We have been saving, planning, preparing, and dreaming about this last week for a long time – and it finally happened! We took the kids to Disney! We are so grateful to so many people who made it happen – Ed’s parents for donating time at their timeshare to give us a place to stay, Shane and Ann for donating 2 airline flights to make our trip down more affordable, my parents for meeting us and dealing with the crazy and letting us pile into their car for the week so we could avoid a rental car…it wouldn’t have happened without all these pieces coming together. We wanted to go when our kids could remember it, and while Brynn is still a little young and most likely won’t, we didn’t want to want a year or two because then Kinsley would be too old to really enjoy the princesses and magic of it all. But, overall, our kids were at a great age and we are so glad we did it now.
I was a little anxious about flying with Brynn, especially since our last flight was marked by her screaming for the last 15 minutes uncontrollably. But, overall, she did great and what a difference 6 months makes when flying with toddlers/babies. We went to Magic Kingdom one day, Animal Kingdom one day, and Hollywood Studios one day. While we enjoyed all the parks, Hollywood Studios was probably our first favorite, followed closely by the Magic Kingdom. We went to Magic Kingdom on one of the busiest days of the year (we didn’t know this when we booked it!) and I think had it not been as busy, it may have been our favorite.
Before I share an overload of pictures, let me give you some of the lessons/tips I learned from our trip.
1 – If you need a double stroller and don’t want to fly with yours, I would highly recommend renting one. We used Kingdom Strollers and their price was pretty comparable to the price of renting strollers in the park, but you got a nicer stroller with storage underneath, they deliver to your resort and pick it up when you are done, and you can use the stroller when you are commuting from your cars to the park (versus the park strollers which you can only get once you get into the park). It was worth paying not to have to lug our huge double through the airport.
2 – You can’t do it all. Seriously. There were things at almost all the parks that we wish we had time to do, or things that the adults would have liked to do but waiting in line for an hour to an hour and a half didn’t jive with their schedules or what the kids needed. Unless you go when the park is just dead (is that ever??!??), you will not be able to do it all and will need to prioritize what you what to do. Especially if you aren’t spending multiple days at the park.
3 – Were I to go back again, I would consider staying at a property on the resort. I know, I know…it is so much more expensive than staying off property. But, when you have small kids, staying really close by and being able to get back for naps or get to the park quickly is a huge plus. And, if you stay at a resort property, you get to reserve fast passes 60 days in advance vs. those who stay off property can only do them 30 days in advance. When I could book 30 days in advance, fast passes for the really popular rides were all gone and when we got to the park, if we had fast passes for some of those things, it would have meant getting to ride them versus not getting to ride them at all. Plus, some of the parks have early hours for resort guests and this would have been a huge perk. I think I would consider this option more if we ever went back.
4 – If you are staying more than 3 days, especially with littles, I would recommend having a rest day in between park days. By the end of day 3, we were whipped and it has taken us multiple days since getting back to feel back to normal. It would have been nice to have 2-3 days at parks, then a rest day, and then another day at a park.
5 – If the park is busy, take advantage of all the ways you can ride rides. Fast pass, single rider line, parent swap so after one parent waits in line, the other parent can go straight to the front of the line (made for those with little kids that can’t ride the rides).We didn’t realize or think about a lot of these things until the very last day and had we thought or taken advantage of them more, I think we would have gotten to ride more, even with little kids.
6 – Disney is SO expensive but there are so many resources out there that share how to save money. Bringing in your own lunch and drinks, staying off site and not at the resorts, online sites to buy discounted entrance tickets, so on and so forth. It is worth it to do your research as every little bit counts.
So, now for the abundance of Disney pictures (sorry it will make this post really long!)
Emerson loved Space Mountain with Ed, even after waiting over 2 hours to ride.
Can you tell the grumpy ones in this pic? At this moment, Disney was not the most magical place for them.
What to do when waiting in line? Selfies, of course.
Brynn LOVED meeting Mickey and Minnie – she jumped up and down and grinned from ear to ear. The day before, she ran from all the princesses, but when she meet Mickey and Minnie, she ran straight into their arms.
This picture just shows how you have to learn to love each of your children where they are at – Emerson wanted to ride ALL the rides, Blake wanted to meet Kylo Ren and the Star Wars characters, and Kinsley was so excited about collecting all these badges for doing different things at Animal Kingdom and learning about different things. None of the other kids wanted anything to do with these badges, but it was a highlight for Kinsley.
She just HAD to get this Mickey that was just as big as her. We all enjoyed going on an African safari.
Emerson didn’t so much love Tower of Terror – and lets be honest, a ride I used to love I now hate. Funny how things change over time.
Dancing with the Incredibles. Our kids are obsessed with the Incredibles right now. And Star Wars. Hence the reason that Hollywood Studios was their favorite.
We were first in line to see Sofia the First so the girls got to walk her in – it was a highlight for them.
I love how he signed his autograph so he could see. So many of the characters struggled to sign and a few didn’t sign – for instance, Olaf couldn’t read of write and Kylo Ren and Chewie didn’t sign so the other couldn’t “see” their enemy was next door. When the characters didn’t sign, their reasons were creative, to say the least.
Toy Story Land was one of our favorite areas because it is so fun and bright. This ride, Toy Story Mania, was probably one of my favorites out of all the parks – its a shooting game that is fun for everyone in the family.
Because my birthday was the day we headed home, we went to eat Japanese our last night to celebrate. It was good but not as good as our local place in Myrtle Beach that we love so much. It was still fun to celebrate with my family and to feel loved and celebrated. Notice the Mickey ears made of rice?
The kids loved swimming in the pool any free time we got. Which wasn’t a lot, but they fit it in somehow.
For our trip home, we were supposed to fly out about midday on my birthday, but we started getting travel alerts that winter weather was going to hit in NYC, so we got moved to an earlier flight. Blake watched Star Wars while playing with his Star Wars characters on the way home. About an hour after getting back in NYC, it started snowing. It was so weird that the kids went from 80 degree short sleeve, short pant weather to THIS. Ahhh, welcome back, NYC.