I’m packing for my first Disney cruise and
one of my favorite people is packing for her first trip to Walt Disney World.
So let’s share tips, readers!
What do you recommend for first time cruisers?
It’s my first time going to Alaska AND my first time on a cruise.
What do you recommend for first time Disney World vacationers?
And, if it’s not mentioned here, share a tip for my friend who is going to Walt Disney World for the first time. After listening to me talk for six years now about how much I love seeing my daughter’s joy at Walt Disney World, my friend J is finally, finally going to visit what I call my “happy place”. She and I adopted our girls at the same time, that’s how we met. I love her dearly and hope she and her daughter will make wonderful memories.
Here’s my tips:
Remember that you are making memories. What do you want your child to remember from the vacation? Seeing princesses? Or how mommy made her rush and dragged her away from something because they HAD to see this or that. Do you want them to remember the amazing ice cream treat? Or standing in line for hours? Remember that it is not what you see, but how much fun you had.
You are going to Florida, it’s going to be hot and humid. Depending on where you live, you might or might not be used to that. Take a misting fan or buy one when you get there (ouch! be prepared for expense). Drink a lot of water. Carry a water bottle with icy cold water whenever possible. Dress for hot weather. Wear sunscreen. And prepare mentally, it’s going to be hot. It’s Florida.
You are going to Walt Disney World and so are a bazillion other people. It’s going to be crowded. Prepare mentally for that. Carry snacks in your daypack, you are allowed to take food in the park. When you are waiting in lines, and you will, have a snack, play a game, sing a song or talk to the people around you. Make the waiting fun! As a last resort, pull out a smartphone. To help shorten lines as much as possible, use the Fast Pass (just ask a Cast Member to show you how), go early or stay late. Oh, those snacks will also come in handy because inevitably, you will wait until you are STARVING to go to eat and there will be a line. That will happen at least once, if not every time *wink*. Eat a snack while you wait.
It’s vacation, throw away the rules! Well, not all the rules, but don’t worry about spoiling your dinner, have that Mickey Ice Cream Bar. Carry an extra outfit for kids and let them get wet on the splash pad. Put your toes in too! What happens at DisneyWorld, stays at DisneyWorld, be a kid again.
2. Princess Dress If you have a little girl, pick up a princess dress at your local Disney store, or buy one when you get there. Oh, or Walmart! Walmart sells princess dresses too. When a little girl wears a princess dress in the Parks, all the Cast Members address her as “princess”. You’ll hear things like, “Good morning, princess!” “Can I get you anything, princess?” “Are you having fun, princess?” “You look beautiful today, princess.” Yes, I do want to buy a dress myself and see if it works for adults too. Did I say that out loud? It is one of my favorite memories – seeing my daughter’s face light up when people said that. She stood taller, walked regally, head high. On our last trip she got a bit of a diva attitude and I made the mistake of saying, “You know the princess-stuff stops when we get home.” Ouch! It goes down in the book of mommy-fails. She looked crushed. So, put up with the diva – let her be a princess for a few days.
Cast Members (did I mention, that’s what the staff at Disney World are called) will bend over backwards, even sideways and upside down to make sure that everyone has a good time. So be sure that if you need something, if something isn’t right, to tell someone. Nicely, of course, but if you need something to make your experience better, ask for it.
Disney customer service is the gold standard, the best in the world. But they haven’t yet found a way to read your mind. At least, I don’t think so.
If your child isn’t feeling well, tell someone, ask where you can find a First Aid Center. I needed my blood pressure monitored during one of our trips and made regular visits to First Aid Centers at the Parks, they are lovely. If you get overheated, overtired, over-anything, find a First Aid Center.
Overtired reminds me… Walt Disney World is huge. Imagine how big it is and multiply that by 1000. There is a lot of walking. Prepare for lots of walking. Wear comfortable shoes, rent a stroller, if you have limited mobility, rent an electric scooter.
4. Autograph Book
One of the most memorable experiences at Walt Disney World is meeting the characters. All around the parks, you have the opportunity to meet Disney’s most beloved, and sometimes even the more obscure, characters. One of my favorite things about Epcot is meeting the princesses. They are easy and more accessible there than at Magic Kingdom. Sometimes children can be a little shy or have difficulty knowing what to say to even their favorite character, but an autograph book gives them something to do and say. Walt Disney World Autograph Books are the perfect enhancement to the character experience and make a reasonably-priced, fun souvenir of the trip.
5. Character Meals
Although character meals are expensive, unless you are on the Disney Meal Plan, it is well worth it for the quality food and for the experience. Although Disney has made great improvements over the last ten years to the food offerings at their quick-serve restaurants, it is lovely to enjoy a delicious sit-down meal during your stay. The character meals also offer an opportunity for your child to interact and meet characters in a relaxed setting. Happy adults, happy kids, great food? Winning combination! I’ve been to many different ones and they have all been rich experiences. Which reminds me, if you are on the Disney Meal Plan, schedule as many character meals as you can work in. Except for a few, they only use the one, same point as other meals. It isn’t anything extra and so, the perfect opportunity to try as many as you’d like.
From my daughter:
Rosie woke up and I asked her what she wants to tell her friend about going to Disney World for the first time. Here’s what she said. 1. Princesses Don’t miss the princesses! All the princesses are at Disney World AND Anna and Elsa *faint*!! Get their autographs and talk to them and see all of them.
2. Cinderella’s Castle
It is humongous! You can eat inside with the princesses. There’s a show in front of the castle and a fun dance parade. There are fireworks at night. Cinderella’s Castle is a must see.
3. Lots of Rides
The merry-go-round is Rosie’s favorite. Splash Mountain and Small World are at the top of the list and Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom. But you will find your own favorite rides, do what you love, and then do it again!
4. Animal Kingdom
Rosie loves all things animal, so Animal Kingdom was especially fun for her. I asked, “What did you like at Animal Kingdom?” and she looked at me like I was crazy, answered, “Animals”. Okay, enough said.
5. You’ll Never Want To Leave
You don’t want to leave because it’s so magical. Seriously, un-coached, un-tampered, that’s what she said, and I couldn’t have said it better.
What other tips do you have for first-timers at Walt Disney World?
Any tips for first time cruisers or first time vacationers to Alaska?
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