Our 2013 Disney trip was our first as a family of four. The kids had never been before, and Chris and I were excited to get to share the magic of Disney with them.
We chose the 2nd week of September – for a few reasons. First, it is a “value” season, so resort rates are among the lowest of the year. Second, we knew there was a good chance we would be able to get a free dining plan (we did!). And third, we knew the crowd would be low, which was important for us since we would have 2 ½ and 6 year-olds who wouldn’t do great standing in long lines. Who am I kidding? I don’t want to stand in long lines!
The cons of going in September were that it was hot. And I do mean hot. And humid. But since we spent most of the afternoon heat taking naps, it wasn’t bad. Except that Chris joked that my hair grew throughout the week. (Ok, so my hair and humidity don’t play nicely. Maybe we even joked that I looked a bit like a wookie, especially on our Animal Kingdom day.) September is also smack dab in the middle of hurricane season, but so is June and July, the busiest times of the year. You always take the chance of tropical weather that time of the year, but honestly, about half the year is hurricane season in Florida.
Our trip was six nights, with five days in the parks. We stayed in a preferred room at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort. We requested a Toy Story room, and our request was fulfilled. At ASMo, all the rooms are the same. But the preferred rooms are in buildings located closer to the food court/guest services/gift shop and bus stop. We weren’t as worried about our location, but we wanted to be in a Toy Story themed building. The difference for the whole trip was about $100, so it was worth it for us.
We arrived on Sunday afternoon, about 2:00 p.m. We asked if our room was ready, and it was, so we were able to check in a little early. That was a great tip I got from the DIS Boards – just ask! After getting settled in our room, we ate dinner at T-REX at Downtown Disney and spent the evening there.
Day 1: Monday was our first park day. We also had Chef Mickey’s reservations for breakfast. We drove over to the Contemporary Resort because we weren’t yet familiar with Disney bus routes, and didn’t want to take a chance. We had a great time at Chef Mickey’s, and rode the monorail over to Magic Kingdom when we were finished there. We started in Tomorrowland and rode Buzz Lightyear (and met Buzz right afterward), rode the Astro Orbiter, saw the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor show, and rode the Tomorrowland Speedway. We had lunch at Cosmic Ray’s, then went over to Dumbo, The Barnstormer, and met Minnie and Daisy. Then, we hopped the train to the front of the park and went back to our resort for nap time. Because crowds were relatively low, we rode just about everything twice!
After nap time, we ate dinner at our resort food court, then caught the bus back to MK. We spent the evening introducing Caedmon to “big” rides - Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. Honor met princesses, and we all rode Small World, the Carousel, and Teacups. Several of these, we rode multiple times in a row. In fact, the CMs at the Teacups just had us stay on if we wanted to ride again, as there was no line at all. After we’d had our fill of rides, it was time to check in for the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party (my review is here). It was a late night and a very full day, but loads of fun!
Day 2: Day 2 was another Magic Kingdom day. We arrived early and had a front row…standing spot for the rope drop ceremony. The kids loved seeing the characters arriving on the train. We went straight to Enchanted Tales with Belle while Chris went to get FP for a couple of rides. At Enchanted Tales with Belle, Caedmon got to play the Beast and dance with Belle. He wouldn’t admit it at the time, but he loved it. Next up was meeting Ariel and riding the Little Mermaid ride. Then, it was off to Peter Pan, and we waited around a few minutes afterward for Peter and Wendy to arrive. Then, on to our appointment at The Pirates’ League for Caedmon to become Jake. That was a fun experience! We snacked, rode Aladdin, and toured the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House. Then, it was Pirates of the Caribbean and lunch at Pecos Bill’s. Next up, we met Woody and Jessie, then caught the afternoon parade as we bought the kids’ first set of mouse ears on our way out of the park. We skipped naps on this day, and once we got back to the resort about 3:30, we were all done. We rested for a while, then Chris and the kids played in the pool while I did a load of laundry, followed by late dinner and decently early bed times for everyone.
Day 3: Hollywood Studios day! I was so excited to go to this park! We love movies, so I couldn’t wait to soak up all the movie-ness of this park. For some reason, I cannot get the layout of this park in my head, and we spent way too much time trying to figure out where things were throughout the day. Next time, I’m going to study the map better!
We arrived early enough to be the second in line for rope drop. Compared to Magic Kingdom, everyone else’s “rope drop” is boring. They just…let you in. We headed straight for Toy Story Midway Mania, then off to Star Tours for the first of four times to ride. This is one I could do without. I love roller coasters, but for some reason, this ride made me sort of “car sick.” It was weird. Then, it was the Disney Junior LIVE show. It was lots of fun with interactive features – bubbles, snow, and gold dubloons (tissue paper) fell from the ceiling at different times. The kids loved it! Next, we visited Lightning & Mater, and had lunch at Pizza Planet, home of the infamous Cappuccino Cupcake. Then, we met Phineas & Ferb (and I got a photo with Ducky Momo). Indiana Jones was next, and that was really cool. The kids thoroughly enjoyed it, even though Honor declared it to be too loud. We saw Mike & Sulley, grabbed a snack, and finally found a Green Army Man. This was my favorite character photo. I have a special place in my heart for those guys. Then, inside for a little while to cool off and visit Frozone and Mr. Incredible, and we watched the MuppetVision 3D show while killing time before our 4:30 dinner reservation at the Sci-Fi Dine-In. it was a lot of fun and the food was good, but it’s awkward to eat as a family when it’s literally like sitting in a car – two in the front and two in the back. Following dinner, we headed back to the resort. After the heat and spending all day in the park with no naps, we were all ready for an early night.
Day 4: The last time we were at Disney, Animal Kingdom was still being built, so this was completely new for us. We were waiting at the gate at park opening, and headed straight to Kilimanjaro Safaris. It was fun, and the kids loved getting to see the animals so close to our vehicle. The guys rode Dinosaur while Honor and I rode the “Dumbo Dinosaurs” (TriceraTop Spin) several times. The guys then rode Kali River Rapids four times, while Honor and I roamed the park and met lots of characters. We met back up to greet Dug and Russell, then rode Expedition Everest. We had lunch at Flame Tree BBQ (very good!), then headed back to the resort. While the Chris and the kids rested, I went over to Downtown Disney to do a little shopping. Then, it was dinner and bed time. We were all tired from the heat. Everyone had told me that AK is the most humid, and they weren’t kidding.
Day 5: We decided to skip Epcot this trip, and originally thought we’d spend two days at Hollywood Studios. But since the kids weren’t that into shows, we decided to spend our last day at MK. So back we were, in time for rope drop again. Once in the park, we headed straight for Space Mountain. Caedmon was unsure earlier in the week, but he was ready this time! While he and Chris rode that, Honor got some one-on-one time with Stitch. That was one of the highlights of her trip. We hit the Astro Orbiter again, and then split up. The guys went to ride Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, while Honor and I went to have a Dole Whip and meet Tinkerbell. We spent the rest of the morning on things the kids wanted to do again from earlier in the week. After lunch at Pinocchio’s, we found the Step Family heading out for their (short!) greet time outside the castle. That was one of the most fun character interactions all week! After a few more rides and a little shopping, we went back to the resort. You can’t ever be “done,” but it was time to go. We packed up what we could that night in preparation for leaving early the next morning. Then, it was to bed for an early start home.
It was such a great week for us. All the late nights reading websites and message boards and all the planning that Chris had almost decided I was crazy over were well worth it. I don’t think that I would’ve done anything differently for our family’s first trip. Sure, we left a lot of things “undone,” but all the more reason to go back, right?
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