Best Character Meal With A Toddler

There are soo many restaurants in Disney World and a good many of them are with characters! With so many choices it can be difficult deciding which ones to book. There’s the Fab 5 of course (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto), princesses, princes, Lilo, Stitch, Chip, Dale, Winnie the Pooh, Disney Junior, and many more to choose from! No wonder it’s so difficult to pick.

I often get asked by families, especially those that have little ones, which character meal I would recommend. There are so many factors like which characters they would like to see, food they like or don’t like, restaurant location, price, etc. that need to be considered but also something else…

The most important thing, in my opinion to consider, is ease and convenience- which is something I never thought of before having kids of my own when choosing where to dine.

It wasn’t until my first charcter dining experience with my toddler that I realized how crazy it could be!

We ate at Chef Mickey’s, which is buffet style (like the majority of the character dining places are). There’s at least 4 different characters at the buffets so you have to make sure you go up to get food when there’s a gap between characters. You have to worry about getting not only your food but your little one’s food as well. I felt like I was racing around to be back at the table before a character came. I didn’t want to miss my daughter’s face light up or miss the chance to get my camera out. I came close too many times not only at Chef Mickey’s but at the other character dining spots too.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Chef Mickey’s! It was a fantastic way to start our vacation but that’s where I decided that my next trip would be different. I’m talking family style.

In case you don’t know, family style is when all the food is served to your table and you can ask for more just like a buffet. It is so convenient with character dining!

Our next trip to Disney World we went to Garden Grill in Epcot and it was the absolute best experience!! Seriously we could not have had a better time. There was no rushing back to see characters and the characters spent so much time with our little girl! The food is excellent. There is a huge cinnamon roll, mickey waffles with nutella sauce, eggs, tater tots, bacon, sasauge, and fruit. You can get more of everything!

I can’t say enough good things about Garden Grill and highly recommend booking it, with or without kids!!

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Minnie Mouse 1st Birthday Party!

I can’t believe one month from today my baby will be turning 2!! Where did these past 2 years go? Everyone says they grow up fast but until it’s you, you never understand how true those words are. It really is sad how time flies and they don’t stay little for long.

As I’m sitting here planning her 2nd birthday, I thought about how much work went into her 1st birthday. Yes, she slept through most of it and she won’t remember it but we waited a long time to finally have our baby and first birthday’s are special!

As I’m reminiscing about her first party I came across pictures from her big day and thought I would share some of my Minnie themed decorations. It was a very humid day as you can tell by some of the pics!

Baby’s First Haircut in Disney 

Did you know that there is a cute little barbershop tucked away on a corner of Main Street USA?

It’s on the left hand side as you are walking into Magic Kingdom down from the Emporium store. Just look for the classic striped barber pole!

Harmony Barbershop specializes in Baby’s First Haircut! You get a lock of their hair, a certificate, and a Mickey ears hat that says “My 1st hair cut.” Anyone of any age can get a hair cut too!

I knew whenever I had a baby he or she would be getting their first haircut inside the Magic Kingdom no matter how little hair they may have. This was was the case with my daughter. I literally had them barely trim her ends because I didn’t know when our next trip at the time would be.

The baby haircut package is only $25! I didn’t think that was bad at all especially since Mickey ears alone can cost that!

I had made reservations about 3 months in advance for my little one. You don’t have to make them 6 months in advance like you would for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique but if it is something you know you want to do then definitely make reservations.

On the day of Cam’s appointment she was sleeping, which immediately put me in panic mode that this was going to be a disaster. Everyone knows not to wake a sleeping baby! Wake a sleeping baby to have them sit still in a chair while a stranger is coming at them with scissors, that’s just asking for a tantrum!!

Sleepy baby

But… things couldn’t have gone better!! The stylists at Harmony Barbershop were amazing! I should’ve known better. It is Disney after all!

They were so good with Cam. She had toys and stickers to play with. She wasn’t even phased by my waking her. She did so great with her first haircut. She even got some pixie dust and pigtails at the end.

If you’re on the fence about doing a baby’s first haircut I say do it! You won’t be disappointed! It’s such a memorable experience. How many people can say they’ve had their haircut in the Magic Kingdom!?

