20 Tips to Pull off the Best Disney Vacation Ever!

Can you luck into magical experiences? Absolutely, it happens all the time at Disney, but do you want to take that chance when you’re already in for thousands of dollars? Here are my top 20 tips for the best Disney vacation!

Kristi writes for Juggling Normal and on her site, KristiAndrus.com. This post first appeared here, and is republished in full with permission.

may the force be with you – photos by author

Vacation-Mode Mom has been M-I-A since Fall 2019

I don’t know about you, but this family is ready to heal from the trauma and stress of the pandemic. Yet the timing feels a little off because, of course, the pandemic isn’t over, and if you have children under 10, they aren’t able to be vaccinated for…ever? Indefinitely.

Maybe you, too, are stuck in the in-between zone with unvaccinated little ones and feel the urge to break free from Groundhog Day. If so, this is for you. 

If you have already decided you’re going for it and don’t want to angst it out with me, skip the intro and head straight for the tips. Otherwise, stick around for the commiserating.

Mr. Incredible

We Still Mask Up

We still mask up, social distance, and are hyper-conscious about our activities. But we are also keenly feeling the pinch of watching our little ones change so fast, and let’s just say it — They are missing out on some of the treasures of childhood. 

The best thing to come from pandemic life is the closeness of this family — What an incredible gift to have all this time together! We try to keep it in perspective even as our impatience grows, but we want to enjoy the world again, and frankly, we need a reminder of how good it can be out there. 

Is a Vacation the Answer?

The responsible parent in me thinks it’s unnecessary risk multiplied by germs plus exorbitant spending during a pandemic, which is to say, there are a million reasons not to go anywhere. 

But as all good marketers know, we rarely make rational decisions. Even the most sensible among us typically apply logic only after we’ve chosen for emotional reasons.

I’m no different. The decision to go is an emotional one.

So, what reason would override all of the excellent reasons not to go? Well, for us, it comes down to this — Our children’s childhoods are fleeting, and they will only be young once. And wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing (and fear) has taken its toll on their psyches and what seems like temporary pain for adults is indelible when it’s approaching a third of your life now. And for our little one, it’s been a while.

It’s been a while since I’ve said yes to birthday parties, social engagements, and play dates that weren’t outside. It’s been a while since we were genuinely excited or counting down to anything special. 

They’ve had so little to look forward to for more than a year. We aren’t so naive as to think a vacation will erase all the permanent scarring, but it is another step toward healing. Their faith in the world is an important component of their social development (and my mom confidence) too. 

We weren’t thinking of a vacation or Disney, but a couple of things happened that lead us down the path, and before I get to that, I thought to take a moment to acknowledge the emotional burden of making decisions in the context of a pandemic. Parenting has been no joke. 

Princess Talk

She’s Hit a Wall

My mother-in-law doesn’t want to travel anymore. She’s older, and the ever-changing rules and restrictions make her feel uncomfortable and seem haphazard. I doubt that she will change her mind if you know what I mean. 

Typically, Grandma spends a good chunk of the summer with us, but since it requires a flight, from now on, we will likely need to go to her instead. Of course, she has no interest in Disney, and at our pace at the parks would make that practically impossible anyway. So, we’ve decided to take a road trip to see her as a practice vacation of sorts. It seems impossible to believe that we haven’t traveled so long that we are out of practice, but alas, it’s true.

(BTW, I highly recommend practice vacations. For instance, we took the kids on a Caribbean cruise to practice cruising for the first time before booking a trans-Pacific crossing to make sure they were comfortable.)

And while we much prefer flying to driving, it’s our first trip in more than a year, and we are out of sync. Plus, we want to take our dog, kayaks, bikes, and stay awhile. 

So, we floated the idea to Grandma, and she lit up, and that was that: A vacation set in motion. Nevertheless, Disney wasn’t such an easy decision. We are a family of five, and you can do the math on that — $500/day for park tickets, plus airfare and accommodations, not to mention food, ground transportation, and merchandise. Plus crowds.

I read that the average theme park vacation sets a family of four back $5k. That number might turn some off; I see it as a challenge, a number to beat. And, the parks aren’t operating at full capacity yet, though that might change before we go.

