Thursday, November 27, 2014

Flying with Children

By: Lindsey

In general, flying can be a stressful event. You've got to make sure your bags are under the weight limit and size requirements. You've got to make sure your carry-on will fit in the overhead bin. You've got to get through that pesky, but necessary, security. Add in a child, or two or three or more, and it can take an already stressful situation and escalate it to full-on pandemonium.

Our first flight with Anniston was *decently* smooth. Our second flight went better. Hopefully our upcoming third flight will be an even bigger improvement over the last few. Here are a few tips I have with flying with children.

  • If you are traveling as a family, check your seats (or select them if you have option) before you board. See if you are able to get seats all together. I typically don't ever pay for early boarding, just for the fact that you have to sit in your seat longer, but I will pay for assigned seating, if needed, for all of us to be together.
  • We "practice" before we leave. If you are using a device such as an iPad, headphones are neccessary. when Anniston was younger, we'd have her sit on the couch and practice using headphones. We'd also practice sitting still for longer periods of time. We also took time to explain how airplanes work and why we have to sit still and quiet. Did it work perfectly? Nope. But I believe it did help.
  • If your child is under two and is flying as a "lap child" and the child is close the 24 month mark (or just looks older), make sure to bring their birth certificate for proof of age.
  • If you do not need a stroller in the airport and have the option to rent a stroller, DO IT. One less thing to navigate an airport with can change your life. Not to mention, the stress of lugging it and all of your luggage to the desk.
  • If you need your stroller (or carseat if you are traveling with one of those), gate check them. It's been free on every flight I've been on. If you are going to have to fly with it, you might as well have the advantage of using it while you are in the airport.
  • The TSA has a little bit different guidelines for flying with children under the age of 12. Here is a link to their page that talks all about that. Read up on their rules, plus the rules of your airline before you leave. You don't want to be surprised at security or at your gate!
  • While waiting for your flight, let your kids move. They'll have to sit quiet and still for the whole flight, so let them get some of that energy out. This is a hard one for me. I want Anniston to be the kid that can sit still for hour upon hour, but she just can't. So giving her the time and space to get some exercise before boarding is essential. While some people might give you strange looks, they'll be thankful later when your child is more compliant on the flight.
  • Take your kids to the restroom right before boarding, whether they are potty-trained or in diapers. After you board the plane, even if you flight isn't delayed, there is a chance that your plane might have to wait on the tarmac for a while. During this time, you aren't allowed to use the on-board restrooms. Potty before boarding can save an accident, or at the very least, a very uncomfortable 20 mintues.
  • If your child wear diapers, make sure you pack plenty for your flights and a change of clothes! Be prepared for blow-outs. They always seem to happen at the most inopportune times.
  • During the take-off and landing, give your kids something to help their ears pop. Things like gum for older children, a pacy or bottle for a younger child should do the trick.
  • Pack a variety of activities in your carry-on/personal item. We typically pack things like extra clothes, etc in our carry-on and then use a backpack or tote bag full of activites and snacks for our personal item.
  • Bring lots of options for on-board entertainment, especially if it's a younger child with a limited attention span. Anniston is at the age where she can happily sit for 2 hours and watch a movie. When she was younger, we'd watch a movie for 15-30 minutes, then color for 10 minutes, then eat some snacks, and so on and so on. Go to the Dollar Store and stock up on cheap and new things for your backpack. We like things like the Crayola Color Wonder packs, travel games, playing cards, lace cards, and books. For a more detailed list, check out this list from Delicious Baby.
  • If you do decide to bring snacks, or purchase them after security checkpoints, try not to get juice or sugary snacks. If your children are like Anniston, sugar only hypes her up. The last thing I want is to try to make a hyper child sit still for two plus hours. Serenity now.
  • Begin packing up things while you are still landing. You don't want to have to scramble around to gather everything while it's time for you to get off the plane. When the plane lands, I'm ready to get off. Some people might be more comfortable waiting until most of the others have already left but not me.
  • If your child isn't perfect on the flight, so what? As long as you tried your best and didn't just let the kid terrorize the other passengers, ignore the glares, sighs, and terrible looks. There will bad flights and good flights. Just do your best and ask your child to do their best. It's all you can ask for. And? If you are on the other end of the spectrum, don't be a jerk to the parents who are struggling on the flight. Have some compassion. Give encouraging smiles and just be nice.

