Magical Memories: Sonny's 1st Disney Trip
Updated: May 9
If you are planning on taking a trip to Disney World in Florida anytime soon you’ve come to the right place! I just came back from a week long “vacation” from the most magical place in the world and I have plenty of tips and trick to help. Let me preface by saying I LOVE DISNEY WORLD. Most of my best childhood memories are from my family travels to Disney. Same with my husband. So it was a no brainer that we wanted to make the same memories with our son. We aren’t Disney adults (no judgement at all - I actually understand) but we have enjoyed trips there as adults! In the past I even planned many trips for family and friends since they considered me the expert. As Sonny approached his third birthday I was excited to start planning our first family trip. We hadn’t been to Disney in 13 years, but how much could have really changed? I wasn’t prepared for how much had! I took a deep dive into planning and found my head spinning.
That leads us into my first tip and trick… HIRE A DISNEY PLANNER. I never thought I would need a Disney travel agent, but it was the best decision we made. Shawn with Glass Slipper Concierge and Take the Family Trip was the expert we needed for a smooth vacation. She assisted us from booking our hotel to organizing our itinerary to helping us secure dining reservations and everything in between like knowing what to pack. The day before we left she took over two hours to chat with me about Genie+ and Lightening Lanes which was my biggest anxiety. Shawn also had the best tips for where to eat, drink and how to plan our day. Her advice was always genuine, spot on and we never felt like she was trying to up charge us. There is so much that goes into the planning of a vacation to Disney World that you need someone with consistent experience to get the most out of your trip. Their expert advice will save you headaches, time and money. The perfect example of this is booking dinning reservations. Shawn was up at 5am, not me, booking our dining! She knew about additional experiences and tricks that I would have never known. A Disney expert, like Shawn, can work with any budget to plan a magical trip for minimum cost. Another great resource in addition to working with a Disney expert I recommend is purchasing the Disney Bible aka Birnbaums's Official Disney Guide. This is only book you'll need and it's an amazing guide for your trip.
Tip and trick number two… THE PERFECT AGE DOES NOT EXIST. There is something for everyone to enjoy at Disney World from the rides to the dining to the resort. We personally believe the best age to start traveling to Disney is between the age of 3-4. By this time bottles, formula and diapers are long gone which makes traveling much easier. Originally we planned to go in the fall after Sonny turned 3, but changed our minds when we learned kids under 3 are FREE! This was a game changer for us. We would save hundreds, if not thousands, on park passes and character dining. There are so many rides with no height restrictions and Sonny is a taller kid in general. We went less than one month before his third birthday and it couldn’t have been more perfect. I was initially really nervous about him being able to last though the long days and nights, behave at the nicer restaurants we booked and be patient in lines. Luckily, Sonny napped each day and was a total trooper, he was enthralled at the restaurants and had perfect manners, and the lines were relatively short especially when we used our Genie+ Lighting Lanes. Each age unlocks a new magical experience. I’m happy we started at the age of two (basically three) because there is a sense of innocence and excitement he won’t have the next time we go. At this age Sonny had zero expectations. He didn’t care if we missed a character or couldn’t get on a ride. He wasn’t hunting for the perfect souvenir and driving us crazy in the process (something I did to my poor parents). The simplest thing like riding the monorail or boat brought him happiness. Everyone thinks we are crazy for planning such an elaborate and expensive vacation that Sonny most likely won’t remember, but we will remember the sheer and pure joy and happiness he had on this trip. The memories we made this trip were countless and magical. I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Weeks later he still talks about the trip and recalls crazy details that gives me hope he will remember in the future. The next time we travel to Disney, probably when Sonny is 5 or 6, will be a completely different experience for him and for us to witness. He won’t carelessly sing at the top of his lungs during the fireworks or think he has magical powers controlling the shows. He will have expectations. There will be certain rides he wants to get on and characters he must meet and that will be wonderful to see too. If you are waiting for the perfect time or age this is your sign to just go and embrace the magic of Disney.
