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Disney

Why I’m Only Bringing One Of My Kids to Disney World

Two weeks from today, my oldest child (nine year old Tiana) and I will be headed to the most magical place on earth! My other three kids will be staying home with Daddy.

Why am I only bringing one of my kids to Disney? Because I only like this kid and can’t stand those other ones.

Just kidding.

Here are the real reasons 😄

bring one kid to disney

With 4 kids, it is rare to have one on one time.

Yes, I know, I wrote a post about how great it is to have a large family. On the whole I think it’s a great gift to my children to give them a bunch of siblings. But just like any family size, there are negatives too.

Like how they don’t even get to eat a whole apple because inevitably after getting two bites in, some sibling will cry that they want it too and we end up slicing it and sharing it.

And, it’s really hard to get one on one time with Mom or Dad.

We know individual time is important, it’s just hard to work into the schedule of activities, homework, birthday parties, housework, etc, etc, etc. Oh and Mom and Dad like to have date nights too.

So yeah, I’m sure Tiana doesn’t get as much one on one attention as most kids do. Being alone with Mom for three days will be a pretty huge deal for her.

There’s always been a baby in our family.

When I stopped to think about it, I realized my oldest has really never *not* had a baby in her life. She was a mere 16 months old when Zari was born, and then every few years after that she’s gained a new sibling. So there has never really been a time in her life without babies.

bring one kid to disney
Tiana became a big sister at only 16 months

Because our family has been stuck in this eternal baby stage, there have been limitations on what we can do. With the exception of Christmas Eve, our kids have never stayed out anywhere past 7pm. We almost never go places that aren’t baby-friendly, like plays, movies, trampoline parks, and pottery painting. If we do take her to one of these places, it is for her special one on one “date” which doesn’t happen too often. So Tiana doesn’t get to do a ton of older kid activities.

She has her own interests and I want something to be all about her.

Ever since she heard about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party, Tiana wanted to be there! She has a fascination with villains and all things creepy. Her siblings on the other hand have an intense fear of creepy things (especially Zari), which is why we’ve never gone to WDW at Halloween before.

Tiana also is my only kiddo that likes thrill rides, so a one on one trip means we’ll be doing ALL the fast rides this trip! Everest, Rockin Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror will all be firsts for her on this trip and she could not be more excited.

It will be a total change of pace for Tiana to have this time that’s all about HER. Not having to balance her wishes with everyone else’s. She picked the itinerary, the rides, the restaurants we’re going to eat at, and the shows she wants to see. When she feels like ice cream, we’ll eat an ice cream. If she wants to swim, we’ll swim. Kind of the like the concept of “Yes Day“.

This kid helps out a lot, and she deserves something special.

As the oldest child, Tiana is the one who most often gets asked to “keep an eye on the baby for a minute” or “go grab me the box of wipes”. I realize she is a child so we try not to ask too much of her, but when we do need a hand she is quick to help.

bring one kid to Disney
A truly loving (and helpful) big sister!

She is not a kid that’s overly entitled or expects to get something in return for helping out. She’s just a good kid and I want to reward her with something special that she’ll really love.

We could use the bonding.

My relationship with Tiana hasn’t always been as effortless and solid as it has with my other children. She came to us at a year and a half old, and attachment doesn’t always come easily when adopting a child past infancy. (If you’re interested in our adoption story, I’ve written about it here.)

I’m happy to report that our relationship has grown much stronger through the years and is pretty solid at this point. But I still feel like, of all the kids, Tiana would benefit the most from a little extra bonding.

I wish I had a chance to take a trip like this with my Mom.

Having lost my Mom when I was 20, I’m always aware of how short life is. I have a few special memories with her from my childhood that I think about often. I never did get to take a trip with just me and my Mom, but if I had I know I’d be looking at the pictures and reminiscing about it during the tough days when I really miss her.

It is super important to me that I make memories like this with my kids that they can hold onto for life, no matter how long we have together. I don’t want to wait until they are adults to do special things with my kids, because who knows if we’ll ever have that time.

Next year she’ll be a tween, then she’ll be a teen.

I hate thinking this way, but at 9 years old, my time to enjoy Tiana as a kid is dwindling! Next year she will be a “tween”, a thought that overjoys her and terrifies me. While I am a big believer that any age is a great age for Disney, quite honestly I think 8-9 is the perfect age.