There are lots of things that you can do to prepare and make your flight an enjoyable experience for all. If you have any additional tips, leave them in the comments!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Disney Planning: What if I don't like to plan?

By: Melissa

I’ve heard it several times lately. “I want to go to Disney, but I don’t want to have to plan my vacation so much.” And,  “’Those people’ who plan their trips so much ruin it for people like me who don’t want to get into the details.” My favorite though, has to be, “Why can’t we hold hands and just stroll through the Magic Kingdom without worrying about lines or schedules?”

Well, ok then.

It would be awesome if we could live in a Disney commercial, but that’s not reality. You can go to Disney and do things differently than we do – but your expectations must be different as well.

A Disney trip takes planning. So does a trip of any other kind. You have to choose a time to go, a place to stay, how you’re going to get there, decide on a plan to feed your people while you’re there, and figure out how much it will cost and how you’re going to pay for the trip. So that part of planning a Disney trip really is not much different than any other vacation. So let’s take a look at some things you can do to alleviate some pressure on those who want to go to Disney but prefer not to plan as much.

1. Don’t stress yourself out. Yes, it’s a big trip, but no one can see or do everything in one trip. That’s why people generally love to go back over and over!

2. Ask for help. I’m sure you know plenty of people who love to plan Disney trips *cough cough* and would be happy to help you out. Don’t get overwhelmed – you might feel like you’re trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose because all the information just comes gushing out. We can’t help ourselves sometimes. Go for a lunch or coffee date, take a deep breath, and ask specific questions. Don’t forget to take notes – there is a lot to remember!

3. Prioritize. Know what is important to your family for this trip. Go ahead and use your Fast Pass+ to take advantage of three things you want to do each day, even if that’s all you plan. Table Service meals every day with required reservations may not be your thing. That’s totally ok!

4. Don’t stress yourself out.

5. Consider working with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. A DVP can help you make some of those big decisions and make suggestions for your family. Their service is free to use, and some can even offer an agency gift now and then. Know what a DVP does and does not do. They can help you with suggestions on where to stay and where to eat, and make your reservations and FP+ selections for you. They may also have some tips on activities you might enjoy. But they do not make your daily touring plan or schedule your entire day, and all reservation changes must go through them.

6. Decide how you want to tour the parks. Do you want to go to the parks every day, or would you rather spend time at the water parks, hop over to Universal, or even make a day trip to the beach? Don’t feel like you have to pack every second with Disney. If you want to, that’s great. But if you don’t, that’s great, too.

7. Properly manage your expectations for what touring will be like if you decide to sleep in or just don’t want to be at rope drop every morning. For instance, if you decide to hit the park at 10 a.m., know that everything will be in full swing when you arrive and ride lines will be well-established. That’s still ok – but you must understand that arriving later will change your touring experience. Shannon over at WDW Prep School has a great article on having a “lazy-ish” Disney vacation. Check out what she has to say!

8. Don’t stress yourself out!

The most important thing is to create a trip that’s right for you and your family – not the trip that someone else enjoys or expects you to have. Plan as much or as little as you like, and have fun. You might not actually be in a Disney commercial, but you can still feel like you’re in one!

Real Mom's Disney wants to help your family have the best Disney trip possible. We love hearing from you! Contact us via comment, Twitter, Facebook, or email, and don't forget to follow us on Pinterest!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Simple Stroller Review

By: Jenna

* A free stroller rental was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

One thing that I recommend to everyone who is traveling with small kids to Disney is this: RENT A STROLLER!

Unless you absolutely need to have a stroller in the airport with you, I highly recommend skipping that fiasco. It's just one more thing that I personally do not want to deal with on top of everything else.

However, if you've got little kids like I do, then you really do need a stroller at Disney. Why? Well, for starters, it's a TON of walking. In fact, I wore my jawbone step counter while I was there and logged 15,000 or more steps every single day. We ended up walking over 50 miles during our trip! I know that my kids couldn't have handled all of that!

This time, I decided to rent from Simple Strollers. We went with the city mini double stroller. We've used this stroller before and really love how easily it pushes through the various park terrains and its simple folding mechanisms. Since we utilized Disney's bus system quite a bit this trip, it was important to have a stroller that folds easily and quickly (strollers must be folded on the bus).

