Disney has been on the top of our kids wishlist for some time now, and of course #DearAhmad and I have been putting it off because its expensive and we wanted our youngest to at least be 5 before we went so they could all enjoy the parks. The kids got lucky because Ashton ended up having a soccer tournament in Orlando and since we were already going to be in Orlando it just made sense to tackle Disney (and I really mean TACKLE). I told the kids since we were there for only a short time frame we were going to go to Magic Kingdom and if they could make it through the day then we could come back next year and visit more parks. Let’s just say I was banking on them to get tired and restless but they proved me wrong and conquered Magic Kingdom in the heat & rain for over 9 hours! I now feel like a semi-professional Disney Mom; so wanted to share a recap of our Disney trip & lodging info. Hope this helps your upcoming planning to Disney.
WHERE TO STAY
Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World: Let me start off by saying the resort is beautiful! From the drive in to the property, to the rooms and 5-acre waterpark, everything was breathtaking. We booked a conjoining room which was perfect for a family. The suite has its on private entryway (with doorbell) that opens up to two rooms (that also have their own private doors). The closets are spacious, and you can either book a double bed or pull out sofa bed. Our room had a balcony which looked out to the adult pool and waterpark. We were able to view the theme park firework show from our patio balcony at night which the kids loved. The resort has great amenities such as a spa, golf course, and as stated previously a waterpark with a lazy river and waterslides. Believe me your kids won’t want to leave! I also loved that the kids got to have breakfast with goofy and pals at Ravello (one of the restaurants on property). We also dined at Capa, which is the resorts rooftop restaurant with an amazing steak option and signature cocktails. The part I loved the most about the Four Seasons was that you get early access entrance to Disney, and they have shuttles that take you to and from the park which makes transportation easy. We were traveling as a group of 10, so this was the best option. Please let me no in the comments if you guys would like a more extensive review of the resort as I got to check out the spa and other areas of the property that I would love to share.
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR TIME AT DISNEY
Let me start off by saying that maneuvering through Disney is nothing like it was when I was little. I will be honest I did get overwhelmed a few times, but once I got the hang of it I was good to go. Like I mentioned earlier we traveled in a large group, as it was 10 of us. We also met some of Ashton’s teammates at the park and their families, as well as Brandy and the kids. At one point it was about 21 of us walking through the park, which still blows my mind that we pulled this off! Ok so here is the tea:
Buy your tickets on Disney – We went to Disney World, Magic Kingdom. You can buy tickets for one park or multiple parks.
Download the app – Walt Disney World app. This is how you can manage your entire experience at all of the parks from tickets, booking rides, photos, mobile food orders, etc.
The night before you are supposed to go to Disney is your homework night. This is crucial for your planning out of your day because you will want to make sure you know exactly which activities you want to do and shows you want to see in advance.
Download the Genie+ within the Disney app. This is how you will be able to enter the Lightening Lane at certain rides and attractions. Get on the app at 7am and book your top 2 attractions you would like to do first. You are allowed to book up to 2 or 3 attractions at a time per day using the Lightening Lane. So if you are in a large group make sure you only select the names of the persons actually riding the rides/attractions because if they do not scan in for the attraction you will not be able to book more attractions with the Genie+ until everyone has rode the rides that you selected them for. We learned the hard way and had to go to guest services so they could clear out our que so that we could book more rides. This is why it important to plan out in advance and know which rides you will ride versus your children so you don’t run into any issues in the app.
After you ride your first 2 rides I would immediately try to book the next attractions that you want to do that have long wait times. The Genie Service shows you how long the standby line times are and sometimes you can just go hop in those short lines while you wait for your LL rides, as the LL gives you certain time frames in which you can ride the ride. For example we booked the LL for the Tron and our ride time was from 6:00pm to 6:30pm, meaning we had to get to the ride between that time frame in order to ride. You can only ride once, so keep that in mind with the LL.
Reminder: You have to take the ferry or monorail to the actual park. We went on the ferry as it was a more scenic route.
If you get caught in the rain like we did, I suggest booking a show or two that way you can be inside and not have to worry about the rain. We also invested and bought rain coats because it was a heavy downpour. If you are bringing a backpack I suggest ordering some cheap ones on amazon for the family instead of buying them at the park like we did.
If you have kiddos 5 and under, I highly recommend bringing a stroller. Averi is is 5 and I know that she gets restless, she will go to sleep anywhere, so we rented a stroller right when we entered the park. She rode around in it about twice, but it came in handy for when we needed to ride the attractions and didn’t want to take our backpack and belongings with us.
