Disney World- A Weekend Trip
If you know anything about me, you know that I watch flights regularly. When I found flights to Orlando from Milwaukee for under $100 round trip, I knew that I had to book them and take advantage of the deal. I roped my best friend into the trip too as she loves a good flight deal as much as I do. We talked about doing Disney together with our kids since they were littles and it just made sense to make it happen right here with these amazing deals. Me, L &P, and her and her two youngest kiddos were all set for a weekend at Disney.
We had two "travel days" and then two park days planed into this trip. In my opinion a trip to Disney absolutely requires thoughtful planning, building in rest days, and ensuring that you utilize your time wisely to make the most of the magic.
Each of us had two kiddos with us and I was about 28 weeks pregnant when this trip happened. Because we wanted to save some money we stayed off site at the Comfort Inn and Suites Main Gate in Kissimmee. They do offer a small shuttle to and from the Disney parks which we were originally planning to use and then Uber to/from the airport, but ultimately we weighed our options and we decided to rent a van- I get stellar rental car rates though my employer. In doing so much research we knew that we would need to haul carseats if we were going to Uber/Lyft regardless. Between that, the convenience of having our own vehicle to move/travel as we please or needed with 4 little kids, and the cost of Ubers/Lyfts adding up to what the cost of the van rental cost, it just made sense to rent the vehicle. If you have more that one in a car seat and are staying off site, I would highly recommend renting a car and saving yourself the nightmare of only "possibly" having a single carseat available in your transportation. Just note that if you do plan to drive to the parks, general parking is $25/vehicle per day.
The hotel itself was great. We had a suite with two queen beds and a pullout sofa so it was plenty big for all of us. It also had a small kitchen including a decent size mini fridge a sink, and a table for the kids to eat at. It also had a great complimentary breakfast buffet too which obviously included Mickey Mouse waffles and lots of other options for everyone. We spent a lot of time in the little game room onsite too to get out of the room when we were not at the parks. I thought the nightly rate was very affordable too around $100/night.
On our way into Orlando after we landed and got situated in the airport and with our renal van, we headed straight for Target. This was a great stop as we planned to get the kids lunches and snacks to carry into the parks and save some money. This was absolutely key because we also stocked up on water bottles, a few things we neglected to pack, and they had an absolutely amazing selection of Disney apparel and merchandise which was a fraction of the cost compared to inside the parks. If your kiddos want souvenirs, I would recommend stopping here and saving everyone some money. This is also a great tip for any trip **stop somewhere when you arrive or have an ordered delivered to your door at your destination to save time with snacks and some basic food!**
Details on Park Days:
I am by no means a Disney expert but I can share with you my experiences and thoughts! Keep reading to see what we did and my full thoughts
When booking we did book two park days each with hopper passes. This is a bit more cost wise but I think it's worth it- especially for a shorter trip to be able to maximize your time. If you are not familiar with "hopper passes" this essentially is a ticket add on that allows you to ho to multiple Disney parks in the same day. Now other things to not about admission is that simply buying a ticket isn't enough anymore. Once purchased (or before) you actually have to make reservations at the park you intend to visit first or as your primary for the day. For example we booked Magic Kingdom reservations for day one and Hollywood Studios for day 2. Once you scan into that park in the morning you can hop to other parks as long as they are not at capacity. When booking your trip also consider the time of the year as during the fall they have a Halloween special and during the winter they have a Christmas special. These are also additional add on tickets- they do not come with a standard park purchase- but they do/can impact your visit and standard tickets as these special events do close Magic Kingdom early and do not allow you to view the fireworks at night.
We spent first day at Magic Kingdom as mentioned above.
Getting in if you have never been can be a process. Since we stayed off site and drove into the parks we had to use the general parking which was $25/day. From the parking lot to Magic Kingdom, you either need to take the ferry or the monorail. Both are very busy in the morning and require waiting. Additionally, you have to wait to get into the park and go through security. I would build in at least 1 hour if not more depending on the crowds and time of year you visit to get through all this (again keep in mind we stayed off site- staying on site has perks for early access, etc..)
Once in, we were able to wait in lines no more than 30 minutes (with no Genie plus) or walk onto most rides that we wanted. Since we had smaller kiddos we weren't able to do many of the longer wait time/bigger rides. We did Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Prince Charming's Carosuel, the Mad Tea Party tea cups, and Tomorrowland Speedway. We were able to meet Stitch, walk Main Street, get a bite to eat, use the BabyCare centers to recharge for a bit (these are centers that are focused on babies and families- they have things to purchase if you forgot them at home like bottles, diapers, formula, etc, a place to warm bottles, refill water bottles, family restrooms, nursing rooms, and more! We also got some pictures in front of Cinderella's Castle.