The rental process itself was so easy! Just head over to their website and browse through their list of strollers. In addition to the City Mini's they have BOB's, Baby Trend Snap and Go's and Joovy Sit and Stand's. They are also the only company offering triple strollers! They've got the Joovy Big Caboose Sit and Stand Triple for those of you with three littles!

I added on the optional insurance just for peace of mind. One thing I loved about renting from Simple Strollers is that the include a drink/storage caddy. The company we used last year did not and we had no where to store drinks! You can also rent other goodies like rain covers and car seat adapters from them.

Simple Strollers also delivers to you at your resort. When you make your online purchase, just let them know what time they will need to drop off and pick up the stroller. Simple! Plus you don't have to worry about messing with the bell desk (which can form quite a line!). They hand deliver the strollers to you. Everyone was so nice and accommodating, even for for those coming in on late flights. I highly recommend them!

If you're headed to Disney World and need a stroller, be sure to check out Simple Strollers!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Black Friday and Christmas Shopping for Disney Deals

The Real Moms are gearing up for Christmas shopping, and we thought you might be as well. Some of us actually go shopping on Black Friday, while others prefer to shop from the comfort of our homes, preferably still in our pajamas. However you like to shop, here are a few deals you might like to know about!

Black Friday Title

Big shout out to Britt at Britt-ish Designs for letting us use the Santa Mickey image above. You can download it (and three other super cute images) for free for personal use here.

Best deal of the season:

Melissa: I think the biggest deal of the season is Target’s Black Friday gift card deal! I explained how to save money at Disney with gift cards here and here, so using the info in these posts, you can save up to 15% on Disney Gift Cards!

Target Black Friday GC adOn Black Friday from 6am – 12 noon (local time in stores, CST online), you can get 10% off Target gift cards, up to $300 per household. This is super rare! (If you buy $100 in Target gift cards, you’ll only pay $90.) Starting the next day, you can use those gift cards to purchase Disney Gift Cards online with your RED Card as your default payment method and get 5% off of the Disney Gift Cards, bringing your total savings to 15%. The only downside is that you can’t shop with the gift cards that same day – you must wait until the next day, Saturday, November 29.
  • Scenario: Buy $300 in Target gift cards, and only spend $270. Buy $300 in Disney Gift Cards online and spend $285 from the Target gift card, leaving you with $15 on your Target gift card. You will spend $285 on $300 in Disney Gift Cards and have $15 left over. Or buy $350 in Disney Gift Cards for $332.50 total - $300 from your Target Gift Card, and $32.50 on your RED Card. Shipping is free, so your total out of pocket would be $302.50. That’s a savings of $47.50 on $350 in Disney Gift Cards.
If you don’t have a RED Card or want to purchase Disney Gift Cards in the store, you can still save 10% by purchasing Target gift cards and then using them to purchase Disney Gift Cards. And if you use your rewards credit card to purchase the Target gift cards, you can “double-dip” with your rewards and savings. Even if you don’t use the Target gift cards to help save on your Disney trip, this is still a great deal, guaranteeing 10% savings at Target for the next $300 in merchandise you purchase!

Jenna: I don't know if this is the very best deal of the season but I do know a lot of people who are searching for Disney Infinity this Christmas, so I had to share! Wal-Mart will be offering the Disney Infinity 2.0 (Marvel Superheros) starter kit for just $37. It's regularly priced right around $75 so that's a great savings!

Lindsey: I have to agree with Melissa on this one. That Target deal is a very hard one to pass up. Let's just say, if you need me on Black Friday at 6:00am, I'll be in line somewhere in Target waiting for this deal!

What we’re shopping for:

Jenna: We are shopping for an inexpensive laptop for Brayden this year (he's almost six). There's a HP laptop for $199 in Wal-Mart's Black Friday circular that I'm looking at (you also get a $25 gift card). Amazon also has this laptop for $199.

Lindsey: Our house is all about American Girl dolls this year. Anniston asked for the Bitty Twins, plus some accessories for her 18" dolls. Like every other household, the Frozen bug has bitten and held on at our house, so I'm definitely loving this Elsa dress and this Anna dress. Her dolls would be adorable in them.

Melissa: We’re shopping for a play tent for our 3 year-old daughter. We’ve been down this road before with play tents, so I know I want one that is easy to set up and preferably doesn’t require adult assembly. (The kind with the sticks? No thank you!) This one with Frozen characters fits on a twin size mattress and you can also play with it on the floor. It’s a great price for the size. This one is smaller, but it’s also about half the price. If you have more space, this girls’ tent with two rooms and a tunnel might be a good option, but doesn’t have Disney characters on it.

