10 lessons I learned on our trip to Disney World

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memory maker 2

1. You never really know how your child will react to the surprise.
I’m not sure what I had expected. Maybe for her to run around screaming with excitement. I thought there would be a little bit of disbelief but she really didn’t believe us for a few minutes. Then once she did she asked us every 10 seconds when we were leaving. Good think we waited until the day of to tell her.

2. There are TONS of things for little ones to do.
A lot of people have been asking me my thoughts on bringing young ones to Disney World. Or question why I’d want to bring my son who is just a toddler. Sure, he won’t remember anything but you know what? He had a BLAST. He loved the rides, meeting the characters. Every day we were there he woke up excited to get the day going and get back to the parks. And the best part? He was FREE. Yea, kids under 3 are free at Disney World (and under 2 fly for free), so it’s not a big deal to me if he doesn’t remember it later.


Most of the rides are for people of all heights, and there are so many other shows and activities for the little ones to enjoy. My 1-year-old son loved the rides even more than my 4-year-old daughter. Overall it totally depends on your kid, but I knew my little guy would enjoy it.

3. “Squished Pennies” are just as good of souvenirs as any.
penny squisher 3

Before we left for Florida I got a couple rolls of quarters and a roll of pennies to make pressed pennies in the machines around the park. My husband was really annoyed at first but he started to get into it once he realized how easy it was to sidetrack our daughter from wanting a Tinkerbell doll and being satisfied with a Tinkerbell pressed penny. We made about a dozen while there and came home with a ton of change, I wish we had done more!

penny squisher 2

4. The Bippity Boppity Boutique is actually a sweet deal.
I followed advice from others and booked a reservation several months in advance. I was able to move my reservation from Downtown Disney to the Magic Kingdom location the night before our appointment. We brought our own dress to save oh, about $100. She loved getting her hair, nails and makeup done. I was a little worried they wouldn’t be able to handle her curly hair. There were a few snags, but after letting her fairy godmother in training know it was totally fine if her hair wasn’t slicked bone straight back into her bun, they did up her curls beautifully.



Yea, that pixie dust was fun to wash out! What made the deal even sweeter was the photoshoot they did after across the way in a studio at Castle Couture. They easily took 50 pictures and I got them all added to my memory maker package at no additional cost. Which brings me to…

5. Memory Maker is priceless

family mickey pic

For $170 you can stop any Disney cast member with a camera and ask them to snap photos of you and your family. You’ll have them all automatically saved to your PhotoPass account and be able to download and print them after your trip. I don’t know how else I would have made it into so many photos. One thing to remember though is their photo style may not be like yours. I had to brighten quite a few of their photos after (the ones I didn’t came out super dark in prints). Overall though, it was nice to not have to worry about taking pictures at every encounter, and seeing fun ones I didn’t know they had taken of us on rides.

6. It is possible to meet every Disney Princess in just a few days.

cinderella lunch

A good way to get a head start is by booking a reservation at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. You’ll meet five princesses there, can get photos and autographs. It’s not a cheap meal but it pays off in memories. My daughter was so excited as each princess came to our table.


The rest we met at the parks. The popular ones we got fastpasses for (Anna, Elsa, Cinderella and Rapunzel). While we waited in line my daughter and I thought of questions to ask them. Like “How’s Abu” to Jasmine. Or “Do you prefer legs or fins?” to Ariel. It was so cute seeing the extra bit of interaction she got with them. I’ll probably post more about this later because I’m excited to share all those pictures.

7. First haircuts should be at Disney.

hair cut 1

First haircuts can be such a doozy. So emotional. I was dreading cutting my son’s hair, and the waterworks poured even still, but if it’s going to happen what better place than Disney World?

hair cut 2

We scheduled an appointment at the Harmony Barber Shop and walked in right after the parade. I was worried my son’s curls would be a challenge for his barber but she knew what she was doing. Unfortunately she cut it WAY shorter than we had asked, but he still looks freaking adorable. My husband loves our son’s “new style” and I keep telling myself it’ll grow back in a matter of months. Once I give him a proper photo shoot I’ll post more about that too, but here are these for now:

haircut 3

hair cut

8. Tea Cups, Carousels and Choo Choos never get old.

more tea cups

tea cups

The ride I was most looking forward to riding with my family at Disney World was the Mad Hatter Tea Cups. We all piled in a cup and spun and spun. The wait was never more than a few minutes so we rode it quite a few times.

