This is going to be a LONG post.
There were well over 500 pictures from this Disney trip alone and I there are just so many details I want to remember for any possible future trip we might take to Disney so I don't forget before the trip gets too far behind us.
I have to start by saying, it was just so, so much fun. Disney World is exhausting but, there is just nothing like it as a parent with young kids.
I am so sad now that I don't have this trip to plan for.
I planned for months.
I researched, read blogs, talked to friends who have done Disney, asked advice and called Disney World countless times. But, it was all so fun to plan.
I just tried to picture Kinley & Ty's faces with every character meal I planned or fast pass that I booked.
Ben and I went back and forth about even doing this trip at all multiple times.
It is SO extravagant. I mean, definitely the most extravagant trip we have taken in our marriage....and it was Disney World. Our kids have so much already. So many kids never, ever get to go to Disney World. We knew, for sure, that there would be moments our kids would be exhausted and tired and ungrateful and we would be wondering why we brought them all this way and spent all this money.
But after wrestling with it for a while, in the end, we decided to book it.
And, I am so glad we did.
It was our first, real family vacation, just us. That was hard too..no aunts or uncles or grandparents to help...just us.
But, it was so sweet too.
We got to see how much our kids love each other and how much fun they have together. We spent 6 solid days all together, just us. Either in a car, or a hotel room or in the stroller, or at a dinner table. There was lots of togetherness...and I wouldn't have traded it for a minute.
Anyway, I tried to document on my phone all we did day by day so I wouldn't forget, so I am going to do this blog post that way.
Day 1 - ROAD TRIP
We decided to drive to Disney World to save some cost. A little crazy with a 5 and 2 year old but, the kids did great and I love a road trip. I did feel a little insane when we got in the car and I mapped out our route which looked like this.
We left Saturday morning at 5am and drive 12 hours to Pensacola Beach.
We wanted to get there before dark so the kids could get out of the car, play on the beach and get some energy out.
It was a perfect night.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort right on the beach and spent the evening playing in the sand, having dinner by the pool and just relaxing.
It was such a fun hotel. This was the view from our balcony.
Day 2- ROAD TRIP CONTINUES & MAGIC KINGDOM AT NIGHT
Sunday we slept until we woke up without an alarm and finished out the road trip to Orlando and checked into the Polynesian Hotel in the afternoon.
The Polynesian was GREAT!
Staying on the monorail was so essential for us.
We went back and forth from the park multiple times a day and it was so convenient. Definitely a must-do for small kids. I booked our hotel stay on Cheap Tickets and saved a bundle compared to Disney World prices. I also bought our tickets with a Mousesavers.com discount through Undercover Tourist and got 5 day park hopper tickets for the price of 4.
As soon as we could, we jumped on the monorail and headed out for Magic Kingdom. It was pretty surreal for Kinley to see Cinderella's castle in person for the first time.
We all wore our Minnie and Mickey outfits for our first day at Magic Kingdom. It made for such a fun first family Disney pic.
The first ride we rode was the carousel and it was fun and they thought it was huge compared to the one at Grapevine Mills we ride all time.
Then we rode It's a Small World.
I kid you not, this might have been Ty's favorite ride. He was mesmerized and LOVED being in a boat. Everytime we walked past it during the week, he wanted to do it again.
Next we rode the Magic Carpets of Aladdin and the Pirates of the Carribean ride, which I am glad we did because the next day they shut down the Pirate ride for the duration of our trip.
It was so magical.
The perfect way to start our trip.
Probably one of my favorite things about this trip was that we brought the pack in play for Ty but never once got it out. He slept every night in a bed with Kinley and he had never done that before.
It was so sweet.
Day 3 - MAGIG KINGDOM
We started out our first full day in the parks up bright and early because we had a breakfast reservation at Cinderella's Royal Table at 8:15.
Something we did that worked WONDERS for Kinley was that the "Disney Fairy" came to see the kids every night while they were sleeping if they were good in the parks that day.
She would bring something little to reward them for their good behavior.
She also saved us lots by not having to buy souvenirs at the park every day.
The first morning, she brought stuffed Minnie & Mickey dolls and Disney sunglasses for the kids to wear for their sunny days at the parks.
It was awesome having a breakfast reservation before the park officially opened. There was a clear shot for Kinley to really see and run to the castle.
