We just returned at 6am this morning, after a rough drive back north. So hard coming home when all of our trees are still bare and grass still brown!
The surprise went REALLY well. They loved the backpacks to carry their personal things in, and they were super happy that we weren’t going to Alaska When we met Tinkerbell, they said “We got your invitation!!!” and she just went right along with it, thankfully!
Our first day in the parks was crazy. We only had one day in Magic Kingdom. I really wanted two, but it wasn’t in the stars. So I think we pushed a little too hard. My father in law came down with something the night we got in, he thinks it was food poisoning but none of us got it, so we were down a set of adult hands, which made it difficult for the parts of the day where we split up. We had to give up seven dwarfs mine train, but my son got to ride BTMR with me before the electrical parade which made him super happy. There are a lot of things I would have done differently. I forgot my autistic son’s headphones, and opted not to go to the nearby walmart to find earplugs or something to replace them with. That was a HUGE mistake. Anyone with a child who has sensory issues, DO NOT go to disney without their headphones or other sensory gear. Tried it. It was horrible. The cast members were awesome with him though, they did everything they could to make sure that he enjoyed the magic too. But anyway, the first day in MK, it was raining. Which was awesome. We were one of the few families there for the rope drop show. We whizzed through our plan with no waits on anything, and even had extra time to meet characters around Fantasy Land, until Little Mermaid was down, but after that opened we walked right on it, too! My kids were actually complaining that they couldn’t do the interactive games in the lines!!! The first line we had to wait in, of course was Elsa and Anna. It was posted as 70, the app said 45, we waited 90 minutes and nearly missed the parade. That worked out without the sensory headphones though, instead of our chosen spot right in the action, we were able to view it at a comfortable distance for my son, on the ramp up to the castle. This gave us a great view of the floats, and didn’t bother him so much- another tip for sensory kiddos. And no one was directly in front of the castle, so between floats, I turned around and got our best castle picture of the day. Peter Pan was not out to meet people, and that was a huge disappointment for my son. He waited to see every princess with his sister, and didn’t get to meet his hero. By our afternoon break, everyone was over done.We ended up spending two hours in Gaston’s tavern. Our hotel was not convenient to go back to for a nap or swim or we would have. There was another disappointment when the cast member at Dumbo told us that playing in the play area would be getting out of line, not playing while we wait, and would add up to another hour onto our wait time. Not what we expected, but the kids got over it. Haunted Mansion was a major fail. My daughter likes spooky stuff and had seen about this ride on a travel video. I showed her a video on youtube of the full ride, and she was all about going on it. I was younger than her when I went on it, so I changed the plan around to include the kids instead of just me and my husband going on it- this is also because of us being down an adult. Both kids were crying so hard they couldn’t get off the ride, they had to stop it so we could pry them out of the hearse, and my mother in law was pretty mad that we chose to take them on it (there were other kids younger than them that were completely unaffected, sometimes you can’t tell until in the moment. My daughter has loved similar experiences) But that was the only major big time trouble we had while there. Everything else was smooth sailing. Electrical parade, big hit!!! My son and I left the rest of the family at our chosen spot for the fireworks and went to frontier land to ride BTMR. We watched the Electrical parade from there once we were done, and let me tell you this is the best place! Not crowded like it was on Main St. and you still get a view of the castle in the background. This was one of the highlights for everyone I think. Then the two of us rejoined our family for the second half of Celebrate the Magic. I was surprised how much my husband loved this, he said it was the highlight for him! Of course fireworks were great, my kids went nuts when Tinkerbell flew down. They were so amazed. My only complaint is that there are light posts in front of the castle if you are sitting behind the hub they obstruct the view. Someone told me this is new. I hope they realize the fault in these lamp posts and remove them. Maybe we were just at a bad angle, but the view for the majority of the guests would be improved vastly if they took them out.
