Here’s a summary of our recent 7 day trip to Disney world.
The flight was relatively uneventful. Everything went well. My favorite part of the flight was listening to my 4 year old giggle loudly every time the plane “tickled her tummy”. She made some other passengers chuckle to themselves, and it put a smile on everyone’s face. It was incredibly cute, since this is the first flight she’s been on that she can remember. The 4 hours was torturous, but we made it through, excitement growing with each hour. When we landed at the Orlando airport, Lorelei, our 4 year old, asked loudly and excitedly “Is this Disney World?”
Soon we were on a bus, traveling at a snail’s pace, headed to our hotel, Caribbean Beach Resort. Upon arrival, we began our Disney World training, when met with crowds and lines. Really, it was not that bad though. The lady who helped us at the desk was incredibly nice. She offered our 2 girls magic wands, to which Lorelei declined, but our 7 year old, Juliet, was happy to pick one out. I explained, for what would be the first of many times, that Lorelei is more of a pirate fan. She’s just not into the princess thing. She was quickly given a sword. My husband and kids were given pins expressing that this was their first Disney trip, and I was given a birthday pin.
We took the internal shuttle to the main building, Center Marketplace, at Old Port Royale. When you walk in, you are greeted with the concierge desk, which I will get back to. Directly behind and to the left are shopping areas and an arcade. Directly to the right is the food court area. We made our way over for lunch. Now, we invested in the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan, which we didn’t fully understand yet. Again, the lady behind the counter was very nice and answered all of our questions. She explained that all of our meals included a drink and a dessert. Us adults ordered bacon cheeseburgers, and the kids got burgers and nuggets in a sand pail, which we kept to use for playing in the sand, which we never actually had time for.
After lunch, while walking to go check out our temporary pirate home, we became aware that we were at the very last corner of the very last building. We were actually just as close to Pop Century’s main building as we were to our own, but hey, with all this food we were going to need the exercise. When we entered the room, the first thing I did was catch my leg on the edge of a bed, bruising my thigh. When the girls saw the pirate beds and the thematic décor, they were so excited and loved it. It was so worth the extra walking and very slight extra cost.
We did a little unpacking. The most brilliant thing I did was pack a pop-up hamper for dirty clothes. Our room was cluttered enough without dirty clothes strewn about. From here, we walked to the bus stop for our section, Trinidad South, and waited for the Disney Springs bus. I will say, sometimes you’re better off walking up to the main bus stop, if you think it might be crowded (this is usually more of a Magic Kingdom problem though).
It was very cool to see Disney Springs in person after memorizing the map for the last 3 months. We saw a photographer first thing and got a picture taken. I am a photographer, so you may think it’s strange that I paid for Memory Maker, instead of just bringing my own camera. However, I think as a photographer, I have a tendency to hide behind my camera and never really immerse myself in what’s going on. It’s like I’m not really there experiencing things. Anywho, that’s why I chose to spend the $200 or so for Memory Maker, and I have no regrets.
We walked through shops, and looked at giant Lego creations. The Disney Store was incredible! Look up, just the décor alone was aw-inspiring. We let the girls ride on the small carousel and pick out things to buy with the $50 Disney gift cards we gave them to use on our trip. Lorelei chose some candy and Juliet chose a stuffed baby tiger. We headed to our reservation at T-Rex Café around 7pm. The line was long, but once someone got to checking us in, we were escorted directly to our table. Thank you to all the mom’s on a Disney forum who suggested preparing my children for the noise. It’s loud, it gets dark and scary. It’s awesome!!! However, had I not warned them, our experience would have been different.
By the time our server got to us, we were hungry, tired, and cranky. I instantly realized that I had underestimated the exhaustion of a travel day. Our server was so nice and amazing at his job. He explained the menu, and we started to order. Then I realized that I should mention my daughter’s nut allergy. Now, for some people with food allergies, this is a smart decision, for us though, this was a terrible decision. Because I mentioned the allergy, our server couldn’t bring anything out to our table without first sending the chef to talk to us. My daughter has an EpiPen, and all that jazz, but we still allow her to eat normally as long as things don’t physically have nuts in them. Telling our server about the allergy made our dining experience twice as long as it should have been, especially since we all already knew what we wanted within 4 minutes of being seated. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad to see that Disney takes food allergies so seriously. When we finished our 2 hour meal, we headed straight back to our hotel to get some much needed sleep.
