My daughter's name is Isabella. She calls herself Belle, which is just perfect since that's my favorite princess and Disney movie. At 2 1/2 years old, we brought "Baby Belle" to meet the real Belle at the Magic Kingdom! She was enamored by the castle from our first day, and I don't know who was more excited to meet Belle, me or the baby!
Our visit to the most Magical Place on Earth was super fun, exciting, busy & magical...but not without its stressful moments! Here's a few tips that helped our family navigate through a jam packed week of rides, churros, naps & fireworks!
1) I've now made this mistake twice, and I will not do it again! If your child needs to nap, they will not nap on travel days. Scheduling, flights, transporting to/from airport always get in the way of a regular afternoon nap (for us anyway!). Plus, just by being in the MOST MAGICAL PLACE ON EARTH, there is way too much excitement and exploring to do for our little one (or us?!). So there's no nap the first day. Then, for whatever reason I do it, I've booked a full day at the Magic Kingdom the day after we arrive. Well, baby Belle is not a peach the day after she doesn't nap so I will be planning a "low key" day exploring hotels or a day at Disney Springs the day after we arrive next time. It saves us a bunch of attitude & frustration; we can go at our own pace, it's relaxing to just walk around and explore, and we can go back to hotel to nap, no issues.
2) Speaking of naps, we did not want to deal with bringing a stroller through the airport, on the plane, blah blah blah, BUT Belle still naps so what to do?! We rented through Kingdom Strollers and for us, it was absolutely worth the money. The stroller was at our hotel - with plenty of storage space and a cooler! - before we even arrived! We had picked out the model online and it was perfect. Much more comfortable than our awful stroller we left at home! It was easy to maneuver & fold up. And - you just leave it at the hotel when you check out! SO.EASY. Belle napped every afternoon in the stroller in the parks so we never even had to leave the magic! We grabbed a snack, found a quiet spot in whatever park we were visiting that day, and relaxed!
3) To prepare the little one for our big adventure, we let her watch videos of the rides on YouTube before we left for vacation. This is a great way to help your child get familiarized with certain characters, rides, shows & experiences! It's fun to watch the videos after vacation as well when you're going through severe Disney withdrawal and can reminisce about Peter Pan's flight together!
4) Unless you are hands down, 100% super certain that your kid will just absolutely fall in love with life size Mickey & friends, I'd suggest not doing a character meal as your first meal, day one. Belle was horrified at the Winnie the Pooh characters at the Crystal Palace and as much as she LOVES the old Pooh classics AND ride, she just can not do the real life stuff. So that meal was a bit of a bust. After this incident, we gave her the option to "hug or wave to" the characters and this was met with much more enthusiasm when she realized she did not have to go anywhere near them . (Princesses are a different story!!) If you can, give your kids some time in the park to see and/or meet characters and gauge reactions before doing a character meal. I realize character meals book up quickly but it will save you money if you find out your little one is not in love with life size Daisy! Booking a character meal for later in the trip, after they've had a chance to see and meet characters, may work out better for you time and money-wise!
5) BRING HEADPHONES if your kid is not used to fireworks. They are very loud (we've done Magic Kingdom & Epcot), and as cool and awesome as you think the show is, it will not be awesome if your kid is screaming the fireworks are too loud. Headphones work at home for local summer firework displays, so I'm definitely packing them for next year's trip! If you're thinking being in the park during the show will be a bit overwhelming, try watching the show from one of the nearby beaches surrounding Seven Seas Lagoon. Grab a drink, bring a snack, pack some glow in the dark wands and bracelets (hello Dollar Store!) and enjoy without the crowds! We've enjoyed the fireworks from Fort Wilderness & the Polynesian - order a Polynesian Pearl at Trader Sam's and take it all in!
And remember - HAVE FUN!!!!
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