Ahhh Disney World! It really is the most magical place, and we definitely had an awesome vacation. Warning: this is going to be a long post about all the details of our Disney trip.
We just got back 2 weeks ago- so our date of travel was October 4-9. I think October is one of the best times to go... the weather is really great, the crowds are not bad (even though this time it was more crowded then in the past), and its all set up with fun Halloween things. Oh yea, and its Food and Wine festival which I love. We got unbelievably lucky and the weather was PERFECT our whole trip. We did not get a drop of rain the entire time we were there. Each day was sunny and mid 80's. Nights were a bit cooler but beautiful. Lets break the trip down day by day.
We left NJ late on Saturday night. Our flight out was not til 6:30pm. I was kind of nervous about this flying time with kids, but it ended up being a great time to fly. The airport was pretty empty so we walked right through check in and security with no lines. Then we had plenty of room in the airport for Ryan to run around and get out the pre-flight energy. The flight was great.... Ryan watched movies on the iPad and colored (this is normally bedtime so we were happy he was just in a chill mood, not cranky over tired). Patrick surprisingly did not sleep a minute on the plane, but he was content to just hang out and smile at the people around us. Then when we arrived in Disney it was 9:00pm so again we had NO lines (those words don't come up very often when talking about Disney). We got our bags immediately and walked right up to our Disney express bus, and checked in immediately upon arriving at the hotel. It was a later night for the boys. Everyone wasn't sound asleep in bed til closer to 10:30, but the whole travel process was super easy.
*Art of Animation
We stayed at the Art of Animation Hotel for a few reasons. 1. Its relatively cheap for Disney standers. 2. It has the family style suites (bedroom, family room, kitchen area, and 2 full bathrooms). 3. Its really really fun for young kids. We loved it. Art of Animations was perfect for our trip. The room was a perfect size, the decor was great, we never waited long for a bus, and most importantly Ryan really thought it was awesome to be staying with Nemo and McQueen. The quick service food they had was impressively good, we ate many breakfasts there and 2 dinners. The pool was awesome, the splash pad was great for Ryan and Patrick, and they had a mini playground right outside of our building. Ryan is active- he needs to run and jump and play- so we were so happy to find that our hotel gave him the change to do that when he needed a break from the parks. I would definitely stay there again. We stayed in the Nemo building, and the grandparents all stayed in the Little Mermaid standard rooms.
Day 1- Epcot
Our first morning we had not true agenda. I knew we needed a little bit of time in the morning to get going after traveling late the night before. So we got going once everyone was up, breakfast at the hotel, and then off to Epcot. Every day was great, but Epcot was really a surprise as to how much fun we had.
As soon as we walked into the park, Ryan spotted Pluto. Since this was his first character sighting we went over to see him and take pictures. We spent the rest of the morning walking around and going on rides. We actually didn't even have to use our fast passes (except for Soarin) because they lines were very short. So we went on the Nemo ride, saw the aquarium, played in the Mission Space playground when the adults went on the ride, we met Chip and Dale, half the group did Test Track while the other half went for snacks, we all went on Soarin (which was one of Ryan's favorites), and then we did the Character Greeting with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy.
Some of Ryan's favorite moments of this morning were meeting the characters and Soarin. He thought it was "super cool" to fly over the moments and "be on a big kite"... and I agree with him, Soarin is my favorite. Then Ryan loves characters so meeting Mickey was a highlight of the trip. He gives them lots of hugs, high fives, and likes to tell them long stories haha. While we were talking with Mickey, Goofy came over and took his hand to go on a walk and he just thought that was great. He also still talks about how he was so happy to see Minnie that he almost ran her over. This was a classic Disney moment for me.
Anyway- after all of that it was almost 2:00pm already. Ryan was in need of a break, so we put him and Patrick in the stroller and walked over to the countries. As soon as we started walking at a decent speed without any distractions, Ryan fell asleep. He then continued to sleep for about 1.5 hours and we got to eat and drink our way around the world. This was one of my favorite parts ;) We sampled beers and wines from Ireland, Belgium, and Morocco. We also had some yummy shrimp rolls and a Belgium chocolate waffle.
