I live in Iowa and have a birthday in mid-February. It is almost always freakishly cold on my birthday. Ten years ago, I said, “If I’m not pregnant on my birthday next year, we’re going to Disneyworld.” My oldest daughter turns ten in April, so I did NOT get to go on that trip. But we’ve been talking about making the trip happen for nearly three years, and this was the year!
I planned for months. I set up a MemoryMaker share with a bunch of people so I could actually have photos with me in them. Then we flew away from sub-freezing temps into balmy heat. It was lovely. We started our trip by flying into Tampa and spending a night in Clearwater Beach to visit the Clearwater Marine Rescue Aquarium. (Quick aside: the aquarium is a nice diversion, but can be dull for younger children. It isn’t flashy, but it is very interesting if you are willing to ask the volunteers questions.) From there, we drove to visit some family I have near Ocala.
Disney Day 1: Arrival and Magic Kingdom
We drove our rental car to our Port Orleans-Riverside resort. We knew we would arrive too early to check in, so we dropped off our luggage with bell services, and then returned our car to the Car Care Center near Magic Kingdom.
We then took the Alamo shuttle to the Polynesian resort. This was not an originally planned stop, but I knew we’d need lunch, and the lines would be much shorter at the resort. As a plus, we could go through shorter lines at the resort security. At Captain Cook’s, we got two kids meals (hot dogs! eye rolls) and my husband and I shared the meatballs with coconut rice. Yum.
From there we hopped on the monorail to Magic Kingdom, arriving about 1pm. Hubby and I had been in Disney together nearly 21 years ago on a high school trip. We asked a PhotoPass photographer to help us recreate a photo of us taken on that trip. Here is the result. (And yes, we’re wearing old high school shirts.)
Our first stop was a walk through the Swiss Family Treehouse, which was a great way to stretch our legs after our two-hour drive. Then, I had a FPP for the Jungle Cruise at 1:30. The line was still about a 20-30 minute wait, so I was glad I had packed some wedding-size bottles of bubbles to entertain Daughter6. Daughter9 didn’t seem to mind the bubbles either. The kids seemed to really like the cruise, and I like a punny joke probably more than the average person.
Time for a Dole Whip at Aloha Isle! I grabbed one pineapple and one pineapple-vanilla swirl for our family of four to share. My hubby and the youngest preferred the swirl, while the oldest and I liked the pineapple better. A great way to beat the heat.
We headed toward the Country Bear Jamboree for a view of the Festival of Fantasy Parade, but we got there a bit late and ended up watching the parade from over the crowds right at the gate where the parade started. We saw enough of the parade to be happy, with my oldest quite excited when she saw Maleficent breathe fire.
My touring plan at this point had a placeholder for us to go meet Merida in Fairytale Garden. Since it is not an attraction in the app, I had stuck in a 3:30 meal at Cosmic Ray’s, since it is right across the lane. Unfortunately, we found ourselves stuck behind the parade, and couldn’t move very fast. I changed the time of our “meal” to 6pm and we popped into the Country Bear Jamboree, which the kids enjoyed, as did the adults.
We played one round of Pirate’s Adventure. It was enjoyable, but the loud voices kind of startled Daughter6, and she is the one who had activated her magicband. It also took far too long for us to find the chest of bones in the gift shop, though I did snag a birthday button for me and first trip buttons for my two kids. We caught the raft to Tom Sawyer’s Island, where the kids were kind of freaked out by the darkness in the abandoned mine and Injun Joe’s cave, but liked the clubhouse.
From here we bustled over to the Muppets Great Moments in History. My kids LOVE the Muppets, and marked this as one of the best parts of the day. As we were walking, however, it started to rain, and fairly hard. LESSON LEARNED: Keep your umbrellas or ponchos more accessible than in the bottom of your backpack. For the rest of the trip, we kept them in the basket under the stroller.
It was time to use our Pirates of the Caribbean FastPass. Daughter9 loved Pirates, and it has long been a favorite of mine as well. I did get wet on the plunge, but didn’t mind too much. Daughter6, on the other hand, thought Pirates was a bit scary and didn’t care much for it.
Here I had my first big Liner Fail: We headed over to meet Merida and arrived about 10 minutes too late. If I had consulted my Times Guide, I would have known she was done at 6pm and would have rescheduled our “meal” to earlier in the day. Daughter9 was quite disappointed, but luckily we had scheduled a second MK day for Friday, and I promised I’d put Merida early in the day. LESSON LEARNED: Check the Times Guide for character start and end times, especially for those that are not listed as attractions in the app.
I put in a Mobile Order for the Columbia River Harbor House, which we picked up without a hitch. Unfortunately, we missed our FPP window for the Haunted Mansion, so I grabbed one for 9pm, and then visited the Enchanted Tiki Room. Daughter9 enjoyed this show quite a bit, and I think Daughter6 did as well.
Since we were planning on staying in the park, we grabbed a spot on the bridge between Tomorrowland and the central plaza to watch the fireworks. We had a decent view, and were absolutely floored by the projections on the castle. We were awfully close to the fireworks, however, and Daughter6 did NOT like the noise, but covered her ears and generally enjoyed it. When TinkerBell showed up, both kids gasped, and Daugher9 said, “I KNEW it was a zipline!” We decided there and then that, even though I hadn’t originally planned on it, we would try to see the fireworks again Friday from the front of the castle.
Instead of sticking around for Once Upon a Time, we decided to pop over to Haunted Mansion. The FPP line was quite long, so we hopped in the standby line and walked onto the ride AHEAD of a bunch of FPP holders. Haunted Mansion is one of my all-time favorites. I rode with Daughter9, and she and I both enjoyed all the sights and sounds. Daughter6 rode with my husband and was quite scared by the narrator, so Hubby started asking her about all the illusions. “How do you think they did that?” He said it helped her see that it was all a carefully designed trick instead of something real that could hurt you or that you should really be scared of. (Tonight, she was recalling the spooky voice at the end telling her that a ghost might follow her home, and was creeped out.) Ranked by Daughter9 as another highlight of the day.
We watched the end of Once Upon a Time, and then grabbed a cookie ice cream sandwich at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor while letting the crowds disperse a bit. The thing was HUGE and we easily shared it among the four of us.
From here we rode the bus to our hotel, and I encountered the thing I was most concerned about with our plan to leave our luggage at the hotel before we checked in. We arrived at our room about 9:45pm, but we couldn’t put our kids to bed because we didn’t have their pajamas. Our luggage finally arrived about 10:20pm. We shuffled the kids to bed (Thank God for melatonin and On the Banks of Plum Creek.) LESSON LEARNED: If you are dropping off luggage and planning to close out the park, pack the kid’s pajamas in your backpack.