This is my first trip around parenthood, and with Helena’s birth came many exciting additions to my life. I would attend children’s birthday parties, have playdates, be able to identify with other women my age around motherhood, and somewhere on that list, take Helena to Walt Disney World – the most magical place on Earth.
Who wouldn’t want to take their child to the most magical place on Earth?
As I journeyed through Helena’s first 4 years of life, the anticipation of taking her to Walt Disney World was building. I spoke to friends who had taken their children to find out what to do, when to go, what to wear, and any tricks of the trade to insure I was going to have the best experience with Helena as possible. I was told that I must take Helena to Walt Disney World before the “age of wonder” ran out. To my friends, that perfect sweet spot was 4 to 5 years old.
The promise to my husband.
I must preface and say that when my husband I got married in 2002, he made me promise two things:
1. He would never have to drive an RV, and
2. He would never have to go to an amusement park.
Meanwhile Helena asked to go to Walt Disney World and since she is the apple of his eye, the planning continued.
My experience with Helena at Walt Disney World was much like reading all of those the early parenthood books that did not apply to my child. She never ceases to amaze me in marching to the beat of her own drum, and her occurrence at Walt Disney World was no exception. If you ask her what she loved most, she will tell you the roller coasters. She loved the rides. We laughed and said that she would have loved the Cajun Heartland State Fair just as well.
My last visit to Walt Disney World was twenty-years ago. In the days of paper tickets, no fast passes and limited capacity cell phones. It’s a different experience today with the My Disney Experience app, magic bands, fast passes, 3D experiences, and VIP tour guides.
Here are some considerations for your next Walt Disney World vacation:
- Outside food items are allowed to be brought into Disney parks. Taking advantage of this perk helped us to save money and have some healthy food options in tow.
- Prepare for the unexpected. I told my friend we probably didn’t need to borrow any princess costumes because Helena is a t-shirt girl and likely wouldn’t wear them. She wore a princess costume every day and said she liked when people called her princess. I guess Disney brings out the unexpected.
- Take time to learn the landscape of your hotel prior to arrival. For example, learn where the food offerings were located and where the monorail is situated. Our hotel wasn’t confined to one building and the monorail was in a different building than our hotel room.
- Should the dining plan be included in your vacation plan, learn how it works before you arrive. The dining plan works on credits or tokens not on a dollar amount. For example, you can get a banana for approximately $2.25 or a Smart Water for $4.50 and both count as a snack credit; however, being a difference of $2.25. Also, some table service restaurants count as 2 table service credits. The dining plan can be a great addition to your vacation but there are tricks to the trade to stretch your money.
- Disney’s Memory Make is a must! You have the opportunity to take photos at every turn and all you have to do is download them from the My Disney Experience App.
- I mistakenly assumed that VIP Tour Service meant we would not have to wait in line for an attraction or ride; however, it means that you have a VIP escort that gets you into the Fast Pass line at all qualifying rides. Keeping in mind that not all Fast Pass lines are wait free. The VIP Tour Service is a service through Disney that offers your party, up to 10 guests, a private host or hostess for a minimum of 7 hours per day for a fee.
All of the learning opportunities aside, there is no price for the joy that comes from your child saying things like “this is the best day ever,” “I am so excited,” “I am so happy,” and “I love y’all so much.”