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A Frozen Spectacular

As most young girls these days are, Charlotte is in love with the new Disney movie Frozen.  So it was no surprise when she requested a Frozen themed birthday party.  I was happy to oblige imagining little girls and sparkly accessories!

A Frozen Spectacular

We planned her party for a month before her actual birthday in order to avoid having to throw a party with a two week old in attendance.  And we reserved the pavilion at the Botanical Garden’s children’s garden for the party.  Charlotte just wanted to invite her girl friends from school so I was relieved that it would be a smaller party that I just had to show up for.

Unfortunately, the Sunday of her party dawned rainy with a dismal forecast.  By noon we had made the decision to have the party at our house and we were frantically straightening our house up enough to host the party.  It turned out to be the right decision since party time found us in the midst of a severe thunderstorm.  We weren’t going to let the rain dampen Charlotte’s day though and, thankfully, Charlotte chose to look on the bright side of moving her party and was excited about showing her friends her house.

Party RoomBefore the party started we grabbed a family shot.

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And Charlotte checked out her Elsa cake.

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We were blessed to have lots of family come to the party as well as some of Charlotte’s friends from school.  Unfortunately I didn’t get pictures with anyone else but here’s the birthday girl with Memma and Papa.

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Charlotte and her friends enjoyed a fun party of making ice bracelets, decorating crowns, coloring Frozen pages, and having some fun snacks and cake.  Charlotte had a wonderful time celebrating her fifth birthday and we were so glad to get to celebrate with her!

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PS Details about the party are coming up in the next few days!

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Parenting, Travel

Disney with Toddlers – Tips and Advice

Disney With Toddlers

I think this is going to be my last Disney post, mostly because I’m sick of talking about it and unless you just came from Pinterest and this is your first post you’ve read, you’re probably sick of me talking about it too!  But I wanted to make sure and share the other “tips and tricks” that I wrote down before we left.  Some of them we didn’t try and some of them we did but knowing about them gave me a greater confidence to explore the parks without fear of missing something.

Magic Kingdom 1

Magic Kingdom
-Ariel’s Grotto is the only place to see Ariel as a mermaid (all other meet and greets are with Princess Ariel)
-Tom Sawyer Island – if you’re one of the first over to it look for big paint brushes and take them to a cast member for a special surprise
-Watch parades in Frontierland – they either start or end there (usually – check the parade route) and it’s less crowded than other places
-Rapunzel, Tiana, Fairy Godmother, Wendy, and Peter Pan are exclusively in this park for character meet and greets so you can’t see them anywhere else.
-There is an Opening ceremony 15 minutes before the park opens that is great to see.  If you’re there you might get to walk up main street with the characters as they go to their stations.  Make sure that you can see the clock on the train station in order to get the best view.
-If you have snack credits at the end of your trip, go to the Main Street Confectionery and get goodies to go
-Be Our Guest is a good last minute lunch spot if you don’t have reservations.  Be there between 10:30 and 10:45 and you should be able to get in.
-The restrooms in the new Fantasyland near Belle’s Castle are very nice and new with large stalls.

Hollywood Studios 1

Hollywood Studios
-Beauty and the Beast stage show is great but you should get there early for seats.  It’s a great place to get lunch and eat it in your seats while watching the show.
-Several times during the day characters will emerge from Sorcerer Mickey’s hat and spread around and meet guests

Epcot 4

-Epcot character spot has all original Mickey characters
-Innoventions has science and discovery centers inside which is good for kids and when it’s raining
-Holidays around the World: Candlelight Processional – held in the American Gardens Theater and includes the Christmas story being read by a celebrity reader and a huge choir.  Reserve a Candlelight Dinner package as this is the only way to get guaranteed seating and VIP fireworks viewing (must book 180 days in advance with specific Epcot restaurants).  If you don’t have reservations plan on being in line hours before the shows start to possibly get a seat.  This is the one thing that we didn’t get to do that I wish we had been able to.
-The only place to see Mulan is in China
-Epcot is the best place to meet princesses during the day with little to no lines.  We saw Mary Poppins, Belle, and Aurora there with little problems.
-Typical character spots: Aurora (France), Belle (France), Mary Poppins (UK), Winnie the Pooh (UK), Aladdin (Morocco), Elsa and Anna (Norway), Snow White (Germany), Mulan (China)

