The month of October has FLOWN by. I can’t believe it has already been 3 weeks since we went to Florida and Christmas is 8 weeks away! Let that sink in. Before we get any closer to the end of the year, I wanted to write a recap of our Amelia Island and Disney World trip. I’ll be sharing all the tips on how to survive Disney with young kiddos! Enjoy!
Amelia Island, Florida
The whole reason we were in Florida to begin with earlier this month was for the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) Century bike ride that takes place in Amelia Island each year. My nephew was diagnosed with the disease at age 4 (now he’s 13) and our family has been very involved with the organization ever since. My husband has participated in several rides, and we decided to bring the kids this time too.
We stayed at the beautiful Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. It’s right on the beach, and there are two fantastic pools on site too. One is adults only, but the other is huge and very family friendly. To be honest, we didn’t have a ton of time to explore, but here are a few highlights from the resort:
Yoga on the beach:
How have I never done beach yoga before this?! It was amazing. Beach yoga is offered on Saturday’s and Sunday’s at 7:30. DO NOT MISS IT!!!
Being on the Atlantic side means more seashells! The kids had a lot of fun collecting some to bring home.
Condos close by:
We had a pretty large group with us for this leg of our trip. We stayed within the actual resort area, however the plantation area surrounding the Omni is HUGE. My inlaws rented an Air BNB that happened to be right next door to the resort area. It was a nice condo with a kitchenette and beach access too.
Convenient shuttle service around the plantation:
If you’re staying at the resort, you can utilize the free shuttle to take you in and around the entire plantation! Just go to the front lobby for access.
Short, easy 3 hour drive away from Orlando:
Since we were already in Florida and the drive is easy, we planned a short Disney trip around our stay in Amelia Island.
Disney World Prep
Get a FREE Disney World Planner:
Let me know if you want my contact by sending me an email ([email protected]). This is an old coworker of mine who does this and she will help you book your tickets, schedule all of your meals/character meals, get fastpasses etc. There are set days that you have to do all of these things prior to your trip and a planner will do these things for you. SO HELPFUL.
Download the Disney World App:
You will use this the entire time you’re at the parks (or you should anyways). It has an interactive map that shows where you are and which way to head to get to where you want to go. You can search for fast passes, look for when and where you can meet characters, and view wait times on rides. It’s pretty amazing. Download here.
Plan kids outfits ahead of time:
I did an entire blog post on this topic and you can read about it here.
Rent a Stroller:
BabyQuip is a great service for this! You simply reserve a stroller online (or whatever other kid equipment you might need like carseats etc) and one of their representatives will deliver it directly to you! You can use promo code: EMMY to get 10% off your purchase too! (partner) You can also see if BabyQuip is available in your area too! This isn’t just a service that’s available for Disney! You can rent equipment from various locations throughout the U.S.
Kids riding in style in the Double City Mini Stroller! Thanks BabyQuip!
Day 1 Magic Kingdom, Disney World
This wasn’t our first rodeo at Disney. We went almost two years ago right after Layla turned 4 (you can read about that trip here). Both times that we have gone now have been for short trips (which is all my sanity can handle with a 5 and 3 year old). Perhaps when they are a little older, we will go for longer periods of time. But for now, two full park days and three nights have worked well for us. They are BUSY, and we pack a lot in but it works. Instead of giving the play by play of our day at MK, I’m going to give you five of the things our kids / family liked best or found helpful. Hopefully these will be helpful hints/tips for you and you can pin this post for when you actually need it!
Stay on site if possible (particularly RIGHT on site where you can ride the Monorail or walk to the Magic Kingdom)
Especially if you do not like crowded buses! We stayed at a Disney Resort (Caribbean Beach) but it is not one of the locations that is on the Monorail route. In order to get to the parks we took the Disney Shuttles. These run all day long and usually come every 20-30 min or so. When riding to and from the Magic Kingdom the buses are PACKED because its the park of choice for most people. On our way home that evening I had to stand shoulder to shoulder holding Henry for a solid 30 minutes. Thank you kind men for NOT offering me a seat (eyeroll). I’m sure we could’ve driven our own car too, but it wasn’t something we explored this time. The cost difference in staying at one of the monorail properties compared to a Disney resort that is off the beaten path a bit is approximately $1K more.
