Thursday, October 30, 2014

10 Things I Learned at Disney

October has been a crazy month. And I mean that in a good way. But, goodness, it’s flown by ...

We went to Disney World and then I came home and released a book. I rarely do one thing at a time. So, needless to say, it’s been an exciting month. And these two topics are pretty much what I’ve shared about this month. But I have a little bit more I want to share about Disney, so that’s what I’m doing today.

In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned while at Disney ...

1. Animal Kingdom is great.

It was on the schedule for our second day of parks, but I didn’t realize just how much we’d love it. Multiple of our favorite Disney things were there.

2. Magic Kingdom is best done over two days. 

And I liked that our two days weren’t back to back. We were able to do everything we wanted, except the new Seven Dwarf Mine Train. We saw both the afternoon Festival of Fantasy and the nighttime Electric Parade and preferred the earlier parade. Although all the lights at night were pretty.

3. Building in a day “off” was good for us. 

Two parks and then we went to Downtown Disney for lunch at T-Rex and some shopping, especially at LEGO Imagination Center. Then we spent some time swimming at the hotel.

4. Magic Bands, the dining plan, and Fast Passes are amazing. Magical, really. 

We didn’t regret the dining plan investment and loved the freedom and ease it created. To have that as well as our hotel entry, park admission, credit card and Fast Passes all on our Magic Bands was convenient. Even though I don’t normally wear watch, I kept looking at it to see what time it was! It’s not that magical!

5. Doing just Disney is more than enough. 

We would have loved Sea World, Legoland, or the beach, but I’m glad we focused on Disney. We didn’t even do EPCOT at Disney because I wasn’t sure my young kids would love it like the other parks, plus four days of parks just the right amount for us.

6. My kids – who are 4 and 7 – are at the perfect ages.

I’m glad we didn’t go to Disney any sooner and I’m glad we didn’t have to haul a stroller. Ben does still sometimes nap so he went the whole trip (minus 30 or so minutes while traveling from the park to the hotel) without a nap, which stretched him. But he managed and he slept well at night. We only kept them up late one night. Everything was really exciting to them. Of course, there’s still plenty to do if we go back when they’re older!

7. The My Disney Experience app is helpful.

Download it and maintain enough of your mobile device battery to use it throughout the day to keep track of wait times, Fast Passes, shows, and dining details. The only downfall is once you use the three Fast Passes you reserved ahead of time, you can’t add the subsequent Fast Passes. The Disney lady at one of the kiosks, where you can add Fast Passes, told me this feature is in the works.

8. Disney customer service and hospitality are top-notch. 

One of my favorite examples is not dealing with our luggage after checking our bags at the Nashville airport. Disney people retrieved them in Orland and then brought them to our room while we were out eating dinner that first night. Likewise, we checked them at the hotel before we boarded the bus for the airport and didn’t have to handle them again until we picked them up at the baggage claim in Nashville. Despite the hyperbole of Disney being the happiest, most magical place on earth, there really are happy, helpful people working there. And the parks are so clean, even with the crowds.

P.S. The customer service of the Disney planner we used also was fabulous. I highly recommend Wish Upon a Star with Jennifer Hart. And, hey, this service is free!

9. My kids can be rendered speechless. 

Everyone in our life except them knew we were going. We managed to surprise and shock them! More on that in an earlier post.

10. Buying souvenir items before we went was good advice from seasoned Disney traveling friends. 

It really nixed the “gimmes” that could easily come with all those Disney gift shops. I bought the kids some T-shirts, accessories, and pajamas that we gave them throughout the week. I gave them some coloring books and other Disney-related activities for both plane rides and had glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces for the night we stayed late for the nighttime parade. Thanks to zulily sales, I found great deals on fun souvenirs in the months leading up to our trip and was able to incorporate gifts for the kids throughout the week. Ben’s gifts were wrapped in Planes paper and Cate’s in Frozen. They all were labeled for which morning or evening I wanted them to open them. They did each have some souvenir money from the grandmas, so they spent that at Downtown Disney, mostly on Legoes.

If you’ve been to Disney, what would  you add? 

Want to read more about Disney so, do so here: Our Favorite {Disney} Things7 Reasons to Use a Disney Vacation Planner. And you can see even more pictures here.