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Baby’s first haircut package $25
  • Child’s haircut (9 and under) $18
  • Adult haircut $19
  • All stylists are licensed cosmologists
  • Water may be sprayed on hair if needed during styling, but no shampooing will be provided. With that in mind, please arrive with clean, dry hair.
  • Guests under 17 years of age must be accompanied by an adult (18 years of age or older).
  • A $10 charge will apply for no-shows or cancellations within one day of your reservation.
  • Advanced reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (407) WDW-PLAY or (407) 939-7529. A limited number of walk-in appointments are available on a first-come, first-serve basis each day. Harmony Barbershop hours do not vary in accordance with Extra Magic Hours.

What to Buy Before Baby’s Disney trip 

As I said in an earlier post, I researched as much as I could for things to buy before our Disney World vacation with our 18 month old. I am all about ease and convenience especially when it comes to a baby! Plus, all these things are cheaper to buy at home as opposed to buying them at Disney World. All of these things were extremely helpful for my family so I had to share in hopes of making your vacation even better!

Sunscreen- No matter what time of year you go to Florida, you’ll want to bring this! Not just for the baby but for you as well.

Stroller clip on fan- This was essential even in February. The soft foam blades were great because our daughter kept playing with it as it moved.

we used this one and it worked great!

Mom stroller clip- This is my absolute favorite thing! I use it at home while shopping too!! We had so many things hanging from here it was crazy! We hung our baby’s snack container, resort mugs, bags. You name it. We loved the convenience of them being right there when we needed it. Tip : You can purchase a Refillable Popcorn bucket at one of the Theme parks for around $10 and refill it the rest of your vacation for $1.50 at any of parks (as of March 2017.) They have a nice handle that fit right onto the mom hook!

We used The Mommy Hook
But… Now Toys R Us has this!!! How cute is this Mickey shaped stroller hook!!?? Perfect for Disney!

You can’t see it real well but there are 2 Snack cups and a popcorn bucket hanging

Baby Snack Container- If you’re a parent you probably already know how awesome these are. No mess and these hang from the mom hook perfectly! We brought extra along so she had a little variety.

Disposable table mats- These were great while eating out. It gave me a piece of mind for her to eat off the mat instead of directly off the table.

we used these Mickey ones

Take n Toss cups- These were great because they were easily stackable for packing and easy to wash in the room. You can get these anywhere and they are inexpensive.

Disposable Bibs- These are great for on the go. This way you won’t have to carry around soiled bibs in the parks.

we used these

Dresses- If you have a little girl who loves princesses (or if you love princesses and want to see your baby dressed like one..) getting the dresses ahead of time is a money saver. You can find them on sale online and pretty much cheaper anywhere other than at Disney. This includes buying and packing accessories too; hair bows, shoes, crown, jewelry.

Zip loc bags- I had so many outfits planned so I put them in the bags according to the date and it made packing a breeze. They were also helpful in my backpack for dirty clothes or keeping things from getting wet.

Stroller rain cover- Florida is known for its rain showers so I wanted to be prepared for that.

we bought this one

Bubbles- Let’s face it. You’ll probably end up buying one of these bubble machines. Lucky for me, a friend of mine had just got back and warned me of this and suggested bringing extra bubbles. My daughter had this Little Mermaid bubble maker going all the time!! It only comes with so much so it was nice to have extra right there.

Baby leash (just in case!!)- Please don’t judge me for this one. I wasn’t sure how she would do with all the things to see and was afraid she would try to run off. This seemed like the best one since we would both wear the bracelets. Luckily, I didn’t have to break these out but had it just in case!

we got this one

Snacks- The baby pouches are perfect for having to feed your baby in a pinch. A great thing to have to avoid a meltdown!

Sanitizer/Wipes- Whether your child is in diapers or not, wipes are a must. Between touching every germy thing or eating sticky cotton candy you are going to need these. Hand Sanitizer is perfect for the adults!

Backpack- You’re going to need something to haul all this around in. Something with lots of compartments is ideal.

We used this one and it worked great!

Also: Swim Diapers, travel size laundry detergent, tide on the go sticks, band-aids, and a Sharpie for autographs!!

I still look for things to bring on our next trip regardless of how many times I’ve been to Disney. I hope this list helps you in preparing for your Disney vacation with a little one. If you have any to add, please comment below!

Tips for Disney with a Baby or Toddler

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I always dreamed of the day I would take my daughter or son to Disney World. My husband and I went to Disney many times before we finally had our baby girl. It took a few years for that dream to happen so while we were waiting, I kept picturing the perfect vacation with our little prince or princess.


