So one thing I love about Disney is the amazing customer service! I was able to book our all star music value resort directly through Disney. There are travel agencies that can get basically the same pricing and sometimes offer incentives as well…like small world vacations and the Mouse for less/the magic for less. Definitely worth checking out your options to get the best deal. Disney was offering a play stay and dine package at the time so it was a good discount so I just went through them but I’m pretty sure the others offer similar if not the same packages. It’s great because if a better deal comes up before your time of travel Disney will change your reservation and apply the better discount, even if it’s months after you booked the reservation. You’ll get email notifications from Disney of all current discounts and offers as they become available. A couple of things I didn’t realize are the rooms come with a complimentary pack and play for sleeping a child under 3. So we were able to get one for each room. That’s a lot of extra room in the suburban for packing everything else needed. All rooms also have a mini fridge. One thing I packed and didn’t realize they provide is life vests for the pool. Yes, even that Disney has covered! They have complimentary life vest in various sizes and colors and in a couple of different styles! More room in the suburban! We packed lots and lots of drinks! Gatorade, soda, juice pouches and lots of bottled water and I’m glad we did because every night we would fill the refrigerator full of them and the next morning we’d pack our soft sided strap style mini cooler full and the days we weren’t at the resort and able to use our refillable mugs, the cooler full of drinks kept us hydrated without costing us a snack credit or 3.50 per drink! When you’re walking at a brisk pace pushing giant double strollers full of 20-40 pound kids through a crowded park for 12-14 hours anything over 80 is hot. So drinks are definitely worth packing.We ordered our magic bands online through Disney. I customized them online as well. It’s free to do that on the my Disney experience website. So we all picked a color (they have lots to choose from) and they even will let you have your first name printed on the inside of the band. Those came in the mail just two weeks before our trip. That was so exciting!!! We opened the boxes and saw the Disney castle picture printed on the inside of the box. There they were ,four in each box, lined up neatly, each one bearing a family members name. Yes this was really happening, no turning back now. We are actually going!! I had bought magic band sliders on eBay and stuck a couple in each kids stocking at christmas (although I confiscated them after the gifting was over for fear the kids would lose them…been there,done that). Now, I know magic band sliders seem silly, an unnecessary waste of money but boy was I glad I got those things and I’ll tell you that story later. Anyways the magic bands. Yes the coveted magic bands arrived to the gitty squeals and shrieks of excitement from the younger 4 children… the baby and the 14 year old were excited I guarantee it, but they tried to maintain their composure. The boxes also contained luggage tags. Yep cute little, nice quality, disney character wielding luggage tags! For free! Our trip was right around the corner and so was feeling that cool, cave-like pirate air!!
Part one in a series of how to do Disney as a large family
I grew up on Disney. My Dad was a weather man on TV in Florida and we were only about two and a half hours from ‘the happiest place on earth’ so we went quite often. Disney has a lot of nostalgia for me. From the cool air that you feel as you get closer and closer to the front of the line on water rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain to the spookiness of the haunted mansion looming at the back of liberty square on a breezy night. Well that was then and this is now and six kids later it’s a little hard to come up with the cash for a yearly visit. But just recently we did it! We pinched and saved and put in extra hours and we took the kids, all six of them, to Disney! And surprisingly with two double strollers, one teenager, two moody toddlers (who are under the impression they are princesses), two rambunctious boys, and a 9 month old it actually went great!! So great that three weeks later the lot of them are plotting how they can sell their toys and clothes and get back! We learned a few things on the trip. First of all staying on disney property is well worth it! We drove there, parked our car and didn’t have to step foot behind the drivers seat until we left six days later. I did a little investigating and found that the cheapest way to stay at Disney is either camping out (which I’m not against but wasn’t quite ready to do with a nine month old) or getting two adjoining rooms at a value resort. We have tried all three all star resorts. The pool at the all star movies resort is amazing. Even the look of the kiddie pool is pretty impressive compared to the other all star resorts.Although it helps to remember that this resort is the most popular of the three so it will always be slightly higher in cost than the all star sports or music resorts. The secondary pool at this resort is the mighty ducks pool. Nothing special, just a hockey themed pool. The music resort has a comparably great pool (I mean it’s not ‘sorcerer Mickey shooting out three sprays of water’ cool like the movies resort,but it’s good). The all stars music pool has three characters in the center of the guitar shaped main pool. Two of the characters spray water at passerbys. There is also an adjacent kiddie pool. The secondary pool at this resort is shaped like a piano but other than that no frills. It does have a cute Ariel statue that makes for a great photo op. all star sports character pool isn’t quite as visually impressive unless you just really like sports/baseball. The baseball diamond shaped pool has just one character who sprays water in the center. The main pool at the sports resort has a cool wavy shape to it and is surrounded by surfboards but for little ones the lack of characters might be a little disappointing compared to the others. And no getting sprayed for youngsters at this one either.The art of animation resort and the pop century resort are also value resorts but on the higher end cost wise of the five value resorts Disney offers. We have 8 in our family and you can technically get 10 people in your two adjoining rooms at the all star resort as long as 2 of those 10 people are under 3. Each room can have 4 occupants and one guest under 3, so five total per room. So we had grandparents join us on the trip and stay with us and still stayed within the occupancy limits. As the kids get older we won’t be able to do that and Mimi and Papa will be out of luck and booking their own room but it was nice this once. I’ll try to write a little each day about the tips and tricks I’ve learned in making a disney trip go just a little bit smoother with so many littles in tow. I came home with a feeling of ‘Wow, that actually went better than expected’ and it was as near perfect as you can get considering the age and number of kids. There are a few things I would do different next time and I’ll definitely be sharing those as well in the days to come. Planning the trip was almost as much fun as going so before I start planning again I’ll spend a little bit of time writing about it to feed my Disney appetite. Who am I kidding, it’s insatiable!!