AK 7 Baby Giraffe

Animal Kingdom
-If you need/want to see characters, go to Camp Minnie Mickey first since everyone else will be going elsewhere
-If the line to the Safari is 15 minutes or less don’t use a Fast Pass on it — it takes about that long to walk to the front at which point you’ll typically get to walk right on with little waiting
-Wilderness Explorers is a notebook to collect badges throughout the park.  Get it on Discovery Island.
-Camp Minnie Mickey is the only place to see Pocahontas throughout the parks.
-The Jammin’ Jungle Parade (Jingle Jungle Parade during the holidays) starts and ends in Africa.  It’s best to watch the end of it in Africa to avoid the crows.  It takes about 20 minutes to go through the park so get to the parade route about 10-15 minutes after the parade starts.

Magic Kingdom 10

-Times Guides are available at most (all?) resorts and at the front of all parks to show which characters will be where when.
-Cast members wearing blue shirts are character handlers.  Ask them if you’re looking for someone.
-Check the times guide or ask handlers when the characters will take breaks so that you’re not stuck in line while the character breaks.  We found that most handlers cut off the line around snack break time and then let you restart the line after the character left.
-Photopass photographer’s or handlers standing in random places might be waiting on characters, ask them!
-Only face characters like princesses speak.  Make sure you let your kids know that so that they won’t be disappointed that they didn’t get to hear what Mickey sounded like, etc.
-Bring “thicker” pens to accommodate those characters will gloves on and make sure the pen is open and ready to go before handing to the character.

Magic Kingdom 9

-Check in 15-20 minutes early for reservations.  They might seat you early if they have room.
-If you like a recipe, ask for it! Sometimes the chef will come out and speak to you personally.  Sometimes they will email you the recipe if you have a card on you.
-You can ask for just part of a meal — i.e. for Pizza meals that come with a side salad ask for it without the salad for less cost.
-Refillable mugs can only be refilled at your resort.
-You can ask for a cup of ice water or hot water at each counter service place throughout the parks for free.  If you bring your own hot chocolate packets or flavoring packets this is an easy way to keep hydrated without spending money.
-Tipping is NOT included in your dining plan.  The recommended amount is 18%.
-You can bring in food and drinks to the park but you can’t bring in glass containers or alcohol.

MK Night 2

-Give your kids a disposable camera or an old digital camera to allow them to capture their own memories.
-PhotoPass – it’s more affordable to pre-order this and it’s fully refundable if you don’t like the pictures or don’t think it’s worth it after the trip.  But PhotoPass photographers are happy to take pictures with your camera as well.
Disney’s Enchanted Call – you can set up a character to call your child before you go
-Make sure to recharge all batteries every night
-If possible, empty all memory cards to your computer every night so that you have enough room.  Or bring extra memory cards so that you won’t run out of space.
-Bring the camera that is best for where you’re going and what you’re doing.  Most days I took my Nikon J1 during the day because it’s great in full sun without a flash and is small, and I took my Canon Rebel at  night because it’s better with a flash.

-If a souvenir breaks while you’re still on vacation, Disney will replace it for you.  Just go to a store that has that souvenir and explain the situation.
-You can have purchases sent to the front of the park to be held for you that day or sent to your resort for next day pickup.  This is free and allows you to purchase without having to walk around with your packages.
-Glow bracelets/necklaces on your kids and stroller make them easier to identify at night.
-You can get buttons at guest services for “first visit”, “birthday”, etc.  Write your name and number on the back with a sharpie in case your child gets lost.
-If your child gets lost tell them to go to the first cast member that they see and ask them to call their parents.  Your child should know your number, have it written on the back of a button, or have a bracelet/necklace with it on it.Phone Number Bracelet
-It’s recommended to tip housekeeping $5/day.  Put it in an envelope so that they’ll know that it’s for them.

