By Sadaf Afshan
A trip to Walt Disney World is a dream vacation for most children. However, it can also be overwhelming for parents to plan it. With four theme parks, two water parks, two entertainment areas, dozens of resorts and hotels, hundreds of restaurants, Magic bands, Fast Passes, Memory Maker and all, it takes much meticulous planning to make the most of your time and money at Walt Disney World.
Here are 10 simple tips to help you create magical memories for your family at Walt Disney World:
The Fast Pass+ system
Wait times on popular rides can easily exceed an hour even during off peak seasons; during peak seasons they can be as long as 2-3 hours. If you don’t want to deal with a wailing preschooler who could not visit Anna and Elsa or a sulky preteen who could not ride on Soarin, make sure to schedule your Fast Passes as soon as you book your trip.
Some popular rides and attractions for which you must definitely consider a Fast Pass are:
Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Meet and Greet with Anna and Elsa, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain
Epcot: Soarin, Test Track, Mission:Space, Turtle Talk with Crush
Animal Kingdom: Kali River Rapids, Kilimanjaro Safari, Everest Expedition
Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Midway Mania, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock n’ Roller Coaster
Prepare for the heat
The heat and humidity of Florida is something which can be challenging for us Canadians. Even in spring and fall temperatures can soar above 90 degrees F. Since most attractions are outdoors make sure to slather sunscreen and carry hats and sunglasses. You can also buy a Water Misting fan to beat the heat,or at least try to!
For those of us who wear the hijab remember to wear the lightest ones that you have and practice some loose styles before going. Skip the synthetic, dark colored and flowy abayas and jilbabs. Instead opt for sporty, cotton jilbabs or better still cotton tunics with loose trousers which make it easier to go on rides.
If you stay in Ontario, consider crossing the border and flying from Buffalo-Niagara International airport to Orlando, instead of taking an international flight. You will save tons of money this way.
While you might to buy a few souvenirs from the Walt Disney World parks, consider doing the bulk of your souvenir and gift shopping from the nearest superstore where you can find the same items at a much cheaper price.
If you don’t want to end up losing your voice saying “No!” to the kids for everything from balloons ($20 each!), trinkets to the dozens of sugary temptations, consider giving each child a certain amount each day and let them decide how they want to spend it.
Before heading towards the park stock up on some snacks and drinks so that you don’t end up paying a much steeper price for them inside the parks.
Bring your own stroller
This might sound like a no-brainer for those having infants and toddlers but at Walt Disney World strollers are required even for 6 year olds if you don’t want to end up carrying them on your shoulders after a few hours.
Strollers are available for rent at Walt Disney World but at a charge of approximately $15 per day for a single stroller and a whopping $31 per day for a double stroller you are better off bringing your own. Also, the strollers available for rent at Walt Disney World are made of hard plastic and do not recline.
Make sure to bring a stroller with a storage basket in which you can carry your stash of snacks and drinks.
Reach the Park early
No matter which park you decide to visit on any particular day reach the gate before it opens. This is particularly important for Animal Kingdom as you can see maximum number of animals in the morning. For other parks crowds are least in the morning and the sun is more merciful.
If you have little ones you can consider going back to your hotel during the afternoon to take a nap and come back in the evening to stay until late night to watch the fireworks, Disney’s Electrical Parade and other shows at different parks. If you are staying at a Disney resort you can also take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours after the parks close down for the general public.
Download My Disney Experience App
The official My Disney Experience mobile app is available for iPhone and Android. It can really save you a ton of time in the parks by using the various features such as the ability to make/update Fastpass+ reservations, seeing wait times or just having the map handy to get around.
Disney offers free wi-fi throughout it’s parks and resorts which can be used to access the app.
Rider Switch Program
If you have little ones who cannot go on certain rides due to height restrictions or other reasons take advantage of Disney’s Rider Switch program. This means that Baba can go on a ride with the older child while Mama waits with the little one. Once they are done Mama can go on the ride without having to wait in line again. The older child has the option of going again with Mama if he/she wishes.
Have a Lost Child plan
There is nothing more stressful than to have your child go out of sight while on vacation. Make sure that your kids know how to recognize ‘cast members’ (Disney staff) to ask for assistance if they get lost. If your kids are not old enough to remember cell phone numbers, place a note with your phone number, name, resort name in their pockets.
Have realistic expectations
WDW is HUGE. It’s virtually impossible to explore all the attractions in a one or even two week trip, especially with little ones in tow. Set priorities as to which rides or attractions appeal most to your family and plan accordingly.
Have a magical time
There’s a reason why Walt Disney World is called ‘the happiest place on earth’. It’s the stuff that magical memories are made of. Make the most of your trip and you will remember it fondly forever.
About the Author:
Sadaf Afshan is an editor at MuslimMoms.ca. She was an attendee at the 2015 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration and has also been a part of the #DisneySide campaign. She writes a food blog My Culinary Adventures and owns an Islamic Clothing business Chosen Path Abayas. She can be reached at sadafafs(at)gmail(dot)com
Have you visited Walt Disney World or are planning to? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.