroller) and the car seat, etc... and decided let's just see what its like to rent a car seat with our car rental and found that it was so much easier on my anxiety to worry about one less thing. Especially since on this trip I was hand patted down because I was carrying baby food and eczema lotion by an aggressive TSA woman who was blamed for letting something pass. Either who... usually, we are all smiles. And we were the MOST excited for this new experience.
Now, to the planning ahead piece. Get a Fast Pass+ from Disney!!! Do IT~
Here is why.
You can select up to three rides for free that you know you want to beat the line for and they automatically draw up an itinerary for you to make sure that you are able to get to your ride. During that time slot that you select, you are able to ride the ride as many times as you want within that hour. My advice to you, pick the rides that have the longest wait times then wait for the others.
We went to the Magic Kingdom on a Sunday. I am not sure what the crowds are like on any other day, but that day worked best for us. We were able to get in the park with little wait time. We went to Magic Kingdom first and then went to Disney's Hollywood Studios second. The later you enter the park, the closer your parking space will be.
I linked our park tickets and our ride itinerary to our Fast Pass+ bracelets so that when we arrived, all we had to do was go directly to the gate and wave our wrist in front of the reader. There was no need to go to will call or anything.
We brought our stroller with no issues because there were stroller parking at each ride and had no issues fearing leaving our baby bag or anything as there were attendants who would come from time to time to rearrange the parking situation.
Gracia's first ride ever was the Buzz Lightyear's Space Rangers Spin. It had great reviews by the Mom's Panel. It was a bit of a risk because there was no description of the ride but now that I know what it is, I am not sure if I would've taken her based on the description: Its a ride where you get in a moving cart, in the dark and shoot glow in the dark aliens with a ray gun for points. For a one year old? YUP!
She loved it! She loved moving the cart from one side to the other, she loved shooting the aliens in the dark. She loved it so much we went on more than once. Thanks to the Fast Pass it was doable without taking up too much of our time.. and did you know that you can link your credit card to it as well so that all you had to do was wave your arm at concessions versus bringing in your card with the chance of losing it. You can also link all of your photo ops as well and download it for later! (no this isn't a sponsored post - I was just so hype! that they made it so easy)
WHICH BRINGS ME TO WHY I LOVE DISNEY! My husband and I were both able to fit in all the rides, together - AND we are not short people nor are we skinny people. Gracia was able to sit between us or on our lap. Disney is made for Families! When we went to Universal Studios, it was not the case at all.
When the lines were long at Winnie the Pooh, they had things for the kids to keep busy with so they don't just fall out screaming and crying because the wait was too long.
Bring extra clothes for the kiddies. It rained on us and so she was in hot, wet clothes... so after a quick change she was ready to go enjoy more of the park.
The ONLY thing I wanted to do was to take her to the live Frozen show, which was AMAZING!
Imagine every little girl who knows all the words, singing Karaoke to the most popular songs in the movie along with seeing the characters live on stage. It felt like church in there during "Let it Go!"
Gracie had such a great time she was singing GOOOOO GOOOOO for a while after we left Disney.
We were also there during the launch of the Star Wars Weekend. There were so many Star Wars specific things and items for purchase... this may be blasphemous to some, but I am just not a huge Star Wars fan, so the light show and the party at the end of the night at Hollywood Studios allowed extra time for us to get into the studio shows with no lines.
Of course when we took Gracie to the Disney Junior section she did not want to leave. Her favorite is Sophia the First. It's why she had a Sophia the First birthday theme party for her 1st Birthday. I let her play in all the scenes. I think a little too long because she didn't want to leave.
All in all, my one year old had a GREAT time at Disney and so did we. We made great memories and although she may not remember. She will know that we took her through stories and pictures and of course we will do it again.
She picked out this Minnie Back Pack and would not let anyone touch it or take it from her for WEEKS!
So never fear, Disney Magic is real.. even for younger kids.