This is not my typical blog post about our adventures in the outdoors, but I wanted to share our recent trip with my followers. In the beginning of May my family and I took our first big family vacation. A trip to Disney World in Florida. I have been to Disney World several times in my childhood and young adult years. With that being said the last time I visited was about 11 years ago, as you can imagine a lot has changed since then. This past year we have been planning our trip and I could not do it without the help of an amazing Travel Agent, Rachel with Middle of The Magic Travel . She booked everything for us except our flight, gave us great suggestions and was able to change reservations and assist even during our vacation. Below are some highlights from our trip.
Hotel: When deciding on a hotel we went back and forth between a few different options. Since it was our daughter’s first time to Disney and we knew we would not be spending a lot of time at the hotel we opted for for one of the lower cost hotels.
We chose Pop-Century and we were happy with our choice. The decor was fun and reminded my husband and I of our childhoods. Our room was directly across from one of the three pools. We found that the pool in the middle of the resort was the most busy and we were at one of the ends, which was quieter. Our room was small with a queen bed and a queen murphy bed, but enough of room for the three of us. There was no microwave in the room, but there was a refrigerator. The buses to the park ran roughly every 15-20 minutes. There was a decent food service area, gift shop and the staff were very helpful and pleasant. If you chose not to have your room cleaned every day you could get $10 a day in Disney gift cards. You can still ask for extra towels if needed.
Below I am going to provide highlights of each park we visited. We did a lot more than noted, but these are the rides, shows, food, etc that stood out the most.
Rides: Space Ship Earth, Soarin, Test Track
Food: My husband and I could eat and drink around Epcot, but we realized with a child this is not as much fun. We had a character meal at Garden Grill, which was pretty good. My husband got a beer and pretzel in Germany.
There is a nice boat ride from Epcot to Hollywood Studio’s and other hotels, which is worth taking to see another part of Disney.
We actually did not spend a lot of time in Epcot, as it was not our daughters favorite and she was not as entertained there.
This was the longest bus time wait we had from our hotel and back. I think the longest we waited was 25-30 minutes so not too bad.
The best part for me was watching my daughter’s face when we turned the corner and saw Cinderella’s Castle. The smile on her face and her eyes lit up made the whole trip worth it.
Rides: Splash Mountain (will get really wet), Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. My daughter (age 9) was very excited about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but after the ride she felt it was not fast enough and was more for younger kids, like six or under.
Food: Cinnamon Rolls at Gaston’s Tavern and we got a Dole whip near splash mountain. We also had breakfast one morning at Be Our Guest. I highly recommend ordering first. The food was fair, but the decor was cool and you felt like you were in the Beast’s Castle.
Shows: Laugh Floor, Mickey’s Philharmonic and there is a parade on Main Street that is worth seeing. There was actually more opportunities for photo’s before the parade as the photographers had signs for things like first visit and celebrating.
Rides: Expedition Everest, Kali River Journey, Navi River, Kilamajaro Safari, Avatar Flight of Passage (We got to ride this twice, once with a fast past and another we waiting in line for 50 minutes, which isn’t too bad for this ride).
Food: Quick Service at Satuli Canteen and Sit Down at Yak and Yeti.
Shows: It’s Tough to be a Bug, River of Lights at night.
It is worth it to walk around Pandora at night. It all lit up is beautiful.
This park feels cooler because there is a lot of shade and you are not in the direct sunlight during the day.
Rides: Slinky Dog Dash, Star Tours (I got really motion sick, but my husband and daughter rode it several times). My daughter unfortunately was not ready for Tower of Terror or Rockin Rollar Coaster.
Shows: Indiana Jones, Muppet Vison 3D, March of the First Order, Galaxy Far Far Away, Galactic Spectacular, Fantasmic
Character Dinner at Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge was great, probably our favorite meal.
The Photo Pass was well worth the money, we were able to get a lot of great family and ride photo’s
Our fast pass time was usually little quicker than it said in the beginning.
After your 3rd fast pass of the day you can get a 4th one.
We did the 2 snacks, 1 quick service and 1 sit down meal plan for our family. Towards the end of the week we had a lot of snacks left over and ended up buying stuff to take home. I feel we got more than our money’s worth as most of our sit down meals were $100-$200 a night.
We carried a backpack with our Yeti Water Bottles and filled them with ice and water at the hotel and filled them up along the way as needed. This was a big money saver as we drank a lot of water. The only places we found to fill out our water bottles in the parks were water fountains. We never had any issue with drinking out of them.
A battery pack charger for your phone is a necessity. The My Disney Experience app can eat up a lot of your battery.
I recommend bringing a cooling cloth. With it being in the high 80’s and low 90’s with humidity it would have been nice to have.
We liked having the Park Hopper Pass as we did jump between the parks a few days.
Schedule afternoon downtime to head back to your hotel to enjoy the pool and relax. We walked an average of 15,000-25,000 steps a day totaling about 43 miles for 5 days. A couple afternoons we went back to the hotel to relax for a couple hours before dinner and our evening shows which helped all of us recharge.
Even though the parks were very busy for the most part people were not rude and the staff was very friendly and we never felt frustrated waiting in lines or the large crowds. A couple times we had off duty Cast Members who were in front of us. When we were waiting in line for Flight of Passage an off duty cast member kept our daughter busy and gave us a lot of back ground about Disney, she was pretty great.
Food: I was not super impressed by the food. We tend to eat a lot of farm to table, New England fresh organic food. For the amount of people that Disney serves the food was decent, but nothing really wowed us except for Artist Point at Wilderness Lodge. We never felt sick from any of the food we ate, which is always a good thing when it is hot and there is a lot of people around.
My husband and I were very thankful and glad we waited until our daughter was 9. We feel she was able to truly experience the joy and magic of Disney. There were no meltdowns. She was able to handle all the walking, waiting in lines (which is a lot) and experience the variety of foods. She was able to get up around 7-8 in the morning and go to bed around 11-12pm and still be able to function the next day with out issue. When planning a trip to Disney keep in mind your child’s ability to handle heat, a lot of walking, waiting in long lines and being in crowds of people. Disney World is not a cheap trip and you want it to be memorable.
My last bit of advice is if it is your first or second time or you have not been in a while I highly recommend a travel agent. There are so many in and outs of Disney and it can be very overwhelming. I was very thankful for Rachel at Middle of Magic Travel.
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