Holly recently survived her first trip to Disney World, and learned a lesson or two… ok maybe a dozen along the way. Here is her story so that you can learn from her experience.
I wouldn’t trade the memories I made on this trip good or bad. I learned so much and even a frown on my daughters face didn’t last long. Through sweat and maybe some tears we learned that we will be making the trip back and next time less mistakes.
1. Not doing Fastpass+. It was my first time and I read over and over about Fastpass but I went with a large group of people so we figured we would wing it. My 6 year old had a melt down after the third line that was over 45 minutes. Lesson learned for sure.
2. Not preparing for the heat. We went in June. I’m not saying that I wasn’t aware it was going to be hot, but I was not prepared to sweat before even boarding the bus to get to the park. Did I mention it was HOT! For the first time in my life I had to wear a visor (I refused to admit that I wore a Sponge Bob visor I had bought at the hotel, even with pictures as proof). I smuggled the little towels from the hotel to wrap around my neck, and half way through the day soaked them in cool water. At the end of each day I chalked it up to if I survived yesterday I’ll make it today, and with the promise of the pool back at the hotel I lived. I leave you with this….IT WAS HOT!
3. Not bringing quarters. I had read so many posts about people who did the smashed quarters/pennies and made beautiful souvenirs from them. I had even taken the time to decorate the tubes, yes TUBES. I had the grand plan that we would stop and get pennies smashed every time we seen one of the machines. Carrying 3 tubes of quarters and pennies doesn’t sound that bad, but when it’s hot enough to cook you any extra weight felt like I was toting around barbells. I think we managed to get 4 pennies done, before I said I wasn’t digging around for the tubes that kept popping open and spilling all of the change on the bottom of my cross over bag.
4. Not packing 2 pairs of shoes. I had taken weeks to pick the perfect pair of sneakers. I’m plus size so I wanted to make sure I had good support and started walking ahead of time to make sure I was ready. This was my first trip to Florida and Disney and wanted to be able to explore without my feet killing me. My sneakers were WONDERFUL, but (there is always a but) the day before the trip I went to explore around the hotel area and stepped into a swamp. Not just any swamp, one that was black and smelled. My beautiful shoes were ruined. I washed them back at the hotel and they turned out fine, but wet for two days. The mistake of not packing another pair of sneakers still haunts me. I had to do the park one full day in sandals. I made it, but the bottom of my feet felt like swiss cheese smooshing out the bottom of the sandals after the first mile walked.
5. Choosing to stay off site. This I know is a touchy subject and I’ve read the positive and negative of both. The hotel we stayed at was great, but the transportation to the parks was horrible. Several times we ended up just getting a taxi van to take us to the parks. The buses they used were so packed people had to sit on the stairs and stand down the middle. I was left holding onto the storage racks above the seats and onto my daughter. The first day my daughter was in her glory, getting to stand up in a moving vehicle, but that didn’t last long after the first hit the brakes happened and we all flew forward.
6. Packing too much in my crossover bag. This was the easiest fix, Day two I got rid of everything that was not important (quarters….quarters and more quarters) I kept sunscreen, water, poncho, snacks, extra power supply, and autograph book, and an extra t-shirt for my daughter.
7. Not knowing our limits. This one sounds odd, but it was probably the hardest lesson learned. We went with a party of 10. My daughter was the only child and as I mentioned above I’m plus sized. By day three the heat and lines got the better of her (and me). I couldn’t even be mad because I wanted to lie down and throw a temper tantrum. We decided that even if we came together that we could spread out and explore on our own. That was the best decision ever. Unfortunately we didn’t give that a shot until we were at Universal. It made a world of difference to realize that she was much better strolling at her own speed.
With all the lessons learned, I didn’t go into the trip completely blind. I did lots of research and asked questions. I took tips I was given and used them to every advantage I could. I was packed weeks ahead and had a check list for my checklist. Here are a few things that I planned and they worked!
1. Trading Pins. I knew that Guests could trade pins with characters and Cast Members. I read the rules and my daughter had the best time finding people to trade with, not to mention that it was a cheap souvenir. We traded with one cast member who asked her what pin she would like; she said the Mickey with long ears is awesome. He explained it was Oswald the lucky Rabbit and told us the best story about who he was and how he found his way back to Disney.
2. Trying things you wouldn’t normally. This one was hard for me. For years I’ve gone to parks and always am the one to wait while everyone rides because of my size. I was determined to not let that happen. I asked, re-asked, and asked again about what rides I could get on. I did my research and found that not only was Disney plus size friendly but no one even batted an eye. I rode my first rollercoaster in years. Don’t be afraid to ask, the cast members are wonderful and over the top helpful. Make those memories!
3. Packed a power strip. Seems silly but trust me it’s a life saver! With 5 of us in a room all with phones, cameras, and extra power supplies it saved us from arguing or remembering to plug and unplug.
4. Leave time to do things you didn’t plan. I love to plan, I have check lists and maps, apps and itineraries, but the best times we had weren’t on any of those. My daughter danced with Frozone, we wrote our names with chalk before boarding the ferry, and found a splash area to cool down. We laughed so hard doing some of the off the list things that most of the time we skipped planned things to keep having fun.