Monday, October 27, 2014

Is One Too Young?

Our answer: No!

We have recently taken our one year old daughter to Disney World for the first time. We do not feel that bringing a one year old to Disney World is too young, but everyone has their own opinion. Many people feel that it is impossible to travel with a child, especially a place that can be really crowded at times. We really wanted to introduce Disney World to our child early on. We want her to know why we love Disney and to embrace it! 

Here are 10 reasons why we believe that One is just not too young.

1.) By 1 most kids can walk
2.) Taking a trip back to the room for the child to nap isn't always a bad thing. It gives you a little time to relax and recover from all the walking and the heat.
3.) Infants/Toddlers think that everything is amazing.
4.) 1 Year Olds do not ask you to buy everything for them.
5.) You get to go on attractions that you haven't been interested in going on for years...and you become interested in them again.
6.) You probably don't need to buy them their own meal. Our daughter just ate off of our plates!
7.) They are free to get into the parks!
8.) They are free to ride on your lap on the airplane (If that is how you plan to travel)
9.) You can use rider swap for rides that aren't so infant/toddler friendly..and it saves you a lot of standing in line time.
10.) The great smile you get to see when they first see Mickey and/or meet him!



Stay Tuned for our next post....Our Trip to Disney Summer of 2014 - the details of our trip.





Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Impact of FastPass+ on Touring with Children


Disney has created a new fast pass system that was recently implemented in all four parks. FastPass+ is basically an electronic way of selecting fast passes for attractions in advance. This system seems to be good and bad for people touring with kids. It allows for the changing of plans, but can also hinder those who are extremely time conscious and like to park hop.

How the FastPass+ Works:

  • You receive a magic band (a customizable Disney bracelet) in the mail right before your booked trip. These bands are a way of entering the parks, accessing FastPass+, etc.
The Magic Bands seem to be pretty cool so far. You do not need to worry about losing your park pass or fast pass. Carrying less or being responsible for less is always a plus when you are a parent. We already have so much to worry about and remember! Plus you can put your name on the band and pick which color you would like it to be. This can enhance the experience for the children because it is a small way that they are helping plan the trip.

  • You can select online or on your phone with the My Disney Experience App your FastPass+ selections up to 60 days in advance of your trip.
    • You even select things like Character Meet & Greets, shows, parades, and fireworks.
These are all pluses when traveling with children. Before I had my child I would have never stopped for a parade or a character spot, but now knowing that I don't have to wait two hours to meet Mickey is a great feeling.

  • FastPass+ is FREE!
Other theme parks such as Universal or Six Flags have you pay to get to the front of the line, but it doesn't work that way with Disney. Everyone has a chance to take part in FastPass+

  • With FastPass+ you get to choose one set of fast passes with each valid theme park ticket that is liked to the account.
  • You get up to 3-4 FastPass+ selections for attractions each day.
    • These selections must be at ONE theme park. You cannot mix and match.
This is one con that I have found for using FastPass+ when touring with a family. Young children sometimes need a break in the middle of the day. So if you take a break and go back to the room and want to go to another park after the break, you will not have any fast passes for the second park. I am someone who generally likes to park hop everyday. This will be a problem for me because I can't be as spontaneous on a larger scale. Sure, FastPass+ makes changing plans easy, but only if you are staying in the same park.

  • Once your FastPass+ Selections are made, you are given a specific time window to use them within. This time frame is usually an hour. I'm sure if you are a few minutes late it is all right, however, if you can't get to the attraction within a reasonable time period you are at risk of losing your Fast Pass. 
This is another con for me. I know that with my daughter---if she is hungry then it is time to eat now or no one will be happy. Or an unexpected bathroom break/diaper change, etc. Things happen when you have kids. With the old Fast Pass system if you missed your Fast Pass time you would just have to wait and you could get another Fast Pass. Now you only have three and you have to make those happen or remember to change them.

  • Changing your FastPass+ selection can be easy if you have a smart phone with the My Disney Experience App.
Not everyone has a smart phone though. You can change your reservation at a kiosk located in the parks, but you risk having to wait in line to do so. This can be a real fun-killer with the kids.

  • In addition to only having 3 selections - some of the selections are based on groups or tiers. For example, you have three selections, but only one of them can be a popular/headliner attraction. Ex: Soarin. The other two are to be then less popular attractions. 
This is a bummer in my opinion because you get all of the headliner attractions that families like to get done in the parks without investing some time in standing in line.


