We did it. We spent a week in Disney with 4 kids and came back sane. Let me tell you why this is such an accomplishment.
We made the trip to Disney two years ago, back when we only had 3 kids. It was a nightmare. My husband actually compared it to the place where Satan lives, but I won't use that word here. It was hot, crowded and honestly, nobody was having any fun.
This time around, I was determined to make this adventure enjoyable. These tips are SUPER practical, nothing magical and just helpful. We actually had fun with time by following these tips. Here are the ways:
1) PLAN everything possible ahead of time. Lay out your week- plan each day and what you want to accomplish. Which park do you want to visit? Do you want some down time to just swim at the pool? What restaurants would you like to try? The great thing about Disney is you can plan all of this through their App ahead of time! *If you know a Disney Travel Agent, use them. They are free to use and they can help make your stay so much more enjoyable.
2) Don't try to DO IT ALL. Just don't. You and your kids will be exhausted and you will be miserable. Choose a few things to do each day and then spend the rest of the time enjoying yourself. For us, we ONLY rode the rides in which we had Fast Passes for and you get 3 per day. Schedule those ahead of time at the park you want to experience and plan everything else around those.
3) Pack your own snacks, water bottles and items. Seriously, Disney sells everything you could possibly need but you will go broke if you try to buy everything there. I packed all of our own snacks this time in Ziploc baggies and threw a few in our backpacks at the beginning of each day. When your kids need a little snack, just pull it out of the bag and BOOM, problem solved. Also, pack some rain ponchos, sunscreen, hats and sunglasses. There is no way around it, IT IS HOT. Just be as prepared as you can be. On that note, for the love of all, DO NOT try to fix your hair or dress cute. Bring ball caps, pony tail holders and comfy clothes and shoes. You'll be glad you did. Your hair will not stay put in that humidity anyway, sister.
4) Take help, if you can. We took my in-laws with us this time. It was so helpful and the kids just loved it. They were able to spend some quality time with their grandparents and you have an extra set (or two) of eyes at all times!
5) Go into this trip with the right mindset. One thing my husband and I realized was that Disney is not a vacation. It's just not. Realize that this is a family "trip", an adventure, a way to make memories. It's not relaxing. It is what it is. Enjoy yourself but stay focused on what the trip is about.
6) Things WORTH purchasing at Disney:
A) The Memory Maker was totally worth it for me. They take your photos for you and you just scan your wristband. These photos go automatically to your phone. Bonus- You don't have to pull your phone out all the time. It can stayed tucked away in your bag while you make memories. Woo hoo!
B) A nice meal per day is also something we invested in. We usually reserved these for evening time. We were able to take a shower, put on some nicer clothes and try new foods each night. Remember to book these ahead of time!
C) One souvenir per child. This was something we really need to stick with. As you know, kids are relentless and want to buy everything. We let each one choose one thing to buy. By doing this, they each got something they really wanted and they treasured it.
By doing all these things this time, we were able to actually enjoy our trip. I hope you do too!