Next tip and trick… GENIE+ & LIGHTENING LANES. The crowds at Disney have gotten out of hand. If you don’t purchase Genie+ and utilize LL (lightening lanes) you will waste so much time in unnecessary long line. Most of my anxiety when planning this trip was about getting this system down. I (over watched) YouTube and Disney social media accounts to try an absorb every piece of knowledge I could. The best video I saw is linked here, but even this was more information than I needed and got confusing. The first day booking experiences had me sweating profusely. Luckily, we had a good experience and I quickly got the hang of it! It is honestly a very simple system once you get it down. I had a game plan for each day and for each park which was flawless even when there was an IT outage and we couldn’t get any the last day! I’ve included my entire itinerary that I highly recommend you follow when visiting each park. A perfect example is at Epcot. There aren’t that many rides and some run out of LL. We knew to rope drop Frozen (only a 30 minute wait) and get a LL for Ratatouille. At Magic Kingdom we knew Peter Pan was the best LL to grab first for littles. Same with Mickey’s Runaway Railroad LL and rope dropping Slinky Dog at Hollywood Studios. Each park has additional Individual LL for purchase for certain newer rides. If you can afford it pay extra to avoid those lines. We walked on Tron, Rise of the Resistance, Guardians of the Galaxy and Avatar in less than 10mins while the lines were over three hours long. All those tips are in my itinerary! I had everyone purchase Genie+ by 6:30am each day. At 7am I was ready to get the first Individual LL and LL to start the day. Pro tip for those first LL with high traffic is get off of the hotel WIFI. Our entire group was linked so I could manage everyone. Hotel guest have access before anyone so make sure to grab the most important ones first. We utilized extra magic hours for hotel guests and rope dropped at each park too. By 10/11am we would have a dining reservation at the park we were visiting and we’re back at our hotel by 12/1pm to enjoy the pool during the hottest and most crowded hours at the parks. At night we would head back to the parks and use the LL I stacked during the day and enjoy the fireworks! It sounds intense, because it is, but its the only way to make the most of your trip. Don’t let the Genie+ scare you like it did to me. I literally lost sleep over it and it couldn’t have been easier once I got it down. Most days we hadn’t even utilized all the LL we could have! I will admit I was constantly on my phone managing everyone and checking the LL, but I honestly thrive in Disney. It’s like my Olympics! The longest line we waited in was for Starbucks and 30 minutes for Frozen because we didn’t have a LL at park opening/rope drop. On average we waited about 5-10minutes which was perfect with a large group and an overactive toddler. If you have the money and don’t want to mess around with Genie+ opt in for a VIP tour. They weren’t in our budget this trip, but it was tempting.
Something I highly recommend is purchasing... MAGIC MAKER. I was skeptical about this at first too, but I can't stop looking at the professional photos we got. It's insane the difference in quality even from the newest iPhone camera! The pro tip for this one is purchase prior to arriving since it is discounted. I was too close to the arrival window and all I had to do was call Disney and they discounted the price. We got so many professional family photos together and there was always "proof of mom". We never had to ask a stranger and hope they got a good shot. The photo pass people were ample and in the best locations. On our first night they were even at our hotel and snapped some of my favorite pictures! Magic Maker photos are available for 30-45 days after you activate and once you download/save them you have all the rights to the photos. They even include interactive videos with your photos now. Ride photos are included with Genie+ and LL and are really fun to have! They only reason I suggest not getting Magic Maker is if you won't utilize it. Every time we went to the parks and saw a photographer we took pictures. They even do private sessions for a reasonable price at the resorts or parks! If I would have known that in advance I would have booked Sonny's 3 year old photos. I'm not exactly sure the price, but one photographer said between $75-100 for 20-30 minutes which is more cost efficient than doing something on my own in Chicago!