Although I have found many cons to using FastPass+ when traveling with kids, there are also pros and if used correctly it can enhance the touring experience for any family. We would be more than happy to hear about any experiences you have had using the new FastPass+

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Attractions with Little Ones Part 4: Disney's Animal Kingdom


Disney's Animal Kingdom is the one park at Walt Disney World that has the reputation of being a half-day park. While I see how some people can think that, I feel that Disney's Animal Kingdom has much more going on than people think. There are plenty of attractions that can be great for the whole family. I hope that after looking over this blog post you will give Disney's Animal Kingdom another chance to win your heart.


Lets begin at Discovery Island

All of the attractions in Discovery Island are great for all ages. 

  • It's Tough to be a Bug
    • This attraction does have some slightly frightening moments, but they are all in good fun. Every time I have sat through this attraction I have found nothing but everyone enjoying it.
  • Discovery Island Trails
    • This is a chance to walk around the Tree of Life and take in all the scenery. You are able to see all of the work put into the creation of the Tree of Life and it is a great chance to wind down with the family.

Camp Minnie-Mickey

  • Greeting Trails 
    • A great spot for some character meet and greets!
  • The Festival of the Lion King
    • I highly recommend this show. There is so much energy. A Great time for all ages. 



Africa

  • Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
    • This is a small walking tour. You will have the chance to look at many animals in the area like fish and birds. Another chance to just take in the scenery and weather!
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
    • This attraction is great for all ages. This ride gives you a chance to feel like you are actually traveling through Africa. You get to learn a lot about the animals and their habitats. This attraction is one of my favorites!





Rafiki's Planet Watch

All of the attractions in Rafiki's Planet Watch area are perfect for all ages! I find that the following attractions get looked over rather easily. 
  • Wildlife Express Train 
    • Takes you to Africa and back!Great chance to get off your feet and relax with some great scenery!
  • Habitat Habit
    • Outdoor discovery trail. This attraction helps us learn about sharing our world with the animals.
  • Conservation Station
    • A close look at care for our world's animals.
  • Affection Section
    • A good old plain petting yard -- without the plain part at all! A Chance to look at rare breeds across the world!
Although these attractions aren't necessarily "rides", but they are worth a shot. These things can be done during the day when you are just on a break from all of the hectic rushing from ride to ride.

Asia


Attractions for all Ages:
  • Flights of Wonder
    • A nice shaded area to sit in and relax a show of very interesting bird behaviors!
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek
    • An ancient ruin to go through--you get a nice view of animals you wouldn't normally see. Bats, Komodo Dragons, etc.

Attractions with height requirements:
  • Kali River Rapids
    • This ride has a height requirement of 38 inches tall. This ride is very fun, however, it is one of the rides that have a drop. This can be frightening to some. This ride is also one of the few where you can get soaked. This could be considered good or bad depending on how hot it is that day!
  • Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
    • This ride has a height requirement of 44 inches tall. Most children reach this requirement between 4 1/2 and 6 years old. This ride can be seen as very frightening for some children. It goes quickly, there are times when it is dark, and there is a giant Yeti in a cave.  I would recommend this ride, even if your children are too young to go on it. Do a rider swap or get in a single rider line just to experience it even if the kids can't. Plus the kids can watch the coaster come around the side of the mountain to spot their parents!

Dinoland U.S.A

While this is my least favorite of the lands, there are attractions that are definitely worth visiting!

Attractions for all ages and heights:

  • The Boneyard
    • A spot for the kids to dig up some bones and play around with some fossils.
  • Fossil Fun Games
    • Carnival style games themed to Dinosaurs.
  • Finding Nemo - The Musical
    • This is one of my favorite attractions in Animal Kingdom. The Music is great! There are so many bright colors, and the show really brings the movie to life! I would highly recommend seeing this show while you are in the Animal Kingdom.
  • TriceraTop Spin

Attractions with height requirements:

  • Primeval Whirl 
    • Frankly, I would not recommend this ride to anyone. This ride does have a height requirement of 48 inches. This ride is just plain scary. It does not feel stable. It feels like you are going to get decapitated or fall out. Nothing bad has ever happened, just not a good feeling like all of the other attractions I have experienced at Walt Disney World
  • DINOSAUR
    • This ride has a height requirement of 40 inches. It is also rather bumpy. I wouldn't take children on this ride who are scared of the dark or do not like movies like Jurassic Park. It is a little frightening. I am not personally a fan of this ride, but I think I am the only one. Give it a try! Let me know what you think!


