Disney may be the only vacation that I spend hours upon hours planning.  Don't get me wrong, I plan all of our vacations, to an extent, but with Disney, it's like a part time job.  Disney can be a wicked, costly vaca and I want to make sure that we are getting our money's worth.  Call me cheap, call me crazy, but this works!  We are now heading back to the parks for our second time in two years. 

If you have never been to Disney, it is an AWESOME vacation for adults.  You can do what you want, eat when you want, ride what you want, drink what you want and act like silly little kids.  If you can manage, even a day without your munchkins, give it a try.  You will be surprised at all the cool things Disney has to offer for grownups.

As much as I loved spending the day park hopping with my husband, my most favorite part of doing Disney, is watching our kids. It melts my heart to watch Chica's face light up when Minnie comes over to say "hi" or when Arial teaches BooChicken the "secret red head hand shake" We let our kids go all out, (as do we, sort of.) We encourage the kids to dress up each day, even if the costume last 30 mins.  We had a princess day (and I totally rocked that tiara), a pirate day, a few more princess days (Little man just wore some Disney themed t-shirts) and a Minnie day.  We made our hair into mickey ears, wore weird and crazy hats and crowns, and shirts that we would never wear anywhere other than Disney.

Disney does EVERYTHING you can think of to make your day the most "magical" day possible and I took that for granted on my previous trips.  Last year, it hit me.  First, although it is the happiest place on Earth, people fight.  Even with the special lighting and perfectly placed garbage cans,  the happy music (and not the annoying happy music but music that does make you smile) and the mouth water scents being pumped out into the crowds, the castle and characters, the Disney bus ride that is pre-programmed to say "Everyone obey the laws of the sea, we have pirates aboard" because your two kids decided to dress like pirates that day, NONE OF THIS will keep the peace.  Mom's yell at kids.  Husband and wives will go hours without talking to each other.  Brother and sister have come to blows. You know, the first time, I thought it was us.  All I kept think is what is wrong with us.  But during a "Nobody is talking to each other" break, I started people watching.  More people than not were doing the same thing that we were, in fact, that observation what snapped our family out of it.  So what can make this AWESOME vacation a little less stressful?  LISTS!

I'm a list maker and I have found that it keeps us a little less crazy.  

Travel

We tend to drive when we go to Disney.  For us, it is more economical to drive from Pittsburgh, Pa to Orlando, Florida. No matter what form of transportation you choose, be prepared. 

  1. Folder with all important documents for the trip (tickets, confirmation emails, park tickets, itinerary, etc)
  2. Map. Yes, I love GPS but when you hit a no service area or your battery dies at 3am and you packed your charger in the suitcase at the bottom of the trunk, or the forever hated recalculating notification, arise, you will be thankful that you can pull out your map.  
  3. Snacks and drinks. Don't get crazy! There are Pinterest pages galore about healthy road trip snacks (and not so healthy too!)
  4. Things to do. It doesn't matter if you are 4 or 40, a long car ride can be killer without something to keep you busy. I make each of the kids a bag of goodies.  I do theme it for the vacation and, yes, I toss in some educational items too.  
  5. Pillow/Blanket for the car
  6. Wipes
  7. Extra bag for garbage (or puke...)
  8. Change for toll roads

The Resort

Due to having off property time share, we don't stay in the park. I LOVE our resort that we usually stay in (although this time we are staying in a 6 bedroom house!)  but  there are a few things that we take to make sure that our meals run a little smoother. 

  1. Spaghetti pot. 
  2. Drink container (for Iced tea/water)
  3. Paper plates and cups
  4. Tupperware containers for leftovers.  There is never enough!
  5. Board games/cards

The Park (This one is a biggie!)

  1. Stroller. Yes, our kids are 8 and 5 and we are still taking a stroller.  Someone will need a nap and the rest of us will need somewhere to put all our stuff.
  2. Mini soft cooler. Apples, cheese sticks, gummy bears, etc.
  3. Wipes
  4. Refillable water bottle.  You can always refill at a water fountain but most places will fill your water bottle for free. 
  5. Change of clothes for kids (including undies and socks).  I pack them in resealable gallon storage bags so that I can throw the dirty ones in even if they are wet, 
  6. First aid kit. Band-aids, neosporin, pain reliever,  Pepcid, mole skin for blisters, tweezers, etc
  7. Dollar store shower curtain and clips.  This is a great way to cover your stroller against the Florida rain.
  8. Rain ponchos
  9. Souvenirs.  Yep!  We purchase our souvenirs BEFORE we leave for vacation, this includes the autograph book.  I headed to our local Disney store to purchase t-shirts, mini fans, and little trinkets.  We wrapped them before we left and gave them to the kids the morning of the park days, or sometime in the park. 
  10. Mini coloring/design books.  These are great for something to keep them busy while waiting in line. 
  11. Backpack.  I do not choose one with lots of zippers and pockets.  You will be stopped at each park.  Instead, I use a one or 2 zipper pack that is comfy to carry and I bag like items into gallon storage bags
  12. Pennies and quarters for the penny press
  13. sunscreen
  14. Phone
  15. Solar charger/extra batteries
  16. Hand Sanitizer
  17. Towel.  Someone is going to get wet, either with water, on purpose or they will spill something.  Either way, a towel will come in handy.
  18. Chap stick
  19. Gum. The park DO NOT sell gum.
  20.  Last time we went, I gave each kid a disposable camera.  After explaining how they worked, the kids used them to take pictures of THEIR vacation. 

Disney is an amazingly, awesome time for big and little.  It is hard not to have a giant smile on your face when you enter the parks.  To make sure those smiles stick, be prepared.  Do some research and some sort of plan of action.  

Enjoy your trip!!

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