Let me start off this post by saying that Disney with four kids who are 6 and under is not for everyone. I think most people thought we were crazy when we told them we were going alone without grandparents to help. But honestly, it was our most fun trip to date and we had very few stressful moments. I think the biggest thing that made it successful and fun for us is that we knew what we were doing. It was Keaton's fourth trip, Braden's fifth and Finley's sixth. We're experienced. I've taken a ten week old before, so I know the nursing drill. We have a system for bathroom and diaper changes. We've perfected what to bring in our backpack and stroller. We know how to get kids to nap and plan our activities out so that we can minimize people sitting and waiting for other people. We know what we are doing and what we like to do. SO. If its your first trip, you can still have tons of fun. You just need to do research and have a plan. Do not show up to Disney World and expect to have fun unless you've done a lot of work making decisions beforehand. Because there is absolutely nothing more painful than trying to figure out a plan as you go and watching the lines get longer and longer while your kids whine... So here are a few tips!
Look at a crowd calendar six months out and pick which days you'll be at which park. They aren't 100% accurate, but its a good guess. Six months is when you can make dining reservations, and if you plan to make any, you need to make them ASAP. We generally bring in one meal and eat one park meal every day, and do a nicer meal about every other day. The character meals are great--your kiddos get to meet a bunch of characters without waiting in line--and you get free drink refills. They are expensive, but the sit down meals tend to have better food and are often buffets (with unlimited Diet Coke). Everyone needs a break in the middle of the day! Aside from bringing in a meal, we bring tons of snacks. Granola bars, applesauce pouches, crackers, raisins, water bottles... I don't think we bought any snacks in the park at all on this most recent trip. But chances are, when your kids are fussy, they need a snack. Same goes for your husband. Our favorite place to take a break at the Magic Kingdom is the PeopleMover. Eat a snack, feed a baby and relax for a few minutes.
Tip number two--be at the park early. In general, we try to get to the park about 20 minutes before it opens. Maybe earlier for the Magic Kingdom--you also have to account for the ferry/monorail, so those tend to be very early mornings. The lines get long fast, so getting in early assures you a spot in Jedi Training at Hollywood Studios and a chance to meet Elsa and Anna at Magic Kingdom. This was our first trip to have a pre-park opening breakfast reservation and it was awesome. The park opened at 9 to the public, and we got to go in at 8 for breakfast. We got this series of less crowded pictures on Main Street and I ate a $20 donut (not kidding--although it was delicious.)
Next tip--plan some outfits. Outfits are great for several reasons--first, it helps you visually keep track of people. Knowing all my kids were in red shirts helped us be able to monitor them and not have to remember what they were wearing. It's much easier to find each other. And second, (I'll probably address this more in a post with costumes) the kids have more fun when they are dressed up. It helps make it magical--the castmembers fuss over them and sometimes they'll randomly give them free stuff. Disney is magic.
And the last most important tip--plan out how to get everyone around. I don't think we have great picture of us in our total element, but this one is close. We LOVE this stroller--it has two seats and a glider board on the back, so we can get three kids around on it. We also brought an Ergo for Merritt and a Toddler Tula for Keaton (or occasionally Braden or Finley!) so that we could only worry about getting the big two around when we were walking from ride to ride. We generally leave the stroller parked and move it a few times a day--it's more like a home base for snacks and water bottles and a place to let kids nap. Merritt was carried 90% of the time and Keaton was up his fair share too.
Those are my quick tips! I'm happy to share more if anyone has burning questions.