What is there to say about Disney? Disney rocks. It rocks my face off. When planning our vacation, we knew we wanted to dedicate one day to Disneyworld and chose the Magic Kingdom since Emma is so young. I wanted to take today to share with you how the Linkous’ did Disney!
We began saving for Disney early on in the year. We knew that Disney wasn’t cheap and if you’re going for just one day there aren’t many deals you can get. We began saving for several things that we knew we would have to pay for during our visit. Some of these may not apply to everyone, but these are the things we paid for at Disney:
- Lodging for the pets
- Parking fee
- Park entrance
- Food (can be anything from quick meals to sit down dining)
- Money for souvenirs
We began planning early, too. We knew it wasn’t enough to just save. We went ahead and made pet reservations as we brought the dogs with us on vacation. We didn’t want to leave them at the condo that was an hour away from 5am-12pm. That would be a disaster. As expected, Disney has a place on site for pets and they had different rates you could pay for your pet to stay there. I was impressed, to say the least! With Disney sit down dining, there always has to be a reservation. It is rare to just walk in and there be an opening, it’s pretty much non existent. I will say here that I messed up. I admit it. I didn’t start calling until a few weeks prior to our departure, which was a BIG mistake. HUGE! (name that movie…) All the way up until we got there, I called to get reservations as we wanted to eat at Chef Mickeys for the character breakfast. I called and I called. And at 8:30pm, the night before, we finally got reservations for 9:30am. I was so excited! The lady on the line was laughing at how excited I was. They were really great to work with, even for someone who called 20+ times in one day. We also bought our tickets online. We didn’t want to wait in line to buy them for the same price. No lines for me! And now that you know how we prepared, here’s how we did Disney that day:
We left early that morning. Even though we went during a down season, we didn’t want to chance being late. Although Disney is the most magical place, there are punishments for not showing up on time. For example, if we missed our breakfast reservation we missed it. And you still have to pay. Yuck! We knew we were staying about an hour and fifteen minutes away. And we had to check in the dogs at the pet lodging. We decided to get coffee on the way so we choose to leave at 5:30am. By the time we stopped for coffee, drove to Orlando, drove all over Disney and found the pet place, it was already 7:45am. The pet place was awesome. It was like checking into a hotel and I would expect nothing less from Disneyworld. Allie was a little uncertain but warmed up to the idea once treats were offered. The people who brought Max and Allie back to their rooms (indoor/outdoor space) were great with them and patient while they adjusted to the newness. After checking them in and driving to the Magic Kingdom parking, it was 8:30am. We had an hour to go! We were able to catch the monorail and make our way to the Contemporary Resort for Emma’s first Disney breakfast.
When we walked in, we were all like kids at Christmas busting with excitement. The idea of being able to experience this with Emma was almost surreal. We had about 30 minutes to kill so after checking in, so we walked around the gift shop, took some pictures in front of and inside the restaurant, and then waited while letting Emma play. They called us back right on time and sat us in the same location JR and I sat on our honeymoon. How crazy is that! We were just one seat down. We were able to get up and get breakfast in time for the big birthday celebration. Did we mention we celebrated Emma’s birthday? She had pins and hats everywhere from Disney! First time pins, birthday pins, celebration pins, pins, pins, and more pins! They brought out a cupcake (which we did NOT eat) and lit it and the characters came out and sang about her special day. It was awesome. She was overwhelmed by all of it but really enjoyed it, too. I think she may have enjoyed her pancake more, though. Once all the characters came back out, she was really excited. She was able to see Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Pluto, and Goofy. They all came by to take pictures with her and sign their autograph. Minnie even gave her a kiss! We were able to find a picture from our honeymoon and decided to share them here, too.
After breakfast ended, we hoped back on the monorail and went over to Magic Kingdom. By the time we arrived, Emma was out cold. She slept on dad for a little while and then we put her in her stroller and made our way into the most magical place on earth! We walked around while she slept and JR was able to get a hat to match Emma’s and mine. Unfortunately, we were never able to wear our hats all together because Emma wasn’t into it. Oh well, it should still fit her the next time we go. We made our way to the castle where they were doing a production with Mickey, Minnie, and fireworks and that’s what woke her up. Wide eyed and bushy tailed! She was talking, smiling, and taking in everything. The next part of the day truthfully feels like a whirlwind with everything we did. We rode every ride we could find that was age appropriate for Emma. We rode the carousel, it’s a small world, Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo, and more. We went to shows about Mickey and then we had a meltdown finally at the Monsters, Inc, show. It was overdue, really. Emma was exhausted and tired and sooo ready for sleep that she couldn’t handle it anymore. We grabbed some food and then she was out like a light. She slept for about two hours while we strolled around, mom and dad rode the train, we had some coffee, and made our way over to some more rides. Once we arrived, she woke up and was in a MUCH better mood! We had time to catch a few final rides so we did Pirates of the Caribbean and a boat cruise. She enjoyed both of them and after we finished, we decided to meet some Disney princesses prior to watching the fireworks. Although she talked all the way up to meeting them, she wouldn’t say anything at all once she finally saw them up close. Stage fright, I suppose. We headed back out with 5 minutes to spare before the fireworks began. Emma watched them in awe, not really sure what to think, but she said a lot about them. I’m pretty sure it was something like, “mom and dad- this really IS the most magical place on earth!” After the fireworks show, we made our way to the car, got the dogs, and headed home. And Emma? She feel asleep after a good poopy and didn’t wake up until 8 the next day.
So, now it’s time for quick assessment for myself and also for you all. I want to share with you the things we did that we would do again and the things we learned from and would change the next time around.
What We Did Right:
- We packed snacks and water. This was smart. Emma was hungry and thirsty a lot and instead of having to buy something every time we stopped, we were able to pull it out of the diaper bag.
- We changed diaper bags. We bought our JuJuBe diaper about two months before our trip, which was probably the smartest move ever. Having a diaper bag that was easy to carry AND store on the stroller was definitely a win.
- We went small. We decided to bring our small umbrella stroller instead of the Goliath big one. In Disney, it’s nearly impossible to get around in that thing. I felt sorry for all the parents we saw with them. They looked sorry, too. There’s the option to rent strollers in Disney, but we decided we could bring our own and pocket the money, which was a great idea!
- We went with the flow. We didn’t plan anything for this trip as far as where we’d go and what time. Truthfully, that would have been a disaster. Emma is still so young and we have to listen to her cues and needs, too, and that’s hard to do with a big mapped out plan.
What We Would Do Differently:
- Pack more snacks for ourselves. We should have brought more water and more things to snack on for us. I stayed hungry and thirsty. I’m not sure my body has fully adapted to not nursing and I still get a lot of hungry moments.
- Stay at Disney. We would stay there next time with her being so young. It’s hard to get a little one to nap in the excitement that is Disney. Going back to a room and taking a quick snooze would have made all the difference. We were certain it would be too expensive, but once you consider the free dining plan and everything else, it would have only been about $150-$200 more. Totally worth it to me for a place to stay and more time in Disney.
I hope you’ve enjoyed a quick trip into our day at Disney and all that we did and learned. We are excited to go back SOON and cannot wait to experience it again!
How did you and your family do Disney? Any advice for us newbies?