We had to have a day’s break after that day, so day two was spent lazing around our resort, swimming in the pool, doing the art projects…
Then Epcot. We slept in and got to the parks around 11:30. Looked at the topiaries, got our barings, then went to the Seas with Nemo, and Turtle Talk. Amazing attractions, and everyone in the family loved them. The kids loved seeing the characters, and the techies in the family of course were completely engaged with that aspect. Then it was Akershus for the princess lunch. Yes it was over priced, and yest the princesses spent very little time at our table, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. The food was really good, we were full all day. Everyone got the meatballs, but my mother in law got the salmon, she said it was a bit overcooked but well seasoned. When the princesses made their entrance, all three of my kids went bananas.We met the human version of Ariel, and my daughter commented that yesterday she had her fins. She says she has to switch back and forth often for various duties between her father’s kingdom and Prince Eric’s kingdom Cinderella, Belle, Snow White, and Aurora were also there. My son loved Cinderella. We then tried to go through the world showcase, but Agent P was down, and it was so hot the kids were melting- that’s the only word for it. I can see why it’s a good idea to take a break at this time.We played at the Monsters U playground for a bit and then went back over to the rides with AC. My son was surprised on Figment, there is an explosion at the end- it’s just a video, but another time the headphones would have been useful. He clobbered me in the face with the fan we’d just made in Mexico and cut my lip open, because I was leaning over next to him and he jumped up and grabbed for me. He did think it was hilarious when Figment changed the smell to skunk. We only waited ten minutes for the characters. My one year old just sat down in front of minnie and stared at her, giggling. She was in total awe, and I know she won’t remember, but it was so sweet to see her interact with the characters!!! She was a little frightenened of the white gloved hands, when they’d give her a hug she’d look a little apprehensive and then hug whatever sibling was closest. She cried when our turn was over for Pluto, she wanted to spend more time with him!!! One thing I wasn’t expecting, was many of the indoor rides and shows closed around 5:00. So we missed Ellen’s Universe of Energy. Club Cool was a huge hit for everyone. We really needed the refreshment, and my kids don’t usually get pop so it was a big treat. The ice cream stands also started closing, so I had to walk across the park to get promised Mickey Bars for the kids. Mission Space was awesome, but I wish we had done rider swap. The baby was sleeping so we thought we’d just give her a nap, and the line was only projected to be 10 minutes long- both by Lines and the posting. My in-laws went first, then my husband and I went to stand in line and ended up waiting about 45 minutes due to a ride malfunction just as we were next to get on. I think the same thing would have happened for rider swap though. We didn’t know about the play area until we were leaving, so the kids had just been waiting outside, looking at the nearby topiaries and having a bench break with their ice creams. Then it was time for Illuminations, very cool show.
The next day was split between Hollywood Studios and Epcot, to hit the things we missed before and to spend more time looking at the flower show stuff. Hollywood Studios was difficult. It seemed like we were getting everywhere about ten minutes too late.The line for the animation drawing class was through two shows, and Baymax left for a two hour break right as we were coming up to him. My son’s Jedi Training was cancelled due to the rain… that was the saddest part of our trip. He is a huge Vader fan, and that is the only chance to see him/interact with him. They offered a fast pass to Star Tours, but I didn’t think that would bode well with his sensory issues. I carried him (and he’s not a small fellow) through the park in tears to get to the tram to go to Epcot. His slot was the last one possible before we’d miss our fast passes in Epcot, so staying to see the next show wasn’t a good option. He did talk to a bell hop from Tower of Terror and that brightened his spirit (yeah, I don’t know why either… but as I said, the cast members were really great at creating magic for EVERYONE.) But we did get to meet Jake and Sofia, and see Disney Jr Live- my one year old’s FAVORITE- she was singing and dancing right along- and the Muppets and Frozen Sing-Along which of course was a hit. I loved the humor thrown in for the parents (“They DIE!!! Why do little girls like this!!!”) My daughter had a melt down waiting in line for Lightning McQueen, it was just too hot, so we swept them all away into the muppets theater. We thought, after our experience with Disney Jr Live, that we would be waiting in line for Frozen right up until the show time,so we tried to get lunch to eat while we waited. We joined the line 40 minutes early, after being shut out of an earlier show, and I was just thinking we can’t even eat lunch because of these darned lines! But then they had us go in the theater and we had to cram lunch into our faces real quick- we ended up putting half of it in our cooler and eating it while we walked to our next thing (the cancelled Jedi Training) I thought we could do what we wanted at HS in half a day, but it wasn’t long enough really. Enough to get a taste of it, but we were all wishing we could spend more time in Pixar Place and the Studio Backlot. A lot of characters went un-met. When talking to the kids, their biggest regrets came from HS and what we didn’t have time for there.
