We had so much fun on our trip to Disney World in Orlando! For so long we thought we’d wait until our youngest was old enough to enjoy it, but then we kept having babies! I really wanted to go while our oldest was still young enough to enjoy The Magic Kingdom as a little girl and at eleven time was running out. We had a wonderful time! Here are some of the things we learned about how a large family can still enjoy Disney and not break the budget!
1. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing deal. When I first looked at going to Orlando I had at least a 4 day park hopper pass in mind. Oh my goodness. The park tickets alone were going to be over $1,600 for a family of six! We could not afford that. It’s okay to just go the Magic Kingdom for one day! Make the most of that day and then enjoy other things around Orlando, like a day at the beach or Downtown Disney!
2 Be there when it opens and stay until closing! Make the most of your day. Those early hours with the park almost completely empty are so worth the extra effort to wake up all the kids and get them dressed while they are groggy. They’ll thank you later.
3. When you go matters! One of my main concerns was the crowds. I thought waiting in line for hours with our crew would be a nightmare. And it would have been! Try to go when most kids are in school! As I planned our trip I checked this site to help me evaluate the crowds at Disney. I found it to be very accurate. My sister went the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the lines were about an hour long for each ride. We took our family on the Friday the week after Thanksgiving and the longest we had to wait was 20-30 minutes the entire day! We were able to see the entire park and do all the rides we wanted and some even twice!
4. Use Priceline.com and save money on lodging— I have always wanted to stay at the Disney resort, and I’m sure that if you haven’t it’s a dream of yours too. $1500–that’s how much it would have cost to for my family to stay at the Disney resort for two nights. While it sounds amazing, there was no way it was going to work for my family of six. There are so many hotels in the Orlando area that the prices are very competitive. We paid $25 per room per night for a two star Disney neighborhood hotel just minutes from the parks using Priceline! It was a great hotel with swimming pools and other fun things that we didn’t even make use of because we were at Disney! Save money on lodging!
5. Pack a sack lunch–Yes it is allowed! I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and took chips, drinks, and snacks. It was perfect. We ate on the go whenever anyone was hungry and never wasted time looking for a place to eat. So this helped us make the most of our time and money, though I’m still dreaming of all the Disney food–maybe someday!
6. What if you lose a child? I have heard so many lost child at Disney stories that I purchased a security alarm for my kiddos and I did end up needing them! Yes I did lose my child at Disney! Be prepared. Have a plan. It wasn’t near as scary as the first time we lost our child when we hadn’t prepared for the possibility.
7. Make use of the baby swap line–One of the things I love about Disney with small children is that most of the rides and shows are great for the entire family even infants! But I love that they offer baby swapping so that I didn’t have to go to the back of the line after my husband and kids went. When he came to take the baby I could get right on. They even let me take some of the kids with me. They loved that! They got to ride twice and only wait once!
8. Pay for parking! Hotels draw you in by offering free shuttles to the parks. I’ve done it that way. Be prepared. You’ll be on THEIR schedule. You might not be able to get to the park when it opens. I remember on our honeymoon being ready to call it a night and ended up standing in the parking lot for an hour waiting for the bus to the hotel–not something you want to do with a slew of tired sleepy kiddos! My sister recently took the hotel shuttle and also ended up waiting an hour in the parking lot. The $17 parking fee was well spent in my opinion!
9. Plan on things not all going your way. Plan on things going wrong so that you are ready to enjoy things anyway! With a large family nothing ever happens exactly like I envision. My youngest started the day sick and my husband set out to break the world’s record for getting through the park the fastest. I wouldn’t have chosen those two things, but I did decide in advance to enjoy the day regardless of whether it was done my way or not. Let go of those expectations. They can sure be a kill joy if you don’t! Have fun!