As we have just returned from a vacation in the Walt Disney World Resort area in Lake Buena Vista, Florida I thought it would be helpful for all you moms and dads out there reading my blog (all 3 of you) to get some quick "do's and don't's" for your Disney trip. Now mind you, my list here will be from the perspective of being 1) the proud owner of a 3.5 year old, 2) the proud owner of a first-time Disney husband, and 3) almost 5 months pregnant. So keep in mind that some of these things may or may not apply to your trip. Regardless, I hope you can take some new and useful information from this. Let's begin with the Don't's.
DON'T presume to think you are going to stick to any type of "game plan" you mapped out in the days before you planned your trip or the hours you spent traveling to get there.
- Your "game plan" is worthless. Don't even try planning one. You'll be all gung-ho about how "organized" and "smarter than everyone else" you are, but in reality, you are only fooling yourself. Said plan is only worth taking up the time and filling in the conversation gaps between your child screaming in the back seat of the car that he wants to listen to (insert childrens' music CD name here) for the hundredth time and arguing with your husband that Route 27 is NOT the Daytona Speedway and going 95 miles an hour is not exactly the smartest thing to be doing. Especially when we've got a trucker from the movie "Duel" (look it up) on our tail because he doesn't like my bumper stickers. The "game plan" will dissolve the moment you set foot in the hotel or the parks, depending on what kind of plan you have planned.
DON'T think you're going to be able to do one park in one day.
- No way, no how, no sir. Between the crowds (which weren't bad at all this time of year), the walking, and the resting, you'll be lucky to get HALF of a park done in one day. Nevermind all the stops to pee (that applies to both toddlers and pregnant moms), the "I want to do this ride again!" events (We rode Buzz Lightyear's Adventure about 5 times in a row), and the "I want a snack" or "I'm thirsty" (again applies to toddlers and pregnant moms) every 10 minutes, you'll be lucky to get past Main Street in the Magic Kingdom in 3 hours.
DON'T assume that just because you love a ride, your child will love it too.
- This was a hard lesson to learn for me. Seriously. Here I was, thinking "Hey, our house is filled with skeletons and gargoyles and spooky stuff. My son is the son of the Queen of Halloween! He's not scared of anything! He'll love the Haunted Mansion!" WRONG. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. The Aging Goth Mom that I am had to hang her head in sadness as my child was horrified of the Haunted Mansion. He was terrified of it and clung to Daddy as though he was glued to him. We tried our best to get him to see the cool dancing ghosts or the singing statues. We tried explaining to him that it was just like our house. But no, the kid was scared, so we just let him hang on to Daddy and then we were done. Although, as we exited and he walked out, he said, "That was scary mommy but it was cool". There is hope.
DON'T forget the little things like umbrellas, overnight diapers, Q-tips, and socks.
- If you do, you'll be forced to either use the hotel shop which charges an arm, a leg, another arm and another leg, or go out and find a Walgreens in an unfamiliar area with unfamiliar traffic and unfamiliar roadsigns, all the while losing your cool parking spot right near the elevator to your room. So check 3, 4, 75 times for everything before you leave your house.
And now, some DO's.
DO plan on checking out the Downtown Disney Area at some point on your trip.
- The Downtown Disney area, which I initially thought would be lame, is really pretty awesome even if you're not into shopping or buying overpriced Disney collectibles. There is a show in center stage every night that involves a guy going through the history of popular dances and you can join in and try to win a prize. It was hysterical and also made me feel really old because at one point he yelled out "Ok, kids this one is for you" (and I'm thinking I'll know it) and on comes "Soulja Boy" and I didn't even know it was a dance. I just thought it was a bad song. As I look around I see all these teenagers doing what I assume to be is the "Soulja Boy" dance. Then, to make matters worse, the host yells out "Ok moms and dads, this one is for you" (and I of course assume it's going to be some type of Glen Miller swing dance thingie), and lo and behold, on comes "Maniac" from the movie Flashdance and I find myself "doing" the maniac and saying, "I love this song!" *sigh* Although, all my coolness was not lost as House of Pain's "Jump Around" came on next and all of us "moms and dads" schooled those kids on early '90s hip-hop.
Speaking of Downtown Disney, DO make a point to visit and eat dinner at T-Rex.
- If you've only allotted yourselves to one "fancy night" out for dinner as we have, go to T-Rex. It's beyond awesome. Dinosaurs all over the place, a meteor shower every 15 minutes that darkens the restaurant and consists of boomings and flashing lights in the "sky", really good (but really expensive) food with dinosaur-like proportions, and best of all, a dinosaur excavation station for kids to dig for dinosaurs. By far, I think this was Dante's favorite non-Disney Park experience. We had to come back a few nights in a row (not to eat here) but just so he could "dig" for dinosaurs.
DO get Fast Passes whenever you can.
- A Fast Pass allows you to return to a ride rather than stay on line and wait. Granted the lines weren't that long when we were there, but because Dante wanted to ride Buzz Lightyear about 5000000 times, the Fast Pass allowed us to bypass the lines and enter at our assigned time with no wait. Sure, you have to wait for your appointed time, but there is plenty of other stuff to engage your young person while you wait.
DO visit Epcot, just so you can do the Soarin' and Talking with Crush rides.
- Seriously. Even if you HATE Epcot, you MUST visit only because Soarin' and Talking With Crush are the best things EVER! Soarin' is a flying ride in which you are suspended in air and "flown" over gorgeous landscapes. In our case, the both times we did it, the landscape was California. It was breathtaking and unforgettable. You are literally flying as though you were operating a hang glider and each dip and drop feels just like flying.
- Talking With Crush is just as amazing, more so for your children. Crush is the "surfer dude" sea turtle from the movie Finding Nemo and in this show, he interacts with the children in the audience: asking them questions, taking their questions, talking to their parents, and generally being completely "real" for the kids. Your child's expression is worth the wait.
DO have the time of your life.
We had a blast and still have one day left on our passes. It doesn't expire until May, so I am sure we will trek up to Orlando sometime before then and get our Disney fix in one more time.