I was pregnant when we went to Disney World in 2015. We could not wait for our baby to get here! We knew we would take our baby in January or February because of cooler weather and less crowds. We also were comfortable knowing she’d only be 18 months at the time.
Everyone around me knew my plans for wanting to take her at that age and I heard comments about how hard it would be and how crazy we were or how she wouldn’t remember. I knew when the time came it would be a different kind of trip than I was used to. What I couldn’t do was bare the thought of having anything short of a magical vacation.

So, I researched and researched. I thought about what would make taking a baby or toddler to Disney as smooth as possible. After almost 2 weeks of vacationing with an 18 month, I can tell you what worked for us (and what didn’t) .

Keep your baby’s schedule in mind.

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I planned our first full day too early for our little night owl and this was the result😂

This was taken at park opening. Luckily, this was one of our only real early days for the whole trip. I learned this from day one and cancelled an early dining reservation for later in the week. I knew it was going to be too early for her but it was our first day in Disney World!!! I was so excited and thought maybe the Disney magic would hit her and she’d be awake. Obviously that wasn’t the case but we still had a wonderful first morning! These pictures are priceless.
After this day, we were back on schedule and she napped during the time she normally does for the rest of the trip. It was nice for us because she’d be asleep in her stroller in the late afternoon and the husband and I could just leisurely walk around and have ‘us’ time. We loved this at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival since we got to try so many things at the food booths and really take our time taking in the sights.
It’s all about what works for your family. If your child is an early bird then getting to the parks early will be fine for your family. That’s ideal really, because then you can go back to your room for an afternoon nap!! I can never say it enough that you can get so much done within the first few hours of park opening if you get there early.

Time of the year.

We usually go in January or February because of the weather and light crowds. The summer months or busier times can be more stressful with a little one. If you can go in the off season, definitely do it! It’s cheaper too!

Extra help is amazing.

When we went to Disney World, my mom, dad, brother, and cousin went with us for the first 8 days. Then it was just my husband, Cam, and I for the rest. It was the best of both worlds. We had extra hands yet alone time with our little family. On the days my family were there, my brother and I would get up early and hit the parks then in the afternoon everyone else met up with us. My hubby and daughter got to sleep in and I still got to do my early Disney mornings. I know my husband thoroughly enjoyed this part because he hates me getting him up so early while we’re there!
I’m not a huge thrill ride junkie so when the rest of the family wanted to do those things, Cam and I just got to hang out by ourselves. Everyone got to do what they wanted and I’m so grateful that my Disney loving family wanted to be there for Cam’s first trip. Even when it came to her Autograph book they were helpful. I was not used to having one and kept forgetting to get it out and signed because I was so focused on getting video and pictures! Luckily, a family member was on it and remembered to get it signed for us. It’s little things like this that were helpful.

When we were at restaurants they were lifesavers! As you know, going out to eat can be hit or miss with a baby! We have been very lucky in that she hasn’t caused too many scenes while out to eat but I’m always so nervous that it’s going to happen. It was especially nice at table services to have extra people there so that they could help entertain her and pass her around since those take longer. One thing I took from this trip is that next time we will probably try the Quick Service dining plan instead of the Plus Dining plan. We’ll just pay out of pocket for a character meal or two. At this age she is just not about sitting for long periods and with all that is going on around the parks and her seeing outside, she wanted to be on the go! She definitely is my child in that sense!

If you have grandparents or other family that want to go to Disney with your little one, let them. There’s nothing better than family memories plus you’ll have some extra help. I’m thankful I was brought up on Disney by both my parents and grandparents so it was even more special to see my parents there with Cam.

Take a ton of videos and pictures.
“Why would you take a baby to Disney when they will never remember it?” I’ve sure heard that comment a time or two! The thing is, is that no, she won’t remember it but my husband and I sure will!! Those moments of her first meeting Mickey and giving him nonstop kisses that made me teary-eyed and her walking around Disney Springs with pigtails, her shades, and her stuffed Mickey in hand, taking in all the sights, are some of my absolute favorite memories.


I took so many pictures and even made a video so she will know it happened. I made a calendar when we got back and everyday she asks to look at it.

Start getting outfits as early as possible.

This one may sound crazy but when I heard “girl” on our ultrasound, it was all over. All I could think of were princess dresses and adorable Disney outfits!!


I knew we were going to Disney World when she was 18 months old so that gave me plenty of time to look for sales and I knew what size to look for. If you are familiar with the Disney Store then you know their stuff can be pricey but they also have awesome sales from time to time! I loved the excitement of finding deals and it even got me more excited for our upcoming trip with each outfit. I found Snow, Tink, Belle, Alice, and Jesse dresses for super cheap!

