Goal: Make it easy to spot them in a crowd!
On the first day, we did almost all of the classic things to do at Disney World. We went to the Magic Kingdom- of course! - because it’s quintessential, and because we knew our three girls 7, 4 and 3 would absolutely love it, no question. And we were right. Seeing it through their eyes surpassed all of my wildest and best dreams of seeing the magic through the eyes of children. It is like their logo says- Disney World is where dreams come true. (Wow am I really that cheesy?) And/but it is bona fide accurate. And speaking of classic and quintessential:
The Mad Hatter's Tea Party (Magic Teacups ride!)
Here’s what we rode on:
Barnstormer roller coaster (just Molly and Stephen)
Dumbo, twice (the second time with Molly)
Aladdin's Magic Carpets
It was hot- certainly, because, June in Orlando, FL- but really only very, very hot at the middle of the day. We got there early enough that there was almost no line and no midday sun, for the first couple of rides. Coupled with our fast passes, mostly in afternoon, this was most definitely the way to go! Don't wait until 10 am to get there, that will land you in long lines, hot weather, and not enough time to really enjoy the park. We got to each park well before 9am everyday, (or at least to our bus station) and we packed a lot into each day. All of the restaurants were/are air conditioned, so stopping for a snack or a meal, even, and stopping for water breaks, was always the way to go when we got hot or tired of lines. Some of the rides have playgrounds or games in the line now. So much has changed since when I went there as a kid! (So much, no joke). We were still able to fit in a whole bunch of rides and shows despite our frequent stops for snacks and water! We also did....
It’s a Small World
Mad Tea Party Teacups
Carousel (with Mary Poppins Music playing- so perfect!)
Swiss Family Treehouse
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Orlando in June: always a perfect time for popsicles;)
On the second day, we took them to Hollywood Studios, because first of all, I wanted them to understand a little bit more about how movies are made, and second of all, it has been my favorite park since I was younger, just because of the vibe and feel of it all. It’s almost better than the real thing (Hollywood, that is!).
Since it’s more about the shows than the rides, that’s what we did: a lot of shows. And they didn’t disappoint! The waiting wasn’t bad at all, especially since we utilized our minimum of 3 fast passes per day. We loved the My Disney Experience app, and I would recommend it to anyone - especially attempting Disney at peak season! When you’re going to shows all day, you’re in the perfectly air conditioned theaters almost the entire time! Many of the outdoor studios and restaurants are also furnished with fans and shade, so the heat didn’t bother us really at all the second day.
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
Disney Jr. Live on Stage
I wanted to say to all of the commenters and people telling us how sorry they felt for us having 3 kids and a pregnant belly that- besides the fact we have another one at home- we were having more fun than they were !!! Haha. It’s really true. We were having the time of our lives, and not regretting a second of it, seriously. We also did:
The Magic of Disney Animation
Muppet Vision 3D
Star Tours (Star Wars ride)
I only had one- count it ONE- complaint from our entire trip to Disney World, and I hate to even bring it up, for fear of sounding even remotely bitter, and simply because I don’t ever like to complain, period. And I realize how blessed we are and were, obviously. But there were so many hopes pinned to this one event, so to have it let us down was really sad. And that would be our experience of the Frozen Sing-a-long. I was deeply, bitterly disappointed with this show. And you can probably search for it on Youtube and find out exactly what I’m talking about if you’re the curious type, but basically, from a parents' perspective, it is practically terrible.
In front of the spitting camel;)
They have some characters live on stage who pretend to be the “Historians of Arendelle.” Sounds cute, right? Imagine the cheesiest, middle-age couple singing along while you watch selections from the movie. I’m not even kidding. And they’re making bad jokes. And it goes on and on. And you’re on the edge of your seat wondering if and when the princesses will show up. It was basically highlights of the movie, with a TINY, TINY almost “guest appearance” of Anna and Elsa at the end.
As is obvious, we are big Frozen fans around here. ;)
We had a fast pass for the final show of the day, so all of our hopes and dreams were basically resting on this one show at the end of the day… something to look forward to. My girls know all the words. It was like a really bad joke. When they sang "Let it Go," I knew exactly what they meant- it felt like they were literally telling us to let it go, and it wasn’t punny, at all. It was almost like they were trying to make us mad. Now I must say that after writing this, I went back and asked my girls what they thought of the Frozen Sing-along, and Frances said, "I LOVED it." And so did Madeleine. And so did Molly. So. There's that. ;)
I know. All in all, the vibe of Hollywood Studios still probably makes it my favorite park, and over all, it did not disappoint. The only other thing I wanted to do, but couldn’t was the Honey I Shrunk the Kids ride, because I remember that one from a High School trip, but the kids were too scared, and Stephen agreed that the large dog and some other things would probably freak them out, so we skipped it. Also, it was a long line anyway. I was so proud of Molly for going on her first roller coaster, and then she conquered her fears and did another one the second day we were at the Magic Kingdom!
By the way, I have to sing the praises of our Disney resort for a few minutes. The Caribbean Beach resort lived up to the hype and actually far exceeded our expectations. We avoided the madness of parking and waiting and walking by having bus transportation to and from the resort. The pools and amenities were spectacular, and it far exceeded our expectations!
