Monday, July 28, 2014

Walt Disney World {Pre-Planning}

For those of you who are big Disney nerds like me I thought I would blog about our recent trip to WDW with 4 little kids, a longgggggg road trip and a group of 14 aging from 3-50+


There are a MILLION sites to help you plan your Disney vacation! I really enjoy Disboards and Walt Disney World Prep School.

My dad first asked us about a Disney vacation this summer around Christmas. Rob and I talked about it and knew that my Dad and Stepmom would be great help with the kids and we had already postponed a trip last year to attend family kamp instead. We decided to go for it and my Disney obsession began!

Some things I wanted to pre-plan that are important to us...
Staying onsite
Dinner Reservations
Fun outfits for the kids
Military Tickets
Having a Flexible plan for a family with little kids in the Florida HEAT

We like staying onsite, so the first thing I did was research what hotel we wanted to stay in for this trip. I have been lucky to stay in various moderates and values at WDW. Unfortunately having a family of 6 can really limit your options! We ended up looking at the Family Suites at Art of Animation OR Port Orleans Riverside in Alligator Bayou with a fold down murphy bed (moderate). Riverside being a moderate there was much less walking (we paid about $150 more for a priority room to be close to the front of the resort) better food court, pool etc AND the biggest thing, it was CHEAPER. It worked great and we LOVED our room but I can definitely see how we will need more space as our kids get bigger! Two value rooms or renting a DVC option may be better in the future. We were fortunate to get 35% off our room rate AND we were able to book that rate for 3 rooms. So we booked Riverside for our family, my Dad, Stepmom, brother and BFF and my cousin, her husband and 2 kids as well. We opted to add the dining plan as we like having most of our vacation PRE-PAID for and not having to nickel and dime food costs on vacation.

{Magic Bands}
Staying onsite meant we would be using Magic Bands for EVERYTHING! Fastpass+, Dinner reservations, charging things to our room, park tickets, were all linked! You definitely want to get on My Disney Experience ahead of time and personalize your bands. We had 3 pinks for us girls, Red for Rob, Orange for Max and Blue for Jackson. The kids loved them and they stayed on well. Occasionally the littles wanted theirs off and Rob kept them in his pocket.

{Dinner Reservations}
One of the biggies you can book ahead are dinner reservations! After working with my cousin we ended up with the following
-Chef Mickeys (Contemporary Resort)
-O'Hana (Polynesian Resort)
-Mama Melroses Fantasmic Package (Hollywood Studios)
-Cinderella Dinner at 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian)
-Teppan Edo (Epcot)

{Fun Outfits for the kids}
Something I started planning well in advance that got LOTS of comments on Facebook were my kids clothes~! Yes they pretty much had Disney clothes for the whole trip! Here is how I did it...I started scoping out Walmart, Target, Kohls early. I also asked on a Facebook trade group and had several friends lend us shirts for Jackson or hand down items for my girls! Thanks Sarah! Our sweet Aunt Tabbi also had adorable shirts made for the kids from Generations Stitching on Facebook!

The boys had 1st Disney Trip shirts and the girls had Princess shirts. My dad even got a special Papa Lloyd shirt! Thank you Tabbi! You made our trip even more special!

I stuck with t-shirts and shorts for the boys because I knew it was going to be HOT!
The girls had shirts and shorts most days and character dresses one day (walmart) and Minnie rompers for dinner one night (walmart embellished by me). I am CHEAP CHEAP when it comes to buying clothes for my kids but I didn't spend a lot of money to have them in cute themed outfits through the week :)

My cousin, Stephanie who came with us made the above Mickey and Minnie shirts for our entire group of 14!! She used her craft machine to cut the shapes out and then had someone stitch them onto our shirts. They were a huge hit with the cast members and other guests. It also made it easy to spot our kids and group! 

{Military Tickets}
In addition to getting a great room rate we are also able to buy military tickets through our local base. This saved us a HUGE amount of money off our tickets....we got SIX 4 day park hoppers at $169 each (close to half price) My cousin had good luck purchasing her tickets on and I got 2 additional tickets for my brother and his friend from there too! They actually give you 5 day park hoppers for the same price as a 4 day so thats a nice deal. I even made a mistake in ordering and called and they fixed me right up. We highly recommend if you don't have military ticket option. 

Neither of us made Fastpass+ in advance since we waited to buy our tickets til closer to our trip. Once we had them activated at DTD and linked to our magic bands we all uploaded the My Disney Experience app on our phones and made FP+ for the week! I will talk more later about a large group and FP+ but overall we got great FP+ even doing them the week we were there!

Next time... I will talk about the road trip there and traveling 22 hours with 4 kids 6 and under :)


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