Other fun gift ideas:

Jenna: Personally, I am always a fan of the Amazon giftcard. I love to read, and I cash them in for awesome books for my kindle app. Another great idea for anyone is this Twining's gift pack. I LOVE Twining's tea and it is a gift that will last all year! If you have any Disney Junior lovers in your house then I recommend the Disney Junior Get Up & Dance cd. I just bought it for my boys and they love it!

Lindsey: Anniston LOVES to play dress-up. She would die over Anna's Coronation dress. A great stocking stuffer for the fellow Frozen lover would be this lip gloss set. Adorable! If you know of a little one that loves luggage, this one is so cute. Anniston rolls her suitcases around all the time and pretends to take trips.

And, just in case anyone asks, I wouldn't mind this for myself. ;)

Melissa: I’ve never been a huge fan of Elf on the Shelf (I know. But it just seems a bit creepy to me.), but Hide-n-Hug Olaf looks like lots of fun. And it’s something that can be enjoyed the entire Christmas season with the whole family.

We hope you’ve enjoyed some of our favorite deals and gift ideas this season. As always, if you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to comment, email, Facebook, or tweet us. We love hearing from you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Our Family's Fast Pass Picks for 2015

By: Ashley

When you're in the process of planning a Disney trip and staying on Disney property, there are two BIG DAYS. The first is when you're 180 days out from your trip and you book your dining reservations.The second is when you're 60 days out and you book your FastPass+ reservations! 

Our "FastPass Day" was November 17, and it actually snuck up on me! I thought it was November 18, and my sister-in-law actually reminded me I was a day off. We were visiting my in-laws and I was scrambling to make my "cheat sheet" (I had left my laptop at home with all of my notes and research!). Thankfully, our dining reservations had been made, so I just referred to those to see which park we'd be in on certain days. Then I just wrote down my three "goals" for each day (according to which rides and attractions are the most popular and which ones we are prioritizing). 

At 11:00pm Central Time on November 16 (which was midnight Eastern time, therefore November 17), I logged on to My Disney Experience and got going! I did NOT book in chronological order. I selected our LAST day in the parks to try and get the coveted Elsa and Anna meet-and-greet. Did I get it? Keep reading!

Here are our family's Fastpasses for our January 2015 trip! 

The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Spaceship Earth

Animal Kingdom:
Expedition Everest
Festival of the Lion King
Meet Mickey and Minnie

Hollywood Studios:
Toy Story Mania
Frozen Sing Along
Disney Jr. Live on Stage

Magic Kingdom (over several days):
Enchanted Tales with Belle
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (twice!)
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Meet Ariel at Her Grotto
Tomorrowland Speedway
Under the Sea 
Peter Pan
MEET ANNA AND ELSA!!!! (Yes, I got it!)

Choosing your FastPass choices can be overwhelming at first, but it's WORTH it! It guarantees you at least 3 times during the day when you will have little to not wait in line. With the exception of a few, I always schedule our FastPasses in the afternoon, when the crowds are higher. We tour like crazy at park opening and then enjoy a more leisurely pace with our FastPasses in the afternoon. 

I'm excited to see how our trip goes with these FastPass choices!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How to use My Disney Experience (A Step-By-Step Tutorial)

by: Jenna

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One common question amongst Disney newbies is "What is My Disney Experience and how do I use it?" MDE is a great tool! It keeps all of your trip information in a centralized location. Every confirmation number you'll need can be found here. Once you get the hang of it, it's very simple to navigate. And in true Disney fashion, you can customize it too! Let's get started!

This is the screen you'll see when you first land on Disney's page. In the upper right hand corner, you'll see the My Disney Experience logo. Hold your mouse over that, and this drop down menu will appear (make sure you're logged in!).

In the drop down menu, you'll see all of your options. You can make dining reservations, fast pass reservations, buy tickets and a whole lot more that we will get to.

My favorite page is the main planning page. Click on your name (see how Jenna was in blue above?).

Here is where that takes you. I love visiting this page first because it has an overview of all of our plans.

Here's a snippet of our upcoming trip schedule. Everything is organized by day, and it has your hotel, FP+ reservations, dining reservations and anything else you've booked.