Magic Bands are worth it. This is another thing I was skeptical about and if you purchase in advance they are cheaper. I found myself asking my Disney planner if these were necessary because the newest ones need to be charged. The sheer convenience of being able to access the parks, rides, attractions, scan for photos, pay (yes you can link your cc) and getting in your room is worth it! Call me lazy, but after a long day with a toddler and my hands full it was so nice not having to fumble to find our room key. That was worth it alone. The negative things about the magic bands is they easily fell off. So many people were using clips from Amazon or rubber bands to keep them on. I linked some options here to purchase in advance. One person in our party had theirs fall off on Dumbo and mine fell off on Big Thunder Mountain so it doesn't matter the thrill level of the ride. In no way did the magic band enhance my experience during rides or shows, but it does coordinate by lighting up and vibrating in unison. They also don't display the time and I'm use to wearing an Apple watch and kept looking at it. My mom wore her watch and the band, but that annoyed me so I never wore my watch on a trip that was very time oriented. Kids under 3 don't need magic bands just like they don't need park tickets or Genie+/LL. You can purchase one and not link it, but that will cause more confusion for cast members. Sonny wanted a magic band like ours so I made sure to bring his AirTag waterproof wristband, his Mabel's Label ID bracelet and purchased light up Mickey bracelets. A few cast members gave me the side eye since Sonny is a bigger 2 year old, but were very accommodating in making him feel special when scanning in. Overall, my recommendation is get the Magic Bands.
My next tip is... bring a good STROLLER. Whether you rent (there are ample options) or buy one a quality, compact stroller is a necessity when doing Disney with littles. Shawn with Take the Family Trip stressed the importance of having a stroller that could navigate multiple terrains and the dreaded main street tracks. She has personally rented a stroller after her UppaBaby umbrella stroller failed her. My anxiety kicked in when she said an UppaBaby didn't make the grade! Sure it wasn't the Cruz or Vista, but still had me wondering what stroller we should take or if we should just rent one. There was NO WAY I was bringing my Vista to Disney even though it would seamlessly glide through anything anywhere. Most park transportation like the buses and boats require the stroller to be collapsed. My other option was a 16 year old hand me down Mclaren that did have a convenient back strap, but doesn't have the best maneuverability. Thankfully we found the BEST travel stroller; The Bombi Gear Bebee Lightweight Stroller! We saw so many people struggle with maneuvering and collapsing their strollers while our Bebee was incredible. Traveling with kids is challenging enough. Don't let your stroller complicate it more. The Bebee is eco friendly, compact when collapsed, has ample storage, an XL sun canopy with peep flap, cup holders, easily maneuvers over any terrain, one handed button to collapse or expand, lightweight, a sleek design, travel friendly, reclining back for naps, and won’t break the bank! We highly recommend you check out this stroller and will have an upcoming blog post with more details. In the meantime check out Bombi Gear for your next traveling adventure! There are hundreds of strollers in Disney and it is easy to mix yours up. It's a great idea to "decorate" your stroller to set it apart and have it be easily recognizable. We put a Mickey luggage tag and an AirTag on ours with our information incase someone accidently took it too.
Call us over protective, but even in Disney... SAFETY FIRST. If you know Sonny personally you know he's a flight risk. I have no shame in him wearing a "leash", but my husband is mortified. I still brought ours incase I could convince my husband to change his mind. There are some cute backpack and bracelet options if you're comfortable using them. Since the leash was not an option I made sure Sonny wore his AirTag in a water proof wristband everyday along with a Mabel's Label ID bracelet. Even thought Disney is super safe it's always very crowded. The ID label has Sonny's name and my phone number incase he ever got separated from our group. He knew if ever got lost to tell someone to call the number on his bracelet. This gave me piece of mind and I'll continue to use the ID bracelet when he goes to school, summer camp, field trips, and any time we are out in public (i.e. zoo, museum, indoor play place). These bracelets doubled as his magic band and we told him it was required he wore them like we did everyday.
This tip will save you lots of money and avoid any meltdowns... BYOGS (BRING YOUR OWN GLOW STICKS). Every night your kid will be bombarded with light up toys while you wait for the nighttime fireworks and shows. If you don't want to spend $20 on a light up mickey head that shoots bubbles bring your own like I did! Sonny was naturally attracted to the goods, but was easily persuaded that he didn't need it because he already had his own. The Dollar Tree has good options that are cheap. We got bracelets, necklaces, and wands that he loved and he never asked us for a single light up souvenir. They also kept him occupied while we waited for the show to start. On dark rides he loved using the glow sticks and wearing light up Mickey bracelets.
