Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Here We Come: How I Got Prepared For Disney!

There are few things that are more magical than taking a trip to Disney World!

So, when we decided that we would be taking our daughter to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom for her birthday, I grabbed a stack of books and got busy planning.  But the more I read, the more nervous I became.  Neither I nor my husband have ever been to Disney, so by book number two, I was completely overwhelmed.

There are lots of books on the market explaining strategies on how to make the best of your Disney experience and here are a few that really helped me.

Fodors’s Walt Disney World with Kids 2014 by Kim Wright Wiley   

This book was so comprehensive and was by far the best tool that I consulted.  Although the book is quite large the information is easy to digest.  Wiley gives you a break down of each park along with a strategy for navigating each.  The book also provides a chart which explains each attraction’s location, line speed, ride duration, and age and height requirements.  This chart was essential because we are traveling with a small child whom may not be able to ride everything. So knowing exactly what she can and cannot ride in advance is a time saver!  In addition, Wiley gives a brief description of what to expect on each ride so parents can decide whether it is appropriate for their children.
The book explores so many important pieces of information from what time to arrive at the park, when to use a fastpass, how to get around the park, where to stand during the parades and the best place to view the fireworks in the evening.  Not to mention the best strategy for snagging a character breakfast and which hotel will best suit you.

Birnbaum Guides 2014 Walt Disney World 

Let me tell you why I enjoyed this book so much:

The book is colorful and easy to read with plenty of pictures which made it fun for me and my daughter to read together!  The book only took about an hour and a half to read cover to cover.

In addition to being a quick read, it is very comprehensive and well structured.   The authors leave nothing to chance.   After reading this book, you will know when the parks are the least crowded, where to go to meet the characters in each park, how much money you will spend on average, what to pack, where to stay and how to prepare the kids for the trip!

Similar to the Fodor book, the Birnbaum Guide outlines the rides in each park that are appropriate for each age group.

The book also provides itineraries for each park to get the most out of each day without passing out or going broke!

Some of the best tips that I learned from the book are:

Tip 1: Prepare small kids for the trip by watching Disney movies and listening to Disney songs leading up to the trip.  The more familiar the more enjoyable the experience for small kids.

Tip 2: Small children usually interact better with characters with human faces i.e. Cinderella verses masked characters such as Mickey Mouse or Pluto.  The book recommends that parents allow small children to warm up to characters by allowing them to interact with the “human” characters first before introducing masked characters.

Some of the other things the book does well include: providing a full color map of Disney World, complete hotel information with a complete break down of each Disney resort with an explanation of the activities and amenities offered at the resort.  In addition, the book includes the type of traveler that will most appreciate each resort.  The book also breaks down fun activities for single travelers, mature travelers, travelers with disabilities and couples traveling without children.

After consulting these guides, we feel prepared to have an amazing trip to the Magic Kingdom!

Have you been to the Magic Kingdom?  How did you prepare?  Do you have a resource that I should check out or great information that you would like to share?

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Road Trip to the Emerald Coast (Destin & Fort Walton Beach)


Emerald Coast
Brooklyn’s sun hat flew off…it was kinda windy

Recently Xeric and I celebrated our second year of marital bliss with a trip to the Emerald Coast.  It was a five hour car ride from Atlanta to our destination.  Thankfully, he drove the entire way while I attended to our daughter Brooklyn.

We prefer to fly to most destinations but with a newborn, driving was the best option for a number of reasons.  First, we had privacy; if she was fussy the only people who had to endure it were the people who created her …lol.  Second, as a breastfeeding mom, I was able to pump in the privacy of our car.  Having the Medela dual electric pump with the hands free bustier and car adapter is awesome. Because most babies love car rides..and Brooklyn as exceptional as she is was  not the exception in this case,  slept for at least 85% percent of the journey.  Third, although she has had her first set of vaccinations we wanted to play it safe and limit her exposure to large crowds ruling out the airport and airplane.  Last, as you can imagine we were able to travel with our baby gear and other “essentials” without having to lug things through the airport, which can be a huge hassle.

Over the course of three days, we divided our time between Fort Walton Beach and neighboring Destin.  The great thing about vacationing along the Emerald Coast is that it is very laid back and lacks pretense…two things that are perfect for fatigued parents who just want to relax.  Sure both cities offer plenty of activities from deep sea fishing to para sailing to historic attractions (Indian Tribal Mounds, Fort Walton Beach ).  However, unlike some places, one doesn’t feel overwhelmed or pressured to devise a packed literary ultimately changing the vacation into a busy hustle to see every attraction before time runs out.  This trip we opted to make spending time on the beach reading and relaxing the primary focus. Emerald Coast

We are seafood lovers so beach vacations are always a culinary delight.  We were pressed to find local fresh seafood at a reasonable price.  We made the mistake when we arrived by venturing to one of the local but commercial eateries on the beach.  Despite its proximity to the beach the seafood wasn’t exceptional.  The food was just ok and had me longing for blackened shrimp tacos from Six Feet Under.  Anyway, we did end up finding a local restaurant that has been touted as the best in the area: Dewey Destin.  With a 45 minute wait we were expecting a fantastic meal and for the most part we were not disappointed.

Emerald Coast
Fresh is best!

The food was fresh and local just like we like it.  The atmosphere although busy, was very relaxed and they were able to accommodate our newborn.  Our only issue was that we had to leave our stroller outside by the hostess stand located outside.  In the event that it rained while we were dining we would have been pretty upset.  Overall, Dewey Destin satisfied our seafood craving.

To sum it all up we returned home on Sunday relaxed and rested from a weekend well spent.  If you plan to visit Destin we recommend going right after spring break and right before summer vacationers start arriving ( late April -mid-May).  We stayed at the Four Points Sheraton.  The view from our room was amazing and the hotel provided all of the amenities that were needed.  We booked our car through RentalCars.com and secured a fantastic rate.  We spent less than $100.00 for the car for the entire weekend.


Happy trails,