Tips for an awesome Vacation at Walt Disney World!

So we just went on holiday – to DISNEY WORLD, FLORIDA! My mind = blown. It was awesome!! So, I figured I’d compile a list of some things we found handy & some other things you simply MUST DO when you’re there! (Nb. Some of these apply to folks who have young children (because I have young children!) Some are just child-free, friendly advice!)


1: Don’t have any pre-conceived ideas.

Let’s just get this out of the way now; young children? Disney World? It will be harder than you think. How hard do you think it will be?


Triple it.

Now I’m not saying it won’t be the best holiday of your whole entire lives, that it won’t surpass all your expectations & be absolutely magical – because IT WILL. But I’m just saying; prepare yourselves.

You know how cranky your child gets when they’re overtired at home?? OK, well add to that the heat. And the fact that they’ve been walking for hours. And probably queuing for rides. And are confused by the time difference. And don’t understand how, when it rains, it RAINS.

Like I said – triple it.

2. Nap time.

Seriously. Those kids are going to NEED naps. Even if they haven’t napped in 2 years, they’re going to want to nap on holiday. And you’re going to want them to. Everyone will want them to. And it will be so worth it. Break up your day – spend the morning in Animal Kingdom, go MAKE them have an afternoon nap, go back out to Magic Kingdom in the evening & watch the Fireworks – believe me, it will make for a much more enjoyable & fulfilling holiday for all involved.

2. Meet Mickey Mouse

I’m talking about a specific Mickey here.

Yes, they’re all great – heck, they’re a life-sized Mickey Mouse!

But the one I’m talking about is at Magic Kingdom doing Meet & Greets in the Main Street Theatre.

Do it; just do it!

It will surpass all of your expectations when you see your little ones faces light up in sheer joy & adoration as their childhood ‘idol’ starts talking & interacting with them. Because he can TALK! His mouth moves & he blinks & everything!

It. Is. Awesome.


*cough* Sorry, what I mean to say (as my husband was told by a lovely Disney Worker when he enquired about whether there was a talking Minnie) is that “Mickey is the only one who has learned to talk”.

It is truly fantastic.

One of, if not THE, absolute highlight of our trip. Magical.

Look at Babu’s face =’) ❤


3. Follow your parental instincts.

Some of the rides your child is tall enough to go on, you will NOT want them to go on. You know your child best. Noah, for instance, has night terrors, is scared of the dark, monsters, ghosts & anything remotely creepy – but he is tall enough to go on the Hollywood Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Uh huh. No way. How easy do you think it would be to get him on a ride after that? The word TERROR is in the TITLE! Now, that’s not to say you can’t go on. Have at it. Child swap (we’ll cover this later.) But think carefully about what your child can cope with – you know them best. My parents went on & witnessed an awful experience where a little girl cried in fear for the entire ride. Awful.

tower of terror

4. Take advantage of the child swap system.

This is brilliant!

If you have children too small to go on a ride but you yourself want to go on it, tell the ride worker that you wish to do a “child swap” & they will give a ticket to the person (or people) waiting with the children which they can then use when you exit the ride. Though be warned, you will have to entertain them while you wait……….


The ticket is valid for a few extra days too, so you don’t have to use it there & then, & it is normally valid for up to 3 people. It also enables the child waitees to go through the Fast Pass queue instead of the standard line. This brings me on to the Fast Pass+ system.

5. Fast Pass+

60 days before your trip begins, you can go on line at and start booking your Fast Passes. Each person is entitled to 3. (Once you are there and have used your 3, you can then head on over to a kiosk situated in all the Disney Parks & book a fourth (for that day) & so on.) What we did (sneaky sneaky) is get a “Child Swap” Pass for the children-waiting folks hanging with the baby, head on through the Fast Pass queue with our Fast Passes & the kiddos big enough to go on, & then when we emerged the waitees would use there Fast Passes & the “Child Swap” pass to go back on, taking the children on with them again. Hey presto! The boys got to ride twice! Genius!


6. Prepare for rain.

Since visiting Florida I have discovered something – English rain is not real rain. Real rain is Florida rain. It will appear out of nowhere, drench you in seconds, & then clear up faster than you can blink (or hang around for a while – weather can be unpredictable like that.) Rain Macs/Ponchos are a must (though beware, those things can RIP!), as are umbrellas (though don’t put them up when it’s thunder & lightening – yikes!) & pushchair (stroller) rain covers. We were caught out a few times. The pushchair was caught out once. It wasn’t pretty.



7. Meet characters.

This relates back to Mickey, but really, take time to meet the characters.Yes, queuing is boring. Yes, it’s solely for your children. But believe me, out of everything, they remember those character meets the best of all. Get them an autograph book & have Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Jake, Sophia – all of them – have them sign them! They’ll treasure them forever; & you’ll treasure the memories. Seriously, these meets were the things I enjoyed the most. The boys loved them & so did I; beautiful.