Another tip to ensure a smooth trip is... PICK THE RIGHT HOTEL. We have stayed at several hotels at Disney World from value to moderate to deluxe resorts. The main thing they all have in common is they are all on the Disney property with Disney transportation. I never recommend staying off the grounds! I love the convenience of a Disney hotel. The best way to select the perfect resort after price point is proximity to the parks and transportation options. This trip we were traveling with 7 adults and 1 toddler so the main thing for us was being able to get to and from the parks as quickly and easily as possible. This was my first time staying at the Polynesian and on the monorail. It was a total a game changer. Most hotels I've stayed at in the past were bus transportation only. The Poly has monorail transportation to Epcot and Magic Kingdom. The ferries were also an option for MK. Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studies were bus transportation. I can't complain about the transportation this trip, but having multiple options was really nice and the monorail didn't make you collapse the stroller like the boat or bus. I've heard the bus system has been really poor since Disney partnered with Lyft. We didn't experience that, but we were also staying at a deluxe hotel. Most complaints I've heard have been from the moderate and value resort guests that solely rely on the buses. When you pay to stay on Disney property you shouldn't have to pay additional money on transportation (aka Lyft cars) in my opinion. We selected the Polynesian because of its close proximity to MK since that was going to be our main park focus. Sonny loved riding the monorail and on a few occasion him and I hopped on to go MK just the two of us. It was that easy! The pools and dining options at the Poly were great. They even had an awesome splash for Sonny to enjoy. There were constant activities for the kids too like outdoor games, dance parties, bonfires and movie nights. I don't have any complaints about our resort. Every night on the Seven Seas Lagoon (weather permitting) is the Electrical Water Pageant that Sonny still talks about and you can see the MK fireworks from the comfort of your own hotel. We saw Happily Ever After four times this trip and three were from the Polynesian. It was so much more enjoyable without the crowds! The hotel dimes the lights and plays the music so the only thing you really miss when your aren't at MK is the projections on the castle. You can even see tiny Tink fly! This trip we splurged for club level since Shawn highly recommended it. She was right; it was worth every penny! Sonny's favorite thing may have been the "snack room". We ate most of our snacks, meals and desserts here. It also included all our beverages from water to coffee to juice to beer and wine. I never had to purchase a drink and was able to leave the club level with any beverage I wanted (9 out of 10 times my to go coffee cup was filled with prosecco). The food was great, the snacks were plentiful and the desserts were insane! The club level convenience and helpful cast members really made our trip more convenient and memorable. Sonny would walk in every time and say (actually yell) ALOHA to everyone working. We spent a good amount of time at our resort this trip so bumping up to a deluxe hotel and club level was justifiable. No matter what resort you choose you can't go wrong if it's a Disney property!
Here are a few of our favorites... RESTAURANTS AND RIDES. We live in Chicago so we pride ourselves on knowing good food, but we aren't food snobs. Once again Shawn helped me navigate and book our dining reservations since we haven't been to Disney in over 13 years. Her recommendations were spot on!!! The best restaurant tip I have is make your reservations as soon as you are eligible. The most popular ones will book up immediately. You can cancel reservations 2 hours prior so as long as you are organized I recommend overbooking. We had so many dining reservations we canceled same day. I just made sure to make a list so I canceled on time with no fee. Pro tip here is if your kid is under 3 they can eat free at most family style, buffet and character meals. We rarely paid for a separate meal this trip for Sonny.
Here is a quick review of the places we ate, wanted to eat at and recommend...
Chef Mickey's: This is a favorite character dining experience we booked for our first night. I heard mixed reviews on the food, but we thought it was a fun way to kick off the trip to eat with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Pluto. It is located in the Contemporary so you don't need a park ticket. Unfortunately, Sonny fell asleep on the way to our reservation and we canceled.