This was our first Magic Kingdom day, and boy was it a day. We woke up before sunrise and walked to the main building in the dark. The signs about alligators and snakes freaked our kids out to no end. We ate our first mickey waffles, with only a few other guests to be seen. The bus was almost empty, and we arrived at Magic Kingdom just in time to catch the opening show. We couldn’t see much, but it was still pretty cool. I wasn’t prepared for the steady sea of people pouring into the park at once. We walked through Cinderella’s Castle and headed right to meet Tiana and Rapunzel.
There were no wait times for a lot of the rides in Fantasyland, so we rode a few of those before stopping for a sugary snack at Gaston’s Tavern. I suggest going in the Tavern, even if you’re not eating there. If you’re a Beauty and the Beast fan, this place is very neat. Tales with Belle, right after, was a great interactive story, where you get to meet Belle, but no autographs at this one, just hugs and pictures.
It’s a Small World was everything I remembered it being, and it’s still one of my favorite rides. I just had a stupid grin on my face the entire time, and my kids were mesmerized.
The character meet and greets were a favorite for our kids. My youngest wasn’t thrilled about meeting the princesses, because she’s shy and seems to not know how to act around them, but she was happy to get autographs from them. She was way more excited about meeting characters like Buzz Lightyear. We met a good mix of characters, because our kids are so different and wanted to meet different characters.
Jungle River Cruise wasn’t really what I remember it being, but it was still cool. Our jungle guide was very funny, so she made the ride for us.
Peter Pan’s Flight is amazing, but way too short! It’s like a 3 minute ride, and I wanted it to go on forever. The line gets so long for this ride, so I had a Fast Pass for both days that we were in Magic Kingdom. Our girls wanted to meet Peter Pan. He’s a favorite in our house, but I just couldn’t do the line. Every time we walked by the line to see him was at least 40 minutes.
Lunch was at Liberty Tree Tavern. The appetizers, which are also included in the Deluxe Dining Plan, were pretty good. The rest of the food was really very disappointing.
Aladdin and Jasmine were a cool meet and greet, because there was a character for each of our kids. Lorelei was nervous at first, but Aladdin made her feel special and she warmed up to him quickly. The level of detail around this characters was incredible. Lorelei was obsessed with finding jewels and stones in the cement walkways. The Magic Carpets were our favorite spinning ride, with camels that spit on you as you go by. Ha.
Pirates of the Caribbean was great, but my kids did not like it as much as I thought they would, especially since it’s one of their favorite movies. I love how thematic everything is surrounding these rides. I wanted to buy everything in the pirate shop after the ride. Oh yeah, and on the ride, I was not expecting a drop, so when the ride dropped, I panicked a bit and knocked my ankle on a piece of metal, leaving a bruised knot just at the base of my shin. That smarted for a while. Haha. We sat for Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial, after taking a picture, but when Lorelei wasn’t picked to participate she broke down in tears, so we moved on. No one assumed that she was into pirates, because she’s a girl. Everyone referred to her as “princess” and assumed she enjoyed that. I still have mixed feelings about these kinds of gender stereotypes, but we could have helped out a bit by dressing her up like a pirate, I suppose. She just hates to dress up.
We went back to the hotel for a rest, but not soon enough. While my husband, Brian, went on Splash Mountain, I took the girls to Monster Inc. Laugh Floor, where Lorelei fell asleep on my lap 2 minutes in. Speaking of Monster Inc. Laugh Floor, it’s highly underrated. It’s such a cute show. Very funny. Juliet was in stitches.
After a short rest at the hotel, we dressed the girl’s in their Halloween costumes and made our way back to Magic Kingdom. Juliet was a snow queen and Lorelei was a firefighter who took her hat off about 30 minutes in. We were there for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Here’s a fun fact that might come in useful, if you buy tickets for that event, you do not need to also buy a park ticket to get in. They will let you into the park beginning at 4pm with just the event tickets. Good to know for future reference.
We were very glad we bought the tickets and attended the event. The girls got to trick or treat, and I learned again not to mention Lorelei’s nut allergy. They gave out quite a bit of candy. This is when Lorelei got to meet Buzz Lightyear, but we didn’t meet any other characters during the event because the lines were insane. The lines for the rides, on the hand, were great! We got to ride several things we’d overlooked before like Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and the Tea Cups.
We had another disappointing meal at Columbia Harbour House, even Juliet’s macaroni and cheese was gross. I got a Lobster Roll, because I saw them raved about on blogs. They really do put a ton of lobster on the roll, but they also put a ton of very strong onion on there too. I couldn’t stomach it.
There was a parade, but we couldn’t find a good viewing area, and our girls weren’t into it. Happy Hallo-wishes Fireworks were great though. We grabbed some ice cream sundaes and sat down to watch. They did projections on the castle that were just amazing to watch. We made our way out before the rush, so that we could get our girls in bed. They were exhausted and could go on no longer. Mom and dad weren’t much better.
