Our First Family Vacation to Walt Disney World

 This vacation was epic! A little positivity can go a long way. We didn't know what we were doing (although the new Genie app helped out a ton), but we had so much fun along the way. We did a little research on what rides we wanted to try before we headed to the park by watching as many Disney+ specials and YouTube videos we could. We didn't use an agent. We kind of spontaneously booked before we let anyone talk us out of it, but we have been wanting to go since 2020. Well, I have been wanting to go for years, but that's another story. I went to Magic Kingdom when I was 18 but haven't been back since. My husband and kids have never been. Since the kids didn't really want anything for Christmas, we decided to bite the bullet and give them this trip as their Christmas presents. Masks are now optional there and my family is fully vaccinated (that topic is not up for debate please and thank you).

Our First Family Vacation to Walt Disney World

We didn't get to stay on resort. There are pros and cons to staying on resort. In the end, I really liked where we stayed. We stayed at Fairfield by Marriott. It was across the street from a Target that had some great merchandise and ended up being where we ate dinner the second night after Hollywood Studios. We went to Disney Springs the first night there for shopping and great food.

Visiting Disney Springs

Each park is a different fee. So, you buy a ticket for each day you want to go whichever park that is whether you want to go to only Magic Kingdom for a day or you want to visit all 4. You can also buy a Park Hopper option where you can go to multiple in one day.

Our official Day 1 was Hollywood Studios. You have to make a reservation to each park before you arrive. This was where all the Star Wars rides are. Rise of the Resistance broke down for 4 hours during the day and didn't open at rope drop, so that threw off our plans. Plus, we used our Genie+ to make a Lightning Lane reservation for Star Tours that wasn't necessary. Again, this was trial and error for us. We learned a lot, were at the mercy of whatever was open, still managed to ride almost everything we wanted, and had a great day. 

Hollywood Studios Tower of Tower Safe for Kids

Day 2 was Animal Kingdom. I have wanted to see the Tree of Life since they built it back in 1998. And it wasn't as chaotic there like it was at Hollywood Studios. There was still so much to do, and the app helped plan out our day, but we didn't feel like we had to rush to everything. The key is getting there at rope drop (or when the park opens). We did end up getting a last-minute reservation for a Character Dinner at Tusker House as well which I have always wanted to try. COVID has changed it to where you can't hug the characters, but you can still get close enough to take a cute picture with them. The restaurant used to be buffet style, but now it is all you can eat family style. They are pricey, but I recommend it at least once. My kids have never been huge into characters, so I might have been more excited than they were. We loved the Safari and the Avatar rides. We also did a character drawing which was cool as well. 

Character Dining at Animal Kingdom

Day 3 was Epcot. My son loved Figment. And although my husband and I love learning, we think going forward that Epcot would be great for festivals. But they do have a new Tron and Guardians of the Galaxy ride coming there so we will probably end up going again. They do have this drink around the world thing that my husband wanted to do, but I didn't think that was responsible. LOL Magic Kingdom is the only park that only serves alcohol at restaurants. The new Ratatouille ride is cool, but for the line time we wished the ride itself was just a little longer. If you don't know about Dole Whip or the huge pretzels in Germany, I highly recommend them. Yum!

Making the most of Magic Kingdom

Day 4 was Magic Kingdom. I love the characters and would become distracted easily whenever I would see one, which got on my husband's nerves a little. LOL The stroller city, which is what they call the rows and rows of parked strollers, was overwhelming there. We never encountered any mean or rude people though. We would see some tantrums a time or two which honestly was to be expected. We weren't big fans of Tomorrowland except for Space Mountain. Because it is a single seater ride, not only does that ride have height requirements, but age requirements as well so it's something to think about. We warned our kids that we might miss something because it would be closed beforehand since we were going during off season. It was so busy at Magic Kingdom they were no longer accepting walk ins.

All the best rides at Magic Kingdom

I love that Disney had water stations everywhere so you can bring a reusable bottle to make sure you stay hydrated. I also love that as long as it isn't in a glass container, then you can bring in as much food as you want. You can even leave and return to the park as long as you keep your parking receipt. If you stay on resort, you can be at the mercy of their transportation, but you can take a break during the day. I highly recommend break days in between park days if you can afford it, you could even make your trip cheaper by staying in an AirBNB or VRBO place. Check out Orlando vacation rentals near Disney.

Where to get the best Disney world souvenirs

With the Genie app we were able to do mobile orders for food, reserve lightning lane reservations every two hours (some rides were extra) and plan out our day. I also loved that we were able to find restrooms and see wait times. The Genie+ is $15 extra per person per day. I'm still not sure if it was worth the extra cost, but I did like the app itself. Parking is $25 a day and one day we did do preferred parking at $45. But if you get to the park at rope drop, we didn't feel this was necessary. The cast members (employees) guide you in so you don't get to choose parking, so you might not get the best spot anyways so it honestly can be hit or miss. At the end of a long day, spending that $20 could be worth it.

how to use disney world genie app

My daughter is 11 which means she is considered an adult at Disney. And my son is 7. I do feel like both my children enjoyed the magic of the place while we weren't weighed down with having very young children that could get easily over stimulated and over tired. I think the key to bringing younger children would just be to make sure you to keep to their normal sleep schedule as much as possible. 

Magic Bands are no longer free with ticket (I'm not sure how this exactly worked), but we did buy some to include in their Christmas boxes they opened. They are $20 a pop and honestly not a necessary purchase. If you stay in a host hotel then they do more, but I still don't think they are a must-have purchase.

Feel free to follow our family's traveling journeys on Instagram.

If you have any questions, leave them in a comment below and I will try to answer them as best I can. 


  1. This looks like you guys had an amazing trip. I have never been to Disney World but would sure like to go. I enjoyed the great pics.

  2. What a fun place to vacation at. I went to Disneyland like 35 years ago. I would love to go back.


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