We took a short trip to Florida in January of 2014. We only had one day to spend at Disney World, which we spent at The Magic Kingdom. This was my children’s first time at Disney and my and my husband’s fifth. My children were 5 and 2.
With only one day I wanted to be sure we were there at rope drop and had a basic plan for how our day would go. Well, it didn’t happen as planned, but it ended up to be a great day anyhow.
Things We Did Wrong:
1. Getting to Disney behind schedule
Our first big mistake was that we ended up getting turned around on our way to the resort and lost time. Then we checked-in and had to wait for a bus. Already behind, we had a few ticketing issues at the will call office. Even though I planned ahead, we should have left earlier and added extra time for these mishaps.
2. Getting short with my daughter
Arriving late had me in a bit of a panic, but as we entered Main Street a parade had begun. We stopped to watch, but my daughter was not thrilled that we weren’t getting to the rides first. I was not quite as tenderhearted as I should have been when dealing with her pouting, but within a few minutes we had all moved on.
3. Not realizing there would be a crane in our photos
Going in January has its perks, but when we visited the crane was still behind the castle from the removal of the Christmas lights. Luckily I know how to Photoshop.
4. Forgetting Pirates of the Caribbean has a drop
I totally forgot about the Pirates of the Caribbean drop during the ride. My kids both did ok, but if you have small ones warn them right before it happens so they are not caught off-guard.
5. Forgetting a wardrobe change for photos
We were so excited to get in line for our FastPass to see Rapunzel that I totally forgot about the Rapunzel dress I had tucked away in the backpack for my daughter to wear. Instead of a photo with Rapunzel we took one at the tower. Which shows, when things don’t go as planned, you just need to improvise.
6. Not arriving early for the Electric Parade
We were late getting to a spot for the Electric Parade. We ended up with a decent spot near the front of the castle but we were surrounded by people with nowhere to go. A cast member kept trying to clear the sidewalks but there was no way anyone could do that without climbing over people. I was trying to balance my son as I was on my tippy-toes against one of the walkway railings. It was not an ideal spot to be.
7. Forgetting about Mickey
With all the “planning” going out the window with our late arrival, I completely forgot the end of the list I had made, which included Mickey. How did we go to Disney and forget “The Mouse?” I didn’t even realize until we were on the bus back to the resort.
So now you know my mistakes and what I need to change for our July trip this summer at EPCOT. Here is what I managed to do right.
Things We Did Right:
1. Going in mid January
I was not sure whether to put this on my good or bad list but overall the good won. Yes there was no swimming or Splash Mountain and we wore jackets all day, but the crowds — or lack thereof — were amazing. The longest we waited all day was Peter Pan’s Flight and It’s A Small World (both about 30 minutes).
2. Using Rider Switch
My son was only 2 at the time of the visit so he was unable to ride Thunder Mountain. We used the rider switch program. We received a ticket from the cast member at the gate and then I went shopping with my son while my husband and daughter stood in line and rode the ride. When they came back I used my pass to take my daughter again while my husband waited. It worked perfectly.
3. Having a plan for meals
With only one day I wanted to be sure I had a plan for meals. Even though our late arrival switched things up, we were still able to eat at Columbia Harbor House as I had planned. My family enjoys fish and chips so I knew this would be a winning spot for all of us. And it was fast and inexpensive (for Disney meals at least). Not having to hunt for a meal that we would all like to eat saved us in our already crunched-time state.
4. Using a FastPass to meet Rapunzel
When we went in 2014, Rapunzel was the big Meet and Greet draw. Using FastPass saved us a ton of time.
5. Taking a video camera
I am one of those moms that carries the big DSLR camera and video camera with me to Disney. I just can’t seem to give it up. But now that I look back at the videos we took on our one-day Disney adventure, I’m glad we have the video of my daughter meeting Rapunzel and my son meeting Buzz Lightyear. I love reliving those moments.
6. Taking snacks
This saved us a ton of time waiting in food lines. Snacks keep everyone happy and help pass time while in line.
7. Riding during fireworks
We decided to start watching the fireworks at the side of Cinderella’s castle. My kids, ages 5 and 2 at the time, lost interest so we decided to try some rides. It was perfect. We rode The Barnstormer with no wait and then went to the (then new) Dumbo circus tent and basically had the place to ourselves with a few other families.
8. Let It Go
Even though things didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned, we still were able to accomplish our “must-do list” (except Mickey). Sometimes you just have to take what you’re given and run with it… after all that’s what memories are made of.