It has taken me some time to gather my thoughts and find the words to write this post. In one sentence, it was magical and a dream come true! This was our first trip to Walt Disney World as a family of four. Going with our little ones was beyond everything I could have dreamed of or imagined! Adam and I have both visited Disney World when we were younger but so much has changed since then. This trip so many incredible memories were made and my boys are at the perfect age to take it all in, Avery is 5 and Archer is 3. It was truly incredible experiencing everything through my children’s eyes.
Our trip this May was quite special. We were invited by Disney to join their Public Relations Team and other families from Canada and the US. We were able to experience everything Disney has to offer for families with Pre-School aged children at the Four theme parks – Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. We all had so much fun and packed a lot in during our five days in Florida. The magic of Disney World is incredible and there is plenty for children and families of all ages.
The whole trip I was literally in awe of all of the details, the architecture, the grounds and how each park and section changes with each theme. I can only imagine the planning that went into each detail of the park. I am a sucker for the details and Disney World blew all of us away.
Ok – let’s get down to business. I know planning a family vacation, especially with small children can be overwhelming. There is SO much to see and do at Disney World it becomes A LOT. If you are in the middle of planning a trip, or thinking about when is the right time to visit with your family, keep reading:)
We took the Minnie Van Service to and from the airport. The vehicles are roomy and comfortable and inspired by Minnie Mouse. Our vehicle accommodated up to six guests and comes with two car seats. The driver (Disney Cast Member) was very friendly and was waiting for us at the baggage area in the airport. After a long flight from Halifax it was nice to know we had an extra set of hands to help with luggage and we didn’t have to fuss with directions, car rental, car seats or even driving.
Where to Stay?
We stayed at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. It was budget friendly and very convenient. Avery and Archer LOVED our resort. We stayed in one of the Cars themed rooms. They also have Toy Story, Little Mermaid, Lion King and Finding Nemo themed rooms. Plus three pools. My boys were amazed by the resort and I keep squeeling inside because there was just so much more to see without even leaving the resort! The resort is about 15 minutes from all the parks and they offer transportation by bus so we took advantage of how easy and convenient it is to use! We maybe waited 10 min MAX for a bus! Also, worth mentioning they were in the process of building gondolas so you can travel from your hotel – this is coming fall 2019 and I cannot wait to see them in action!
WHERE TO GO with Preschoolers
It’s definitely critical to do some planning on the front end of your trip so you can prioritize what you want to see and do. It was exhausting! But so worth it. I can imagine next time we go to Disney World we will have a completely different and unique experience, since I am sure my boys may outgrow certain attractions, and get into new characters and themes. I’d suggest using My Disney Experience and downloading the My Disney Experience Mobile App. That way everything is at your fingertips and you can begin to plan your days. We had five days to enjoy Walt Disney World, we could have easily spent more time but if you have one day in each park you will be amazed in all that you can see + do:)
Here is a little summary of our favourite things in each of the four parks for preschool aged children:
I will just start by saying the food was incredible! You can walk from country to country and enjoy little international treats along the way. There were many great rides for my boys, kids and people of all ages. The Frozen Ever After ride was a big attraction, as well as Meet Anna and Elsa at Royal Sommerhus. Avery told Elsa he had a loose tooth and would you know, the next day he lost it! We used our FastPasses so we could quickly get on each ride, which helped us to see even more! Avery’s favourite ride was The Seas with Finding Nemo and spending time at the Aquarium after the ride.
If you’re looking some FREE activities or looking to do some shopping Disney Springs is an adorable outdoor shopping area with some of my fave stores! I loved that it was really kid friendly so I could sneak off and do some power shopping while the boys played at the LEGO store! They also had a little $3 train ride, water sprinklers and live performances.
We also had breakfast at the T-Rex restaurant which is an interactive experience with Dinosaurs and massive fish tanks everywhere. It was a great spot to fuel up and have a little break.
