1. Be the first ones at the park. Get there before all the people from the other time zones have a chance to acclimate. Run, don't walk to your absolute first must go-on ride and get a FastPass. Go on the ride and then use the FastPass to go on the ride again.
2. Bring snacks. If I were Disney Management, I'd have a potato chip saleperson working the lines. 45 minutes waiting on line is two snack lifetimes for a 5-year old. The again, a bag of pretzels will set you back $5.75. The pretzels look like Mickey but, at the end of the day, all poop looks the same.
3. Bring Disney toys/clothes from home. Mickey Mouse ears never go out of style and I can't justify buying more than one pair per lifetime.
4. Bring along a robe for the kids (and yourself if you can fit it) if you're staying at Pop Century. We love that pool but hate the
fabric scraps towels. At night the air can be cool and if your kid is like mine she will want to go swimming every night even if she was so tired she fell asleep on Space Mountain. I name the hotel because it's the only one we stay at. The towels at the other hotels may be 30-ply micro-absorbent plush cashmere for all I know.
5. Don't force your child to have photos with the characters. Unless you want some pretty funny grumpy photos. I bought a bunch to display when she's older.
6. Single moms. If you tell them you're good with a King sized bed rather than two doubles, you can get a better located room.
7. Resist temptation and the fashion advice of a 5 year old. Every ride leads to a gift shop and there's something subliminal in the music. But, some things in the parks are better left in the parks. Like apparel. Unless you're a nursery school teacher.
8. Bring your own stroller. Bring a stroller even if your kid is a little too big for one. Somehow children have the energy to go on rides but do not have the energy to walk between them. And with parade schedules, etc., you may find yourself needing to get to another side of the park fast. Same goes for getting to the bathroom. I can get to the bathroom and back before a ride line has even moved. (nice people will save your place) Renting a stroller is $$$.
9. Remember where you parked the stroller.
10. Complain loudly about the FastPass. I've been going to Disney since 1972, less than a year after they opened. Nothing has ruined the magic more than the FastPass. Nothing says frustrating more when you've been standing on line for 45 minutes, only to have crowds and crowds of people get in front of you. I use FastPass because I have to, but i'd rather see them gone. Or at least let me know what I'm in for, with signs that read: You have 300 invisible people in front of you, wait time from 10 feet in front of the ride is 45 minutes more.
11. Take a break every now and then and give your feet time to recover. GE Carousel of Progress (time warp), Country Bear Jamboree or one of the similar attractions. I absolutely loved Nemo. Very well done Disney. But quote of the day was from the Hall of Presidents. As they "introduced" each president by name, they got to Martin Van Buren. My daughter yells: Urine?! His name is urine!? She heard what she heard. Loud. Priceless.
12. Talk to the tourists. I appreciate being a Floridian so much more when I hear how much the out of staters have to pay, how far they had to travel, and how much the airline cost. Not that I pop their bubbles. Packing light for us means until my car trunk is crammed.
13. Getting your little girl made up like a glitter-bunned princess is adorable but you may have a very sad princess who will be looking longingly at the pool come evening time.
14. Enjoy! Disney has changed so little since I was young there should never feel like a rush to see everything. Chances are much of it will be there, well-preserved 40 years from now too.
(Check back tomorrow for a photo)