What a Summer! I have so much to share, but I’m going to start with our first family vacation, which was a trip to Disney World! (I of course had my iPhone6 with me, and snapped and edited all of the photos in this post, with it.)
First of all, we aren’t crazy. We wouldn’t normally select a trip across the country to be our first family vacation, with our 2 very little kids in tow. How this happened was, we went to a school auction late last Spring. It was to benefit the school our daughters will attend in the future, but they don’t attend yet because they are only 1 and 3 years old, so when it came time to bid on a week to Disney World, no one was biting, because everyone had already gotten in bidding wars over their children’s classroom projects. We didn’t have classroom projects to bid on (or tuition to pay yet for that matter!), so we saw the deal and ended up raising our paddles and winning the trip, for less than half of the value! We recruited the grandparents to join us, and all 6 of us had a blast!
What we didn’t realize, however, in the excitement of winning such a deal, is that the trip was over the 4th of July. This wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that July in Orland, FL is HOT and HUMID. And surprisingly, that doesn’t deter people, so it was also extremely crowded. Every ride line in the Magic Kingdom was at least an hour wait, usually 2 hours.
We stayed at the Saratoga Springs Resort, which was walking distance to Downtown Disney, and a short bus ride to every other Disney property. We spent most of our time at Magic Kingdom, spent a really fun day at Epcot, did a Frozen sing along show at Hollywood Studios, and spent a couple of the hottest days at Blizzard Beach water park. The only bummer about the days we selected to do the waterpark, were that each day, we got poured on, there was thunder and lightening, and the park closed for a couple of hours while we waited the storm out. We spent one afternoon at Animal Kingdom, but it was so hot and crowded, that it was honestly a bit miserable, and we left without seeing much.
The fireworks show over the 4th was absolutely spectacular. I have never before seen a show as good!
A really special moment was our day at Epcot. In the Norway “country,” our 3 year old Sloane saw a Queen Elsa dress. She wanted it in the worst way. We told her we’d think about it and continued exploring Epcot. At the end of the day, my husband Ben ran back and bought it for her. When we got back to our hotel, he surprised her with it, and she was in complete awe. It was the cutest moment.
We were late for our dinner reservations, but Sloane really wanted to wear her dress, so we brought it with us with promises she could wear it after dinner. So, after dinner, I took her into the restroom and helped her into her dress. She ran out of the stall, toward the full-length mirror, gasped at her own reflection, got really close, and excitedly whispered to me, “MOM! This is really beautiful!” She spent the bulk of the remainder of the trip in her gown, twirling and feeling lovely, and the Disney staff greeted Queen Elsa, or “the princess” and thanked her for joining us, wherever we went. A Disney bus driver even stopped, opened his window, and waved at her. Her eyes were ablaze with the magic that is Disney, and it was worth the entire trip just to see that alone.
Our 1 year old, Adrienne also loved it. She LOVED the Teacups ride and would sign and beg “again again!” once it was over. She and Sloane giggled and giggled the entire duration of the ride, and it was so sweet to get to experience that wonder and joy with them.
The heat really was exhausting though, and anytime we passed a fountain, or something squirting water, we were in it! We all were tired out by the end of each day, but it was so worth it!
Disney really is incredible for families with kids. The staff are accommodating, understanding, helpful, kind, and excited about their jobs. Our first night there, the girls were jet lagged, and because we hadn’t made dinner reservations prior to arriving, we were waiting for dinner for over an hour, at 9 PM at night. Once we were seated, before we could say a word, the waiter had brought out slushies and french fries for the girls, to keep them happy and busy. It really is a magical place!
Sloane did NOT want to leave. I didn’t either!
Advice for doing Disney World:
- There is surprisingly a LOT to do, even for really little kids
- Don’t go in July
- Stay on one of the Disney properties because the free bus shuttle system between each one is so convenient
- Get Fast Passes for rides *before* you go on your trip. If you wait and try to do it while you’re already there, you won’t be able to
- Make dinner reservations before you leave for your trip, unless you enjoy eating dinner at 9-10 PM
- Don’t do Stitch’s Great Escape. Just don’t.