I never meant to go rogue the last half of last week, but I suppose a week at Walt Disney World wears me out more than I anticipated. Yes, DISNEY! We spent 6 glorious days in the happiest place on earth (for the first time) and lived to tell about it. I have a legal pad full of things we did wrong, what we got right, and my best tips for newbies, so I officially am calling this DISNEY WEEK on ze old blog so put on your Mickey ears (and bear with me as I overshare per usual).
First things first though, today is all about the highlights, AKA some of my favorite moments from our trip to the parks. The first thing I learned about Disney is that everyone has a different favorite that they swear you must do and the second thing I learned is no matter how long your stay, you just can’t do it all. So though I’m sharing my favs, make sure to seek out what will be the most fun for your family, and to those Dinsey pros out there, I’d love to hear some of your favs in the comments to give those with upcoming trips (which apparently is a lot!) rides and events to check out.
So here they are, our favorite Walt Disney World moments!
A Day at the Resort
We didn’t really intend on having this, despite it being suggested to us, but ended up driving straight through to Orlando rather than stopping halfway on Thursday. This gave us a full Friday to explore the Polynesian, ride the monorail, and splash in their awesome pool area.
Fun fact: they keep the water between 80-85 degrees year round. I would have been a little bummed if we missed this “free” time.
They loved their matching suits!
The Safari at Animal Kingdom
We were given the pro tip to fast pass this adventure early in the day while more of the animals are out. It must have worked because we loved seeing the lions, antelope, and hippos up close.
And to really seal the deal, we got to watch a baby elephant. It doesn’t get any cuter.
The Animal Kingdom in General
Perhaps it’s because I had low expectations (for some unknown reason), but this park we visited on our first day out really impressed me. There is so much to see just while you are wandering around, the tree of life is pretty incredible, there are music and street parties in each section, and oh yes, they serve beer pretty openly, which David and I took full advantage of at lunch at Restaurant-Osaurus (real name).
Everyone has their favorite ride and the one that sticks out most in my head is Soarin’ at Epcot. You have to be 40″ to ride, so Kaitlyn couldn’t do this magical adventure where you fly around the world, complete with breeze in your hair and scents that match scenes.
Hailey rode it 2 times (thank you rider swap) and David and I twice as well, thanks to extra magic hours.
My comfy red shirt and the girls’ matching skorts (both on sale!)
Walking into Breakfast at Cinderella’s Castle
I have a ton of thoughts on this breakfast, some things I wasn’t thrilled about that I’ll share, but walking in is pretty magical. They announce your family’s name, then lead you in to get pictures with Cinderella. She whispered to Hailey to keep her eyes open for her mice friends, and sure enough, tucked away in a high corner you can find Jaq and Gus! Adorable.
Then you ascend the staircase and the whole thing just feels special.
Meeting Jasmine at the Princess Breakfast
Ok, a sneak peek, I almost cried sad tears watching Kaitlyn chase after a snooty Snow White trying to show her a wishing star, but the tears actually came (from joy!) as Jasmine arrived at our table and fully engaged with the girls. Pure magic!
PS: like me, you’ll think you will avoid a Disney meltdown moment, but you won’t. It happens to everyone.
Enchanted Tales with Belle
Quick fun fact: Hailey’s favorite princesses are Belle and Tiana. Belle because she loves to read and has brown hair, and Tiana because she is a great cook and has a little sass. Because of this, I knew we had to visit Enchanted Tales at the Magic Kingdom, a 20 minute show where the kids get parts and are involved in throwing Belle a surprise birthday party.
It’s super cute and if your child gets a part, s/he gets a picture solo with the princess. Hailey ended up being Mrs. Potts and Kaitlyn was Chip.
Meeting Minnie Mouse
The girls love them some princesses, but Minnie reigns over all. We booked the Fantasmic Dinner Package at Hollywood Studios (more on that next), which included dinner at Hollywood & Vine where we met Daisy, Donald, Goofy, Mickey, and the queen herself, MINNIE!
Hailey tracked her around the room and when she came to our table, Hailey (who can actually be quite shy) jumped up, ran to hug her, and spurted out I LOVE YOU.
