Posted on June 27, 2009
One of my friends is planning a trip to Disney World in September, and asked me for some “tips” since we just came back from there. As I was responding to her request, I thought, “this would make a great blog entry!” So, here you go:
My Top Twenty Tips: A Mommy’s Guide to Disney World
(in no particular order)
1) Pay extra for park hopper, its worth it. You probably won’t spend a full day in Epcot, and Animal Kingdom closes at 8 pm. We would park in the Magic Kingdom, them take the Monerail over to Epcot or the bus to Animal Kingdom, spend as much time as needed, then go over to the Magic Kingdom till it closes.
2) Epcot has a lot for the little ones, including a splash area.
3) Bring swimsuits for the little ones to both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, both have splash areas. (and if you go to Sea World, it also has a splash area.)
4) Hollywood Studios is NOT worth it for the little ones.
5) You can bring your own drinks and food into all of the parks, so if you want to carry them, do it. The food for kids is overpriced and not worth it, and vegetarian options are few and far between. However, we ate at a FABULOUS but expensive Italian restaurant in Epcot, and the Rain Forest Cafe in Animal Kingdom.
6) Downtown Disney is only worth it if you want to shop. There are a few rides, and lots of restaurants, but it is mostly for adults. That being said, the T-Rex restaurant is awesome (think: Rain Forest Cafe with dinosaurs) but expect a LONG wait. While waiting, the kids can pretend to dig for dinosaur fossils, they also have a “Build-a-Dinosaur” from the “Build-a-Bear” chain. And the Cuban restaurant over by the movie theater is phenomenal. Downtown Disney also has a really cool Lego store that has a small playground and an area for the kids to play with legos.
7) Disney has done a phenomenal job with crowd control, and one of their best tools is the fast pass. Basically, you can get a fast pass for some of the more popular rides that usually have long waits. You go to the ride and run your park entry pass. It gives a predetermined one-hour window for a ride. However you can (usually) only have one at a time. I say usually because you can get a new fastpass around 2 hours later, assuming your wait is longer than that. So, plan on getting a fastpass for a ride then hitting some of the short/fast lines located in the area.
8) Peter pan is one of the more popular rides, and the fast passes run out early, so get that one EARLY, or you may have to wait until the end of the day to ride that ride. And the wait for it usually exceeds an hour.
9) Purchase as much Disney paraphernalia (hats, sunglasses, shirts, socks, whatever) from the Disney Store BEFORE your trip so you’re not tempted to pay the exorbitant prices.
10) If you want to have a meal with the characters, make reservations NOW. They fill up MONTHS in advance. The same goes with the special activities at Sea World, including swimming with the Dolphins.
11) Buy tickets for both the Disney World and Sea World BEFORE you get to the park.
12) Plan 30-45 minutes of lead time from driving ON to the property to actually getting IN to the park, and that’s if you already have tickets. We would leave our hotel almost every day at around 9:00am, and then would find we didn’t get into the park until around 10:30.
13) Bring sunscreen. LOTS AND LOTS of sunscreen.
14) Assume it will rain and pack accordingly.
15) Bring or rent a stroller (although, keep in mind stroller rentals are expensive) even if you think the kids are too old, its easy to park them, and they can hold all the stuff you don’t want to take on the rides with you. Plus, kids get tired.
16) The height cut off for a majority of the height restricted rides is 40 inches, which was a bummer for us, because Chloe is 37 in. That being said, there was still PLENTY to keep her entertained, including a roller coaster in Toon Town. (Goofy’s Barnstormer.)
17) The parade runs twice a day, at 9 and at 11. The best places to view the parade are either at the beginning (by the train at the front gates) or the end (by Liberty Square.) If you plan on leaving right after the parade, watch it from the beginning. Main street gets unbelievably congested and makes it nearly impossible to exit or enter the park afterward. If you want to continue to do rides, watch it from the end of the parade route.