Other places besides the Disney Store sell really cute Disney clothes for cheap too! These were at Walmart!

Characters

This again depends on your child. I didn’t know what to expect while meeting characters but I had a couple of character meals and meets planned.

One thing to consider is there a difference between fur and face characters!! My daughter absolutely loved meeting the fur characters. Being me, thinking all princess everything I couldn’t wait for her to meet all the princesses in those super cute dresses I was just telling you about!!!

She couldn’t have cared less about the princesses😒

I swear we watch Elena every single day

See the difference!

Excitement isn’t always what you think.

Kids like what they like, regardless of how much you spend on a vacation!! My husband and I joked the whole time about how we could’ve just taken her to a local playground or a park to see ducks. She was so excited about the playgrounds at our resort. It was a nice break from the park’s hustle and bustle and she had so much fun on the slides! She of course was also thrilled with Disney ducks and the walking around the resort arcade!

Just look at that smile!

Get Memory Maker.

Most of the pictures on here are from Memory Maker and I love the candid ones they capture. I have always been the picture taker of the family so it’s nice to actually be in some pictures. This allowed me to video and or just be in the moment which is hard to do sometimes because I’m afraid I’ll miss snapping something. It is $169 (as of June 7,2017) if purchased at least 3 days before your trip and it is worth every penny! You even get ride photos!

Baby’s can ride so many things/Baby Swap

Most people don’t realize that babies can do so many attractions! They can’t do the coasters and big thrill rides obviously, but that still leaves so many rides! They can even ride Pirates of the Caribbean & Frozen Ever After even though they have tiny drops! I’m not going to lie, I was anxious about taking her on those but she did great. She wasn’t a fan but she didn’t cry!! Actually, the ride she wasn’t about at all was the People Mover when it goes dark inside Space Mountain! 😂
I was so nervous about taking her on the Haunted Mansion because of the beginning scene with the thunder and room turning pitch black. When that part happened all we heard was a little voice say “Uh Oh” and everyone around us started laughing. It was little moments like that that made our vacation so special and that was mainly because of her age!

A great thing about Disney with little ones is that if your child is too small or doesn’t want to ride a thrill ride you can do Baby Swap. This is how it works and is taken from the Disney website:

1. First check with a Cast member to see if Rider Switch is offered at the attraction in question.

2. Once at the attraction, approach the greeting Cast Member with your entire party. At least one adult member of your party and the Guests who are not riding will be given a Ride Switch pass and asked to wait in a designated area (usually outside of the attraction). This group is “Party 2.”

3. The other party members (“Party 1”) ride the attraction.

4. After riding the attraction, Party 1 locates Party 2 and gives the Rider Switch pass to the adult member who will be riding. Party 1 takes over supervision of the non-riding children or Guests.

5. Party 2 enters and boards the attraction without having to wait in the regular queue a second time. The Rider Switch Pass must be presented to a Cast Member at this time.

If the person in Party 2 waited alone with the child, he or she may bring one other Guest back to ride the attraction with him or her. Please note that only 2 Guests are allowed per Rider Switch Pass.

Baby Centers

Each park in Disney World has Baby Care Centers to use and you can find them on the maps or the Disney Experience app. In Magic Kingdom it is between Casey’s and Crystal Palace at the end of Main St on the left, In Epcot it is before World Showcase Mexico in the Odyssey building, In Hollywood Studios it is right at the entrance where guest relations is, and in Animal Kingdom it is right beside Pizzafari.
They offer a clean, quiet, and private place for you and your little ones. They have changing tables, private nursing areas, feeding area with highchairs, microwave, oven, and sink, a tv area with seating and coloring pages, and best of all air conditioning! They also have a shop for formula, diapers, baby food, wipes, sunscreen, and more.

You won’t get it all done and your plans may not happen.

This was probably the hardest for me. I knew this going into it but it was still a hard pill to swallow for someone who plans everything to the T. Even though we were there for a good amount of time, we still didn’t do everything I had hoped and planned. We didn’t do Festival of Fantasy, Fantasmic!, Star Wars fireworks, or even some of my favorite rides. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an amazing trip that just gives us reason to start planning the next one!

We never get park hoppers because we like to stay in one park a day and never really had reason to hop. Since kids are so unpredictable you never know how long you’ll be at the park or if they just need a long break, park hoppers are something to consider. I wish that we would’ve upgraded to hoppers so we wouldn’t have missed as much.

