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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