Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Packing--Must Have's For Babies/Toddlers/Preschooler's

When packing for your Disney vacation don't forget the following items for your little one's:
  • portable fan to attach to your stroller to keep your little one's cool
  • swim diapers (Magic Kingdom has a water play area-perfect to cool off with a quick run in the water)
  • spray bottle or mister to keep cool
  • sunblock
  • hats/sunglasses
  • snacks, snacks, snacks!!!
  • 2 diaper bags...we carry a diaper bag with us and keep it in the stroller while waiting in lines but we also bring a smaller backpack with us at all times so we are not leaving our wallet, camera, tickets, etc in the unattended stroller

Diaper Bag Tips:
Sealed baggie with a 4 diapers for each child (1 bag per child) with wipes...this is great for when you dont want to carry the whole diaper bag into the bathroom or baby care center.

Extra change of clothes for each child (accidents happen!)

camera-if your child is old enough to take pictures buy them a throw away camera to use at Disney so that they can capture their favorite rides, characters, etc to remember their trip

To Fly Or Drive?

Airfare to Orlando is actually very affordable however we have opted to drive due to the amount of baby gear we will need to bring. To save money are driving to Orlando Florida from Virginia (12 hour drive with 3 kids!!). Driving allows us to easily transport our packnplay for the baby, double stroller for the kids, cooler for snacks along the way and luggage.

If you fly to Orlando and chose to leave your stroller at home you will have to rent one when you arrive at the theme parks-fyi I have heard that the strollers at Disney do not easily accomodate babies. The rental price for a double stroller at Disney is $30 per day! It would be cheaper to fly to Orlando and go to the nearest Walmart and purchase a umbrella stroller ($20) for each child to use while you are at Disney World. Flying will save you a lot of time but driving to Orlando is the best option for those traveling on a budget. Be sure to have your car or van inspected prior to your trip-oil change, tires checked, etc to prevent any problems.

Here is my list of great snacks for children when traveling in the car:

1. Goldfish
2. Raisins
3. String Cheese
4. Graham Crakers
5. Dry cereal such as Cheerios

I usually make a trail mix in individual sealed bags for each child to snack on in the car. I fill it with Goldfish, Cheerios & m&m's. You can get creative and do a Disney themed snack if you have the time, adding things like themed fruit snacks, etc. I have even heard of mom's making goodie bags for their children prior to their trip. The goodie bags include a few snacks, stickers, small toys (check out the Dollar Tree or the dollar section at Target) and quiet activities such as a new book for the child to look at to keep them occuppied for a few hours of the trip. If your car or van has a DVD player be sure to bring along a few new movies for your children to watch to keep their attention. To save money you could swap movies with friends prior to your trip so that your children are watching something they may not have seen before.

Be sure to bring a cooler packed with plenty of bottled waters, juice boxes, sippy cups, etc The last thing you want is to have children having to go potty every hour, I recommend bringing along a travel potty. You will still have to pull over for the children to use the bathroom however this saves time and prevents children from using dirty reststops filled with germs. Tip: fill water bottles with water a few days prior to leaving and put them in the freezer. They will serve as a ice pack to keep items cold in the cooler and they will slowly melt so that you will arrive in Orlando with plenty of bottled water to take into the parks.

Choosing A Hotel

After you have chosen your dates of travel you can begin researching where to stay. There are MANY options and this can the toughest decision that you will have to make. Many people chose to stay on property at one of the many beautiful hotels located inside the Walt Disney World property. The number one reason people chose to stay at a property within Disney is the location! The closer to the park gates you are the quicker and easier you can come and go as you please. This is especially convenient if your hotel is located on the Monorail. There are only three hotels located on the monorail: the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian and the Contemporary Resort. I have stayed at both the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian on my previous trips to Disney (look for a future blog on my peresonal reviews of these properties). However, we are on going on a budget this time and we will be staying off property. This is our first time to go as a family of 5 and my children's first visit to Disney!

There are many resources for researching hotels and planning your Disney vacation. Here are a few links that I have found useful: , and of course There are also some great discussion boards available to find many answers to questions you may have: and also is helpful in determing when is the best time to visit Disney along with helpful tips for planning your shcedules at the various theme parks so that you do not miss out on anything! I personally have always loved and used and I have found some amazing deals for Orlando hotels this way. We are staying off property at the Embassy Suites Lake Buena Vista:

Things to consider when choosing your hotel: is there a restaurant in the hotel? Free breakfast? Free Parking? Pool? Refrigerator/microwave? Most importantly, is the hotel in a safe location? When traveling on a budget it is very important to make sure that your hotel room has a refrigerator and microwave. This allows for you to have easy access to quick meals for your children (look for a future blog on preparing quick meals in your hotel room). Being that we are a family of 5 one of our main concerns is space. We do not want a small one room hotel room for 5 people. We love Embassy Suites because their rooms are always so spacious and usually there is a door to the living room area to allow privacy for parents. Children have the option to sleep in the separate living area on the couch bed. Cribs are also available and usually a roll away bed are available if you just ask.

It is important to us to stay at a hotel that has free breakfast, this allows us to save money by not having to purchase any breakfast foods at the theme parks. We also plan to pack our own lunches everyday so that we can save money. Disney allows coolers with food and drinks to be brought into the parks which is great when traveling on a budget. However, your cooler must be a 'soft cooler' and glass is not allowed.

If your children enjoy swimming it is nice to chose a hotel that offers a good size pool with extra's for children such as baby pools, lazy rivers, beach entry, water play areas, etc. It is nice to take a day out from hitting the theme parks to just relax and enjoy the pool with your children. Remember, it is a vacation!

Where To Begin When Planning A Disney Vacation

Welcome to my blog! I am excited to document my family's first trip to Walt Disney World. Throughout the blog I plan to share valuable tips, information and advice for parents who are in the same boat as I am: Planning a Disney Vacation with babies, toddlers & preschoolers...on a budget!

I have three children under age 4 (my oldest will be turning 5 while we are at Walt Disney World!). I have both a baby, toddler and a preschooler. My baby will be almost one when we go to Disney and my toddler will be 2 1/2 years old.

The first crucial steps to planning a vacation of any kind (to anywhere) is to deteremine the 'Where & When'. You need to have a general idea of when you want to take your trip before you can really begin to price out hotels, airfare, etc Next you need to know where you plan to go. In our case we are going to the happiest place in the world: Walt Disney World! We chose our dates of travel based on some insider tips from a great blog that I found that has a crowd control calendar. You plug in your dates of travel and it will actually tell you how busy each of the four theme parks were that exact time last year based on a scale of 1 to 10. Here is a link to the website:

We also knew that we wanted to be at Walt Disney World for my daughter's 5th birthday. The best times of year to visit Disney are mid-September, early October and the last week of April/early May after spring break. Many people claim that the parks are the least crowded the week immediately following school starting back up in mid-September. However, temperatures in Florida are still very hot in September. We chose to go in late April/early May due to both the cooler temperatures and the fact that the parks will be less crowded.