David’s Mickey shirt and my Mickey Shirt
Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios
For being a show I hadn’t heard much about, I kick myself for how close I came to cancelling it. It. Was. INCREDIBLE. (note: if your child scares easily, it’s not for you, as there are loud noises, bright flashes, and Disney villians involved, but my girls LOVED it).
If you book the dinner package, they hold seats in the center section and you can walk right up 15 minutes until show time (which is 7:00 pm). The water displays, the pyrotechnics, all the beloved Disney characters, the music. Seriously, this rivals Soarin’ for my favorite MUST DO of our trip.
The Food at Dinner in the Beast’s Castle
On Valentines Day we dined at the Beast’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom. This is probably the only time you will hear me mention food. Overall, the food of the trip was what was to be expected: fair. But dinner at the Be Our Guest Restaurant was delicious!
My pasta tasted truly homemade and the scallops were cooked to perfection.
They had great options for kids and we all finally got to try the grey stuff! (It really is delicious)
Tinkerbell flying overhead at the Fireworks.
My friend, Jodi, visited Disney about 2 weeks before us and gave us the pro tip that if you stand to the right side of the castle, Tinkerbell flies over your head. We booked it from dinner to snag our spot and the girls marveled as Tinkerbell did indeed fly over their heads.
FYI: “Wishes” fireworks display (which has been running for 15 years!) will be replaced by the new “Happily Ever After” fireworks display starting May 12.
Meeting the Beast
One of my favorite memories is walking with Hailey into the west wing to see the Beast’s magical rose.
She cautiously walked in then FREAKED, buried her head in my side, and begged to get out of there. When I asked why, she said “the beast does not want us in here; we are not allowed!” I loved her sincerity!
Because of this I thought she’s be nervous to meet him, but both girls curtsied for him, he twirled them around, and honestly, it was really the sweetest thing ever! Definitely a highlight.
Girls’ (super comfortable!) Belle dresses
Nana joining us.
My mom came down to join us halfway through to offer helping hands and join in the magic. We kept it a surprise from the girls and adorably surprised they were! It was really special to have my mom join in on these moments (and gave David and me a little solo time for Tower of Terror and EMH at Epcot!)
Mom’s “Nana” Minnie Mouse Shirt
The girls becoming co-mayors
We ended up snagging lunch one day at The Plaza restaurant on Main Street. It felt great to cool off and get some food with a view of the castle, but the real treat came when randomly the Mayor wandered in and announced Hailey and Kaitlyn as the new co-mayors!
Kaitlyn was more thrilled than she looked, as were the adults when the mayor handed them a golden ticket to go into the fast pass line (no wait!) of any ride we desired. So cool!
Did I mention we took over 700 pictures? We did. Plus video (which David is working on compiling). So I guess I’ll be sharing even more pictures than usual (I know, how is that even possible?!)
I’ve also compiled a list of question you guys have asked via facebook and instagram and will be doing a whole post on Q&A, so if you have a question of any kind, ask away!
Ok Disney pros— what are your FAVORITE rides, attractions, characters, experiences?!
Share with us!
John J. says
Now that’s a lot of smiles and eyes of awe! Great pics of your wondrous family, and Nana! Looking forward to seeing more.
Lynn Thow says
Great photos!! How did you go about planning each day? It looks like you knew all the tips and tricks to making this a fabulous trip. I look forward to seeing more of your special experiences.
Brittany Dixon says
I talked to a LOT of friends, used TouringGuides.com to gauge park crowd levels, then we spent many evenings looking up rides and restaurants to determine our favorites. Overall it really did work out pretty well! 🙂
This looks like so much fun! I can’t wait for your tips later this week. I’m trying to decide whether to take our little guy next December, but he’ll only be 15 months (joining a larger family trip or we would definitely wait until he’s older).
My favorite Disney ride is probably Space Mountain, but I also love the more mellow ones like Peter Pan…I love them all really!
