Posts Tagged ‘going to Disneyworld’

A Day of Firsts

Day 1 at Disney World and we had to visit Magic Kingdom first. When you have young kids Magic Kingdom has to be your first stop. It will probably be one of the resorts we visit more than once on our current trip.

We’ve actually visited Disney World a few times, I think six times, but even with all those visits there are still things we haven’t seen or done. Today was actually a day of a few firsts. Today we checked out Country Bear Jamboree, a show we’ve never seen before. Similar to the Enchanted Tiki Room, this is more an attraction that you sit in an air-conditioned room to watch a themed animal animatronics show. The kids seemed to like it, I felt it was a little dated, especially some of the songs, though I’m sure my six-year old son will start singing the song ‘Blood on the Ground’. Probably not a show we’ll see again (unlike Enchanted Tiki Room which we have to see every time we visit) but I’m glad we did see it; I’m glad we had the chance to try something new at Disney.

We also tried Splash Mountain for the first time, especially after we found out our three-year old met the height restrictions, just. barely. Usually the stand-by wait for Splash Mountain has been up to 1.5 hours but when we walked by it was only 15 minutes. Everyone loved it. Yes we got wet, not too wet but wet enough. And once wasn’t enough; we went on two more times. If given the chance the kids would have kept going on but there were some other rides we wanted to hit before heading back to the hotel.

Since this was our youngest daughter’s big ride, just passing the height requirement, she received her Splash Mountain pin. (The kids like to participate in pin trading, but we also buy a few select pins on each visit, like for the resort we’re staying at and a specific ride pin that really means something to each child on that trip).

My six-year old son’s favourite roller coaster is Thunder Run; he experienced for the first time last year. So this year my eight-year old daughter convinced him that he should try her favourite roller coaster, Space Mountain. He sat in the car between me and my daughter. While we whipped around I asked if he liked it and he said ‘no’. Oh dear. I could say close your eyes and it will pass but the ride takes place in the dark so that wouldn’t accomplish much. As the ride continued he started screaming but not ‘get me off this ride before I jump’. No it was ‘this is awesome’. At the end of the ride I asked how he liked it and he said he loved it. After his initial fear of the lap restraint not holding him in, he relaxed and really loved it. He loved it so much he went again. So he earned his Space Mountain badge.

I love that a visit to Disney World means we can visit the attractions and rides we love but that we always find something new to try; a new resort, ride, food. It makes it a great new experience every time.

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Things my Kids Want to do at Disney World

Not that I’m too obsessed about my distant trip to Disney World (it’s four months away) but my contribution to Oh Amanda’s Top 10 Tuesday list Is Disney focused, again.

Last week I listed 10 things I have yet to do at Disney but plan on doing this coming trip. But what I want to do might be, okay will be, very different from what is on my kids list I’m sure. So I thought I’d ask the kids and below is the Top 10 things on their Disney list (in no particular order).

