How We Did Disney World Better This Year

Here’s part 2 of our summer vacation! It’s the part we’ve researched the most and it’s the most chaotic part of our trip. But, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

For anyone who has been to Disney with young children, they understand how frustrations can be at a high level, especially when the parks are super busy, the lines are long and the heat index is over 100. Last year we went right after Spring Break shortly after Asher turned 2 and Madelyn was 5 1/2 years old. We thought we were prepared with a double stroller, plenty of water, a backpack full of snacks, a detailed plan that stated what to ride at each particular time, and we brought over a friend to help us if 1 kid needed to go back for a nap or a break from the chaos. Shockingly, things didn’t go as planned. We didn’t realize how impossible it is to stick to a detailed plan with young kids. Before we knew it, it was 2pm and we had crabby kids, crabby adults and no one ate lunch. The stroller was a life saver, but they were so excited to see everything, we’d have to bribe them with snacks to stay in it. The good thing about our friend, Lacee, coming with us, was that Dave and I got to have a night out at Epcot alone. But, she also got to see all of our meltdowns.

When we got home, I told Dave that I didn’t know when we’d come back to Disney.  So, when he told me that he wanted to go back this year, I’m pretty sure I gave him the “you have to be kidding me” look. He started planning nonetheless and eventually we began talking about when to go and how we will go about it this time around.

So what changed this year from last year?

We were flexible. There were no plans set in stone.  Sure, we had reservations to lunch or dinner a couple of times and we had to make some fast passes, but we made a point to have time in the middle of the day to go back to the hotel and unwind or swim in the pool. We couldn’t be go, go, go all day. It wasn’t going to work.

Our first day was at Hollywood studios, but since we had to drive from the Gulf coast and check into our room, we didn’t get there until lunch time so we planned on just staying into the evening, if the kids could handle it. Once we got there, I wished we would’ve stayed at the hotel and gone in the pool! I felt like I was showering in my own sweat!!! We just shoved water, slushes and ice cream at the kids to stay hydrated and cool, along with trying to get on rides often enough to get into some air conditioning or fans. Like I mentioned though, we had to stay flexible. For example, we ended up missing the Disney Jr show we had a fast pass for because we got there late and the later show we missed because we decided to eat dinner instead. Last year we would’ve run for the ride/show without realizing what time it was. Not even thinking about when the last time the kids ate.

Instead of running around like a bunch of crazed tourists, we worked around meal times and the kids behavior. We met characters that we didn’t last year and we had fun waiting in lines.

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Day 2 and 3 we had set up for Epcot. Madelyn was really excited to try and eat different food at all of the countries {is this my child???} and Dave and I were exited to try and drink around the world:)

 

The kids had fun, tried new foods, played in the rain and helped out a mariachi band during their break. Madelyn had her first experience on Rockin Roller coaster and loved it! But she refused to go on Tower of Terror this year. She hated the dark part, so I ended up going alone. Maybe next time she’ll go.

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The kids were good until the 2nd day at Epcot; actually it was in the evening when Asher became unhinged. We realized that we didn’t throw in enough rides when we were walking around the countries. We needed to eat a little and walk to some rides, but instead we continued to walk around and go into stores. Oops!

We realized our mistake before we headed to Magic Kingdom the next day. Live and learn.

There was only 1 day that we had to be at the parks early- day 4. The rest of the days we were at Disney, we didn’t have to be at any of the parks until 10am at the earliest. This gave us wiggle room to get there early if the kids were up, but if they slept in, so be it.

Day 4 was for Magic Kingdom and we had to have Madelyn at the Bippity Boppity Boutique at 8:30am. Madelyn begged and begged to do there last year and I just couldn’t spend $100+ on a bun that gets put in her hair and a costume to wear. After Halloween last year, I made my annual trip to Target after my night shift and saw a nice, fluffy Cinderella and Snow White costume that I got for 70% off!!! I planned on giving it to Madelyn for Christmas, but by the time Christmas came around, we were already thinking about Disney, so we held off giving it to her. Instead, we brought it to Disney and gave her the dresses before we went to the parks. We ended up spending $65 on her hair which came with these really nice mickey bobby pins {they were far from flimsy}, 2 normal size bottles of nail polish, some makeup, a sash, and a small back pack to wear. Yeah, it’s still a lot of money, but it was worth every penny when we saw the Disney staff bow to her because they were in the presence of Cinderella. And I’m not talking about the boutique staff. I mean throughout the park. She was called “princess” and characters even yelled to her off of their parade float to say hi. It was amazing.

