Our First Family Disney Vacation

This past October 2015, we spent Halloween in Disney World-Magical Kingdom.  This was our first trip as a family.  I want to share some stories and pictures from our trip, but also a few tips I learned on this “learning vacation”.

First let me start with the packing aspect of the trip.  I needed to pack for Domenic (13), Travis (2), Christopher (1), my husband and myself.  Plus since we were going for Halloween, I needed to have costumes for all of us.  Yikes!  That is a lot of stuff.  So here is my list of things we brought and things we bought there.


bathing suits




puddle jumpers


2 car seats

swim diapers


Shampoo + conditoner


food/snacks/drinks  for our hotel suite

we used the hotel towels everywhere

razors & shaving cream

hotel provided pack n’ plays

diapers & wipes

The carry on:  My husband and I each took a carry on.  We brought a bathing suit for everyone and sunblock, so if our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, which it wasn’t, we could at least use the pool.  I also packed many snacks.  You are allowed to carry on fruit/ yogurt pouches, thankfully!  I kept one bottle and a sippy cup in the carry on bag and bought milk once we were through security.  I only packed a few regular diapers and wipes, and 4 swim diapers.  The rest I bought while we were there.  I also brought Play-Doe, coloring books & crayons, and my iPad.  None of which helped with  our plane ride home.  More to come on that!

We had a very early flight out.  I believe it was a 6:05am flight.  Seems dreadful, but actually worked out well because the two little ones slept almost the entire flight.  When we landed at about 9am we still had the entire day to enjoy.

We rented a minivan which I booked online.  I got a pretty good rate by shopping around different sites and days/times.  I also saved money by using the rent by the week option, rather than how many days.  It was cheaper to rent by the week (which obviously we needed) than to say we needed it 7 days.  Check the sites you are using for this option.

Once we got to the hotel, we tried to check in but our room was not ready, so we left our luggage with the front desk (which they brought right to our room once it became available) and took our bathing suits out of our carry-ons and changed in the bathroom area of the hotel pool area.

We finally felt like we were on vacation!  Aaahhhhhh  🙂

Prior to our trip we bought our day passes to Disney and Universal Studios.  We planned on spending 2 days at each.  I had also bought the extra tickets needed to go to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween, and Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights.  My husband brought my step son Domenic, and our nephew Mitchel (16) to that park while I stayed back at the hotel with the little ones.  That’s right, we brought our nephew too, he was a huge help for us with the little guys!  Obviously that is an extra big expense, but it was well worth it!

The first park we did was Disney’s Magical Kingdom, on Halloween day and night.  We wanted to dress as a matching family, but yet the costumes had to be comfortable, light to pack as well as not be hot while walking around the park.  Thanks to Pinterest I found the perfect costumes for us!

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We had so much fun being in the park for Halloween.  The park only sells a certain number of tickets (and sells out, so get your tickets well before you travel), so the lines are short, and they have many special activities going on.  Plus you can go trick or treating in a safe, family friendly, setting.  The fireworks show that night was amazing.  The parade at midnight was just awesome!  The little guys napped in the stroller a few times throughout the day and were able to be up later to enjoy the parades and fireworks.  This is something I definitely hope to do again while the kids are small.

Our second day at Disney we split the day between Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom.  It was such a hot day.  Too hot really, we probably should have spent this day at the hotel pool.  We loved the animal safari in Animal Kingdom.  They have an attraction called “It’s Tough To Be A Bug”, this was so cool.  You’ll get to see, feel, and smell, all things bug.  It is a 3D attraction.  My 2 year old made us leave a little early, he wasn’t loving it, but I thought it was really cool.  We didn’t get to see or do a lot because the heat was too much and the little guys were not able to go on too many things.  We could not find enough shady places for us to cool down, so we made it a short day.  I wish we would have visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios instead, but again, I knew this was going to be a learning trip.  Next time I would also plan on spending 3 days in Disney parks and only 1 day in Universal.  You can absolutely do both sides of Universal in 1 day, if of course, it isn’t a prime time (school vacation week, holiday…)  The lines at both parks during the time we went Oct. 30th – Nov.5th, was never more than  20 minutes for any rides.  Most rides you just walked right on, which also made me realize buying the speed pass for Universal was a huge waste of money.  It probably is a great thing to have during their busy times, but we went “off season”.



So I want to list the few tips I leaned on our visit, hopefully they will help if you are planning a trip!

  1. Book your character dining ASAP.  Reservations are accepted 180 days in advance plus people staying at a Disney resort get 2 weeks before that to book.  This is something I learned that hard way.
  2. Disney parks allow you to choose and plan 3 rides/attractions Fast Pass+ (like a speed pass & FREE) you can access this on your smart phone.  Download the app: My Disney Experience.  This website and app are amazing tools to help you plan ahead and do some research of the parks/attractions/dining experiences.
  3. I paid the extra $149.00 to have the Memory Maker added to our package.  This photo pass links with your wrist bands, and allows you to have Disney’s professional photographers take your pictures at every location around all of the parks.  It also will automatically link it to photos takes on any rides, and character dining experiences.  Get this early too (at least 3 days before you go to a park), otherwise expect to pay $169, $20 more.
  4. I highly recommend getting the park hopper pass.  This way you can check out more than 1 park in a day (which by monorail is easy) and you can eat and drink in any park.  Again if you are planning on eating 180 days in advance, you don’t want to be tied to that one place for the day if you don’t want to.  this provides freedom to come and go as you please.
  5. If you can avoid bringing in a bag, backpack, diaper bag, avoid it.  It not only takes you longer to get into the park (bag checks are done), but it is one more thing to keep track of, and carry when it is out outside.  However I realize sometimes you just need one to put belongings in, just pack light.
  6. At night Magical Kingdom has 2 parades, the first around 8 or 9 (can’t remember for sure) the first one is busy and you have to wait a while in order to get a good spot.  Use that time to go on a ride that may have had a long wait earlier.  If you are not exhausted (lol, tough it out) and can wait until the last parade of the night, it is way less crowded and easy to get a spot right up front!

I hope you enjoyed my tips, the things I learned, some the hard way.  If you have any others questions about Magical Kingdom or Universal, feel free to email me.  I will surely get back to you with my opinion or even just to let you know I don’t have the answer to your question.  I hope to go back really soon and learn more and more!  I will continue to share with you!

I can not, nor will not, claim to be any kind of expert on air travel for little ones.  You know when your waiting to board a plane and you see “that” family.  You know the family you are praying you are not seated near… Yup that’s us!  Toddlers crying and whining… Well here is a short video for your enjoyment of our Travis, travelling back home (with no nap).  He did NOT want to leave Mickey Mouse’s house!  We are all still recovering and again, my apologies to everyone on the plane that day!  This was what we all heard for 3 hours straight!  Thankfully I can laugh about it now.


    1. This was really a useful article! I enjoyed it. We are planning to go to Disney within the next year and I hope to use some of these great tips! Thanks for sharing!!


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