Kid Activities, Parenting, Travel

Disney with Toddlers – Traveling Tips

Disney With Toddlers

I’m trying to finish up all of my Disney posts and want to make sure the things that we did to make our car ride a little easier.  Remember for reference that our kids were 4.5 and 2 on this trip and the trip was roughly 11-12 hours.  We have a dvd player in our car and used it (more liberally on the way back than the way down) but I tried to prepare other things for the kids to do other than just sit and watch the tv.

James Bucket

I used some galvanized buckets that we had at our house to create buckets for each of the kids with treats to dole out throughout the trip.  Some things were basic and some I specifically went out shopping for.  Having new items for the kids to play with and explore I think made a big difference rather than packing things that they already had played with and seen.  It made the everyday items in their buckets special and that much more fun to open.

Charlotte Bucket

Here’s a rough overview of what I included in their buckets:

-New books to read

-New coloring books and crayons

-Dry erase board and markers

-Stickers and pieces of paper to decorate

Felt Book Felt Book Inside

-Felt busy books

Hang Puppets

-Popsicle Stick Puppets

Popsicle Stick Puzzle Popsicle Stick Nativity Puzzle

-Popsicle Stick Puzzles

-Flash cards

-A soft ball for James

Matching Letters

-A letter pole for Charlotte with stickers to attach

Car 4

-Read Aloud Story Books (I love the message of the ones from places like Lifeway but the Hallmark ones are classics too and these were by far the favorites on the trip because the kids could “read” the story themselves.)

I pulled a lot of things from what we already had stashed away at the house.  Book orders at school are a great place to get inexpensive books and I save happy meal books (ask for the three and under toy always, its almost always a book).  I also save party favors and other random toys that we come across for times like these.  For this trip though I also headed out to do some shopping at the Dollar Tree, Party City, and Target’s Dollar Spot.  I found a lot of items (crayons, coloring books, flash cards, stickers, dry erase boards) all in Disney theme for a small amount of money.

A few things that I read about online (on some of those websites I mentioned) was to take a rimmed cookie sheet or a travel tray for your kids to use in the car.  I ended up just taking large pieces of corrugated cardboard that I had from shipping so many things and it worked fine for them to color on.  I also had picked up some small trinkets (hair clips, small bouncy balls, etc) thinking that I might do the “Mickey leaves a treat each night” thing but I ended up not following through with that.  Don’t stress yourself out about doing what everyone else is doing, just do what makes your life easier!

Charlotte, Family, Parenting, Travel

Disney with Toddlers – Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom

Disney With Toddlers

On our last day in Disney World we were scheduled to go to Animal Kingdom.  This was the one park that Charlotte had been to before even if she didn’t remember it.  We knew that the kids would enjoy the park but also knew that we wanted to get back to Magic Kingdom that afternoon to do some things that we didn’t get to do the day before.  So before we left we rearranged our schedule to cancel our pre-scheduled lunch at Animal Kingdom and made reservations for dinner at Magic Kingdom.



AK 12

We arrived at Animal Kingdom with plans to do a cursory run through.  We had fast passes for the Safari but ended up heading straight back there after we walked through the gardens at the front of the park.  The wait was only 10 minutes so instead of using our fast passes we just walked in.  It turned out that we didn’t wait at all so considering the new Fast Pass system, don’t use yours on the Safari if the wait is just 10-15 minutes.

AK 14

AK 15

Charlotte was enthralled from the start of the Safari to the last second.  But James was pretty unsure about all the bumpiness of the ride and seeing the animals so close.  I think he enjoyed it but he just wasn’t sure what was going on.  Watching Charlotte exclaim over all the animals though was lots of fun and boy did we see a lot of animals!

AK 1 Crocs


AK 2 Hippos

You can barely see the hippos under water

AK 3 Birds


AK 4 Anteater Hills

Anteater hills

AK 5 Elephant

The elephants were very close on the safari that morning!

AK 6 Giraffe

This giraffe crossed the road right in front of our jeep!

AK 7 Baby Giraffe

Baby Giraffe

AK 8 Elephants

Mama and Baby elephant

AK 9 Elephant

AK 10 Rhino

That’s one big rhino!