This was our first day in Animal Kingdom. We slept in a little bit, so 8am wake up. The main building at our hotel was packed with people. The bus was packed with people. It was nice to skip the sea of people pouring into the park at opening though. We looked around a bit, then had lunch at Rainforest Café. I’ve got to say, I think this was the first time we encountered people who seemed less than thrilled about their job. The hostesses were in no hurry to help or seat anyone. Our waitress was great though, and the food was good. Again, this restaurant gets loud and seems like you’re in a thunder storm, so I was glad my kids kind of knew what to expect. We sat under what looked like a clearing for the night sky, and our girls would point out shooting stars as they went by. The food was good and everything was explained so well.
We let the girls spend the last of their gift cards to get their faces painted. Those artists are the fastest face painters I’ve ever seen and do an amazing job. Little did we know that Lorelei’s face would get wet on the Kali River Rapids ride, and she would wipe it, smearing it into a black mess. I so wish I had taken a picture of the aftermath, but I was more concerned with how long it was going to take to clean it off. I wiped her face for a good 10 minutes with wet paper towels, before a kind mother to an infant handed me a baby wipe. That one baby wipe got it all off. So, my tip is to always carry a pack of wipes, even if you’re not changing diapers anymore. They would have come in handy several times.
We went on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride once on this day, and once more on our second day in the park. It is a very cool experience, but if you have the ability, ride this as soon as the park opens. Most of the animals were sleeping, so we didn’t see much on this early afternoon trek. However, on our second day in the park we headed here as soon as the park opened at 9am, and we saw almost every animal. It was truly amazing.
Dinoland… It’s probably the least busy section of the park. This is probably because of the carnival type set up, where they want you to pay extra to play games and win prizes. You’re already paying so much. I never saw anyone doing to games. Hopefully, they’ll get the point and do something else with that space. The Boneyard was not what I was expecting. I envisioned a large sand pit, where you could dig for dinosaur bones. It was a large play space where you couldn’t see your children. All I saw were panicked parents franticly searching for little Jimmy and parents who didn’t give a shit anymore lounging against dinosaur bones. So, of course this was a favorite for the girls.
In Dinoland, there are 2 rides. Primeval Whirl, which Lorelei wasn’t tall enough for, and Triceratop Spin, which she rode at least a dozen times. Brian went on Primeval Whirl by himself first, because Juliet was too scared. He told me it wasn’t scary. He assured me that it wasn’t a roller coaster, so when Juliet changed her mind, I agreed to go with her. It was a roller coaster, and it was scary. She loved it though, and that’s all that matters.
They have 2 major shows in Animal Kingdom, The Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo. The Festival of the Lion King was exponentially better than Nemo, even the kids agree. Nemo is like a stage retelling of the story. Lion King is a mix of different talents thrown together for a great show.
We ate dinner at Tusker House, which is a buffet with characters. This was a lot of fun, and we all found something we enjoyed eating. The girls were so excited about the characters coming to our table. Occasionally, the characters would form a dance party and dance with the kids around the restaurant. Lorelei was too shy to participate, and Juliet was too cool.
When the day was done, it felt like we didn’t have enough time. We had bounced back and forth around that park, and it seemed like we missed a lot trying to make it to our reservations on time.
This was our roller coaster day, and not in a ride sort of way, but in a life sort of way. We got up incredibly early, because today was our Hollywood Studio day, and we were bound and determined to guarantee our girls a spot in the Jedi Training Academy. Lorelei’s only real request for the whole vacation was to fight Darth Vader. Talk about a lot of pressure. After reading countless blogs and doing all my research, I decided we had to get there at 8am, an hour before park opening. We were the first family at the gate, who wasn’t there for an early restaurant reservation. We only snacked and prepared to wait. We talked to 3 different cast members about where we needed to be and what we needed to do. Everyone was incredibly nice. At 8:30 we were pulled aside and asked to help open the park. All I could think was “Oh no! What if this interferes with us signing them up for Jedi Training?” They gave us 2 extra Fast Passes for everyone for helping, and our girls got a lengthy one on one with Donald and Daisy. At first, Lorelei was mortified and stood behind me in a panic, but Donald got down on her level and interacted with her. She was thrilled because they didn’t push her into being center of attention. Daisy tried very hard to interact with Juliet, but Juliet mostly just ignored her because she thought it was silly. She’s far too grown up to try to figure out what Daisy’s trying to say with her hands, apparently. I did my best to translate.
