Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Holiday Trip to Disney's Magic Kingdom and Family Tips

Written by, Bernadyn Nettles


If you plan on taking a trip to Walt Disney World with younger children, there are many things to consider and you should be well-prepared and have a plan.  Most importantly, remember that there are many things that can happen that are not part of your plan like tantrums, accidents or someone getting sick.  This didn't happen with us, thank goodness but it's always better to expect the unexpected.  Over the holiday season, we received several gift cards to use for tickets from my hubby's parents.  We went three days after receiving them which meant we didn't have much time to plan but we wanted to catch the special Frozen show that was only available at Magic Kingdom until December 31st so we took the chance and went to Magic Kingdom during the holiday season.

Our Family's Adventure at Disney's Magic Kingdom

We went to the theme park for one day and stayed until evening.  We went on a Sunday and arrived around 10 that morning.  We stayed at a hotel for one night and the next day after we checked out, we visited Downtown Disney before returning home.

Here are photos we took on our trip and tips for families at the bottom if you plan on visiting, too. 

Cinderella's Castle 

Walt Disney World, Christmas

Cinderella's Carriage

Family vacation, Disney World

Cinderella's carriage

Cinderella's carriage, Disney

Disney store, family vacation, Alice in Wonderland

Children waiting to meet Brave's Merida


There was a coloring station while the kids were waiting to meet the princess.  Our daughter colored a picture of her while waiting and was able to get the princess to autograph at when she met her.

 Brave, Disney, family vacation Disney's Brave, family vacation

Brave, Merida, Disney

Disney's Dumbo

Dumbo, Disney

While we were waiting to ride the Dumbo ride, there was a play area for the kids and you're given a pager to tell you when it's your turn to get on the ride.

Dumbo, Disney

Dumbo, Disney, family vacation

Dumbo, Disney

Mickey's Christmas Show

Walt Disney World, Orlando, Christmas

Walt Disney World, Christmas

Christmas Show, Mickey, Disney

Mickey's Christmas show, Disney

Disney, Chip and Dale, Orlando

Mickey's Show, Christmas, Disney

Disney, Christmas, Mickey's show

Disney, Christmas, Mickey

Disney, Christmas, Orlando

Disney, Cinderella's Castle

Cinderella's Castle, Mickey's Christmas Show

Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride

Aladdin, Aladdin's Magic Carpet

Meeting Princess Jasmine and Aladdin

Aladdin, Jasmine, Disney

Jasmine, Aladdin, Disney
Mickey's Garden, Disney, Orlando

Meeting Minnie Mouse

Here is an example of something happening unexpectedly.  Our little girl began to cry right when it was her turn to meet Minnie because she spotted her dad and brother.  They went to take pictures with Goofy and Donald Duck while I took her to see Daisy Duck and Minnie Mouse.  They finished before us and were outside of line by another wall watching us.

She still wanted to take pics with Minnie and forced herself to smile which you can see in her expression.  Minnie was sweet and wiped away her tears.

Minnie Mouse, Disney

We stayed at the park until evening to watch the Frozen show.

Magic Kingdom, Disney, Orlando

Magic Kingdom, Christmas, Orlando

Mickey Mouse, Disney, Magic Kingdom

Disney, Orlando

Cinderella's Castle was beautiful with the ice and snow transformation Elsa placed on the castle.

Disney, Cinderella's Castle, Christmas

Cinderella's Castle, Orlando

Cinderella's Castle, Frozen Ice Castle, Disney

The castle changed colors every few minutes.

Cinderella's Castle

They put on Mickey's show again, too.

Christmas Show, Disney, Mickey

Disney, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck

Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Disney

Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Christmas Show

Christmas Show, Mickey, Disney

Christmas, Disney, Cinderella's Castle

Cinderella's Castle, Mickey's Christmas Show

Christmas, Disney, Orlando

Mickey's Show, Christmas, Disney

Disney, Christmas, Cinderella's Castle

Cinderella's Castle, Christmas Show

Mickey's Christmas Show, Disney

Christmas show, Mickey, DIsney

Mickey, Minnie, Disney

Mickey, Minnie, Disney

Minnie, Mickey, Disney

Frosty the Snowman, Disney, Christmas

Disney, Mickey, Minnie

Snowflakes on the castle...

Cinderella's Castle, Snowflakes, Frozen

Frozen show, Disney, Anna

Frozen, Elsa, Disney

Anna, Elsa, Frozen

Olaf, Frozen, Christmas show

Olaf, Frozen

Olaf, Frozen, Disney show

Anna, Frozen, Olaf

Elsa preparing to ice Cinderella's Castle...

Frozen, Ice Castle, Disney

The next day, we visited Downtown Disney...much less chaotic!

Downtown Disney, Christmas

Overall, we had a fun trip and were so happy to be able to go during the Christmas season.  Will we do it again over the Christmas season?  Eh, maybe when the kids are older!  

