Disney World Tips and Tricks: from a mom’s perspective tips on planning your days at the parks and on a Disney cruise with kids.
We’ve just come back from a trip to Disney World -several days at the parks, and then a short Disney cruise. We had a lovely time, and I thought I’d share a little round-up on some of my thoughts, and Disney World tips and tricks in case you’re headed that way in the near future.
Disney World and Cruise Tips and Tricks from a Mom
1. Go Off Season
Going off season worked out really well. We got a bit of a deal on everything and it really wasn’t too busy. It was cold however, but 5 degrees is still way better than -21, so it still worked out well for us. My advice if you’re headed to the parks this time of year is to pack some warm clothing. My girls wore their winter coats to the parks most days. Some days it warmed up in the afternoon, some days it didn’t. If your dressed warmly you’ll have more fun.
2. Buy the Dinning Package On Sale
Since we went off season, we got the Disney “Play, Stay, and Dine” package. We did a bit of research about the dining plan before we went, and figured that with the sale it was best for us. We like to eat on vacation, so it was fun to not have to worry about the cost of everything. It’s really worth doing your research about where to eat for the best value on the meal plan -here are some of our thoughts:
- It is enough food, if you’re worried. We had the plan where you get one counter service meal, one table service meal, and one snack per day, per person. Some days we shared counter service meals, and used some snack credits for breakfasts -warm cinnamon bun and free coffee at the resort was a great way for this momma to start the day!
- We did a little research each night before bed about the best food in each park. Most of the recommendations were right on the money. Loved the Dole whip float -yum, and the cookie ice cream sandwiches were great and big enough to share (be sure to spend those snack credits wisely!)
- Other big recommendation that we loved was the caramel corn at Epcot. Got one extra to bring home, and almost wished I’d used all of my 8 extra snack credits on this. Really good.
- Wolfgang pucks counter service was pretty yummy too….is it just me though, or is meatloaf everywhere at Disney and on the cruise?
- The character meals were fun, and a great value with the plan. If I didn’t have the plan, I won’t have done them, but with it they were totally worth it.
- We didn’t love the Snickerdoodle cupcake from Hollywood Studios that had a lot of rave reviews.
- The Moroccan food at Epcot was delicious -again.
- Loved the counter service lunch at France in Epcot too. Pastries were amazing, sandwiches were really good too. Also, there’s no kids meals here, so you can spend your children counter service credit on a adult meal -great value.
- At the end of our visit we had about 8 left over snack credits, which we used on fudge and cookies that are nicely packaged and great for little gifts for special people at home.
- The Prime Time Cafe at Hollywood Studios had mixed reviews on-line but was a real highlight for us. The decor, waiters, and food is so fun. You know I love a theme!
- We really enjoyed the new Be Our Guest restaurant at Magic Kingdom. “Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious. Don’t believe us? Ask the dishes!” Grey-stuff cupcake was awesome.
3. Ask About Rider Switch If Your Little One Is Scared
We had one easily scared girl, and used the rider switch once. The staff said they didn’t do it, but the supervisor standing nearby was really happy to accommodate us. And if you do happen to take a little one into the Lilo and Stitch ride, thinking it will be a little person friendly ride, and they start screaming in the dark as an alien appears…they will nicely escort you and your crying child out a back door…just sayin.
4. Plan A Pool Day
We really loved the pool -we were at Port Orleans Riverside. The day we switched from the parks to the cruise they pick you up around 11:3o, so we had a little time to enjoy our Disney resort pool. We said last time we were at Disney that it would be really wise to plan a day in the middle of your park visits to stay at the resort and enjoy the pool. Since the park days are really go, go, go, we kind of wished we’d planned that pool day in the middle. Unfortunately, the weather is a real factor this time of year. If you’re travelling when it’s warmer though, plan a pool day.
5. Book A Royal Suite
We stayed in the Royal Suites, they are really cute. Our girls loved all the royal details. I’m usually a save money and go with the basics kind of a girl, but this was a pretty minimal upgrade and did add to the magic factor.
6. Book The Cruise After The Park Days
Schedule your cruise for the end of the trip. The parks were really tiring. Even the kids had sore feet at the end. It was so nice to look forward to a really different pace on the cruise.
7. The Bus Transfers Make Life Easier
If you’re willing to pay the money, Disney really will take care of everything. I usually don’t buy the cruise transfers, we just take a cab to and from the ship, but since we were doing the parks and the Disney cruise we went for the ship transfers. It sure was easy. They handle everything and you sit back. I think it was worth the money.
8. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Is Expensive But Magical
The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique was pretty awesome. It’s expensive -for sure buy the Disney princess dress at home and bring it with you to save a few bucks. My one very girlie daughter said it was one of the best days of her life. 😉 The other one seemed to enjoy the visit, but then wanted the “gung” out of her hair -they use a ton of gel. It’s worth doing at least once.
If you can, book your boutique visit for the beginning of your trip, so your little princess can wear the tiara around the park after. Along the same lines, pack a few of her princess dresses, our girls loved wearing them at the parks and for dinner on the cruise -and lots and lots of other little girls did too. Make them a bit warmer and more comfortable with white leggings underneath, and a tank top or long sleeved white t-shirt.
9. Modern Disney Outfits Are So Fun
My girls also enjoyed wearing their modern Disney inspired outfits -see the post where I made some inspiration boards here. Here are two of ours -do you recognize Modern Snow White and Modern Ariel? My best tip for putting these kind of outfits together is to visit a kid’s second hand store. We had awesome luck here finding the basics, and then added accessories from the Disney Store and Party City.
10. Book Your Fast Passes
Fast Passes really are awesome. Use them, you can even do them on-line before you hit the parks now -so worth it.
10. Save Some Souvenir Buying for the Islands on your Cruise
I’m a bit of a sucker for a souvenir, but I resisted the urge to buy something with Mickey Mouse all over it, that I didn’t really need. I saved my money for the Straw Market in Nassau. I found some awesome straw bags that I can’t wait to use this summer -and don’t be afraid to haggle (or afraid of the reviews on-line that say the sellers are super aggressive, just be friendly and say no thank you if you’re not interested).
Overall, we had a great, great trip and we feel so blessed that we were able to go. It was especially nice to miss some of the very cold weather at home for a few days.
With Disney World tips and tricks from a mom, life really is a party!
You might also enjoy our Modern Disney Princess Outfits here.
Also check out our How to Save Money On A Cruise here.
You might also enjoy our Tips For Cruising With Kids here.