Brittany Dixon says
If you’re going as a large family trip, I say take him! He’d be free and easy (because he wouldn’t really ride much of anything but could still enjoy all the commotion). Plus you could get rider swap passes so you can still ride what you want. Plus, cute pictures are always a plus 😉
That is true! The pictures of your little girls in matching outfits are priceless 🙂 I have a sister only 15 months older than I am – having a sister close in age is the best! They are lucky girls 🙂
If you wear him in a carrier- ergo, Tula, etc make sure you bring it with you. A lot of the parks- esp magic kingdom have central places you have to park strollers so it’s nice to just be able to wear a one year old than try to hold/chase/keep them in line for 30-40 minutes. But there’s so much he can go on even from a young age.
I did not know that about the stroller parking areas, thank you! We will make sure to bring our Ergo if we decide to go!
My favorite part is watching the “awe” in the girl’s eyes–truely magical!
As a Florida resident we have had the annual pass for years and it never gets old. When people say you have to wait because your kids wont remember but more importantly YOU will remember the magic, My kids are a bit older (10 and 12) we have such fond memories. there is not much Disney does wrong in our opinion maybe the prices LOL! Other than that the employees are what make it the best!
Brittany Dixon says
Oh my goodness, yes, the people are really incredible! Our boat guide for the jungle cruise had us cracking up 🙂 And I agree, I know Kaitlyn won’t remember this trip, but my goodness I will remember her sweet face in the moments that surprised her!
As much as I love (and am obsessed by) your blogs, I’m truly excited to read your posts this week on your adventures in DW. The girls are so adorable in their matching Disney outfits, absolutely precious!
Mental reminder to self – get Madelyn a few!
Brittany Dixon says
Oh thank you!! We really did have a blast and I felt a little silly for having more than 1 princess outfit, but I got decent prices and the girls LOVED wearing them 🙂
Did you try ‘Ohana at the Polynesian? Their food is fantastic! I will say, though you haven’t posted the cons on the castle meal yet, that I was disappointed in the castle food for 2 table service credits and the princesses don’t seem to spend as much time with their “fans.” Akershus in Norway is much better in my opinion. The princesses spend more time at the tables, the breakfast buffet is really good, it’s 1 dining credit, and they do a princess parade with all the kiddos which is a ton of fun. Next time, trade that princess meal for the castle. It’s a better bang for your buck and more princess interaction.
Brittany Dixon says
I’ve heard awesome things about Ohana, but no, we didn’t make it there this trip.
Awesome tip about Akershus- I had another friend say the same thing, that it’s the better way to go! Next time, for sure. Thanks!
I hope you have a wonderful time next week!!! 🙂
Your trip looked so fun on instagram! I can’t wait to take our son once he’s older!
We are going in september with a toddler and thinking of asking MIL to join since she is retired and could travel flexible- curious if when grandma joined she had her own room at the Polynesian? We are staying at that resort too. (Mostly due to new toddler pool) Part of me says let her stay in with us since we just have a toddler? Or is worth her sanity to pay for her own room there? Any suggestions on what you thought worked? Timely, since we will be going but I’m looking forward to a week of Disney posts!
Brittany Dixon says
Hi Dana! Since your question is more specific, I’ll just reply directly back to you 🙂
So we stayed in the Polynesian via Disney Vacation Club (we bought someone else’s points). In those rooms there is a queen bed, a full/queen fold out couch bed, a pull down single bed, a mini car area with sink, and the split bathrooms. We put Kaitlyn in the pack ‘n play in one bathroom, Hailey slept on the pull down single, David and I in the queen. When my mom came she slept on the pull out full/queen right in there with us. It actually worked out better than I could have imagined! We all went to bed at the same time (most nights around 9 pm) and since we were barely in the room it made a lot of sense to all stay together. Each family situation is different, but saving the money and all being together worked really well for the 2 nights it was all of us in the room.
I hope that made sense!
I love Disney so much! I took my daughter 5 yrs in a row, but that’s been quite a few yrs ago, & I miss it! Soarin’ was def my fave, but we really loved the Fantasmic show, too. Mickey’s Backyard BBQ is super fun for young kids, & my daughter requested Hoop De Doo every.single.year. I really loved all the food at Disney. Can’t wait to read the rest of your posts! The girls’ outfits were adorable!