  1. Tower of Terror. This is my 8-year-old’s favorite ride. If she could only ride one ride, Tower of Terror would be it. My daughter doesn’t just ride this ride; she’s the one sitting in the front with her arms high in the air (while I have a white knuckle grip on the seat).
  2. Indiana Stunt Show. My 5-year-old son loves adventure; he thinks he’s Indiana Jones reincarnated. It doesn’t matter how many times he watches this show, each time he stares wide-eyed in awe. I think he secretly hopes to be picked as one of the volunteer extras.
  3. Dinner with Cinderella. My 3-year-old is still very much into princesses so what could be better than having dinner with Cinderella herself.
  4. The Enchanted Tiki Room. I blame this on the family; we love tikis (did you see our display in our second bathroom). So it comes as no surprise that all 3 of my kids enjoy The Tiki Room.
  5. Winnie the Pooh Honey Pots. My 3-year-old loves this ride ‘It’s like riding in Winnie the Pooh’s nightmare‘. Okay, that doesn’t really sound fun but this is still one of her favourite rides.
  6. Test Track. My adventurous 5-year-old would wait in line for 2-hours (and he has) just to ride this. His favourite part of course is the final super speed ring at the end. Even when it’s raining and the rain drops sting your face as you whip by them isn’t enough to deter him from going on this ride.
  7. Toy Story Mania. The first time we went on this ride was on our visit to Disneyland in California so we’re all looking forward to riding this one in Disney World. My husband has already said he plans to run to the FastPass booth as soon as we walk into the gate in order to get on. The last trip to Disney World we went to pick-up FastPasses but the return time was 9:30 p.m. (based on grabbing passes at 10 a.m.). We have since bought the Wii game version but it will never replace going on the ride.
  8. Popcorn. Every time we enter one of Disney World‘s theme parks, usually Magic Kingdom, the first thing my 8-year-old asks for is popcorn, from one of those vendor carts. Yah, I know it’s not special popcorn (though sometimes you can get it in special boxes) but that doesn’t deter my daughter. Having popcorn when she enters the park is now a tradition for her.
  9. Haunted Mansion. I remember the first time we went on this ride, the kids were terrified, not knowing what to expect. But as soon as the ride ended they wanted to go back on again and again. The kids love to ride in a car by themselves and scare each other. The ride isn’t more fun than scary but they’re hooked. The ride moves quickly and sometimes you will find very little line which usually means we end up riding it 3 or 4 times in a row. Of course my favourite version of Haunted Mansion is the Nightmare Before Christmas treatment they do in Disneyland (I had a chance to see it for my birthday last year).
  10. Space Mountain. As soon as my 8-year-old was big enough to ride the roller coasters, Space Mountain was her first pick and what a pick. She loves riding in the very first car and screams her head of in complete excitement (remember, she rides the Tower of Terror hands free).

I’m sure there are more things my kids could add to their list but if limited to just 10 things, these would be them.

What are your favourite things to do at Disney World?

Top 10 Tuesday: 10 Things I Plan To Do In Disney World

In case you missed my exuberant tweets yesterday, I just booked our family summer holiday. We’re off to Disney World! This isn’t our first trip to Disney World but even with that said there are a number of things I have yet to do. Perfect for this week’s Top 10 Tuesday post (a meme started by Oh Amanda, here are the 10 things I plan to do in Disney World this summer:

  1. Enjoy a pineapple drink (or two). We’re staying at the Polynesian for the first time but we’ve eaten there before at O’Hana‘s. They have these amazing cocktails that are served in a large hollowed out pineapple. What can I say, I’m a sucker for kitsch.
  2. Enjoy the hotel pool. Every one of the Disney World hotels we’ve stayed at have had great swimming pools but usually we’re so busy running around that we never use them. This trip I want to make sure to enjoy some down time at the pool.
  3. Eat the Kitchen Sink. No I’m not trying to go for a Guinness record or make-up for an iron deficiency by eating a sink. No, I’m talking about a huge ice-cream sundae with sauce 8 scoops of ice-cream, a whole can of whipped cream, cake, cookies, sprinkles and more served in a small sink. You have to see this video to really appreciate it in all it’s glory. I’ve talked about having one every time we’ve gone but have never made it out to the Beaches and Cream Ice Cream Parlour. Hopefully this year will be different.
  4. Go on Splash Mountain. I think we’ve been on every ride at Magic Kingdom at least once. Every ride but one. We’ve never been on Splash Mountain. I’m not sure why really. Maybe the kids didn’t want to get wet. Perhaps it wasn’t that warm out. Maybe the line was too long. Whatever the reason, I think this year we need to hit this ride at least once.
  5. Stay up to watch the fireworks. There are some amazing fireworks shows at Disney World, so I’ve been told. But as is the nature of fireworks, the shows need to run at night. And with 3 young kids who are used to going to bed at 8p.m. without adding all the walking and excitement of a theme park, staying up late has been difficult. If we can’t make it over to the park, perhaps we’ll be able to watch them from the hotel (I think you can see them from the Polynesian).
  6. Eat a Dole Whip (or two). There are many great places to eat at Disney World, besides the restaurants. I love picking up a turkey leg at the cart vendors and fresh fruit is always nice but my favourite snack in Magic Kingdom is the Dole Whip. I am disappointed they’ve altered it with pineapple ice-cream. The original vanilla ice-cream with pineapple sauce was the best. These things are big enough to share too, so my kids have told me every time I’ve bought one.
  7. Try not to push the kids. We’re only down in Disney World for a week. That sounds like a lot of time but considering the amount of things you can do, the week really does go by quickly. In the past we’ve tried to fill our day to the brim with stuff. The only time we were at the hotel would be to change or sleep. I found by the end of the week the kids would be cranky as would I. This year I want to enjoy the parks, but I also want to hang out at the pool or linger over dinner or walk around Downtown Disney or even just hang out in the room and watch some wonderful cable TV. This year I want to add a little relaxing into our vacation. Maybe it will make our week feel longer too.
  8. Eat at a restaurant I haven’t been too before (at least once). After I booked the hotel, making our dinner reservations was the next thing on my list. We have a few favourites that we wanted to secure right away so as to not be disappointed, like O’Hana‘s and dinner with Cinderella. But there are so many other great restaurants Disney World has to offer and we as a family love food. This year I wanted to try at least one new restaurant. I tried to get into Le Cellier but I couldn’t get a dinner spot for the entire week. I guess it is as good as they say. So this year we’re trying Edo in Epcot. My kids love all sorts of food, including Japanese. And when I discovered they cook right in front of you, I thought the kids would really enjoy that too. I still have lunches to fill so maybe I’ll find something new to try then too.
  9. Have a spa treatment. I’m not big on going to the spa but when I have gone for a message or something I really enjoy it and think to myself that I should do that more often. I never do of course. So what a perfect time to treat myself. Maybe a little mud and feather bath a-la Donald Duck or perhaps a cheese rub a-la Mickey or maybe just a good old fashion message.
  10. Get at least a few (good) pictures of me on vacation. I love taking pictures. I don’t go anywhere without my camera and love to capture my kids during holidays, special events or just being kids. But being the picture taker has it’s draw backs, like not being in any of the pictures. If I look back at our past trips there are very few pictures of me. When my kids are grown and looking back at childhood photos, they’re going to wonder if I was ever there. I think I’ll make a consorted effort to turn my camera over to someone else to take a few pictures, be that my husband, the waitress, a stranger or Disney’s PhotoPass Photographers.

Our trip is months away; my list will probably grow and change up to that moment. I’ll keep you posted if I actually achieve everything on my list.

If you were going to Disney World, what would be on your list to do?

Mickey’s Very Merry Rainy Christmas Party

So we arrived on a rainy Friday afternoon to Disney. Our plan was to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party that night. This was great since we didn’t plan to go to the park that night; we’d now have some extra time in Magic Kingdom. 

Of course it didn’t help that the plane was an hour late arriving so by the time we arrived at the hotel we had to head out to Magic Kingdom. My two youngest were tired from the travels and with their colds we thought it best not to take them out to the park in the rain. 

So it was my seven-year old and myself. It wasn’t that busy but I think the rain kept most people away. It rained off and on all night. Mickey’s ‘Once Upon a Christmas Time Parade’ runs twice during the night so we decided to wait for the second show and hit the park. We shopped for pins and holiday hats. We also grabbed our FREE cookies, apple slices, hot cocoa and apple juice. There were a number of fun activities for kids throughout the park like signing a Christmas card for Santa, pretending to walk the plank, bowling and more. At one point the rain stopped and I actually packed the rain ponchos in my bag. But as we rode Thunder Run roller coaster the rain came back. And a light shower feels pretty sharp when it hits you whizzing around on a coaster. 