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 I should mention how nice it was having an early appointment at Magic Kingdom. The park normally opened at 9am that day but we were able to get into the park at 8am and take some really nice pictures in front of the castle without the masses of people that are normally walking around during the open hours. Next time we go to Disney, we plan on having at least 1 day with breakfast reservations in the park so that we can get in early again.

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We ate lunch and dinner on two separate days at the Be Our Guest restaurant. We originally had a reservation for dinner but ended up getting an email allowing some people to make a fast pass for lunch {something new they were trying this year, I guess}. Both experiences had their values, but the dinner was my favorite. Mostly because I was able to have a glass of wine, or two, with dinner {it was the only place that you can drink alcohol at Magic Kingdom} but also, because we got to meet the Beast! 

 

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I just have to add here that as much as we bring our own food to Disney to save money, it’s so nice that we don’t have to bring food in for fear of Madelyn having an allergic reaction while eating the park food. Every place we would go, the staff would show us the ingredient list and/or the chef would come out and explain what is and isn’t safe for Madelyn to eat. It’s such a huge relief that even though we carried her EpiPen with us everywhere, it’s nice to know that the chance is slim that we would have to use it. 

 

The kids loved meeting all of their favorite characters while we were at Magic Kingdom. Although, Asher was still a bit hesitant at times. 

 

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On our last day at magic Kingdom, Madelyn and I ran across a dance party by the castle on our way over to Space Mountain. It was wonderful. I quickly washed the chocolate ice cream off of Madelyn’s face and she hopped out of the stroller to be a part of this. 

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 Even Mr. Incredible wanted a dance with Snow White.

 

We had such a wonderful time this year. 

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Our last moments at Magic Kingdom were spent taking a ride on the carousel.  

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Before this princess fell asleep on our last night a Disney World, she watched the amazing fireworks from our balcony. Mesmerized. 

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Christmas Memories

My best memory that I have as a child is the Christmas tree. My dad would pile us into the station wagon or van and we’d head down to a store or street corner in Chicago that had trees piled against a wall or in a stand for us to choose the perfect tree. My dad was meticulous with getting a tree. Making sure there weren’t any bare spots or that the tree wasn’t already too dry. It’s like a scene from
A Christmas Story.

Decorating the tree was the best part. Now that I have children of my own, I understand the patience that is needed with children decorating the tree. And a glass of wine goes a long way to increase that patience:) I remember my mom putting on the lights and us waiting patiently for our turn to put on the ornaments. I’m sure my mom moved around a lot of our ornaments and quite a few hit the floor, but every year we did this and every year it became more important to me. I recall one year coming home from school and it was all done. The lights were up, ornaments on and tree skirt laid down. There was nothing for my sisters and I to do. They didn’t mind as much, but I was devastated. I couldn’t believe my mom decorated the tree without us; without me! I still remind her of this and we laugh since now I understand the temptation of just doing it on your own. There’s no crash from broken glass ornaments and no whining coming from little mouths. There is peace.

But, she missed the squeals from putting on an ornament successfully. Or oh’s and ah’s from seeing the lights on for the first time. Or smiles on their faces from pride for only breaking 2 ornaments this year. These are the memories I love having with my kids. Yes, there are broken ornaments and it takes 3 times as long to finish the tree. There’s whining when I put up the lights because I should be going faster, according to them. But, I just need to think back to how I felt when my mom decorated the tree without me and I realize it’s all worth it. The extra frustration is worth their memories. Because they won’t remember my frustration, they will remember the magic of putting up the tree. To them, the tree will always look beautiful even if it has the majority of the ornaments clumped in one section.

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This year we also got a mini tree that we planned on putting in the kids room. But, we decided to leave it downstairs since Asher already has a hard time getting to bed. We figured the tree would be an extra distraction that he didn’t need. Madelyn decorated this one all on her own.

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