We took my older kids Luca (5) and Roma (4) to Disney World for the first time in Orlando, FL and they truly had a magical trip.
Our First Trip to Disney World
When I was younger, my parents took us to Disney World a few times. It was always such a magical trip, and I have very fond memories of the park. I wanted to go there sometime when Luca was in that 5-6 range, because I feel like that’s when kids truly still believe in the unbelievable type of magic. Like, they still think Mickey Mouse is a real person, you know? And when they go into the character restaurants and they say that the Beast is coming to greet you, they really truly believe that is the beast from Beauty & the Beast.
For Roma, she had just turned 4 (literally the week before) and I’d say that while she is in that sweet spot too, she’s a tiny bit young, because it’s a lot for her. If I had more time, I would’ve liked to make it a longer trip and done more half days and built in pool afternoons to cool down and relax. Disney is a lot of stimulation and even though they’re in a stroller for most of it, they are standing on lines and the on and off of rides is a lot on their little bodies. However, both kids had a blast and they truly got to experience the magic of Disney.
My parents drove up from the West Palm Beach area to meet us in Orlando and enjoy the kids’ first Disney experience, so it was so nice to spend that time together. It was tough leaving the twins behind, but it would’ve been too much with them (queue the hundreds of diaper changes!)
A few notes:
- We lucked out with weather despite the rainy forecast. The first day, it rained on and off a bit in the afternoon and the kids ended up getting stuck in one little rain downpour but it was a total core memory – splashing in the puddles, filling their shoes up with water, and just enjoying that moment.
- We used a guide. Juan from Theme Park Concierges was with us on both days. This was the best money I’ve ever spent (ha!) and he basically did everything from booking our dining reservations to physically walking with us throughout the entire park all day, guiding us along to each ride. We didn’t have to think about a single thing (I didn’t look at my Disney App once) and it allowed us to be present the entire time (and go on more rides!) He times everything so that you go on Lightning Lanes and never have to wait in a single line! If you can splurge, splurge on this! He was such a friendly, kind person and my kids loved him, high fiving him after they’d get out of every ride (where he’d be waiting with our stroller, ready to walk to the next ride!) I’ll never do Disney without a guide!
- We rented a stroller through Babyquip. We are so happy we did this because we saw the Disney strollers and there’s not nearly enough storage for what we had and it didn’t look padded or comfortable at all. We forgot to rent a rain cover for the stroller, so my mother brought a shower curtain last minute, which worked perfectly! The rental was a Baby Jogger double stroller which was perfect – both kids ended up napping in it easily.
- We stayed at The Contemporary hotel and I really recommend it – friendly, spacious rooms, fun things for kids throughout (like an arcade!) It was connected to the Monorail and was under a 10 minute walk to Magic Kingdom.
- Every morning at the hotel, we grabbed some bagels and cream cheese to go at the hotel’s “grab & go” breakfast (they also had hot sandwiches and things, but we just wanted something quick.) They have a little coffee shop in the lobby that had oat milk, so that’s where I got my coffee fill every day!
I’m going to break down the itinerary day by day so you can see how we did it and what we packed. I hope you find this post helpful and be sure to leave a comment and I’ll happily respond as they come in.
What We Brought To The Parks Each Day
In my crossbody bag that I wore all day:
- This neck fan (loved it, the kids used it too.)
- Hand sanitizer
- Cell phone
- Poncho (this one)
- Snack for myself (I packed Mezcla bars for the trip!)
In the stroller:
- Snacks (Pretzels, Apples, Clementines, Protein bars, Raisins) – I wish I had packed a few more snacks in my suitcase, but we survived!
- Water (tip: refrigerate water in your hotel fridge and then pour it into reusable water bottles that are insulated so the water stays chilled and then you can buy new water at the park and refill)
- Change of clothes for myself and a pair of comfortable walking shoes if my sneakers got soaked
- Changes of clothes for each child and a pair of Crocs if sneakers got wet.
- Cool towels (I never used them but my mother did)
- Spray bottle to mist ourselves in the heat (we never used them)
- Extra gallon Ziploc bags to use as “wet bags” for soaked clothing
- Phone charger with an extended cord
- Ponchos for the kids (got these cute ones)
Here is a day by day of our entire trip:
We arrived to MCO (Orlando) airport at about 6pm and my parents picked us up. We drove to the hotel (we stayed at The Contemporary hotel) and we went up to our room, dropped our stuff off, and headed right to Chef Mickey’s, the restaurant in the hotel where we had a character dinner. It was a buffet and all the characters come out to greet you and take photos at every table. Very sweet! Then we headed to the arcade for a little bit and then up to dinner for shower and bed.
Park Day 1: Epcot and Animal Kingdom
We met our guide at 7:50am at the Disney Beach Club Resort and we walked to Epcot from there (we were able to enter and park in the parking lot because he got us a dining reservation there.) My thoughts on Epcot are that it’s definitely a park more geared towards adults but the kids loved the rides, it just wasn’t as “magical” as Magic Kingdom.
The rides we went on were, in order:
- Ratatouille (probably our favorite!)
- Soarin’ (very cool simulator where you sit and “soar” over major wonders of the world/beautiful naturescapes)
- Test Track (you build your own car and then ride in it – the kids loved this, the cars go so fast!)