A little rain doesn't stop my daughter

Signing a Christmas Card for Santa

One of the many marked snack stops in the park

Enjoying unlimited cocoa and cookies

We were starting to get pretty wet at this point (it’s a good thing the other two kids didn’t come out). My daughter wanted to go but I convinced her to hang out a little longer to catch the ‘Holiday Wishes – Celebrate the Spirit of the Season’ fireworks show. She was glad we stayed; it was pretty spectacular. We hoped to catch the second showing of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, but they decided to cancel it due to rain. I should point out this was the one moment when it actually wasn’t raining. 

Waiting in the rain for the fireworks to start

Fireworks...

...fireworks...

...fireworks...

...fireworks...

...and more fireworks

It was cold and wet so we didin’t get to enjoy the party as much as I hoped but my daughter and I still had a great time. Hopefully we’ll be able to attend sometime in the future when the weather isn’t so disappointing.

I love Disneyland but…

You may be aware that I made a trip to Disneyland this past Halloween in celebration of my birthday. I’ve been to Disney World a few times but this would be my first time to Disneyland, where it all began. It was kind of exciting.

I had a great time but Disneyland isn’t the same as Disney World and I’m not just talking weather or size. In my opinion, the only connection Disneyland has to Disney is the name. The things I love about Disney World weren’t part of my Disneyland experience or at least they weren’t that obvious:

**** Photo Pass ****

At Disney World there are PhotoPass photographers throughout the park, at all parks. They take pictures of you at key locations and save them on your PhotoPass card which you can order from later. They’re usually super kind enough to take pictures of you with your own camera too. We’ve never really taken advantage of the PhotoPass photographers but on this trip, probably my only trip to Disneyland, I had decided to get photos at every spot I could and order a CD with all the pictures. As the family photographer in our house I’m not in many family vacation shots, so having a collection of pictures of my family AND me would have been great.

Problem of course, the PhotoPass photographers were nowhere to be found (I think we had one picture taken). Even during the special Mickey’s Not So Scary  Halloween Trick or Treat party they weren’t there. So needless to say I have very few family shots from this trip.

trading

Shhh...pin negotiating in progress

**** Pin Trading ****

Our kids were first introduced to pin trading during out last trip to Disney World and they loved it, especially my seven-year old daughter. All three of my kids have pin trading books at home and they plan which sets they want to collect and have an amazing time trading with the staff.

In Disney World you can’t pass a staff person without a sash of pins up for trading; even those cleaning up in the stores have these on. In Disneyland we were hard pressed to find anyone with pins to trade. On our Disney World trip the kids went through almost 100 pins in one week; in Disneyland we were lucky to have traded 10 pins. A bit of a disappointment.

cinder3

Then she met the real Cinderella

**** Costumed Characters ****

My youngest was so excited about going to Disneyland. On the plane ride there (two planes actually) all she talked about was seeing Mickey and Cinderella and the other characters. In Disney World there are designated areas to see certain characters, but walking around the parks we would see Captain Hook or  Buzz Lightyear or Chip and Dale walking around, waiting to greet people. Our whole trip we saw Goofy and Minnie Mouse and that was it (though there were more characters at the Halloween Party).

**** For the little Princesses/Princes ****

My first trip to Disney World, years ago, the first thing that struck me was how much the people in the parks focused on the kids. They talked to them. They called them princess and prince. The kids are the focus and parents second, which is what I want for a trip to Disney. This has stuck with me and is one of my favourite things about Disney World; something that I thought was  a Disney trait. But in Disneyland this isn’t the case. Sadly I didn’t feel a lot of Disney magic in the park.

I think my husband said it best:  Disney World is a destination. Disneyland is only a theme park.

And I think he’s right. Visiting Disneyland was just like visiting Wonderland or Six Flags but with the Disney name attached.

