Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Magic of Disney

Nathan and I decided a few years ago to take each kid on a trip to Disney World before they started kindergarten to celebrate the end of daycare and beginning of their school years. Noah starts school next year so I started looking at going a few months ago. By the time I got our budget worked out and everything, the cheapest time for us to go was in the Spring after Spring Break and before summer break  - which was only about a month away! I started looking online and was immediately overwhelmed and intimidated. The next week I went to our local Rhea Lana sale and in my goody bag when I left was a flyer for a company called Pixie Vacations from agent Rachel Robinson - they plan Disney Vacations! It was a sign!  What is even better is they plan this all for you free of charge! So, I asked for a quote and started working on our trip. Our agent Rachel was awesome! There were nights we were on the phone at midnight making reservations and reserving fast passes. She was in constant contact with me and handled it all for me very quickly and professionally! She did not make me feel dumb for asking a million questions - especially ones that were probably obvious to those who have been to Disney World before. We planned our Disney trip within 30 days of us leaving and was able to reserve almost all of the things we were wanting to do! Another awesome thing was I won $100 Disney Giftcard and got a $50 Disney Giftcard for booking with Pixie Vacations! Souvenir Money!

We decided to wait to tell Noah about our vacation until we were about to go - we wanted it to be a surprise. So, I secretly bought suitcases, clothes, etc. I even packed all his stuff and he never had a clue. Finally it was time to leave and for us to tell him. He was actually so surprised and shocked that he didn't know what to say. After about 30 minutes he was really getting excited and talked about it the whole way to Memphis. It rained poured on us the whole drive to Memphis. We finally made it about 10:00 p.m. to our hotel. Our flight was leaving at 6:40 a.m. so after getting everyone settled in at the hotel, I got to sleep around 11:30 and had to get up at 3:30 a.m. to get us all ready and to the airport by 5:00 a.m.! The kids actually woke up excited at 4:00 a.m. - we were ready for Disney!

So, after a quick breakfast at the airport it was already time to load up on the plane. The plane ride was only 1 hour and 45 minutes and the kids did awesome! I had bought them all kinds of coloring books, stickers, games and didn't let them see any of them until we were on the plane. They had so much fun and luckily didn't get sick or anything!

We went straight from the plane to our hotel. The Disney Magical Express took care of getting our bags (and magically delivered them to our room) and took us to our hotel. We checked in online so on the bus ride to our hotel I got a text that our room was ready and what our room number was. So, after a quick stop at the front desk for a resort map (and a magic wand for Ryan and sword for Noah) we went and dropped off our bags at our room. We stayed at the Caribbean Beach resort and it was really nice. The resort was divided by all the Caribbean Islands - we stayed in South Trinidad and our room was pirate themed and even had pirate ship beds! It was so cute! We changed clothes and headed to Epcot!

Pirate Ship Beds!

The curtain in our room :)
At this point we had rode 4 buses and Noah said "I came to Disney World to ride rides, not buses" :) He was a little excited! Our Epcot experience: we liked the Turtle Talk with Crush show, the Nemo and Friends ride, and the Chevrolet Test Track. That is what we used our Fast Passes on. We then re-rode the Nemo and Friends ride and spent a while looking at all the sea life in the aquariums and watching the scuba divers. We had dinner lunch at the Electric Umbrella (good chicken strips and burgers) and dinner at The Garden Grill (this was my favorite meal - it was a family style buffet [meaning they bring the buffet to your table] and it was so good!) - this was also character dining so Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale stopped by while we ate! Also, this restaurant rotates through garden scenery (very slowly of course) as we ate. So cool! We ended the night with the fireworks/laser/fire show - the perfect end to a LONG first day of our vacation.

Nemo and Friends

Waving at the Scuba Divers :)

Dinner at The Garden Grill

The next day we went to our first day of Magic Kingdom fun! We had breakfast at Be Our Guest - the scenery was beautiful and the food was good. I wished they had more breakfast options without eggs (there was only one - and it was good, but I don't like eggs so my options were limited). We then started our fast passes. We rode Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin, "It's a Small World", Prince Charming Regal Carousel, Mad Tea Party, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway and did Enchanted Tales with Belle and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. We had dinner at The Plaza Restaurant (the kids loved the grilled cheese and chips - Nathan and I were not crazy about our meals but they were pretty good). We ended that day with the electric parade down main street and the Cinderellas Castle light show. We were at the park for over 13 hours that day! So much fun!

Be Our Guest Restaurant

Nathan played the part of a Knight at Enchanted Tales with Belle
Noah got to play Chip at Enchanted Tales with Belle

We spent the next day at the Animal Kingdom - this was a fun day. We started the morning with the Festival of the Lion King - that was an awesome show! The kids loved it - and we did too really! We also rode Dinosaur, Expedition Everest, Triceratop Spin, Kali River Rapids, and looked at some Wilderness Explorer exhibits (animals, skeletons, etc). We had lunch at The Tusker House and it was was really good too - it was a buffet and character dining also - so Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy visited us while we ate steak, turkey and tilapia! Dinoland was also here and we loved that! There was all kinds of dinosaur toys, models, and a play land called the Bone Yard where we dug for dinosaurs. We ended our day at the Rainforest Cafe - I have always loved that place! They even surprised Noah with a little early birthday surprise :)

Rainforest Cafe early birthday cupcake :)

DinoLand U.S.A.