Breakfast at Cinderella's Royal table was so fun and we actually ran into Matthew from Kinley's class who had reservations at the same time. So crazy!
She met lots of other princesses too.
We all wore our Frozen shirts from Kinley's party that day because we had a FastPass to meet Anna & Elsa from Frozen later in the morning.
Let me tell you, I am SO glad we had the FastPass.
We witnessed the Disney Craze for these princesses first hand when we walked out of the castle from breakfast. There were parents that had just SPRINTED from the Magic Kingdom gates as they opened to a rope that was put up right in front of the carousel. They were pushing and shoving and yelling at us because we had a stroller because they were all FIGHTING to stand in line to meet these princesses.
We tried to explain that we were NOT going to stand in line to meet them, that we were just finishing breakfast and going to visit some other parts of the park first.
When they opened that rope it was a mad house. I couldn't believe it.
Ben said, unless he is meeting Jesus, he will never be that crazed to meet someone.
We got out of there as quickly as we could and rode some other rides first:
The Haunted Mansion (not Kinley's favorite)
and Kinley & Ben rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Ty was too small and I was too pregnant to ride but, Kinley did it with Ben and they had a blast.
Ty and I watched from the exit and saw their car go by.
Ben either looked like this or was pushing both kids in the stroller all day long each day. He was amazing!
We ran into Chip & Dale...this was Kinley's first test with the "big head" characters.
She has always been afraid of them, her whole life..but, she told me in Disney World, she would not be afraid.
When this girl sets her mind to something...it happens!
She did great the whole week.
You would never have known she was afraid.
Then we braved the crazy crowds again and headed back to meet Anna & Elsa where we scanned our Magic Bands and it took a total of 5 minutes.
Kinley was SO excited to see them.
She talked all about her and AG's party to them and they were so sweet to listen to her.
And we took a family pic in all our Frozen attire.
When we walked out from meeting them, the time on the stand by line to meet them said 300 minutes (5 hours!) and people were doing it! It never went below 300 minutes while we were there.
Then we rode Under the Sea with Ariel
Rode the Mad Hatter Tea Party ride
And took a ride on the Magic Kingdom Railroad - Ty's favorite due to his train obsession
We did the Jungle Cruise with our fastpass and at lunch in Adventureland before heading back to our hotel for some nap and pool time.
I wish I had pics of our time at the pool.
We just layed in the sun, enjoyed the sand and water and Kinley did the water slide about 100 times.
We went back up to Magic Kingdom that evening for our FastPass to Enchanted Tales with Belle.
This was SO much fun.
Kinley got picked to be the part of Chip in the story and she was ecstatic because she knew the last time AG went to Disney she played the role of Chip too.
She asked me no less than 10 times to send a picture of her as Chip to AG.
After that we rode the monorail to Epcot for a quick visit.
We rode the Finding Nemo Ride, did Turtle Talk with Crush, and looked at the gigantic aquarium.
Epcot was for sure Ben's favorite park and we planned on spending more evenings there but it rained every day in the evening except this first one so we never got to.
DAY 4 - ANIMAL KINGDOM
We woke up to the Disney Fairy bringing Mickey &Minnie Bubbles, sidewalk chalk and tattoos.
And Ty wore his Jungle Book tee shirt and Kinley wore her Rapunzel tee shirt that day. (There weren't many good "animal" choices for girls so, she just picked Rapunzel...ha!)
We started the day with a FastPass to the Kilimanjaro Safari ride and saw SO many African animals.
Ty LOVED this.
He could not sit still.
He would yell about every animal he saw and kept jumping over Ben and I to get to whichever side of the truck the animal was on.
Then we did the "It's Tough to Be a Bug" 3D show inside the Tree of Life.
Don't let this smiling face in cute glasses fool you.
It was kind of a scary show and Kinley cried during it because she was so scared.
We would probably NOT do this again.
The tree of life itself is super impressive though.
We had a character lunch at Tusker House in the Africa part of Animal Kingdom and ran into another one of Kinley's friends from school, Hannah.
We actually ran into their family 3 times at Disney World.
We met Mickey, Donald, Daisy & Goofy at Tusker House.
Ty was not super in to posing with the characters for a picture. He would NEVER get out of his chair, but it was hilarious because as SOON as they would walk away from the table he would declare "I Love Mickey!" and we were like...but, you didn't even talk to them!!