The big advantage to Disneyland is it’s size; it’s much smaller and easier to get around and to the other parks. Disneyland, California Adventure and Downtown Disney all branch off from a central courtyard so it’s easy to hit all three without taking a bus (not true in Disney World). And there are some differences in the rides too. Haunted Mansion has the Nightmare Before Christmas theme and it was amazing. It’s worth the trip to Disneyland just to see that. Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean were different (and I actually preferred the Disneyland versions), plus there are all new rides.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time, but I expected a little more from Disney; Disney World has set the bar high. If given the choice of travelling to Disney World or Disneyland, Disney World would be my choice hands down. And good thing because we’re back there in December for the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. I can’t wait!

Foto Friday: For the love of Princesses

Happy Friday

It’s been some time since I’ve participated in Candid Carrie’s Friday Foto Finish Fiesta, but I’m back today. We’re heading to Disneyland soon for my birthday which means my youngest has started talking about princesses again:

My 2yo and her Disney World pal Cinderella

My 2yo and her Disney World pal Cinderella

Then she met the real Cinderella

Then she met the real Cinderella

For the love of Princesses:My oldest daughter was never really into princesses. I mean she liked them, but she wasn’t nuts over them. Then comes child number three, the stereotypical fairytale, prince charming, castles in the sky, princess loving girl. It’s funny because we were never really big on pushing girly things.

One year my oldest daughter (now seven) received a Cinderella doll as a gift. She liked it but it sort of just sat on her bed. When my youngest found rescued Cinderella, she took possession, like it never belonged to her big sister. On our recent trip to Disney World the Cinderella doll came with us. She slept in the hotel, she ate dinner in the restaurants, she even went on a few rides. The Cinderella doll was the best friend a little princess loving girl could ask for.

Then we had dinner with ‘the real’ Cinderella and my daughter almost leapt across the table to give Cinderella a hug (according to my husband because, as life seems to work sometimes, I was away from the table and missed the whole event). Through the entire meal my daughter would wave at Cinderella, give her hugs, offer her food, even if Cinderella was across the room.

It was an amazing night for my youngest, which only makes it sad that the night should end with the Cinderella doll going missing. I don’t know if it was from the excitement of seeing Cinderella and therefore the doll was left behind. Or perhaps the doll now paled in comparison to the real princess. Whatever the reason, Cinderella doll will be missed, at least by me.

Picnic in the park. A new dining experience at Disney World.

I love visiting some of our favourite places to eat when we visit Disney World, but discovering new places can be pretty exciting too. Our most recent trip was no exception.

If you’ve ever visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom park you know it’s not like any of the other theme parks in Disney World. Walking through it you feel like you’re in another world, with large trees and exotic animals. Well now you can eat lunch out among the trees, a picnic.

A picnic in the park

When you enter Animal Kingdom, visit the Island Mercantile store not far from the entrance. Just around the corner from here you can pre-order your picnic. But make sure to order by 1:30 p.m. (it takes at least an hour and a half  to prepare your food from the time you place your order).

You have the option of ordering a selection of cold sandwiches or hot chicken and ham. All orders come with a choice of sides and dessert, as well as water to drink, napkins, plates and utensils. And everything is packed in a nice reusable canvas bag (that you get to keep).

Choose a hot lunch with chicken and ham...

Choose a hot lunch with chicken and ham...

...or a cold lunch with assorted gormet sandwhiches

...or a cold lunch with assorted gourmet sandwiches

When you place your order you’re given a map of the park outlining designated spots to eat. They’re spread all around the park so you can pick one in an area you enjoy or perhaps one close to the next attraction you plan on visiting. When your order is ready (you can select a pick-up time as long as it’s at least an hour and a half from the time you order), you can pick it up at the Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery, adjacent to the Tusker House Restaurant in Africa.