If you've purchased Memory Maker, scroll down to the very bottom of this page. Once you're at Disney, here is where you'll see your photos and videos. Unsure about Memory Maker? Check out this post from Melissa that explains everything you need to know!

Also, at the very top of the page are the quick links for reservations, along with your countdown.

Under the drop down menu, below the Plan and Manage header is FP+. That's a whole post unto itself and Lindsey already wrote it, so check out this link for everything you need to know about scheduling and modifying FP+.

Now, let's click on the My Reservations tab, on the drop down menu. If you're booking a trip and paying it off slowly (which is what we did because we cashed in credit card points for gift cards and used Disney Movie Rewards codes for gift cards as well), you'll be able to see your balance on this page and make a payment towards your trip.

The next thing you'll see as you scroll down the page is your ticket purchase. We went with base tickets again (and you can read all about why we choose them here). You can also read about some great ways to save on Disney tickets here. Also, if you've chosen to buy your tickets somewhere else (like AAA or Undercover Tourist) you can link them to your My Disney Experience here (see the blue box?).

And below that is a list of your dining reservations. However, if you've made a reservation through the restaurant itself, it will not show up here. Example? I stayed up until midnight on my 180th day before my trip so that I could make my reservations, and hopefully get everything I wanted. I secured the coveted Be Our Guest and O'Hana's reservations but failed to get TREX. So, instead, I called them. They are a downtown Disney restaurant (you can read my review here) so they keep reservations open for non-Disney go'ers and walk-ins. I was able to get the exact time and date I wanted, but it will not show up here because it wasn't made online (and there's no way to link it, unlike the tickets).

And finally, below that are my FP+ and Memory Maker reservations and photos (again).

Next up, the fun stuff.

Let's go back to the drop down menu and select My Profile. You'll land on a screen like this (featuring whatever character you've chosen for yourself). You can click on About Me to change your character, your name, you date of birth and add in Annual Passholder or Vacation Club information.

Scrolling on down, you'll find a spot to enter in your credit card information (you'll need one on file to make dining reservations) and your contact information. There's also a place where you can manage friends (this is a perk for those of you planning family trips who will need to manage multiple families dining reservations...but that's another post for another day).

If you click on Magic Bands and Cards from this page (or from the drop down menu) you'll land on the page where you can customize your Magic Band colors and, if for some reason your bands aren't already linked to your trip, you can do so here. It will also be the page where you can track your Magic Band shipment.

Go back to the drop down menu one more time. Here's something fun! Click on My Family and Friends. From here you can add your kids, your husband, whomever you're traveling and managing travel for. As you add them (or if they're already there, click EDIT on the right side of your screen), you can assign them a Disney character. My kids picked their own - Dash and Buzz Lightyear, respectively, I pick Elsa (as shown above) and I picked Mr. Incredible for my husband (awww)! 

The character options change pretty often - I noticed they recently added Darth Vadar and a few other Star Wars characters. It's something fun amid all of the planning craziness! If they ever add Rapunzel, I'm switching! Ha!

I hope this step-by-step tutorial of the My Disney Experience page has been helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to email us or leave a comment! And don't forget, My Disney Experience is also an app (free in the app store!). Download it so that you'll have all of your pertinent trip information in the palm of your hand during your visit to Disney!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Trip Recap: A Trip of Firsts

In 2011, Nick and I decided to take Anniston to Disney World for the first time. It was Nick’s first trip as well. When we started planning this trip, we had NO idea what all it took. We just booked a package, made some dining reservations and winged it from there. Keep in mind, this was before Magic Bands and the FastPass+ system.

Anniston was about 22 months at the time. People told us we were crazy for taking her at such a young age. We know she doesn’t remember that trip. We don’t care. We remember it. We made so many fun memories and had such a great time. I wouldn’t change a thing about it. If you have younger children and are debating on whether to go or not, this is for you. If you can afford it, in the words of NIKE, “Just Do It.”

We decided to go in May. Disney had several resort discounts out at the time and we got an excellent deal. We booked a package that included our resort stay (Friday to Friday), 6 day hopper tickets, and the dining plan.

Disney 2011 Day 1

Our first day was a travel day. We opted to fly with Allegiant Air. It was all of our first commercial flights. We had a few moments of stress trying to juggle everything, but after we got our luggage checked and got to the gate it wasn’t bad. We entertained Anniston through the entire wait at the gate and flight with snacks, small toys, and movies. My next post is going to be all about flying with children.