The boys had a mini makeover at the famous Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. I was really impressed how magical they make this experience for the little ones, the process was much like a fairytale. The staff are in character throughout the makeover and really had the boys engaged. Avery and Archer were transformed into Knights in shining armour and they committed to this character all day long.
Magic Kingdom was a favourite for sure! There’s nothing like that magical entrance. Walking in felt nothing short of a dream come true. My boys are just at the perfect age to soak it all in. At many moments they were just silent looking around high and low or cheering in excitement over something that caught their eye. Entering the park is breathtaking and the magic of Cinderella’s Castle is simply magnificent. We all loved walking up and down Main Street, stopping in the shops and having snacks along the way. A few of our favourite rides were: Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Jungle Cruise, Mad Tea Party and Pirates of the Caribbean. There is SO much great food. Some of the restaurants I’d suggest booking in advance using Disney Dine. We ate at the Skipper Canteen and it was so delicious. And we couldn’t resist Mickey-shaped donuts! I also suggest powering through at the end of the day and staying for Happily Ever After – it is a grande finale to your day at Magic Kingdom. The Fireworks show is a must see!
DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
Of all four parks, Avery and Archer were so excited for Hollywood Studios. We started our day having breakfast with some of Disney’s characters at Hollywood & Vine. They loved meeting Goofy as well as some other Disney Character’s and eating Mickey shaped waffles. Then we made our way to Pixars Car Universe. My boys are OBSESSED with Cars, so they could hardly wait to check out the new Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. It was a really cool experience. They also loved dancing with the Pit crew and getting close to a few of their favourite characters. Then we checked out the new Toy Story Land. I was so impressed with this whole area. So many great rides for the boys. They loved Alien Swirling Saucers and Toy Story Mania. Every day Avery asked if we were going to have lunch at Woody’s Lunch Box and when we finally arrived to eat, it was a meal he completely devoured! Their root beer float is the best I’ve ever had and their adult lemonade is pretty good too:)
I really loved Animal Kingdom. The performance, Festival of the Lion King was amazing. I sung along to most of the songs and it took me back to the day when I was a child watching Lion King! Another must do is the Killimanjaro Safari ride. We did this one twice! It felt like we were in a different country seeing all the wildlife and the beautiful terrain. We enjoyed Pandora – The World of Avatar. Just walking through was incredible. The kids loved the Na’vi River Journey and the Avatar Flight of Passage is a great one for adults. We just stood in front of the iconic Tree of Life in awe of this incredibly magic trip that was soon coming to an end. If you stick around in the evening you can watch the Tree of Life Awakening and watch the as the tree comes to life.
Here are a few more useful tips:
- Each of the four parks all have a Baby Care Center. It’s a clean air conditioned space which is perfect for breastfeeding, changing diapers, or heating a bottle. If you forgot something, formula, wipes, diapers, even medicine, no fret. They got you covered and there is also an attendant there to help!
- Get your Fastpasses to schedule your rides – this helps you to see more, especially when you’re travelling with young children. We had our fast pass on our MagicBand bracelet which is also our hotel room key, its linked to our credit card too so it made a few quick purchases really easy and it connects to the Memory Maker app. So all those Disney Photographers can snap your photo in the key photo opp locations and those images are linked to your MagicBand.
- Rider switch. If you have a small child that cannot go on a ride, it allows one parent to stay with them while the other goes on the ride. The second parent will get to go in the fast pass line!
- Stroller Rental – We brought our single stroller but there were a few moments we considered renting a double stroller. It’s nice to give both kiddos a break and get around a little faster or an extra spot to stash drinks snacks and souvenirs.
- I had some questions about how to take instagrammable photos in Disney and honestly, there is a photo opp on every corner!
Hands down this was the most magical trip I could have ever dreamed of. There is so much to see and do for families with preschool aged children. It’s true what they say, Walt Disney World Resort is truly a place where dreams come true!
This was a pretty long post and I’m hoping I covered the big things. Don’t be shy to leave me any questions!
This post was brought to you by Disney World Canada. Thank you so much for having us – it was a magical trip of a lifetime.