Last year my parents and I started talking about taking a Disney trip this year, I thought they were completely crazy. With two little ones, just going to the grocery store can be exhausting, how in the world would we be able to go on such a big vacation? But my family can be pretty persuasive, and by late March, we were sold. That's not to say we didn't have a few concerns we needed to work out, before heading to Disney world with 2 kids under 3.
1. Why go now? Why not wait?
Well, Kids under 3 year are FREE!
Secondly, and most importantly to us, my parents are not in good health. My mom is on oxygen full time. As I type this, my mom is currently in the hospital. That being said, I'm not sure how many chances we will have to enjoy any sort of vacation with them. And what a cool memory it will be for us all to have later!
2. How could we afford it?
Sure, memories are precious, but how could we afford that price tag?
Well, like I said children under the age of 3 are FREE! My brother also works at an airline, so flying stand-by is the way we go. That right there saves a ton. But, that's not to say, you can't down on your costs too.
Starting off, check Disney World's site. It's all about the timing! They run deals ALL the time, especially in the low seasons! And certain times a year, Disney offers meal plans. Basically, for the price of the room, you get yours meals payed for. They have different packages depending on your needs and wants. With our plan, we have one big sit down meal a day, one quick service meal, and one snack per person. This doesn't include the boys, but as long as they can eat off "your" plate, then they eat free! Also, book early! The sooner you book, chances are the better deal you'll get.
Buy a multi-day pass. The longer you stay, the less you pay per day in tickets. If you are wanting to go to the parks 4 or more days, then this is the way to go!
Also, stay at a value resort. Let's face it, fancy hotels are nice, but when you are at Disney world, how often are you really in you room? Not much. I'm perfectly fine staying in a fun resort that is smaller and doesn't have a view, if it means saving a buck! And by staying on Disney property, we have no need for a car, they have shuttle service that picks you up at the airport and buses that drive you to the parks.
More money saving tips later.
3. How can we keep the kids from getting too tired?
Before doing research, this was my biggest fear. Your tired, the kids are tired and crabby, and you paid for this glorious vacation that no one's having fun on. Now what? Well, Disney must have taken this into an account, because they created these Baby Care Centers around the parks. They provide a cool place with soft lighting for tried little ones to relax, a place to breastfeed, and even potty training toilets for toddlers!
Disney also offers the FASTPASS reservation system. This reduces time spent in line, cutting down on boredom. It's a nice way to plan around the nap times. If you do have to wait in line, make sure to bring some things to the park that will keep your toddler happy while they are waiting. (I'll do a post on this later, but we have travel sized magna-doodles that will be perfect for said occasions.)
This maybe obvious, but take a stroller or rent a stroller! Little ones, even bigger ones, can only walk for so long!
Also, I've learned to keep in mind their limits. Just like we wear out, so do they. They need those naps and quiet times. For the sanity of everyone in our party, we are planning to leave the parks early to rest and relax at the hotel, before the next days activity. Even the value resorts have playground, splash pads, and swimming pools to relax by. And let's face it, it's always better to take your time rather than run yourself ragged.
4. How are we able to ride the rides with little ones?
Two words: Baby Swap!
Baby swap is one of the coolest things Disney does. On the rides where a child is too young or too small, Disney World offers a "Baby Swap" option. What happens is one adult rides the ride, while the other waits with the child. When the first rider completes the ride, they return and "swap" places. It's not advertised by Disney, but it's available at all the attractions. Just make sure when you get to the entrance to the attraction, you let a Cast Member know you are planning to Baby Swap. They will gladly help you out.
And let's not forget to mention that there are several fun activities for all ages, size, and mobility! A great resource I found and highly recommend is allears.net.
A Disney World vacation really is doable with little ones. With a little planning, you can alleviate the meltdowns and exhaustion, and have a unforgettable adventure!