We had an awesome time.
We made so many memories that the boys will have for a lifetime.
Seeing their face light up with each experience, ride, character was an amazing experience.
The boys are already planning next year's trip (we will see about that … )
Preparing for this trip was no small undertaking. I think I underestimated it. It was actually pretty time-intense and stressful to make sure that we were prepared. I like to think of our trip in several phases …
At first, I went through a stage of anxiety leading up to the trip that lasted until our first night there. Packing a family of five, 3 under 6, is no small feat.
Diapers, wipes, snacks, meds, clothing, shoes, Lincoln's hair product … but I am happy to say that there isn't one single thing that I forgot. I could have used a few extra t-shirts for myself, I underestimated how hot and sticky I would get in the Florida humidity while having three kids hanging on me.
The Pottery Barn Kids monogrammed suitcases were a win. They were small enough for the kids to carry their own, they fit in the overhead luggage compartment and everyone stopped to say how cute the boys looks pulling them. Check.
|New white tennis shoes for Mommy and Daddy. Much appreciated after how long we were on our feet each day.|
After the anxiety wore off, I went through a stage of anger. The bus lines are too long, the kids are hungry, Lincoln is dehydrated, the crowds are intense, we shouldn't have come, the kids are too young, everything costs a fortune. How many days are we really going to be here?
While everyone had their own challenges at different points, Lincoln was definitely the toughest. He was well behaved (actually better there than his brothers!) but just got so tired of being in line, in the stroller, on the bus …
A Happy Daze
Then, the anger seemed to just float into the clouds and everything was fine.
Everything was happy.
Everything was magical.
The kids are screaming?
I actually don't really hear them.
You want a $6 Ice Cream Sandwich? Or a Mickey pretzel?
Sure … have two.
You want to have ice cream for dinner?
Of course, can you pass the sprinkles? I'll have some too.
I started to no longer notice my screaming children as I looked at everyone else's screaming children around me. We ran into another family in the lobby of the hotel that had just lost their one-year-old and feared he fell down the stairs. As they ran off to find him I breathed a sigh of relief. Our family may have disfunction but I hadn't lost a child down the stairs. Yet.
Here are the facts of the trip.
Animal Kingdom Lodge
We had a Savannah Room … which was an upgrade and well worth the money. I had heard that if you stay there, you don't really "see animals" … not true. Every time we looked out our window or sat on our patio we saw at least a dozen different animals including giraffes and zebras. And something with a big furry yellow head of hear that the boys called "Gramma."
Our hotel had a great pool that had poolside activities for the kids and a nightly movie at 7pm. There were multiple sit-down and quick-serve restaurants as well as a pool bar and a huge outdoor playground. The hotel alone could have entertained the kids for days. It even had a flamingo viewing area and a bonfire. Can't say enough great things about the hotel (minus the distance to Magic Kingdom.)
We did the Disney Dining Plan, which I'd do again in a heartbeat. Using the meal plan made the trip so easy - we could scan our wristband to eat anything we wanted. I didn't touch cash or a credit card all week. Even my morning Starbucks counted as a "snack" on our plan.
We made our dining reservations as soon as we could, I believe 6-months out from our trip. Our travel agent said we needed to do that in order to get tables - and she was so right. It's amazing how quickly these reservations fill up. Had we not booked far out, we wouldn't have been able to get in at the 4-thousand character dinners that we visited.
TREX at Downtown Disney. It was like a Rainforest Cafe experience but with Dinos. The boys loved it and it was some of the best food we had on our trip
Visiting Downtown Disney was also a great option for our first night - we didn't have park passes yet so the boys could play and explore.
And meet some "fake" characters.
CRYSTAL COURT CHARACTER DINING WITH POOH + FRIENDS: This one was our least favorite. The food was so-so, the buffet was small and the restaurant was running late and crowded. The characters seemed a little more touchy-feely than other options, Eeyore rubbed my back for a portion of the visit. Slighty Creepy. But of course, it's all about the kids. They loved the characters. And pulling on the character's noses and tails.
While there we spent a few hours at Magic Kingdom at night. Lincoln wasn't super impressed and opted for a nap while Terri and I took Emmett on some big kid rides!
|Lincoln said he was not impressed with Jungle Cruise and opted for a nap.|
TUSKER HOUSE at ANIMAL KINDGOM: This was our best character dining experience. The service was awesome and the food was great - we even arrived at 11:30 and could have breakfast or lunch. I loved this place! Best character dining experience that we had.
HOLLYWOOD and VINE at Hollywood Studios: We were just giddy at this point. The kids loved taking a "break" from the standard Mickey characters and met Jake and friends. Every 20 minutes the characters led the crowd in a song and dance routine. Brad and I may or may not have joined in. The highlight of this lunch would be when little Fletcher returned from doing the Congo Line across the restaurant with Jake … Fletcher accidentally sat down at the wrong table. However, he didn't really notice as his eyes grew to be the side of saucers looking down at the dessert at his new "chair." Luckily, we caught his attention before he took a bite!
We did opt to leave this restaurant before the fourth, and final, character came to our table. It was Princess Sofia and Fletcher was threatening violence toward a princess coming near him. It was in her best interest that we left early.
Emmett rode Haunted Mansion four times while Fletcher rode Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs twice. Emmett also loved riding Tower of Terror with Mommy and asked for a post-ride selfie.
More favorites …
|Finding Nemo the Musical|
|Post-Everest Experience Beer minus children!|
Seeing the boys light up when we walked into Magic Kingdom for the first time was pretty incredible!
|Emmett asked to take frequent "Journaling Breaks" so he could be sure to remember everything he saw!|
We had a short stint at Epcot and a day and a half at Animal Kingdom and a day at Hollywood Studios. Magic Kingdom was the favorite but they loved rides all all of the parks.
Best Part of Staying on Property:
I loved the convenience of the buses and the dining plan. No car seats needed and super easy to move from hotel to hotel or park to park.
Worst Part of Staying on Property:
Hands Down - the buses. They were so slow. At least from our hotel. They say that a bus comes every 20 minutes. We couldn't go anywhere without waiting usually about 20 minutes if not 30. We lucked out a couple times with short waits, but most were long. It was hard to keep the kids entertained in line for the bus, then in line for the park and then in line for rides. Too much wait time. When we go back, I'll stay at a hotel that is monorail connected - the extra hotel cost is worth the shorter wait time to get anywhere.
Until next year, Mickey Mouse!