Here is the List of rides we rode & recommend:
The Tron Lightcycle: This was by far my favorite ride and experience. All of the adults rode it, and wanted to ride again. The line on this ride is extremely long, so we bought the LL and rode it around 6pm. I would say book it after your kids have done all their activities and attractions.
Space Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Dumbo, Its a Small World, Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Peter Pan
SHOWS / EXPERIENCES
Growing up there were no Black princesses, so I wanted to make sure the girls got to see Tiana. I loved how you have your own time with the princess and its in a beautiful castle set up. Tiana told the girls a short story and made them feel so welcomed. It was very interactive and had a short wait time compared to Cinderella. It was the highlight of Disney Magic Kingdom for me! (Entertainment located in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park)
We also saw one 3D show with Donald Duck, but forgot the name of it. It was interactive and all the kids loved it.
Is it as expensive as people claim it to be?
It was super expensive for us because we went 10 deep, my family of 5, my sister, and both sets of grandparents. You have to pay for entry to the park, genie+, Lightening Lane (per ride), food/drinks/snacks, we bought rain coats because it rained, rented a stroller… it add up quickly. I think if you are a family of 3 (parent + 1 kid) its not as bad of course. We saved money on flights (used points so only paid the taxes for the flights), and hotel so it made it way more affordable.
Disneyland or Disney World?
I’ve been to both and I always say Disney World for the full experience and you can visit all the other parks as well. Disneyland is a little more low key to me and not as many people. I think if you are already on the west coast, then go to Disneyland for the experience and characters.
What age (kids) is ideal to go without almost dying from stress?
My kids are 8, 7, & 5 and I have no complaints. They didn’t complain and had fun. If your 5 year old is a thrill seeker, then I would say wait until about 7 so that they are tall enough to ride the bigger rides like Space Mountain. Averi was just a hair short of being able to ride Space Mt. (she was able to ride all the other rides except for the Tron) and she cried because her siblings were tall enough to ride, that was the only meltdown we had the entire day so I took it as a WIN!
Did yall get the Genie+ and how was it?
I will say the Genie+ & Lightening Lane was the best money I’ve spent in a long time. When you see how long those lines are it is insane. We waited in 0 lines the entire time which I though was great because I didn’t want the kids to get restless. It also put us on a schedule which made our experience better and easier to plan out our day. I would say budget it in for sure. Price range example is it cost me about $111 for 9 of us to ride the TRON with the Lightening Lane pass.
Did Four Seasons have transportation to the Park?
Yes, they over transportation to and from the park. When you check in they give you the transportation schedule so you can plan your ride times. You just show up downstairs at the bus pickup station and then they take you and drop you off. When you are ready to leave the park (must be at a time the bus is set to arrive) you meet back at the zone and they take you back to the hotel.
Did you do VIP/ Fast Pass and if not, do you regret it?
We bought the passes and I will say its worth it! I wouldn’t have lasted at the park as long as we did waiting in lines for 1 to 2hr+, the lines are ridiculous. We did go in July, top of summer so I’m sure the park was crowded because of that; but I hear its always crowded so who knows. I did look on the app and saw the lines have way less wait times if you ride them at night, so thats an option too.
Was it convenient getting from Four Seasons to the Park?
It was super convenient because we didn’t have to drive, worry about parking, or have to pay to park.
Did you use an agent and were they a Disney specific agent?
No, I planned our entire trip myself.
Tips for handling kids under 10?
Pep talk: I always give my kids a pep talk and run down before we go anywhere so they know what to expect and there are no surprises. I told them that it will be extra hot, long lines so we have to be patient at times, large crowds so listening and staying close is important. When we got there they already knew what to expect so that cuts out the complaining and stress.
I would say if you plan on going to Orlando only once, then test out Disneyland in California first to see how they like it. I think it’s a lot of money to go and for them to not be thrilled and care, or not even like it. Florida has so many parks to go too, so definetly going to 1 first to test the water is a good idea in my opinion.
My parents went to Florida with my son (8) a few days ahead of time and took him to Sea World and they only rode 2 rides because the lines were so long, and then he was ready to go because it became boring. Waiting in lines is not fun for kids, and changes the entire experience.
Did you get the headbands at Disney or elsewhere and where if you got it elsewhere?
The girls headbands I’ve had for 3 years when I was invited on a Disney experience at Essence Fest. I took 3 pairs of ears because I knew I would need them for our trip one day. I just kept up with them. My headband I took from my sister, she had some from her work trip when they went to Disney. I would say buy them elsewhere because the prices at Disney are ridiculous. Found similar HERE.
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