I'm linking up with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky, who inspired me to document life this way. I love these monthly posts that document life. Read more previous posts: {From 2013} June. July. August. September. October. November. {From 2014} January. February. March. April. May. June. July. August. September.

Want more stories? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, peek into my life on Instagram, follow 152 Insights at Bloglovin', or subscribe to receive "Insights in Your Inbox."


  1. We loved our trip to DW! I think Disney is fun at any age, really. My kids were 6 & 7 - we actually arrived at DW on Hannah's bday and she got to have her bday dinner at Cinderella's castle. My only other piece of advice is to make dining reservations way in advance.

  2. KristinHillTaylor10/31/2014 2:49 PM

    Yes to planning dining reservations in advance. I did plan in advance, although more like 170 days instead of 180 days early that Disney allows, and I couldn't get some of my first preferences of restaurants and times. We still loved where we ate, though! A birthday dinner at Cinderella's castle sounds fabulous!

  3. I loved being a kid at Disney ... when I was in my 20s, and then again in my 50s. It's kinda like time stands still ...
    So good to be your neighbor over at Emily's today, Kristin!

  4. KristinHillTaylor11/03/2014 6:45 AM

    Hi, Linda! I'm sure Disney is fun at any age - I'm looking forward to going back at some point. :)

  5. I'm so glad I clicked through to this post from the linkup. I LOVE Disney World! I know a lot of people think it's just another amusement park, but I really believe there's some special "magic" going on there. I've never been anywhere else where people are so genuinely friendly and want to make sure all your needs are met. (Not like the forced customer service you find at most places.)

    It sounds like your family had a blast! If you ever go back, I'd make sure to hit up EPCOT. The countries probably would've been boring for them at their ages now, but as an adult, they're one of my favorite parts of Disney. Plus the science half of the park has a ton of hands-on activities for kids. I just had my first baby three months ago, and this post re-inspired me to start a Disney fund so we're ready to take her when she's the right age.

  6. KristinHillTaylor11/03/2014 9:49 AM

    Hey, Ashley! I'm glad you came by! I personally think I would love EPCOT, but several friends thought that wasn't where I'd want to spend our time with our kids at this point. You should start a fund so you can take your girl when she's a little older. :)

  7. YAY!!! Kristin I love this post!!! It made me remember our WDW trip back in April and made me miss Disney too. :) So happy you had a great time-- thanks for sharing your tips and photos with us. AND, I know I said this earlier but the new header is so great!

  8. KristinHillTaylor11/03/2014 4:06 PM

    Hi, there. I'm so glad you came over and enjoyed reminiscing! :)

  9. I need to figure out what the perfect timing will be for our kids, because this looks like TONS of fun!!!

  10. KristinHillTaylor11/04/2014 8:22 AM

    Yours are at pretty great ages now. :)

  11. Hi Kristin, came over from Beth's to check out your blog and noticed your Disney photos! We actually just got back from Disneyland, California a few week ago! It's one of our favorite places to visit. My personal favorite attraction was Thunder Mountain, so fun! Looking forward to hopping over here for the new link-up next week. : )

  12. Still need to get my family to Disney. My husband hasn't even been there yet. One of these days. I just love your pictures. I just love you and your family. Looks like it was great fun.

  13. KristinHillTaylor11/05/2014 10:40 AM

    Y'all should go. You'd have a blast. It's definitely one of those places that can be such a fun adventure for anyone at any age. Love you, sweet friend.

  14. KristinHillTaylor11/05/2014 10:40 AM

    How fun! I had been wondering how much the two parks were alike. I'm so glad you came by and I'm looking forward to getting to know you more in the coming weeks.

  15. Karrilee Aggett11/07/2014 11:11 AM

    I love this! We never made it to Disney with our girlie... she never really wanted to and so we just skipped it - but she went to Nationals for DECA in her senior year, which was conveniently right across from Disney so she went with a few friends! It was strange to have her texting me photo's of being there and telling us, even at 18, that she wants us to all go as a family together! Maybe next year? So glad you got to go and surprise the littles too! How fun!

  16. KristinHillTaylor11/07/2014 12:42 PM

    I've never longed to go ... until I had kids, and even then, not until recently. I'm glad we went, although I do think it's a place at which you can make amazing memories regardless of your age! I'm so glad you stopped by, Karrilee!