Hooked on Disney

If you weren’t able to pick up on it from my previous posts about our Disney trip, we had THE BEST TIME! We were seriously considering extending our stay and visiting another Disney park, but when we saw how much it would cost and how much we had already spent on food and stuff, we thought hmmmmm…better not. But before our trip, we were saying that we would wait at least a couple of years before going back, and now we’re trying to figure out how soon we can go back! Saxon has another year to get in the parks free, so we just might have to take advantage of that and go again next year.

I think Michael and I are just as in love with Disney as the kids are, and I think we all ended up enjoying our vacation even more than we expected to. No, it wasn’t perfect, and the kids had their grumpy moments, but the blissful moments far outweighed the frustrating ones. We were a little worried going into it about how much fun we’d be able to have with two little ones, especially with Saxon, but I think they both made it more fun. And there were even perks to having someone as young as Saxon in our party. We utilized “Rider Switch” on a lot of the rides he was too short to ride, so Rosen ended up getting to ride a lot of things twice while Michael and I took turns riding with her. If you plan it right, you can end up with almost double the Fastpass+ reservations.

We were also a little worried how Rosen would react to some of the more thrilling rides. In Magic Kingdom, she was tall enough to ride everything but Space Mountain, so we were hoping that she’d be brave enough to ride everything she could—and she was! We were absolutely shocked how much she liked the roller coasters. She was begging to ride each ride again, and thankfully with the Rider Switch passes, she was able to.

Since I didn’t take any photos on rides with my big camera, I made a bunch of still shots from our GoPro videos. Thankfully Michael was filming pretty much every moment of our trip, so there was a lot of good footage to work with. He captured so many amazing clips, and caught some of the kids’ amazing reactions to the rides and characters. Below is just a little sampling:

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One little regret I have is not stopping to take more photos around the park. Most of the shots I got on my big camera are from character greetings. Like I said before, we got a lot of GoPro footage, and I’m very grateful for that because it captured most of the action. But one shot in particular I’m pretty bummed I didn’t get was a family shot of us on Main Street with Cinderella’s Castle in the background. I saved it for the second half of our last day when there ended up being a torrential downpour, so we weren’t able to get it. We also moved so quickly from ride to ride and wanted to fit in as much as possible, so we only stopped a few times for photos. Plus, taking the kids out of the stroller for photos always seemed like a pain. Michael and I both usually had our phones handy though, so we got a lot of snapshots that way, too. Here’s another little sampling of those photos:

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We still ended up with HUNDREDS of photos from our trip, so I really can’t complain, but since I’m pretty photo-obsessed, I’m sure I’ll always want more. We didn’t buy Disney’s Memory Maker photo package since we were only visiting Magic Kingdom, but we will definitely buy it on our next trip since we’ll probably visit more parks. We still ended up with lots of photos in our account from rides and character greetings, but I still don’t think it was enough to justify the cost this trip, especially since I captured all the character greetings on my own camera. We did end up buying a couple of digital downloads from rides and the family shot with Chip & Dale I previously posted.

Like I mentioned before, we kept up a fast pace throughout our trip, and had a pretty extensive itinerary. I did a lot of research leading up to the trip and wanted to make a plan that would work well with little ones, and allow us to do as much as possible, but still left plenty of wiggle room. I think all that research and planning benefited us really well, but as I’ve alluded to before, things didn’t always go as planned. For instance, it rained like crazy the second half of our last day in Magic Kingdom so we had to rearrange things a little bit, but it still ended up being an awesome time. We ended up on a few attractions that we probably wouldn’t have done if it hadn’t rained, and they were a lot of fun. We also got to fit in some more rides when the Electrical Parade was postponed due to the weather, and we got to catch the parade a little later that evening when the rain died down from a much better viewing spot than we would have had if it hadn’t rained. And we got to end the night with a magical moment being on the Magic Carpets of Aladdin when the fireworks started, which gave us a fantastic view.

I think that’s one of the great things about Disney. Rain can’t stop the fun, and there’s always something else to do if something doesn’t work out at a particular time. I could go on and on about everything I think is great about Disney, but this post is already long enough. Suffice it to say we’re all hooked on Disney World now, and can’t wait to go back!

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“A portrait of each of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

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Rosen: We’re now in her last week of summer vacation, so we’re trying to fit in a little more fun this week. I love that a trip to the library was one of the things she requested to do. I know not every kid enjoys the library. I hope she always has a love of books.

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Saxon: He always enjoys our trips to the library as well. I think he just loves walking up and down the aisles of books and climbing on the furniture, but he will actually sit for a few minutes and flip through books or let me read to him.