8. Take in your own water.

I can’t really elaborate more on this except to say, tap water in Florida is…well…gross. It’s never properly cold & (I think) has a weird taste and/or smell. You need to head to the supermarket (Walmart, Publix), buy a case of lots of individual bottles of water & stick them in your fridge. Then on the morning you’re due to head off, pack them into a little backpack & off you go! I’d probably suggest two bottles each (you’ll drink some things in the parks anyway & you don’t want to be lugging too much about! But, there was one day where we were so hot & desperate for a drink having devoured our bottled water that we had to use some water fountains. YACK! Don’t get caught out!)

9. Budget your spending money by day.

This is probably a given, but it will really help you out (especially if you’re vacationing on a budget!) We even gave the boys an allowance each morning before we headed out! It’ll save time, arguments & take any monetary pressure away from your trip! We’d also budget any food money for each day (whether we were eating out or eating in the Villa.) e.g. $20 adult spending, $10 child spending, $100 food for the family. Anything not spent on one day, would carry over to the next. Easy squeezy!

10. Stay close to the parks.

We didn’t do this. I mean, we weren’t far out but the advertised “15 minute drive” from the Villa every day ended up being over 40 minutes due to traffic problems etc. (I’ve never seen so many accidents!) So, stay close. International Drive has some great places & my parents have stayed there before, as well as my sister, & they loved it. If you can afford it, actually stay ON one of the parks! That’s one of our (very very far into the future) future dreams =D Don’t get me wrong, the Villa had its upsides – it had its own pool, it was quiet & relaxing, we had Wifi, & Cable, a fridge/freezer (American sized – yeah baby!), a dishwasher, a washer, a dryer, a Games room, individual bedrooms – it was truly lovely! & it might be just the thing for your family!  But the time we would have saved had we stayed closer doesn’t bare thinking about…


11. Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure & Seaworld


If you can, just go. I guarantee it’s worth it! Especially if you love Harry Potter like some people I know…









Pooily (Yes, I’m treating that as a real word) the newer section in Universal wasn’t open when we went, but it will be for you *scowls* We at least got to see a few sneaky glimpses…



the dragon


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So close, yet so far… anyway, *cough* May be getting slightly off track here…

There’s so much I can say about Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure that it would take a whole new Blog Post to cover it, from Curious George Town,



to Springfield,


to the new Transformers 3D ride,


to Seuss Landing (my boys came away OBSESSED with Dr Seuss).

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It really is just awesome – all of it! I particularly recommend the children’s sections – I didn’t even Mention Fievel’s Playland where everything is oversized to make you feel like a mouse! It is all wonderful! (Incidentally, bare in mind that their Child swap system is better than Disney’s (you can take the children through to the ride with you & there’s a “Child Swap Room”)..but their Fast Pass system is not. Really)

SeaWorld is fun – the kids section is great! And Manta is awesome (if slightly terrifying for folks afraid of heights…)

(I’m not going to get into a whole animal cruelty/abuse debate as that isn’t what this Blog Post is about, however I will say that it is clear in relation to the Killer Whales that things need to change.)


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I definitely recommend The Clyde & Seamore Show – both day & night – (HILARIOUS), The Dolphin “Blue Horizons” Show, sitting at the front right (or left) of the “A’lure, Call of the Ocean” Show (you’ll thank me later), viewing the Beluga Whales & feeding the dolphins! Hint – in the shows featuring animals, you might not want to sit at the front…when it says “Splash Zone” it means “SOAK ZONE!” We super enjoyed it – especially at night!

Which reminds me – as great as the parks are throughout the day, at night that is when they look truly MAGICAL – believe me – there’s just something different about them – the entire feel & atmosphere – I just loved them all at night!

I think I enjoyed Universal/Islands of Adventure a bit more than I did Disney (don’t tell the kids that…) with Harry Potter being the pinnacle for me (obviously!) but it is all fantastic!  Babu in particular is still Disney World obsessed with Magic Kingdom being the highlight – Mickey Mouse, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, the section dedicated to Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella’s Castle (which he’s still convinced Mickey lives in), Goofy’s Barnstormer, Dumbo, Peter Pan’s Flight, the shows, Tomorrowland, the Journey of the Little Mermaid &, of course, the characters!

There’s still so much I haven’t mentioned but my main piece of advice I have saved until last & it is this;

12. Enjoy it!

Truly. There are so many things to see & do that you can feel rushed & hustled & bustled by the crowds & meeting your Fast Pass Plus deadlines, but really, the only thing to do is to have a good time! Don’t complain about the queues, don’t hurry by to the next place you need to be without looking around you – imagine what you could miss! – don’t get stressed out by the kids whining – just think where you are! Just imagine the hundred – thousands – of people dying to be in your shoes! & you’re there! Love every second! Take the time to take photos – & lots of them! Cherish the memories you’re making!