At her age, there is still plenty of magic for Tiana. She is still a true believer in all the unbelievable wonders. She loves the characters and wants to meet them and talk to them. I know in my heart of hearts that this is the last trip she’ll be a “believer”.

bring one kid to Disney
Meeting Princess Tiana was a magical moment for this Disney fan!

I also know there’s a good chance my daughter won’t want to spend time with me in a few years. Right now at 9, she still thinks Mom and Dad are cool and wants to be with us all the time. Soon we know the pendulum will swing and she’ll want to be with peers instead of us.

The other kids will have their turn.

Right now it’s Tiana’s turn, but each of my kids will get a one on one trip with Mom when they’re 8 or 9. They understand this, and it helps them to not feel slighted. Their trip can be Disney if that’s what they choose, or somewhere else depending on their interests.

I’m ok with them having to wait for their turn. It’s a nice lesson in delayed gratification and patience. They’ll also enjoy their special Daddy time while we’re away too.

Those are the reasons why I chose to bring one kid to Disney! I’m sure many will still not agree with my decision. What do you think? Would you take just one of your children on a special trip?

5 Crucial Steps to Avoid Crowds at Disney World

Are you planning the ultimate Disney vacation and trying to figure out how to avoid crowds at Disney World? Your ultimate guide is here!

avoid crowds at disney world

1. Go in the off season

Thinking of a Disney vacation when the kids are off of school for Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, or summer vacation? Unfortunately, so is the rest of the world! These are when you will find peak crowds at WDW.

The week from Christmas to New Years sees the absolute highest crowds of the year, frequently causing Magic Kingdom to close due to capacity (Magic Kingdom holds an estimated 100,000 guests!) Even minor holidays like Columbus Day and Presidents Day will surge crowds for that week.

avoid crowds at disney world

Christmas crowds at WDW Photo credit: MouseSteps

Are you telling me to take my kids out of school?

That’s a personal choice that depends on a lot of factors. Consider things like: how many other absences your children have, their age, ability to catch up on missed work, and the school’s policy on absences. It may or may not be a good choice for you.

Also consider how big a vacation this will be for your family. Is this your one and only Disney vacation where you want to fit as much in as possible? Or do you go every year and plan on taking it easy?

If you’re still on the fence, sit down and look at your child’s school calendar. Are there any days off that most of the country won’t have off? A random fall break, teacher development days, or February recess? That might be your opportune time to go without missing as much school.

What if I have no other choice than to go during these peak times?

In my book, a crowded day at Disney World still beats a regular day at home. If you must go during high crowds, follow each my other points to the letter, and make the best of it.

So when is the best time to go?

Gone are the days when the parks are ever “empty”. Even during the low crowd times of year you will see substantial wait times for the most popular rides. But the average wait times will be significantly lower if you go in: January, February (except the week of President’s Day), April (except Easter week), early May, late August, September, October (except Columbus Day), November (except Thanksgiving week), and the first half of December.

avoid crowds at Disney world

2. Avoid the park that has Extra magic hours

You’re staying in a Disney hotel and you want to take advantage of all the perks. I get it. But the key to avoid crowds is to zig when everyone else zags.

For those who don’t know, each day one of the four parks has “Extra Magic Hours”, or EMH, meaning it opens early or stays open late for guests who are staying at a Disney hotel. People love to feel like they’re part of something exclusive! They also want to take advantage of all the perks that go along with the big bucks they dropped on their Disney hotel. That means the park that has Extra Magic Hours is going to be the most crowded park that day. Avoid that park!

The funny thing is, most people don’t even end up at the EMH park during the bonus hours. They either end up sleeping through the early morning hours, or being too tired to stay out for the evening hours. But people still see EMH as Disney telling them which park to go to that day, and they listen!

The only exception to this rule: There is ONE situation where I recommend EMH parks. If you have park hopper tickets, and you actually get up early enough to enjoy the early morning extra hours, by all means go to the that park for those hours. You will enjoy a couple low-crowd hours. Then, once the rest of the pack arrives, hop over to a less crowded park.

