It's almost summer! The kids are out of school! It's time for that dream vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort!
You've been planning your trip for months, and now you're in the home stretch. Only a few more days (or maybe weeks) until your visit to the Happiest Place on Earth! This period of vacation planning is often the most difficult as it becomes harder and harder to focus on anything except all the fun you're going to have ... if only you could get there NOW! I know both Tad and Lily think they're the only ones who can't wait to get to Walt Disney World, but the truth is Leap and I get just as excited -- maybe even more so. It's during these last few days and weeks after all the BIG PLANNING is out of the way, while we're waiting, that we occasionally forget something important.
With that in mind, we wanted to offer a few more final planning tips as you get ready to leave.
Plan for some kiddo diversions on the plane (or car ride)
I always spring for a new coloring book -- Disney, of course -- and a fresh pack of crayons for Lily. It keeps her entertained on the plane, and she likes to come back to the hotel in the afternoons and "do homework" for a little bit before her nap. Lily picked out a "Monsters University" coloring book for our last trip, which was perfect since Mike and Sulley were the special guests in the park (and will be all summer).
Even our resident tech geek Tad enjoys the low-tech sketch pad and colored pencils, so I always buy him new ones that he packs himself (note to parents: Let the tweens and almost-tweens pack their own backpack of goodies for the plane).
Don't forget the bare necessities (not the bear necessities)
Now is the time to stock up on all those little things that will cost you waaayyyy more at the parks. We're talking allergy meds, pain relievers, sunscreen and band-aids. Those of you with babies and toddlers will have your own list of special needs, of course, and while you can most certainly buy diapers at the resort, it will save you money if you don't have to. If you do find yourself with an emergency baby need at the theme parks, the Baby Care Centers are well stocked.
Bring your own stroller
We know plenty of people rent their strollers when they visit Walt Disney World, but we just prefer to bring our own. We also know some of you are as attached to your BOB as I am with mine, but in this case, I leave ours at home and instead pack a small, collapsible stroller. One, we can take them anywhere (planes, trams, buses and the Walt Disney World Railroad), and two, they are inexpensive. If they get banged up, lost, stolen or ruined, we don't lose any sleep.
Review your safety plan
Lily put together a great list of safety strategies with families in mind. Before we head to the parks, I like to review with Tad and Lily what to do if they get lost. Above all, and especially with Lily since she's so little, I like to reassure them that if they get lost, we will find them! And while no parent wants to lose a child, you can rest assured that Disney cast members are well trained in handling lost children.
Expect rain (and have a plan for what you'll do when it does)!
Florida's rainy season is just getting started, but we've already had the first big storm to drench the city in Tropical Storm Andrea, which closed many of the water parks and a number of theme parks early. The summer rains in Orlando are usually limited to afternoon downpours that clear up but then leave everything super steamy (don't forget the deoderant :)).
We have a ton of rainy-day tips listed here, but for those of you who want to brave it during the rain (which can be a great time to tour, particularly for parks with lots of indoor attractions), pick up cheap ponchos at your nearest discount store.
Plan for the crowds
If you haven't yet, make sure to download our wait time apps. They now include Fastpass return times. Familiarize yourself with the existing Fastpass system (as Fastpass+ still hasn't launched). You may have used our crowd calendar when you began planning WHEN TO VISIT Disney World, but it's good to check it again to make the best decision on which park to visit during your vacation.
OK, I've shared my last-minute tips for your Disney World vacation, now it's time to share yours! Post your suggestions in comments below.