After lunch we headed to Dinoland and did the Triceratops Spin
And saw the Finding Nemo Musical. I loved this show.
It was definitely the best "performance" we saw in Disney World.
My kids, and our mutual love for musical theatre, felt right at home.
We ended our Animal Kingdom day in the Dinoland play area where the kids could run around and play and climb and slide as much as they wanted to until they looked like they would pass out and it looked like rain was coming.
Ty passed out on the bus home.
Then we headed back to the hotel for some rest time during the rain.
And it was a HUGE storm that night. It worked out fine for us because we had dinner reservations at Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary Hotel so we just took the monorail and went to dinner and didn't ever get out in the rain.
Chef Mickey's was probably our least appetizing and most expensive meals.
It was like paying an arm and a leg to visit a Golden Coral.
We were almost kicking ourselves for doing it but a couple things saved it for us.
1) It was the ONLY place we saw Minnie Mouse.
We got to see Donald, Goofy, Mickey & Pluto too...but, Minnie was the star of our show. The kids LOVED seeing her.
This is Ty so, so excited when he saw Mickey from across the room.
He was just star struck and would freeze up when they actually came to the table.
2) Our kids just had so much fun together that night and we got pics like these.
Sorry for the overload.
They just had too much fun.
Ben and I decided it is all about how you look at it.
He would pay an arm and a leg to have 5 characters walk up to us for a meet and greet and picture time rather than standing in a line for hours to meet them in the parks.
So, in his opinion...character meals are money well spent!
In the future, I would book one a day.
After dinner we rode back to our hotel and waited out the rain in hopes that it would slow down for the night time fireworks show at Magic Kingdom and we were so thankful it did!
We jumped on the monorail and got there right in time to see the "Celebrate the Magic" projection show on Cinderella's castle and the "Wishes Night Time Spectacular" fireworks show.
I had brought some glow bracelets for the kids to wear for night time activities and they were a hit.
We had about 5 minutes of rain to wait through before the shows started so we walked in a store right at the front of the park and bought the kids each one souvenir. Ty got a Jake and the Neverland Pirates sword and Kinley got these "Princess Minnie" ears she had been eyeing in every store we went to.
DAY 5 - HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
We woke up to the Disney Fairy bringing a Belle Barbie doll for Kinley and a Buzz Lightyear and Rex toy from Toy Story to Ty. And because we were going to Hollywood Studios, they wore their Jake & Sophia shirts that day.
We started the day with a leisurely character breakfast at Ohana in our hotel.
It was BY FAR our favorite character meal.
The breakfast was delicious, it was so convenient, and it was so fun meeting Lilo & Stitch (and Mickey & Pluto again :)
Then we took the bus to Hollywood Studios and our first order of business was meeting Jake and Sophia.
Ty was asleep in the stroller and the lines weren't long at all.
Then we saw the Muppets in 3D show (kinda boring and did not keep Ty's attention)
After the show we wanted to burn off some energy so they played in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area.
They LOVED this.
And Ty had a mini-meltdown when we had to leave this area.
It was just too much fun!
What mom? I am just riding a huge ant...
We saw Disney Jr live on Stage. This was GREAT for keeping Ty's attention. We watched the end of an Indiana Jones show and ate lunch at the 50's Prime Time Cafe. The food was pretty good, we loved our waiter, and the decor was cool here.
After that, we saw the Little Mermaid show (not even remotely comparable to Finding Nemo that we saw)
It was awesome.
Both kids LOVED this.
But, like the craziness that is meeting Anna & Elsa...so goes the Toy Story Mania ride. Do NOT do it without a FastPass.
As soon as we got on the bus to go back to the hotel it started pouring down rain for the entire night. We had planned on going back to Epcot for dinner and exploring some of the countries...but, we opted for ordering pizza, watching TV and packing our bags for the evening.
It was probably a better choice.
DAY 6 - MAGIC KINGDOM & HEAD HOME
The Disney fairy must have known we had a long road trip home because she brought some new sippie cups, coloring books and activity books for our ride home.
I can't tell you how much both kids loved riding it every day. They loved being able to stand up and hold on and wait on the train.
They just loved it.
And it was fantastic that we could just push the double stroller right on with plenty of room.