3. Rock rope drop

In the first hour the park is open, you will be able to accomplish as much as you would in 3-4 hours in the afternoon. Unless you are a family of super late risers whose vacation would be ruined by setting an alarm, I’d recommend putting the effort in to arriving at the park 30 minutes before it opens.

avoid crowds at Disney World
T and Z in empty Animal Kingdom after arriving 30 mins prior to rope drop!
Tips for making this work:
  • Carry breakfast with you and eat it outside the park entrance while you wait for it to open. We get groceries delivered through Garden Grocer so all we need to do is grab a banana, yogurt, granola bar, or single-serving dry cereal box and throw it in our bag.
  • Don’t light the candle at both ends. Plan your days so the ones that start early, end early. It’s not enjoyable to try to do parks from open to close, especially if you have little ones.
  • If you are trying to do morning and evening hours, make sure to take that afternoon nap/break.

4. Use FastPass wisely!

Do NOT miss your booking window to select FastPasses! Book your FastPasses 60 days from your check-in date if you’re staying on Disney property, or 30 days from the start of your trip if you’re staying off site. Log on to MyDisneyExperience to book your FastPasses starting at 7am EST.

Hit that sweet spot when selecting the times of your FastPasses. You don’t want to use them the first hour or two in the morning, because crowds are already low then. Wait too late in the day, and you won’t be able to take advantage of the extra FastPasses you can get after using your initial three.

11am to 2pm is generally the ideal time to book your FastPasses.

It’s also critical that you’re making your selections wisely. Your kid might love It’s a Small Word, but don’t waste a FastPass on it! Use your FastPasses on attractions that have the longest waits so they save you the most time.

FastPass priorities for each park:

Magic Kingdom

  1. 7 Dwarfs Mine Train
  2. Splash Mountain
  3. Space Mountain
  4. Peter Pan’s Flight
  5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  6. Enchanted Tales with Belle

Epcot

  1. Frozen Ever After
  2. Soarin’
  3. Test Track  (note you can only choose ONE of these three due to the tiering system)
  4. Spaceship Earth
  5. Mission Space
  6. Character Spot

Animal Kingdom

  1. Avatar: Flight of Passage
  2. Na’vi River Journey (choose ONE of these two due to tiering system)
  3. Expedition Everest
  4. Kali River Rapids
  5. Kilimanjaro Safari

Hollywood Studios

  1. Rockin Roller Coaster
  2. Toy Story Mania (choose ONE of these two due to tiering system)
  3. Tower of Terror
  4. Star Tours
  5. Frozen Sing Along
avoid crowds at disney world
You want to be in the line on the RIGHT. Photo credit: The Mouse for Less

5. Make a quick getaway

Last but not least! Some of the longest, most stressful lines are not for attractions at all, but for buses back to your hotel after the park closes. After the evening spectaculars, you along with tens of thousands of others are all trying to exit at the same time. When you’ve had a long day and the kids are falling asleep in their strollers, the last thing you want to do is get elbowed in a sea of people and have to wait an hour for a bus back to your hotel. Here are some tips for an easier getaway:

Strategically place yourself near an exit

The train station balcony by the exit of Magic Kingdom is a great place to watch fireworks and puts you right by the exit for an easy getaway. Another good option is the hub at the beginning of Main Street by the flagpole. This is also a good place to see the parade.

At Epcot, you can watch Illuminations from the entrance to World Showcase (by the two merchandise buildings) and you’ll make it out of the park before the herd.

Take a different route to the exit

If you do find yourself by the castle for the fireworks, here is a trick to get to the exit faster. Most people don’t know that the shops all along Main Street are interconnected on the inside. When everyone is making their way down at a snail’s pace, you can walk right through from shop to shop.

Epcot has an advantage because it has two exits. In addition to the main entrance, there is the International Gateway located in between the France and UK pavilions of World Showcase. For anyone staying at the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, Beach Club, Swan, or Dolphin hotels, this exit puts them at an easy walking distance to their hotel. Even if you aren’t staying at one of these, exiting via the International Gateway and then calling an Uber to your hotel might be a good option for those looking to avoid a crowded bus.

Other important notes about Uber

Getting around Disney World via Uber can be a great option if you’re in the time crunch. Typically rides from place to place within the World will cost $8-$13.

Be sure to download the Uber app before your trip if you’ve never used an Uber before. This will save time and have you all set to go when you’re leaving the parks.

If you want to get $5 off each of your first 4 Uber rides, (and support Real Mom Recs!) use the code johnp37188ue when you sign up for your Uber rider account.

If you’re taking an Uber from Magic Kingdom, you’ll need to meet it at the Transportation and Ticket Center. Only Disney authorized vehicles can drive right up to the entrance of the park.