First, we brought up the road trip to the kiddos, and a curious thing happened; we noticed how happy everyone felt, how much lighter and optimistic. I’m a coach, for goodness sakes, who advocates for anticipation, enjoyment, and savoring (see #8 below) as scientifically proven happiness strategies

Still, the degree to which we felt joy and relief about having something to look forward to caught me off guard. It was an instant unmistakable boost — a new state, a new environment, a new routine, new people, novelty, surprise, a whole new world of possibility!

A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us, “No”
Or where to go

A Whole New World!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the Aladdin lyrics, but honestly, it’s a promise, which is everything. The kids have something new to talk about that isn’t virtual and as parents, we feel a little like life has tilted a bit more toward normalcy. 

The off-kilter feeling didn’t completely go away, but it opened the door to the potential of the first great summer since 2019. 

Coincidentally, or perhaps not if you believe that our devices are listening, Marriott reminded me of hotel accommodations we booked pre-pandemic that would be expiring in a “use it or lose it” situation by YE21. My mother had expiring timeshare points too. We were comparing notes one night over the phone on our standing dog-walk date, and she suggested that maybe we try Disneyworld with the kids. The idea quickly took hold because Disney as a family is one thing, but Disney with grandparents and uncles is amazeballs times awesome sauce!! Or so the kids say.

I did a cursory check, and surprisingly her dates synched up with my dates which synched up with airfare and hotel availability and deals which rarely happens all at once. #meanttobe

For months, I’ve been hearing other’s stories of the incredible travel deals, but I thought I missed the window. Turns out, they are still out there! I booked six roundtrip flights and 10 hotel nights for $1,000. #notatypo

Meeting a Hero

Three Kids and a Dog Later

Six years and four weeks ago, we picked the twins up after preschool, hopped on a plane, and went straight to Disneyland to celebrate their first year of school. 

Our little one was too small for most rides, but she loved the characters and didn’t mind watching the adventures from the vantage point of her Baby Bjorn. Let’s just say it set a precedent. Since then, our family has been to Disneyland or Disneyworld nearly every year: We went with kiddos aged 2, 2, and 0 (I was pregnant); 3, 3, and 1; 4, 4, and 2; 5, 5, and 3; 7, 7, and 5, and we’ve seen all the parks and rode all the rides, and have done many hours of research too. So what follows truly is what it takes to make the most of your Disney vacation. 

From one magical mama to the next, enjoy it all!

Tip #1: Your Resort Choice Matters, But It Doesn’t

This one is state-dependent. In California, your resort choice is everything. In Florida, it’s no big deal. Let’s start with California. The key to a successful Disneyland vacation is staying out of traffic, which is primarily made possible by two things: 

  1. Flying in and out of SNA, John Wayne Airport, in Orange County. It’s a quick 30 minutes to Disneyland and California Adventure. 
  2. Staying directly across the street from the parks. Staying at any of the at least a dozen hotels within a 5-minute walk of the park entrances eliminates the need to rent a car, pay for parking, allow time for commuting, etc. It’s a game-changer. (See #9 below).

In California, you can park hop from Disneyland to California Adventure by crossing a small courtyard between the park entrances. In Florida, however, the four main Disneyworld parks — Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom — are approximately 10+ miles park to park.

Driving isn’t optional, although there is a Disney transportation hub. Still, if you plan to hit multiple parks, add on a Universal Studios stop, or visit any other non-Disney parks, a car is pretty much a requirement. Therefore, in Florida, stay wherever you like. Many resorts in the vicinity are designed for families with multiple pools and suites that can accommodate parties of 4–6. 

Tip #2: Lower-Priced Tickets are Available

In short, here’s what you need to know: Tickets are insanely expensive but worth it. There are five ways to get more for your money:

  1. Stay longer — the daily ticket rate declines with multiple days purchased. 
  2. Book a package, so the travel agent you are working with has options. Even if she can’t find a lower ticket rate, she may be able to save some money by bundling some combination of your airfare, accommodations, car rental with your theme park tickets. Or, she may be able to add in value — like park hoppers or early admission before the park opens.
  3. Travel with a large group or a member of the military.
  4. Try every option for discounted tickets and travel, including any membership or travel sites you love, the hotel concierge, or ask other moms.
  5. Finally, buy discounted Disney gift cards (at Target or Sams Club) and use them to purchase theme park tickets to create your own savings. I think you can still stack your 5% Target RedCard discount with your 5% storewide birthday discount, but don’t quote me on that one.

Is it work? Yes. Are the savings significant? Sometimes. But the way we look at it is for every $100 saved, that’s essentially a free extra day at the park!

