June 11 was the day I had been waiting on for 1 year. As soon as our beach vacation was over last June, my mind immediately went into Disney mode. To no surprise, I read up on our trip for a year. I read, researched, pinned, took notes, talked to others who have visited Disney, etc. To me, one of the most fun things you can do regarding a trip is planning it!! If you know me, I try to be an extremely organized person and keep things in just the right places. (although I do have a huge cabinet above our computer that is completely full of junk and if you open a door, I can almost guarantee something will fall out. That is so unlike me so I have no idea why I allow it to be that way hahaha) I got so much joy out of reading other mom's blogs regarding their trips to Disney World and the do's and don'ts of what they suggested. When we visited 2 years ago, I really learned for myself the do's and don'ts and felt really (really) prepared for our trip this year. With advice, I contacted a Disney travel agent to help me plan our big vacation. I learned Disney travel agents are completely free, and Disney pays them commission. So, why not? Karen was an absolutely huge help with alllll of my random questions I had. We e-mailed, called and texted and she was a wealth of knowledge. She made lots of suggestions and then Adam and I would discuss and then let her know our decision. She was wonderful and I'm so thankful I was referred to her.
I do have to say, I feel very strongly that if you want your Disney trip to be somewhat successful in your book, research is a must. You simply cannot walk into a park without prior knowledge of what's inside and just try to swing it. Take my word and if you are thinking of planning a Disney vacation, start googling and pinning! Oh, and contact Karen ;)
Want to know what kicked our excitement in gear a few weeks before we left?
Our Magic Bands and Itinerary came in the mail!! I can assure you, lots of squealing went on as I kept pulling goodies out of the box Karen sent to us. We each picked our own color and it was to no surprise when Landon chose Red and Adalyn chose Pink. Hands down, that is their favorite color! My plan is to hang our bands on our Christmas tree this year :)
I had a Disney countdown on my phone and Adalyn would always ask to look at it to see how many days we had left.
We were very excited to see this on my phone screen :)
When we had 9 days to go, I had Adalyn to create a countdown to hang in our kitchen. She cut red and pink construction paper into strips and wrote 1-9 and made it into a chain. (red and pink for mickey and minnie-duh!) Each morning, they would pull off a chain and recount the remaining days. It was fun for them to look forward in doing each day and it got them really excited. The week prior to leaving, (we left on a Saturday) was VBS. I worked, Adam worked VBS, the kids went, they farmed, we ran errands, bought snacks, and managed to fit in time to swim with friends on Friday before we left. It was a super busy week, so I cleaned the house throughout the week and did a room or so at a time. That way, I wasn't trying to do it all the night before we left. I also slowly started packing and made piles of clothes in our bedrooms. I had a list of what I felt I needed to pack and had purchased a big box of gallon zip loc bags for the kids outfits. If you have clicked on Pinterest and have only even been on there for 5 minutes, you probably came across the zip loc bag method when packing for your kids. Something about that made me feel all good inside and knew that was right up my alley. haha Prior to leaving, I had all of their outfits purchased or made and knew exactly what day and what park they would be wearing that particular outfit to.
Because my brain works like this, I LOVED this idea. Adalyn and Landon each have their own carry on rolling suitcase so they each had their own clothes packed away- and it was already organized!! All you moms out there- can I get an amen?
Once we arrived at the resort, they each had a drawer in the dresser and I just tossed their bags inside. Each night before bed, I layed all of our clothes out and everything was ready to go. When you go to Disney, you get up early and the last thing you want is to waste time on finding those red shorts or that Minnie shirt you wanted them to wear! Each of their bags included a top, shorts, underwear, socks, and in Adalyn's case, a bow and ponytail holder.
This was my first time in packing this way for them and I will definitely do it for now on. It's genius.
Saturday morning came and we all were ready and on the road by 7:00 AM. Our flight left at 10:00, so we gave ourselves plenty of time to drive to Nashville, park at the airport, catch a shuttle, go through security, take bathroom breaks, and kind of chill out and people and plane watch before we took off. Thankfully, everything went super smooth!
Once on the plane, we settled in and enjoyed the flight. It was about 1.5 hours to Orlando and the kids ate snacks, looked at books and played on their iPads. Before long, we were landing in Orlando!! We stopped in the food court to eat lunch before heading to the Magical Express. We were starving and in order for me not to become "hangry", we ate then instead of waiting to eat at the resort. haha
What do you do in the bathroom in the Orlando Airport?
You take a selfie because you are just so excited!!
If you stay on Disney property, you can hop on the Magical Express bus and they will take you straight to your resort! Disney has their own area of the Orlando Airport and you just follow the signs to get yourself there. Prior to us leaving, we received in the mail luggage tags. We checked 1 bag (we also had 3 carry-ons) and the bag we checked, we had a special luggage tag to place on it for Disney to know which resort to take it to. That meant, we didn't have to deal with picking it up and toting a large suitcase with us. It was then delivered to our resort later that afternoon. So please know in advance, you will not have your checked luggage at your room when you check in. It will take a few hours so be sure to pack everything you need in your carry-on bags.
Once you get off the plane, you need to put your magic bands on. Once you reach the magical express area of the airport, that's how they check you in. You then follow the signs and ropes to whatever resort you are staying at. For us, we stayed at Disney's Art of Animation Resort. We hopped in line and made our way to the bus!
