A Disney vacation can be magical--and often, for families with small children, overwhelming and exhausting. Mighty Mommy has visited Disney 20 times (many of those with her 8 kids in tow), and shares her 5 best tips for preparing for a low-stress Disney getaway.
- Disneyparkspodcast.com with host Krista Joy: Krista Joy is an Orlando native, former Disney cast member, and current head author at Disneyways.com, a fan publication dedicated to bringing you Disney news, history and information sprinkled with treasures you won’t find any where else.
- The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2014 by Bob Sehlinger: This features a tremendous wealth of Disney knowledge, and explains how Disney World works, and how to make every minute and every dollar of your vacation count
- MouseSavers.com: Since 2001, MouseSavers.com has provided hundreds of pages of free information about Disney discounts, including how to save on Disney ticket
- Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World®'s Best Kept Secrets by Steven Barrett: If you're looking for a way to add some extra fun to your vacation, especially if you have older, school-aged kids, pick up a copy of this book. Camouflaged images of Mickey Mouse are concealed all around the Walt Disney World Resort, and author Steve Barrett adds to the fun of finding them by turning the search into six scavenger hunts, complete with clues, hints, and points to be scored. My middle-school kids had a ball with this, and with each hidden Mickey they found, we offered them souvenir spending money.
- Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World: If Hidden Mickeys aren’t your thing, bringing along this book and hunting for hidden details is a great way to increase your appreciation for the design of the park. The book points out subtle details about the park, while also revealing stories, backstories, and Imagineering insights. It also has sketches, paintings, and schematics that were used to develop the look of each attraction--all condensed into a portable, easily referenced park guide. There are field guides for all four parks.
Tip #3: Stay on Disney Property
The first few times we went to Disney, before the kids, we stayed off-Disney property and rented a car. Because we only had ourselves to worry about, the extra time we spent driving from Orlando's infamous International Drive (a large strip loaded with shopping, dining, entertainment, and hotels) in and out of the parks seemed reasonable.
The first time we took small children, however, we soon realized that the small amount of money we were saving was absolutely not worth it, because if we wanted to leave the park for some down time, it was a logistical nightmare to drag the kids and their strollers back to the parking lot, load them up in the car, and drive nearly 30 minutes back to our hotel--only to have to load them back up later in the day, if we wanted to return to the parks.
Staying at a Disney hotel is essential in my mind, and I'd never plan a vacation to Disney without taking advantage of one of their many resort packages or hotels. For starters, many packages include Disney's Magical Express bus service, in which guests are picked up at the Orlando airport and taken right to their Disney hotel. Transportation from there on out is also all included (on property,) via their buses, monorail or boats, so renting a car is not necessary.
This means that when you and your kids start to get cranky in the mid-afternoon hours, you can hop on a bus at the park and head back to your Disney hotel for a few hours of nap or pool time, and get refreshed for the evening ahead. (Believe me, it is just as important for the adults on your vacation to take advantage of this down time as it is for the kids!) There are also many other perks that come from staying on property, including discounts and privileges that only Disney Resort Hotel guests receive--so look into all your on-property options before booking a hotel.