We are back from Disney World and we had a magical time. This trip was of course totally exhausting but I think well worth it. So many memories were made and we are already thinking of when we will go back for Josiah’s 4th Birthday.
Some of you have expressed interest in what our itinerary was. Let me warn you, this trip is not for the faint of heart. We love to see and do it all, and tried our best to get every penny of our money’s worth. So use this information as you wish. Some things I already know I will change for the next trip.
We did four parks in four days and used the fast pass system as well as we could. We did not pay extra for park hopper tickets, so we did everything we could each day at one park. We also got a free dining plan when we booked our trip which they seem to offer a couple of times a year. I don’t think I would do it any other way. Having the dining plan made it so simple and worry free. I wasn’t comparing prices to decide what to eat, I just got what I wanted and if the kids didn’t finish, oh well. Such a good thing, even if we have to pay next time.
I recommend you get familiar with the layout of the parks. We looked at the Disney website and bought Fodor’s Walt Disney World with Kids 2013 which had a lot of good tips. You will feel more apt to handle traveling around the parks. At each park we got a map and schedule first thing to see where things were and what special character meetings or shows there were, then we arranged our day from there.
Day one was Animal Kingdom. We left the hotel at 8am to be at the park at 8:30am because they will take your ticket and let you enter at 8:45am even though the official open time was 9am. Then they drop the ropes inside at 9am and you are free to dash off to whatever. We went to the back of the park for the Safari and saw a ton of animals because it was early and still pretty cool out. So fun! Then Elijah and Shawn went to ride
Everest while Naomi and I went to get fast passes to Dinosoaur and meet Pooh, Tigger and Eyore. We met back up and rode Triceratops Spin, then split with Elijah and I going to the PrimevalWhirl while Naomi and Shawn played in the Boneyard playground. We went from there to the Nemo show, I highly recommend it. We went back to use our fast pass on Dinosaur but it was broken down and remained that way the rest of the day, bummer. So we had lunch at Pizzafari. Then went walking on the Pangini Trail and the Maharaji Trail. Next we saw the Lion King show, another must see! After that we met Pocahontas and took the wildlife train to Rafiki’s petting zoo, we headed back to the hotel. Despite the cold temps the kids wanted to swim so we did that for about half an hour and then booked it to Downtown Disney to have dinner at the T-Rex Restaurant. We were back at the hotel by 10pm. Animal Kingdom is the only park that really doesn’t need a full day.
Day two was at Hollywood Studios. We had 7am reservations for Chef Mickey so we drove ourselves that day. It was extra magic hours for Hollywood, but because of our breakfast we didn’t get there until 8:30am, half an hour after it opened. We went directly to the NBC studio offices, behind American Idol, and signed up Elijah for the Jedi Training show. He had to be there with me to sign him up and despite being there early he didn’t get into a show until 4:10pm. So if you want to do this, get there fast! This park is not as easy to do everything. There are a ton of shows with specific times so you really have to look at the schedule and plan it out. After the Jedi sign up, Shawn took the kids to meet Chip and Dale while I got Fast passes for Toy Story, those go super fast, we got them at 9am for times around noon, so do that early too. Then we saw the Little Mermaid show, walked across the park to do Star Tours, went back for the Disney Jr. show (Sofia, Doc McStuffins and Jake and the Neverland Pirates), saw the Indiana Jones show and then met the Army Men on the way to do the Toy Story ride. We got another fast pass for the Toy Story ride because we love it so much, it was for 7:30pm. We went to Pizza Planet for lunch and then saw the Muppet Show, the Backlot Tour and the Beauty and the Beast Show, where I saw an old dance partner of mine. So cool! Elijah and I then booked it over to his Jedi Training show orientation. While he was trained, Naomi and I shopped a little. We all watched his show then took in the Great Movie ride and had the kids play on the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground. We had 5:45pm reservations at the Sci-fi Drive in restaurant and then went to our second time on Toy Story. Lastly, we saw a new Jack Sparrow show, which wasn’t really worth it. Originally, we were going to see Fantasmic, but we were tired and it was pretty cold so even though we were there when it started, we just went back to the hotel and crashed.
