Monday, September 24, 2018

Disney World (With a 2-Year Old)

Stroller: Maclaren

Disney World with an almost 2-year old? Thankfully there is a Starbucks to keep you going on Magic Kingdom's Main Street U.S.A.! I got a range of reactions when I told people we were taking Lexi to Disney World for a getaway back in March. Some people thought it was awesome... but the majority didn't think it sounded like a vacation. Reporting that we had an amazing time... here are some of my FAQ.

What do you think is the best age for Disney?
Lexi was a little young to fully appreciate the experience... but overall Ted and I had a great time with her and we'll always remember it even though she won't. Based on my trip and the limited experience I have with being around toddlers... I would guess that 3-4 is an ideal toddler age.

The biggest struggle was waiting in line, so we did miss out on a few rides due to the wait times. More on rides below.

What was your schedule?
We took 5 days off work and spent 4 days/3 nights in Orlando with a "recovery" day at home.

4-Day Orlando Schedule
Monday: Fly to Orlando / Waldorf for the afternoon / Dinner at Disney Springs
Tuesday: Magic Kingdom  / Dinner nearby in Orlando
Wednesday: Magic Kingdom / Dinner at Grand Floridian Hotel
Thursday: Waldorf in the morning / Disney Springs in the afternoon / Fly to Westchester
Friday: Recover at Home (Lexi at daycare....)

How did you book?
I was able to find a travel agent that booked our hotel, Magic Kingdom tickets and most importantly handled all of our FastPass selections and dining reservations at Disney. Our days revolved around these reservations.

One of my friends that recently visited in September booked everything herself and didn't have any issues. It's really just a matter of convenience and openings vary depending on the season. She found the best ticket prices on Park Savers.

Cinderella's Royal Table

Where did you eat?
Reservations are an absolute must for any sit down meal, especially for character dining. On our first day at the park we had lunch at The Crystal Palace, with characters from Winnie the Pooh. Lexi wanted nothing to do with the characters! We tried!

The next lunch was a hit. Cinderella's Royal Table was our favorite and she loved interacting with the princesses. She was chasing after them when they left the table. I can thank our agent for this coveted reservation. She continuously checked for openings and we were able to book lunch. We were hoping for breakfast, which allows you early park admission, but nothing opened up. (Bonus - it's the one of the restaurants at Magic Kingdom that serves alcohol. I was pregnant... and sadly couldn't take advantage of this. I needed it.)

Our last Disney dining experience was Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare within The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. I wanted to see the property (hoping some day we can stay here!) and after dinner we watched the fireworks outside.

Where did you stay? 
I constantly see this question asked in my mommy Facebook groups - Waldorf Astoria vs. Disney Resort. When comparing the price point to the Disney resorts that fell within the same budget as the Waldorf, this seemed the way to go. While Ted golfed on site, Lexi and I went to the pool and took walks around the resort and had plenty of room in our suite to hang out and take breaks.

There are several perks to staying at a Disney Resort (transportation/monorail to parks, Fast Pass perks, earlier access to book dining) and I hope at some point again we try this.... but for our quick trip the Waldorf was great. We had a suite and it was helpful to be able to store simple groceries like milk and yogurt in the refrigerator that we picked up on our way from the airport to the hotel. One of the highlights for younger children is the walk in pool. The Hilton next door has a coffee shop and we would take walks between the hotels.

How did you get around Orlando?
No question... rent a car. You will not want to be held to public transportation, especially with young children.

I booked the best deal that I found through KAYAK, which was Advantage. We don't frequently rent cars so I'm not loyal to a particular company and went for price. When we arrived at the counter, the line for the better known companies seemed endless. I think we would have been waiting for at least 45 minutes. We walked right up to the counter, got our keys and that was that. There were a few hiccups over pricing, so I recommend that you always print out information (yes, print, not on your phone) so you can hand it over the counter for review and I always say return the car with the tank full.

Parking tip: If you dine at one of the monorail resorts for breakfast or lunch, you can park for free.

What souvenirs did you buy?
A hand-cut custom silhouette by a silhouette artist is the best souvenir your can bring home! With the frame it was only $20. (The frame is plastic.... and I was planning on replacing it but now I think it's fine.) You can find the stand between Crystal Arts and China Closet on Main Street U.S.A. There is also a location in Liberty Square. If you don't have the chance at the park and you are visiting Disney Springs, there is also the option to have one made there.

I caved and bought a $15 balloon and $20 bubble machine for Lexi. The bubble machine has been put to good use at home. Pressed pennies are a cheap but memorable souvenir that I wish I had done (see the locations here). My friend also got an embroidered classic hat... another regret of mine! Next time.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant Ride

Magic Kingdom Rides?
Our travel agent made FastPass reservations for the rides she thought would be best for Lexi and would have the longest lines. Others she recommended between the reservations, like the carousel. Look into rider switch... this feature allows adults to take turns waiting with kids or guests that are unable to ride. One of the tips I wish I had known about before we went.

Favorite rides:
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Under the Sea: The Journey of The Little Mermaid
Peter Pan's Flight

What stroller did you use?
I used a Maclaren Quest umbrella stroller for this trip and it worked out great. I put it in this travel bag to check at the gate during the trip. I attached a large luggage tag to the strap so that we could easily identify it among of the sea of parked strollers outside rides. To be honest, it was used more to push around my backpack than Lexi.

What did you bring with you to the park?
Typically I don't wear a backpack but it's necessary so you're hands free. I have always been one to keep the diaper bag simple. Diaper, wipes, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, snacks and waters. Plenty of drinks is key!

Meeting Mickey at Town Square Theater 

Shopping break at Disney Springs

Can't wait to bring Lexi back and introduce Chase to Disney World.

Would love your Disney World travel tips! Please leave in the comments.


1 comment

  1. Be sure to get a 1st visit pin (or birthday/celebration) at guest relations!


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