Kona: located in the Polynesian was a convenient option for us to dine in or mobile order. The sushi was fresh and our meals were always good.
Trader Sam's Grog Grotto: We did not go here even though it was at our hotel because everyday there was a astronomical line to get in. People love this tiki room and they don't take reservations.
Dole Whip: The infamous Dole Whip that I was dying to try was sadly overrated in my opinion. The line at Magic Kingdom for one is always long, but you can grab one quickly at the Polynesian.
Jungle Navigation Co LTD Skipper Canteen: I had never heard of this place in the MK, but Shawn highly recommended it. It was delicious and probably my husbands favorite meal! It's the perfect relaxing dining escape with incredible food, atmosphere and service. Oh and they have wine!
Fantasmic Dining Package: 10000000/10 recommend doing a Fantasmic dining package. There are a few restaurants to choose from like Mama Melrose, Brown Derby and Hollywood & Vine. We grabbed reservations for Mama Melrose and Brown Derby, but were so happy we went to The Hollywood Brown Derby! This was my favorite meal. We had the most amazing service and the food was worth the price bump. Included with our meal was VIP reserved seating for the first Fantasmic show that evening.
Citricos: We had reservations here, but ended up canceling. Shawn highly recommended this restaurant and the Grand Floridian is stunning hotel to visit.
Steak 71: If bottomless mimosas are your thing people love doing breakfast here before popping over to the MK. Bottomless mimosas are my jam, but not at Disney! I'm a rope drop kind of girl.
Ohana: We went into Ohana with low expectations because no one we asked had anything positive to say about it. Since we missed Chef Mickey's we thought this was a good character dining option for Sonny. He loves Stitch and the characters were the only good thing about the meal. Stitch, Lilo, Mickey and Pluto danced around and visited each table to take photos and sign autographs. My husband and I thought how bad could they mess up breakfast? Well the answer was pretty bad. I am happy we did this for the convenience of being at our hotel and the characters because we wouldn't have seen Lilo or Stitch otherwise.
Topolino: The food here is suppose to be some of the best at Disney! We canceled our character breakfast only because we didn't want to waste time traveling to the Riviera hotel. If you're looking for quality food and a character dining option go to Topolino.
Mexico: We had a few dining reservations in Epcot, but ended up choosing San Angel Inn. I loved my food and I earned that margarita! There are so many places to eat in Epcot it's hard to choose a favorite. Shawn did recommend the pizza at Via Napoli. My favorite thing to do is eat and drink around the world!
Tusker House: One of the best character meals I've ever had. Don't let the idea of a buffet steer you away! The service and food were top notch. The fab five were all there in safari gear dancing, visiting and signing autographs. When at AK eat here!
Cinderella's Royal Table: It feels wrong not eating in the castle when visiting Disney! We had our last dinner here and had a great experience. We've eaten here before and Shawn recommended this over Be Our Guest. This is the best place to meet all your favorite princesses. The meal was really good and you can't beat the ambiance.
Honorable Mentions: There are so many dining options at Disney Springs to consider if you have time. The Boathouse is Gibson's (from Chicago) so you'll get a quality meal there. Shawn also recommended in Nacoses.
There are so many rides at Disney World it's hard to review them all. I do recommend watching the rides on YouTube prior to riding to prep kids and decide if it's for you (especially in terms of thrill factor). I want to share a few of our favorites that you shouldn't miss!
Ratatouille was one of the cutest rides! This always has a long line and LL run out. Same with Frozen so rope drop one and make the other your first LL.
Tron was amazing! Buy the individual LL and skip the virtual queue which is hours long.
Guardians of the Galaxy was my favorite thrill ride! It is so well done and FUN. I'm not even a fan and this was so enjoyable. Another individual LL purchase.
Rise of the Resistance was all of our least favorite. The Star Wars people are going to come for me, but it was lackluster. Unless you are a mega fan you can totally skip this. Especially since the line is 3+ hours if you don't buy an individual LL.