We were named the First Family and received a certificate. We were first to the Jedi Training, as we quickly ditched Donald and Daisy, saying goodbye of course. They understood, I’m sure. We got more free Fast Passes for being the first family signed up for Jedi Training. We got the time we needed, high fived each other, and meandered around until breakfast at Hollywood and Vine. It’s a character breakfast buffet with Disney Jr. characters. Lorelei beamed when she saw Jake, as I just tried to not rip anyone’s head off, because I was turning into a shell of a person with no food in me to keep me human. We were all starving, but told to wait for our server before grabbing food. It was a mad house and our poor server was doing the best she could. The biscuits and gravy are to die for, by the way. Once I started eating, I was back to human, and noticed all the pissed off parents and crying children. It was a mess, but we did good and held it together, even though we were there for a very long time waiting to see our favorite, Jake. I was appalled at some of the behavior I saw from parents, because they felt like the characters weren’t getting to their kids quick enough. They can only do so much people.
Now, this is just our morning, we haven’t even hit lunch, and I feel like I can barely put one foot in front of the other. As lunch approaches, I try my best to stay upbeat and not snap at Brian or the kids. We ride a few rides. Toy Story is a really cool ride! We saw a few shows, and because I love my kids, I got us Fast Passes for Disney Jr. Live on Stage. They loved it, but I was just trying to remember why I chose to have children the whole time.
Jedi Training was well worth all that stress and effort. Because the kids are separated from us parents, but always in sight, I explained to Lorelei that this was like preschool, only for Jedi’s, and that she needed to listen to the teachers. This saved us from what I saw other parents go through, with their kids screaming and crying that they didn’t want to do it. Of course, those parents just took them aside to yell at them that they would be doing it anyway, which is always the route to go with little kids….
Juliet did great, because she always does great with things like this. They lined them up and marched them through the park to their training area, so Brian and I split up. He stood next to Juliet and I stood next to Lorelei. She was the smallest kid there, so she got to be up front holding the sign. They were both so serious and into it! I was so relieved and proud. It was like I got them into college. Brian and I were super proud of ourselves too. Ha. They fought Darth Vader, and I tried to stand perfectly still and record the entire show without shaking or dropping dead. It’s the most important job of my life. Anyway, they had fun, big win for the family that day. Lorelei used the force for the rest of our trip, and I’m assuming she will continue to for the rest of her life.
Star Tours was everyone’s favorite ride, without question. Not just in Hollywood Studios, in Disney World. It’s incredible, and I’m so glad Lorelei was just barely tall enough to ride it. You’ve never seen a happier kid.
We had lunch at the Dine-In Dinner Theater. I read very mixed revues about this place, but it was probably my favorite, just based on experience, which is what you’re paying for with Disney park meals. The short videos were hilarious, if you have the right type of humor, and I do. If you like Mystery Theater 3000, you’ll probably appreciate this place.
At this point I was so exhausted, I wasn’t going to make it much longer, but we still had a dinner reservation in the park. I tried calling to cancel it, but was on hold for 30 minutes, so I walked over to the restaurant and very, extra nicely asked the manager if I could cancel, and he allowed it with no charge.
Back at the hotel, I took a shower, while Brian took the girls to the pool. We decided to try to get into our hotel’s restaurant, Shutters, for dinner. This was a lengthy process that ended up with me having my worst experience with the concierge yet. He was very short with me, when he chose to acknowledge me, and I wasn’t sure at first that he would let me make a reservation. I was so exhausted and stressed out that I started tearing up at the desk, but hid it well until I got back to our room. We did get in for a late dinner, and it was Brian’s favorite. The food was very good, and the service was impeccable.
After this came a deep sleep, which ended at about 6am, when I stumbled half-asleep to the bathroom and fell forward, hitting my mouth on the door handle. My top tooth went through my bottom lip, chipping the tooth. Brian called the front desk, just to see if they had a nurse’s line, and they called EMTs, because I guess its protocol. I was so embarrassed. They said I didn’t need stitches, so I took some pain meds and went back to bed. Amazingly, all of that commotion did not wake up the girls.
I felt bad because Epcot was a bit of a disappointment for Brian. He had a different idea in his head, and it didn’t hold up. We did the Seas with Nemo and Friends, which is just a ride retelling of the story. We saw Turtle Talk with Crush, which is cute, but maybe not worth the wait and being funneled in like cattle into a shoot. Spaceship Earth was funny only because I got to ride next to Lorelei, who had a lot to say about the ride. It’s a ride through time, showing people from cavemen to present day. She said, “This was in the olden days, back when dinosaurs were still alive, but now they are died, and so are all these people. They got turned into robots and put in the ride.” Okay, Lorelei.
