Disney was fantastic. We had a great first-time experience. I will jump right in:
Our arrival day was as smooth as it could be. The plane ride was uneventful. Both kids were great. No one vomited or complained too much. We arrived at noon, and we got right on the Magical Express and it took us right to our resort. When we arrived at the Coronado Springs, we found out they were overbooked. Not to worry because they upgraded us to Wilderness Lodge - for free! That's right. We got a free upgrade, and went from a moderate resort to a deluxe resort. They gave us a taxi voucher and we were at our new resort in 10 minutes.
|Our fabulous room at Wilderness Lodge|
We checked in, grabbed a bite to eat and then hit the pool. Our room was amazing. It had a balcony that overlooked a courtyard and the pool. It had bunk beds for the kids and a queen bed for Brian and me. I was so happy. This resort was priginally one of the ones that I had wanted to stay at - but I nixed it off the list because it was a bit expensive. So - the fact that we were actually at this deluxe resort - for free - made me SUPER happy. We hung out by the pool and then decided to take a boat to dinner. (That's the other cool thing about Wilderness Lodge. There is boat transportation to Magic Kingdom and a few of the other resorts). We took the boat over to the Contemporary and had dinner at The Wave.
Thank goodness for the dining plan. There is no way I would suggest NOT doing the dining plan. Food is SO expensive at Disney and it was wonderful to NOT have to worry about paying for our meals. Each table service meal came with an entree, a drink, and dessert. And each quick service meal came with an entree, a side and dessert. It turned out to be a LOT of food. I feel like I gained 10 pounds from eating all week. In the end, all we had to pay for was tips. At the end of the week, we ended up having 6 snack credits left over. I put those to good use before we left the resort, and bought some Mickey Mouse rice Krispie treats. Yum!
|Dinner at The Wave|
Let me tell you one thing. It is imperative that you arrive at the parks before they open. This sets the tone for the entire day. We arrived at 8:30 at Magic Kingdom and the gates opened at 8:45. It was raining - and at first, I felt kind of bummed out. But, after we entered the park, and we started zipping through all the rides, I soon realized that rain was keeping people away. It was like we had the park to ourselves. We went on all the major rides and we didn't wait in one line. I kid you not. It was fantastic. And the rain went away. Plus - there are so many rides that are indoors - that it didn't really matter if it was raining.
We stayed until about 3:30 and left after the Dream Come True Parade. Which - by the way - was fantastic. I was totally impressed.
|In front of the castle at Magic Kingdom|
The next day we went to Animal Kingdom. After the park opened, we headed right to the Safari ride. We got right on the truck and we were zipping around seeing all sorts of cool animals. After that, we encountered a 45 minute downpour. Luckily, we were under cover, and just waited out the storm. Once it stopped raining, we decided to see some shows. First we saw "A Bug's Life" which terrified Aidan. It was a 3D show where they squirt water at you and you get the sensation of bugs crawling under you. Luckily it was only 7 minutes long. Then we saw Finding Nemo - a 40 minute play. Then we saw The Celebration of the Lion King - which was amazing. It was 30 minutes long and filled with music, dancing and acrobatics. It was one of my favorite things.
|Meeting Donald Duck in Animal Kingdom|
The next day was a free day. We slept in, hung out by the pool, and I did laundry. Yes. I did some laundry on vacation. The laundry facilities were right near the pool - so I took advantage of it and I was glad I did. It meant not having as many dirty clothes when we arrived home.
|Aidan finally got brave and became a jumping machine!|
This park was my least favorite out of all of them. We arrived at 8 AM, and it seemed like we were fishing for stuff to do. The Toy Story Mania ride was not working for the first part of the day - so we got a fast pass. We wandered around and decided to ride Star Tours. Holy. Cow. Big mistake for me. I had no idea what it was, and I was sorry I went on it. Basically it's a ride where you watch a screen in 3D and then you sit in a seat that moves and jolts and goes back and forth and side to side. Let's just say that Aidan was petrified and I was sick. Within 10 seconds of the ride starting, I had to shut my eyes and I was holding Aidan and covering his eyes. I prayed that I would not lose my breakfast. The ride lasted about 4 minutes, and when it was over, I was literally green and sweaty. No fun. Maddie and Brian loved it though.
For lunch, we had a character dining reservation at Hollywood and Vine. Then we rode Toy Story Mania and headed back to the resort. We swam for a little while and then around 6PM headed back to Hollywood Studios to see Fantasmic. (Another fabulous show).
Epcot was by far my most favorite park. There was so much to see and do. When the park opened, we headed right to Soaring. This is supposedly the best ride in Disney. And I was super excited about it. But since my horrible experience with Star Tours, I was petrified of getting sick on another ride. So - Maddie and Brian did it and Aidan and I wimped out. After that, we saw Turtle Talk with Crush which is where an interactive computer turtle talks to the kids. We rode some other milder rides, and then it was time to go to Norway to dine with the princesses. This was my other favorite part. The castle in Norway was so very cool, and we met four princesses. Maddie and Aidan both loved it.
After lunch we wandered around to the different countries. It also was the International Food and Wine festival - so there were tons of food tastings in the different countries. I could have wandered around all day - but the kids were getting cranky, and it was SUPER hot. So we called it a day and headed back to the resort at 3.
|Playing drums in Africa in Epoct|
One thing that was really fun for the kids was pin trading. Before we left, I purchased 24 pins off Ebay for $11. Throughout the week, the kids could trade those pins for ones they wanted. They got the hang of it really quick. When they saw a Cast Member (otherwise know as a Disney employee) that had pins - they would go up to them and trade. By the end of the week they were pin-trading pros and they had a nice memory of their trip to bring home. It was very cute. I was glad I did it. And buying the pins off Ebay was a super cheap way to do the pin trading.
|Aidan and his pins.|
So - did all my planning pay off? I think so. The trip was fairly easy. I am so happy we went during September. The crowds were low and the weather was great. I am also glad we took advantage of the free dining plan promotion. Our meals worked out perfectly and we had enough for the entire week. I also was happy we ordered groceries for the room from Garden Grocer. I ordered water, breakfast food, and some other odds and ends. We were able to eat breakfast in the room and then just head out to our destinations each morning without fussing about breakfast.
As fantastic as the week was - I do have to say that I definitely don't need to return anytime soon. I can see returning when the kids are teenagers and then they would have a whole different perspective. Maybe they would even get on some of the scarier rides. It was a great trip with many great memories.
And now we are back to the real world. We came home to a sick dog, and a broken hot water heater. I guess we aren't in Disney anymore! Back to reality.
|Leaving the resort.|