There is no way that the words that I arrange and type here could ever convey just how magical our trip to Disney World was. Simply, it was the trip of a lifetime.
Before I can really tell you anything specific about Disney, I need to give you a little back story on the dynamics of my family. We are not exactly the best at getting along, particularly in slightly stressful situations (travel, crowds, trying something new…). Tate and I snip at one another, I hate to use this word-but it’s the truth-we snip at one another CONSTANTLY when we’re stressed. Our kids have always been the type of kids to throw tantrums, even in the tamest circumstances, let alone on an exhausting five day trip to Disney World complete with late nights and crabby parents. You should go out to dinner with us sometime. We are SO MUCH FUN to hang around.
Then there’s my control freak tendencies. Since I did the majority of the planning for the trip, I felt the entire weight of responsibility that everything MUST go well on the trip. Reservation glitches, weather, the kids behavior, wait times at restaurants-all things that I can’t actually control-I knew I’d feel defensive if things weren’t going just as I’d planned.
These are things that I worried about this before the trip. I wanted it to be perfect. I didn’t want US to be the reason that the trip was a flop.
Something truly miraculous happened. Maybe Disney pumps magical, calming pixie dust into the air, or they spike our drinks with xanax, I DON’T KNOW, but (almost) everything about our trip was PERFECT. We all behaved and got along well and had the best time we’ve ever had together as a family.
Every night, the kids were visited by the Fairy Godmother, who left them a little gift. (This idea came from my dental hygienist! They know more than just teeth cleaning!) The kids ate this up and loved finding little gifts every morning. Before we left, I went to the Disney store at the mall and bought a few little items and some gift cards so they’d have their own money to spend at the parks. I wrote about how we told the kids about the trip, complete with their first visit from the Fairy Godmother at Southern By Proxy. This part wasn’t really magical at all.
Here’s a rundown of everyday of our vacation, the FOOD! The PARADES! The FUN, all the MAGIC! I know this is long, but I just wanted to do a one and done post, rather than a series of posts. Okay?
We arrived at our resort, the Wilderness Lodge, and it was POURING rain. The entire seven story lobby was filled with families playing board games, children coloring and hula hooping, families sitting in front of the large fire place, rocking back and forth in the rocking chairs. It was like something out of a movie.
Our room had a great view of the lake and woods, the kids were SO EXCITED that our room had bunk beds. We unpacked, then headed back to the lobby where Carson LITERALLY (yes, LITERALLY) hula hooped for two hours. TWO HOURS. Ella bounced from activity to activity, many led by Disney staff, coloring and playing games. After TWO HOURS, we finally convinced Carson to go back up to the room to relax before dinner.
We had reservations at 7:50 at our resort’s sit down restaurant, Whispering Canyon Cafe. This was the only place that we had to wait a long time (45 minutes) to be seated. By the time we were seated the kids were exhausted (HULA HOOPING! TWO HOURS), but our server was sweet and did her best to be quick. The food was fabulous. Since we got the free Disney Dining Plan promotion, we were also entitled to dessert. They boxed up our caramel apple pies because we were too full and too tired to eat anything else.
I checked the weather forecast for Orlando and it called for rain every single day of our trip. 100% chance.
So we bought, or rather invested in, some ponchos and boarded the bus for Magic Kingdom.
“We’re going to have fun, it doesn’t matter if it rains,” Tate said. This? Coming from Tate, Mr. Pessimistic? Proof of magical pixie dust?
We had breakfast reservations for Crystal Palace, a character meal with Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet. The food was all great, the kids LOVED their chocolate Mickey Mouse waffles that were basically brownies. Brownies for breakfast! It’s Disney World so it’s OKAY! Carson and Ella were excited to meet the characters and get their autograph books signed. They characters did a little Friendship Day dance that was a little lame, but it was sweet.
The first thing we’d planned to do right after breakfast was to get a stroller and get a “1st visit” badge, but it was raining SO HARD. Ella saw Cinderella’s castle and desperately wanted to go there, so we just bypassed the stroller and badges and headed through the nearly blinding rain straight for the castle.
But we were all HAPPY. The rain was annoying, yes, but we were standing right in front of Cinderella’s castle! And then there were all these great rides! The carousel, It’s a Small World, and the Peter Pan ride. I never want to forget standing in line, Tate’s hand in the small of my back, looking at each other and silently saying, “This is perfect, isn’t it?”
We loved how most of the lines and rides were all covered so we didn’t have to stand in the rain. As the day went on, the sun even came out a few times. The whole day was spent riding rides and our favorite was the Buzz Lightyear ride. We also stumbled upon a parade and got a front row view. It was just amazing, the float and characters were so much fun to watch.
