A few months ago Jim and I took our kids to Walt Disney World and we had a blast! I know there are a lot of people out there who are a bit cynical about Disney but I am definitely not one of them. Maybe having two boys keeping me a safe distance from the princess craziness helps, but my love for Disney goes back a lot further than having kids.
My grandparents lived in Orlando so we always went down to visit as a kid and then, as luck would have it, my dad got transferred to Orlando when I was in 7th grade. We lived there until I finished 9th grade and we went to Disney more times than I can count. My family went again after my freshman year of college but boy have things changed in the last 16 years – from Animal Kingdom to FastPass to the new Fantasy Land, just to name a few.
We knew our older son Brady was ready to go but we weren’t sure our almost 2.5 year old, Owen, would get anything out of the trip. Luckily, Disney is free for kids 3 years and younger (score!) so we didn’t feel like we would be wasting any money if he didn’t enjoy the trip to its fullest. We shouldn’t have worried because Owen did great and had a blast.
Day 1… We didn’t tell the kids we were going on a trip so Brady thought we were driving Daddy to an early meeting before heading to school. The excitement he had when he found out what we were doing is one of my favorite memories… ever. After arriving at Disney in the late afternoon we headed to Downtown Disney to check out the Lego store and to try to eat at T-Rex (a dinosaur themed restaurant). The Lego store was a huge hit but T-Rex was packed so we ended up at the Rainforest Cafe instead. Oh well…
Day 2… The Magic Kingdom. This was by far Brady’s favorite day and in hindsight I wish we would have saved it for last. While every other park was awesome, nothing compared to his first roller coaster ride. And, there’s this thing that Disney does called a parent swap, where you can take turns riding (without having to re-wait in line) if one of your children isn’t tall enough for the ride. Lucky for Brady, this meant that he got to ride many rides twice! There were still lots of rides that we could all go on though, and I think everyone’s favorite was the Peter Pan ride because my kids are a bit obsessed with Jake and the Neverland Pirates right now.
Day 3… Hollywood Studios. Speaking of Jake and the Neverland Pirates, we had breakfast with him and some other Disney Jr. characters. It was definitely a highlight for both kiddos. Then on to more rides. Star Wars was a big hit with Brady (and again, got to ride it twice). Another big hit with both kids was the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground. The spiderweb jungle gym is awesome.
Day 4… Epcot. I was a little worried that the kids wouldn’t enjoy Epcot that much since it seems a bit more tailored to an older audience but there was still a lot of fun stuff for them. We went under the sea with Nemo, talked to Crush the turtle, and went Soarin’ through California. They even really enjoyed the World showcase (even if it was just an impromptu dance party in an Italian Piazza). We also had lunch in Mexico underneath a volcano and dinner in Morocco, which included awesome music and belly dancing.
Day 5… Animal Kingdom. This is the only park I had never been to and I had no idea what to expect. We were all blown away and I wish we would have had more time there (we could only stay until 3pm because we were flying home that evening). The Kilimanjaro Safari is really just incredible! We went there first thing in the morning and all of the animals were out. We also almost got charged by that rhino!
It’s only been a few months since we’ve been but we definitely have the Disney bug and are trying to figure out when we can go again. I love that each time will be such a different experience as the kids get older and their interests change. And the more we go, the less we have to do each time, which means more pool and relaxation time!