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We're addicted to Disney.
We go often. It's a rare week that we aren't there. (Unless we're blocked because we don't have the crazy-super-duper expensive passes. Just the regular ol' pretty expensive passes.)
Almost every time it's the whole family: me, Daddy, Catherine, and Dominic. However, it has been just me and the kids a more than a few times. Am I crazy? Well, maybe. But not for this.
Since I've done it successfully so often I thought I would share some tips that have worked well for us. I know there are lots of scenarios out there that equate into only one parent being able to bring the kids, so maybe something in here will help you.
1. Pick your park.
I recommend sticking with Magic Kingdom. Currently my kids are two and six. Catherine, 6, can ride everything Magic Kingdom has to offer. Dominic can ride a lot, but certainly not everything.
While you could piece together a fun trip to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom with proper planning (and we have) I think Magic Kingdom is the best bet. The only Disney World park that the kids and I haven't done without Daddy is Hollywood Studios -- but a lot of that has to do with him being a major Star Wars aficionado. (At the bottom of this post check out my links for "What to do at Disney's ______ Park with Little Kids and Babies" for planning help.)
The one big negative that Magic Kingdom has is getting over the lake. Getting from the car to the front gate at the other parks takes ten minutes, tops, at Magic Kingdom it frequently takes a half an hour.
2. Adjust your expectations.
If you're solo with the little people there's a good chance that you won't be able to do everything that you'd like. Space Mountain is one of my favorite rides at Magic Kingdom. I simply can't ride it though when it's just me and the kids. I've even had to give up an elusive Mine Train FastPass that I somehow scored because, clearly, Dominic can't wait for me by himself while Catherine and I ride. (That was a day we thought Daddy might be able to come.) I'm one of those people that could be at the park from opening to closing and be totally happy. My kids can't do that. Acknowledge that this might not be your ideal trip and then, well, let it go.
3. Watch carefully for tiredness.
I think this is especially important whenever the children outnumber the adults. You only have so many arms! Maybe you have mastered giving one kid a piggy back, pushing a stroller, carrying an umbrella, all while juggling three cups of water, but I haven't. Getting tired and cranky isn't good for anyone; sometimes cutting a visit short is the answer. When it's been just me and the kids we typically stay at the parks for about 4 to 6 hours. More than that gets dicey.
4. Bring the stroller.
I never go without a stroller. My Fitbit shows that I average about 7 miles a day in the parks. (Keep in mind, these are short park visits -- for a longer visit it's easily over 10 miles!) That's a lot for little legs. I've been looking for one of the sit and stand type strollers, but haven't found a good one in my price range. (Meaning I haven't found a good one at a yard sale or on Craigslist yet!) Catherine does a great job of keeping up, but I have had them both ride in the single stroller together more than once.
A word of caution about strollers: If you aren't at the park early (which you should be!) you will probably need to take a tram in the parking lot. Please note, you must fold up your stroller to get on the tram. This means that you, and you alone, will be carrying your stroller, the bags, and the kids. That can get quite overwhelming. If you're early you will most likely be in one of the close parking lots and can skip the tram.
5. Plan your visit.
Get those FastPasses! Lines for Winnie the Pooh, Buzz, and especially Peter Pan can be quite long. Also, ask the kids what they would like to do. One time both of my kids wanted to spend time in Pooh's house. We hung out in front of the ride playing in Pooh's house for over half an hour. They loved it. Another time Dominic wanted to ride the "horses" over and over again, so we rode the Carousel a half dozen times one morning.
6. Get there early.
This is a good Disney World tip in general. My kids tend to be early rises, so getting there early isn't really an issue. While the initial opening of the gates surge can be intimidating if you've never been there before, it is the least crowded part of the day. Enjoy it! Seriously, you can get on almost a dozen rides by lunchtime if you're there for the gate drop.
7. Pack carefully.
We typically have three bags: small cooler, diaper bag, and a rain gear bag. The cooler (similar to this one) generally has PB&J and a few snacks (we don't pack water since it's free at all of the restaurants), the diaper bag has one day's worth of supplies, and then we have some type of rain protection for each person (especially during the rainy season). Try to keep each bag as minimal as possible. Whatever you bring you will be lugging around for the entire day. You will also probably be lugging your children at some point. I sometimes ditch the rain gear bag, although that has been a bad decision more than once, and sometimes we bring our pin trading bag (similar to this one, but ours is pink, with princesses).
8. Have fun!
It's Disney. Enjoy yourself! A Disney day, or week, will be different if you're the solo adult, but everyone can still have a great time!
Be sure to take a look at what you can do with little kids and babies at each of the Disney World parks!
Clicking on the above photos should get you to the right post, but just in case, here are the links again:
Animal Kingdom with Little Kids and Babies
I will be sharing this post at various blog parties, including these.