This resort was very nice for our needs. They offer a ton of amenities that we didn’t even experience since our stay was pretty short. Caribbean Beach Resort is also the new hub for the Disney Skyliner transportation system. This is new and will take you high above the trees overlooking some of Disney’s properties and you can use it to get to Hollywood Studios. It was closed for repairs unfortunately while we were there.
Inside Lobby of Caribbean Beach
Get your kids silhouettes made
There is a very talented silhouette artist located right on Main Street when you enter the park down a little side alley on the right hand side. The process literally takes 10-15 min from start to finish, and it’s the best keepsake we have from both of our trips there.
Plan out which characters your kids want to see the most in advance
As I mentioned above, you will use the Disney App for everything. One of those things will be to see when characters are appearing for photos. You’ll be able to see which section of the park they are located so you can plan accordingly (i.e. get there at least a half hour before the end time) because they cut the lines off. Layla REALLY wanted to meet Mary Poppins but we walked up at 11:25 and the line was already cut off (eyeroll again)…learn from my mistakes.
If time + budget allow, do at least one character meal
If your kids are still at the character loving age, a great way to see and meet characters is to attend a character dining experience. These meals cost more/take more meal credits (if you have the Disney Dining Plan), but you get the chance to cross several characters off your list at once. We ended up doing Cinderella’s Royal Table again this time and it was worth it. You can check off Cinderella, Aurora, Jasmin, Aerial, and Snow White with one meal. The experience takes place in the iconic castle too which is pretty fun. Lots of fun touches that the kids (and adults) can enjoy.
Meeting Cinderella before heading up to dine in the castle tower
Henry’s got a crush
One of her fave parts of the evening – decorating her own Cinderella themed cupcake
Make time for Adult rides
Obviously Disney is mostly for the kids, but some of the rides that have been around forever are ones that little kids can’t even ride. Steve and his dad wanted to ride Space Mountain and we made it happen. That’s definitely one that you should utilize a fast pass for because there is almost always an hour wait time.
Day 2 Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios was so fun! This was our first time visiting and we almost didn’t go. We had been planning on doing Animal Kingdom again (visited very briefly the first time we went). The weather forecast called for rain the majority of the time we were in Orlando (60-90%), but overall we got pretty lucky. But with the gloom, I decided last minute to switch to HWS instead because there are a lot more closed in areas to take shelter from rain than at Animal Kingdom.
The Frozen Skit is HILARIOUS
I was literally laughing non stop during this performance. The narrators for this one are so good. It’s a great mix of humor for the adults and fun entertainment for the kids! There are several performances throughout the day too!
Meet Olaf, Mickey and Minnie
The lines for Mickey and Minnie are shorter at Hollywood Studios, and they are located right next to Olaf so it’s a win win! Hollywood Studios is the only park where you can find Olaf too! #snowfie
Toy Story Mania Ride is a must
This was such a fun ride for all ages. You ride in a two seater little car thingy that has an air gun in it. The car is on a track and weaves around a maze. You have to shoot at different targets that pop up and you earn points. The entire Toy Story area is super cool! The more popular ride in this section is Slinky Dog, but Henry was too little and Layla didn’t want to ride it so unfortunately I can’t report on this ride!
Dine at The 50’s Prime Time Cafe
If you want to feel like you’re taking a step back in time, check out the 50’s Prime Time Cafe. The entire restaurant is set up to look like you’re sitting in a kitchen from the 1950’s. The servers all sort of have this act they put on too which is kinda fun. Sadly my kids were in meltdown mode by the time we got here so I honestly can’t even tell you if the food was good or not!
All Things Star Wars
If you’re a Star Wars fan then Hollywood Studios is probably the number one park on your list to visit. I’m not a Star Wars fan so I’m no help haha! Everyone in our group (except Henry and I, he was too little) rode The Adventure Continues ride. It’s a 3D motion simulated flight and they loved it!
Alright, that’s a wrap for our trip! Got a helpful Disney tip or trick to share? Drop it in the comments below to help others reading this post too! Or feel free to ask me any questions you might have!