We ended our day having dinner at the Coral Reef. Everything about our dinner was great. Ryan and Patrick were well behaved and happy (the constant entertainment of eating inside of an aquarium helped) and the food was excellent. We had a table all the way in the back of the restaurant which at first I was bummed about, thinking that we would not have a good view of the sea animals, but it turned out to be perfect. We were tucked away and couldn't bother anyway and were still saw everything. Ryan especially loved seeing "Bruce" the shark swim by over and over again, and "Crush" the huge turtle take a nap right in front of us. I would recommend Coral Reef and I would definitely go back on future trips.
After dinner- it was 7:30pm and about time for us to call it quits. We hopped on the bus, took our short ride home and get the boys in bed by 8:30. Then mommy and daddy relaxed with a beer on the couch!
Day 2- Magic Kingdom
I was super excited for our Magic Kingdom day. And it really was great, but it turned out not to be our favorite. For some reason it was super crowded. Like can't walk, bumping shoulders with strangers kind of crowded. I think it put a damper on our day. Also it was loud, very loud... and Ryan really has a hard time with all the excess noise. So we had fun, Patrick loved it, but it wasn't quite as Magical as I had hoped.
Anyway- We go tot the park early, before it opened, because we had breakfast reservations at Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh, Tiger, Piglet, and Eeyore. It was really neat to get to the park before it opened. Walking down Main Street towards the castle, without all of the crowds is a pretty special moment. Breakfast was great, and as usual Ryan loved the characters. He likes to tell them all a story and he wanted to show everyone his new Dumbo stuffed animal (side note- Dumbo was a surprise toy that Mickey Mouse left in his bed the night before because he was such a good boy all day).
After breakfast the battle of the crowds began. We knew we would be back to Magic Kindgom again, so I split the park in half. On this day some of the rides we did were: Buzz Light Year, Mission Space (grown ups only), Race track, Tea Cups, Dumbo, Carosel, Peter Pan, and the Mine Train. After about 4 of the rides Ryan was totally overstimulated and in meltdown mode. Not crying, throwing a fit melt down, more of a "get me out of here its too loud and I need a break" melt down. This made the end of the morning kind of rough. Its nearly impossible to find a quiet corner in Magic Kingdom to take a break (unlike all of the other parks). We were able to get him strapped into the stroller and took a long walk and found a shady corner for him to rest. He never actually fell asleep, but it took the edge off. Luckily for me, the shady spot was right near a food stand that had nutella waffles and mocha iced coffees. The adults enjoyed a fun snack while the boys took a time out.
After the little break, we did a few more rides and Ryan was feeling a little better. Tea Cups were his favorite (no surprise for a Sensory overload kid... they love to spin). We ended the day with Mine Train, Ryan's first roller coaster. I honestly did not think he was going to like it, just based on other rides he has been on. I think he is a little bit like his mommy, and he doesn't love rides. But he wanted to go on, so I gave it a shot. When he got off, he ran over to me, gave me a big hug and said " That made my tummy very mad, can we go back to the hotel now!" Hahahah too cute. But we took that as a sign that he was done with the parks for the day and it was time to go home. Grandmad and Grandpa stayed at the park, and Gigi and Pops joined us for the trip home.
As we were walking out, the Festival of Fantasy parade was just getting started. We had no intentions of staying for the parade, but as we walked all the way up Main Street and were just about to leave, we found a wide open spot at the end of the route... and the beginning of the parade was just about to pass us. So we stayed, and I am glad we did. Ryan and Patrick loved it. Ryan waved at all the characters, danced along with them, and kept telling me how cool it was. I guess we have determined that Ryan is more of a characters and show guy then an adventure ride kind of kid.
After the parade we were on our way. Back at the hotel Ryan was ready for a much needed pool break. He ran and splashed in the splash pad and swam laps in the big pool. It turned out to be a perfect way to end the day... burn off all that extra overstimulated energy. It didn't hurt that Art of Animation has an awesome pool area for kids. Patrick was even able to sit and splash in the kiddie pool area. We all just relaxed and had dinner at the hotel. Since by like 6:30 the boys were both ready for bed, they stayed at the hotel with Gigi and Pops and Mommy and Daddy got to go to Epcot! It was a great little date night in Disney. We sampled some treats and more cocktails and watched Epcot's light show. Then we were home by 11 and totally exhausted.
