Saturday, January 10, 2009

Things we did right at Disney

Before I get to the tips, here's a little about the girls...
When asked about her favorite part of the trip, Muffin would respond, "Everything!" so I get more specific and she would probably say the ride "Soarin'" and EPCOT. She rode it four times but you can't take pictures of that. Her next two faves are Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain at Magic Kingdom. So I just put the obligatory castle picture to represent Magic Kingdom for her.
The Coke Store at EPCOT offers free samples of pop from around the world (see fountain display behind the girls). There was soda from Israel, Japan, Mozambique, China, Italy and others. Doodle, the girl who discovered Sprite this summer was in heaven here!
Mator loved almost everything. But her sheer joy was obvious to all at this water feature in the Pooh play area at Magic Kingdom. I saw many parents freaking out about their kids getting wet and looking at me like I was crazy but if you read tip # 8, you'll know why I was totally relaxed and loved watching Mator enjoy herself.

God, in His marvelous Providence, allowed us to take a trip to Disney with our three lovely daughters and my two marvelous parents. And, knowing that we are planners, provided me with a friend who has been to Disney about 16 times (including once this fall) and another who went just this past summer. Their help was immeasurable and I thought I'd share a few things that helped. Remember, underlined things are links to more information so if you click on them, you can find out more...

1. We read Birnbaums's book about Disney. We read a lot of it before the trip and then the night before we went to a park, we skimmed over that park's section again.

2. We brought our own stroller. These things are necessary in a stroller: Reclining seat, basket under the seat, removable tray and an awning thing that protects from the sun (why can't I think of that word???). The park strollers don't recline, require waiting in line to rent and are hard as rocks. Also, about 50% of the people have them so it makes finding yours after a ride rather difficult. Actually, finding ours wasn't easy either until I realized that setting our bright purple backpack on the seat made it much easier.

3. Use the fast pass system. Really, it is free and so easy and the only people who have an excuse for not using it are people that come from another country who don't speak very good english and haven't done any research. I even helped a few of them understand it. Get your fast passes and save them for busy times of the day. Only wait in a line if it doesn't have a fast pass.

4. Bring your own food and water bottles. We ate breakfast at our condo (about $3-4 a day for our ENTIRE FAMILY OF FIVE) then packed the same lunch everyday- PB& J sandwiches (special treat for my kids-I even cut their crusts off), fresh fruit, some kind of chips. Everyone gobbles it up because they are hungry. Not one complaint. We also packed granola bars, extra fruit and fish crackers for snacks. When it was time to eat we didn't have to wait in a long line, decide what our kids would eat and then pay a ridiculous amount of money all while waiting hungrily. We just found a quiet bench (or Tom Sawyers Island if at Magic Kingdom) and ate up.

5. Eat out 1 meal a day. Now, my parents and my husband like their food. I, on the other hand, sometimes think that if I could get maximum nutrition and be full after eating a pill, I would do it but those others are foodies. So we ate out once a day and since we had only spent about $4 on breakfast and maybe $12 on lunch for our entire family, we could afford to have a nice meal at dinner time.

6. Research the rides ahead of time. My friend Dawn was incredibly helpful here, in addition to Birnbaum's book. You can find out which rides are worth your time (for the maximum enjoyment of you and your kids) and which aren't. You should find out which lines move slow and which are Line Busters (my friend Dawn coined this term, I think, to mean a ride that you can do when the other lines are long).

7. Don't go to Magic Kingdom on New Year's Eve unless your only goal is to watch fireworks. This park was beyond crowded and miserable except for those who were parked in front of the castle all day waiting to watch the fireworks. If you came to have a complete Disney experience, you will be highly disappointed on this day.

8. Bring a change of clothes for each child in a 2 gallon ziploc each day. Suck the air out of the bag and stick it in your backpack. Bring ponchos too in case you don't want to get wet but want to ride the water rides.
That does it for tips for now!

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