Provided map marks all the picnic areas around the park

Provided map marks all the picnic areas around the park

You can order meals for two, three, four, five or six people in your party. And you can use your Disney Dining Plan for this too. One order equals one adult Quick Service meal.

Our family loved this dining option

When we tried the Picnic in the Park dining option, there was no line-up to place our order or to pick it up. This may change as the option becomes more popular. I was worried that the dining areas would be small and therefore full. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the designated eating areas were rather big and tucked off the main path. We had our choice of table in a shady area over looking a lagoon. It was nice not waiting in one of the food lines and eating in a crowded restaurant.

Since our visit to the park was on a hot day, we opted for the cold sandwich option. We tried a mix of sandwiches (we were ordering for four people) and they tasted very fresh. I was pleased to see they didn’t skimp on the sandwich contents; they were loaded with turkey and ham and whatever else we ordered. At the suggestion of the lady at the order counter we order chips as one of the sides, which meant everyone received their own bag, and balanced it with some nice fresh fruit salad. I was glad to see fruit was also a dessert option, though they did have sweets like brownies and cookies.

The Picnic in the Park was a huge success with our family and is definitely on our dining list the next time we visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Foto Friday: Road to Disney World

Happy Foto Friday

I’m participating again with Candid Carrie and her Friday Foto Finish Fiesta (you can see who else is playing by visiting her blog). It’s been two weeks since our vacation, but I’m still thinking about it.

Crossed into Pennsylvania

Crossed into Pennsylvania

...and then into West Virginia...

...and then into West Virginia...

...then North Carolina...

...then North Carolina...

...and South Carolina...

...and South Carolina...

...then through Georgia...

...then through Georgia...

...finally Florida

...finally Florida

Road to Disney World: one van, two adults, three kids, four movies, six bathroom breaks, eight US states (New York state and Virginia are missing from the sign tour), twenty hours in the van, twenty-four juice boxes and assorted snacks.

All this makes for a long car ride, but it’s worth it for a week in Disney World.

Foto Friday: Big Thunder Mountain

Happy Foto Friday

Another Friday and another week I’m participating in Candid Carrie‘s Friday Foto Finish Fiesta (you can see who else is participating over on her blog). We’ve just come back from a recent trip to DisneyWorld so I’m full of vacation pictures. Though this week I’m sort of cheating since I’m posting a video instead of a photo (just this once, I promise):

Big Thunder Mountain: Roller Coasters have always been a favourite of mine. The hills and twists and turns. The freedom to scream from terror and excitement all at the same time. My seven year old daughter recently discovered the roller coaster bug on our last DisneyWorld trip. And, like all children, she of course has to kick it up a notch. Even at her young age she’s riding the rails with her hands high in the air. The video depicts her first ride on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster ride in Magic Kingdom. Trust me, after this initial ride her hands never touched the inside of the car. Yes, I love the Honey Pots ride and the Spinning Tea Cups (well, maybe that one not so much), but it’s kind of nice when your kids are old enough to enjoy some of the bigger, more thrilling rides I also enjoy.

When was the first time your child or you yourself enjoyed a coaster?

Foto Friday: Ready for Disney

Happy Foto Friday

I’m participating again in Candid Carrie’s Friday Foto Finish Fiesta (visit her blog to see who else is joining in). We’re heading to DisneyWorld shortly and the kids are ready:

M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E here we come.

M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E here we come.

Ready for Disney: All three of my kids are excited. When they’re playing together in the backyard they’re pretending to they’re on the rides. They sit and tell stories about past trips (this would be our fourth visit). My youngest daughter wakes every morning and asks if we leave today for DisneyWorld. She can’t wait to meet Cinderella and the other princesses or eat dinner with Winnie the Pooh. Well the wait is almost over. And to be honest, I’m just as excited as the kids.

(Oh and no that’s not dirt on my son’s face. The day I took the picture my son had a party at camp and they had some face painting.  He’s a pirate)