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Disney Vacationing - Tips and Advice

Somewhere along the way we became big time Walt Disney World Fans. I went 3 times as a kid and each time was pretty special.  The first time it was with my parents and brother during Spring Break when I was 8.  Four years later, we went with my ENTIRE family. Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, Cousins, and my brother and I.  It was a fun trip and one that was full of amazing, treasured memories. The last trip in my youth was as a Senior in high school on a marching band trip.  We played Paul Simon's Late In The Evening as a 300 + band through Epcot.  Each time I walk through Innovations I can remember the look on my Mom's face and I get goose bumps because the sound was awesome.

A few months after my husband and I got married we had an opportunity to go to Walt Disney world for a conference.  The two weeks before we left I found out I was loosing my job.  It was right as the job market was starting to tank and it was a job I LOVED. I spent the entire trip thinking I was pregnant and totally freaked out because my period didn't come as scheduled.  We ended up having a great time because Walt Disney World is, well, Magical. We went to a special after hours party at Disney Hollywood Studios that was adults only.  There were buffet tables set out with build your own tacos and such in the middle of the street and the free wine and beer was just stiiting there for the taking. Let me tell you. ADULTS ONLY is the BEST way to experience Disney World. Just kidding....kind of...

We have been five more times since we got married 6 years ago. I have a whole bag full of tricks but let me tell you, I was NOT prepared to go with my foster kids the first time. We went 6 weeks after all four moved in and lets just say we learned some valuable lessons. We have some great memories from this trip but there were some really bad moments too. Like me totally loosing it after Jelly Bean ripped her shoes by jumping and tripping (after two days of me telling her to stop jumping all over the place because she was going to trip) and the only option was to buy her sparkly princess flip flops. I was THAT Mom. Did I mention that it was also 100 degrees in May? Our trip the following year was much, much better. But please - learn from our rookie mistakes.....

So here is  what not to do:
  • Don't expect 4 children who have no concept of Disney World to be excited...at all.
  • Don't expect the other adults in your party to help you if they have not spent much time with your foster kids.
  • Don't expect your niece who is an only child to automatically be excited about sharing you and your husband with 4 other kids even if she is 14 and has been to Disney world previously with you.
  • Don't take kids who have only lived with you for 5 weeks.
  • Don't keep them up until midnight.
  • Don't wake them up at 7 AM.
  • Don't get a double stroller and expect that the 10 year old won't also fight over the extra seat.
  • Don't book a room with not enough beds.
  • Don't book a room that is a 5 minute walk and at the end of the bus line.
  • Don't expect your kids not to miss their Mom even though they saw her the day before you left.
  • Don't expect that the kids who only lived with you for 5 weeks are going to tell you they are terrified of flying.

So as a person who has been to Walt Disney World with and without kids here is my advice:

PLAN AHEAD. While I may have been THAT MOM yelling at her child to stop acting foolish and driving me crazy - I was NOT the MOM standing in front of It's a Small World trying to find Splash Mountain and figure out what ride was next.  We were not the family standing around arguing about which direction to go. We were not the family standing in front of Cinderella's Castle with their 6 year old little girl dressed as a princess was in tears because Mommy told her they were going to eat there and didn't realize that you need to make reservations 180 days IN ADVANCE.

Outside of all the other drama we had on our trip we were a well oiled machine when it came to our itinerary and where we were going.  And we didn't wait in line more than 20 minutes. EVER.  We saw all of the fireworks.  Caught the majority of the live performances and rode Expedition Everest 9 times. (Well ok, the kids rode 9 times. I only rode 6.)

True Story: My sister-in-law is a Disney FANatic. (She has a daughter whose name is the same as one of the Princesses.)   She had been to Disney quite a lot and considered herself an expert with not much else to learn.  So when I suggested that we use an itinerary and plan she thought I was crazy.  She was beyond hesitant.  She was downright resistent.  I said - listen give me a day.  If you hate it we'll let it go.  By the next day it was - What's on the plan next? It worked that well. 

So do yourself a favor and just learn about the way you can make a Disney vacation more enjoyable and get the most out of your vacation dollars (because trust me, you will part with lots and lots of money at Walt Disney World). I assure you its worth it. And when you happily pass by the family standing over the map trying to figure out where to go next you'll chuckle and secretly thank Love.

We use the Unoffical Guide to Walt Disney World and the companion website Touring Plans.  It teaches you how things work at Walt Disney World and how to use a touring plan to maximize ride time and minimize wait time.  There are Disney blogs, forums, websites galore.  I don't follow these as much but I do read Disney Food Blog.  We are somewhat a family of foodies and splurged for the Disney Dining Plan on our last trip.  The dining plan is heavily debated within the Disney visitor community so we decided to give it a try.  It ended up being too much food for us but it allowed us to try some new places that we probably wouldn't otherwise. Some of our favorites are Crystal Palace, 50's Prime Time Cafe, Coral Reef, and Flame Tree BBQ. Feel free to send me an email at rloveisastateofmind@yahoo.com with questions. I also highly recommend the Epcot Food and Wine Festival not just for the amazing food but the cool experiences (tequila tasting anyone?) and great music.

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