Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Disney Vacation - It's the Little Things...

I thought I would share some of the little things that we did that worked out great:

Bringing a soft-sided cooler! My friend Kim who recently traveled to Disney with her husband and their triplets recommended this, and I’m glad I took her advice! We tucked a small, soft-sided cooler into one of our bags that we checked, but we could have used it as a carry-on, if we needed to. Having the house with the full fridge & freezer, we were able to buy cases of water at the nearby Super Walmart, and freeze the bottles of water to pack in our coolers. This was a great cost-savings with water at the parks being sold for $2.75 per bottle, and with the temperature in the 90’s we were going through water, well, like water! The other great thing about the cooler (and Super Walmart…) was that we picked up Lunchables, apples & grapes to bring for the girls – this was after getting lunch for each of them (kid’s meals ran about $4.99 - $6.99) and combined, our girls did not eat enough to make up 1 kid’s meal! This was not even about the money savings, but the desire to have our children eat something other than ice cream and popsicles!

Speaking of Super Walmart, on the way to the parks the first day, we stopped in to pick up autograph books – $1.50 per spiral bound Disney autograph books – not as fancy as the ones I bought two years ago for $15 (!) but, they more than did the trick! Around the Orlando and Kissimmee area, there are tons of places that sell Disney souvenirs for less money than you can buy things inside the park. Now, my husband will tell you that I am the FIRST one to buy souvenirs at the parks, but I would rather spend my souvenir money on snuggly, adorable stuffed animals that my kids will love and cuddle with, as opposed to $15 on an autograph book that will sit in their memory box.

This trip and our last trip, I bought a few inexpensive Disney souvenirs in preparation for the trip, and brought them along to surprise my kids. This is something that my friend Kim also did for her kids. It’s a little touch that helps to make the trip special for your kids, and it can also significantly cut down on the amounts of souvenirs that you buy at the park. The week before we left, I lucked out, walking into Target to find their $1 section filled with Disney princess pens, pencils, notebooks, sticker books, and even socks – I picked up a few things for each of my girls, handed them out here and there on the trip, and they loved them!

If your kids love to dress up in costume – bring a costume with them to Disney! There are tons of kids walking around in princess costumes, Jack Sparrow costumes, you name it! We were able to bring Minnie Mouse for my littlest one and Tinkerbell for my older daughter (their costumes from Halloween two years ago!). My little one wore her Minnie costume all over the park and was very happy! My older daughter wore her costume from the rental house to the Magic Kingdom, and then just as we got to Main Street USA (you know, 2 feet into the park entrance…) she decided it was itchy and decided to change! Imagine how delighted Mom and Dad would have been if we had gotten there without a costume and fell into that spell of “oh, ok, we’ll buy you one because they look so cute and everyone else is wearing one!” and THEN she had decided not to wear it! You know your kids – if they like to dress up, it’s worth looking for an inexpensive costume at home, pulling one out the closet, borrowing one from a friend… And, you know I’m a sucker for pictures – another great photo op!

In this age of digital cameras, I was concerned about running out of space on my camera’s memory card. For $20 I purchased a 2GB memory card for my digital camera and this was WELL worth the expense! Previously, I was able to take about 100 pictures on my digital camera. With the new memory card – over 1000!! And as I mentioned in one of my previous posts – I ended up taking over 570 pictures! This is one of those trips that you will not want to miss taking pictures of your kids – their faces when they see the characters, the castle – it’s a magical place! I was happy that I thought to get that card prior to leaving – I may have been able to buy it at one of the parks, but I would have paid a fortune for it, and I would have hated to run out of memory and miss a great photo opportunity!

This one I didn’t plan – just lucked out – but next time I will do the same thing for sure! I had packed lots of clothes for us, and when I unpacked at the house, I realized that I had lots of options for matching shirts! The first day I did this, my husband said dryly, “Really? We’re going to be one of those matchy-matchy families?” Yep! But in the end, he didn’t mind and played along (except for pink shirt day… he just didn’t have anything with him to match!). It ended up being great for a couple of reasons – first of all, it’s a GREAT way to keep track of your family! One of use was always with our kids, but if he or I went to the bathroom, the Fast Pass line, to get the stroller, we could easily find our family again in the crowd! And an added bonus? We looked cute for pictures! Disney is a GREAT place for family pictures, and who knows, maybe you’ll end up with next year’s Christmas card photo! I was showing my pictures to our intern at work, and she mentioned that her family did the matching shirt thing when they went to Disney – but they had fun with it, they made tie-dye shirts – a different color for each day, and they got the kids in on the fun of making them!

There were lots of little things that worked out well on this trip, but these are the ones that really stuck in my mind and helped us out a lot! What ideas do you have for making traveling with the kids easier?


Christine said...

Great tips! Esp the camera card. I have one of those huge ones and it's amazing. Just think of the cost of buing film for 500+ pics-It was well worth your $20.

Hmmm...Matching shirts....

Deanna said...

Yes, the $20 for the memory card was a GREAT investment! And, it's something that I will be thrilled to have all the time -- not just for the trip, so that is even better! We talked about bringing the USB cable and loading the pix up to Kodakgallery each day, but what a drag, and what if that plan didn't work out?

Admit it, you love us in our matching shirts! :)