For those who need a car seat, it is possible to order an UberX with a car seat for about $8 more than the regular rate.. Check out Uber’s website for more details on this.

Disney has also partnered with Lyft and launched the new Minnie Van service but at this time it is only available to guests of the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, and Beach Club. I will update if/when they expand to all the resorts.

A final note about crowds at WDW

Don’t be that parent that lets the stress of crowds ruin a good time for you and your kids. Some amount of people-herding is inevitable during this type of trip. The more relaxed you are about it, the better your children will deal with it, too.

Guide to Walt Disney World Attractions: Height Restrictions, Fright Factor, and Motion Sickness Potential

height restrictions in disney

Wondering how tall your child needs to be to go on the rides at Walt Disney World, Florida? Here is the complete guide to height restrictions in Disney World including all 4 parks and the 2 water parks!

The good news for us Moms is, Walt created Disney World with families in mind. Even the “thrill rides” at Disney are mostly geared towards children. You won’t find the biggest or fastest roller coasters in the world here. His vision was for the whole family to enjoy the parks together. For this reason, there are plenty of attractions have no height restriction. And most of the rides with a height requirement are 40 inches or less, which means a typical 5 year old can ride all but a handful of attractions.

Height Restrictions

Here are the specifics for each park:

Magic Kingdom

height restrictions in disney
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: Somewhere in between a thrill ride and a kiddie coaster
  • Tomorrowland Speedway- must be 32″ to ride and 54″ to ride without an adult
  • Barnstormer (Great Goofini)- must be 35″ to ride
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train- 38″
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad- 40″
  • Splash Mountain- 40″
  • Stitch’s Great Escape- 40″
  • Space Mountain- 44″

Epcot

  • Test Track- 40″
  • Soarin’- 40″
  • Mission: Space (Earth/Green Edition): 40″
  • Mission: Space (Mars/Orange Edition): 44″

Hollywood Studios

  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror- 40″
  • Star Tours- 40″
  • Rockin’ Roller Coaster- 48″

Animal Kingdom

height restrictions in Disney
Nope, it’s not a zoo! Several attractions have height restrictions
  • Kali River Rapids- 38″
  • DINOSAUR-  40″
  • Avatar Flight of Passage- 44″
  • Expedition Everest- 44″
  • Primeval Whirl- 48″

Blizzard Beach

height restrictions in Disney
Don’t forget, water parks have height requirements too.
  • Chair lift- 32″ (no infants)
  • Tike’s Peak- Must be UNDER 48″ (children’s play area)
  • Downhill Double Dipper- 48″
  • Slush Gusher- 48″
  • Summit Plummet- 48″

Typhoon Lagoon

  • Ketchakiddee Creek- must be UNDER 48″ (children’s play area for ages 2-5)
  • Bay Slide- must be UNDER 60″ (children’s slide)
  • Crush n’ Gusher- 48″
  • Humunga Kowabunga- 48″

Guidelines for pregnant women

All of the rides that have a height restriction also come with warnings for expectant mothers. If an attraction doesn’t have a height restriction, anyone can ride including infants and pregnant women. Always use your best judgement and consult your doctor beforehand if you have concerns.

Fright factor

height restrictions in disney
The haunts of Disney’s Haunted Mansion may be silly to some but scary to others

The elaborate theming of Disney attractions is designed to give you an emotional reaction, and some may be scary for children. You know your child best, so use your judgement about what they might find spooky. And please, don’t be that parent who forces their child on rides when they are screaming they don’t want to go on! That’s not fun for anyone.

Magic Kingdom

  • Haunted Mansion- ghosts, ghouls and creepy music can scare children
  • Pirates of the Caribbean– pirate scenes may be frightening to some small children as well as skeletons and canons being fired
  • Splash Mountain– even if they aren’t afraid of the drop, the dark part where the animatronics get creepy might get to them
  • Space Mountain– not the most intense roller coaster, but still potentially frightening since it’s completely in the dark

Epcot

  • Mission Space- either version may induce claustrophobia
  • Spaceship Earth- this ride is slow and tame but there are prolonged periods of darkness
  • Soarin’– scary for those who are afraid of heights

Hollywood Studios

  • Fantasmic (evening show)- villains, loud noises, and special effects may frighten small children
  • Tower of Terror– creepy voice and imagery, this ride is designed to scare you
height restrictions in Disney
Hint: if it has the word “terror” in its name, it might frighten your child

