A Single Parents' Guide to Disney

My daughter is still at the diaper-bag phase of her life (insert mildly exhausted sigh right here), so any additional bags were difficult to manage, which is where the lockers came in handy and they only cost a few bucks. Although it was a bit of a walk to drop off purchases and such at the lockers throughout the day, it was really helpful, especially when going to eat.

5. Plan your meals and accept help when eating.

Meals were really the point of the trip that I was most anxious about when planning it. First of all, stepping outside a restaurant to quiet a tantruming toddler while your food gets cold is really not the way anyone wants to spend a meal. And we all know that sometimes we can't stop a tantrum no matter how hard we try. Secondly, there are a number of buffets in Disney World, and trying to fill two plates of food while managing a hungry little one is not easy.

Well, for the most part, my concerns were for nothing, as long as I avoided completely self-serve food areas, which were quite difficult to handle on my own. But beyond that, we had wonderful meals, the most enjoyable of which was actually a buffet dinner at the Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom. The hostess and our waitress immediately picked up that I was traveling alone and went above and beyond to help, even going as far as to walk around the buffet with me and fill our plates, while I carried my daughter. After we sat down, they came over to ask whether we needed any more of anything, and entertained Ellie while I finished up a very tasty meal.

6. Let Disney take the pictures for you. Taking great photos of my daughter was also a bit of a challenge. She is too small for me to ask her to stand still and pose for a picture, so I was struggling with how I could capture the great experience she was having and then I discovered Disney's PhotoPass. There are photographers throughout the parks and at the venues where there are characters, and they are happy to snap photos for you. Then they give you a little card (the PhotoPass) that you hand over to any other Disney PhotoPass photographer who snaps a picture. They scan it, and then all of the photos are uploaded to the website, where you can view them and order digital copies or prints. They can be a bit pricey, though, so I suggest letting them take as many photos as you like, and then being selective when deciding which are worth keeping.

Also, when we went to take pictures with Mickey and Minnie in the Magic Kingdom at Town Square Theater, there were handlers present who were more than willing to take pictures with my camera while I helped Ellie out, allowing me to capture the fun we were both having, without spending any extra money.

7. Don't overdo it, head to the pool instead.

If this is your first trip with your child(ren) as a single parent, I would suggest easing into it. Ellie and I only visited Disney World for a weekend, and while we were there I made sure that we paced ourselves. It can get quite hot in the summer afternoons in Orlando, so I suggest being realistic about what you and your kids can handle, and taking advantage of the great pools that all of the Disney Resorts have to offer.

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