Disney's Animal Kingdom has many attractions that are worth seeing. This park is a great park for a day where you do not want to be rushing from one place to another. I would not call this park a half-day park and it will soon truly be an all day park as there are many additions coming to the park soon (including the new Avatar themed land). I hope you give Disney's Animal Kingdom a try during your next trip!


Friday, May 31, 2013

Attractions with Little Ones Part 3: Disney's Hollywood Studios



Hollywood Studios is by far the most unconventional of the four theme parks in terms of layout and touring strategy, mainly due to the amount of shows and the schedule these shows follow. Be sure to pick up a times guide upon entering the park to see the daily show schedule! There are many experiences for young children, yet the Studios is also home to the most thrilling attractions found in Walt Disney World.


Hollywood Boulevard/Echo Lake:


Great attractions for everyone to enjoy:

  • American Idol Experience
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Jedi Training Academy
  • The Great Movie Ride (some mildly scary moments)

Attractions with height requirements:

  • Star Tours: The Adventure Continues has a height requirement of 40 inches. Most children are around this size at four years old.

Sunset Boulevard:

Great attractions for everyone to enjoy:

  • Fantasmic! Nighttime Spectacular
  • Beauty and the Beast, Live on Stage

Attractions with height requirements:

  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has a height requirement of 40 inches. Most children are around this size at four years old.
  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith has a height requirement of 40 inches. Most children are around this size at seven years old. *Note: this is the only ride that goes upside down at Walt Disney World, it has two inversions, one loop and one corkscrew*


Pixar Place/Animation Courtyard/Mickey Avenue:


Great attractions for everyone to enjoy:

  • Toy Story Midway Mania
  • Disney Junior Live on Stage
  • The Magic of Disney Animation
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow
  • Walt Disney: One Man's Dream




Streets of America:
Great attractions for everyone to enjoy:

  • Backlot Tour
  • Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
  • MuppetVision 3D
  • Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (Seasonal event from mid November to early January)

video



Be sure to think out a general touring plan before going to Disney's Hollywood Studios. It is a much harder park to "wing it" in since many attractions and shows only are available at certain times.

Coming Up Next-Disney's Animal Kingdom

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Attractions with Little Ones Part 2: EPCOT




EPCOT is more of an adult friendly park. It serves alcoholic beverages and has less of your "normal theme park characteristics". While adult friendly, it does have many attractions that make the park great for family experiences as well. Many of the attractions available are not just rides. There are shows, fireworks, and interactive play.

Future World

Great Attractions for everyone to enjoy:




  • Captain EO
  • Circle of Life
  • Ellen's Energy Adventure : Great to get a rest or even a brief nap as the attraction is 45 minutes in length.
  • Image Works
  • Journey into Imagination with Figment
  • Living with the Land
  • Spaceship Earth : This attraction has an interactive story as well that may be of interest to young children. They will get to play around with the technology on the ride vehicles.
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends
*All of these attractions are indoors and are great to visit on a hot day for a cool down*

Possible Attractions to Avoid:
  • Mission Space - Orange: This is much more intense than Mission Space - Green. If your child does not like rides that spin or gets sick easily we would recommend avoiding this attraction. The Green side is essentially the same attraction without the sensation of spinning, although it could still cause motion sickness in some.

Attractions with height requirements:

  • Mission Space: Both Orange and Green height requirement is 44". Most Children are this size around six years old. 
  • Soarin': Height requirement is 40." Most children are this size around age four.
  • Test Track: Height requirement is 40." Most children are this size around age four.


World Showcase



Great Attractions for everyone to enjoy:







  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
  • Impressions de France
  • Maelstrom
  • O' Canada: This is a circle vision film. The whole family may enjoy being able to see a video from a perspective that they never have before. 
  • Reflections of China
  • The American Adventure




*All of these attractions are indoors and are great to visit on a hot day for a cool down*



Things to do for children as you walk through the World Showcase:

Disney's Phineas and Ferb: Agent P's World Showcase Adventure: This is an interactive game to do around the World Showcase. The children become a secret agent and get to use a device to help complete the quest.