For example, I only scheduled one day at Hollywood Studios thinking we would be there all day. That wasn’t the case and I already had dinner reservations or hard to get fastpasses for the other days so I really didn’t want to change things up. If I had purchased park hoppers everything would have worked out. We could have went to Hollywood in the morning then hopped to a different park in the evening or vice versa.

I’ll also let you in on things I bought before vacation and what we brought into the parks with us in another post. I’m not an expert at taking a baby to Disney by any means but I really learned some valuable things for next time and I hope this will help you too. It wasn’t the most perfect trip but it was my favorite trip after going dozens of times. I got to experience my favorite place with my favorite little person. I got to do things I’ve never done before like Harmony Barbor Shop for baby’s first hair cut and the Disney Junior show. That Disney World vacation was honestly a dream come true.

If you have any extra tips please leave them in the comments!

Disney Travel Agent: Why You Should Use One

I have been with Magical Vacation Planner as a specialized travel consultant since 2010 and I absolutely love what I do.

I am a total Disney nerd and have a love for planning things so it is the perfect job for me. You might be thinking to yourself, it is just a Disney vacation.. why would I need a travel agent or what planning is involved? Unless you are an Annual Passholder, you are going to want to plan ahead. If you are one of those people who don’t like a schedule, that is fine too. You can still have an amazing trip as long as there is at least some planning involved. This is where I come in. Here are some reasons you should use a Disney vacation planner:

Planning

If you want an awesome Disney vacation, there is lots of planning involved! How much planning I do is all up to you! I can plan every last detail if you want or you can take care of all the planning and use me for questions or suggestions for things!

For some people, this is their once in a lifetime trip that they have saved up for and they may think that all they have to do is book it and show up. Little do they know that other families have been planning and booking reservations for at least the past 6 months. The worst is when they get there and think they can just walk into Cinderella’s Royal Table and/or didn’t book fastpasses and now they can’t do the things they were hoping to do. I have seen this everytime I go to Disney unfortunately. Whether it is your once in a lifetime trip or 100th trip, it should be care-free and AMAZING!!

I don’t want my clients to wait in long lines, have no idea about dining reservations, fastpass+, have no clue about the 4 different parks and water parks (I have overheard people say they are in Universal when they are really in Disney’s Hollywood Studios), etc.

I want to make sure they are well prepared and make the most magical memories!! Unfortunately, I can’t control the lines but I can tell you which rides have the longest line and which fastpasses would be best.

We travel agents know all the important dates and make sure that you know them too. We keep you on track with payment, dining reservations, fastpass selections, online check-in, etc.

Discount Monitoring

Once your Disney vacation is booked and a new promotion comes out, I can still apply that discount to your reservation as long as there is availability and it falls on your dates. I will also see if your flexible in your dates and resort to try to get you the deal. I think this is the best reason to use a travel agent: Instead of you having to be on the phone for hours when a discount is released, I take care of that for you. One year I spent EIGHT HOURS on hold when free dining was released!

Personalized Concierge Level Service

Instead of calling Disney and speaking with different agents each time with questions, you would bypass that and only talk with me. One agent.

You can text, email, or call with anything and get a response quickly! It’s all about convenience and making things easier for you. If you want to make payments and want to use the card on file you paid the deposit with, just send me a message with how much to pay and I will take care of that for you. I will take care of any changes regarding your reservation but you can always change your dining/fastpass reservations and look over your reservation details in your My Disney Experience account. I can provide a detailed itinerary and pages of tips/must do’s! Also, we get to know our clients on a personal level and know which resort to recommend for their family or which special extra they may like!

Knowledge

We have to complete training through Disney College of Knowledge and keep up to date on courses! There are a lot of resources provided to us with refurbishments, park hours and special events, new attractions, etc.

I have stayed at value, moderate, and deluxe resorts. I have eaten at tons of the restaurants and attended special events like Dessert parties, Flower and Garden Festival, Firework cruises, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Main Street Barbor, and Bibbidi Bobbodi Boutique. I have experience in all kinds of vacations from my honeymoon, family reunions, traveling pregnant, and taking our baby on her first trip. I have learned so much from each trip that I hope to pass on to you that makes your vacation easier.

Free!!

Save the best for last!!

There is no extra cost for using a travel agent specializing in Disney!!

Experience the Magic! Let us do the Planning!

For quotes email me at misty@magicalvacationplanner.com

I would love to work with you to plan the best vacation!

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