Good morning ladies, and happy Friday! I’m excited to share all the fun we had in Disney World last week. The Christmas decorations, shows, and parades were even more magical than I had imagined. That’s saying a lot…I had some high expectations 🙂
Being that we decided to go on a whim at the last minute, I decided to use a Disney vacation planner to set everything up for us. I highly recommend using a planner regardless of whether or not it’s last minute. It really does take away all the stress of planning everything, plus, it’s free! I literally just did a FB search for Disney planners in Charleston and blindly picked from there. And for any locals planning a trip, we used Katherine Rast
with Ears of Experience and she was wonderful.
*Warning – this is going to be long and has lots of pictures, but I don’t want to miss any details. I also want to have this post to look back on our memories.
// We arrived in Orlando Thanksgiving Day around 3:30 and decided to stop by the newly remodeled downtown Disney, which is now called Disney Springs.
Our first stop in Disney Springs
was World of Disney
, which is the largest Disney character store in the world. Needless to say, the kids were in heaven so we let them pick out one toy and a cozy pullover. Taylor chose these adorable character crayons and Carson chose a cool Toy Story art kit.
And of course, Taylor chose Mickey for her pullover, while Carson picked Stitch.
We knew most of meals in the Disney theme parks were going to be mediocre at best, so we decided to grab a good dinner at Portobello Country Italian
while we had the chance. I did a little research before we left and I knew this restaurant offered gluten free options for almost everything on their menu. And just so you know, almost all the places in Disney Springs, the resorts, and the parks offer a wide variety of options for most food allergies and/or sensitivity.
After dinner we stopped in Erin McKenna’s Bakery
for a quick treat before we headed to our hotel. The doughnuts were good, but not great.
As we were walking out we caught the holiday drone light show. It was so cool, and the kids loved it.
// We checked into Disney Port Orleans- French Quarter
around 8:00 pm. We chose this resort because it was the same exact resort that I stayed at with my family when I was seven years old (24 years ago). I have the happiest, most vivid memories of this vacation with my parents and my brother. So, I thought it would be neat for our family to stay in the same place. It was exactly the way I remembered it from when I was a child. From the rooms, the arcade, and my favorite…..the serpent waterslide pool. And of course the kids wanted to night swim when we arrived. Since the pools are heated, we happily obliged.
// On Friday, we woke up bright and early and headed to Animal Kingdom. We had all three of our fast passes set up throughout the morning, so we were able to cruise right through the lines on all of the rides. After that we had the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted.
If you guys are planning a trip, make sure that you set up all of your fast passes as soon as you can before you leave. The best rides and time slots fill up fast, not to mention, it makes it so much easier to enjoy your day not having to wait in the long lines.
The three things that we chose fast passes for were the Kali River Rapids, Festival of the Lion King, and the Kilimanjaro Safari. I highly recommend all of them, especially the Festival of the Lion King!! And warning….on the rapids, depending what side of the raft you are on, you will get soaked! Taylor and I were drenched when we got off, but luckily, it was warm outside so it wasn’t that bad.
The two pictures below were taken from the Kilimanjaro Safari. It was so awesome being so close to these beautiful animals.
// The food at Animal Kingdom is surprisingly good, and this year, since we had later reservations at Tusker House (our one character meal), we grabbed a quick bite at Yak and Yeti quick service. Y’all will probably laugh, but our quick service meal here was one of our favorites from the entire trip, so don’t count it out if all the restaurants are booked and you can’t get a table.
// Our character lunch/dinner was at 3pm. None of us were all that hungry, but we didn’t want to miss seeing this kids meet all the characters. Truth: The Tusker House is way overpriced for their less than stellar buffet, but having the characters come to your table and seeing your kids faces is totally worth the jacked up price 🙂 Much to our surprise, Carson still thinks all the characters are real, so that made the experience that much more fun.
// Saturday morning just after 8am, we headed to Magic Kingdom!! Our fast passes didn’t start until 10:30, but because we got there not long after the park opened we were able to ride a few rides with no lines. I recommend getting to Magic Kingdom right when it opens and heading over to Fantasyland. This area seems to get the most crowded mid-day, but early morning we were able to ride Under the Sea, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Poo, and It’s a Small World with no lines at all!
(Our tram ride on the way to Magic Kingdom)
Our fast passes in Magic Kingdom were Peter Pan’s Flight, The Barnstormer, and Splash Mountain! All of these rides are a MUST at Magic Kingdom. They are usually the ones with the long lines so you guys may want to fast passes to these as well.
The parades are always so much fun!
Carson’s favorite…Mr. Incredible.
Sweet little Carson when he had just turned four. Wow, time sure has flown by 🙁
// As far as food goes in Magic Kingdom, our favorites were Pinocchio Village Haus
and Casey’s Corner
. Casey’s Corner has the best hot dogs and fries ever! And since Taylor doesn’t eat the bun with her hot dog, she was good to go with no gluten! On the other hand, Todd went all out and had one heck of a cheat day…ha! And y’all, he seriously the entire thing!!!
// After a long day at the park we decided to head back to our hotel and take the Ferry Boat to Disney Springs for dinner. This is another one of the cool things about the Port Orleans hotels. They are one of only three hotels that offer the ferry ride to Disney Springs, and trust me, it’s a lot better than taking your car or the bus 🙂
Disney Springs was pretty crowded, but somehow we ended up snagging a table at Rainforest Cafe
outside on the water! The food here was SO good. The kids loved all the options on the kids meal as well.
// On Sunday, we had another full day planned, and we knew it was going to be a super late night. That being said, we all slept in until almost 9am and then we headed to Epcot
. Our first fast pass here wasn’t until 10:30 so we were in no rush. Epcot was fun, but it was probably our least favorite out of the three parks. We had fast passes to ride Soarin, Spaceship Earth, and Living with the Land. Soarin was by far our favorite, and the other two were neat, but a little boring for small kids.
Todd and I thought Living with the Land was really interesting, and finding out all the things that they grow there was amazing.
// After we rode the three rides, we headed to China for lunch at Nine Dragons Restaurant
. None of us were impressed with the food here. Everything was super bland, and the only thing we enjoyed were the vegetable spring rolls.
// Last, but not least, we headed to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party around 5pm. With these special tickets/bracelets to the Christmas party, you can get into the gates at 4pm, and then at 7pm they ask everyone who doesn’t have the bracelet to leave the park. And trust me, they were asking everyone to show their special bracelets. This is when the fun and all the magic really began!
There were NO lines at all on our favorite rides, so we were able to ride them several times within an hour. Umm, if you’ve ever been to Disney World you know that is unheard of! The fireworks, the shows, and the Christmas parade were all pure magic and unlike anything we had ever seen at Disney before. This was everyone’s favorite night by far, and we shut the place down at midnight with Christmas music playing and snow falling throughout the streets…it was amazing. So yeah, you can tell that I highly recommend you guys get tickets to this if you go around the holidays!!
Whew, this might be the longest post I’ve ever written, so bless your heart if you read it all and made it to the end 🙂