Day three was at Epcot. We did the same schedule as day one and were there by 8:30am for the 9am opening. We went directly to Soarin’ and had no wait. I then ran to get a Fast pass to the test track while Shawn took the kids to get in line for the Nemo ride. I made it back just as they were entering. We explored The Seas area and saw the Talk with Crush, highly recommended and very cute. Next we all went to Figments Journey to Imagination before Elijah and I headed to the Test Track and Shawn and Naomi explored Innoventions. We went back to The Land area for lunch and then explored Planet Earth. It was finally time for the countries, where we got a fast pass for Norway’s Maelstrom, went to Mexico’s 3 Caballeros ride, then went back to use our Fast pass. We then went to be the first in line to meet Mulan in China, grabbed a snack in Germany at the chocolate caramel shop and waited in line to meet Aladdin and Jasmine. We walked the rest of the way around the countries and saw the Captain E-O Show before going back to China for dinner. By that time we were freezing, it was 45 degrees, so we went to the big Mickey store and looked around, read books and shopped until the Illuminations show. We were back at the hotel about 10:30pm. Illuminations is Shawn’s favorite fireworks show out of any of them.
Our last day was at Magic Kingdom. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing this last because we were tired but it was Naomi’s actual birthday and that was the only time we could get a reservation for Cinderella’s Castle. We again got there at 8:30am and were ready for the mad dash to the back of the park for the new Fantasyland. We started with the Ariel ride and then had to bypass Belles’ Story time because it was closed for a while. Instead we met up with my old friend Eric, who was in the Beauty Show, and went to Peter Pan, Small World, got fast passes for Pooh which gave us bonus fast passes for Mickey’s Philharmonic, and rode the Carousel. We said goodbye to Eric who had to go back to work, and went to use our fast passes. Then I rode the tea cups with the kids, and we got in the long line for Dumbo while Shawn got fast passes for the Barnstormer. The new Dumbo has a waiting area where you get a pager and the kids play on a playground, then you get paged when you have to go back to the line. A new concept for the long wait. After Dumbo, we used our fast pass for Barnstormer and then Shawn went to get fast passes for Space Mountain and met us at Cosmic Rays for lunch.
After lunch is when things got a little screwy. We drove on the Speedway and then tried to go to Monsters Inc. but it was shut down. So we went to the Stitch Show, which is not worth the wait. Then we got fast passes for the Buzz Ride and Elijah and I went on Astro Orbiter while Naomi and Shawn went on the People Mover, which broke down for a few minutes while they were on it. Then we went to the Monsters Inc. show to only get seated and be told it wasn’t working again, they did give us 4 fast passes to be used anywhere, we should have taken that as a sign to get out of Tomorrowland. Instead, we headed off to use our Buzz fast passes and then Shawn and Elijah rode Space Mountain, to be followed by me and Elijah riding it again. Only this time Space Mountain broke down with us on it as well, so Shawn and Naomi decided to go on the People mover again which broke down while they were on it. After all the glitches we still took in the Monsters Inc. Show because Elijah wanted to hear his joke that he entered in the show. Needless to say, we spent way too long in Tomorrowland. We did get out of there and used our bonus fast passes on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and then headed to The Pirates of the Caribbean ride and Aladdin ride before going to Dinner with Cinderella. We went and checked in, stood in line for our picture and Naomi was jumping up and down with excitement. She was dressed as Cinderella and looked so cute! She not only had her picture taken, but also took some time when no kids were checking in to chat with Cinderella about her dresses and shoes and other things. Adorable! Then we decided to check on why we had been waiting for 45 minutes to be seated only to find out they had lost our name so they sent us right in. Of course I was so tired and crazed by all that had been going wrong that I broke down and the manager came over. We explained how long we waited and that no one even said they were sorry and he set out to help us. We finished dinner, met all the princesses and the the manager came back and gave us all free mickey mouse ears and said our meal would be free. We were on the dining plan so it didn’t really matter, and it was our last night or I think he would have done more for us, but it was nice that they he tried to help. So after all the mishaps of the day, we missed the fireworks but did make it out for the light parade. Naomi fell asleep halfway through, but loved what she saw. Then Elijah fell asleep right after as I finished up the last of our shopping and we were back to the hotel by 11pm.
It sounds crazy when I write it all out, but I really just picked a few key things I wanted to do and went from there each day. I have little moments that are coming back to me each day. Like Naomi and I skipping through Hollywood Studios to the Laverne and Shirley theme song, or Elijah and Naomi talking about how the dinosaurs in the T-Rex restaurant were looking right at them and having conversations with them. Or even at Cinderella’s Castle how they both were closing their eyes and making a wish during the wish on a star song. They were so into the magic of Disney World. It really was a great time! I recommend it.