We are going to Disney in 10 days and staying at the Polynesian. Probably a silly question, but what kind of shoes did you wear in the parks? I love wearing flip flops, but I worry they won’t be supprortive enough for all the walking. But I am not a fan of wearing athletic sneakers with shorts&t-shirts (I would feel very unfashionable, but maybe I need to get over it).
I’m the same way. But I read that stress fractures and shin splints are a result from wearing flip flops to amusement parks. When we went to WDW, I wore low profile sneakers and peds (shocking). My feet never hurt! Years later we lived in SoCal and had passes to Disneyland where I wore my birkenstocks and I was very comfy.
Brittany Dixon says
Yes! I commented to David multiple times on the trip that I would never had made it without tennis shoes. I brought sandals and enever wore them. I felt such like “a mom” in my shorts and tennis shoes but one day I walked 24,000 steps and would have died in anything other than sneakers.
That’s how I felt (shorts and sneakers…shudder). I don’t feel I pull off the sporty look very well, but that week was all about comfort.
I went to Disney once for spring break in college (we were a wild group of girls, I tell ya what!) and I loved it! I cannot wait to take my kids there one day, even though it’ll take a little persuading of the husband, who prefers National Parks over theme parks 😉
I need to know what the gray stuff is! I hear that Dole Whip is all the rage here on the West Coast Disneyland, but this is the first I’ve heard of the gray stuff!
Will you be doing a hotel room tour? I absolutely love their attention to detail and how they make the resorts so family-friendly. I stayed at the Wilderness Lodge way back when and its still one of my favorite places to date.
What’s the gray stuff?!
Brittany Dixon says
From the Be Our Guest song! “Try the gray stuff, it’s delicious!” — so cute. Also, it takes like whipped cookies and cream 🙂
Katie @ Live Half Full says
My son is not old enough to go to Disney yet, but I can’t wait because my husband has never been!!! I know! We used to go a lot when I was a kid and my Mom would dress me up. The pictures are super cute and I’m glad you did the same!
The last time I went was actually for a Bachelorette Party which was perfect! We stayed on property at a condo and it was perfect. I blogged about it at one point since I planned it!
Cathy Reed says
What fun! My husband and I took our entire family there in October. There was 14 of us – 7 adults and 7 children ages 9-8-4-4-4-3-2! it was a truly magical experience. I was never so impressed by the level of customer service provided by an organization. We stayed at the Art of Animation resort and had the meal plan. We couldn’t even eat everything The kids experienced such magical moments meeting all the characters. We loved loved loved it and are definitely saving up for a return visit!
Really enjoyed your post!
Emily K says
I love that you brought princess dresses and I am going to add that as a little reminder to myself before our trip after Thanksgiving! I read your blog religiously, but I am so excited for these posts because they are keeping me excited for our trip!
Liz T says
I’d love to hear your take on comparing Disney cruise versus Disney itself and the pros and cons in comparison. Looks like y’all had a magical time!
It’s true, though, that you really practically need a degree in planning a trip here. I bet anyone would make a pretty penny giving seminars on how to make the most out of WDW.
Brittany Dixon says
It’s ridiculous isn’t it? I feel like I came having learned another language!
It looks like you all had a magical time at Disney World! Glad to see! Character breakfasts are always so much fun, especially with little ones!
I’m little late to the post, but if you weren’t impressed with the food at Disney, you’re not eating at the right restaurants. I mean, ok, character meals, but California grill, jiko’s, il mulino, omg. We brought our 2yo, he survived, lol
I sent all the posts from the Disney series to my sister since she is going in May with a 5 year old and 2 year old. She bought the swim suit you linked and loved your hat. Do you have details on it? I sear you posted it on the blog before, but I couldn’t find it. It could be an early birthday present from me to my sister before they leave. Thanks for the blog!
Brittany Dixon says
What a thoughtful sister you are!! My hat is from Old Navy. I couldn’t find it online but it was in the store right before we left on our trip. She’s going to have a blast!