A year ago if you would have asked me if I would have considered taking my three children to Disney World solo, I would have laughed. Not the lighthearted laughter but the deep laughter that comes from deep within. Then, I would have asked you, “Are you crazy?”
Fast forward to this year and I have to say I was full on crazy! When the opportunity arose for me to meet my brother and his family at Disney, we had to make the decision if I would go. Not that I didn’t want to go or couldn’t work out the finances but I would have to make the venture without my husband. After some soul-searching, conversations with Bryan and many prayers, we decided I would take the plunge!
I would be meeting family and most days I would have help. The other days would just require some preparation, perseverance, laughter and lots of prayers.
There was lots and lots of planning involved. The children had been planning their next visits to Disney for well over a year. They had their lists of places they wanted to see, rides they wanted to experience and characters they wanted to meet. They could recite them all, over and over again.
Before our trip and while we were driving down, we talked about what was realistic to expect from our trip. Even though Austin wanted to ride all the roller coasters, he understood that without Daddy, this would be almost impossible to do. In order for us to make our trip successful, we would all have to be happy and content with what we could do together. We would make the best of the situation, ride as many rides as we could, meet as many characters as we could, together.
Setting the expectations out so we were all on the same page made things much easier.
Armed with my Joovy Two Caboose Ultralight and my Boba 3G carrier we were ready to take on the world, Disney World that is. I knew it would be a challenging day but an amazing one at that!
One day, while waiting for the monorail I met another Mom of three girls, bringing her three daughters to Disney, alone. It wasn’t her first time either! Like myself, she had her baby in a carrier and her middle daughter in a stroller. Her husband was in Orlando for work and they were taking on Disney World, solo. We laughed at ourselves and each other. I found solace to know I wasn’t alone, nor was I crazy. We shared many likenesses, like homeschooling and exchanged tips while the children carried on conversations of meeting Winnie the Pooh and the Princesses.
If you are considering taking your child or children to Disney, here are a few of my personal suggestions to make your Disney vacations less about stress and more about making memories!
Talk about your trip! Find out what is most important to your children and then discuss what you can realistically do together. Since my youngest was about 9 months, and their were four of us, we were rather limited on what we could ride. Discussing what we could ride together to prepare them made it go smoother when Test Track and Mission Space were not options for us.
Accept a slower pace. Usually when we hit the parks we try to pack in as much as we possibly can. While I still had that desire, I also had to be realistic and take a step back. We took breaks when we needed to, popped into building with ac to get out of the heat and enjoyed looking at everything along the way.
Contact Info. Since you will be having only two eyes on your children, it can be frightening to take your children in busy places. My children knew if we were to get separated, who they were to talk to, to ask for help. I placed my contact information on cards in their back pockets and labels placed inside their clothing. They didn’t have to remember my phone number if we were separated, just find a casts member and show them their tag.
Bring water & snacks. There is nothing like being in a long line waiting to meet a character and one of the little ones starts to have a melt down. As if enough aren’t staring since you are the crazy mom (or dad) alone, stick a crying kid in the mix and you have all the unwanted attention you didn’t want. Having snacks you can use to distract the little ones with really comes in handy!
Pack your own glow-in-the-dark toys and bubbles. Yep, bubbles. Again, it is amazing just how quickly a mood can be lightened with a small package of bubbles. Considering a majority of your time is spent outdoors, bubbles are a great distraction. Packing your own glow-in-the-dark necklaces and wands will keep the kids happy if you make it until dark and save you a ton of money too!
Pack a change of clothes in a large ziplock bag. There are many ways to get wet and sticky at Disney. Having a clean change of clothes can make any kiddo happy. Packing them in a ziplock bag will ensure they stay dry. This also allowed me to keep them in the stroller with less things to lug around.
Stay for the fireworks! How many times can I ask the question, “Am I crazy?” But we really did get to the parks at 9:30 and stay, all day to close the day with fireworks! Early on, seeing the fireworks were a big deal to the kids. To end our day at Epcot, I decided we would do so with a bang. Although we didn’t see the reflections on the lake, we had a great few of the fireworks that allowed us to get out of the parks without dealing with a stampede. Find good seats for the fireworks that allow you to make it to the exit quickly.
The most important tip I can share is to take a deep breath. Remember you are at Disney to create memories not set records! Be happy for what you get to do and see, rather than focus on what you are missing out on.