Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Happiest Place on Earth!

That's what they call the place and I believe it!

We just took the boys on their first trip to Walt Disney World and kept all the planning a SURPRISE!
Jamie and I were so giddy about surprising them. When we woke up the morning of the trip we felt like a couple of kids on Christmas morning!

I am so thankful for all the help I received planning this trip. I couldn't have done it without the help of friends who had recently been and planning forums. So, I thought I'd post my experience in case anyone is looking for resources themselves (and so I remember myself!)

We had thought about taking them in Feb, but found a house sooner than we expected and were busy w/ the initial renovations for months. We then looked at the Fall for a trip, so I didn't really get down to the serious planning until 2 or 3 months ago. There is a science to it, let me tell ya! We also used to plan the itineraries. It was an invaluable resource! It is a hard site to navigate (they need to hire my husband!) but so worth it. Mike was a VIP tour guide so he knows the ins and outs backward and forward. For a small fee to join, he discloses sample tours w/ the best times to ride attractions, predicted crowd levels so you know what day to hit what park (so important!), where to get the best spots for parade and firework viewing, etc. etc. We will use TGM for all our trips. He was spot on! is also a great resource, especially for first timers, as it has photos of the resorts, attractions, lodging, menus, etc.

The trip was truly magical for all of us. Such a blessing to enjoy with our family. Rounding the corner on Main St. USA and seeing the castle for the first time was breathtaking! I literally felt like a little girl again! We loved being there in November because we were able to see some of the Christmas decor and the weather was perfect! It wasn't too cold to enjoy the pools and it wasn't too hot in the parks.

Character spotting was a really fun part of the trip and made it even more special because you never knew who you were going to see when. We got lots of autographs! Nana made adorable autographs books for the boys to open on the trip. She did a great job designing them!

Most people asked if we were taking Meade with us--and we did! We are so glad we did! There were a few times when it was difficult with an almost 2 year old, but honestly, overall, it was such fun for him and US to have him there! The joy and excitement on his face was something Jamie and I will never forget. I loved having him there at an age when he was so into the characters! Everywhere we went, whether it was to a cast member or character, he would raise his hand and say, "Kigh!" which translated is "High Five!" He gave the characters Eskimo kisses and hugs. It was precious. Sumner is a little past the characters so he was more interested in the thrilling rides and the educational attractions. Grayson was very much into the magic of it all and was really cute about it. Jamie and I really enjoyed watching each boy experience the whole thing from different perspectives.

We traded off on the rides Meade wasn't ready for and when we couldn't, one of us would just walk around w/ him and enjoy the surroundings. It can be easy to get caught up in the go, go, go and not just stop and experience where you are! Of course, everyone is different, but that is what worked for us.

I'll post pictures for the family members later :) but for now here is a list of our faves:

Spectromagic Light Parade (runs a few times each week, not every night) was our fave night event! Jamie and I literally both teared up during this one between all the beautiful lights, music and characters old and new. Not to be missed! We loved it so much we saw it twice and rearranged one of our dining reservations in the Magic Kingdom to position ourselves to finish eating as the parade was beginning...and for a top viewing location!

Wishes! a beautiful fireworks show over the castle. You HAVE to see Tinkerbell fly from the top of the castle. One of my top 3 magical moments of the whole trip! TGM told us just where to be to view it best!

Each park has it's own parades either during the day and/or at night. The best daytime parade was Animal Kingdom's. Very unique characters and floats here.

Our favorite dining of the trip: Chef Mickey's character b'fast (brunch)-there are lots of character dining options and we loved this one the best. The food was great and you get lots of time w/ the 5 main Disney characters-Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto!
Whispering Canyon was great fun for the boys, Flaming Tree BBQ-beautiful scenery/views, Liberty Tree Tavern feels just like eating Thanksgiving dinner in a large colonial home-loved it!, Crystal Palace for Pooh Characters and right across from the castle. I recommend getting the Dining Plan, too!

Rides/Attractions the boys loved the most in the 4 parks and (rode most multiple times): Kali River Rapids (AK), Splash Mountain (MK), Primeval Twirl (AK), Toy Story Mania (H'wood Studios), Star Tours (HS), Mickey's Philharmagic 3D,
Playhouse Disney Live! (HS), Turtle Talk With Crush (Epcot), Soarin' (Epcot)

A few classics to do simply because they are classic Disney: Dumbo, Peter Pan, It's a Small World, the Hall of Presidents -my history buffs liked that one...(and it's been updated to include Pres. Obama)

Rides we could have skipped that are only so-so: Imagination/Figment (even though it's been re-vamped), Buzz Lightyear

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom were by far our favorite parks. We liked the World Showcase portion of Epcot best of the 2 sections. Hollywood Studios was only ok, but we knew that going in, just wanted to experience a couple things there. Definitely a half day park-relax by the pool for the rest of the day!

Shows/Attractions my boys liked even though they had a "girly" factor: Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Minnie's Country House (her kitchen was cool!)

Disney is a very hard place to leave. I'm already going through withdrawals and I'm writing this en route to home! Everyone greets you with "Have a Magical Day" (not to mention everyone seems truly thrilled to be there!), parades pop up in the middle of the street and the characters you've loved since childhood greet you around the corner with a hug. Aaaaaah. We are already planning our return!

Friday, November 20, 2009