I went to WDW and USF with my mom and two kiddos, Elias age 9 and Sabela age 7. I always had it in my head that we had to go to Disney once- that’s what I did with my family, that’s what I’d do with my kids. Elias has been really into Harry Potter and Star Wars for a few years, so started asking when we’d go a while ago, but I was waiting for Sabela to get a bit older. I couldn’t see her being very patient about waiting in line or having the stamina for long days. Sabela has a form of dwarfism called hypochondroplasia, which affects the growth in her arms and legs, so it was possible that it would be a long, long time before she would be at a height to do all the rides. I waited to find the sweet spot age-wise where she would be emotionally mature enough to handle long lines (this was before I discovered the magic of TPs!) and long days, but not too old that she would want to ride thrill rides that would be off limits due to her height. So, this was the year, and it worked out well- she had no interest in roller coasters or thrill rides so didn’t feel like she was missing what she couldn’t do.
FIRST DAY: SURPRISES ABOUND!
My mom came along to join the fun because my husband is from Spain, so grew up with a very different view of Disney, and was not interested in going, but he recognized how important it was to me, so with his blessing and a wave, we boarded a flight headed to Orlando.
We got into Orlando, and as my mom’s flight had arrived a couple hours earlier, she was there waiting for us. We got into the Magical Express line for Wilderness Lodge and as we were near the front of the line, had a little wait, but nothing too extravagant. I handed the kids their magic bands, which they hadn’t seen yet and were excited to wear. While on the bus waiting for more families to board, I placed my order for Amazon Prime Now to be delivered later that evening. I had done online check-in weeks before, and had sent a room request fax via TP. On the bus I got a text with our room number. I had requested a room on the 5th or 6th floor, hoping for a glimpse of fireworks, but was disappointed to see it was a first floor room. I did notice it was a bunk room and handicap accessible, so thought it might be more spacious, so I didn’t ask for a change.
We got to the lobby right after 3, which is exactly when I had “planned” for us to arrive (our flight got in at 1). We were wowed by the beautiful wood and stone work everywhere and then had to get oriented- I asked a passing CM how to find our room and he directed us to Bell Services who walked us to the right hallway. We were SO delighted with our room. It was spacious, the kids had bunk beds, our patio looked out on a little pool of water with cabins across the way and three friendly ducks inhabitants, and as I later found out, we could see the fireworks from MK every night. It was perfect, and definitely an upgrade from our standard room reservation.
We did a quick tour of the grounds and then had a swim. They loved the slide, but I was surprised that S was not impressed with the splash pad- I thought it’d be her favorite, but I guess she’s outgrown them, as she pronounced that area “boring” and quickly jumped back into the pool. After about an hour, I told them the next activity was to go to Epcot. I had been telling them that we were only doing three parks plus USF, and Elias had been talking all day about he really wanted to get a picture of the ball from the monorail, at least. So, he was thrilled. Sabela needed a little more convincing to get out of the pool, even though I told her she was going to meet Anna and Elsa.
I had hoped to get to Epcot by 5:30-5:45, but we had to wait a bit for the bus, and then it took a detour to Ft. Wilderness before arriving around 6. We got there just in time to take a few pictures with the ball in the background and make our FP for Spaceship Earth, where the kids found out their magic bands glowed in the dark- another fun surprise! It was the perfect start to the night. When we came out, the lights had come on, and my kids kept exclaiming how it looked unreal and beautiful and just amazing. I think we were all just soaking in the fact that we were really there. I had hoped to meet Donald in his poncho and sombrero, but we had a FEA FP to make, so we cruised past him on our way to Arendelle, I mean Norway By this time it was dark, and we were disconcerted about how dark the park was. There really was very little lighting, and this being the first time, we had to wander a bit and ask someone to find where FEA was tucked away. This was a fun ride, and the animatronics were so impressive- it was quite the contrast to Spaceship Earth in this regard. We then had a 5 minute wait to meet Elsa and Anna (I got tears in my eyes seeing Sabela with them), and then headed over to Mexico for the ride there, with another 5 minute wait. We then all realized at the same time that we hadn’t had a proper lunch and it was well into dinner time by now. My mom and I shared a couple of dishes from Thailand and Australia while the kids got poutine.
The original plan, if we had arrived earlier, had been to walk the World Showcase, but it was about 8:30 and the crowds were getting intense between F & W and people finding spots for Illuminations. I have very little tolerance for crowds, so I proposed we just head over to the Land. There were EMH until 11. Elias really wanted to ride Soarin’. There was no wait, we could have gone right in, but I asked the CM if we could wait for the next round to get B1, and she said yes. So glad we got to do it. We all really loved it. We then headed to the seas for Finding Nemo, again no wait at all, and popped in to talk to Crush. Elias got to ask him a question (“What do you do in your free time?”), so he was very pleased, as he loves turtles. I had really hoped to meet Baymax, so we headed over there and found out he was already charging for the night, but Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy were available, so we ended the night with them.
It was the perfect start to the trip, and we were all really glad we got a bit of Epcot in, even if we had to skip most of WS. I was especially pleased that we didn’t wait in any line longer than 5 minutes. Except for that time about 8-8:30 in WS, the park felt empty. In fact, the last two hours, between the darkness and the emptiness it really felt like we were the only people in the park, and it was a bit eerie. We were in bed by 11:30 and excited for a full day at MK the following day.