In my opinion, Soarin’ is the most underrated ride in the park. You fly above major world landmarks, and it feels real, with smells and wind, and everything. I’m actually afraid of heights, not crazy afraid, but afraid. My palms were sweaty, then my whole body was sweaty, and I got all clammy, but it was still awesome.
We ate breakfast at the Garden Grill, which was really good. It was a character breakfast, and I feel like the characters were able to relax a little and interact more. Chip poured Brian’s coffee for him when walking by. Pluto spent a lot of time being silly. It was just fun. Also, this restaurant slowly spins which was fun for the girls, because it took them a minute to notice. The breakfast is family style, where you don’t order off a menu, they just bring you all the food they offer, and it was delicious.
We didn’t have time to explore much of the World Showcase with the girls, because we had a reservation for them at Sandcastle Club, which is a childcare center in the Beach Club Resort. We dropped them off there and I wasn’t too worried because it looked amazing. Brian and I walked back to the World Showcase, ate a 2 hour meal at Le Cellier in Canada (where I had the best filet minon ever), and wandered around the world showcase. We definitely didn’t have enough time. There was so much we didn’t get to see and eat.
When we arrived to pick the girls up, they were both in tears because they had to leave, and they were just about to do a science experiment. I felt so bad, but it was really late and we had to leave quickly to make it back to park security, walk all the way across the park, and catch our bus. So, we just shoved sugar at them and were on our way.
This was our second day in Magic Kingdom, and my favorite day in the parks. We took our time getting ready and we all got a lot of sleep, so we were ready. Also, we had already done a lot in this park, so we didn’t have to rush too much. Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention, when I fell in our hotel room and the EMTs came, the hotel manager put 3 extra Fast Passes on our account for this day, and we could use them on any ride, any time. We got to ride 7 Dwarves Mine Train, which is normally a minimum 1 hour wait, so I had given up on trying. I hate roller coasters, but it was worth it to see how much the girls loved it.
We ate lunch at the Diamond Horseshoe, and I was a little nervous, because the other 2 restaurants we’d been to there were not good. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The restaurant is set up like an old dance hall, and they do family dining like Garden Grill, where they just bring out the whole menu. All the food was excellent! They have a self-playing piano that both girls thought was very cool, but Lorelei especially because she said it was Tinkerbell magic that made it work.
We got to see the Festival of Fantasy Parade. Now, I’m not big on parades, any parades. They just bore me and I get tired of the crowds and just sitting there. This parade is worth seeing though. Juliet and I just happened to step out of a shop right as it was starting, and we grabbed a break in the crowd. That’s the other thing about day 6 in Disney World, you’ve learned to deal with and maneuver around the crowds, and I am lucky enough to have a 7 year old who doesn’t complain much about getting tired and can keep up like a champ.
I decided we should stop by the A Pirate’s Adventure to grab a map. We did a short treasure hunt, then grabbed a second map so that both of the girls could have one. It was a lot of fun for me and the girls, I’m not sure about Brian. If I ever went back, we’d spend more time on that, but we had to get moving for a dinner reservation at Cape May. This is the only thing I planned that I regret.
Cape May is a seafood buffet restaurant in the Beach Club Resort. Don’t get me wrong, they had all you can eat snow crab (my favorite), and everything was fantastic. Here’s the hang up: You cannot catch a bus from the Beach Club Resort to the Caribbean Beach Resort, so you have to catch a bus to a park, then another bus to Caribbean Beach Resort. We didn’t know that they only have ferry shuttles to and from the closer resorts, so we had to take a bus to Animal Kingdom, then back to Caribbean Beach. Then, as luck would have it, our driver drove to the wrong resort. We were on a bus or waiting for a bus for 2 hours straight. It was not well planned. I was in a super good mood though, and at one point had a group of kids gathered around on the bus singing and playing along in Lorelei and I’s game.
Because no time could be wasted on this precious trip, this was our second day in Animal Kingdom. It was supposed to be Epcot, but we changed our minds while in Epcot, and canceled any reservations. First of all, I love doing a park without any set reservations. Second, my kids loved earning Wilderness Explorer badges so much. That’s the coolest system, and I’d like our local zoo to implement something similar. Brian and I were both dragging this day. I put coffee in my hot cocoa at breakfast, and it did nothing, absolutely nothing.
Oh, we had the best snack eaten on our trip here, the elusive Elephant Ear. It can only be found at the Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery. It was amazing!
From here, our travels home began.