Lessons learned for me going forward because yes, I definitely want to go back. Soon!
Here are some things I would do again:
- Schedule our nice meal for late in the day- We had dinner reservations at 8:50 at the Crystal Palace where we got to have a relaxing dinner after a lonnnnnng day, and were visited by Winnie The Pooh and friends. We could see the Electric Parade outside our window as we ate, and the Wishes fireworks started up just as we were leaving. I’ve also heard great things about starting with a character breakfast because you can get into the park early, but I don’t know if we would have been able to keep Kendall’s curiosity and excitement levels down long enough to enjoy something like that first thing in the day.
- Skip fireworks and parades for extra ride time- I mentioned in my previous post that we didn’t go out of our way to get good seats or even see most of the parades. Our walk from the Crystal Palace to Space Mountain during the Wishes fireworks actually gave us amazing views of the show, putting us nearly right under Tinkerbell as she flew away from the castle. At one point, we stopped in a clearing next to a roped off area where people paid extra money for great views during the show! By the time we got to Space Mountain, Kendall had seen plenty of fireworks and there was zero line to get on the ride.
- Book another character meal- In general, we were pretty happy with the character meal experience. It’s costly (over $100 for 2 adults, 1 child), but it was a wonderful, relaxing change of pace. We got great pictures, and the food was really wonderful. Next time, I think we’ll go for Cinderella’s Royal Table.
- Use one Fast Pass for character meeting of choice- We used one Fast Pass to meet Mickey. I really, really wanted to get just one picture with Mickey. It’s not even something Kendall wanted to do, but something I know he’ll look back on in 20 years and be glad we have… I think? The thing is, the lines for character meetings seemed pretty long, and there wasn’t much at the end of that long line that would thrill a 6 year old boy, you know? So I’m glad we were able to just walk up and get pictures with Mickey, then leave 15 minutes later. It was a “Humor me, kid” kind of thing. And bless his heart, he did his best. Mickey asked us to fly like Peter Pan. Kendall gives no craps about Peter Pan. It was a little awkward for all of us.
- Rent a stroller- My mom and I kept saying over and over, “Thank God for this stroller.” It was helpful for more than just toting a sometimes cranky 6 year old around in. We used it to keep our drinks and phones handy in the console bar. We kept stuff in the basket below. And we were able to move much quicker through the park to make Fast Pass times with Kendall in it. Renting was such a lovely luxury. Orlando Stroller Rentals dropped it off at our Disney Resort and picked it up there, too. It was clean, it was comfortable, it was easy to fold, and I didn’t have to take it on or off an airplane.
- Pre-buy souvenirs and Disney Pins to trade– you can read more about all of that in my Inexpensive Souvenirs That Rock post.
- Use time in line for rides to re-apply sunscreen– This is a benefit to keeping sunscreen in the bag you’ll keep with you at all times. You can read more about how we packed what we packed in this post.
- Build in time to enjoy our resort- We stayed at Coronado Springs, and they had a fantastic pool and outdoor area. I’m so glad we took some time to enjoy it 2 of the days we were there. It’s entirely possible to have an amazing time without even having tickets to a park for a day.
Here are some things I might not do again:
- Not study the maps enough- We wandered around way more than we should have. I made the mistake of not studying the park map much before we got there. I wish I would have come up with a basic plan of attack, even just planning our Fast Passes in a way that made sense and didn’t have us criss-crossing all over. I wanted to be flexible and follow my son’s lead, but we spend a lot of time looking for things.
- Purchase Memory Maker for a trip shorter than 3 or 4 days- I give a full review of Memory Maker in my Disney Photography Tips post. The short of it is it wasn’t worth it for only 2 days, especially since I had my DSLR with me, and the cast member photographers will take pictures with your camera if you ask them.
- Pass up the dining plan- After looking at how much we spent on food at the parks, and how much the Disney Dining Plan costs, I think we’d be wise to take advantage of it next time.
- Forget my external phone charger- I burned through battery on my iPhone super fast, but I had a plan for that. I bought an external, portable iPhone charger… which I left in the hotel. AGH! On one hand, it helped me stay present in the moment, but on the other it made getting separated from my mom a little scary.
- Ride rides like It’s A Small World or Peter Pan’s Flight instead of thrill rides- We began the day with low-key rides like these because I wasn’t sure how well my 6 year old would handle roller coasters. I think he yawned his way through Peter Pan’s Flight, and It’s A Small World bored him as much as it creeped me out. Then I took him on Splash Mountain and everything changed. One little taste of the thrill and he was hooked. It was all coasters, all day from that point. I wish we would have done more.
That does it for my Disney Tips Series! Here are the other 4 posts in the series, in case you missed them (or forgot to pin them).