Disney World – Florida (Part 1)…

We’ve spent the past five days at Disney World, and we had an absolute blast!

On Sunday we went to Disney Springs, a cool outdoor area with shopping, food, etc. Our kids thought we were just walking around for fun, but there they experienced an awesome surprise. My mom and aunt flew in to join us for our time at Disney World!

Our kids were in such shock, and they were so excited!

We chose to come to Disney World one of the least busy weeks of the year. There were still crowds of people, but not overwhelming crowds. We decided which parks we’d go to which days based on what fast passes were available each day. Most rides have a fast pass line and a standby line. You can get 3 fast passes per day, and those lines are typically substantially shorter than the standby lines. Once you use up your 3 passes, you can add more if there are more available. The most popular rides only have availability at least a week in advance. The earlier you reserve, the better. We were pretty late reserving, but we still got fast passes for some great rides.

Monday morning we put on our Disney shirts and mouse ears, and we excitedly headed to the Animal Kingdom.

I would suggest telling kids ahead of time that there aren’t a ton of rides and that the Animal Kingdom is somewhat like a cool zoo. Because we chose it for the first day and had hyped up Disney so much, I think the kids were a tad let down. They didn’t say it, but I could tell.

Most of our kids, especially our little ones, were terrified by the 3D film “It’s Tough to be a Bug!” It’s fun for older kids and adults. We did enjoy the Kilimanjaro Safaris, Rafiki’s Planet Watch and TriceraTop Spin. Finding Nemo The Musical was amazing…really amazing! I would have paid up to $25 per kid just to see that musical.

The rides Expedition Everest, Primeval Whirl and Dinosaur were all closed for technical difficulties. That was a bummer and, in my opinion, made the Animal Kingdom not worth the time and money. I type this to give an honest review, but we all kept good attitudes and we did have a good time all day.

We told the kids that the Magic Kingdom the next day would be all the more exciting, and wow, it sure was!

Tuesday morning we got up and drove to the Magic Kingdom. My mom and aunt stayed at a Disney resort. Our family stayed at Rainbow Chase RV Resort in Davenport, just 12 miles from the Magic Kingdom. It was an easy drive in, and parking was easy. You can take a tram from the parking lot to the park entrance or you can walk. We chose to walk because we had a loaded stroller we didn’t want to empty and fold. The walk added about 1,500 steps to our day, then another 1,500 back that night. We went through a bag check, short lines, and entered what we thought was the park. We were then directed to ride the monorail or ferry over to the actual park entrance. We waited about 10 minutes in line and rode the monorail. We did not purchase magic bands. We had tickets similar to credit cards that I carried in a belt bag for our whole family. We scanned those for entrance into each park. I was happy with that choice.

Most of the lines were pretty short. Some rides we got on right away, most we waited 5-20 minutes in line and a select few we waited longer. We had a fast pass for Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain and It’s a Small World.

Pirates of the Caribbean was a little scary for younger kids, but was great fun for most of us. Bravely loved it.

I was excited to take our oldest 5 kids on Space Mountain roller coaster. I remember going to Disney World as a kid, and my older sister was so terrified of rides she would not ride anything I considered really fun. My dad felt bad for me because I was just tall enough to ride Space Mountain, but no one wanted to ride it besides me. He did not do many rides and definitely not wild ones, but he volunteered to take me on it. He has told the story over the years that he had his eyes closed praying, “Lord, get me off this thing,” and I had my hands in the air yelling, “Faster! Faster!” I was the happiest girl in the world getting to ride such a thrilling ride! Our kids just loved it as well!

Lolli, my mom, volunteered to watch our 5 youngest kids, and Aunt Sara rode with us.

It’s a Small World is one of the cutest rides, in my opinion. I remembered it from my childhood as one I loved.

We loved walking through the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse.

Everyone enjoyed the carousel, and Bravely was overwhelmed with excitement. It was definitely her favorite ride out of all Disney World rides. She clenched onto the handles as tight as possible, screamed and cried when the ride was over.

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, Dumbo the Flying Elephants, Mad Tea Party and The Barnstormer were all really cute and fun. There were a surprising amount of rides that were for all heights and we were all able to do. Then there were rides like The Barnstormer, a roller coaster, that even River (our 3-year-old) was tall enough to do. She absolutely loved that roller coaster, and it was fun for older kids and adults. Ages 6 and under have to ride with an adult on most rides. We were so happy to have Lolli and Aunt Sara with us. Our ratio of adults to little kids always worked out just right for rides.

The Monster’s, Inc. Laugh Floor was really funny and fun. Manning joined right in the humor when he was called out on the spot.

We brought our own snacks into the park to eat throughout the day each day, and then we ate dinner at a restaurant in each park. At the Magic Kingdom, Lolli treated everyone to a special snack of either a Mickey ice cream bar, a Mickey ice cream sandwich or frozen lemonade. Our kids were on cloud 9.

Our kids really enjoyed the People Mover. It’s a simple ride with a short line that takes you on a little tour above ground around Tomorrowland. It goes through Space Mountain, which is fun to hear all the screams and get a glimpse of in a different way.

Our kids do not watch much TV and have only seen a handful of Disney movies, so they weren’t dying to see characters but they hoped to see some. They were given autograph books as Christmas gifts and were excited about getting character autographs. We really were surprised we did not see a lot of characters. There are stations set up around the park with different characters, and those are usually filled with long lines. Our kids didn’t want to wait in those lines, and we were thrilled they didn’t. If you have kids who are really into the Disney characters, I would suggest using some of your fast passes to meet the characters. I saw that there were several of those available as fast pass options.

We ate dinner at the Starlight Cafe. It was nice, very spacious and had really good food. Our kids either shared footlong chili cheese dogs and fries or got an order of chili cheese fries. Lolli and Aunt Sara had burgers, Ryan had a chicken sandwich and I had rotisserie chicken with green beans and mac & cheese. I’d eat there again. (All Disney food is pricey. I am going to post our money saving tips in a different post.)

Finally, we ended the day watching fireworks at Cinderella’s Castle. It was crazy crowded. People started claiming their places over an hour in advance. Honestly, I don’t think I’d show up very early to claim a spot. We got to the area 5-10 minutes before the fireworks started and found a spot. At the last minute we were told we, and many, many other people near us, had to move behind tape lines – we had no idea. It was so crowded in every direction by that point, it was impossible to even move out of the area. We ended up stepping as close as we could to the tape lines just as the show started. This infuriated people who’d been waiting there for over an hour behind us, understandably. That is why I don’t think it’s worth getting there very early to claim a spot. People will end up outside the tape lines. People will put their kids on their shoulders and hold up their phones in front of you no matter where you stand. Might as well just show up and end up wherever. The firework show was definitely worth embracing the massive crowd, though. Tapestry says this was her favorite experience in all of Disney World. It was truly magical to watch!