I watched my daughter’s little face light up as a parade of her best morning cartoon friends rode by, knowing that the stress and planning had all been worth it. At $110 to $135 for a one-day ticket (free under 3!), it’s a big expense and a lot of pressure to visit Walt Disney World. Here’s what worked and didn’t work for this single mom of a toddler.

1. Plan, plan, plan
I downloaded the My Disney Experience app to my phone weeks in advance to set up my Fast Passes, meals, and even character meetings. It was a life savor! I was able to plan our day around her regular nap and eating schedule. Fast Passes can be changed on the fly, so save your money for caramel popcorn.

Save your money for caramel popcorn.

2. A Mom’s Gotta Eat
Never let yourself or your child get to “hangry,” that angry/hungry day-ruiner. I am a huge fan of the character breakfasts. I called ahead and made my reservation and was careful to pick a place where the food comes to your table. There is no way I can hold my two year old’s hand and a tray full of overflowing Mickey waffles at the buffett. Just typing those words has me sweating. The character breakfasts are the best money you’ll spend at around $35 per person. Have your camera ready for when Mickey comes to the table!

The character breakfasts are
the best money you’ll spend.


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3. Map It Out
Maps are available as a phone app and on paper. I had both at the ready as soon as I walked through the gates. I had already studied the map to plan my route from the front of the park to the back. But the key is to always know where the Baby Center is located.

No bathroom lines for this smart mommy!

The Baby Center is a haven—quiet, off the main path, with full blast AC and rows of changing tables. No bathroom lines for this smart mommy! It also has a stash of diapers, formula, sunscreen, and anything else you might have forgotten or lost. There’s a room full of rocking chairs and a Disney movie playing on a small screen in the corner. It’s a safe haven for nursing moms and a great place to decompress.

The Baby Center is a great place to decompress.

4. Head Off That Meltdown
We’ve all been there: a long day, over-stimulated, and your child isn’t the only one ready to blow. The meltdown you prevent might be your own. The key is to build in breaks; I found the perfect snack stop right in front of Cinderella’s castle. It’s a newly remodeled area that can be reserved with a Fast Pass for viewing the fireworks and parade at night. Planning out spots to stop and rest was key to my survival.

I found the perfect snack stop
right in front of Cinderella’s castle.

An app, a map, a plan, and a snack—that’s all you’ll need. Just don’t forget that the happiest place on earth for your little one is right by your side.

Amanda Evans-Clark is a blog writer, former tv news reporter, lipgloss lover and single mom to a very spunky toddler. Her husband is in heaven and she’s living his legacy through The Cocktails and Chemo  Cocktails and Chemo foundation.

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