Riding Dumbo - L & I by Cinderella's Castle - L Teacups - L + P + I riding Teacups
In front of Cinderella's Castle (pro tip don't stand directly in front like we did for best photos)
This put us at about mid afternoon and we decided to make the most of our time we wanted to park hop to Epcot. We took the monorail over there from Magic Kingdom. Just know you have to fold your strollers! At Epcot we wanted the kids to be able to meet some characters so we waited in line to meet Ana an Elsa and a we also met Mickey Mouse. We got a bite to eat while we were there too- this park is known for "eating and drinking around the world" and I would love to do this one day however this was not the trip for that. We also rode Nemo and Friends ride which was easy and quick- we walked right onto that one.
P meeting Mickey Mouse
It was getting dark so we opted to leave the parks to get dinner and situated before the hurricane blew in.. oh yeah I forgot to mention this trip was during a hurricane! I think a lot of the Disney experience was minimized due to the rain (no parades, no fireworks, etc...) but for what we did get to do and see an out kids ages I think it worked out okay. Crowds are also much lower during hurricane weeks so that did help us too!
Leaving Epcot in the rain - Watching the hurricane from the hotel
The next day the parks had a delayed opening due to the hurricane and weather. When they did open we went straight to Hollywood Studios and rope dropped. This meant we were in line and ready to go the minute the parks opened. Because of this we ran to ride Minnie and Mickey's Runaway Railway, and Toy Story Mania (this was an absolute hit!!). We also were able to ride with not too bad of a line the Toy Story Alien Swirling Saucers. Additionally here we were able to catch a break from the rain by going to see the Frozen Sing Along show which the kids all loved! We also went to Disney Junior area to meet Doc McStuffins and watch the Disney Junior Play and Dance show and this was an absolute hit! I would recommend all of this at Hollywood studios. We spent the rest of the day eating and exploring some of the other parts of the park- Toy Story Land, Star Wars, looking at the Christmas decor and waiting for the fireworks. We were planning on hopping to Animal Kingdom but the safari was closing early and several others were as well due to the rain. We ended up opting to leave the park before the firework show because the young kiddos were TIRED and we were all ready to be done in the rain after two straight days.
Alien Swirling Saucers - L+P riding on the Alien Saucers - Disney Jr. Dance Party - Meeting Buzz Lightyear
Toy Story Land Walt Disney World
Here are some takeaways and tips for a quick Disney weekend trip:
Pack layers you never know what the weather is going to be like.
Pack all the rain gear if there is any chance of rain in the forecast- ESPECIALLY do not forget the stroller cover- this was a lifesaver for the kids
Even if you think your kids are too old for a stroller consider it if they are on the cusp- there is SO much walking.
Wear your best walking shoes every single day- your feet get tired and need the support!!
Plan plan plan- use the time leading up to your trip to research and have a lay of the land before you go so you don't waste your time wandering the parks and guessing what to do
Download the Disney Parks app- you can see live wait times for all the rides and see where characters are and their wait times as well
Know that you most likely will be waiting in lines for rides- If this is not your jam look into Genie Plus (an add on that essentially allows you to skip the lines by making reservations for rides at certain times)
Be flexible and be able to adapt and go with the flow (our whole trip was like this due to the weather and hurricane)
Watch the magic in your kiddos eyes as they experience everything and see their favorite characters right in front of their eyes
Make a list of must do things and a plan of how to make that happen
Know Disney is an INVESTMENT! Park tickets are pricey and things add up fast but there are ways to keep other costs to a minimum by staying off site, booking around cheap flights,not getting hopper passes, not doing Genie plus, packing your food, not doing any of the dining/meal options, skipping the Memory Maker photo package, etc. Not saying there is anything wrong with any of this however the trip is just as magical without any of the "extras"
Consult people you know for their tips and tricks ahead of time. My friend is kind of a Disney expert so I took her lead and let her drive this trip- it was awesome to do it this way and I feel like we did do most of want we wanted to because she was so knowledgeable and knew the best way to prioritize rides and things we wanted to accomplish.
Be a kid yourself and enjoy all the Disney magic as an adult too!
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