Thursday, September 6, 2012

Disney with Little Guys and Gals

One of the number one questions most people ask me is "What is a good age to take my kids to Disney"? I answer it like this....Why wait? Yes, younger children may not remember everything, so if this is a once in a lifetime only trip, then yes, wait until they can at least have some kind of memory. But, for the people who come down to Florida once a year every few years, there is no age limit.  I have a few tips on how to bring the kids and make the most of your stay!

 Nap times are a necessity, especially if your kids take naps at home. Let them nap while on vacation, they are going to be doing more. More walking, if they walk, and more time outside in the fresh air. Make time during the day for relaxing so they don't get tired and irritable.

 Eating...there is nothing worse than a cranky hungry child. Feed the kids before you get to the park, or if your child isn't afraid of characters, book a character breakfast for them. Make sure to keep their feeding schedule near normal. Personally, with my kids, when we are on our mini vacations, they don't eat much. If you have kids that are not breakfast eaters, just have some fruit, granola bars or poptarts in the room and let them eat something before you head to the parks.

Packing your bag: every mom or dad must have a bag!! This bag will have, at the minimum: sunblock, bottles or sippy cups, extra pacifiers, (bring more than one, looked all over for bottles and pacifiers and none were found, Tylenol, Benadryl, meds for tummy aches, diapers, pull ups, wipes, formula, a plastic baggie (gallon size for those wet clothes), a set of extra clothing, accidents happen.

 One great thing to note is all the parks have a baby centers. Here you can breast feed, warm bottles or food, use high chairs, change diaperrs, or just go on in to sit a few from the hot sun.

 Also, the hotel stores know, sometimes in the hustle and bustle of packing, we can forget things, so the stores have formula, pacifiers, bottles, band-aids, diapers, pool diapers, pain meds, case you forgot something. **Note: if you have a lactose intolerant baby or child, the only thing I have found is soy milk products. Make sure that issue is taken care of from home. You can even ship it down early. We spent a lot of time looking for lacto free milk for my son on our visit and only find soy on property.

 Where to stay: I personally like the value resorts. They are inexpensive and for the time we spend in them, it's the best way to go for us. The only difference to me is there is no pool slide, or hot tub in the value resorts. The campground has both now. IN my opinion, stay on Disney property!!! It's nicer, easier, and more fun than a local hotel. The theming is fantastic. There is plenty for the kids to do. They have   pools, little kid water areas, movies at night, games during the day near the pool. Also, depending on where you stay, some of the moderate and deluxe resorts have child care centers, where you can drop off your child for fun and activities while you get alone time.

 Where to go first: I know most people you should think run right to Magic Kingdom. I think you should wait. My family starts at Epcot. If you have toddlers or under teen kids they will love Innoventions. This is like a hands on, indoor place where the kids learn and have fun at the same time. Kids can make their own sheet of paper, learn how to save the enviroment and ways to save money with a really cool piggy bank game. The teens will also have fun with the  games in the back, a whole wall of video games they can play for free. You will even catch some husbands over there too. Another option here is to ride a segway if your over 16. You can enjoy the sum of all thrills by creating your own roller coaster and ride it! The younger kids can learn about what to do in a house fire and how to survive a tornado. At night, the kids will love the LED lights on the ground.

 In Mission to Mars, don't think because you can't ride the ride that you can't have fun too. Go through the store and you will find a huge room of fun and games. For the smaller kids, there is a neat space themed tunnel area where they can get in and crawl around. You can send a postcard from space as well.

 Another ride small kids will enjoy Living with the Land. This is a nice, gentle boat ride that takes you indoors to see the history of agriculture what what disney is doing to improve it, then outside to a huge garden area, don't miss the 3 or 4 hidden Mickeys in here!! The Living Seas is a place the kids will love. There are fish everywhere, plus Turtle Talk is where the kids get to sit up front and actually get to talk to Crush.

 The kids can also spend time hopping in the water areas. There are a few where they can get wet, stay cool and have some fun. while the adults cool off under some water mist sprayers in the heat. (Hence the change of loathes stated earlier). There are jumping fountains over by Captain EO, too.

 One more fun thing to do in Epcot is to go around the world with Duffy the Disney Bear. The children get a paper Duffy on a stick and in each country they visit, they can color Duffy,and collect stamps. These spots are called Kidcot Fun Spot. They are educational and all for free.

 The next park we hit is Animal Kingdom. If your kids love animals like mine, they will love AK. There is plenty to look at here. As you enter the gates, start at the front, enjoy the ducks and the waterfall and the small animals that line the sides as you get into the park. In the back of the park, children will love Kilimanjaro Safaris ride with lots of animals. It's fun to let them see the animals and let them show you what they love. The person driving during your tour is very informational in letting you know more about each animal.

 Take the train and go to conservation station. The younger kids love this area and it's hands on. Children can actually brush and pet the goats, and sheep, and see the llama and pig. They can see the animal hospital, color and learn more about the animals inside.

 The trail is where you will see birds of all kinds and surprise creatures walking near you and flying over there heads. You can also see lions,hippos, bats and all kinds of animals here.

 The boneyard, is a place that is so fun for the kids. It's a neat dinosaur play land. The kids can slide on the many slides or just run wild in here. Make sure to go up top and let them actually dig for bones in the sand. Dinoland also has a few rides for the younger ones to enjoy.

Disney's Hollywood studios, is one of those places I would almost skip with the little kids. If they are into Playhouse Disney, you can visit the Playhouse Disney show and have fun there or play in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids area, but there aren't many rides that the small children can ride. Be sure and check ride restrictions before venturing out to the park.

 So, I've saved the best for last, this is where the kids have the most fun. The most rides they can go on and the most memories. In my opinion, if you have little ones, this is where you will want to focus your time at. The kids can get on most every ride, even infants.

  My first bit of advice is get to the park early and get fast passes!!! We all hate standing in long lines for hours,especially with fussy kids. Get to the park early, leave around lunch time, go back to the resort to relax for a swim or naps and go back later on.

 Strollers:This really depends on your child. The easiest way I have found to do this is to rent one. This way you don't have to lug it around. They are not that expensive to rent. The only pain is, if your little one is sleeping and you have to return the stroller.

 Fireworks: this is coming from a mom of 4 on a tight budget. Before you leave home,go over to the Target dollar bin and pick up a few glow in the dark items. When it gets dark at Disney, all the glow items come out. If you are on a budget,you will not want to pay the average $10 for one of these things. Stick yours in your bag and then the cast members come around selling, you won't need one, just whip out the ones you brought from home. I even give the my away extras to other kids, who are crying ,because they can't afford one.

 Bring something from home that the kids love. If they have a favorite blankie or stuffed animal, bring it with you!!! Nothing is worse than trying to console your 3 or 4 yr old that won't go to bed without his lovey!

 What will my child eat? Most places in the parks have counter service restaurants that offer meals on a healthier side now that include: apple sauce , carrots,grapes, yogurt,milk and juice.

 So, there you have it, have fun, let the kids have fun too, and you can easily keep your sanity.

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