Our Disney Trip

links + small things

We took the kids to DISNEY WORLD in May and I’ve never felt such a great feeling of accomplishment than what I felt getting on the airplane to come home.

We had a great time, and really designed this trip to align with things we knew we would care about.

Justin and I invited my parents to come along, not only for an extra set of hands but also to experience Disney with the kids. I’m so glad they joined us and made these memories with us!

We stayed at an AirBNB about 12/15 minutes from the parks. I cannot express how pleased we were with this decision. I waffled between staying on property in a suite, and staying in an airBNB, and I can say, hands down, that the choice to stay off-property in an AirBNB was right for us. Not only did it save us many thousands of dollars, it gave each child their own bed, as well as a private room for Justin and myself, as well as my parents. The house we stayed in had a pool in the lanai, and that felt fantastic after long days at the parks.

The thing about visiting Disney is that there are almost a crippling amount of choices to make, but if you’re looking for the push to stay off property — this is it.

We planned to visit 3 parks, 1 park a day (aka no Park Hopper). We planned to eat all breakfasts at home, which we did, and grab lunch at whatever park we were at that day. We ate dinner either at home, ordering carry-out or popping in to a casual restaurant.

All of this meal planning went swimmingly, and I’m very glad I didn’t feel rushed at a park to get to a pre-made reservation. If there is one thing about visiting Disney, it’s that you must be flexible! It worked for us to keep the goal reasonable (and that goal being to visit the parks) and let everything else just happen as it did.

We rented a 7 passenger van which allowed our whole crew to pile into one vehicle for parking. Parking is well organized and easy.

We rented a stroller for each day we visited a park and that was essential. Not only did it stash our stuff, but Emily was pretty weary from all the walking around. We used Genie+ to pre-plan a few rides we wanted to make sure we hit and while it took a pretty good deal of prep work to try to understand the system, it ended up working fine. Disney Cast Members were incredibly helpful and kind whenever we had questions about anything on the My Disney Experience app or with Genie+.

The most popular rides had long lines, as expected, but we found that the top of the morning was the best time for shorter lines. We’re all early risers so it made the most sense to visit the parks in the mornings and stay until we were tapped out. There was a notable change in crowds and heat by about 2:00pm each day, and that was just around the same time that we had exhausted ourselves and were ready to leave.

The only thing we skipped out on was returning to Magic Kingdom for the fireworks at night. We were all exhausted and I truly didn’t think my kids cared enough about fireworks to make it such a late night for them. Not to mention the crowds would be enormous and trying to access the parking lot at the close of the park sounded a little stressful.

Beyond that, we had a great time and I was truly blown away by how great my kids did. It was *hot* and sunny, and we did a ton of walking around. All 3 of the kids rolled with whatever was happening, and had a really great time. I’m so grateful for that.

To be honest, I thought that I would leave this trip being ready to plan our next visit back to Disney but I’m surprisingly feeling very satisfied with this trip and would be happy to call it a day with Disney trips. Of course, things change and as the kids get older their interest in visiting Disney may grow, so we’ll just cross that bridge when we get there.

Quick Notes about the things I’m glad we did:

-Genie+ is very helpful for reserving rides

-Memory Maker package is nice because you can rely on the pro’s to capture images throughout all the parks.

-Dress for a work out. Athletic shorts and tank tops. Sneakers. Minimal or no makeup. Disney is a mission, and I am *so* glad I didn’t have to fuss with running mascara or uncomfortable denim shorts on the water rides.


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Jennie Cannon says · 05.31.22

Could you please share the link to the AirBnb you stayed at?

Maura says · 05.31.22

Perfect timing for this post! We leave for Disney in a week!
How was the parking situation at the parks? We’re also staying at an Airbnb. Thanks!!

Brittney says · 05.31.22

Would you share what AirBNB you stayed at? Thank you!

Tricia Reynolds says · 05.31.22

so glad you enjoyed your time! we arrived as you were leaving and I was so sad I didn’t get to run into you! This was our 5th trip as a family and our boys are adults now and it was so. much. fun. I have to say that for us, we are GLAD to pay the $ to stay on site. You just can’t beat getting dropped off & picked up “at the gate” and letting someone else do the driving…and the skyliner is a game changer!

Tara says · 05.31.22

I agree! We’re one of those crazy Disney families who go every year (I NEVER thought I’d be that, as neither my husband nor I went until we took our own kids). We are toying with the idea of staying off property next time… but I love that skyliner for convenience. They have reduced so many of the on -property perks, though, that we’ll probably try it at some point.

Lynn Paquet says · 05.31.22

My husband and I just went to Disney and Universal with our Children their spouses and our three GrandChildren ages 4, 3 and 2. Your experience sounds much like ours. It was sunny and hot each day but the littles rolled with the punches. I was surprised to see no melt downs. We all truly enjoyed the park offerings and my children planned out what was important for their littles to see each day. We to left the parks by 3 or 4, rented a house with a pool which was so great after long hot days at the parks.
Sounds like a great family trip with lots of memories made. Our Grandchildren loved it.