My son has always loved trains so that was another favorite of his. I thought we’d all love Dumbo too but my daughter was a little freaked out by the heights.

9. Taking breaks isn’t so bad.

sleepy kids

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about taking a break to leave the park to head allllll the way back to our resort, but I also worried we’d be exhausted and ready for naps halfway through the day. What I didn’t realize was how quickly the day went by. Only our hunger was an indication to how much time had passed. We were good about stopping for breaks… We took a 40 minute ride around the park twice on the train. One day we brought our sack lunch over to Tom Sawyer Island and let the kids play on the playground while we relaxed in the shade. There are also lots of other quiet and dark places to take a snooze (Country Bear Jamboree anyone?).

lunch break

We rented a nice double stroller while there (we used Orlando Stroller Rental) which was a huge help when it came to nap time. We’d just recline the kids and let them snooze for an hour or two, then enjoyed ourselves. When we had other family with us, that’s when we took the time to ride the bigger rides, or just catch up on uninterrupted conversation.

10. It’s so hard to say goodbye.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about our Disney World trip since we’ve been back. I already printed all our photos and put them in photobooks. I still need to edit all of our videos, which I’m sure will bring a whole other wave of nostalgia. Every day I think about how much I want to go back and think of ways I could swing another trip sometime before 2025. There’s SO much more I could say about this trip but a complete recap would take forever and I’m not sure how entertaining it would be. I’ll try to pick bits and pieces to share for the next couple months in posts that are hopefully insightful. I have a slew of cute photos I want to dump here too but I think I’ve done enough for one day.

disney book


Let me know if you have any specific questions! Have you been to Disney World? What was your favorite part?

Oh… And to the sweet lady who said hi at the Whispering Canyon Cafe… Thanks for making my night! I was dying to ask you what you thought of my son’s hair cut. I was still in shock at that moment.

10 Lessons learned after a visit to Disney World. Great tips for families visiting the park for the first time. Ideas for fun things to do, and suggestions to make the trip easier!

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  1. Oh, so many questions! Thank you for this list. It’s helpful. Really!

    Where did you stay? How far in advance did you book? Is there something specific that you would have done differently?

    We are just starting our planning and hoping to go in about 8 months. I think planning this vacation is more stressful than planning my wedding 😉

    1. We stayed at the Reunion Resort. My in laws graciously let us stay at a time share they rented 🙂 It was really nice. But if we were going alone we’d probably stay on site at Disney in one of the value hotels. I booked most of my reservations about 5 months ahead. I don’t think I’d do anything different except maybe stay a little later on a couple of the days. Haha. But of course I can say that now that I’m refreshed and excited to go back! You will have a BLAST! Yes, it was way more planning than I did for my wedding, but it was so fun to me!

  2. We went to Disney World last April with a 3 year old and a 1 year old and we all had a blast. Some people asked why we brought our little guy but I couldn’t possibly think of not including him and not having him in the family pictures! My favorite part was eating in Cinderella’s Castle. My daughter loved meeting so many princesses and being in the castle. It was a great family trip 🙂

    1. Brandy:
      How far out did you book Cinderella’s Castle? I want to take my daughter there when we go this November and I heard reservations are next to impossible? THey book 180 days out, so I think I am going to add it to my calendar to call as soon as I can!

  3. That is great you all had an enjoyable time. We think our WDW trip and flights with our little guy were a SUCCESS. Although, he was just turning two, he seemed to be more excited than overwhelmed by the excitement of the parks. You never know with a toddler!! He had his typical 10 a.m. tantrum, but a quick hop on Tomorrowland’s People Mover resolved that. We both are looking forward to taking him again, but not before a mommy and daddy trip back to Florida:-)

    1. You are so right, you never know with a toddler. Our worst tantrums were when he REALLY wanted a balloon but we didn’t want to spend $15 on one. But yes, there are so many other distractions that he was happy to go on another ride and calm down. I was so sad we didn’t get to ride on the peoplemover. It seemed like a perfect “chill” ride!

  4. It sounds like you had a great trip! Can’t wait to hear more about it and see more pictures! I love the little guy’s haircut…he’s just as adorable as ever!

