We survived Disney World!
Actually, we more than survived it… we conquered it!
I told you all about our grand Disney World plans a couple weeks ago in this post, so now let’s see how everything worked out! Oh, and pictures. Lots and lots of pictures!
Our schedule – When working with Jenn from WDW Guru Travel, we planned out which parks to attend on which days based on historical attendance numbers, as well as booked our Fast Passes and planned out which rides we wanted to hit. All in all, everything worked out beautifully. We were able to ride every single ride we wanted with short waits (15 minutes tops), sometimes multiple times.
Jack LOVED the roller-coasters and I totally had a proud mamma moment when the guy behind us on the Seven Dwarfs Train couldn’t believe that my kiddo was not only riding in the front seat of the coaster… but he had his hand up!
The Quick Service Dining Plan – The dining plan was perfect for us. We were able to eat at a large number of different restaurants, had plenty of meals and snacks for the trip, and Jack was able to eat off our meals with no issues. It was also really nice to have it paid for in advance, so we weren’t having that ‘oh my god how much are we spending’ worry hanging over our heads for the whole trip.
Some of our absolute favorites were the LeFou’s brew and cinnamon roll at Gaston’s Tavern (Magic Kingdom), the seafood mac and cheese at Columbia Harbour House (Magic Kingdom) and the cinnamon sugar croissant doughnut (Epcot). The brunch selection at Chef Mickey’s (not on the dining plan) was also incredibly good and filled us up for most of the day.
Forgoing the Stroller – When we planned to leave the stroller at home, I totally gave myself an out saying we could rent one if needed. Well, we never actually needed one because Jack LOVED riding in my Ergo backpack. It was super convenient to put him on my back while walking from ride to ride, waiting in line, or watching the fireworks shows. It was an easy way to keep him safe, as well as allowed us to get from place to place much more quickly than trying to walk with a toddler.
The only drawback was that while my shoe choices were comfy for me alone (a pair of Toms and a pair of Chucks), but they weren’t up to the rigors of having an extra 35 pounds on my back. In hindsight, I could have used a more substantial shoe, like a pair of cross-training sneakers.
Jack’s Age – While I’m sure it would have also been nice to have Jack be a bit older, I really feel that he was a great age for the trip. By visiting Disney World a couple weeks before his 3rd birthday we were able to take advantage of the fact that all kids under 3 are free (no park tickets or food plans are needed).
At 38” tall, he was able to ride all but the most crazy roller-coasters and he was thrilled with many of the park shows and characters. The electric parade and fireworks were super magical and his day was totally made when Daddy gave him his own Mickey Mouse toy for being such a good boy. We were even able to get him a special “It’s my Birthday” button which had cast members wishing him Happy Birthday all week long!
What Didn’t Work:
Upgrading our Room – When we booked our room at Pop Century we upgraded to a priority room so that we would be closer to the bus area. We figured that we would be walking around the parks so much that we’d love to save a little extra walking when hopping on the park buses in the morning. Well, apparently the resort was filled to capacity with teenage girls dance teams and they bumped us out of our reservation. They were able to compensate us by refunding one night of our room rate (about $80) and got us as close to the bus area as possible, but it was still a disappointment.
Planning for a Slow Week – We booked the first week of February because it was historically one of the slower weeks at the parks. Not this year. As I mentioned, our resort was jam packed FULL of teenage dance teams and it was pretty darn annoying. Entire teams of a hundred girls would shove past the families lined up for the buses, causing us to wait an additional half hour for another bus to come along. They filled the Pop Century food court area, making it difficult to dodge them to refill our coffee cups and apparently woke up other guests (not us) by practicing their routines outside at 2:00 am. Not cool at all.
Nap Time – Our plan was to leave the parks each day after lunch to have a few hours of nap time before returning each evening. Jack still needs a daily nap, so we figured that some quiet time each afternoon would be a great break each day. Well, nap time was a bust. On our first day at Magic Kingdom we woke up early to get to the park and then returned to the room for a nap. However, there were SO MANY people waiting for the bus to get back to the hotel that it took an hour (or more… it’s all a blur) to get back. By time we squeezed in a little nap and got back out to the park, we wasted a lot of the day AND Jack woke up in a terrible mood. We decided to sleep late the rest of the vacation and forgo nap time… and that decision ended up working out best for us. There were certainly some tantrums caused by an overtired kid, but that comes with the territory of having a toddler.
Fantasmic – On our Hollywood Studios day, we planned to see Fantasmic, a nighttime show featuring music, pyrotechnics, video projected on water, and fireworks. We got there a bit late, so the entire amphitheater was super full (I read somewhere that it holds 10,000 people). We were able to find seats though and settled in for the show. About 5 minutes into it, we scooted up closer (like everyone else) and we were able to really see everything going on. Which was fine for like 5 minutes, but then it got kind of scary. Loud music, evil laughter, a little fire and some Disney witches/bad-guys. While this kind of stuff doesn’t usually bother him, Jack was super scared and asked to leave. So we left and beat the 10,000 other people to the bus station, so it worked out pretty well.
Now it’s time to BRING ON THE PICTURES!
Oh, one last quick note… when you look at pretty vacation pictures and think it was all sunshine and bubbles, please know that there were plenty of stubborn kiddo moods too. There were tantrums and lots of time outs for some truly terrible behavior. However, that’s life with a toddler and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Did we have an awesome vacation? Heck yeah!
Would we do it again? Absolutely!
Are you a Disney lover? What is your absolute favorite part of a Disney World vacation?