We had a FastPass to the Buzz Lightyear ride that day so Kinley & Ty wore their Jessie and Buzz shirts and I made a tank out of a toy story alien shirt I had bought Ben that was too small for him.
We checked out of the hotel and got to the Magic Kingdom just in time to be pretty much first in line to meet Tiana.
Kinley has loved Tiana and Princess & the Frog since she was very little so she wanted to meet Tiana the whole time we were there.
She was so, so sweet.
She told Kinley, in her sweet southern drawl, that she reminded her of her best friend Lottie who has blonde hair and always likes to wear pink.
Then we went to Tomorrowland for the Buzz Lightyear ride and we rode the PeopleMover mini monorail around the area.
We went from there to the Main Stage to watch "Dream Along with Mickey" and eat our daily ice cream treat and then used our FastPass for the Winnie the Pooh ride and another FastPass for the Peter Pan ride.
We could NOT leave Disney world without riding Dumbo and I was so, so blown away by what they did with that ride!
It was amazing.
You just get in line and then "Play while you Wait" in this big top play area.
You get a pager and play until it's your turn to ride the ride.
It was fantastic.
We had a FastPass to Meet Rapunzel and Cinderella next....This Cinderella was maybe our favorite princess the whole week. She was so sweet and chatty and came to talk to Ty. She was great.
And our last scheduled actvity of the trip was Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
I kinda wish we had some character meal or princesses to meet or something after Kinley got all "done up" but, it ended up being the perfect way to end our trip.
It is by far what she will remember about Disney, what she looked forward to all week and was such a great way to finish the trip.
She knew before we left for the trip that she wanted a Tiana dress.
She has every other dress they offered and used to have Tiana when she was little but we gave it away. I went to multiple stores trying to find a Tiana dress before we went on the trip so we didn't have to get the marked up Disney one but couldn't find one.
Thankfully Honey's Easter Bunny brought Kinley money to get her Tiana dress at Disney world and it was just perfect.
The first thing they do is ask "Princess Kinley" what dress she would like and then they set it all up in a dressing room and you get a "fairy godmother" who opens a curtain back for you and says "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo!" and you put your dress on first.
I told Kinley, I think she perfected the "princess pose."
Then I waited with a princess for them to call her name.
What I loved most about this was that the ladies pretty much pretended I was NOT even there.
They did not ask me one question.
They asked Kinley what dress she wanted, which color nail polish, which color eyeshadow and lipstick and what hairstyle.
She picked every bit of it out.
I just sat back and watched while she got the royal treatment.
Not complete without a TON of sparkles..
She didn't see what they were doing the whole time and then they "reveal" her new look to her.
Then she headed off for a photo shoot.
We got a few pics with our package to take home and they are just precious.
She could NOT wait for her daddy to see her.
And he did not disappoint.
He just told her how beautiful she was.
We basically went straight from there to the car to head home.
We drove all the way to Mobile, AL before we stopped to spend the night. And we drove the rest of the way the next day.
The WHOLE time in the car Kinley wore her Tiana dress.
We didn't wash her hair from the bun for three days.
She just loved it.
Ben and I laughed and laughed when we would stop at McDonald's for lunch on our drive and people would stare at us like we were crazy pageant parents with our child all dressed up with sparkles in her hair.
But, she would not change for a minute.
IT was a fun ride home with these two.
A few last random thoughts:
Inconvenient things or what we wouldn't do again:
- Buses to Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios with a double stroller...so inconvienent. You had to break it down and carry it through the front door.
- Crowds at Magic Kingdom - and we went during a moderate busy time...never will we go in the summer or spring break or on a holiday.
- Double the outfits - next time I will be sure to bring multiple outfits for each day for each kid...they just get dirty and wet and you need to change multiple times
Random things we loved:
- Swimming at the Polynesian
- Meeting Anna & Elsa
- Bathroom wait time - Amazing at Disney... despite how crowded the park was, I never waited in line once for the bathroom
- The median age of Disney workers - they were mostly older and so sweet and accommodating and hospitable, not teenagers with summer jobs
- The Dumbo Wait & Play ride...genius
- Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Even though vacation is the best and getting away is so fun...it just always feels good to be home. I am so glad we get to spend every day and night together as a family too.
I learned more about them all as we were away and I will treasure the memories.
I can't wait to go back again!