Animal Kingdom

  • DINOSAUR– In-your-face angry animatronic dinosaurs are intense, as well as periods of darkness
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug– 3D movie features bugs and spiders jumping off of walls and dropping from the ceiling; can even frighten some adults
  • Kali River Rapids- some riders will get a little wet, while others will get completely dumped on with water. If your child is afraid of having water poured on their head, don’t chance it.
  • Expedition Everest– your 5 or 6 year old may be tall enough to ride, but that doesn’t mean they should! It is intense, jerky, appears as though the track has been ripped up, then goes backwards, and is centered around a scary monster (the Yeti) in the mountain.

Motion sickness potential

height restrictions in disney
The teacups: innocent kiddie ride, or your worst nightmare? Photo credit: Disneydining.com

If you or one of your kids is prone to motion sickness, look over this list and figure out which ones you’ll want to avoid. Some people are bothered by spinning, while other people can’t handle simulators or going upside down. You likely won’t need to avoid this whole list, just the ones with the type of motion that bothers you.

Magic Kingdom

  • Mad Tea Party (the Teacups)– Spinning. Lots of spinning.
  • Space Mountain-  fast roller coaster with some sharp turns
  • Dumbo, Astro Orbiter, Magic Carpets– these are all tame, but may affect those who can’t take spinning

Epcot

  • Mission Space (Mars/Orange Edition)– most notorious ride in all of WDW for inducing “protein spills”. Centrifuge ride with G forces can make people sick who aren’t normally prone to motion sickness.
  • Soarin’– gentle ride but might be problematic to those very sensitive to motion simulators

Hollywood Studios

  • Star Tours- a jerky motion simulator that makes you think you’re traveling wildly through space
  • Tower of Terror- sudden drops, free-fall sensation
  • Rock n’ Roller Coaster– high speed roller coaster with 3 inversions

Animal Kingdom

height restrictions in Disney
DINOSAUR could leave you queasy AND terrified
  • DINOSAUR- super jerky and rough with sudden stops
  • Primeval Whirl– nicknamed “Primeval Hurl” due to spinning and hairpin turns
  • Expedition Everest- high speed roller coaster which also goes backwards, leaves lots of people green
  • Flight of Passage– motion simulator with some drops

For more on Disney attractions, check out my list of 5 most underrated rides at Disney World!

5 Awesome Disney Souvenirs (and 5 Not Worth Your Money)

Disney world: it’s fun, it’s magical, and… it’s expensive! Parents save and save just to get their kids there. Then you finally set foot inside the parks, and the kids have the audacity to ask for MORE! The reason? There are fun and exciting toys and souvenirs around every corner! The kids don’t stand a chance against the genius of Disney marketing. The key is to figure out which Disney souvenirs to buy and which to skip (or buy ahead of time for a better price!)

Disney souvenirs RealMomRecs

5 Awesome Disney Souvenirs

1. Make your own light saber

A huge hit with all the Star Wars fans visiting Disney World! The price varies depending on how elaborate you want to get, with the simplest single blade design selling for about $25 and the most elaborate double blade designs (like Kylo Ren) going for around $45. There are several locations in WDW where you can make your own saber. Tatooine Traders in Hollywood Studios can be very busy since it attracts most of the Star Wars crowd, so check out Once Upon a Toy at Disney Springs for the same experience with a shorter line. Another cool option is the Build a Droid available at the same locations for about $15.

Here is a fun video showing the process:

2. Photo Autograph Book

This is an easy and inexpensive way to capture the memories of meeting Disney characters. Instead of just getting the basic autograph book for characters to sign, buy one with slots to put photographs in. Then when you meet a character, snap a photo of the kids (or yourself, who am I to judge?) with the characters to put in the book alongside the autograph. We actually filled two books with all the characters we met on our last trip, so we did one for just princesses and one with all other characters.

Disney souvenirs autograph bookDisney souvenirs princess autographs
Disney souvenirs photo autograph bookDisney souvenirs photo autograph book

My kids ADORE looking through these! It helps to preserve their memories of the trip too. (Have I ever mentioned how I can’t stand it when people say not to take young kids to Disney World because they won’t remember it?)

