All posts tagged advice

My Disney Advice

Screen shot 2015-06-16 at 8.24.02 AMI’ve been to Disneyworld twice as a parent. Once with a two year old and a four year old and most recently with my six year old and now four year old. There are definitely people who know more about Disney than I do, but I did manage to pick up a few pieces of wisdom for anyone planning a trip. So here it goes:
1. Do bring a Stroller.

Happy, relaxed with lollipops

Happy, relaxed with lollipops

Unless your child is over the age of 9, you are probably going to wish you had a stroller. There is so much walking at Disney. Everyone was much happier with the kids in a stroller. here are some of the reasons:
a. There are so many people there that it is hard to keep up with everyone. When the kids were walking, I was all panicky checking to make sure that everyone was there every two minutes. It’s far more relaxing to know they are in the stroller.
b. It keeps the sun off of them. My little Irish boys really can’t take Florida sun for several hours a day four days in a row. The cover on our Bob stroller kept them protected.
c. You can stow a lot of stuff in the bottom of the stroller. I brought snacks, lunch and water for the day. It was so handy. Also if you buy anything, it’s nice to be able to put it in the stroller. I never worried that someone might steal my stuff, everyone is too focused on getting into the Splash Mountain line.
d. It keeps them from getting overly tired and grumpy, though they will be exhausted.
e. It’s a nice break from all of the stimulation. They will definitely need it.
FYI: Disney does rent strollers, but they look incredibly uncomfortable. They are hard plastic. Also, you have to return them before you leave the park. This is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is then you don’t have to deal with the stroller anymore. We rode the boat every day and almost always had to fold up our double bob when we boarded. That was a pain, but it was a long walk from the boat to our hotel, so we were glad we still had the stroller. Did I mention that my four year old is not fond of walking?

2. Do pace yourself.

Exhaustion

Exhaustion

The first time we went, we didn’t even ride that many rides and that was totally fine. The boys were young. At 4 and 2, they could ride the same things like Dumbo, Peter Pan and It’s a small World. That year, we got to the park when it opened and left around lunch time. Then we just played in the pool all day. We never went back for the fireworks or anything. This time we went back and I think we would all agree it was a mistake. It ruined us for the next day which was Hollywood Studios (so not that big a deal).

3. Do put a large, preferably laminated, name tag on your stroller. They have stroller parking near the rides, but while you are in line or riding, the workers move the strollers around. So it is almost never exactly where you left it and inevitably someone will have the same stroller as you. Make it easier on yourself and label yours. I didn’t do this. Wish I had.

4. Don’t do the Meal Plan.

my boys love Donald!

my boys love Donald!

This is if you have kids 6 and younger. It really seems like more of a hassle to me with that age group. I’ve crunched the numbers and I don’t think you really save much money with the meal plan. We got a room with a kitchen, so we made breakfast and packed a lunch most days. Even without a kitchen you could order pizza or make PB&J in your room. We always ate out once a day though and that was more than enough time in a restaurant with excited young kids. At those character meals (which I totally recommend. It beats waiting in line to meet a character) they don’t eat because they are too amped up. Definitely plan some meals (like Crystal Palace and Whispering Canyon), but I wouldn’t want to attempt to eat in a Disney restaurant for every meal.

5. Do bring LOTS of water!!! Don’t leave your water bag/bottle on a ride.
IMG_5531Our beloved Darth Vader water bag was left somewhere between Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan. Sigh.

6. Do take cell phone pictures. Don’t bring your fancy camera to the park.

sweetness

sweetness

I saw several people with really nice Canons and Nikons at the park. What a headache to have to carry it around and worry about your $700 camera. And really, you will be totally sweaty. You don’t want 8×10 glossies of those photos. Cell phone pictures will serve you just fine. If you want a really nice one, just grab one the photopass people. They will even take photos with your cell phone for free if you ask.

7. Speaking of photopass. Do use Disney Photopass Tutorial to get your photopass pictures for free! I was not able to get high res pictures with this tutorial. So I’m not sure if Disney has fixed the loophole or not. I was still able to download them for free, but they are only good for web use.

8. DO GET THE CAKE POPS!!! AND THE RICE KRISPY TREAT MICKEY DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE WITH SPRINKLES. AND THE ICE CREAM AT THE ICE CREAM PARLOR!!imageIMG_5961IMG_5675

9. Do take a ride on the people mover. It’s a great palette cleanser after all of the fast moving, action packed rides. So is “It’s a small world” (actually one of my favorites).

10. Do bring Purell. This is a great distraction in the Winnie the Pooh line. IMG_5808Disney is brilliant because they have included all of these entertainment spots for kids in line for “winnie the Pooh” and “Peter Pan” etc. The kids love it. So do the adults. They all wipe their hands all over it. So yay – that was fun. uh oh, you just got Ebola. Purell it away :).

11. Do the pirate treasure Hunt in Adventureland – especially if you have a 6 year old boy. OMG IT IS THE BEST! Here’s one of the maps.

One of the Pirate hunt maps

One of the Pirate hunt maps

There are 5 hunts and they are masterfully laid out in Adventureland which is very easy to move around in. You don’t have to do it all in one day either. Here is information about the Pirate’s Treasure HuntAlso there is a “Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom” hunt that you can get at the firehouse on Main Street. In it, you become an apprentice of Merlin and fight the disney villains like Ursula and Scar. I’m so sad that we didn’t have time to do that one. It goes all over the park.