Tip #3: Research is Essential, but Decisiveness Matters More

I feel like a life coach when I say this, but it’s true. Wink. You can only do so much planning. At some point, you have to make the big decisions, go for what you want, and live with the consequences. 

Maybe the price goes down (doubtful), maybe availability improves (unlikely), maybe, maybe, maybe. Anything can happen, so why not book the damn trip and get on with your best life?

Rawr!

Tip #4: Pack for Performance

Many will let their little princesses wear plastic heels, costume dresses, or a three-layered tutu because it’s cute. That’s a mistake. California and Florida are hot and humid, and there is so much walking — So much walking!! 

Pack as if you are going for a very long, very strenuous hike. Think lightweight athletic shoes with good traction and supportive soles (and a backup pair if it’s a long trip), moisture-wicking apparel, layers, and a CamelBak for the kids instead of a water bottle. Anything to be hands-free, cool, and comfortable.

Tip #5: Formulate a Ride Strategy

It may seem intuitive, but the reason it’s so challenging is that everyone has their own circumstances. Rides have different height requirements and various wait times. Families have different ages and mobility levels, plus some love thrills, and others have a weaker stomach.

Are you a water park family, or do you prefer a beach day? Are you late sleepers or night owls? Thrill-seekers or character-obsessed?

Some will visit for a week; others will cram the highlights in a day or two. Know yourself and your goal (see #6), and pay special attention to morning and night. 

For example, we always enter the park as early as possible. Then we FastPass the most popular rides or our family favorites while waiting in line for something else (see #16), so we accomplish a lot before lunch.

Can you do it all? Yes, one entire park in one long day is possible if you have a strategy, know the park well, or have it pre-mapped. But your entire party has to be enrolled in your plan. 

Or you need front-of-the-line Express Passes (available at Universal, not Disney, and not recommended at Harry Potter World because the wait is part of the fun). Or maybe you are just very determined (think hustling from park open to park close). But no, most families can’t do it multiple parks in one day.

A stroller helps a lot, too (see #10). Otherwise, research the details as outlined here and cross-reference them with your family’s wishlist (#6).

Tip #6: Know Your Ultimate Goal (aka Wishlist)

One early morning in Paris, I woke up, got dressed, woke my hubby and brother, and went out for fresh-baked croissants and takeaway espressos. I met them 20 minutes later at a somewhat secret back entrance to the Louvre, where they were first in line. 

We enjoyed our fresh-baked treats as the sun rose. When they opened the door to the museum, we speed-walked (because sprinting is not allowed!) through the museum to the Mona Lisa, where the three of us enjoyed it all to ourselves before a crowd of people flooded the room. 

It was an incredible experience that would not have been possible without mapping it out in advance. We knew what we were going to wear, what time to wake, what entrance to choose, what path to take to the painting, what bakery to pick up from, etc. The details matter — Haven’t you seen Oceans 11?

The details matter — Haven’t you seen Oceans 11?

That’s the level of precision the best theme park vacations take to pull off. Can you luck into magical experiences? Absolutely, it happens all the time — It’s Disney, after all. But if your children want to get a wand at Ollivander’s, build a droid at Galaxy’s Edge, and try the Avatar rides, then it’s going to take some orchestration on your part to make it all happen. It’s especially true if you want your trip to be somewhat timely and relatively affordable. 

And yes, I didn’t even cover Universal Studios or other theme parks on this list! If you’re going to Florida, though, it’s worth adding in one or more stops to make the most of your trip and cross off more of your wishlist.

You don’t have to get obsessed, but be ready to invest your time, money and plan accordingly; there is a small window when children believe in everything, and that’s the time to capitalize and make their dreams come true.

Pregnant at Disneyworld

Tip #7: Eat, Play, Sleep Isn’t for Babies

I can’t remember if it’s Eat, Play, Sleep or Eat, Sleep, Play that the experts advise, but it’s the same idea. Create a consistent routine from the get-go that meets baby’s needs.

As you can imagine, as twin parents, a schedule was our lifeline to the world outside of our baby bubble.

Even today, when our kids are well-rested, well-fed, and appropriately engaged, they are a dream. When things get hairy, it’s because one of us is hangry, eating junk, or way overstimulated.