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for the 52 Project.

Disney World 2015 – Day 3 – Magic Kingdom

We had a feeling our second day in Magic Kingdom was going to be even better than the first, and it was! Of course being well-rested had a lot to do with it. Both kids were very excited to get back in the park, and I’m sure it helped that they knew more of what to expect.

This particular day was an Extra Magic Hour day, so we got to enter the park an hour early since we were staying in a Disney hotel (Pop Century Resort). We were planning on taking the bus from our hotel like we had done before, but when we got to the bus stop, there were enough people waiting to fill at least 3 buses, so we made the quick decision to drive instead, and after driving, we wondered why we ever took the bus in the first place. Since we arrived so early with the Extra Magic Hour, we got a great parking spot. We decided to just take the bus back during nap time and drive back at the end of the day so we could keep that great spot.

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The extra hour in the morning was really awesome. There were still a lot of people there, but we were able to ride several rides in the first hour with almost no wait, so it was really nice. We headed straight for Tomorrowland and knocked out Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Astro Orbiter, and Tomorrowland Speedway. Rosen was very proud of the driver’s license she earned on that attraction.

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Next we headed over to “it’s a small world,” which we all loved, but Rosen in particular thought it was basically the greatest thing ever.

That completed our Extra Magic Hour so we headed over to Liberty Square for the Haunted Mansion. Rosen was a little nervous throughout the whole thing, but she didn’t hate it. It’s one of Michael’s favorites though, so we tried to get a photo afterward, but as you can see, the kids weren’t too into it.

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On our way to our next attraction, we spotted Chip & Dale and there was a short line, so we decided to meet them. Seeing the kids basically run and jump into their arms was the cutest thing ever.

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And we got another family pic…YAY!

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After that, we headed to Frontierland where Michael and I took turns riding Big Thunder Mountain with Rosen, and then Michael and Rosen rode Splash Mountain. I got a Rider Switch pass for that, but didn’t have time to use it until later in the day because we needed to make our lunch reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table.

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This lunch was definitely much anticipated. Rosen was thrilled to be able to meet some of her favorite princesses, and she even dressed up in her Anna dress for the occasion.

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We met Cinderella on our way in, and then got to meet Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, and Jasmine as they came around to each table. It was a real treat for our princess-loving girl! I’m pretty sure Saxon enjoyed seeing all the pretty ladies too 😉 .

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After lunch, we headed back to the hotel, and thankfully this time both kids napped!

When we headed back to the park, Rosen and I went to meet Anna and Elsa, which was another huge event for Rosen. I could tell she actually got kind of nervous, but she was so thrilled to meet them both.

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After that, we headed back over to Splash Mountain so I could ride with Rosen, and then we got dinner nearby at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe. While we were eating it started pouring rain outside, and not just a passing Florida shower. We headed over to the Country Bear Jamboree since we couldn’t do much else in the downpour. It was a cute little show though.

Since it didn’t look like the rain was going to let up anytime soon, we donned our ponchos and covered the stroller in one as well, and made the trek across the park to Tomorrowland because we had more fast passes for Space Mountain. Michael is beyond obsessed with that ride. I’m sure part of it is the nostalgic factor from riding it as a kid, but he thinks it’s the greatest thing ever. I enjoyed it too, but I don’t think his love for it can be matched.

Anyway, we walked through ankle-deep water to get there, but it was worth it because there was a lot we could do in that area in the rain. We first took a ride on the PeopleMover, and then I headed to Space Mountain while the kids and Michael continued to ride the PeopleMover. When it was Michael’s turn to ride, the kids and I went to the Carousel of Progress. Rosen was surprisingly riveted by the attraction, but I had to let Saxon watch videos on my phone to get through it.

After all of that, the rain finally started to let up, so we headed to Main Street to find a spot for the Electrical Parade. Saxon chowed down on some popcorn while we waited for it to start.

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The parade ended up getting postponed due to the weather, so we went to ride “it’s a small world” again because Rosen had been relentlessly begging to ride it a second time.

After that, we started heading through Frontierland to get to the Jungle Cruise and saw that the parade had started. We were able to watch it as it came through Frontierland, where basically no one was, so the kids got a lot of attention from the characters and dancers as they passed by.

After the parade it was nearly 10:00PM, but the kids still seemed open to fitting in a couple more rides that we missed earlier. We rode the Jungle Cruise and then the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, which ended up being really magical because the fireworks had begun, and we had a great view from the top of the ride. It was like a scene out of the movie!

