The Magic of Disney | Our Family Vacation | Part 1
My best friend said it perfectly to me, "Melissa, this must have been your dream vacation!" She was right! She knows me so well.
I am a PLANNER. It's just my nature. And let me tell you, if you are going to take a Disney vacation with children, you've got to plan! I just don't see any way around it. So while these posts over the next few days will be filled with fun pics of my family vacation, I hope to share some tips for planning a Disney vacation so that you will have as much fun as we did!
So let's start from the beginning!
Book with THE BEST Travel Agent
We truly were blessed in the travel agent department (and you can be too!). A family friend of ours, India Kingery, is a travel agent and it just so happens her specialty is Disney! Her enthusiasm alone will draw you in. Then when you find out that she has vacationed there several times and can probably draw you maps of the park with her eyes closed, you will be sold! (you'll have to double check, but I'm not sure about the eyes closed part.)
I can't say enough about the service we received from India. She provided top quality service as a travel agent. India also went above and beyond! Before we left we received this awesome travel bag full of Disney goodies for Noah. Y'all, she even texted with me when I had questions and needed some help during our trip! You can definitely find her information at the bottom of this blog post.
I know that this is probably not a life changing concept, but just in case you needed the reminder. Go to Pinterest! I am glad that my friend, Stacy shared her Disney Pinterest with me! I was able to get some cool ideas and put them into action. The best ideas were for the car ride! Since we decided to take on the 8 hour drive, I knew that I would need to occupy that very cute 4 year old of mine.
First, I gathered about a dozen movies to bring along. I made sure to include some Disney movies that Noah had not seen yet. These would act as his "prep-work" for the vacation. For example, I knew we would be eating at The Be Our Guest restaurant and Noah had never seen Beauty and the Beast.
Second, I planned to present Noah with a "surprise" every hour on the hour. I would explain that he would receive 8 surprises and after the 8th surprise we would be in Florida! Genius, right?! Well, lucky for me, he slept the first 2 1/2 hours of the trip. So before I could even explain the surprises to him, I already had back-ups that I could set aside. I adjusted my numbers when he woke up, explained the deal, and it worked wonderfully! He never asked "Are we there yet?!"
Now, I would like to say that I was super smart and bought really cheap surprises to be cost conscious. But I must be honest. I splurged a little. Originally I was going to go the dollar store route. Then I somehow ended up in Toys & Co. and it was all over. No regrets, though. The toys were so perfect!
Here is what I purchased (not all from Toys & Co.)
- Magnetic Go Fish Game (Classic)
- Stinky Pig Game (HUGE hit!)
- Magnetic Bingo Game
- The Peg Game
- Mickey and Minnie Pez
- National Geographic Kids Magazine
- Highlights High Five Magazine
I must say that you need to learn from my mistakes. I planned the car ride down to FL so perfectly, but I completely forgot about the car ride home. Not so genius! The only thing that kind of saved me was that the Easter Bunny visited Noah on our last day in Disney. This meant that the easter basket treasures and eggs would be able to occupy him. It was fun to watch Disney movies on the way home and reminisce about the characters we met. However, Noah did ask, "Are we home yet?!" Note to self, plan for the car ride home next time.
If you are going to drive, I highly recommend packing your meals and snacks. We saved so much time and definitely saved some money by doing this. It took some extra planning and prep work, but it was worth it. We also didn't get that feeling you get after you've been in the car for a long time and have only eaten fast food! You know what I'm talking about, right? What an awful feeling that is! By taking a little extra time to pack things well we made it down with fruits, veggies, yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs. The Doritos and chocolate candy snuck in there too!
We left NC at 6:00 am and arrived in Orlando at about 2:45. Somehow we managed to make it down with only 2 pit stops! That's a big deal if you're traveling with Noah and I. Once in South Carolina and once in GA right before Jacksonville, FL.
I hope these tips are helpful in someway! I bet there are so many other tips out there for the car ride to Disney. I would love to hear them if you know of any. I have a feeling we will be doing this again one day. I can't wait to share the actual Disney adventure with you in the next posts!! I am going to tell you all about our pre-Disney hotel choice, our Disney package choice, and share the fun we had inside the parks!
Until then ....
You can see this sweet pic of Noah. I took this after we arrived in Orlando.
Travel Agent Information: