A few months ago, we packed up our family of nine and went to one of the greatest places on earth—Disney World. Can you imagine two parents and seven children under the age of 14 being in Disney for eight days? Our friends and family couldn’t either. It was by far one of the most EPIC family vacations EVER. How we pulled it off without a hitch and without our children knowing was nothing short of a miracle. Being The Family Strategist™ with a Ph.D. in Motherhood, I put together a strategy that any family, large or small, can use when going to any amusement park.
Preparing to take our family to Disney World took months. Choosing not to go in the summer meant coordinating work, activity, and school schedules. I had to make sure the suitcases were secretly packed, our home was secure, and the mail was held at the post office. Also, doing a trial run at a semi-local amusement park helped us master the next part of the strategy.
They say presentation is everything. I decided to video record how we told our children about our EPIC Disney adventure. Recording things like this helps you capture the raw response of your loved ones. This is the moment when you get to see all of your hard work captured on the faces of the people you love. Because I am a writer, I revealed our trip by reading a bedtime story that I wrote just for them. After I read the story there was silence and then massive mayhem erupted all over our TV room. The sweet part was hearing our four-year-old say, “I have wanted to go to Disney World my whole life!”
No matter what amusement you decide to take your children to, it is imperative that you have a safety plan in place. When you go to Disney almost everyone wears something Disney related. In order for our family to stand out and be safe, we did just the opposite; we wore superhero themed shirts. Our safety plan also included a:
- Buddy system
- Bathroom system
- Medication and First Aid System
- Eating system
- Ride system
- Day and night system
Most importantly, every day before going to the park, I took a family picture that included everyone’s clothes, their faces, and shoes. This helps for two reasons:
- If your children were to get lost or
- If someone tried to take your children.
Going to an amusement park can be very expensive. We saved thousands of dollars on our Disney adventure by:
- Choosing to drive vs. flying
- Packing meals vs. buying food in the park
- Cooking vs. eating out
- Buying souvenirs outside the park vs. in the park
- Using a timeshare vs. staying in a hotel or Disney property (I dream of staying at a Disney property just once.)
Parks, Recreation, and Application
Navigating Disney meant going to the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Disney Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. We dedicated one full day in each park while hopping between parks on other days. In order to be successful, we needed a few key things:
- Maps of each park
- The Disney app that I previously downloaded on my phone
- Photo pass cards
- Park hopper tickets
If you don’t like standing in long lines, the Disney FastPass is your friend. You can schedule your FastPasses up to 60 days in advance. You can learn more about scheduling FastPasses on the Disney World website. Photo passes are a great way to log your pictures and track your Disney experience. The Disney app helps you navigate parks, tracks pictures from your photo passes and gives wait times for rides and shows.
When navigating Disney, it is important to have days of rest. We went to the park every other day. On the days that we did not go to the park, we went to Disney Springs formerly known as Downtown Disney. Disney Springs has great shopping, great shows, great food, and all kinds of fun things for Disney lovers young and old.
Taking your family to an amusement park does not have to be a hard or expensive undertaking. If you decide not to drive, consider driving at night while your children are sleeping. Driving at night cuts down on bathroom breaks and the number of times that you will hear, “Are we there yet?” If you happen to decide to go to Disney or another amusement park remember to be prepared, present and capture every moment, protect your family, and be prudent with your time and money.