AK 11 Flamingo


AK 16


AK 13

After the Safari everyone was all smiles!  We chose to walk through the walking trails to leave the Safari and the kids got a big kick out of seeing even more animals up close.

AK 16 Bats

Bats…which the kids loved and I thought were creepy

AK 17 Tiger

The tigers were pretty lazy that morning

We walked through the other areas to get to DinoLand.  This day was by far the hottest and this pregnant girl was getting tired very quickly by this point.  Letting the kids play in the Dinosaur park (The Boneyard) was the perfect end to our Animal Kingdom adventure.  The kids got to run free and explore — Charlotte even climbed up a couple stories to go down the huge slide — and I got to sit down and rest.


AK 18

AK 19

AK 20

After some fun in Dinoland we headed to Flame Tree Barbecue for some lunch.  We had heard great things about it and it did have pretty good barbecue but living in the South we’re pretty spoiled on barbecue so it wasn’t the best we’d ever had.  The most fun part about lunch was that there were huge birds hanging out around all of the tables so the kids got a huge kick out of watching the birds walk under our table as we ate.

We headed back to the hotel for a little rest and to cool down after lunch.  Once we got cooled off and changed we left to go back to Magic Kingdom.  James had been over the moon for the monorail the whole trip but it wasn’t available from our hotel.  Since we already knew that if you valet at one resort you can valet at another at no additional cost, we decided to drive to the Contemporary and ride the monorail to Magic Kingdom.  I’m not sure if you’re actually supposed to do this, but we did and no one questioned what we were doing.

James was ecstatic over the trip on the monorail and we got to ride the whole track before getting to Magic Kingdom.  The day had turned overcast which was a nice change from the beating sun in the morning.  We headed first back to Dumbo for another ride and another ride on the Barnstormer. (When we didn’t need our FastPass for the Safari at Animal Kingdom we transferred them back to rides at Magic Kingdom for the afternoon.)

Magic Kingdom 22


The only thing that we hadn’t done that Charlotte really wanted to do was ride the AstroOrbiter so that was next on our schedule.  The AstroOrbiter didn’t take FastPasses so Jason and Charlotte had to stand in line and wait. The line looked really long but the app said the wait was only 15-20 minutes so they got in line.  It turned out that the line for the PeopleMover was in the same place as the AstroOrbiter so the line looked longer than it actually was.

Magic Kingdom 21


Charlotte loved the AstroOrbiter and Jason has promised her that the next time we go to Disney that they’ll go on the AstroOrbiter at night since it lights up.  While James and I were waiting on Charlotte and Jason to ride the AstroOrbiter we just walked around the area surrounding the ride.  It’s in Tomorrowland so it’s pretty groovy to see everything in the area.  This was when James finally fell asleep in the stroller.  I guess three days without a nap when he’s used to being in his bed for 3 hours every day finally caught up with him!


We headed to our dinner reservation at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant from Tomorrowland.  When we were canceling our reservation at Animal Kingdom the day before we were trying to find a table service restaurant that had openings for dinner at Magic Kingdom.  We stumbled onto Tony’s and I’m glad that we did.  We didn’t realize that this was where Lady and the Tramp had their plate of spaghetti!  We ended up getting seated right next to the huge statue of Lady and the Tramp and the kids loved getting to see the puppies during dinner.

We wanted to see the Christmas show and the lighting of Cinderella’s Castle but we didn’t get finished with dinner soon enough.  It was still really neat to walk outside and have the whole area lit with Christmas lights and to see the Castle lit up!

MK Night 1

MK Night 2

This night was the latest that we stayed at a park (other than Epcot) and we found ourselves in total claustrophobia mode trying to get down Main Street USA to see the castle.  So much so that we only made it about halfway down before we gave up, took our pictures, and headed inside the Main Street Bakery to spend the rest of our snack credits on treats to go.  I doubt the wisdom of funneling all visitors to Magic Kingdom through one small street based on our experience that night.  But getting to see the Castle semi-up close was worth the crush of people.