Flight of Passage was my husbands favorite and I don't think he even saw Avatar. It's that good so get the individual LL.
Mickey's Runaway Railroad was so darn cute! We all loved it!
Sonny loved the rides at MK most. He rode everything he qualified for height wise but the roller coasters (not his thing). He loved Dumbo, Teacups, Small World, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Little Mermaid, Prince Charming's Carousel, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, People Mover, Magic Carpets, and Pirates of the Caribbean. His absolute favorite was the Tomorrowland Speedway! The other parks had plenty of rides and attractions he loved too. Some highlights at other parks included Mickey's Railroad, Rafiki's Train, Safari, Triceratops Spin, Ratatouille, Frozen (minus the drop), and Nemo!
If you read my itinerary you'll see more information on my favorite rides!
When in Disney... DRESS THE PART! If you know me you know I'm not a propionate of character clothing, but I do love a good theme. This is the perfect time to coordinate outfits that are on theme yet still cool, cute and comfy. I can't tell you how many people asked me where I got my character socks, Mickey stud earrings and Disney tees. Most of my outfits can be worn again and are super cute outside of Disney World. I was on the hunt for an athletic dress and romper that wouldn't break the bank and found the best ones at Target that I will wear all Spring and Summer. This was my outfit inspiration:
I'm very particular on how I dress Sonny so finding the perfect Disney looks took me months. Boys clothing is the worst and almost everything had a corny saying or cheap looking character. Luckily I found a lot of inspiration online and my mom recreated the looks with her Cricut which saved us a lot of money. Zara and H&M have some cool Disney looks for boys if you can snag them before they sell out too. I love short shorts for boys and typically size down. I love Cat and Jack shorts (especially their denim ones) and bought some retro ones on Amazon. My goal was to keep Sonny on theme while still looking cool for this vacation. I think I accomplished that.
Shop all mine and Sonny's Disney looks on our LTK. Whatever you wear have fun with it!
Besides your Disney inspired outfits this is what I recommend you also PACK IN YOUR BAGS! These are the must have items when traveling to Disney World.
Portable Phone Chargers: your phones will run out of battery eventually and you'll need them for photos and to book LL.
Ponchos: I prefer inexpensive ones that you can toss at the end of your trip, but these reusable ones are a perfect option. Don't forget extras to protect the stroller if you don't have a rain cover. Pro tip: Dollar Tree has ponchos.
Water Bottles: staying hydrated is important. I purposely brought us all reusable water bottles so we didn't have to spend money on bottles at the park. You can refill throughout the day at fountains, the hotel or quick service restaurants for free. These Simple Modern Disney ones were perfect for Sonny because they were aluminum and perfectly themed. I grabbed collapsible ones for us that stored easily.
Magic Bands & Chargers if you ordered in advance.
A bum bag/fanny pack, crossbody and/or backpack: hands free is the only way to go in Disney! Our Lululemon bag was clutch this trip.
Comfy shoes: break in all your shoes prior to the trip. We didn't buy any new shoes but we're tempted to try the ON Cloud sneakers because they have a great reputation for being comfy.
Plenty of clothes: you will get hot and sweaty and want to change! We did everyday.
Snacks and snack bags: bring your favorite on the go snacks. Granola bars and mini muffins are perfect in the morning to get out the door quickly and to the parks. Trail mix, fruit snacks, nuts, and individual bags of chips will be clutch throughout the day. If you have club level we put breakfast items and snacks in bags to take with us. You can always instacart groceries to the hotels too.
Sunscreen: this may seem obvious, but you can never have enough. Disney does a good job of keeping lines in the shade when possible, but you are constantly in the sun. I buy travel sunscreen to take on the go for the parks to save space.
AirTags: Legit put these things everywhere from our stroller to our luggage to our kid!
Hand Sanitizer + Wipes: I was constantly sanitizing Sonny's hands. There's so much he was touching that skeeved me out. Love these refillable designs bc they conveniently fit in bags and take up less space. I always had wipes on hand too.