18) Fireworks are once a day, 10pm. The best places to view fireworks are on Mainstreet, in Tomorrowland over by Space Mountain, or in Fantasy Land over by the Dumbo ride. Just make sure you are not too close to Small World in Fantasy land or the castle in Tomorrowland. There is an obstructed view. (One night we watched from the rocket ship line in Tomorrowland, it was kind of obstructed, but we got to see the finale from the top of the ride, which was AWESOME!
19) If you don’t care about fire works or the parade (both of which you really only need to see once) this is a good time to do the rides that usually have a long line.
20) We did four days at Disney World and one day at Sea World. I really wouldn’t recommend doing more than that. Chloe did an amazing job, even with missing naps and staying up late, it being HOT HOT HOT, and having limited food choices (her own fault), but that fifth day was rough for all of us. Mostly due to fatigue and sour feet/legs.
Posted on June 8, 2009
As Chloe is developing more and more abstract thinking, she has some very interesting observations on the world around her. I have been posting these up on Facebook, but I was starting to feel a little guilty. Not all of my readers are on Facebook…
So, anyway, here we are…
After Daddy told her that it was okay for her to sleep more even after the sun got up, she said: “The sun is too heavy to get, and I don’t have bird wings.”
Chloe thinks the makeup compact that came with her Barbie Doll is a ‘puter.’ Hmm…I wonder what that says about me?
Mommy: “Chloe, what’s your doll’s name?” Chloe: “Her name is Him. She’s a boy.” (Hmmm…gender confusion or pronoun confusion?)
Scene: Sitting at dinner with Chloe and John, John is teasing me. Chloe: “Daddy, you leave mommy awone!” John: “Are you defending mommy’s honor, Chloe” Chloe: “Mommy’s not his daughter! She’s a HUMAN!” John and I look at each other, than burst out laughing.
Had a long conversation/argument with Chloe that ended with her shouting at me from the top of her lungs: “DADDY IS NOT A HUMAN, HE’S A BOY!” She’s a little young to be this jaded, I think.
Daddy: “Chloe, are you a ninja?” Chloe: “Yes! I am a ninja!” Mommy: “Do you know what a ninja is?” Chloe: “It’s in my foot!”
Scene: Chloe runs into the kitchen holding a plastic bee going, “bzzz, bzzz.” Seth: “Don’t do that Doey!” Chloe: “I still love you, Sef.” Seth: “I still love you, too, Doey.” My heart: Melted!
Scene: Mommy upstairs folding laundry, Child downstairs eating lunch and watching Einsteins. Suddenly, Mommy hears, “Mommy, I ready to go night night, I really TIIIIIRREED!” What? A toddler VOLUNTEERING for a NAP?!! I think I fell into an alternate reality.
Posted on June 6, 2009
Today we went to Jake and Kennedy’s joint birthday party. Jake, Chloe’s friend from Gymboree, Play Group, and Gymnastics turned 3, and his little sister is turned 1. They had a petting zoo in their back yard. I am not kidding. I FREAKIN’ PETTING ZOO! And, it was awesome.
The Birthday Boy: Jacob. The Birthday Girl: Kennedy.
The pony ride.
Cakes and Cookies.
Posted on June 6, 2009
We are winding down on our birthday season out here in the Garden State. Chloe is very popular. Thanks to Gymboree and the Mom’s Club, she has “wots and wots of friends.” And I don’t even KNOW the kids from her gymnastics program! (Except for the ones that overlap, that is.) Birthday party list: Harrison, Seth, Ryan, Isabella T., Julia, Jesse, Juliana, Jacob, Isabella, and Benjamin’s birthday parties (respectively). Plus, we were invited to a couple more that we can’t make. Not to mention, Chloe’s party! Why do we have so many close together? Well, a majority of these parties are from our Gymboree friends. And Gymboree organizes their classes by age, when they are really young, by months. So, a majority of Chloe’s friends were born in either April, May or June. That makes these three months the BUSIEST MONTHS OF OUR LIVES! And, if I were to get carried away, more expensive then Christmas.
However, I learned a few valuable lessons this year:
1) Plan ahead. I knew most of the kids birthdays, and so I took that list with me to a toy store that was going out of business, and bought as many presents as I could. I was able to get a 60-70% discount on a majority of the gifts we gave out this year. The question is, does that make me cheap or prudent? That’s always up for debate.