3. Silhouettes

Ok this one isn’t exactly the most Disney-esque of all Disney souvenirs, but it is probably the best bargain around for a truly lovely keepsake. For only $10 per person you get TWO portrait silhouettes (the way they are cut leaves you with two copies, one facing left and one facing right). They are done extremely quickly! We were in awe watching the process, and even our toddler was able to sit long enough to get hers done. It was shocking to me how wonderful they came out. They captured our children’s profile at that age perfectly. I absolutely cherish these silhouettes!

The carts selling silhouettes are stationed in several locations throughout WDW. We did ours in Liberty Square because we weren’t able to find the one on Main Street near Town Square (maybe the artist was missing that day?). You can also get them done in Disney Springs and sometimes in the France pavilion at Epcot.

Disney Souvenirs Silhouettes
Silhouette Cart in Magic Kingdom (photo credit: touringplans.com)

HOT TIP ALERT! Learn from my mistake and make sure to bring cash or credit card with you when you get these done! We are so accustomed to just putting all expenses on our Magic Bands when we’re in WDW that we don’t even bring a wallet to the parks. But the silhouette makers are considered independent contractors and can not accept Magic Bands! I almost had to run all the way back to our hotel to get money after we had ours made, but luckily I was able to recite my credit card number for memory and they ran the transaction by typing it in.

My husband was a little alarmed by my ability to recite my entire credit card number, but that’s another story for another day 😜

4. Personalized Mickey Ears

The most classic of all Disney Souvenirs has got to be the Mickey Mouse ear hat. Go with the classic or pick your favorite character: Buzz Lightyear, Piglet, R2-D2, and tons more. They have sparkly Minnie Mouse ears attached to a headband, an ear hat with a bride’s vail attached, and even light up ears that change color to the beat of the fireworks music. Prices range from $15-$25 depending on the style you choose.

Disney Souvenirs Mickey Ear Hats

While these may not be the most practical choice for theme park attire, there is just something special about a kid wearing them on their first trip to Walt Disney World. And it makes for all kinds of iconic photo ops.

One way to make these extra special is to have them embroidered with your child’s name on the back. Choose your font and stiching color, and within the hour your Mickey ears will have their owner’s name on them for only $3. You can also add two lines of text for $7.

Disney souvenirs embroidered Mickey ear hat

You can get your Mickey ear hat embroidered at The Chapeau on Main Street of Magic Kingdom or at Disney’s Wonderful World of Memories in Disney Springs. If you want to order them ahead of time for your trip, you can order them through Disney Floral and Gifts.

5. Pressed Pennies

All over the parks, restaurants, and Disney hotels you will see pressed penny machines. Normally this is the kind of thing I try to steer clear of, but when traveling to Disney World with small children it’s one of those tools to keep in your arsenal. When there is downtime, things like this are a great distraction for kids and they get SUPER excited about it.

Here is the book we use to store them in:

Disney souvenirs pressed penny book

They love going back and inspecting each one to see the different characters and rides on them.

Disney Souvenirs pressed pennies

5 Disney Souvenirs Not Worth Your Money

1. Mickey balloon

I feel like such a Disney grinch saying this, but I just can’t bring myself to spend $12 on a souvenir that won’t even survive the duration of the trip. While they will delight your kids for a moment, they will likely drift into the sky minutes later causing a flood of tears. Best case scenario, they end up tied to a stroller that gets parked somewhere for the day while you go on rides.

Disney souvenirs Mickey balloon

HOT TIP ALERT! If you are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, they do not allow balloons of any kind on the premises. They are hazardous to the animals on property. Avoid disappointment if you are staying there and don’t try to bring one back to your room!

2. Princess dolls

For the 12 inch (Barbie size) Disney Princess dolls, buying in the parks will cost you around $20. The same dolls are sold at any Disney Store nation wide for $10 when you buy two or more. Delight your kids by taking that same $20 and buying two at home before you leave for your trip and surprise them when you get there 😃

Disney souvenirs princess dolls

3. Princess dress up dresses

One thing every little girl wants to do in Disney World is Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Girls get princess makeovers with hair, nails, and shimmering makeup by cast members called “Fairy Godmothers-In-Training”. The basic package costs a hefty $65 for the experience lasting 30 minutes to an hour. If you want the package that includes a new princess dress, it will set you back $200!

Disney souvenirs BBB
Photo credit: disneyworld.disney.go.com

My advice would be to buy a dress elsewhere and stick to the basic package. Disney store, JCPenney, Amazon, Etsy, etc all have similar dresses. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a special experience due to the interaction with cast members and feeling of being pampered. It really doesn’t matter much where the dress comes from.