Just bein' cute. :-)
But back to the Magic. The Magic Kingdom, that is. The third day this is what we did:
Aladdin’s Magic Carpets (again! ;)
Philharmagic Entertainment (A 3D show)
Mine Train roller coaster (Molly and Stephen)
Peter Pan's Flight
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor (A funny show in Tomorrowland)
Tom Sawyer Island boat ride + tour of the island
Train ride around the pareveral parades and live shows outside
The Magic Kingdom is really so big, with so much to see and do that you could easily spend two packed days there It is divided into five lands: Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, and Adventureland. We decided on this rather than Animal Kingdom (because we’ve been to SO many zoos and that kind of thing!) and Epcot, etc. because we have three little girls, who really aren’t there for the roller coasters, and we knew they would love it so much at this age! And we were right! Going back in a few years and hitting more parks (and perhaps staying longer- if we can afford it!) is also a definite and viable option for us! Seeing it through their eyes made it fun for me, too! I can’t speak for Stephen, but I can tell you that we didn’t stop laughing at their comments and antics and he seemed to be having the time of his life- when we wasn’t corralling the girls for a water break every other second of all three days!!! He is like a water chief or something. :0) ;-) I think because of his background he really enjoyed a few of the shows and also the parades, because of the amazing musical quality, among a million other things!
Thank you, to the young woman who took this picture and accidentally cropped out Ariel... this was in front of Ariel's grotto... go figure;)
Gaston’s Tavern was our lunch option of choice on the one day that we didn’t pack our lunches. (That is an excellent way to save money, by the way!) The food was good, and the drinks were so yummy. The Le Feu’s Brew is an imitation of beer, served in steins if you want to pay for them, but it is made to taste like toasted marshmallows, and it is actually frozen apple juice with mango foam. It was YUMMY! I was hoping to try butterbeer but realized about a week before our trip that we wouldn’t be able to see the Harry Potter world (It’s at Islands of Adventure), so Gaston’s Tavern was a very lucky second choice.
As for the Character Meet and Greets: we got to meet and get our picture with Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, and Jake Neverland Pirates, although we also SAW but didn’t meet/greet Tinkerbell and all of the princesses in the show/parade, Sofia the First, Chip and Dale, White cat from the Aristocats, & Alice and the White Rabbit. This and the Bippity Boppity Boutique were something I was mildly interested in, but it turns out the Boutique is unbelievably pricey, and in terms of the Meet and Greets, it simply seems unnecessary to wait in a really long line, just to get your picture with a character who smiles for a picture, jumps up and down, and … that’s about it. And man, their smiles aren’t even real! Ha.
Now we didn't do autographs, but I noticed that sometimes you wait in line, only to be told when you get to the front and you're sporting your new
We had money from grandparents to spend on some Disney souvenirs. They got mostly stuffed animals, but Molly found a really nice charm bracelet with charms of 5 of the rides she went on. It was really cute!;)
My favorite ride was probably the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. If I had to do it again, I would do that ride again, for sure. The great thing about Disney is that the spirit of innovation is always at work, and it is always getting better. Pardon my cheesecakiness.;) They tap into the latest and greatest- such as 3D technology, and interactive features- and this ride is no exception. Unlike the Kiddie ride feel (Picture "It’s a Small World"), this ride is very interactive. Not only can you control the spin of your car, you can rack up points with a gun at the front of your "spaceship." Part of the ride includes flying in space, and the lighting totally plays a trick on your eyes, and you have no sense of where you are or how long you’ll be flying through space. Very cool. It's definitely a step ahead of the other rides, because it is so interactive and fun! It feels like a real adventure in space!;)
On the fourth day of our vacation, we drove to Beaufort, South Carolina to stay in a Luxury Suite and visit the beach at Hunting Island State Park. We sorta prefer the untouched beach, rather than high rises and commercialism and shopping centers of FL, so this was a perfect choice for our family. We came here for a family vacation here once before, so we had to hit up all of our favorite spots, including a little sandwich shop that serves up the yummiest "Fripp Panini," named after the famous Fripp Island nearby. So delicious. And since this is the only place on earth where you can also order "Fried Donuts," we did just that. Yum!
The town is really special to us now. We'll be returning. They have gorgeous bearded trees (Spanish Moss), a delightful waterfront coffee shop, beautiful views of boats on the water, and a tropical feel with Palm Trees everywhere. We saw dolphins, turtles, fish, and one jellyfish and fortunately, no stings, accidents, or injuries. ;)
relaxing in Paradise
so much loveliness... a perfect vacation. ;)
On day number five we hit up the beach again, then had a picnic at the nearby Nature Center. The kids and Stephen went to see a movie and I went and had a little nap, a cup of coffee, and a walk.
On the sixth day, the last day, we hit up downtown, visited the playground, bought a souvenir, and headed home, to see our sweet little guy.
On the seventh day, we recovered. ;)This trip made me think about this question: why do we value family vacations? I know they can be expensive. Sometimes we need a vacation from our vacation. But why is it worth it for us? Family togetherness and the rediscovering of the beautiful world we live in only happens seldomly, for one. And also? Finding out who we are when all the shows, lights, sounds, clothes, toys, and "magic" are stripped away, and we are just us- being together, having conversation and getting along... that is what makes a vacation great. The starry eyed, star-struck, feeling of caring about appearances or what people are going to think of us? Ugh-- that is empty. What is real? Beauty, creativity, fun, adventure, and definitely last but not least, what our kids bring to the experience.
Where we stayed in Beaufort, South Carolina
The fun of adventure, with promise of new sites, sounds, tastes, and smells brought us to Disney. The light in our girls' eyes- joy, excitement, inspiration, and memories, are what made it worth it and will be sealed in our memories forever. And yes, the excitement is important, but also: relaxation, and refreshment are so essential for a good break, and that's what brought us to Beaufort, South Carolina. Our intentions were: to enjoy our hotels, recover from the grind of daily life, catch a real break, and meditate on the joys of life-and the rediscovery of all the good that we have at our fingertips. And finally, to come back refreshed. That's just what we did.
Even if things don't go our way, or we're deeply disappointed by something, good attitudes and no complaining- and always focusing on the positives- are the best ingredients for the perfect recipe for a great vacation.
What do you value- about vacation- and just Summer or family time, in general?