KidCot Fun Stops: There are fun stops in every country. During these stops the children are given masks or other items to color. The children get to take this to every country to receive a special stamp on it or something written in the language of the country. It keeps the kids interested in going through each country and becomes a great learning experience for them also.




Coming up next --- Disney's Hollywood Studios



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Additional Information on the Magic Kingdom

While spending some time on Pinterest I had come across an article that builds off the idea that it is possible for young children to enjoy Disney. This article covers some of the ideas that our previous post about attractions suitable for young ones goes over. The tips mentioned in the article are a fun read! Please let me know what you think or if you have any fun tips or experiences to share!


http://suite101.com/article/tips-for-visiting-wdws-magic-kingdom-with-kids-a213907

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Attractions with Little Ones Part 1: The Magic Kingdom


One of the most common misconceptions about taking a young child to Walt Disney World is that they will not be able to ride anything or be able to remember certain experiences. While it may be true that most young children won't be able to remember certain experiences, it does not mean they won't be able to enjoy themselves while they are there. For our first series of blog posts we wanted to focus on this subject and look at experiences children and their parents can enjoy together. We will begin in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.



Main Street U.S.A.:

First off a great place to begin with a child's experience is Main Street U.S.A. Everything on Main Street can be experienced by children of all ages with the possible exception of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. This is because it requires reading. If done as a family it can still be a great experience because of the interactive storytelling.










Tomorrowland:

Great attractions for any age;
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (TTA)
  • Carousel of Progress
Possible Attractions to Avoid:
  • Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor : May not be best for very young children because they may not understand the jokes and it may be difficult for them to sit through.
  • Astro Orbiter: This can be scary to someone who is young. This attraction is not good for a child who may have a fear of heights or does not like rides that spin. (Think Dumbo on steroids!)
  • Stitches Great Escape: Some children may find this attraction to be scary. This ride can be dark and loud at times.
Attractions with height requirements:
  • Space Mountain: Height requirement is 44'': Most children are around this height by the age of six. 
  • Stitches Great Escape: Height requirement is 40'': Most children are around this height by the age of four.
  • Tomorrowland Speedway: Height requirement is 32" to ride, and 54" to drive alone.  Most children are 34"by two years old and 54" by age eight.

Fantasyland:

Great Attractions for everyone: 
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • its a small world
  • Mickey's PhilarMagic
  • Peter Pan's Flight
  • Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel 
Possible Attractions to Avoid:
  • Mad Tea Party: This attraction should be avoided by children who get nauseated easily or do not like quick spinning rides.


Attractions with height requirements:
  • Barnstormer Starring Great Goofini: Height requirement is 35''. Most children will be this height by four years old.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Not yet open, scheduled to open 2014): Height requirement is 40''. Most children will be this height by four years old.


Liberty Square:

Great Attractions for everyone:
  • Liberty Belle Riverboat
  • The Hall of Presidents
Possible Attractions of Avoid:
  • The Haunted Mansion: This attraction could be scary to young children. It is dark and is meant to have a spooky appearance. *The majority of young children do fine on this attraction, as it is not meant to be truly terrifying, but more "silly scary"*






Frontierland:

Great Attractions for Everyone: 
  • Country Bear Jamboree: This attraction has been recently shortened from 16 minutes to 12 minutes making it easier for kids to sit through.
  • Tom Sawyer Island
Attractions with height requirements:
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: Height requirement is 40''.
  • Splash Mountain: Height requirement is 40''.
Most children will be this height by the time they are four years old.





Adventureland:

Great Attractions for Everyone:
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Possible Attractions to Avoid:
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: This attraction could possibly scare young children because it is dark and at times loud. There is also a small drop in the beginning of the attraction. *Like the Haunted Mansion, most young children do very well on this attraction*
  • Swiss Family Treehouse: This attraction may be a bad idea for children too young to walk. Kids who are able to walk well and walk up and down stairs should be fine.


Parades and Fireworks:

All parades and fireworks are appropriate for all ages. I would recommend that if you are traveling with small children and carrying a lot of items to remember that both the parades and fireworks get very crowded at certain times of the year.


*Note, although we included The Haunted Mansion on Pirates of the Caribbean on the list of possible attractions to avoid, these are classic staples of the park and are almost a rites of passage for some families. Some even select these as first attractions to take their children on!

Next Up: Epcot (EPCOT for the purists)