FYI: Without considering BBB, just to buy the dress alone that they sell in the parks goes for $70. This dress is considered “deluxe” meaning it is a bit more ornate than the regular Disney store dresses. But I truly don’t think most kids would notice the difference between that and the $45 Disney store dress that is still shiny, sequined, and has the Disney label.

4. Light up Toys

When the sun goes down in Walt Disney World, the light up toys come out. Glowing swords, necklaces, spin toys, etc are everywhere you look. Of course every kid will want one and of course they are way overpriced. I have fallen for this one before but then I got smart and came equipped with this:

Disney souvenirs light up toy

Light Up Galaxy Spinner with Flashing LED Lights

The kids were enthralled and I spent $7 on it. WIN!

Amazon also has a light up princess wand that would do the trick:


Light Up Princess Wand

Then when it breaks or gets lost in an hour, it doesn’t ruin your night 👍

5. Large stuffed animals

Please try to talk your kids out of buying a big stuffed animal in Disney World. First of all, you can get them anywhere. Choose a souvenir that is more unique to the Disney parks. Secondly, what are you going to do with the thing while you walk around the park and go on rides all day??? Yes, Disney has thought of everything so they do offer the service of holding it for you or sending it back to your room. BUT, how many kids are going to be ok with shipping off the giant Mickey they just talked you into buying? Then you know who is going to end up carrying it around… MOM!

Disney Souvenirs stuffed animals
Don’t be stuck carrying these guys around

What are some of YOUR favorite Disney souvenirs?

5 Most Underrated Attractions at Walt Disney World

5 Most Underrated Attractions at Walt Disney World

If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, chances are you’re planning on riding the biggest, fastest, newest, and most popular attractions. While some of these are spectacular, there are also some underrated attractions you probably overlooked in your guide book. Whether not as new or not as thrilling, these are still fantastic attractions you don’t want to miss! (Bonus: These underrated Disney attractions will have shorter lines!)

1. The Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover (Magic Kingdom)

Peoplemover Disneyworld
Photo Credit: wdwinfo.com

Where to find it: Walk down Main Street USA and take a right when you get to the hub. This is the entrance to Tomorrowland. Continue straight and go just past Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, but not as far as Space Mountain. You will see escalators going up, and this is the entrance to the Peoplemover.

Why we love it: Walt created this to the be mass transit system of the future, hence the name “Peoplemover”. In reality it isn’t used to get anywhere because it just goes around in a loop. But the Peoplemover is one of my favorite rides in all of Disney World, and here’s why:

  • The whole family can ride together. We can fit all 5 of us in one section comfortably. Considering most rides we needed to break up into 2 and 3 (and with 3 people being squished), it was really nice to all be together.
  • It is 10 minutes long. Perfect for when you have a little extra time to kill before a FastPass or dining reservation.
  • You can rest comfortably. Everyone lets out a nice “Ahhh” when sitting down in the comfortable seat. It’s totally relaxing with the breeze hitting you as you spin around Tomorrowland. Your feet will appreciate a break from all the walking too.
  • It has some cool history. This ride has been around since 1975 and was the brainchild of Walt Disney himself.
  • The views of Tomorrowland are really cool! You can usually see characters like Buzz Lightyear signing autographs below, you ride right over the cars of the Tomorrowland Speedway, and best of all: riding through the building that houses Space Mountain.
  • No wait! The Peoplemover runs continuously and people just get on and off. I have never seen a line here at all, which is pretty huge for Magic Kingdom! They will even let you stay on and ride again after the loop is complete. My two year old and I once rode 3 loops back to back without getting off while my husband and 2 older kids went on Space Mountain.
  • Toddlers will love it. My 2 year old absolutely adored this ride. With a short stretch in the dark and a couple gentle turns, it was just fun enough for her. She loved looking at all the sites going by. Just look at her joy in this shot I got:

Tomorrowland Transit Authority people mover

For more tips on surviving Disney World with a toddler, don’t miss this post!

2. Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom)

Kali River Rapids Animal Kingdom
Photo credit: disneydaybyday.com

Where to find it: Enter Animal Kingdom and go straight. Veer right at the Tree of Life and follow signs for Asia. When you get to Asia you will hit Yak and Yeti and Kali River Rapids is tucked around the corner. (Sidenote: am I the only one who finds Animal Kingdom confusing to navigate even with the plethora of signage???)

