The Place Where Dreams Come True
Disney really is the place where dreams come true. It certainly seems to be a destination where plenty of our dreams have been made a reality.
As a child my parents took me to Disneyland in California, we spent two fun-filled days touring the park, riding the coasters and spending ‘Mickey money’.
Thirteen years later Paul took me to Paris for a week away, he began the holiday by ‘popping the question’ at the top of The Eiffel Tower and continued the magic by taking me to Disneyland Paris. It was the most romantic, amazing, and magical holiday which proved that Disney is certainly not just for children!
A year later we were married and flew out to Florida for our Honeymoon. We spent fourteen days touring the many Disney Parks along with two days in Universal Studios, a day visiting SeaWorld and a rather special day swimming with dolphins at Discovery Cove.
We fit as much as possible into our fortnight in Florida, it was the holiday of a lifetime and one which we would love to repeat. Since having children we have dreamed of returning to Florida, financially and practically however it seemed far more viable to visit a closer destination such as Disneyland Paris.
Last year we took the children for a weeks surprise visit to Disneyland Paris, the children knew that we going to ‘France’ on holiday but had absoloutly no idea that they were about to visit the land where dreams come true.
We all had the most amazing time and the kids still talk about it almost eighteen months later. We will take them to Florida one day but until we have finished spending money on extensions, new boilers, decorating and all the other household essentials we will have to make do with more affordable options.
Disneyland isn’t for the faint hearted, there is a whole load of information to absorb and to understand before you should visit a Disney park. As a parent that has taken two children (aged 2 and 6 years old at the time) I thought I would create a list of ‘tips and tricks’ for families wishing to visit a Disney park.
30 Tips and Tricks For Visiting A Disney Park
- Download and print a copy of the park map before your visit so that you can plan your day and be aware of where things are upon arrival.
- Be sure to try and get to the park as early as possible, the park tends to be quieter during the early hours with less queues to negotiate.
- To save yourself a whole heap of Euros/ Dollars be sure to go to a local supermarket and stock up on snacks and picnic fodder for the day.
- Pack your own drinks as there are large queues in the park and prices are rather steep. We packed a large bottle of water, a small bottle of cordial to mix with water and some drink bottles for the kids.
- Take a large, padded cool bag with you so that any food you wish to carry or do purchase can be kept in good condition.
- In each park there are a number of picnic areas for you to sit and eat your packed lunches in. It is worth checking the map to locate these before your visit.
- Plan your day before arriving at the park, work out what you wish to do and where in the park you wish to begin. Collect as many ‘fast pass’ queue reducing tickets first thing before they are no longer available, this can massively reduce your waiting time.
- Find out which Parades/ Shows you wish to watch and be sure to find out the times and locations of these. If possible try to find a ‘good place to sit’ at least thirty minutes before the parade or show to ensure you get a good seat.
- Be aware that Disney offers a ‘baby switch’ service, we used this many times as E was too young to ride some of the rides. J and I would go on the ride, we would then collect a ‘baby switch ticket’ at the end of the ride, Paul would then wait at the exit of the ride with E and collect his ticket from me and ride again either alone or with J should he fancy having ‘another go’. It made things so much easier and gave us the chance to ride what we wished.
- Carrying a pram/ pushchair is free on most flights but be sure to check with your airline first. I would advise using your own pram/ pushchair as Disney pushchair hire can be quite costly and certainly isn’t as comfortable for your child/ children.
- Be sure to add labels to your pram/ pushchair as you may need to leave it in a ‘pushchair parking zone’ from time to time and they can easily get mixed up or moved around.
- Before buying any merchandise have a look on the Disney Store online, you may be surprised to find that there is a slight price difference. It may well be worth purchasing some things beforehand, certainly a signature book if you are wishing to collect characters paw prints.
- When purchasing any merchandise be aware that you needn’t lug it around with you all day, if you are staying at a Disney hotel then you can ask for your items to be sent back to your room!
- If you are considering buying merchandise it is certainly worth leaving it towards the end of the day to reduce the amount of time you have to carry said merchandise around the park. This also reduces the chances of losing any items you may have bought.
- When perusing the Disney shops be sure to ask about any deals which they may have before buying the merchandise. I found that there was a 3 for 2 deal only after buying each item on separate days!
- Be sure to stop regularly for drinks and snacks, it is amazing how quickly and easily you can become dehydrated from all the walking around.
- Be sure to locate toilets quickly so that you can take your children or yourself promptly should the need arise. There are some toilets which are used more frequently (these tend to be in busier areas) and therefore have a greater waiting time.
- Be aware that things can get rather ‘crowded’ from time to time. It is certainly worth considering where else in the park you may wish to visit should it become a little too busy.
- Plan for the weather, what might you do if it suddenly starts raining? Consider which activities or rides may be more suitable should there be a downpour.
- Be prepared for all weathers, ensure that you carry hats, sunglasses and a good amount of sun tan lotion with you. It isn’t always blue skies and glorious sunshine so make sure that you also take a rain mac with you, you can buy these in Disney but once again you will be faced with queues and hefty prices. We took umbrellas with us but found that became awkward to use when the park was crowded.
- Be aware that if you are staying in a Disney Hotel there is a free shuttle bus service to and from the parks. These usually run at least every twenty minutes but it is worth checking with your tour provider or hotel upon arrival.
- Upon arriving in the park be sure to scout out where the characters are based and when you are able to visit them. There are lists of times and locations for photoshoots with characters, be sure to make a note of these to avoid any disappointment.
- Don’t bother buying balloons, they may look pretty but they only end up being in the way and either get lost or popped leaving little ones rather deflated pardon the pun.
- Ensure that you wear comfortable shoes and carry a spare pair of socks with you. There is a lot of walking to be done in the Disney parks, it is really important to look after your feet.
- Try to arrange a meeting point should any of your party become lost.
- You will need your tickets to get into and out of the park each day so be sure to keep them somewhere safe and secure and ideally in a waterproof wallet for protection.
- Be sure to make the most of every moment, carry a camera and take lots of snaps to capture those special memories. Disney do offer a photo service but once again it is quite costly. Remember that selfie sticks are not permitted in Disney parks. Save yourself from carrying any extra weight and ditch the gadgets!
- Try to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, there is a lot on offer in each Disney park and unless you have super powers it is highly unlikely that you are going to get it all done in a day. Try to plan your trip over several days that way there is less pressure and more time to enjoy your trip.
- Kids are kids, they will get tired very quickly in Disney. Be sure to have plenty of breaks and to consider that Disney may be rather overwhelming at times for your little ones, even for the adults it can be quite draining.
- Finally and most importantly be sure to have have fun and to enjoy your holiday.
Less Stress, More Plain Sailing
Along with parks dotted throughout the World, Disney also has a rather luxurious cruise line which was incorporated into the Walt Disney Company in 1996. It currently operates four great family ships. Disney also own a private island in the Bahamas called Disney Castaway Cay, which adds to the adventure and magic unparalleled by other cruise lines that cater for families.
If you fancy a little less stress and a bit more plain ‘sailing’ then why not look into a cruise with ‘Planet Cruise‘? They currently have a number of offers and promotions available including Disney cruise packages.
Share Your Disney Tips & Tricks
I hope you find my Disney tips and tricks useful, I would love to hear some of your own ‘Disney tips and tricks’ which you can send to me by commenting on this post, getting into touch via email or through social media.
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