We headed back to our hotel to get ready to head home first thing the next morning.  Our trip to Disney World seemed fast but it was the perfect length for our little family.  I might not have tried to hit every park if I was to do this trip again, but we had an amazing time and our kids are still talking about it and asking when we’re going back to Disney!


Charlotte, Family, Parenting, Travel

Disney with Toddlers – Magic Kingdom

Disney With Toddlers

Our second full day in Orlando, we were headed to the Magic Kingdom.  We tried to get up a little earlier to hopefully avoid the bus situation from the day before (arriving just after — we assume — the bus left) and didn’t have to wait as long for a bus.  We arrived about 15 minutes after the park opened so there were small lines to enter and we missed the opening ceremony  but with two little’s used to being on Central time that was as good as we could do.

Magic Kingdom

We had pre-selected our FastPass+ rides (Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo, and the Teacups) and knew that we needed to head towards FantasyLand once we entered the park.  But we had time so we took our time walking down main street and walking through Cinderella’s castle.  As soon as James saw it he exclaimed “Castle!” and once Charlotte told him it was Cinderella’s he would say “Cin-rella’s castle!” every time he spotted it.

Magic Kingdom 1

After walking through the castle we noticed that the wait for Princess Fairytale Hall was only 10 minutes and we hadn’t gotten to see Rapunzel yet so we got in line.  The kids kept oohing and aahing over the “lavish” decorations in the castle and Charlotte was blown away when she got to see Cinderella’s glass slipper in a special case!  Then it was time to meet Rapunzel!

Magic Kingdom 2

Teaching the kids how to swing a frying pan

Magic Kingdom 3

Magic Kingdom 4

They also got to see Snow White again!

Once the kids glimpsed the carousel they were determined to ride.  Thankfully, the line for it wasn’t too long either and so we got to hop on and let everyone take a spin.  The kids loved it!

Magic Kingdom 5

Magic Kingdom 6

Magic Kingdom 7

When we noticed that Belle’s castle was behind us (in the New Fantasyland) we had to get a picture with it in the background!

It was time for our Winnie the Pooh fast passes by then and boy were we glad that we had them!  The line was huge already for the ride but we walked straight up to the front.  Charlotte loved getting to sit in a honey pot and loved all the special effects on the ride.  James was just mesmerized by the whole thing.

Magic Kingdom 8

We continued on into Fantasyland and were disappointed to see that the teacups were being worked on.  They ended up being stopped the entire time we were there which was sad for me but the kids didn’t care.  Since that FastPass wasn’t going to pan out I got on my phone real quick and updated it to the Magic Carpets for later in the afternoon.  And then we headed to Dumbo where, sadly, I didn’t get any pictures.  But Charlotte loved making her elephant go up and down and I think James enjoyed it too when it wasn’t on the highest setting.

Jason had been talking to Charlotte about the rides and the roller coasters since before we left and had actually shown the kids videos he found online of some of the rides, specifically the Barnstormer.  So Charlotte was determined to ride it, but I was a little unsure if her big talking would hold out once she saw the ride and got to the front of the line.

Magic Kingdom 9

I shouldn’t have second guessed her determination….she LOVED it!  As soon as she and Jason got off she wanted to go get back in line with me so that I could go on it with her.  We face timed my parents while we were waiting in line and she was literally bouncing up and down squealing because she was so excited about the ride!  The only way we got her to leave was to talk her in to going and seeing mermaid Ariel….

Magic Kingdom 10

Going into the “New” Fantasyland area where Gaston’s Tavern and Ariel’s Grotto are was nice.  We had to wait a few minutes to see mermaid Ariel but the kids loved getting to sit with her.  And she called them her “Guppies” which thrilled Charlotte to no end.

We meandered through the other side of the park heading towards the Magic Carpets and knew that we were close to the Tiana area so we got in line to meet another princess.

Magic Kingdom 11

Even though Charlotte’s never seen her movie I think she enjoyed meeting Tiana because Tiana went on and on about her best friend being named Charlotte!

