Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tips,Tricks and a Laugh for taking a LARGE family to Disney

I understand with four Monkeys of our own, ages ranging from 0 to 10, can seem like a large family to some and to others...not even close. 
I get a larger family wanting to avoid Disney, especially when they have babies and/or toddlers. But you can do it!

I hope this gives you some tips and a laugh.

We really love Disney World and Disneyland. Our family has been more times than I'd like to admit.  But this trip we went with two babies and two big kids. Challenges almost too numerous to mention ensued. But good times were had by all.  

Let me take you there... 

The Queen of Random and her Sometimes-Merry Crew are on an air conditioned bus early on a Saturday morning. As we approach the park gate the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse march comes on over the speakers and a voice welcomes everyone to "The Happiest Place on Earth." You smile. This is going to be a GREAT day!

Fast forward several hours...
The make-up you applied in vain in the twilight hours of the morning mingles with sunscreen and salty sweat just before it hits your eyes. You have changed two poop diapers in front of Voyage of the Little Mermaid ride, exhausted your snacks, and walked what can only be ten miles.  

It's amazing what becomes acceptable behavior at a theme park. Even Disney. For example: Fashion. You may have looked cute in your Minnie Mouse ears and aviators, but when the noon sun hits, you just give up as the mascara melts off your face. 

Oh, and then there's this...
Public Sleeping
In the real world, public sleeping on benches, restaurants, etc generally is frowned upon. At's a given. Even if I see a Mom nodding off at the back of the bus to Epcot, I think..."you go on and get that nap, girl."  As far as kids's happening people. And it's downright adorable.

Public Crying
 Normally, if my child (or children) started having a tantrum, or just a rough moment...I would usher them out of the room. At Disney, there is no where to go. You do your best to comfort them, but for the most part you wait it out. Most people there look at you with pity, and say things like, "awwww."

Replace drugs of a street vagrant with apple juice and you have a toddler at Disney. The first time they lay on the ground while you're waiting to board Peter Pan's Flight you pick them up and gently say, "no."  Then after awhile you are like...well. Whatever.

One of the greatest things is that if you have a baby in your arms, NO ONE will let you stand on the bus. Everyone from musclebound New Yorkers, to tween girls will give up their seat so you can sit down with a baby. It just about melted my heart everytime.

Listen. You can do it. Yes, it is tiring. You will swear off all future family vacations at least once. But then you have that perfect moment. Ride that perfect ride. Hear your kids talking about how much fun they had. Catch The Professor's eye and smile at each other. It's worth it. It's fun. Dare I say.... magical?!

Quick and dirty tips on taking a Large family to Disney:

1) Stay at one of the Disney resorts.
 Unlimited transportation, amazing pools, on-site cafeteria open 6am-12am, the service is phenomenal, you get to experience extra park hours, and you get fun arm bands that electronically hold all of your information, including your credit card. You don't even need to bring your wallet!

2) Use the luggage service at the resort.
Let me say it again so you understand...
It will save your marriage. 
Going from your car to your room and back again. Its only a phone call away. Oh, and everytime you pick up the phone in your room, the person on the other end already knows your name. It's like Cheers.

3) Go when they offer free dining.
Several times each year, Disney offers free "Quick-Service" Dinning. Which means for every person that you purchase a park ticket for, they receive a snack and two meals per day(which include: entree, side, drink and dessert). It's almost too much food!  This won't include some of the nicer sit down restaurants, so you will have to pay out of pocket for those. But it is still completely worth it!! By the way, many times you can swap out your dessert for an extra side or drink. We figured this out on the last day~nice. If you aren't sure about a swap out, just ask!! The staff is always helpful!

4) Get fast passes.
 You can sign in online, in advance, with your hotel reservation number, and reserve up to three fast passes per day, per person. With a fastpass you can make sure to ride your three favorite rides.  It's completely worth it!

5) Get the My Disney Experience App
  Its amazing. It continuously updates to give you wait times for rides, reminds you of your fastpasses, and holds your reservations. It's like a daily itinerary. This is also an excellent way to find other information like park hours, show times, and it has a GPS to help you find your next destination.

6) Rent a stroller
 I am begging you. RENT A STROLLER! Don't bring one. People totally do. They lug them on and off buses, but renting is completely worth the $15/day. And once you pay for the day, you receive a voucher. So even if you switch parks, you rent another stroller with no additional charge.

7) Rent an Infant Stroller
  If you child is under 50 pounds, you can use an infant stroller. These are infinitely more outstanding then a regular stroller. They are softer,(covered in fabric) and they are slightly reclined. Which allows on-the-go naps to happen with much more ease.

8) Use the Baby Care Centers
Each park has an air conditioned space for you to make a bottle, nurse, change a diaper, all while your toddler is entertained by a movie. Animal Kingdom Park has the best one. Staff cleaning up behind you, a large area for the rest of your crew to wait, stocked supplies for purchase if needed. I wanted to live there.

9) Bring your own snacks and water
  If you are able, go to the store and get fun snacks. Donuts, popcorn, applesauce, water, etc and bring it with you to the park. Snacks are included in the dining plan, and are also fun to get at the park. But a large family eats a large amount of snacks. Can I get an, "Amen." It is a fun way to start or end your day, and it saves you time and money. 

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