Oh, yes going to Disney one time makes me a pro. NOT. But I can dream can't I? There were definitely things we learned from this vacation. It wasn't just our first trip to Disney, it was also the first time flying with kids. Here is some unsolicited advice on what you should do if you go OR what we would remember for the next time:
My children still take a nap. I know throw stones at me, I don't care. Even our 7 year old still occasionally takes naps. After walking on their feet and being way too stimulated, our kids needed a nap. I know some advice is to head back to the resort to take naps. But we didn't do that. Beauty and the Beast at Hollywood Studios and the American History Show at Epcot became our resting places. If you sit down before the show starts you can get a pretty good snooze in! Unless the little girl is a princess fan, then you wake her up before the show starts. I think Gigi wold have been heartbroken if she would have missed Belle dancing around on stage or Lumiere singing "Be Our Guest".
I know Aunt Kathy and Uncle Neil didn't get the whole autograph thing, but the kids loved it. They have their books in their room and love to show off Cinderella's signature to anyone who will listen. There was often a debate whether or not to wait in line for an autograph or a ride, but those character interactions were just as priceless as a 8 minute ride on Malestrom. So don't underestimate the experience of meeting a character out of a movie. It makes the movie come to life!
Bring your wallet to Downtown Disney. It really is like another park, except not everything is free. There was so much to do there that I wasn't expecting to spend as much time as we did at Downtown Disney. They had the build your own remote control cars, the build your own light sabers, the HUGE Mickey Store, and not to mention the LEGO store. Lots of things to do. We ate at Rain forest Cafe and it was an experience in itself. The gorillas were right above us watching us eat!
For those parents who don't want to wait in line (or aunts and uncles) character dining is the way to go. Those meals are usually pretty good, if you like buffet, and the atmosphere is hopping. Both of our character meals were really good.
1900 Park Fare
Hollywood and Vine
I regret not doing the princess breakfast because I think Bubba would have enjoyed it as much as the girls. Next time, right Nate?
My feet are still recovering from all the walking you do. The good thing is that there are many activities and rides in between so it doesn't feel like you are walking 15 miles but you do! The worst part was when our tennis shoes got wet and then we had to use them again. Stinky!!
I probley let my kids be a little goofier than normal but that was because no one knew us there. Oh wait, that isn't entirely true. With all the thousands of people at Disney we ran into some very good friends from Ottumwa AND a family from our hometown of Kalida. Small World. Disney World is the place you get to be a kid and act goofy. Literally!
There wasn't much in our suitcases we didn't use. With a washer and dryer though, I could have gotten along with less clothes. Just make sure you don't over pack too much or you won't be able to find a place to put all those cute souvenirs to bring home and you will have to leave your husband there instead!
I was a little nervous at what Nate would think when I told him I wanted to be at the park by 7:30am but he didn't question it at all. Being there ahead of the crowds, we were able to walk on to many rides that most people wait 60 minutes or longer for. We have early birds so it wasn't to much of a stretch for us. If you had kids that liked to sleep (I wouldn't know what that is like) it might be a different story.
If you don't know about Fastpass learn it now. You enter your Disney tickets at a fastpass Kiosk and a Fastpass prints out. It will tell you what time you can come back and ride the line without having to wait. Fastpass is an easy way to bypass the whole waiting in line thing. The only problem with the Fast pass is that you have to plan your day out according to the time on your Fastpasses, but you can fit so much more in your day when you aren't waiting in line for 120 minutes. Seriously, the line for the Toy Story ride at Hollywood Studios was that long when we buzzed through the Fastpass line without stopping once. Now sometimes we felt really bad passing people who had been waiting in line for a long time, but they could have gotten a Fastpass, so my guilt quickly receded. Fastpass -- It's a Must!
Have an idea of your "must do's" at every park so you are for sure to get them in before you go home for the day. I know especially at Epcot and Magic Kingdom we didn't have enough time in a day to do nearly have the stuff in the park. We got our "must do" items checked off our list though. We were there from 8 am til 10 pm and still didn't see it all.
10. Keep cooled off
Florida is hot. I know this because my brother Kurt has lived in Florida for many years. I vividly remember my first letter I got from him during his first month at college (Florida State Univereisty) where he mentioned that it was so hot he was sweating in the inside of his ears. It is way too easy to get overheated. Stay hydrated (bring your own water bottles if you don't want to pay exorbitant costs) and get out of the sun every once in a while. Gigi got to much sun one day and the rest of the trip we were very sensitive on how much she was in the sun. The fan spray bottles are a wonderful invention and keep you cool and entertained.
So there is my tips. Something you can learn from this amateur vacationer. We had such a wonderful trip I don't want it to end. How many more posts can one do on a week long vacation? Getting sick of me yet? :-)