Why we love it: This ride gets NO love on popular Disney forums and I can not figure out why! It has been the highlight of Animal Kingdom for me on each of my trips there. A great hybrid of thrilling and family-friendly, this attraction has a 38 inch height restriction, so an average sized 4 year old can ride.

In addition to the excitement of bobbing down the “river” (which does have one pretty thrilling drop), there is also a thrill in how wet you might get. It is a bit like Russian roulette because of the 12 riders in each boat, ten will get a little bit splashed and two will come out completely soaked like they showered with their clothes on. As the sign says upon entering: “You will get wet. You might get soaked.”

If getting wet is a great concern for you, just pack a change of clothes in a backpack and enjoy this ride!

3. The Great Goofini’s Barnstormer (Magic Kingdom)

Barnstormer Disney
Photo credit: disneyworld.disney.go.com

Where to find it: In the New Fantasyland section of Magic Kingdom. It’s tucked in the back corner of the Storybook Circus area where you’d never see it unless you were looking for it. Look for a small roller coaster where the car looks like a little airplane. Casey Junior Splash n Soak station is directly across from it which is great for toddlers who are overheating or just need to hop out of the stroller and burn some energy.

Why we love it: Known as a “junior roller coaster”, this short and sweet coaster is great for many reasons. The height restriction is only 35 inches, meaning a typical 3 year old and even some tall 2 year olds can ride. This makes it a great consolation prize for the little ones who can’t ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (40 inch height restriction) or 7 Dwarfs Mine Train (38 inch height restriction).

Barnstormer is also great because it can be a “test coaster” to see how small children react to thrill rides. While it is a kiddie coaster, it does have some speed. If your child has never been on a roller coaster before, this is a great one to start them out on and see if they will be able to handle the bigger, faster rides. It’s also super short, about 1 minute long, so if your child panics at least it will be over with soon.

My son who was too afraid to go on Mine Train absolutely loved Barnstormer! And with the short line, he was able to ride it several times with only a few minutes of waiting in between.

4. Living with the Land (Epcot)

Epcot the Land Pavilion Living with the Land
Photo credit: allears.net

Where to find it: Go straight through the entrance and veer right at Spaceship Earth (the giant silver golfball looking thing, or as my kids call it “The Epcot Ball”). Take a right into Future World West and follow signs for “The Land”. Once inside the land pavilion, don’t follow the herd that’s running to Soarin’. Instead head to the right and you’ll see the entrance to Living with the Land.

Why we love it: This gentle, 14-minute long boat ride is both educational and fun. A nice break from the hustle-and-bustle, this attraction focuses on farming and sustainability rather than characters and movies. Glide along through four greenhouses and an aquacell. Don’t worry, the voiceover isn’t too dry! Disney is even able to make crops interesting for kids. Mine loved seeing pumpkins and tomatoes grown in the shape of Mickey’s head and inspecting the huge tanks of strange-looking fish. The adults marveled over the “Creative House” section which shows how to grow crops in different ways including hanging in the air and with no soil.

Living with the land Epcot Disney world
Photo credit: bestoforlando.com

Overall, just one those really neat, engaging, underrated Disney attractions.

5. Mickey’s PhilharMagic (Magic Kingdom)

Mickey's Philharmagic Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom
Photo credit: disneyphotoblog.wordpress.com

Where to find it: Go straight down Main Street and through the castle. When you hit the carousel, turn to your left and you’ll be looking at Mickey’s PhilharMagic.

Why we love it: When you hear “animated 3-D movie”, you might think this attraction is skippable. Don’t make that mistake! It is a delight for the whole family (and yes, I even enjoyed it during my adults-only Disney trips). My kids always want to see it several times each trip and I’m happy to oblige.

The show is funny, fast-paced, and incorporates sights, sounds, and smells. With your 3-D glasses you really feel like you’re in the center of the action. You might even get water spritzed on you as part of the show.

Similar to the Peoplemover, Philharmagic is a fantastic way to escape the heat and rest your legs. You also shouldn’t have much of a wait. At 15 minutes long, even if you enter the waiting area when a show has just started, you won’t have to wait too long for the next one.

Mickeys Philharmagic
Photo credit: disneyworld.disney.go.com

Make sure to add these 5 underrated Disney attractions to your touring plan, and come back here and tell us what you think!

 

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