My Disney Guide-Before You Arrive
Our recent trip to Disney World was hands down one of my favorite family trips we have taken. The girls were so happy the whole time riding rides, meeting their favorite characters and eating special Disney treats. It was truly magical! Yes we were exhausted, yes it was crowded, yes the kids had some meltdowns but overall is was wonderful and I can’t wait to go back.
We had been planning our Disney trip for almost a year and I feel we really needed that much time to make sure it was a success and we could do everything on our list. Here is everything I did before we even arrived in Orlando that helped make our trip memorable:
12-6 Months Ahead
Book Your Hotel
Disney Hotels book up fast especially during school vacations. We stayed at The Four Seasons which we adored. The hotel has amazing pools, a splash pad, lazy river, playground, great restaurants etc. etc. etc. It was a great break from the crowds of the park at the end of each day.
6 Months Ahead
Buy Your Park Tickets and Set up Your Disney Acct
As soon as your hotel is reserved it is worth buying your park tickets and setting up your My Disney Experience acct. This account is what let’s you book dining, Fast Passes and keeps your plans organized. for you. I also highly recommend buying the Memory Maker photo package. It allows for unlimited downloads off all the pictures taken of you in the park!
If you are staying at a Disney hotel (Four Seasons included) you can book your dining reservations 180 days ahead of time. Booking opens up online at 6am each day and I highly reccomend making your reservations as soon as possible. I woke up at 5:45am for a week this past July just to make Disney dining reservations! Tiring yes, but so worth it to not be scrambling or shut out when we got to the park. Popular character dining such as Cinderella’s Table books up FAST and the chance to eat in Cinderella’s Castle and meet up to four princesses was so worth it! I recommend making lunch reservations for each day you are in the park as the quick service dining options get crowded and are far from healthy!
Book Your Princess Makeover
Hermione is about as girly as they come. She loves dress up, makeup, you name it. I knew a visit to the the Bippitty Boppitty Boutique was a must do for her. Like dining, these reservations open up 180 days in advance. They can only be made by calling (407) WDW-STYLE. I highly recommend booking the makeover for the same day you do lunch at Cinderella’s Castle. Hermione felt so special being all done up for that lunch! You have to be 3 to visit the BBB so Portia sadly had to miss out this time. However, if you have a little one under 3 who is into makeovers the Four Season’s has their own Magical Moments with no age limit. We did this one as well for both girls on the evening we arrived and it was a huge hit!
Start Your Countdown
I bought this adorable Disney Countdown Calendar for the girls and they were so into it. I love that you can start with months, then move to weeks, then days as your trip get closer.
2 Months Ahead
Book Your Fast Passes
If you are staying at a Disney hotel ( Four Seasons included) you can book your Fast Passes 60 days ahead of time. Make sure your park tickets are purchased and your hotel reservation is linked in My Disney Experience to take advantage of this. You can book 3 Fast Passes per day before your arrival. Once you are in the park and use all 3 you may book another, and then another etc. Fast Passes are booked in one hour windows and cannot overlap. We booked two Fast Passes in the morning before lunch each day and once for after lunch. Then if we still had energy we would see what was available on the app and sometimes book a fourth or fifth.
1 Month Ahead
I ordered the girls and I each a pair of customized Minnie ears which were so fun to wear in the parks. I love that they will have these for future Disney trips!
Prep Your Park Wardrobe
I wanted to make sure the girls had cute, comfortable on theme dresses to wear each day. Luckily so many affordable brands make Disney themed clothes. I also got the girls each a cute pair of Micky and Minnie shoes that were comfortable enough to walk around in all day.
BYOP (Bring Your Own Princess Dress)
My girls LOVE dressing up in princess dresses. Love. Knowing the ones in the park can be expensive and not so comfortable for long, hot, days I packed a few of our own. I love the dresses Little Gloriana makes. They are adorable, twirly, super light and comfy.
Mom and Dad Need Gear Too
Knowing the girls would want me (and Doug) in on the dress up fun we each got some fun Mickey and Minnie tee’s to wear to the park. I loved this vintage style one. It looked super cute with my mini skirts and sneakers!
Order Autograph Books and Pens
You will want to have an autograph book ready for each of your kids before you arrive at the park in case you enter a character before you are able to buy one. They will love flipping through them and it will help them get excited about asking characters for autographs. I also recommend getting a couple of these pens. Trust me, the fully costumed characters like Mickey and Minnie will appreciate the lack of a pen cap!
2 Weeks Ahead
Arrange a Special Welcome Surprise
Before we arrived I organized a special turn down surprise for the girls via Disney Floral and Gifts. When we came back from dinner the first night their beds were covered with princess surprises and gifts. It was so magical for them. The look on their faces will stay with me forever!
1 Week Ahead
Get the App
Before you go make sure to download the Disney Experience App to your phone and familiarize yourself with it. The app is amazing for booking Fast Passes, checking ride what times, finding food, see what characters are where when. You will want to know you way around the app before you arrive. It will become your best friend in the park!
Pack a Stroller
Even if your kids are used to walking alot you will want to have a stroller with you in the park with space for everyone to sit or ride when they need a break. We checked Doug’s fitbit at the end of each day and we were walking 6-8 miles per day! That is much more than most kids can handle. For travel I love the Babyzen YoYo stroller and it’s riding board. The stroller folds up very fast which will come in handy for buses and cars to the park, and the riding board comes apart so you can pack it flat in your suitcase and take it off the stroller when you need to fold it up!