March 5, 2009

I waited too long . . .

. . . and I've started to forget some of the things I wanted to write down about Disney.

So, here's what I remember. Remember, this was just our experience . . . and while I hope it's helpful to you, it's mainly so I can look back and remember some of our thoughts the next time we plan a Disney vacation (and there will be a next time)! This is long (and there are lots of typos and grammatical errors . . . guaranteed) but I've thrown in some pictures to keep you entertained!
  • We stayed at one of the Disney All Star Resorts. It was pretty basic . . . but perfect for a short stay. We weren't in the room much, so it wouldn't have made much sense to spend more on a hotel room. If we were to stay longer, we'd probably do shorter days at the parks and stay in a moderate level resort since we'd be there more.

  • The two words that are most important to know for anyone visiting a Disney theme park: FAST PASS. They're free. They're convenient. If you don't get a fast pass, you're just wasting time standing in line. You can only get one at a time (or one every two hours, I guess), but it was so nice for the rides we had them for to just walk right on. We didn't get to the Magic Kingdom until Friday afternoon, but we grabbed a fast pass for Peter Pan right away. We hit a few other rides, and then grabbed a fast pass for Winnie the Pooh. We went to a few more rides, and were able to walk right on to Peter Pan and then Winnie the Pooh at the end of the day. It was so nice to end the day that way! There are quite a few sites that will help you plan a strategy for where to go first and which fast pass to get first. I'd recommend searching for those and developing a plan that works for you.

  • Bring a stroller! The lines for stroller rental were outrageous and the lines to return them were just as bad. Luckily, Kristi clued us into this on the first night we were there. Quite often, you have to park the stroller and walk to rides in the area, so make sure yours is marked, in case someone else has the same one. If you're flying and don't want to bring a stroller on the plane, buy a cheap umbrella stroller in Florida (thanks for that tip, too, Kristi)! Getting on and off the bus with it was a little cumbersome though . . . and we only have one child, which made it a little eaiser.

  • If we could do it all over again, we'd spend the extra $10 a night to have a refrigerator in the room. We would have kept milk, juice and fruit in there so that we wouldn't have to buy breakfast. Plus, Jack could have had his breakfast while we were getting ready, which would have kept him occupied and would have saved us some time and money.

  • Meals in the park are expensive, but not as bad as I thought they'd be. Probably a little cheaper that buying meals at Comerica Park. We ate lunch at Epcot in Mexico on our first day. All three of us ordered a kids meal (chicken & cheese quesadilla, nachos and a small drink or milk) and it was less than $5 each. Along with the snacks we brought with us, it was plenty. OR, you can share a meal because some of the adult meals were HUGE. If we were going to be there for 3 or 4 days, we would probably take advantage of one of their dining plans because it allows you to eat whatever you want. But if no one in your family is that big of an eater, it might be cheaper to just eat kids' meals all day!

    We ate breakfast at our resort on the last morning, and it was only $4 more than our breakfast at McDonald's the day before. Plus, it was healthier and more filling.

  • Epcot with a 20-month old
    • We went straight for the Finding Nemo ride. It was a little dark and I think Jack might have been clinging to us at times, but he seemed to enjoy it.
    • Turtle Talk with Crush would have been perfect if Jack were a little older, but he still enjoyed it. Kyle and I did too!
    • The Donald Duck ride in Mexico was, well, boring. But it was a great precursor to Jack's nap.
    • Jack fell asleep within seconds of getting in the stroller after the Donald Duck ride. So we walked around Epcot while he napped. Older children can get passports and have them stamped in each Epcot country. I would have liked this as a kid.

  • The Magic Kingdom with a 20 month old
    • Jack freaked out at the nighttime parade and completely lost it during the Mickey's Philharmagic Orhestra. So, if you have a younger child . . . or one that scares easily, beware. Also, we were front and center for both of these things, so it might have been less traumatic had we been a little farther back.
    • We all LOVED the afternoon Block Party Parade. Jack was mesmerized. It's one that we definitely won't miss when we go back. Here were the most successful rides/attractions:

      Pooh's Park
      Winnie the Pooh
      Jungle Safari
      Peter Pan
      It's a Small World (Jack kept saying "more, more" when this was over . . . which was the exact opposite of how Kyle and I were feeling)

  • Hollywood Studios with a 20 month old
    • Jack loved the 3:00 parade at Hollywood Studios. There are so many characters in it and it was a lot of fun. It's a must-see.
    • If your child watches Playhouse Disney (or even if he doesn't) this is a neat show. It would be even better if we didn't have to sit on the floor!
    • Hollywood Studios is the place to go to get pictures taken with characters! They were everywhere! Even the most obscure characters from movies that had just been released!

  • Animal Kingdom
    • At the Animal Kingdom, we got Fast Passes for the Safari Tour right away so that we were able to just walk on later. It says you shouldn't ride if you're pregnant, but I didn't have a problem. Just to be clear . . . I'm not advising anyone to ride pregnant, but I didn't see any reason why I wouldn't be able to handle it. It was like a really bumpy car ride. We did get to see a lot of the animals and it was really cool.
    • The Finding Nemo musical was fantastic. I was amazed and how well it was put together. Seriously amazing. Jack was mesmerized for the entire 30 minutes. And he was so excited to see all of the characters he knew from the movie.
    • The petting farm wasn't that great, but Jack talked all day about the train ride to the petting farm, so maybe there's something to be said for that!

1 comment:

Phil said...

LOVE to hear the report! Glad you guys had such a good time! I hope it was only like 2 incidents in before you guys finally said...'WHATEVER PHIL AND EMILY SAID...WE MUST DO THE OPPOSITE'...too funny! I guess all kids are truly different...the parade and philharmagic...we blew it for you guys!

although i will stand by my stroller strategy...we must've forgotten some sort of important detail or something :)

Glad you guys had such a great time! And you're so right about the need to just relax and make memories!