Since we opted to fly Allegiant, it landed at the Sanford airport, not the Orlando airport. We picked up our rental car and drove to Orlando, stopping at Wal-Mart on the way. We didn’t know services like Garden Grocer. I wish I had! It was super late by the time we got back to our resort, got checked in, and got into bed. 

Disney 2011 Day 2

Our first full day at Disney! We decided to visit Animal Kingdom first. Not because it was the lowest crowd on the crowd calendars (like I mentioned earlier, we didn’t know about any of that stuff), we just assumed it would be our least favorite park. As adults, it is my least favorite park. Traveling with a 22 month old, it is not my least favorite park. Now that Anniston is older, it’s back to least favorite again. It’s so hot and humid – on purpose!

HOWEVER, our favorite shows are there. If you haven’t seen The Lion King and Finding Nemo, you are seriously missing out. The Lion King is my favorite show of all at Disney. It’s a must do every trip for us.

When we got to the park, we rode rides. We saw shows. We ate. And? We had a blast. Naptime was getting close and so we headed back to the room for a swim break and a short nap. It actually rained during naptime.

After nap, we headed back to Animal Kingdom to ride a few things we didn’t do in the morning. Because of the rain, the park had all but cleared out. We rode pretty much everything with zero wait time. It was so great! We didn’t have any ADRs that day, so we had the whole day to just do as we please and get adjusted to life at Disney. All in all, a wonderful first day.

Disney 2011 Day 3

This is the day I was most excited about. Our first day at Magic Kingdom. I was as giddy as a teenager on their first day. I could not wait to see the look on Anniston’s face when she experience some of my favorite rides for the first time. It did not disappoint.

When her 22 month old eyes saw that castle for the first time with her eyes as round as saucers, she said, “Wow.” And I might have teared up. Or I might not have. Who knows?

Nick left us to go get a FASTPASS for Space Mountain while Anniston and I headed towards Fantasyland. Nick was going to meet us by Dumbo. By the time, I had walked back to Dumbo, the wait was already 25 minutes. So Anniston and I ditched that idea and went straight to “It’s a Small World,” my all-time favorite ride as a child. Her eyes never left the sights. She wouldn’t even look at me long enough for a picture. I will be straight up honest with you right now. When I saw her amazement to the, I teared up. Or not. I mean, I’m not that emotional…actually, yes, I teared up. Again. The joy on her face was so apparent. It made me so, so thankful that we were able to take this trip.

We also rode several other rides such as the teacups and met some characters (Goofy didn’t go as planned). Nick’s sister lives in FL. Her and her husband drove up on this day to spend it with us. While Anniston and I headed back for a nap, Nick stayed and rode rides with them. I’m not sure how many parks they ended up going to, but they hit a lot.

We met back up at Epcot for dinner. We had reservations at San Angel Inn. We enjoyed it very much. After we ate, we headed to Hollywood Studios to let the “big kids” ride a few rides before bedtime. It was very much a “go-with-the-flow” type day. It was a very fun day!

Disney 2011 Day 4

This was our Hollywood Studios day. This, at this time, was my second favorite park. Now, it’s probably a tie between Epcot and Hollywood Studios. I love the shows (even though they could be a little more updated) at Hollywood Studios, but you can’t beat the food at Epcot. Anyway…

When we first arrived, Nick went straight to get our FASTPASS for Toy Story Mania. We were advised that the FASTPASS-es went quickly. They aren’t kidding.

After we met them, we headed to the new Disney Junior Live on Stage show. It is a very good show; a must for anyone traveling with toddlers or preschoolers. We also met several characters. 

It was finally time for Toy Story Mania. Every time we walked past the ride, the wait time was never less than 45 minutes. Never. We were very thankful we had a FASTPASS. After we got off the ride, it was time to head to our lunch reservation at the Sci-Fi Dine In.

It was almost naptime, but we decided to see if Nick could get on the Rockin Roller Coaster. Beauty and the Beast was just about to start so Anniston and I popped in the theater to watch it. Nick ended up not getting to ride it. The wait was too long so he joined us in the theater. It needs some updating, but it was very good!