Search for the balance between keeping it moving at the park vs. resting during the mid-day heat, enjoying Mickey ice cream bars, vs. finding veggies or protein, riding all the simulation rides and jerky rollercoasters vs. fresh air and relaxation.

Tip #8: A Powerful Life Approach

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know there’s another pattern I swear by, and it’s Anticipate, Enjoy, Savor. I won’t go so far as to say it’s the secret of life, but it is one of the keys to happiness.

Anticipation is looking forward to good things in your life, planning for them, taking steps towards them, and enhancing them. In this case, it may mean picking cute outfits, choosing restaurants and characters together, building your wishlist, inviting extended family, or creating a countdown calendar.

Enjoyment is being fully immersed in the moment and taking it in for yourself while also seeing it through your children’s eyes and from your spouse’s perspective. It triples or quadruples your joy by experiencing it together — there is nowhere else you’d rather be.

Savoring relives the details, capturing the memories through photos, stories, highlights, mementos, or sharing and interpreting the meaning together. It’s recalling the excitement and satisfaction again and again.

Vacations are a natural opportunity to try this happiness method, but the technique applies to so many things. You can use it when preparing for your next big event, a new opportunity, or anything you want to experience more deeply.

Twirl and Wish

Tip #9: Ug, Ground Transportation

Ground transportation is the most complicated piece for many families who flew to their destination, especially if you have little ones who need car or booster seats or big families with large teens or many family members traveling together.

A minivan is usually the better option over an SUV when renting a car, but it depends on your cargo needs. The thing to keep in mind is that even if you get a killer deal — less than $50/day, by the time you add in gas, options, and fees, you are likely closer to $100/day, and that’s before resort parking ($35+/night) and theme park parking ($25+/park), so to rent a car costs as much as $200/day, which means another $2,000 on a 10-day vacation. 

Budget accordingly and book as far out as possible. You might find a better deal later, but the big vehicles that accommodate many passengers go quickly. Where and when possible, try public transportation first. Buses, subways, trains, shuttles, and light rails are usually the way to go, especially if you can get a weekly unlimited pass. If not, it still may be worth it to implement a combo strategy of public transport and Uber or private car service.

You might even ask what the drivers will charge to be available to your family for the entire duration of your stay or to outfit their vehicle with boosters while you are in town. Don’t forget to let them know if you have lots of luggage, strollers, or other large items to accommodate.

Tip #10: Let’s Talk Strollers

Speaking of ground transportation, I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but it’s a must for the under eight crowd. You may be thinking strollers are for babies or toddlers only, but theme parks mean a lot of walking. Did you see #4 about performance packing?

The average family walks 11 miles/day at a theme park! That’s a lot for little legs, so you have three options:

  • Option 1: Carry baby or little ones when they tire, which may mean exhausted parents too. 
  • Option 2: Take frequent or extended breaks, impacting your ride strategy (see #5).
  • Option 3: Take, rent, or even buy a stroller.

When your little ones are still in the car seat stage, it’s a no-brainer. Take a snap-in stroller that fits the car seats to make the airport easier pre-and post-flight. That way, you can speed straight through security to the gate with the car seats and the stroller.

When they are out of the car seat stage, you have more choices. You can bring or buy an inexpensive umbrella stroller. That’s often preferable to bringing your favorite (and likely expensive) stroller from home, which may encounter some dings or worse on the airplane, at the resort, or the park.

I don’t recommend renting at Disney because you can’t take them out of the park. Keep in mind, often the walk to the car or hotel from the park at the end of a very long day is when you’re likely to need a stroller the most.

Our favorite way was to rent a stroller to be delivered to our resort in advance. That way we could walk to and from the resort with it. We’ve tried every combination. A double for three, when we wore baby most of the time. A double for three when they were much older and only needed brief rest periods and could take turns. A triple when they were all preschool or younger and wanted to stay at the park from morning until fireworks (they napped in the stroller after meals). A single when the twins were older, but the little one still needed rest here and there to keep up. 

This next trip will be our first without a stroller, and I have to admit I’m already nervous. It’s another worthy expense in almost all cases because if the kiddos can get off their feet or take a snooze as needed, they are likely to maintain their energy and emotions throughout the day.

Tip #11. Ship a Box in Advance

This tip will help you save money and make your trip more enjoyable. Ship a box to arrive the same day you do that contains everything from snacks and surprises to anything you might need while on vacation. 