After meeting Tiana it was time for our lunch at the Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh and his friends!  At this point Jason and I were over character meals and the setting at the Crystal Palace isn’t the best.  There ended up being such a huge line for the so-so buffet that I fixed Jason’s plate along with mine because it would have taken him another 30 minutes to go wait in line himself.  I was afraid that I would miss the characters but it took them a while to make their rounds too.  James, again, wanted to stay far away from the characters but Charlotte jumped right up to give them all hugs!

Magic Kingdom 12 Tusker House

Magic Kingdom 13 Tusker House

Magic Kingdom 14 Crystal Palace

Magic Kingdom 15 Crystal Palace

Even though Jason and I were over the character meals and none of them were at ideal times for our family, I still think that they’re a good way to see characters without waiting in line.  Plus it’s nice to sit for a little while! After a very long lunch and with some time before our Magic Carpet fast passes, we headed to the Walt Disney World Railroad.

Magic Kingdom 16

Magic Kingdom 17

We rode the train all the way around the park and it was the perfect thing to do to take a break.  James was fascinated with the train part and the scenery and it was nice to just sit down for a little bit and relax.  I think James could have stayed on the train the rest of the afternoon but we had more fun to do!

Magic Kingdom 18

Magic Kingdom 19

Magic Kingdom 20

We got on Aladdin’s Magic Carpets and got to fly some more.  If you asked James when we got home what his favorite ride was he would say that the magic carpets were his favorite.  It’s basically the same ride as Dumbo just in a different vehicle.

By this time though we were all exhausted.  We headed back to the hotel thinking we might get back out to Downtown Disney or something that night after resting but decided instead to head to the pool.  James didn’t want anything to do with the water so he snuggled in my lap and watched Mickey while Charlotte continued her dare deviling ways from the morning and conquered the huge twisty water slide!

Room 16

We ate dinner at the casual dining restaurant next to the pool, The Mara, and then got to bed early to try and recoup some of the missed nap times and late bedtimes/early risings!  Off to Animal Kingdom tomorrow!

Parenting, Travel

Disney with Toddlers – All the Gear

Disney With Toddlers

I decided that I’d break up the posts about our family trip with a tips post so that you all don’t get bored for the last two weeks of this series when tips are all I’m doing.  Today, I’m going to talk about our gear for Disney…stroller, on hand every day at the park, etc.  This will just cover our in the park stuff, not travel gear or general packing tips.

Magic Kingdom 1


Since we drove we took our own Baby Jogger City Mini Double.  It was a great stroller to take due to it’s skinny width and our familiarity with it.  We never had an issue getting it through a door, although I do remember a few doors in Animal Kingdom on our way out of the Safari that were just wide enough to get through.  But, that being said, we made it through those without a problem and never had to struggle with it.  It’s very easy to maneuver and I felt more comfortable having the kids in our own stroller than renting one.  But that’s really only because it was easy for us to take one.

If you’re flying or have limited space in your car to bring your own stroller, I would definitely recommend renting one.  There are a couple different options available for renting.  Since we didn’t rent, I don’t have a personal recommendation for one over the other but I can give you the information that I was given and tell you what I saw.

Option 1. Renting in the park.

Renting Disney’s own strollers is recommended for those who will only need them occasionally.  The strollers available for rent on Disney property are the hard plastic type and aren’t generally conducive for napping or resting toddlers.  In addition, pricing for Disney’s strollers can accumulate much faster than an off-site service the provides you a stroller for your entire trip.

To rent a Disney stroller you must go to the stroller rental area at the front of each park.  Strollers are not allowed out of the park when you leave it.  If you hop to a different park during the same day, I’ve heard that you can show your receipt and they will give you another stroller without having to pay again.  The limit of not being able to take the stroller from the park can be a perk (you don’t have to fold it up and handle it on buses or transportation) but can also be detrimental because you sometimes have to wait for buses for 15-30 minutes which can be a long time without a sitting area other than the ground for little one’s.

Option 2. Renting from a local rental agency (like Orlando Stroller Rentals).