Have FUN!


‘D’ is for Discovery!

(FYI: This one’s going to have a lot of pictures. Not that I’m apologising. My boys are cute.)

Questions are a beautiful thing. Whenever I think of someone asking a question I always think of that old clichéd phrase ‘no question is a stupid question.’ This has always been our mantra with the boys – they can ask us whatever they want, whenever they want.

My husband, Ash, is an avid questioner.

Whether meeting someone for the first time, filling in awkward silences, or having a political debate, a question is always on the tip of his tongue. It’s a running joke with friends, church folk, family, and work colleagues; he lurves a good question.

This week we found out that someone else enjoys a good question or two as well …

Last week Ash, the boys and I were away in Derbyshire on something called a ‘Discovery Break’, volunteering for Ash’s work, Christians Against Poverty (CAP) in order to serve and bless their clients. (Check out their website; it’s inspiring, agenda-less, (com)passion-filled work, all done on the sole basis of helping individuals and families become free from the bondage of debt.

Whilst there we had a wonderful time, the boys especially – NOAH especially. He adored it.

Now, a lot of the time (for the boys and I) was spent in the creche. And I don’t care what anyone says, creche’s are horrible (generally speaking). Children cry and scream and snot and yell; the adults come pretty close. Let’s face it, everyone who is in the creche wants to get back out of it – pronto!

Still, it wasn’t so bad. Noah adopted a phone that he wanted to bring home with him and Babu investigated various ways in which to stop yourself choking on a pen lid. Results still to be determined.

Anyway, when we weren’t in the creche we went exploring. We found some cows and sheep in nearby fields and investigated the lake (more of a pond if you ask me, but to-may-to, to-ma-to.) I felt kind of bad after we’d stood watching a particularly rotund sheep for a few minutes, noticed it’s tummy wobbling and professed ‘Look boys, that’s a mummy sheep; she’s got a baby in her tummy!’ only for Ash to point out a few seconds later that for a lady sheep it had exceptionally large testicles. The tummy movement must have been gas. Whoops. Still, you’re thinking, the cows must have been better? Well, not really. No sooner had we pottered over to say hello, the cow nearest to us turned it’s back and did a giant whizz right in front of us. Ash and I burst out laughing as Noah shouted ‘Look, look, Bow doing a wee wee!’ watched until it had stopped and continued, ‘It finished! Well done Bow!’ My boy’s an encourager. Great quality.

And as I mentioned before, he’s developing another great quality too.

At the beginning of our drive there (in order to use the magical power of a cookie to keep the boys quiet) we stopped at Starbucks (grabbing a coffee to keep us happy too). While I popped out to grab the necessities, Ash decided to speak to the boys about our ‘holiday’. Noah instantly asked, ‘Daddy, what is holiday?’ Ash, stunned, explained that we were going to Derbyshire. ‘Daddy, what is Derbyshire?’ This was followed by a Google search of images on Ash’s iPad and a mini presentation of what Derbyshire looks like. Noah’s response? ‘Wow!’

And it didn’t stop there. Over the next few days we were met with many questions. Here’s just a random selection:

‘Mummy, daddy, what is mummy and daddy?’

‘What is baby, mummy?’

‘What making babies, mummy?’

‘What is night, daddy?’

‘What is dark, daddy?’

‘What bed time, mummy?’

‘Mummy, daddy, what is made?’

‘Daddy, what is animals?

It’s incredibly cute. And a little unnerving. It’s like he’s a teenager already; without the acne. Since when is ‘what is making babies?’ a normal question for a two year old to ask?

At least the animal question made sense (there was a Tropical Experience evening.) Noah used to have an intense fear of all animals. It was extremely strange given that he’d never had a bad experience with one. On this break we realised that this is no longer the case. In fact, entirely the opposite. He is now obsessed with animals. He cried if he didn’t get to touch one. He stayed up until well past 9pm in order to hold a parrot. It was very sweet. He stroked a spider, hugged a baby python, tickled a turtle and held the parrot, tootled over to get his blanket, climbed into his pushchair, stuck his thumb in his mouth and went to sleep.

Since when were children so brave? I remember being terrified of a lot of things when I was younger. Most powerfully of heights. I used to walk around the shopping mall with my back pressed against the shop windows in order for me not to be anywhere near the banister and fall to my screamy, splatty death.

Noah it seems however, has no fear of this either. We found this out when visiting a theme park whilst away. Roller-coasters, Cable cars, Ferris Wheels – no fear. I on the other hand? Well, let’s just say I’m not quite over it.

Still, it’s a comfort to know my little men aren’t afraid of anything, least of all questioning the world around them. I just hope they don’t turn into stuntmen or dare devils. I couldn’t take the stress. Journalist I could handle. Just about.

“Mummy, what is blog?”