The Festival of the Lion King!

Lion poop :)

The next morning we got all ready to head to Hollywood Studios and when I opened the hotel room door it was POURING! We had no idea! I checked the weather and it said it was going to rain all day. So, we had to put our ponchos on when we got there and were going to make the best of it. We were told by several people to just get a cheap poncho and bring it. So, I got us .99 cent ponchos - I will not do that again. Noah's ripped, mine kept riding up and my hood wouldn't stay on, and Nathan's didn't cover half his arms. So, as we waited 30 minutes for our fast pass to our first show we broke down and bought Disney World ponchos (which were $8 for the kids and $9 for adults - not nearly as bad as I thought). We used them while we waited in line and wouldn't you know it that it never rained again after we got out of that show. So, $34 for 20 minutes in a poncho - but I would gladly spend $34 to make it stop raining any day! We watched Disney Junior - Live on Stage and the Voyage of the Little Mermaid and rode Toy Story Midway Mania, The Great Movie Ride (which I was skeptical about but it was actually fun), The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and played on the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure.  We ended this night with Fantasmic - Noah LOVED this - he said Wizard Mickey is his favorite :)

Watching Disney Junior Live on Stage

Bubbles! Their favorite :)



We spent the next morning exploring some of Downtown Disney before we went back to the Magic Kingdom. We explored the Lego Store and let the kids build a dinosaur at the Build-A-Dino store. There was also a toy store called Once Upon A Toy - we were there when they opened the doors so we got to take a picture with the staff while they opened the door (apparently they take a picture with the first customers each day) and Noah and Ryan got picked to start the stores toy trains for the day!

Mr. Too Cool didn't want to sit with us on the bus :)

Once Upon A Toy Store


We then headed to Magic Kingdom for a few more rides :) We had lunch at The Crystal Palace which was a buffet and character dining - so Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet stopped by our table. We had to do Space Mountain and Splash Mountain a few more times, 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, Peter Pan's Flight, and Ryan and I met Ariel :) We then headed back to the room to swim before bed. After swimming we walked down to the courtyard at our hotel for a late dinner before heading back to the room to start packing :(

Dumbo Ride!

7 Dwarfs Mine Train!

The morning of the last day the hotel sent someone to get our luggage, stroller, and us and take us to the front desk. We checked our hotel bags and got our boarding passes at our hotel and they held our carry-on bags so we could go back to Downtown Disney until time for our bus to the airport. We had to go back to The Lego Store - Noah is just now starting to really get into Legos and that store was so much fun. We all spread out all over the store and built stuff and Noah and Nathan raced Lego cars in the Lego races they had outside the store. We then had lunch at T-Rex (basically a dinosaur themed Rainforest Cafe) and it was so good! Then we got our dinosaur souvenirs - that store was so fun! Then it was time to head back to the hotel to catch our bus back to the airport.

He won The Lego Store car race!

Lunch at T-Rex
This was my view on the plane ride home - vacation success :)

Noah thanked me several times for planning this trip for him and that I was the best mom in the world (followed by "and I mean the WHOLE world). He cried a little when we left and I wanted to! This was by far the best vacation I have ever been on. I have always been ready to go home by the end of our vacations (or even the middle) but not this time. I could have stayed a few more days and been just fine. We were treated so well everywhere we went - sometimes like we were the only guests. The kids were great - they each had a few not so happy moments, but that is to be expected. I do think I said "Noah" and "Ryan" more in that week than I have in all their lives so far. We also said "watch where you are going" and "stay with me please" constantly - but if you stop and look around, so is everyone else and my kids listened, and I cannot say that for most of the other kids we saw. We got to see a few kids just sit down in protest to their parents - we couldn't help but smile a little. Kids are going to let you know when they have had enough, and if you think your kids are bad, just go to Disney World and people watch for 5 minutes - you will see something to make you think your kids are the best. Then 5 minutes later you will be right there with them :) I also wanted to note that souvenir prices were not nearly as bad as I thought! We allowed the kids one souvenir a day for $20 or under and the kids rarely even hit that $20 mark and the toys in that price range were good! I didn't think the prices were that bad at all!

I have to admit, it is still strange to be the parent on a vacation - I do not feel old enough to be in charge. This vacation made us all feel like kids! Everything went so smoothly, I am SO glad we did all our reservations before we went. We would go up to check-in at restaurants for our reservations and I would hear them tell people without a reservation there was a 2 hour wait for a table! Things like that can make a vacation not enjoyable - so happy we had our travel agent to help us plan that out. She even had us a stroller waiting for us at our hotel! I highly recommend to anyone to plan and reserve as much as you can before you go to Disney World and I even higher recommend using an agent to do so - there is so much information!

I am seriously already thinking about when we can go back! Ryan's kindergarten celebration won't be until 2018 so I am thinking Christmas of 2016 would be good time - we will see if it works out. For now, the kids and I will just keep playing Disney World at home - since we got home they have been using their Magic Bands to ride the laundry basket or the back of the couch :) We made the best memories on this trip and I am so happy we were able to make it all happen.

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