The phrase "needing a vacation from vacation" sure stands true especially if traveling with two small children under the age of 3... and the third on the way! We just got back from Orlando, FL and the kids got to visit Disney World for the first time. This trip was mostly for my three year old who is totally into princesses right now. We would have waited till both kids were older and even for kid #3 to join us but my husband was speaking at a conference so we thought we'd tag along. We also brought my mother-in-law with us since there were going to be some days where I'd be alone with the kids and an extra pair of hands is always welcome.
So... Disney World... I could probably do a whole series of blogs on this alone but I will try to summarize our experience here.
Now some folks stay in the park and do the whole meal plan package. I think if the kids were older and we were planning on making the most out of the entire Disney experience by doing as much as possible with rides, shows, etc that may be the way to go since it is convenient and we would never need to leave the gigantic park. However, because my kids were so small, I really wanted them to nap and sleep well at night. Everyone is happier if the kids are not cranky =) My three year old sleeps great if she is in a room by herself, so I got us a vacation rental home that was 6 miles away. It had four bedrooms and a private heated swimming pool. In addition, it was less expensive than staying in the park! Sounded pretty ideal on paper but the 6 miles took about 20-30 min to get to Disney because of traffic lights and traffic. My plan was just to hit a Disney park in the morning then head back to nap and chill in the afternoon. Depending on the nap, we did go back for fireworks two of the nights.
Since we only had a few hours each day at the park, I did a lot of planning the night before. Actually, I had to book the character dining months in advance and am very glad I did because those were definite highlights of our trip. Since my three year old is enthralled with princesses right now (and especially Cinderella) we did a lunch at Akershus in Epcot and a dinner at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian Resort. If I had booked more than 6 months in advance, I might have booked a lunch at Cinderella's Castle. I'm not sure if I'd book the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique because of how pricey it is. However, one mom gave me the advice of just buying the princess costume separately from home and going for the Coach Package.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall - She got to take a picture with Belle after entering and we got to keep a 8x10 as well as 2 4x6 photos as part of the package. There were four other princesses there roaming the dining hall going from table to table so you can take more pictures and chat (Aurora, Cinderella, Jasmin, Ariel). They even had a little parade where my daughter got to hold Aurora's hand while parading around the dining room. The food was very good, too! It was a buffet appetizer bar then you pick from a menu for your main course. Dessert came in plate where you get to try a little of everything. The entire lunch took longer than I had anticipated so my 14 month old was pretty tired by the end of it. Our reservation was for 12:10pm. In the future, I'd probably try to book an hour earlier time if I'm aiming to get nap time in by 1pm.
1900 Park Fare - Cinderella and Prince Charming starts the evening off by opening the dining room doors and welcoming everyone there to dinner. Our dinner was at 4:40pm so this was the day we skipped naps. I think if my older one had napped she would have enjoyed this so much more since it was all about Cinderella and her world. Cinderella, Prince Charming, the Fairy Godmother, and both step sisters (Anastasia and Drizella) were there to greet and take pictures going from table to table. At one point in the evening, Cinderella and Prince Charming danced then they opened it up to dance with guests. Again, I think if my older one was less tired she would have been there hopping and twirling with the Prince. It was a buffet dinner and the food was very good. So if we were to ever attempt this again I may go for a later dinner time to see if maybe we can squeeze a nap in and just sacrifice a later bedtime.
Personally, my favorite part of the trip was actually visiting Epcot Center at night. The lights were beautiful and it was fun to walk around. I actually thought it was pretty romantic. They also had an amazing light/fireworks show called Illuminations at 9pm. Unfortunately, it was so loud and so powerful that it totally woke up my sleeping one year old.. but oh well, one makes sacrifices when the daily routine is disrupted on vacation.
We didn't really go on that many rides for several reasons:
- kids really were too young and even some of the more benign rides have parts of in it that may be too scary for a three year old
- the more exciting rides have longer wait times and we really didn't have the time
- I'm pregnant and can't go on a lot of the rockier more exciting rides anyway
So what rides did we go on?
At Magic Kingdom:
- It's A Small World (this was my favorite ride when I was 3 and we actually rode this one like 3 times)
- Peter Pan's Flight (though there was a part with the crocs that scared my 3 year old.. she now claims it is her favorite ride and wants to know why we didn't go on it again.. go figure)
- Magic Carpet of Aladdin
- Dumbo The Flying Elephant
- Prince Charmin Regal Carousel
- Jungle Cruise
- watched a 3D Mickey Philharmagic Show
- Nemo Ride (had scary shark part.. but talking to Crush at the end was super funny and cute)
- Living with the Land (read online that this was good to do with three year old so chose the ride.. it was okay)
- spent the rest of the time princess hunting:
Mulan was in China
Snow White was in Germany
Belle and Aurora was in France (though we didn't go since they were at the lunch)
Jasmin was there too but we caught her in Magic Kingdom
At Hollywood Studios:
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid (you get a little wet which the one year old didn't care for too much and had some parts that were little scary)
- Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage (three year old loved this!)
- then we had to stop by Star Wars: Jedi Training Academy because my husband is a Star Wars fan (to say the least)... you had to be four to actually do this and since my girls did not seem to interested maybe we'll be back with #3
So really, we spent most of our time princess hunting, watching parades and random music shows they would have on Main Street of Magic Kingdom. My one year old loved waving at all the characters in the parade and swaying to all the music! We watched the Dream Along with Mickey show twice because there were scenes where Cinderella, Belle, and Aurora all were waltzing with their prince. When they first came out, even I got the chills =)
Bottom line for us is we have to do Disney in chunks, otherwise it is way too overwhelming! It was helpful to go back to our vacation rental and just chill in the afternoon.. swim in the pool... we did take out and ate in two of the nights so we could get the kids to bed earlier. When they slept, they were much happier and it made for a better day the next day. My husband and I even went back to Magic Kingdom one of the nights while the kids were sleeping so we could have some alone time and went on some rides that we wouldn't bring the kids on like The Haunted Mansion, the Snow White ride (this is way too scary for a three year old), and we wanted to go on Pirates of the Carribean but the ride was down so we did the Jungle Cruise at night... very different ride at night!
All in all.. it was fun... but tiring. In the beginning of the week, my three year old told me she wanted to live in Disney forever and never go home. By the end of the week, she told me she was glad to be home and didn't want to go to Disney anymore. Hahaha... go figure.
Well, if we ever do go back I'm sure it will look like a totally different trip. Depending on the age of the kids and gender, there will be different interests and activities. Since we're supposedly adding a boy to our clan I'm sure our trip would not be so focused on princesses in the future... but I suppose we'll see.
So we're home now and on a totally side note, I got a Lenovo Thinkcentre M90z shipped to our door for me to play around with and blog about. So for those of you who know us, my husband is the techy one with all the cool gadgets and toys to play with. He has blogs dedicated to this. So now I get to play around with a touchscreen computer and kinda see what benefits it may have for a mom and/or physician in a clinical setting. So I will be throwing in some posts on this as I figure it out...