After that, we decided to head home and we watched the fireworks as we made our way out of the park. It was the perfect ending to our day! I’m still amazed we were able to fit in so much. We actually rode everything we wanted to ride and more! We left the park very happy :-)

I’ll probably end up writing one more post to wrap up the trip, so stay tuned!

Disney World 2015 – Day 2 – Chef Mickey’s & Downtown Disney

Wednesday was our designated rest day in between our park days. We still had a few things planned, but it was nice to not have to rush out of our hotel room first thing in the morning to make it to the park at opening.

We didn’t have anything planned until brunch at 10:30. It would have been nice to be able to sleep in, but that’s still a foreign concept for my kids. Anyway, that gave us some time to visit the hotel playground, where Michael and I were able to sit and enjoy some coffee while the kids played.

For brunch, we had reservations at Chef’s Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which was another character dining experience. Mickey, Minnie, and the whole gang made their way around to each table while we dined. We didn’t attempt to meet any of those characters while we were in the park the day before, so this was our kids’ first time meeting them, and let me tell you, it was a BIG deal. Rosen was most excited to meet Minnie, but she (and Saxon) got giddy with each character.

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We didn’t manage to get any family pictures the day before while we were in the park, so I was happy to get our first one together here, even though it does look really forced.

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Rosen and Saxon loved the buffet of breakfast goodies. Rosen still ate like a bird here, just like she did the whole trip, but the sweets caught her eye. She was all about macaroni and cheese on this vacation, and that’s pretty much the only thing she wanted to eat, besides dessert. I don’t know if it was some type of comfort thing for her or what, but she was unusually picky the whole time.

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Once the characters started coming around, the kids were in heaven yet again.

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Rosen was chosen to dance with Donald when all the characters started dancing and swinging around their napkins.

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We all really enjoyed Chef Mickey’s. Getting to spend time with each of the characters without having to wait in line in the park definitely makes it worth the price!

And we still managed to go on a “ride” that day, even though we weren’t in the park. After Chef Mickey’s, we rode the Monorail loop, which Rosen thought was a ride, and stopped at the Grand Floridian Hotel. The kids ended up picking out their souvenirs in their gift shop. Rosen picked an Elsa doll, and Saxon got a remote controlled Monorail. Their grandparents gave them money to buy something on the trip, and it had been burning a hole in Rosen’s pocket since we arrived.

That evening, we headed to Downtown Disney for dinner and a little shopping.

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It was a fun place to walk around and shop. I found a cute Disney World ornament for our Christmas tree to commemorate our trip.

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We had dinner there at T-Rex Cafe, which was a dinosaur themed restaurant with animatronic dinosaurs that move and roar. Rosen was a little leery of the place at first and thought it was too loud, but she loosened up pretty quickly.

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There was a meteor shower every 15 minutes when all the animals go nuts, and both kids thought that was pretty cool.

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It was our first and only opportunity to have an adult beverage while we were on vacation, so we took advantage.

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After dinner, we walked around a little more before catching the bus back to our hotel.

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The slower pace of the day was much needed after our first day in the park, and it was a fun way to gear up for our next day back at Magic Kingdom!

Disney World 2015 – Day 1 – Magic Kingdom

After months and months of anticipation, we got to spend last week at Disney World. We drove down Monday and stayed through Friday. The 6.5-hour drive wasn’t too bad either way. Thankfully the kids were pretty content watching movies on the iPad, and napping for a good chunk of the time.

We decided to make this trip as easy as possible since we have two little ones who need to nap. Since we’d have to go back to the hotel each afternoon so they could rest, we knew we wouldn’t be able to see all of Magic Kingdom in one day. We decided to spend Tuesday and Thursday in Magic Kingdom, and have a bit of a “rest” day on Wednesday, which ended up being pretty busy with our character lunch and then the evening spent in Downtown Disney. Anyways, we opted not to visit any other parks this trip. We hope this will be the first of many trips to Disney over the coming years, so we weren’t too aggressive about seeing everything in this one trip.

So, this post will cover our first day in Magic Kingdom, and I’ll do a couple more posts over the coming days to cover the rest.

Our first day in the park started off a little rocky because the kids (and consequently, Michael and I) slept horribly. Saxon does not do well sleeping in new places. A little caffeine was all that the hubby and I needed to get going, but the kids were a little grumpy until we made it to our first ride.

We got to the park as soon as it opened, so we were able to enjoy a lot of rides with a very minimal wait time. I think the longest we waited our entire trip was 15 minutes, and we rode pretty much every ride in the park. Fastpass+ is pure genius.

Anyway, our first ride was the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The kids had a lot of fun in the interactive queue.