Day 3- Hollywood Studios
Surprisingly this was my favorite day of the trip, and I think everyone would agree with me. It wasn't just because of the park, but everything just worked. The weather was great, the boys were happy, the park was so much fun, we pulled off a no nap day, and we finished with a great dinner. Overall, it was just a perfect day in Disney.
We started off with quick service breakfast at our hotel. The food there really was great. Then were were off to Hollywood Studios to get there pretty much right when it opened. As soon as we got there, the adult ride goers headed straight towards Rockin Roller Coaster. The ladies hung out with the boys and walked around the park. We eventually made our way over to where our first fast pass was for the Disney Junior Live show. There we got to meet Jake and Sophia. Ryan was actually a little bashful around Princess Sophia, not like him, I think he had a crush. We stayed in that area while waiting for the show. I had to nurse Patrick, so I found a spot tucked off the the side that looked like a path no one would go down. I was just sitting on the ground up against the building. For the most part it was super quiet, but eventually I realized it was an employees only area. A younger guy walked by and I just smiled and said hello, and he smiled back and said "ahh must be feeding time". Anyway, this is all relevant I promise. I finished up nursing Patrick and then went back to the family for the show. As I walked up to them, the guy I just spoke to was standing right by them. As soon as he saw me, came over to our group as asked us if we wanted to be VIP. Of course Ryan yelled "YES" even though I'm sure he has not idea what VIP means. So he brought us up to the main entrance and told Ryan when it was time, he could knock on the door and we would be greeted and invited in by Jake. When it was time, he knocked and we all yelled the magic words "Miska Mouska Mickey Mouse" and Jake opened the door and let us in to the show. We got to sit front and center for the show. Ryan thought it was "Awesome". See what happens when you breastfeed a baby where you are probably not suppose to be... you get a little extra special treatment haha.
Anyway- of course Ryan and Patrick loved the show. Ryan sang and danced and Patrick clapped along. It was cute. After that we went on Toy Story, played in the Honey I Shrunk the Audience play ground, had snacks (another really great iced coffee), went on the Star Tours ride, and then headed to the Frozen Sing along. Ryan and I sang every song while I think the rest of our group took mini cat naps and enjoyed the cool auditorium. We were hoping to go see the Motor Cars show, but the timing wasn't going to work out... so we went to play in Olafs snow playground. And of course my very active boy wanted a few more minutes on the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground before we left.
We were kind of taking our time leaving the park. Dinner reservations were at the Polynesian, but we had plenty of time. This worked in our favor again, because as we walked towards the main street area, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale, all came out to do a little dance show. The invited anyone standing around to come up and dance with them. We just happened to be standing in the right spot. This is one of Ryan's trip highlights was getting to dance right next to goofy. So much fun.
We finally left the park and headed to our dinner at O'Hana. I see what the hype is all about. Dinner was great! The food was great, the ambiance was fun. We really enjoyed our night. The boys were soooo good. I think they were so worn out from the day, that they just sat back and relaxed. I loved getting to do some hula dancing with Ryan too... brought me back to my Hawaiian dancing days :)
The day was finished by taking a beautiful boat ride back to Magic Kingdom for us to catch our bus. The sun was setting, the captain let Ryan sit up front with him and steer the boat, and he sang Disney songs for entertainment the whole ride back. It was all just perfect.
Overall, the perfect 10 Disney day.
Day 4- Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom
Our last day in the parks... so sad. It goes so fast. We started with breakfast at the hotel again, and headed to Animal Kingdom.
When we got there, we made a bee line for the safari. We had no fast passes made for this park, we saved them all for the afternoon at Magic Kingdom (side note- I know there is a system to splitting up the fast passes, having different people book for different rides, sharing wrist bands, and booking new rides when you are finished with the one you already did.... but all of that is not worth it to me. I didn't want to spend any time on my phone and feel scheduled and rushed. So we booked our 3 FP each day, we all got exactly the same rides, and everything else we just went with the flow. It worked well for us. I don't think we missed anything we really wanted to do).
The safari is a family favorite. Ryan loves animals, I love rides that I actually can go on, Patrick was fascinated, and the grandparents all wanted to go on. Disney's safari is really pretty amazing. After the safari we kind of walked slowly around the park. My mom and I got frozen margaritas while the guys went on Expedition Everest. Then we headed to the kids area, where we played a few games and did the dinosaur ride (the one that is just like Dumbo). I didn't plan to spend a lot of time here, so we ended our morning with the Fossil Dig. As you can imagine, this was one of Ryan's favorites yet again. He got to dig for bones and play in a play round. He was a happy camper.
