A child’s first introduction to the magical world of Walt Disney starts way before his or her trip to any Disney park. For my son, it was when he received his giant Mickey plush toy for his first birthday.
Mickey became his companion and Disney World is referred to as Mickey’s home in our household. Since then through books and video clips, we have introduced a host of Disney characters who continue to enrich my two year old’s imagination. The first visit to Disney will feel have so much anticipation and expectation that it can overwhelm even experienced family travelers.
1. Magic Kingdom will be the center of attention of every kid’s first visit to Disney.
Watching them walk along Main Street, their eyes brimming with excitement as they get closer and closer to Cinderella’s Castle will be unforgettable. Now I understand what parents mean I hear statements like “I’m dying to see their looks when they see the castle.”
Disney has taken the character experience to a new level by having Mickey talk to kids during the meet and greet at the Town Square Theater. Since toddlers will be too small for most of the rides, the character meet and greets will likely be the attractions you want to get in line early or schedule fast pass reservations for.
2. Almost every moment at Disney is photo worthy.
Little details, like Mickey’s ears landscaped on a hedge, are everywhere. Don’t stress about having to capture every moment on camera. Settle on a few highlights before you head out to the park and then spend time taking in the moments with your kids.
With the goal of scrapbooking in mind, I take photos in front of all the attractions we experience. As it gets tiring to make toddlers pose for multiple photos back to back, I scout the best angle and shoot a few practice ones before attempting to photograph them.
To make it easy for parents to be in pictures and not worry about missing important photo ops, Disney has introduced a Memory Maker photo package. With Memory Maker, your whole family can be in pictures at Disney Photo Pass location plus select attraction and dining locations throughout the resort.
The package price of $149 (if purchased three days before your visit) includes digital copies of all the photos taken on your trip. This option becomes very attractive longer the days spent in the parks and if majority of the Photo Pass locations interest your family. But purchasing this package doesn’t give you priority in terms of waiting in line to take the photos.
Even if you don’t purchase the Memory Maker, you can use your own camera to take photos at the Photo Pass locations or during meet and greet opportunities with characters. On my recent trip to Disney World, I got to try out the Lumix ZS40 camera from Panasonic. The easy to use features make this camera very attractive for moms who need snap photos on the go. Just a turn of a dial at the top to SCN and you can optimize your capture options depending on your subject (scenery or people) to time of day. Changing the dial to palette symbol gives you a series of filter options (such as one color, star effect and many more) to choose while you’re taking the photo.
When pressed for time, I recommend clicking twice to take two photos at once and then using one to try different filters with the creative retouch option. It lets you preview the effect of all the functions before saving your preference. Once saved you will not be able to access the original photo, hence my tip to take two photos at the beginning. All this can be done in the comfort of your hotel room or even after you get home. If you missed out on capturing your images with various effects, Lumix gives you a another chance to enhance your photos.
Another defining feature of the camera is that it connects to your phone through its wifi hotspot. You can set up the camera to capture the whole family and control the photo taking with through the Panasonic Image App that can be installed on any smart phone. With the Lumix ZS40, you can take family photos without being at the mercy of strangers. You can also share them instantaneously by transferring the photos to your phone through the camera’s wifi.
3. Location and convenience are key when traveling with toddlers.
Consider staying at a Disney resort to be close to the parks and getting transportation to the parks. The shuttle buses run every few minutes and you can get back and forth without long waits or worrying about parking. These buses can accommodate multiple strollers. Kids will get the thrill of riding “Mickey’s bus.” The monorail or boat transportation are also popular with little kids and will be a great alternative in case of traffic. Since you get dropped and picked up at the same spot near the entrance of the park, it will be easy to remember if you need to make multiple trips back to the hotel to accommodate your toddler’s schedule.
Staying at a Disney resort can extend your Disney experience beyond the park. There are so many great resorts with different themes to choose from. We stayed at the Disney Boardwalk Inn modeled after a beach side resort. The Grand Floridian, The Art of Animation and Caribbean Beach Resort are few that TravelingMoms have experienced over the years.
Kids will get a kick out of seeing their towels being folded like Mickey’s face. We were thrilled to see the Cinderella carriage pull up with a bridal party to the entrance of the Boardwalk hotel.
4. A little rain won’t ruin everything.
Though we all hope for beautiful sunny days on vacation, we can’t control the weather. Being at Magic Kingdom on a rainy afternoon confirmed to me that a little water won’t dampen a toddler’s excitement to be at the most magical place on earth.
If you anticipate rain, make sure to pack rain coats and stroller covers. You can also bring extra disposable ones as back up and keep them packed in the diaper bag. Incase you forget to grab your rain gear when leaving the hotel, you will have a backup and be spared of spending $8 per poncho at the park boutiques.
5. Don’t worry about their short attention span.
Don’t be disappointed if the fireworks displays and the parades at Disney only capture your toddler’s attention for a few minutes. Though you may have highly anticipated watching the Main Street’s Electric Parade for the sidewalk, your toddler may want to move to the next thing after a few minutes. But what’s great about Disney parks is that you never have to go too far to find something that will amuse the kids.
Disclosure: I was hosted at Walt Disney World for the Mine Train preview event. All opinions expressed are my own.