It's better to be overprepared for Disney days! Shop everything in my bag here.
The PERFECT ITINERARY & DAY at Disney is based on preference. Here is our 7 day itinerary I keep referencing. Adding in a midweek break is a necessity in my opinion. One full day to enjoy your hotel and pool with no stress is a great way to recharge. So do two park days followed by a break and then two more park days. I always recommend park hopper passes to get the most out of your days. The perfect day at a Disney park for us is rope dropping or getting there as soon as the park opens for extra magic hours for hotel guests. Yes, it's an early start to the day but you'll make the most out of your time. By 11am/12pm have a dining reservation booked. At this point everyone will be hungry and need a break. After lunch if you're up for it jump on another ride, watch a parade or show before heading back to the hotel for a midday break. Everyday we made a point to leave the park at the most crowded and hottest times of the day. After you relax at the pool and recharge head back to the parks to ride some more rides and walk around before catching the nighttime spectacular!
I know there is a lot of information I bombarded you with, but the truth is you spend a lot of money to go to Disney World and if you don’t plan ahead you won’t get the most out of your trip. I couldn’t be happier with our experience and I’m happy to chat if you have any additional questions. Our trip was flawless and smooth thanks to Shawn (our Disney planner) and my type A personality. I’m brutally honest and would be the first to tell you if we had a negative experience or if my kid was out of control. I don’t know how we were so fortunate, but Sonny was a saint and a trooper. I saw kids melting down left and right and I thanked my lucky stars that we avoided that. I’m all for gentle parenting, but I wasn’t messing around. I knew Sonny’s behavior could make or break our trip so I went all in on the “Mickey Police”. I told him when a kid was screaming or crying the Mickey Police would come and kick them out and they could never come back. Call me a terrible parent, but this was extremely effective. Anytime he would even think about having a tantrum I would threaten the Mickey Police and he would instantly stop. He loved Disney so much on the last day he didn’t want to go home and asked if we could just live here. It melted my heart knowing he had such a good time! This trip was a lot of work and planning, but it was worth it. Seeing Sonny so purely happy and immersed in the magic will forever be a core memory. Weeks later and he is still asking us to go back, requests to see pictures of the trip and wants to know why we can't live there (same buddy, same).
I also recognize at this age the trip was much more enjoyable and easier because we had 6-7 adults outnumbering one toddler. We called in the troops for this vacation and they were so helpful! Sonny was happy to ride, hang out and enjoy Disney with everyone who came with us. I can imagine the trip being far more difficult if we just took Sonny. My husband and I enjoy Disney without kids and to be honest we got to do more because we had the extra help! The Disney ride share program kind of sucks so anytime there was a thrill ride my mom (who hates thrill rides) would take Sonny to play, grab a snack or ride/see something more age appropriate. We genuinely got to enjoy pool time, never struggled with getting ready, catching up on work, securing LL, someone watching him during a nap, getting on rides Sonny couldn't, or my husband fitting in a quick workout. We are extremely fortunate our family could join us for Sonny's first trip to Disney. If you have extra help it will make the vacation more enjoyable for everyone!
As much as I love Disney I didn't realize how much more I could love it with my own child. Ever since returning I've had a post Disney depression. Before we went on this trip I was confident we would take a break for a year or two before returning, but now I don't think I can wait that long! The magic at Disney can't be replicated anywhere else. We can't wait to go back!!!
My biggest pro tip when traveling to Disney World is enjoy yourself, live in moment and soak up all the magic. Disney World is the rare place when traveling that you are always in a safe, clean little bubble. The key to Disney is the helpful staff. They will go above and beyond to make your trip a positive experience. I don't have enough time to express my gratitude to the cast members we interacted with. They were incredibly knowledgeable, helpful and kind! When in doubt at Disney be polite and act stupid because it goes a long way. Most cast members cannot receive tips so if you're happy with the services provided I urge you to email Disney to let them know and use their names so they get recognition. I hope this helps plan your next vacation to Disney World or is the sign you needed to book the trip!
XO - Amanda