If you are an Amazon Prime member, shipping is free, and in most cases, grocery delivery is too. Include a case of water, especially if traveling to a destination with poor-quality tap water, gifts for the kids to discover each day (themed for the trip that cost exponentially less than at the park), plus snacks, fruit, and other pantry items. Did you know you can bring snacks and water into the park? You can even wear a CamelBak!

Ship personal products that are likely to be used up during the duration of the trip, like shampoo and conditioner or sunscreen, or bug spray. Ship supplies specifically for use on the trip — like costumes or glow paint or single-use ponchos — items you may not have on hand that would require a Target run anyway. 

Shipping a box in advance saves time, money, and packing headaches. There are no worries about liquids or TSA sizes, and you won’t need room in your suitcase because you can leave it behind for the trip home.

theme-park exhausted!

Tip #12. Stay Longer to Save Even More

I know I already covered this briefly in #2’s ticketing strategy, but it bears repeating because it’s not simply a theme park pricing issue. Flights cost what they cost whether they are a few days apart or longer, and often a Saturday night stay drops the cost even more, especially if you can fly mid-week.

Hotels often discount four or more nights, or if you are using points, have points breaks for a longer stay; timeshares often swap out for seven days or more.

For us, the most challenging days are the departure day and the return, so everything in-between is fun, no matter how many days it is. Staying a week or ten days is such a treat. It really allows time to let go and be where you are (vs. in travel mode) and even see the second-tier stuff. 

Also, if you have a multi-day park pass, you can enjoy some half days and shorter visits and not feel compelled to get your money’s worth each day, so it opens the door to downtime if you don’t usually account for that.

Tip #13. Know Your kids, Know Yourself

In the same way that having an overarching goal or wishlist is so important (see #6), try to manage your expectations based on your family’s preferences too. If you have three under three, for example, your pace needs to reflect what they can actually do. 

Perhaps schedule alternating days at the park and off days at the pool or plan a nap break each afternoon. Sun might an issue, too, so consider a sit-down restaurant for lunch (with reservations in advance) or see a show to rest your feet and cool off in the shade.

You might have one child who loves to go-go-go and another who needs a little coaxing, so you may have to pick your battles, honor their preferences, and teach and model the art of compromise. 

rebels

Tip #14: Be(come) a Morning Person

I preach about the virtues of the early hours a lot. And if you can believe it, some of my best friends are late risers who love naps. What in the world, right?! Kidding. Kind of.

But lazy mornings are for getaways and snowy days, not theme parks, international adventures, and certainly not for once-in-a-lifetime trips — You can sleep at home!

The early mornings truly are magical at Disney. Extra Magic Hours refer to the hours before the park’s official opening to the public when special guests get early access. It’s usually a privilege for those staying on property at a Disney resort, with multi-day tickets, or those who purchased the benefit as part of their package. 

If you have it, take full advantage. Sometimes, in those early hours, you can ride one, two, or three of the rides that later will have a two-hour wait, so it’s always worth it to get to the park before it opens and go straight to the ride at the top of your list and FastPass early! (See #16).

That usually means getting up early enough to be at the gate the moment it opens for you. If you love the rides at night, or live for the fireworks, power through and take a day off as needed or take a nap by the pool during the heat of the day, but start fresh and enthusiastic every morning, no matter what.

Tip #15: Character Experiences 101

Like knowing yourself, your children, and your ultimate goal, know the character that each of you would most love to meet. Then, there are several ways to accomplish it: 

  1. Get in line for character experiences as indicated on the map and the app.
  2. Purchase a dining package that includes a character meet-and-greet at the park, or some resorts have character dining packages too.
  3. Cross your fingers that you’ll randomly bump into them and don’t get your hopes up.
  4. Ask a cast member or employee for sightings or advice.
  5. Qualify because of your affiliation — perhaps you have a Disney credit card, for example, then you’ll get in-park members-only meet-and-greets.

Our most memorable character encounters were: 

  • Olaf, who really does love hugs
  • All the princesses dining together at the grotto
  • Mickey and Minnie surprising us at breakfast at the Four Seasons
  • The princes fawning over the little girls at Bippity Boppidy Boutique
  • Rey from Star Wars seeing our daughter (also dressed as Rey) and taking her hand, and inviting her (and our family) to tour Galaxy’s Edge and learn to use the Force.

Some of those encounters we paid for; other times, we just got lucky. Besides the memories and the magic, the pictures and videos are phenomenal, and the memories truly do last a lifetime.

