My family and I recently took a trip to Disney World for my daughter’s graduation gift. We are not one of those families that are able to go yearly. We had to save for a whole year and still had to take donations from friends and family. So to say this was BIG deal for my family is an understatement.
I am sure we could have saved money by not staying at a resort but I wanted my daughter to have the full experience she dreamed of , since she worked so hard to graduate high school. As some of you may know, my daughter has Cerebral Palsy, so school wasn’t always easy for her, but she pushed through so she could see MICKEY MOUSE. We stayed at the Art of Animation Resort and spent three days at the parks, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.
If you would have asked me right after we made it back home if it was worth it, I probably would have said NO. I suffer from anxiety so I wanted everything to be perfect. I researched and planned for months and I still did not learn or prepare for everything at Disney World. So when we left I felt like a failure to my family because everything did not go as planned. I knew we could not make another trip for a long time or ever, so I really wanted my family to see and do everything they wanted to. That was my first mistake.
Now that it has been over a month since we went to Disney World, I sit back and remember the fun we had and the memories we made. So yes it was worth it! I would like to share some tips on Disney World if you plan on making a trip to Florida. Maybe you will not make the same mistakes I made.
Use Disability Access Service if you have a special needs person
Upon arriving to Disney I thought I did all my research on handicapped accessibility but I was wrong. I had read that people in wheelchairs would go through a separate line to get on rides, so assumed we did not need the DAS. The DAS tool allows you to be given a time to ride the ride and you could come back when it was time and not have to wait all day in the line. I was unaware that people could just rent a wheelchair upon arriving so there was a ton of people going through wheelchair lines. So needless to say we did not ride many rides because of the wait times, rookie mistake but noted. Also, make a list of what rides are wheelchair accessible without transfer, unless you can transfer. It is hard transferring my daughter onto the rides and I made a list of all wheelchair accessible rides but not the non transfer rides, so I did have to transfer her onto some rides.
Prepare for Rain
I did actually prepare for rain. We all had our ponchos packed and ready. Although I did not expect to be having to wear them almost the entire time. I had read it rains sporadically in Florida, but that week it rained more frequent. It didn’t stop us, we just put our ponchos on and kept going. It did although shut some rides down and shows that we used our fast pass for. My bag also was totally drenched and my notebook I wrote our plans in was ruined. So I suggest use a water proof bag and maybe Ziploc baggies to put your map and autograph notebook in.
Use your Fast Passes Wisely
Because we stayed at a resort, I was able to reserve our Fast Pass activities early. It literally took me days to go through the events and rides and choose 3 per day we wanted to reserve. So I thought I did a really good job at planning our Fast Pass reservations. Soooo wrong. First of all, look at a map of the park before hand and see how where the events are. You might want to start close to the front of the park and work yourself to the back of the park. I did not do that. We would see one show and then have to boogie to another part of the park before our next reservation started. Making it hard to enjoy each part of the park. After you use your 3 fast passes you can add more on a kiosk or your phone. Make sure you know where the kiosk are on the map because my phone was either dead or was not getting signal to make more fast pass reservations.
Use Transportation if you can
We decided to drive from our resort to each park. We were unaware if there was enough accessible seating on the bus and we wanted the freedom to leave as needed. In my head I thought we may need to leave the park to rest at the resort and go back later. That did not happen. We stayed busy the entire time, no time for breaks. So anyways, we had to pay $25.00 to park each day. That adds up when you already spent $5,000 to go to Disney World. My suggestion is research transportation and take advantage of it.
You will not see EVERYTHING
I really wish I had prepared myself mentally that we would not se everything we wanted to see at Disney World. I wish I would have tried not to rush around to see all the attractions and just slowed down to enjoy what we could see. Don’t get me wrong we saw a lot of Disney World and enjoyed so much. Make a list of your must haves and try not to worry about the rest. I did make a list of the major must haves. My daughter loves Mickey Mouse, Monsters Inc and Cinderella. She got to meet Mickey Mouse and she danced with the Monsters Inc crew, unfortunately we were unable to make it to see Cinderella, but honestly I don’t think she remembered that. My son was all about the Animal Kingdom and he loved attractions that I did not even plan. Not planning everything actually works out better sometimes. For instance, I did not plan on us seeing the “Finding Nemo Musical”, because I did not think my family would enjoy it. But we saw they didn’t have a wait line and we all needed to sit for a while so we went in. Ciara (my daughter) loved it, I never knew she loved musicals so much. The whole family really enjoyed it. So just take it easy and have fun.
I know some hardcore Disney fans may disagree with me, but I cannot lie and say everything was perfect. We made a lot of memories and did have a lot of fun, but the stress was there. The crowds are awful, everything is overpriced and you will encounter stressful situations. But I encourage you to not be like me, don’t sweat the small stuff, don’t let you anxiety win and just have the best time of your life at the most magical place on Earth!