Businesses like OSR can provide with you a stroller similar to what you use at home.  Most of their strollers are the Baby Jogger brand just like what we have at home and used in the park.  They will drop off the stroller to your hotel (or to wherever you’re staying including a rental home as long as it’s within a 15 min radius of their store) or you can pick up the stroller at their store.  You can also drop your stroller off at your hotel when you leave to go home.

A benefit of renting a stroller like this is that you have one stroller for your entire trip.  You pick it up when you arrive and don’t turn it back in until you leave.  This means you can keep your essentials in the stroller during your whole week and don’t have to unload it every time you leave a park.  But, as a downside, you will be transporting it with you on buses/transportation and will have to keep it in your room with you at night.

OSR does offer some add on’s like rain covers and a glider board and all strollers come with a Baby Jogger parent console which has cup holders.  Also, OSR was started by a Mom just like us and so cleaning strollers is a top priority.  They use a non-toxic all natural cleaner on all strollers between each use.

We had our own stroller and so had to carry it with us everywhere we went.  That meant that we folded it up to get on the bus every time we rode it which was a little cumbersome.  And it left me holding James and holding Charlotte’s hand to get on/off the bus as Jason took care of the stroller.  It’s something to think about.

It also seemed like every other person in the park had a Baby Jogger City Mini Double stroller and a lot of them were red like ours.  You need to be prepared with something to put on your stroller so that you can recognize it quickly.  The stroller parking areas are CROWDED and it’s a sea of strollers.  We used these luggage tags in bright colors and attached them to both sides of our stroller handlebar and the center post to make it easier to spot.  I also read that an idea is to attach glow bracelets or necklaces to the handlebar at night to make them easier to identify.

Speaking of stroller parking, it was a little unsettling to me the first day when we got to Hollywood Studios and just saw a huge area of strollers hanging out in the middle of the Animation courtyard.  I was nervous about leaving our expensive stroller just out in the open with no real control over someone walking up to it and taking off with it.  I’ll talk about our park parking in a second, but I always took the backpack with our valuables (phones, wallets, etc) and would leave everything else in the stroller.  We never had any problems with anything being taken and found that most everyone at Disney was there to enjoy it just like we were.

In addition, you might feel like your kids are too old for a stroller.  I would recommend you erring on the side of having it and not needing it rather than getting in the park without one and realizing that you wish you had one.  Charlotte rarely rides in the stroller anymore (she’s 4.5) but she rode in the one at Disney a lot.  It’s a LOT of walking even for grown ups so for little legs to try and keep up with grown-ups who are walking fast it can get tiring quickly.  Plus, it’s nice to have a place to store/hang your stuff so you’re not carrying everything around all the time.



I’m sure everyone’s needs in the park are going to be different but I wanted to share what we did and what worked for us.

-Always in the Stroller (lower portion)

Complete change of clothes for each child in a plastic bag (dirty/wet clothes can go in the plastic bag if you have to change)
One liter bottle of water (you can bring your own in as long as it’s not a glass bottle)
Park maps/Character times
Sweaters/light jackets

-Always on the stroller (front with kids)

Water Bottle Bag full of water for each kid (attached to their seat buckle with attached carabiner)
SippiGrip to hold an additional cup or snacks or lovie

-Kids Backpack attached to stroller by Mommy Hook, also had a luggage tag

Diapers, wipes, changing pad
Wet Wipes
Snacks (Peanut Butter crackers, Buddy Fruit, etc)
Kids hats/sunglasses

-Second backpack, attached to stroller when moving, taken in to rides when stroller parked, also had a luggage tag

Autograph books and pens
Wet Wipes
Camera (Nikon J1 during the day, Canon EOS Rebel at night)

I saw prior to going suggestions of getting throw away poncho’s for everyone in the family for every day but with next to no chance of rain for our trip we didn’t bother with that or with taking an umbrella.  We also didn’t take anything to entertain the kids while waiting because we didn’t plan to be waiting for very long.  It ended up fine but know that even with fast passes they just get you to the front of the line for a show and you often have to wait there for the show to start.

So that’s what we ended up packing daily to go in to the park and my two (or ten) cents about strollers.  Did I leave anything out?  If you have things to add please leave them in the comments!