After a mid afternoon rest back in our room, we went back to Magic Kingdom for the Electric parade (AWESOME) and fireworks show (Also, AWESOME. What we weren’t expecting was the movie they played on the facade of the castle. It brought tears to my eyes. The kids were really tired so we were holding them and somehow I ended up holding Carson. My arms and back were on fire, but during the show, he hugged me and gave me a kiss. Aw man, that right there was worth every penny spent on the vacation.
This was one of the very best days of my life.
Monday was Hollywood Studios day and the rain had miraculously stopped. As directed by Shelly, our fantastic travel agent, we got there before they opened and headed straight to the Toy Story ride. Tate didn’t really get that all those people around us, THOUSANDS of people, were all heading to the exact same place. He kept checking the map and saying, “yes, this is the right way.” I kept saying, “Yes, it is. I think ALL of these people are going to the same place.”
The Toy Story ride is part ride, part video game and was really fun. We waited about 45 minutes to ride it, which was our longest wait for a ride during the entire trip.
We also enjoyed eating at Pizza Planet, our dessert was a GIANT chocolate cupcake that was SO GOOD. The kids played arcade games for awhile, which wasn’t exactly how I wanted to spend time at Disney World, but they were having fun and we didn’t really feel like it was worth telling them “no.”
Other things we liked: The Muppets 3D movie, the stunt show, and meeting Woody, Buzz, Lightning McQueen, and Mater. Don’t tell anyone, but I was as excited as the kids to meet them. Maybe more. I’ll never admit to that, though.
Hollywood Studios had a Pixar parade with lots of great characters. We were a little disappointed that Lightning and Mater weren’t in the parade, but it was still a really great parade.
That night we had another character dinner, this time with Cinderella, Prince Charming, and her evil stepmom and stepsisters, Lady Tremaine, Druzilla, and Anastacia. We got to go to the swanky Grande Floridian to 1900 Park Fare for the dinner. The stepsisters were hilarious! Cinderella and Prince Charming were sweet and gracious. Tate is not a fan of buffets, but we both thought the food was really tasty.
We got up early Tuesday to get to Animal Kingdom and go on the safari because Shelly said that morning was the best time to see the animals. And see animals we did! Giraffes crossing the road, rhinos, elephants, and a male lion, perched up on a hill. We were all in awe.
Lunch could have been a HUGE disaster, they forgot to give Ella her food, then Tate spilled a full Diet Coke all over the table, himself, and Ella. In the real world, this would have probably ruined the rest of the day, but in Disney World, we all just shrugged our shoulders, laughed, and wiped up the mess. Seriously, I only mention this because it was nearly as amazing at the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom.
Poor Carson freaked out during the Bugs Life 3D movie, but the rest of us thought it was great. At the end, the seats felt like bugs were running underneath and behind you. I can see why Carson freaked out a little, but it was pretty funny.
After the parade, we rushed back to our hotel because we had dinner reservations at Downtown Disney at Fulton’s Crab House. Ella fell asleep on the bus, so Tate carried her what seemed like a 20 mile walk to the restaurant. Once we were seated, we learned that our Dining Plan couldn’t be used there. Again, this is something that normally would just turn a perfectly fun evening into something NOT fun, but instead we just headed over Raglan’s. It was an Irish pub that served Guinness, so really it was probably the perfect place for us. We sat outside and enjoyed our dinners.
After dinner, we planned to browse all the shops at Downtown Disney, but it was ridiculously crowded. After trying to look in a few stores, we decided to go back to the resort and watch the fireworks and the Electrical Water Parade from the dock at Wilderness Lodge. I don’t think I care to ever go back to Downtown Disney.
We were so excited for Wednesday and our visit to Epcot. While we were there, Epcot was hosting the International Food and Wine Festival and all during the week, Tate and I had been hoarding our dining plan snacks to redeem as we traveled through World Showcase. Oh you guys, the food was AMAZING. So were the beers, particularly those in the biergarten in Germany. Tate and I really, really enjoyed those.
There were a few rides that we rode, but we mostly hung out and walked around World Showcase. The kids seemed to have fun anyway, there was a mime in Italy that was really good, even for a mime. For dinner we ate in Germany at Biergarten restaurant. This was another buffet that was, OH MY GOODNESS, SO good. We really enjoyed the band and the kids and I even got out and danced. And they had more beer, very, very large beer, so it’s a good thing that we had a bus driver for the ride back.
So that was our trip to Disney World. It seemed like there was a surprise around every corner and yes, it was truly magical. We can’t wait to go back, even though I can’t imagine that another trip could ever be as amazing as this one. I want to thank Shelly for all of her help in planning our trip, she did such a great job guiding us in the right direction and gave really GREAT advice. Thank you, Shelly. I also want to thank all the people who offered advice and tips. Thank you, thank you, thank you.