As a follow up to our post back when we started this blog, we are looking back at our article about Getting there: Timing is everything. As with many parts of our lives, things change as we and our kids get older. This holds true for getting to Disney World. The only things that have not changed is that we still drive, we still like to leave our house at either 7:00pm or 3:00am and we want to be at the Magic Kingdom for opening on our first day.
Our biggest change is that our youngest daughter (9) doesn’t travel as well as she use to. Fortunately, she along with our other children (daughter age 10, sons ages 7 and 6) don’t get car sick. However, our 9 year old doesn’t sleep well in the car anymore (and she needs her sleep) so we have had to make some changes. These changes are not entirely big, but it does create a little extra planning. We will take a look at the differences in our getting there.
When we leave at 7:00pm, I try to sleep as late in the day as I can, hoping that it sets me up for a long night of driving. Since I work some odd hours, being up at all hours of the night doesn’t bother me. My wife is not a fan when she has to drive in the middle of the night, but she does great when she needs to. We pack the car when I wake up, checking and double checking that everything goes in (we forgot the bag of chargers for our camera and video camera one time). Once our dog/house sitter has arrived, we are off. The reason for our 7:00pm departure is that we live in Connecticut relatively close to New York City and drive straight through on I95. This means we have to make sure we are not on the road during rush hour. Even with this planning, New York is some of the worst traffic we battle through out the trip. Although we topped off the gas tank before leaving, we stop at the last rest area in New Jersey to gas up. This is also a good point to stretch for me. For the kids that wake up, this is also a good bathroom break too. Once I have had a good stretch and we are gassed up, it’s time to get back on the road until another quick gas stop. I can drive until about 5 or 6 in the morning and then my wife takes over.
This usually puts us in North Carolina. The driving isn’t as smooth from here, there are a few stops during the day plus traffic. This is also the time that I get to sleep, it’s not the best sleep, but it’s enough since my wife drives the rest of the way. Our first stop happens when the kids wake up. This is usually long enough to get the kids ready for the day. We get the kids changed from their PJs into their clothes for the day, a bathroom break and some time to run around. When we start driving again we eat breakfast in the car because we pack bagels and fruit. Our next break is typically at a rest area in Georgia for lunch which is our longest stop. Here we hit the bathroom right away and the kids play while my wife and I set up our lunch of fruit, veggies, juice boxes and sandwiches. After lunch we play with the kids so we can get moving too, we pack a tennis ball and frisbee. We also take this time to organize the car a bit. Since we don’t have a DVD player in the car, the kids draw and play games with each other and the car can get very disorganized quickly. After another trip to the bathroom, it’s back on the road. We do make a quick stop for gas and the next stop, Disney Property.
This is where our change in plans really take place. As mentioned before my 9 year old doesn’t sleep well in the car. She can handle one night in the car but anymore than that makes her overtired and sick for the trip. So the night before our Disney resort stay, we stay at the Doubletree Suites by Disney Springs for one night (cost is between $100-$200 and there is room for all six of us). We will either eat dinner at the hotel (they have a restaurant and bar right there) or we will go to Disney Springs depending on when we arrive. This allows us to go to bed early and start our Disney vacation refreshed and ready to go for park opening.
When we leave at 3:00am there are a few pluses and minuses. My wife and I pack the car during the day and have the car gassed up. We all go to bed early. My wife and I wake up about 2:30am to pull together last minute items and I shower to wake up since I take the first leg of the trip. We wake the kids up right before we leave to use the bathroom so there are no midnight pit stops. Our day time travel is the same as our other game plan, packing meals and all. However, here we make a stop at a Hampton Inn (which has rooms that sleep 6) in Kingsland, Georgia about a mile from the Florida boarder. Staying here in the past, we have met up with my co-blogger and his family who also drive. We all have dinner together, pizza in the lobby. My family goes to bed really early after our long day plus we have another early wake up. Since our plan is to be at the Magic Kingdom for opening after checking into our resort we have to leave the hotel in Georgia about 3:00/3:30am. I drive this portion which can sometimes make for a long day for me, the others sleep until we get there. I always find it funny if one of the kids wakes up at 5:00am and sees a billboard for Disney World and wakes the rest of the car up. Then we get the “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” every five minutes until we arrive at our resort. We also eat breakfast before arriving at our resort. Courtesy of the Hampton Inn when we check out, we get breakfast to go in a bag. It consists of a bottle of water, breakfast bar, fruit and mints.
Tips for the drive-
1. The biggest tip I have is- buy the Drive I-95 book if you are traveling from the northeast. This book has exit by exit details and points of interest along I95 with what restaurants are at each exit. One time we stopped at the the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum which I highly recommend. It was one of the points of interest in the book and was well worth it.
2. Pack your own food for the car ride. I am no health nut but eating greasy food and sugary snacks the entire way down is no fun and you feel gross starting out your vacation.
3. Have a toiletries kit with toothbrush, tooth paste and deodorant handy. Also have a bottle of water handy.
4. Hand sanitizer, hand sanitizer, hand sanitizer!
5. My wife writes activities on slips of paper for my kids to pull out of a bag to do at rest stops (think Hokey Pokey; Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes; yoga poses; jumping; etc.). One time in Virginia, there were huge pine cones on the ground and we had a soccer game with them. We had fun and amused a few other travelers.
The plans for my family revolve around getting there in short order and trying to avoid traffic. Our route is simple, I95 south until I4 in Florida until we reach Disney World. My co-blogger and his family have a more leisurely drive down. He is covering part 2 of our getting there revised.
Please leave a comment or suggestion (we are always looking for driving tips) here or on Facebook at Disneyhelp or on Twitter at @Disneyhelp.