- Guardians of the Galaxy (my favorite ride in all of Disney, but I’m a big coaster girl, but Luca cried afterwards, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart! Roma didn’t meet the height requirement)
- Frozen ride (you sit in a little boat and it takes you through the story of Frozen – it was meh.)
We took a break after the Frozen ride to dine at Akershus Restaurant. We did this because everyone said it’s a great opportunity to meet many Disney princesses (they were right! Aurora, Belle, Ariel, Tiana, and Snow White were all there!) It was very sweet and Roma loved it. However, the food was terrible (I ended up grabbing tacos in “Mexico” afterwards because I couldn’t even eat the food.) We ended up eating at Cinderella’s Royal Table the next day where all the princesses are, so I wish I had known that and skipped Akershus. You live and you learn! It was also a very dark restaurant, not bright and airy like some of the other ones.
After Epcot, we went back to our car and drove to Animal Kingdom. The kids loved Animal Kingdom, especially the Safari ride (highly recommend!) where they saw hippos, giraffes, lions, and so many other animals. It’s a fun bumpy ride! I wish we had more time in Animal Kingdom, but we went on some great rides, like:
- Na’vi River Journey – a beautiful sit down ride where it takes you through the Na’vi River – stunning.
- Flight of Passage (my father and I went on this together without the kids!)- it’s an Avatar simulator ride where you’re riding on one of the birds flying through Pandora, pretty amazing.
- It’s Tough To Be a Bug! – my mom went on this with the kids while my father and I were on the Avatar ride. She said they got a little scared!
- Dinosaur – this ride actually scared both my kids and myself! It was pretty intense!
After we were done with the rides, we ended the day with dinner at Tiffin’s which was a pleasant surprise – the food was great and they were very friendly there. It was a great experience!
Park Day 2: Magic Kingdom
What a day! Magic Kingdom is exactly that – magic! From the moment you walk in, it’s just incredible. The production level is amazing, they keep the park pristine, and the Disney staff are so friendly, accommodating, and helpful. Here are the rides we did (I may be missing one or two!) I wish we had two days in Magic Kingdom!
- Thunder Mountain (probably our favorite!)
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin- a laser ride!
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Tron (my father and I did this – it was good but not as great as Guardians at Epcot!)
- Haunted Mansion – the kids definitely got frightened here and it wasn’t as scary as I had remembered it, kind of cheesy – I’d skip it!
- “It’s a Small World” – this is great for younger kids and a nice long ride if you need a break.
- Mad Tea party – the spinning cups!
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – Luca went on this while I was at Bippity Boppity with Roma.
- Peter Pan’s Flight – I loved this one, a fun little flying ride.
- Pirates of the Caribbean – Roma got a little spooked on this one, I loved it – amazing, real-life pirates in there!
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – a great coaster, I love how you go outside for part of it!
- Space Mountain – Luca, my father, and I went on this one because Roma didn’t meet the height limit.
- Under the Sea – Little Mermaid: this was cute, just a nice little sit down ride.
- Tomorrowland Speedway – you drive your own cars on a speedway, but it was smelly and you can’t really “drive,” you’re on a track.
- Goofy’s Sky School: this was such a great starter coaster, great little thrill!
For lunch, we went to Be Our Guest, which many had warned me against that it wasn’t great, but the kids loved it, the food was good (not great), they had a great interactive dessert where you paint Chip the little teapot from the movie, and you can walk in different rooms to see the beast’s rose, some knight armor, and the place itself is stunning. I’d definitely recommend, but you don’t see Belle. If you do want to see Belle, around the corner, is The Enchanted Tales with Belle, which ended up being an interactive experience where the kids acted out the love story of Beauty and the Beast – it was hilarious and my kids loved it (definitely use the lightning lane!)
After lunch, we went on more rides and then ended before our 4:10pm appointment at the Bibbity Boppity Boutique in Cinderella’s Castle (you need to make a reservation in advance!) This was an unforgettable core memory for me, seeing Roma being transformed into a princess! It’s done so well – first you get to pick your dress (she chose Anna), then you go into a fitting room where the mirror turns into a short film with the fairy godmother talking to you. She got dressed and then you go into the salon where they do a hair styling of your choice (she chose a unicorn ponytail), makeup, and paint your nails. You get a goody bag with a little fairy godmother necklace, makeup, a brush, and some nail polish. It was perfect and she ate it all up.
Then, it was time for dinner at Cinderella’s Table and what a way to end! When you first enter, you have a personal meet and greet with Cinderella and then, upon sitting down, all the princesses come to each table to say hello, Aurora, Snow White, Ariel, and Jasmine. The food was the best meal we had that trip and there was a decorate your own cupcake interactive dessert. It was a beautiful setting and a great way to end the trip!
We walked back, saying goodbye to Disney and took the monorail back to the hotel for fun. We got back, showered, and sat on our balcony and watched the fireworks. Although you’re far away, it’s a gorgeous, expansive view of the fireworks and it was the perfect send off!
We flew back in the morning, so we grabbed our bagels and headed to the airport, where my parents dropped us off!
The One Thing I Wish I Had Done Differently
My choice of outfit! I bought Disney character shirts because I thought it would be cute, but honestly, athletic sweat-wicking material is better! Next time we go, I’ll simply bring my Disney princess crossbody, buy Minnie ears, and wear those tennis dresses with built in shorts (like this) or wear extra loose tank tops with bike shorts.
All in all, we’ll definitely be back to Disney in a couple of years, and so glad we did this trip and waited until Roma turned 4 to go!