Tate Hyatt says · 05.31.22

I’m so glad you had a good time! I’m just throwing this out there for people who don’t know – using a Disney travel agent is free! I know Kate was feeling pretty overwhelmed before her trip, but using a travel agent takes away a lot of the stress because you have some in your corner who knows Disney inside and out. I’m one of *those* people who goes to Disney multiple times a year and I just started helping people plan their trips a few months ago. It’s worth looking into!

Michele says · 05.31.22

I’ve been working with a travel agent for our upcoming trip to Disney and I could not be happier with the decision. “Crippling” is not a strong enough word for how I felt about all of the decisions, and since it’s free to work with a travel agent, I was more than pleased to hand off the planning! It’s my first time working with a travel agent and it won’t be my last, especially since this agent is incredible. This will be MY sixth time going, but I haven’t in 20 years and it will be my husband and kids’ first trips. I’m so excited!

Katrina says · 05.31.22

You’re very brave, because Disney is not for the faint of heart. Once was enough for me, lol.

Katherine says · 05.31.22

Your experience sounds wonderful and I love the idea of your own private space and pool! We chose to stay on property because we had park hoppers and wanted the option of coming back to relax in the afternoon but then going back to the parks for fireworks or dinner. Being on property made this doable.

Miley says · 06.01.22

You left at 2:00 each day?? Why even bother going?

Kate says · 06.02.22

I’m sensing that this is a rhetorical question…

Miley says · 06.01.22

You left at 2:00?? Why even go??

Kathleen says · 06.02.22

We went several years ago when our kids were 12 & 7. We had one melt down and most of it was just being overwhelmed by the crowds and heat. We stayed off property which was great. I wish we had not stayed for the fireworks, it was madness ! We had a good experience and if we ever go back it will be when our Marching Band goes in 2024! So glad that your family enjoyed their visit !

Sydni says · 06.02.22

THANK YOU for this realistic Disney trip. This is how I will do it if at all one day!

Danielle says · 06.03.22

I would love to go to Disney soon!

Danielle | thereluctantblogger.co.uk

Debbie says · 06.03.22

Can you share the link to the top you are wearing in this picture? I’d love to find something like this for the summer. Thank you!

Tricia Banach says · 06.05.22

We are going to Disney in July! What athletic wear was your favorite?

Sandra Danielson says · 06.05.22

It’s so crazy to think that you were done by 2pm. I guess different strokes for different folks lol! Everyone I work with wants to stay all day. I would imagine you missed rides but that doesn’t sound like it was an issue to you. I grew up in Orlando, worked at WDW and now an authorized Disney Travel Planner (as well as all other travel) so everyone wants to get it all in – rides, dining, etc! I have an almost 4 year old. He loved it all day. The fireworks are magic – pun intended! There’s just something about music with fireworks at Walt Disney World! Maybe I’m used to the crowds and navigating them but I’d hate for you to pay those ticket prices and miss out on so much! Glad you felt accomplished & satisfied though! That’s a great feeling to have.

Josie says · 07.13.22

I agree! Why pay all of that money and leave after a few hours? Disney is a trip that you just have to power thru and do it! We just recently did a trip to WDW and yes, it is hot and exhausting. We took an afternoon break each day and then returned in the evening once we were refreshed and rested. I’m sure her kids would have loved the fireworks! It sounds like Kate wasn’t feeling the trip and unfortunately her kids are the ones who missed out. 🙁

Kate says · 07.14.22

This trip was my idea, Josie. And what works for one family, may not work for another. I’d encourage you to invest your time and creativity elsewhere instead of inventing a narrative here that isn’t even close to true. Get outside, get some fresh air.

Jennifer W. says · 08.18.22

I just love you! 😆 we’re going to Disney in October with a one year old and almost 5 year old. When we are tired we will leave. No biggie. It’s not worth it so be so tired and miserable that it’s all you remember.

Leslie says · 06.09.22

What kind of shorts do you have on in the picture that’s above? I also like the shirt you paired with them.
Glad y’all had a great time!

Angie says · 06.10.22

I’d also like to know what shorts you wore. We go in July.

Sarah Lawson says · 07.16.22

I would love to know as well! Another person asked what AirbNb she stayed at and I would like to know that too as we are considering a WDW trip off-property. The more information, the better when it comes to a Disney trip! I just wish Kate would spend more time responding to questions instead of only responding to the snarky comments. Maybe I should say something snarky and then she’ll reply LOL!

Gina says · 06.09.22

I always enjoy reading about other peoples disney trips. The main thing is to plan- do what is important to you! We are a huge Disney family – we stay on property and go to the parks early – rest in afternoon- and back at night! Last year we stayed at fort wilderness campgrounds . So much fun at a Halloween !!

Dawn van groll says · 08.19.22

Thank you for sharing! Are you planning on linking outfit details? We’re going the end of September(also planning for very warm weather)