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I don’t think Saxon really understood that rides have to end and you can’t just stay on them as long as you want. After the first few rides, he threw pretty big fits every time we had to get off. Thankfully he usually got distracted easily with there being so much to see and do.

After Pooh, Rosen got to ride her first rollercoaster, the Barnstormer, two times. While Michael and Rosen were doing that, I took Saxon over to the little splash play area, which I had an incredibly hard time dragging him away from when it was time to move on. He loves playing in the water!

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Next, we rode The Journey of the Little Mermaid, and then had our first Fastpass+ reservation for Enchanted Tales with Belle. We all adored that attraction. Rosen got to participate in the show (she was a salt shaker), and was able to meet Belle and take a photo with her.

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Next up, we had a lunch reservation at Be Our Guest. Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favorites, so I was pretty excited to eat in the Beast’s castle. The kids weren’t crazy about sitting still to eat, which was definitely due to lack of sleep. We ended up letting Saxon watch YouTube videos on my phone to keep him still, which we don’t usually have to do at home. It was still a great experience and the food was yummy. It’s quick service at lunch, so thankfully we didn’t have to spend a lot of time there.

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After lunch, we had a Fastpass+ for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Rosen and Michael rode it first, and then she got to ride again with me. We learned that Rosen has very little fear when it comes to rides. She held her arms up throughout the whole ride! She’s definitely a big rollercoaster fan now.

Our last stop before nap time was Prince Charming’s Carousel. I think that ride ended up being one of Saxon’s favorites.

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On our way out of the park, we caught the Move It Shake It Street Party on Main Street, so we stopped to watch that. It was really cute and quick, and the kids got to see a few characters, so I’m glad we were able to catch it.

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Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the kids to nap, so we made the trip all the way back to the hotel for nothing. We decided to just go ahead and head back to the park and hope that maybe they’d take a stroller nap.

So back at the park, we went to meet one of Rosen’s favorites, Tinker Bell. She is obsessed with all the Tinker Bell movies, so she was very excited to meet her. You could tell Saxon was very excited as well. I think he might have a little crush 😉

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Next, we had a Fastpass+ reservation for Peter Pan’s Flight, which was another family favorite. Then we headed to our dinner reservation at the Crystal Palace, which was a character dining experience with Winnie the Pooh friends, so the kids were beyond ecstatic. The excitement of seeing each character visit our table kept those sleep-deprived little ones happy. Although, we did have a little moment with Saxon while we were waiting to be seated. He got mad that he couldn’t walk around and let out a pretty powerful scream. He definitely looked like that kid, and we were those parents—the ones who make strangers shake their heads and wonder if anyone disciplines their kids anymore. But like I said, once the characters starting coming, everyone was happy.

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After dinner, Saxon FINALLY took a stroller nap, so Rosen and I rode the teacups, and then we headed to Tomorrowland, where Michael and I took turns riding Space Mountain with our last Fastpass+ reservation of the day. Rosen and I also rode Stitch’s Great Escape. After that, we snagged one more Fastpass+ for Dumbo.

At around 7:30PM, Rosen was completely done since she hadn’t slept all day, so we ended up leaving the park earlier than we planned. We were fine with it though since we still accomplished so much and we knew we still had another day to catch all the nighttime festivities.

Even though I probably made it sound like a really frustrating day, it was actually still really great. We knew the grumpiness and behavioral issues were just from lack of sleep, so it didn’t bother us too much, and the kids still had SO MUCH FUN during everything we did. Seeing their faces light up over and over again all day long was pretty amazing. And Michael and I are pretty big Disney geeks too, so our excitement rivaled the kids’ throughout the whole trip. And…spoiler alert…we all slept well the rest of the trip and the kids were much better the next few days!

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“A portrait of each of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

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Rosen: Even on vacation, we can’t escape the playground. We spent last week at Disney World, and even with everything else there is to do, the kids were still drawn to the hotel playground.

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Saxon: He’s such a boy. He’s always got to pick up and throw sand, dirt, rocks, etc.

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for the 52 Project.

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I’ve got tons of Disney photos to share over the coming week, so stay tuned!

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“A portrait of each of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

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Rosen: We’ve been to a few splash pads and play fountains this summer, and Rosen has never enjoyed them until this past week. I don’t know what was different about this particular time, but she was going nuts. We ended up staying for about 1.5 hours, which is a pretty long time for my two!

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Saxon: He’s always been a fan of water, so this time was no different. It always brings a smile to his face! It was nice that there were pretty much only preschool aged kids and younger since all the schools around here are back in session. It made for a less stressful visit, that’s for sure!

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for the 52 Project.

The rest of the photos from the day…

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