Here are some tips I put together from our trip's experience that may help others.

Tips When Taking A Family Trip to Magic Kingdom During the Holiday Season:

  1. Expect for the park to be insanely crowded and busy!  There's no 'ifs' about it, the park will be packed to the brim.  Brace yourself!
  2. Know when the park operation hours are for the day(s) you plan to visit.
  3. Know that you're not going to be able to do everything in one day.  Plan ahead and pick a few things that everyone really wants to do and see.
  4. Grab a copy of the park's map.
  5. If you will be staying in a hotel, book months in advance, if possible.  
  6. Know that there are several parades and marching bands going through at various times throughout the day so you will be asked to stay on the sides and stay behind the ropes.  
  7. If you are visiting the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, remember that Florida is typically still warm during the holidays during the day but may cool down by nightfall.  The temperature was in the 80's when we went that day.  Bring a light jacket or sweater if you plan on staying until the evening.
  8. Bring water bottles or drink containers that you can refill.  Bring snacks.  When we bought lunch at one of the eateries, there were no free refills on drinks and food and beverages are already pricey.
  9. Don't expect everyone to be friendly just because it's Christmas season.  People are tired and irritable especially if they are dealing with their own children.  You may also be at your wit's end, too after a couple hours of walking around and waiting in lines or fighting through crowds.  Keep your cool as much as possible and be courteous and understanding of others as much as possible.    
  10. Consider staying until evening when all the Christmas lights are turned on in the park.  
  11. Arrive early for character meet and greets and shows.  Your kids will want to be able to see the show and not just people's heads and bodies in front of them.  
  12. Safety first!  During peak season, more people means more chances for your kids to get lost. We prepped our kids about what to do if they lose us or if we lose them.  If your child is old enough, make sure he knows his name, your names, phone number and address.  It is also a good idea to memorize what you're wearing and to be able to describe your features.  Do the same with your kids.  Keep a child ID Kit in your car in case you need it.  There are ID bands you can buy on Amazon to place on your child's wrist especially for little ones who can't talk or remember his information.  Wear bright, similar color clothes so you can all easily spot each other in crowds. Discuss with your children the importance of staying close to you and not running off. Describe to them who they should be able to trust if they do get lost.  For more tips and information about child safety, see the article I wrote here.

Tips for Taking a Trip to Magic Kingdom and other Disney Theme Parks Throughout the Year:

  1. Bring a stroller or rent one off-site especially if you have young children.  I hear the ones available through the park are expensive so it's your choice.  Our six-year-old normally doesn't ride in the stroller but he did while we were there.  Your kids WILL get tired of walking.   Also, remember that the strollers can't go in most of the lines for rides and meet and greets with the Disney characters which means your kids will have to wait in those lines by standing, too.  
  2. Expect super long waits in the lines for attractions and meet and greets.  Know that you won't be able to see and do everything in one day.  We only rode a few rides and met with a few characters.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to meet with Frozen's Anna and Elsa because it was a 2 hour wait.  There's no way my kids were going to have the patience to wait that long.  
  3. Know what your kids can and can't handle.  Know when to skip a ride or other attraction/event and do something else.
  4. Consider splitting off if one child does not want to see an attraction but the other one does.  We did this a few times with our kids because it saved time.  Just be sure you have a reliable way of communicating with one another so you can meet up again after the ride.  Plan a clear place to meet.
  5. Be sure to let your cell phones and cameras charge fully before you visit the park.  Also, clear out your memory card or bring extra or else you may run out of storage space and regret not taking more photos or recording a video. This happened to me while the Frozen show was going on!  I was using my phone to record the show and I ran out of storage space.  I had to switch off and use my Nikon video camera to record the rest of the show.  Its a hassle so prepare all of this in advance.
  6. Take your kids to use the restroom before waiting in line.  Luckily, we didn't have any emergencies with our kids but its something important to keep in mind.  
  7. Buy an autograph book or bring your own that's not necessarily from the Disney stores there.  This is a great idea for your children to get characters' autographs when they meet with them.
  8. Another idea is to have your child wear a Disney shirt or plain tee shirt that the characters can sign instead of a book as a souvenir from your trip.  If you are afraid of your child spilling on it or you don't want to wash it after the trip, just carry it with you in a bag.
  9. Bring a small first aid kit.  Thankfully, we didn't need to use ours but it's best to be prepared.
  10. If you can, try to take a longer trip instead of just a one day trip.  If you do this, avoid going to the theme park the same day you travel.  On the day of arrival, instead of going to the theme park, you can plan to visit Downtown Disney or Disney's Boardwalk .
  11. Get plenty of sleep and rest the night before!  It will definitely be a long day and/or trip especially if you have younger children.
  12. Plan for a vacation after this trip just for the adults! 

Any tips you have for families with younger kids when going to a theme park?

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