Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Our trip to Disney World - How to survive mentally, emotionally and physically

Disney world. How many kids have cried and screamed the lungs out, in front of the camera and then been watched on a you tube video from millions, when their parents were announcing to them: "WE ARE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!" How many people they have choose to go there for their honeymoon, birthdays, or graduations? The hot place to be on your school/college spring break. Disney World is the land of our dreams. Is the place where everyone is allowed to feel as a kid. Where the adults are overwhelmed and some even emotional from meeting and hugging the famous Mouse and his gang. The place where all the family members can be happy. But is also the place where the word LINES and WAITING sometimes steal the limelight from the actual famous residents of the park. So if a visit there is on your bucket list of "things i want to do before i die" then keep some notes, and go prepared. Mentally, emotionally and physically. Ah and of course financially!

But how do i know?

My first experience with the magical land was many years back, when we used to live in Belgium, one coffee- stop away from the beautiful Disneyland in Paris, France. We visited, i believe 3 times, as a couple, and together with good friends that were visiting us from Greece, and at that time there were no kids involved, just the need to dive in our childhood and live few carefree hours full of fun and excitement.

My first time in Disney world Florida was with good friends myself, and my then 2,5 years old son. Another continent, another story. Bigger park, bigger excitement, bigger fears especially when you have to keep an almost toddler from running away from you awaiting to disappear in the huge crowd.

Our second time though was a different story. Family of 4, with a pre-teen and an actual toddler could be a tough situation, but with the many tips and preparation from insiders of Disney world we survived. Our good friends that live in Florida had some of the secrets of the Mouse land, and now we were holding the golden keys too and along the way we realized also few things!

So here how you can prepare for the big experience in every level, or at least to do your best!

Realize early that the levels of excitement from the kids will be over the top and start some breathing sessions at least a week before you go. Try to put yourself on their shoes and let your inner kid to enjoy the experience too.

Insider tip
If you are planning to go with young kids, do not announce it too early just a day before you actually go. You will save yourself from all the constant questioning "When will i see Mickey? When we are going? and throwing tantrums yelling "I want to go NOW!"

Like the roller coasters of the park, kids will have good moments and bad moments. Everything will be great when they do their favorite ride or meet the characters, or eating the mickey mouse ears chocolate ice cream. But things can go fast on red zone, when you have to wait 100 minutes to 210 minutes for a ride and expect your toddler to have Buddha's patience, or when they finally scared the ride you have choose or if the sun and the heat is just to much.

Insiders tip

  • Check before you book. Find out if there is a spring break or competition, or conference etc. because you will have to expect triple amount of people. 
  • Stay in a hotel at the Disney world resort. You get to experience a lot more of everything.
  • Download the App "My Disney Experience" From there you can reserve 3 fast passes each person of your "must do" rides and this way the waiting will be much less. You can even book a restaurant because the lines are equally long, from getting a simple ice cream or a  hot dog, to visiting the "Crystal palace" restaurant where you meet with the Winnie characters and you absolutely need a reservation. 
  • Go to the park as early as you can and go first to the most popular rides.

If walking is not your sport, then i am afraid it will become...so start warming up your legs. Prepare to walk a lot, in kind of circles, but still walking, a lot. Also prepare to lift and hold a lot. Kids and bags, and also to stand a lot, in all kind of lines.

Insider tip

  • Have with you a stroller for your kids  when you need i t- you can rent there too, but why?- and for your bags when he/she is off. Otherwise pack light. 
  • Use the train, boats, futuristic spacecrafts as often as you need and can. Kids love it and you will take a break. 
  • Use the common areas where you can seat to eat or rest. 
And lastly...

This year Disney World announced a raise on the already overpriced tickets. Think almost $500 for a family of 4, just for the entrance. And then is the parking $22, and the drinks and food, and then is the merchandise and the gifts and toys, and then is the $70 cost if you want to buy the pictures with you and your favorite character, and then the stroller if you haven't bring one....

Insider tip
  • Look for deals that run through out the year and find the best for you. 
  • Park further out and come with the Disney bus or train.
  • Pack a lunch. Bring your own snacks and drinks and have picnics in the designated areas.
  • Take your own pictures and videos when you meet the characters.
Disney world experience is one that stays with you for a very long time, maybe forever. It is intense, magical, different. It is an escape from the grey news that we are exposed every day. For adults is a trip back to our childhood, and for kids is a dream come true, meeting the heroes they watch and love. Of course it is also a business, a multi billion one, and the financial targets are real and need to be met, and if you read reviews form visitors you will see the frustration from all the waiting that might cost you to do only 2 rides in 8 hours, and the attacks that their overloading the place with people. But in the end Disney World is a feeling. Study your notes, get prepared and...get carried away from the fairy tale!


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