I’m finally getting around to writing about our first experience taking K to Walt Disney World! If you’re a parent, you know [all too well] the life of needing a vacation FROM your vacation and how quickly time can fly! We took our trip to Florida back in December that included a stop on the beach as well as a couple of days in the happiest place on earth! So, it’s about time I shared how the nugget did and how we DIDN’T die of embarrassment flying with a baby for the first time!
We spent the first few days of our trip to Florida in Cocoa beach with my in-loves. Little did we know that the weather was going to be extremely cold and we would be spending our beach time mostly inside of the hotel. Yup, I am terrible at checking weather forecasts. This would especially be the case since we were coming from Las Vegas to Florida; what was the dang difference anyway? GRR, Sad Face. Despite freezing temperatures, Gary got to hangout with his dad doing crazy cold fishing adventures while we hung out indoors with friends and family using any means necessary.
Our stay at the Hilton Cocoa Beach was the best! The staff was super friendly and entertained K while we got to enjoy some adult time cheers-ing my birthday with friends as the grandparents watched K.
Since we were on a we-just-had-a-kid-barely-a-year-ago-budget, for our Disney portion of the trip we decided to stay in Coronado Springs. We still wanted access to use Disney Transportation to and from the two parks we chose to do this time: Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.
There are pros and cons to staying on Disney property, I’ve learned. If you know me pretty well, I do learn the hard way. We used to have annual passes when we lived in Florida, but now had to think about the fact that we had my mama and baby to tow as well as all of our belongings. Color me spoiled from years of driving only 45 minutes to play at the parks and not having to be accountable for other lives besides that of my husband. We asked friends their advice on their experiences and were told there were Minnie Uber Vans now on Disney Property, but they are not available from all of the resorts just yet. I tried my best to have a plan in place, depending on when K would need her naps, and depending when mama would need her “mama juice” from downtown Disney.
On Day 1 we made it into Animal Kingdom and got to use up all 3 of our fastpasses! K went back with mama for a nap midday, so Gary and I got to ride Expedition Everest (my favorite ride there) and have some mom/dad solo time while the girls napped.
Pandora is an amazing spectacle to see; it wasn’t yet built when we lived in Florida. So, I was the dorky tourist who walked around Pandora staring UP and bumping into unsuspecting other-tourists.
On Day 2, we made it into Magic Kingdom. K got to ride her first Disney ride which was Peter Pan! She had NO fear and loved looking out of the ride car to see the magic! Since she survived and didn’t jump out of her ride seat, she also rode It’s a Small World and Winnie the Pooh afterwards with us before we took a midday break for nap time and to have lunch back at the hotel.
All parents, especially first time parents like us, tend to get a little bit of anxiety traveling with a little one. I remember going to the parks as a non-parent wondering just how parents did it; how did they NOT lose their kid or their mind in the process? … and being the snarky girl wondering “Why in the world would you put a stinking leash on a kid, how cruel!”
It was a combined effort of supportive friends and family who taught us some tips and tricks I felt compelled to share with you all in case you want to keep it as simple as possible to travel with a barely-one-year-old out of state and in an amusement park to boot.
1. I was the mom with a kiddie leash on her kid. Call it fate and payback for my previous snarky behavior.
We used this exact one actually:
Now that K was mobile, I didn’t want to restrict her to the stroller for fear of her losing her mind and I also didn’t want to lose the only kid I had. So, we made the best of it allowing her freedom on the kiddie beackpack leash and she didn’t cause a fuss at all. We took breaks in areas where we let her run around, but also had peace of mind in crowds and when mom couldn’t quite keep up with little miss runner.
2. It’s okay to overpack snacks and food; it’s better than running out. We knew we would have great food options at the park and on property and within hotels. However, we all know that our kids can be picky and while on a plane or in an airport or park you don’t want to be standing in front of a screaming hungry kid without a snack to hush them up with. If you have a kiddo who’s old enough to eat like a champ, the dining plan at Disney is a smart idea. If not, there’s no point in spending the extra money.
3. Have all of the things ready to keep kiddo busy and comfy. Window clings kept K happy on the plane as well as her iPad loaded with Mickey mouse shows and Elmo’s world shennanigans. She may have cried off and on but she was happy and settled as best as possible.
4. Make sure that the hotel knows you need a crib or pack-n-play beforehand. It helps you get settled into your room before the chaos ensues.
5. Use the heck out of fastpass opportunities. We made sure that I was logged into My Disney Experience to make changes to our Fastpasses; no one knew K would keep her west coast schedule. It’s never a good situation to go to the Disney parks without a plan in mind; 2+ hour lines are fun for NO ONE.
6. Bring a diaper change pad. Not all of the family companion bathrooms in airports or in the parks have a diaper change area or table. You have to do what you have to do sometimes, but it’s nice to have a pad under kiddo’s head.
7. Make sure you get those “First Visit” buttons and celebration buttons. The cast members do a nice job acknowledging the kiddos and making their experience special!
8. LET GO and have fun! A trip can be a lot of planning, especially for the mama in the family. It should also be FUN and a time to let lose knowing that everything will be okay in the end.
… Even when your kiddo takes a poop on their first Disney ride.