After Beauty and the Beast, we headed back to the room for a nap. Once Anniston woke up, we went to the resort’s main pool. The pool’s theming was spot on. So much fun for little kids, older kids, and adults. It was one of the selling points of the resort that made us stay there on our next trip as well.

We didn’t have dinner reservations that night, so we headed to Downtown Disney and just walked around. If you go, visit the Christmas store. It’s always a favorite of mine.

Disney 2011 Day 5

We headed to Epcot. In all honesty, this was our least favorite park with a small child. There wasn't a whole lot to keep Anniston (and Nick) entertained. When we first arrived, we got to meet Daisy Duck and Stitch.

After that, we headed to The Land to get FASTPASS-es for Soarin'. We rode Living with the Land and Nemo. Anniston loved it.

After the Nemo ride we headed to the Innovations center. We walked through a few other buildings while Nick was waiting for his FASTPASS to be active. After he rode Soarin, which he really liked, we headed to look at all the countries. Anniston DID NOT enjoy this AT ALL. She pretty much fussed and cried until she fell asleep. We ate in America, and due to a fussy baby, we just tried to hurry and eat.

We had dinner reservations at Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom that night. It was our first character meal. If your kids are into Winnie the Pooh, it would be a great fit for you. It’s definitely about the characters. We weren’t that impressed with the actual food.

We got to ride a lot of rides that evening. We rode Snow White's Scary Adventure, Haunted Mansion, Prince Charming's Carousel, and Aladdin. After that it was back to the resort to rest up for our next big day.

(That, my friends, is a tired kid.)

Disney 2011 Day 6

This was considered our free day. We had breakfast reservations at Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios. It was with Disney’s Playhouse Junior character. It was a breakfast buffet and was really good.

We watched The Little Mermaid (which, sadly, wasn’t as good as I remembered). We then went and walked around the other side of the park that we hadn’t been to yet. It had changed A LOT since the last time I had been there (back when it was MGM Studios). 

We got to meet ‘Mater and stopped by the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure.

We headed back to the room for naps. We had ADRs for dinner at the 50s Prime Time Diner. It was very, very cute. The theme was adorable and the food was great too.

We walked around the park a little more. Nick decided to ride the Tower of Terror again, so Anniston and I decided to shop a little. We parked her stroller and did all the shops around the main streets. I just love looking in all the shops.

When we left the park, we decided to stop by Disney’s Boardwalk.

Then, like always, it was back to the resort for the night.

Disney 2011 Day 7

This was our last full day at Disney, which is always a bittersweet day. We went to Magic Kingdom. Y’all the stars aligned for us that day! We were able to fit in all our “must do’s” with the exception of one ride, Dumbo. We just weren’t willing to wait that long for a two minute ride. Especially since the Triceratops Spin (Animal Kingdom) and the Aladdin (Adventureland) rides were so similar.

We decided to stop and take some family pictures in front of the castle. We were afraid that if we didn’t do it then, it would get too crowded to do it later.

We rode ride after ride after ride. We did stop to take a break to meet Ariel. It was definitely a highlight of the trip. I enjoy meeting the princesses just as much as Anniston does.

That night we ate at ‘Ohana at the Polynesian resort. It was amazing; by far our favorite restaurant. It was very, very good.

After ‘Ohana, we attempted to go back to Animal Kingdom. We arrived about 6:15 and the park had closed at 6. So we ended up just going back to the hotel and swimming and playing on the playground. We had to get to bed early because we had an early reservation for breakfast the next morning!

Disney 2011 Day 8

Our very last day. We weren’t visiting any parks on Friday. We had breakfast at Chef Mickey’s scheduled for seven in the morning. We had to check out by 11:00 and had to be at the airport by 2:30ish to catch our flight at 4:30.

We got up early and headed to the Contemporary resort. Chef Mickey’s was great! Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald were there. It’s such a great way to meet the characters you want without having to wait in lines. We’ll do it every time we go!

It was time to leave and head to the airport. We made it through security pretty easily (which is the part that I worried the most about). Once we got on the plane, when I had to buckle us in, Anniston had a major meltdown. Thankfully, as soon as we were taxied to the runway, she fell asleep. She slept until about 5 minutes before we landed. Halleluiah! It was a Disney miracle…or maybe just some leftover Disney Magic!!

We had a great first trip. Not every moment was perfect. We had a few meltdowns. We had times where things didn’t go according to plans, but overall it was so wonderful.
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