2) Set a budget. I tried to budget a $10 gift for each present. (With the “Going out of business sale,” that was the original price, not the sale price.) Trust me, it IS possible to get a quality gift for that price.
3) The dollar store is your friend. A large chunk of the price of gifts is the packaging. I went to our local “Dollar Tree” and was able to get gift bags and birthday cards 3 for a dollar. Plus a huge bag of tissue paper. I can’t even tell you how much money that saved me. When gift bags can run aroung $3 a piece, and cards are $2.50 and up! I also purchased regular wrapping paper at the dollar store. Some gifts lend themselves to being wrapped! When the packaging alone is a part of your budget: reuse, and utilize the dollar store!
4) Make your own. The dollar store selection was limited when it came to birthday cards. So, when I got bored with those, I started to make my own. I dug into my “arts and crafts” bin I have developed after years of teaching and being a mommy. And with a package of blank cards from Micheal’s for $5.00, I was able to make a bunch of our birthday cards. Did they look professional? No. Is anybody really gonna care? No!
As to throwing a birthday party…
Well, that’s totally up to you. I enjoy a good birthday bash with lots of friends, lots of foods, and lots of activities. And, I like a good theme! The last two years, we have done parties at home, and it worked fine. For Chloe’s first birthday party I did a princess theme. Although, Chloe had a lot of friends from Gymboree there, it was still primarily an adult party. So, the main priority was food and drink. For her second birthday party, we did an “Under the Sea” theme. I gave myself a budget of $250 and used the Oriental Trading Company for a majority of the decorations and activities. My ultimate plan was to have the party in back yard. However, it was rainy and cold. We moved the party indoors. It was crowded, but it went fine.
This year, I decided to do a venue party. It had two major benefits: 1) I didn’t have to clean and decorate my house. 2) I didn’t have to cook. (Although, I did make the cake. I couldn’t help myself.) The party was fabulous and everybody had a great time. However, I have to admit, I didn’t have as much fun with it. I missed the hours of researching themes, party games, and favors online. I missed the shopping and the thrill of finding something that worked perfectly.
After doing parties both ways, I have also learned some things:
1) You pay for convenience. I purchased the invitations and thank you cards for Chloe’s first birthday. For her 2nd and 3rd birthdays, I made the invitations. The cost difference was dramatic, but so was the time difference. It took me HOURS to make the invitations and thank you cards, where as the pre-made ones, it was maybe an hour of filling out cards and addressing envelopes. In addition, our “venue party” was more expensive than the ones we had at home. But it was WAY more convenient, and we didn’t have to deal with clean up and left overs.
2) If you plan far enough ahead, you can save money! I usually start looking three months ahead of time for Chloe’s party, only because I am anal like that. This year, I was able to catch the venue during a “sale” and saved $100. It was still more expensive than an “at home” party, but cheaper than I would have paid otherwise. With Chloe’s 2nd birthday, I knew we were doing an under the sea theme, so I bought a lot of the decorations and favors for the party when the party store was having a huge sale. I admit, this gets more difficult when kids get older and their interests change more rapidly. But, if you are like me and enjoy a good birthday bash, the farther ahead you can plan, the more you can save.
3) It doesn’t really matter. After all the brithday parties we have been to this year, we have enjoyed the simple family get togethers just as much as the huge bashes. No matter what you do for your child’s birthday, as long as they feel special on that one day, then you did your job!
After all that, does it mean I am going to change the way I plan Chloe’s party for next year. No. I have too much fun with it.
Posted on June 4, 2009
I have been unable to post for a few days because I am stumbling through a learning curve with my fabulous new computer. So, I have a bunch of pictures in the queue of Chloe being adorable…I know it’s hard to believe.
“Pretty In Pink”
“Sticker Art” w/ BFF Seth
“Mickey D’s Hats in the Mall” w/ BFF Seth
“Learning to Skate” In doors, because it refuses to stop raining.
“Catnap for Daddy”