Here are my thoughts – wrap/up on our Disney trip. This way, I can come back here and look it up the next time we plan a vacation to Florida.
Disney was PERFECT! Munchkin had a blast and we had a great time too! Dad is totally hooked and wants to go back next year – even with The Stowaway not being quite a year old. We figure that’s why God created strollers and slings. LOL
Sunday afternoon we got into Orlando about 2:30. We went ahead and checked in to the hotel and went to Animal Kingdom. The park was near deserted b/c it was so late in the day. We got a head start on her autographs and she got to ride a nearly empty Kilimanjaro Safari, right up front and get LOTS of extra attention b/c she was one of the only children on the ride. She REALLY loved it.
Monday – Epcot – Munchkin’s Princess Breakfast in Norway was FABULOUS – SO glad we did it there instead of @ Magic Kingdom. Talked to another mom that evening who was disappointed with MK’s Princess Breakfast b/c it was so crowded – she said it was very rushed. We saw all five of the princesses and they stopped to visit, sign autographs and take pictures with Munchkin. IT was VERY fun (although it’s the most I’ve EVER paid for eggs and bacon!!) I think the World Showcase was Dad’s favorite – hands down. I think the next time we go, we want to spend an entire day in the WS; I started to run out of energy by Japan. We finished at Epcot (because mommy’s legs were about to fall off) around 3 o’clock. We went back to the hotel and got into the pool. That made me feel a LOT better. We got dressed and rode over to Magic Kingdom to grab ride schedules for the next day (so I could plan) and rode a ferry over to Wilderness Lodge to have dinner at Whispering Canyon Café “I NEED KETCHUP!” – LOL – it was hilarious! We were EXHAUSTED at the end of Monday.
Tuesday – Magic Kingdom – Got there in time to open the park with the extra magic hour – Munchkin loved the teacups, Dumbo, Peter Pan (pretty sure this was her favorite), Small World…She hated Haunted Mansion but loved Tom Sawyer’s island. I have a hilarious picture Dad took of her shooting at Indians. LOL We all LOVED Philharmagic. Love what they’ve done with Pirates of the Caribbean but hated Carousel of Progress (what happened to “this is the best time OF YOUR LIFE!”). Munchkin LOVED Buzz Lightyear ride in Tomorrowland but HATED Stitch’s Great Escape – the total darkness and bursts of air at her head scared her to death. She actually cried. I felt awful for her but she recovered pretty quickly. She really enjoyed the people mover but we had to constantly reassure her when we went through the building where Space Mountain is that we WEREN’T about to ride a roller coaster. LOL Rode the resort buses back to the hotel (riding the ferry or monorail to the transportation center THEN walking to the car was for the birds!) and rested a little while. After we cooled down again in the pool, we went back to MK for dinner and more rides. We went to dinner at the Liberty Tree Tavern, caught a bit of the Spectromagic parade on the way to Buzz Lightyear (I totally set Dad up on Buzz Lightyear – I knew the secret to a really high score from my reading – we played mommy/Munchkin vs. daddy). Ended the day with fireworks – we were trying to leave the park but got stuck in the crowd so we just stood and enjoyed the show – I’m so glad we did – Munchkin loved them and I cried! The tourguide Mike site recommended against going to MK on Tuesday but we didn’t have another full day to do it because of the princess breakfast Monday so we just elbowed our way through the crowds all day. This put one small dent in the day b/c there were a few things Munchkin decided to skip b/c she was hot and didn’t want to stand in line (a notable example: she picked seeing the princesses AGAIN over the fairies b/c the line for fairies was twice as long. Consequently, we never saw Tink L) Riding the buses back and forth earlier in the day paid off when we left that night – we were on the second row going home! J
Wednesday – Animal Kingdom – By unanimous family vote, we skipped Disney Hollywood Studios in favor of going back to AK and picking up all the stuff we missed Sunday because we got into town so late in the day. Really, all she missed at Hollywood were a few more character autographs – she wasn’t going to ride the Tower of Terror or the Aerosmith Roller Coaster and we weren’t really all that interested in the American Idol or High School Musical shows. In a few more years, she’ll be older and will (maybe) be more interested in the faster rides. So, we went back to AK and were there to open the park. Munchkin was the first in line to see Lilo & Stitch, we rode the Safari ride again (a definite favorite) and walked through Maharajah Jungle (WOW!), rode the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch and ate lunch at a really fun “Dino” diner in Dinoland. We hit the road back to Texas about 3pm.
Some things we’ll do differently next trip:
- Plan to stop on the way – Dad thought he was going to be able to drive straight through but with NOTHING but trees to look at after Louisiana, he was too tired and we had to try and find something at 1am. On the way home, we figured out where we’d be around 10pm and found a really nice (and brand new) Country Inn & Suites. Best night of sleep I had the entire trip!
- Know in advance that I-10 is EXCRUCIATINGLY boring. LOL
- Plan a whole day for the World Showcase; maybe we can split the first part of Epcot with Hollywood Studios next time and give world Showcase a full day. Then, Animal Kingdom gets its own day and Magic Kingdom gets a VERY full day.
- Upgrade meal plan to include more snacks and counter service meals. We ran out of these and ended up buying our lunch and snacks the last day. (not a big deal, but now that we know how it works, we might as well use it)
- Definitely keep staying on property – the perks were the same at the $82/night All Star as they are at the Grand Floridian. I do think next time we are going to try and stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge (I know it’s three times as expensive per night but since AK was our favorite of the three parks, I think Munchkin would dig seeing the animals outside the hotel room). That one and the Wilderness Lodge look really neat (that’s where we ate Monday night and it sure was neat to be across the lake from MK).
- Stay longer than four days/three nights – that way, we don’t have to rush and can go back and catch extra stuff (like the fairies!).
- Keep driving – find a grocery store before we leave Florida to restock snacks and water – we ran out and ended up spending on food on the way home (we spend NOTHING on food the way there). The drive is pretty boring but it’s smooth sailing once you get out of Texas (lots of stopping and starting in the little towns after Bryan).
- Don’t try and leave the afternoon after graduation – it made for a VERY long day and we (Dad & I) started the vacation tired. Get up before God the next morning and leave – that way, we’ve got MOST of the trip out of the way before (if) we stop.
All in all, I am VERY pleased with the trip. Munchkin slept from Orlando to (almost) Pensacola on the way home – she was one VERY tired little girl!
I’m going to make some photo books of our trip – 500 pictures is a lot to go through!