12. Do set up some expectations or limitations for your child ahead of time.We told our boys that we would buy them one souvenir and that they could spend $20 of their own money to buy another souvenir. We also told them they could have one treat a day – be it ice cream in the afternoon or a dessert after dinner. So they had to really think about it when they wanted something. They also didn’t ask us for things every time we turned around. If they did, we just reminded them of the limits. It made it much more pleasant not to have to say ‘no’ all the time.

13. Do get a personalized souvenir.

Silhouettes of Carter and Henry

Silhouettes of Carter and Henry

They are delightful. When I went to Disney at age 5 (I think) my mom got silhouettes made of us and they still hang on her wall. So I got one of the boys this year (one for her too). They are so sweet and inexpensive ($16 with the frame – which is plastic, but still). It doesn’t take that long either. They can be found in Liberty square just before the bridge. There are lots of other personalized items to get (the mouse ears, of course), but be sure to allow enough time. I wanted to get a parasol for my goddaughter (they are so cute. They paint their name on it and flowers or a character. And they have mini ones). I went to the booth the day we were leaving and she said it would take four hours. I asked if I could get it in two and she said ‘no’ (not very Disney of her IMO). Still, wish I had gotten it the day before. Most of the items you buy in the park can be sent back to your hotel if you stay at a Disney resort. If not, I think they will hold them for you until the end of the day.

14. Do eat in any of these restaurants if you can: Cape May, Crystal Palace, Whispering Canyon. They are fun and have good food.

15. Do enjoy your Disney resort.

My boys look like roasting a marshmallow is the most serious job in the world here. There isn’t a ton of time left after the parks, but it would be a shame to miss out on some of the awesome experiences at your hotel. We stayed at the Wilderness Lodge and loved it. I took a run twice on their jogging path which was so quiet and secluded. We took the boat to Fort Wilderness for a campfire sing-a-long with Chip and Dale. They also have complimentary marshmallow roasting and movies after dark (which was too late for my kids). We even saw a few bunnies on the grounds of our hotel I did wonder for a second if a “cast member” had just let it out of a cage to add to the atmosphere.

16. Do visit Tom Sawyer Island while in Magic Kingdom.

The fort at Tom Sawyer Island

The fort at Tom Sawyer Island

The kids will love exploring there. It gets you away from the crowds. Done.

17. Do the Jedi Training at Hollywood Studios. We didn’t do it, but wish we had. Carter was very tired that day (it was the day after the fireworks) and he just couldn’t muster up the energy to get on stage. We watched it though which was really fun enough! Darth Vader comes out. It’s very cool.

18. Do get a pressed coin.

Making pennies! for $.50!

Making pennies! for $.50!

It’s a cheap and easy souvenir. It give the kids something to do in line and it beats collecting those pins. You can get a different type all over the park and resorts.

19. Do see the Electric Light Parade at Magic Kingdom.

Electric Light Parade at Magic Kingdom

Electric Light Parade at Magic Kingdom

We enjoyed all of the parades, but this one is worth staying up for. It’s at 9, so not too, too late. It’s not nearly as hot as the ones in the daytime (which are awesome to watch nonetheless).

20. Do remember these sweet moments forever.

And when you get too old to remember them, look at the pictures and think, “What a happy family. I wonder who these people are. The wife is very tan. Why is her husband so pale? He should spend more time in the sun. Where did I put my teeth?”

And that’s all I can think of for now. I hope you go and I hope you have a blast like we did. IMG_5938

The Best Advice I Got – New Mom Series

me with Carter

me with Carter

When you are deep into a rough patch with a baby, it feels like nothing will ever get better.  You feel helpless, unable to fix the problem.  Usually, when a newborn cries, they need one of three things: 1. A diaper change 2. Feeding or 3. Sleep.  The difficulty at that phase is the frequency with which these needs have to be met.  As they get older, different needs develop.  Since they can’t talk, it is hard to know which need to meet and even if you do know, sometimes, there is just nothing you can do but hold your crying baby until it passes.  It’s an understatement to say that this can be very frustrating.  We were deep into a sleepless phase of waking up every 2 – 3 hours with a five month old, spending an hour or more trying to soothe him back to sleep only to have him wake up the moment we tried to put him in his crib.  We had a couple over for dinner and they gave us the best advice.  They said, “the first year or two, nothing lasts more than three weeks.” This filled us with hope and relief that this horrible phase would soon be over.  Then our friends added another piece, “Neither the bad times nor the good times.”  Ah, there is the rub.

"I like to sleep on you best of all"

“I like to sleep on you best of all”

We had already experienced a good phase.  At 8 weeks Carter was sleeping 8 hours.  This was a tremendous break through and much sooner than the other exclusively breastfed babies we knew.   I think, with formula or bottle fed babies, you can reach this milestone faster, but every child is different.  So we thought we had figured it all out.  Literally, we said that out loud.  We were so pleased with ourselves….so naive. Three weeks later, the night before I went back to work (I went back to work for 3 weeks before becoming a SAHM) he started waking up at 2 am.  So I started feeding him again and that was when the bubble burst.  Nothing lasts.

Me with Henry, looking very tired as I have been for the past 5 years.

Me with Henry, looking very tired as I have been for the past 5 years.

So, when times are bad, don’t worry, it will only last three weeks.  And when times are good, enjoy them because they won’t last either.  Even beyond the first year, the only constant is change. For the past two weeks, Henry (2 – a celebrated, awesome sleeper) has been waking up at 5:45 four days a week and sleeping until 8:30 the other three days.  He doesn’t want to go to bed and he says he wants to sleep with us (which he never does).  But this too shall pass.  It may take more than a few weeks, but even with a two year old, nothing lasts…though it can seem like an eternity at the time.


Just a cute pic of the boys in their PJs.