The half day at Epcot, we started out with Spaceship Earth. I was very surprised, my four year old loved this. I thought she’d be bored. My husband and Father in Law went with the one year old, who hit the screen and turned their language to Chinese… so they had no idea what was going on. A good chuckle for the day. Then we attempted again to do the world showcase and flower show stuff, we had two hours before our Soarin fast pass so we thought that would be enough time. We whizzed through Canada, then in England my kids were perplexed with the red telephone booths. Not that they were red- it was the concept of a public pay phone that was strange to them!!! My four year old asked why people in London don’t have “regular” phones!! I told her they do, but they also have these… Then we met Alice, who was by far the most interactive character we met. She was amazing. I’m biased towards her though, I’ve always loved her. Definitely ask her how a raven is like a writing desk. When I learned the answer my mind was a little blown.My daughter talked to her about the cheshire cat. We took a quick look at the tea garden, then we had to choose some food or we would be cutting it close for soarin. Fish n Chips were good… greasy, but good.That was as far as we ever got into the world show case!!! Despite combining Fast Pass and rider swap for Soarin, it took over an hour for everyone to ride. I think there was a malfunction while the first group was riding, because I didn’t see anyone come out for a long time when I was waiting with the baby. we ate at the little cafe outside of the Land, and it was really good, then when we came out Illuminations was going on again! We were all like is it really 9:00 already!? So to beat the crowd we returned our stroller and headed back to the car. I can’t believe how much in Epcot we didn’t see/do. Many people advised not visiting Epcot with kids as young as ours, but it truly was a high light. I have a friend who is a cast member, and when my kids told him Epcot was their favorite he said he was very surprised. There was just so much for them there, we just didn’t do the things that weren’t really “for” their age group. And they loved the topiaries just as much as my mother in law- a garden fanatic- enjoyed them!
We had breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, and it was another highlight. I figured we did a princess meal for the girls, so my boy should get to eat with his favorite characters too. The mickey waffles were delicious. I was trying to help my kids with the buffet, and told my daughter she could get a waffle for her own plate, turned to help my son get an egg, and suddenly she had FIVE waffles!!! And she ate them all. It was the first time she’s ever over eaten, she usually eats like a bird, so we spent a long time in the bathroom after that crying that our tummy hurt. Next time I won’t let her take so many. Seems like common sense, but in the moment it was a pick your battles kind of thing, and I really didn’t think she’d eat them all. All the food was great. The most interactive character there was Goofy, but they were all really good to the kids. The service was great. We would definitely go back and do that again too.
We were really disappointed with Cocoa Beach. I grew up visiting the Gulf side. I had family in Tampa. I’d heard that the Gulf side is generally cleaner, but I wasn’t expecting what we experienced at Cocoa Beach. We have also been to Jensen Beach, which is on the Atlantic, and it was very clean as well, Cocoa beach was a bummer. There was just garbage everywhere. My husband had to grab the one year old from picking up a used feminine product. Straws and food wrappers, cigarette butts. We only spent an hour there. Definitely go to Clearwater, that is the beach I grew up going to, and maybe I was a little jaded in my childhood but I don’t recall it ever being dirty, and I think my aunts and grandmas would have taken us to a different beach had it been even half as littered as Cocoa beach! Of course it is convenient if you are going to the Kennedy Space Center for a day, but Clearwater has a stellar aquarium and in my opinion is worth the extra drive.
So that’s it, every little detail that’s worth retelling It was really great, although we are not ready to rejoin normal society just yet. Hubs is back to work and kids are back to school tomorrow, and tonight was really rough when we made this realization. I definitely don’t think we would have had this experience if we hadn’t planned the way we did. It felt like too much at times, but looking back I think we would have had even more regrets if we hadn’t. Elsa and Anna was really hard for the adults to wait for, especially as we started waiting longer and longer than the posted or projected times, but I think all of that was forgotten once we got into the room and the kids were so happy! The baby kept saying “Anna!!!” and clapping, and both characters were awesome with the kids. Elsa even showed my daughter how to properly do ice magic- but only for pretend because she’s not allowed to do it there for real. Leaving them out as we had originally planned would have been a horrible mistake.