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Last-Minute Tips for a Magical Disney World Summer Vacation

by Mommy Frog on June 13, 2013 13

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.

Magical Summer Vacation Magic Kingdom

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)

Mike and Sulley at the Monstrous Summer All-Nighter at Magic Kingdom

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

Stroller Parking at Disney's Hollywood Studios

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)!

Weather, rain

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

Magic Kingdom parade crowd

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.

Hoppy vacation!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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Jul 5, 2013 at 4:07 a.m. Steph Says...

Ziploc bags were a life-saver. We put the park maps in them, autograph books in them, snacks in them, well the list goes on and on. When the daily August rain came we didn't end up in a soggy mess.

Jul 1, 2013 at 3:21 p.m. Danyalle Says...

Oh I love the bubble idea! So cool thanks.

Jun 24, 2013 at 7:11 p.m. smittlemomma Says...

After we had a scare with losing daddy and one of the kids I LOVE the idea of a safety strategy. I also love the light stick idea!!

As a mom of six littles I always pack a small first aid kit so that when(no IF) someone falls and scrapes a knee I'm ready with a wipe and Band-Aid.

We also bring our own water bottles(color coded for us, but for smaller families a name on the cap of a plastic bottle would work) in to the parks so that when we go to the bathroom we can also swing by the water fountains and fill them up throughout the day.

Jun 20, 2013 at 9:15 p.m. The Mommy Says...

I would say, pack something in your day bag that's small and will keep little kids entertained while waiting in line. On one trip, Fantasmic was experiencing "technical difficulties" (this was before the renovation) and I pulled out a bottle of bubbles that I had gotten as a wedding favor. I was instantly viewed as some kinda mommy saint by all of the other tired, cranky mamas! Now, I keep one of those small bottles with us (even older kids can't say no to bubbles!) and I've been thinking of other things, too (puppets? stickers?).

Also, make sure to pack your perspective! Even if it rains every day (happened to us), all 4 children and yourself come down with the stomach flu (again, speaking from experience), and your mom ends up in urgent care (yep, that, too), YOU'RE STILL AT DISNEY WORLD! Woot! (Incidentally, those were SEPARATE trips, but still).

Jun 20, 2013 at 9:44 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Thanks, The Mommy (Love you name BTW).

These are great tips! Bubbles are a great idea. I got a lot of love for bringing a few extra glow sticks for the night-time parades -- Tad and Lily like to give them out to the kids around them.

-- Mommy Frog

Jun 16, 2013 at 2:11 p.m. DAP101 Says...

I will be going the third week in July & looking at the crowd calendar, it seems since it's summer season & the daily crowd level is rated at 9-10 it really doesn't matter which park we go to on which day; they will all be crowded. Am I correct?

Jun 17, 2013 at 12:23 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi there,

You are correct that it will be very busy. If you're set on going to a particular park on a particular day, then I would stick with that plan. However, individual parks can still be busier than others and you see this when visiting a park with Extra Magic Hours.

All that said, we visited last July and had a great time despite the crowds. Getting to the park before opening helps!


-- Mommy Frog

Jun 13, 2013 at 3:22 p.m. Disney Mom Says...

We always bring our own food to the Disney Parks! Since the rooms have microwaves and refrigerators it works out great - we pack a medium size soft-sided cooler that folds flat, different size ziplock bags (including freezer bags for ice from the ice machine) and we are good to go. Some Disney resorts have well stocked stores that sell lunchmeat, bread, etc - but we pack what little food we can and buy the rest from Garden Grocer. We order via internet at home and its at the hotel waiting for us when we arrive. We save TONS of money this way on breakfast, lunch, drinks and snacks since we always pack our own. Every morning we pack our cooler with healthy lunches, drinks our kids like and plenty of snacks. We use ice from the ice machine in our ziplock bags to keep everything cold (and the kids eat the ice, too!) Through the Garden Grocer we order fresh fruit, milk, carrots, etc - so while everyone is waiting in-line for the same lunches everyday we are sitting in the shade enjoying ourselves with no wait and the food we like to eat :) We save so much on food/drinks during the day we can enjoy nice dinners and ice cream at the parks!!! Oh - and the Garden Grocer even delivers 'adult beverages' for the parents to enjoy at night!!

Oct 17, 2014 at 12:15 p.m. Kellie Says...

The Garden Grocer seemed a little overpriced, IMHO, but I guess you pay for convenience! Amazon Prime now has Prime Pantry, you can watch your 4 cubic feet box fill up as you add items and it is a $5.99 flat fee delivery anywhere in the US. They don't have refrigerated items obviously, but the prices were better than Garden Grocer. Just another option.

Jun 19, 2013 at 4:49 p.m. Bridget Says...

So it is okay to bring coolers with food and drinks into all the Disney Parks? What about the Universal Parks and Legoland? Does anyone know if they allow coolers?

Jun 13, 2013 at 8:40 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Thanks, Disney Mom!

Great suggestions. I am assuming since you order groceries that you're staying on Disney property?

--Mommy Frog

Jun 13, 2013 at 1:01 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Oooh almost forgot ...

One of the other things I always pack in my suitcase are snacks that can double as quick breakfasts -- granola bars, trail mixes and pop tarts -- all work well. We save money since we aren't paying for breakfast, and we can eat them on the go!

-- Mommy Frog

Jun 24, 2013 at 7:03 p.m. smittlemomma Says...

I was just about to mention breakfast/snacks. We are going with free dining which will include snacks, but we'll go ahead and take extras to double as breakfast so that we can eat at a few places which will require us to use two meals from our plan. The kids think this is such a treat since we don't have them much at home! ;)

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