We left the park around 12 and decided to head back to the hotel for a quick nap before going back to Magic Kingdom. This is great in theory, but is always more work than its worth. By time a bus came, and then they had to change drivers, and then we had to stop at the water park... we didn't get back to the hotel til 1:15 and had plans to get on the bus and leave again by 2:30. So the boys did nap for a quick hour, but I had to wake them up so we could leave again. They were a tad cranky with the wake up... but we were off in no time. This was the only day we came back to the room for naps and I'm glad we didn't attempt it more often. It is just so time consuming and really breaks up the day. I think Ryan had a better nap in the stroller in Epcot than he did the room that day. But regardless, it took the edge off.
Once back in Magic Kingdom we did some rides like Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, and watched the pirate show, and took a walk through the castle before dinner. At 5:30 we had reservations at Liberty Tree Tavern which was great as usual. After dinner we decided to take the risk and stay late for the light parade and fireworks. The parade didn't start til 9 and the fireworks til 9:45! Thats a late night for us.
To kill time we went on the Aladin Magic Carpet Ride and Splash Mountain. The made our way up Main Street for the parade. The killing time part was rough, boys were getting a little cranky, but once the parade started it was worth it. They were both in awe of the lights and the music. And I always love the Magic Kingdom fireworks. I"m glad we stayed.
We were on the bus by 10 and our family was a classic Disney picture. Patrick asleep in my arms, and Ryan sound asleep on Mike's lap.
Day 5- Chef Mickey's and Pool Day
I was kind of nervous about having two late flights... but it seriously could not have been better. On our last day we didn't have a flight til 9pm. So we had a full day with no park passes. I made our Chef Mickey's breakfast for this day since it doesn't require going to a park. We had a great last meal with our favorite characters and Ryan had his special Gluten Free/Egg Free Mickey Waffles. After breakfast we went on a long ride on the monorail. We were on no time schedule, so we just did an extra loop before heading back to our hotel.
Once at the hotel, Grandma and Grandpa took the boys to the playground and the pool so the rest of us could get packed up. My parents and I packed our rooms and were checked out by 12. We took all our bags to my inlaws room since they were staying one extra night. Then we hung by the pool. It was a nice relaxing afternoon after a busy week. We all swam and took turns sitting with the boys, got a little sun tan, and talked about our great trip. Around 4:00pm we got cleaned up and dressed, had one last dinner at the hotel, and then headed to the bus stop at 5:30 for the airport.
The entire trip Ryan did not have one single melt down! No tears! He was sooooooo good. I kept watching other kids crying around us and felt so lucky that Ryan seriously did not have a single Disney meltdown.... until we were about to leave the pool. That was the only time he cried all week. He did not want to leave the pool or the vacation.
Getting through the airport was pretty harmless. Patrick fell asleep for the night right around take off. Ryan watched a movie for about half and hour before he fell asleep on my lap, and we had a peaceful flight home. I even got to read my book!
It was a late night getting home and settled, but it was totally worth it.
It was a successful trip! We came home and immediately started thinking about when we would go back (like most people do I'm sure... it will probably be about 2 years).
A couple random thoughts-
*The wristbands- I had some trouble through the planning process... issues linking reservations and with my account info not being accurate. But generally speaking it was smooth while we were down there. I loved the fact that we didn't have to use money for anything. Having it all connected to our bands was nice. We even accidentally got a free meal one night... I guess it was a glitch on their end, but it never charged through to our account.
*Nursing in Disney was no big deal! I was kind of nervous about it being time consuming and not knowing where I would go, but it just worked out fine.
*I really liked and would recommend the night flights. I was surprised how much I liked doing it that way.
*Art of Animation was a great value stay. Our suite perfectly fit our needs and the hotel had everything we needed... good food, alcohol, frequent buses, kids play ground, and a fun pool. Plus it didn't hurt that Ryan felt like he was living with some of his favorite characters.
*Next time I am going to book our trip based around crowd schedules, not weather or price. The level of the crowd directly effected our enjoyment of the day. So to me its worth it to go when its not super crowded.
And I think I am finally done.... those are alllllll the details of our fabulous trip! Mickey Mouse- We will be back again soon!