Tip #16: Use Parent-Swap and FastPass to Maximize Your Time

This probably fits under ride strategies (#5) or ultimate goals (#6) but warrants its own category because it’s a strategy within a strategy. 

Parent swap refers to how to do the big-kid rides if you also have a little one(s). For example, if one child doesn’t meet the height requirement, one parent can wait with the little one while the other children ride with the other parent. Then, the parents can swap children so that the bigger kids get to ride again with the other parent. 

Crucially, the waiting parent doesn’t have to rejoin the line; they can swap at the entrance to the ride bypassing the line and the big kids get to go again. It’s a fantastic benefit if you have children of different heights, ages, or appetites for scary rides.

FastPass, briefly mentioned above, is also an important strategy to master, and many websites update the FastPass status in real-time and give the most urgent tips. 

It refers to a service that allows you to schedule ride and character greetings either at the park, via kiosks, or in the app. The value comes when you return to the ride or experience at the scheduled time and get to go with little or no wait. It also allows you to get in the queue for one ride while riding another ride, so it’s another way to maximize your time and fit in more rides with less waiting too.

Oogie Boogie

Tip #17: Consider a Holiday Visit

If you haven’t booked your trip and it’s your first time choosing a Disney vacation, I’d consider skipping 2021. Things aren’t quite normal just yet, and you may miss out on something you really wanted to see that just isn’t a part of pandemic protocols at Disney (or other theme parks). However, if you’ve been before or are convinced the risk is worth the reward, then consider going during the holiday season. Halloween and Christmas add an extra layer of magic at Disney. They redecorate, have special events, themed displays, and even the characters dress up. It’s so much fun, and the photos are the best. It’s often an ideal time to visit for good weather too. 

However, our experience is that the crowds are always present no matter the time of year, so don’t expect a lull just because kids are back in school. This year, of course, they have capacity measures and reservation requirements, but everything is constantly changing.

Tip #18. Discover Insider Hacks Before You Go

Once you’ve purchased your tickets, made your reservations (a new covid-step), secured your travel arrangements, and planned a loose itinerary, then it’s finally time to discover what else can make your trip more magical.

For us, that means joining Facebook groups and chat threads, googling tips, news, updates, changes, and secret tricks. You’ll be amazed at what you find. People are so generous, especially when it comes to Disney; everyone wants you to love it as much as they do.

For example, did you know that if you wear glow paint on the Pandora ride, you will glow just like the Navi? Or that there’s a Disney Skyliner (aerial gondola) that you can ride for free between Hollywood Studios and Epcot?

Make notes, and don’t forget to run the same search queries a little closer to your trip to keep up to date on the latest and greatest. Like how to ride Star Wars Rise of the Resistance; it’s a process.

You’ll love feeling like an insider, and it will be so much fun to know you were part of something special and made it happen.

Tip #19: Don’t Forget a Phone Charger

You’ll use up your battery taking photos, making videos, posting to social media, using the app, and checking the park map, plus making dining reservations, checking wait times, trying to find your husband, and more.

Take a backup power pack or locate a charging station. And backup your photos to the cloud at the resort, so you don’t overload your device.

I didn’t go in-depth on the pack list (see #4) here because you can find pack lists everywhere. The other not-to-forget biggies for us are hats, swimwear, and sunscreen. 

the magic of childhood

Tip #20: Take the Earliest Flight Available and Go Directly to the Park

After all of that, and yes, it’s a ton, so thanks for sticking with me; I asked my kids what I forgot. My daughter said to tell you this: Her favorite part of a Disney vacation is when we wake up the kids when it’s still dark, take them to the airport in their (Disney) PJs for the first flight out, feed them breakfast on the plane, and let them go back to sleep. 

After we arrive, we hop on a shuttle to the hotel, where we drop our bags and pick up the stroller. When they fully awake, they can tell by the palm trees that we aren’t home, and then when they look around, we are at the gates for Disneyland when the park opens!

It’s like a surprise within a surprise because they go to bed in one place and wake up at Disney! #bestdayever

It is the best, and it’s so much easier when flying west, but you can pull it off when flying east, too; just plan on a red-eye flight and a nap by the pool on the first day.

What did I miss? Anything to add? I’d love to hear from you and feel free to email me at kristi@kristiandrus.com if you have any questions. 

Enjoy!! See you at Disney.

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