      1. Oh, no, I don’t mind seeing more Disney pics at all. I’m quite a Disney fanatic myself. My husband’s family has gone to Disney World every other year since he was 4 and his sister was 2…and we still go every other year (his youngest sister is now 21)!

  5. Question for you:

    We just booked our Disney trip for November (so, so, so far away)!! And my 4 year old LOVES the princesses, but my 6 year old son will get annoyed if we spend too much time with them. So, I figured dining with the princesses would be a great way to meet a lot in a little bit of time. Why did you decide to do the Akershus Princess meal instead of Cinderella’s Castle? Could you not get a reservation? I have read online that Cinderella’s castle was hard to book!
    Also: how did you meet the others? Which lines were longest and should I get a fast pass for? Ariel is her favorite, but I heard the lines at Ariel’s Grotto were not too long? It sounds like you guys saw Ariel. Thanks! I love yoru pics, it is making me so excited for our trip!

    1. Oh man Heather, time will fly, but not fast enough, I know! Nice thing is once you’re 6 months out there’s so much to plan that it makes it go by faster!

      Dining with princesses is a great way to see many of them. I’m so glad we did that on day 2 so I could see who we still had left to meet. So Cinderella’s Castle/ Royal Dining was closed for renovations while we were there, so Akershus was a great alternative (It’s at Epcot). When we go back some day I definitely want to try to book Cinderella’s Castle. I don’t think anything is impossible to book, it just may be hard to get the time you want.

      Another nice thing about being at Epcot was that’s the only place you’ll find Jasmine and Mulan (and Belle in Blue) so we knocked that out while there (minus Belle in blue). Ariel is my daughter’s favorite too and we waited the longest for her. It said 15 minutes but it was probably more like 30. We fastpassed Anna, Elsa and Rapunzel. Oh, it also took awhile to meet Merida. She had a surprisingly long line. But 30 minutes is nothing to the 1.5+hrs to meet Anna and Elsa. haha. So excited for you!!!

      1. Thanks Jennifer for the reply. I will make sure to get a fast pass for Ariel’s grotto. We got to meet Ariel on our Disney Cruise (you guys have to do that, I don’t know how Disney World can beat that cruise), and my girl was so awestruck that she couldn’t talk! Ariel was so nice and ask her if Ursula had stolen her voice (so cute!), and still chatted with her for a few minutes anyway

  6. Heather: We booked Cinderella’s Castle 3 months before and there was only 2 spots left, so yes I would book as soon as 180 days opens so you can hopefully get what you want! They do charge you for it right away but you can cancel and still get all your money back. The princesses we saw in the castle were: Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Jasmine. So we didn’t have to wait in lines in the parks to see them! It was great!

    1. Thanks Brandy! I’m not sure if Cinderella’s Castle is different… We booked 4 dining reservations and though they do need a credit card to hold your reservation, they don’t charge you until your meal. But if you don’t cancel at least a day before you have a $10 per person cancelation fee.

      I was wondering what other princesses were at Cinderella’s Castle since it was closed for renovations while we were there. That’s great Jasmine also makes an appearance sometimes! I’ve seen Rapunzel in the photos too, and I think I read Tiana sometimes is there, but I could be getting it mixed up with Akershus.

      That’s so great you got a reservation 3 months out! I bet you all had a blast!

      1. A little late but just in case anyone stumbles upon and doesn’t know for sure…Cinderella’s Royal Table is the only ADR that you are required to pay for in full when you book. You can still cancel and be refunded up to 48 hours before your Reservation though

    2. Thanks Brandy, great to know! Makes me feel optimistic that we will get a table! I am definitely calling at 7:00 AM 180 days out though!

  7. I can’t wait for more of your Disney stories/pictures. I’m one of those “adults” who love Disney. We took my son when he was 18 months. I would really get frustrated when people said “but he won’t remember it”… that’s not the point! He still had a blast!

    I linked one of my Disney posts in case you wanted to see how things went for us. Like you, I broke up our vacation into several different posts, just because I felt like I had a lot to say and an overwhelming number of pictures as well.

    I haven’t quite finished our photo book (I went with Shutterfly so many opportunities for free books) but at this point I’m more concerned about preserving the videos and making a short clip of the vacation to share that’s not forever long.

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