The buses are big and have TV's that show Disney information and the old, traditional Mickey Mouse shows. My kids loved this! Then about 10 minutes later, they were fast asleep just like this until we reached our resort. I was glad they got a cat nap in! It was about a 25 minute bus ride from the airport so it wasn't long at all! Depending on what resort you stay at, may depend on how many stops the bus will make before arriving at yours. Thankfully, for the Art of Animation, it went straight to where we needed to go.
Once we arrived, we checked in but learned our room wasn't quit ready. So, we dropped our luggage off, picked up our double stroller and walked around and explored. I rented a stroller from Kingdom Strollers for our week stay and it was there waiting on us when we arrived and when it was time to leave, we left it for the company to pick up. Amazing! There are a few stroller rental companies in Orlando so I was sure to price check them all and went with the best price. You will read (hopefully if you are doing your research!) that most of those rental strollers can look exactly the same, depending on the model you reserved of course, and can be the same exact color. I found this to be true. I rented the City Mini GT due to it's size. Adalyn is around 75 lbs and this was the largest size they had. It was wonderful. I bought a cheap scarf at Dollar Tree and wrapped it around the handle so we could easily spot our stroller once we came off a ride or character greet. They have certain areas designated for parking strollers and 9 times out of 10, a cast member will rearrange all the strollers by the time you get back out of your attraction. So, to easily pick out your stroller in the sea of strollers, add a scarf or bandanna of some sort to the handle.
Our stroller was a turquoise color, as were most rented strollers it seemed! Kingdom Stroller company is very popular and these strollers were everywhere. This scarf trick really worked! We spotted ours each time. And because it was just $1.00, I threw it away the day we checked out.
(the company also added a small cooler and stroller rain cover as well. The cooler came in handy! You can see we have it snapped on the handle.)
We toured our resort for a little while and we so enjoyed the sights! Art of Animation did a FANTASTIC job in the theme of each section. The landscape and atmosphere was out of this world.
Have a Cars lover? Then stay in the Cars section! These are suites only and the inside and outside of this huge area is decorated in the Cars theme.
We then played a little bit in the Finding Nemo section, which is the center of the entire resort. This is where the biggest pool is located and it's also right outside the lobby, food court, etc.
You'll see other pictures of this area as I continue to blog about our days.
After walking around, we headed back inside the lobby to check on our room(thankfully it was ready!) and look who we ran into!!
Characters right off the bat! Now that's they way to start your Disney vacation!
Next, we headed to our room. We chose to stay in The Little Mermaid section. Based on a few reasons, we chose not to stay in a suite and spend more money. Number 1, there was just 4 of us. Number 2, we were only going to be there late at night to sleep and for a few hours in the late afternoon to nap before heading back out to swim or to the parks that night. I knew beforehand that it is just your typical, small, hotel room. Tripadvisor is a great tool to use to read up on where you are staying! I knew exactly what to expect so I was prepared for it. Both kids love The Little Mermaid and they were over the moon when seeing the decor outside our section and the way the room was decorated. It was great!
Just a few tips if you stay in The Little Mermaid rooms that worked well for us. I bought liquid hand soap and brought it with us. I much prefer that over washing my hands with a bar of soap for a week. Picked it up at the Dollar Tree and just threw it away when we left. It's the little things, I know, but I loved that I had liquid soap. haha
I also brought an over the door shoe organizer. I read you do not have a lot of counter space around your sink so instead of having that area junked up, we were able to put most everything in the organizer that hung over the door and we instantly had so much space!
Dollar Tree did not have this so I picked it up from Wal-Mart. The liquid hand soap and this shoe organizer worked beautifully!! It folds into a tiny square and is light so it was no big deal at all to pack. If you are not staying in a condo that normally has lots of storage areas throughout and are staying in a typical hotel room, take one of these! You will see how easy it makes things during your week stay.
Once we were settled in and unpacked, I changed the kids clothes and we headed to MAGIC KINGDOM! Only my favorite place EVER in the entire world. Everyone was excited and the first thing we did was meet Anna and Elsa! The week we visited was their last week to do meet and greets in Magic Kingdom. They have now moved over to Epcot due to their new ride opening in Norway. So, Karen made it happen for us and scored us Fastpasses to meet them! Excited was an understatement.
We then headed over to meet Merida. The kids love the movie, Brave, so meeting her was high on our list, too!
Merida commented on Adalyn's curly hair
Our next Fastpass was for Peter Pan's flight- one of my favorites! Trust me when I say you need to get a fastpass for this. The line for this ride is almost always over 60 minutes all day long.
We then made our way over to the Liberty Tree Tavern for our dinner reservations at 7:00. (This was considered a Table service credit) No characters are at this restaurant but the food was delicious. Baked ham, turkey, roast, mashed potatoes, green beans, mac and cheese, rolls, etc. We were FULL when we left! Just to give you an example as to why you need the Dining Plan, our bill came to $140.00! lol Crazy expensive. That's what we would have had to fork over if we weren't on the plan! It's so nice knowing you don't have to worry with your wallet and budgeting each meal for your week stay. Dining plan is the way to go!
Adam snapped this picture of Landon and I inside the restaurant. It has a very old timey feeling to it! It was great.
After supper, we walked on the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse then headed to Big Thunder Railroad to use our fastpass.
We left Magic Kingdom before the Electrical Parade started since we knew we would be visiting again 2 other times. We headed back to the resort to shower and hit the sack! I snapped this of the kids before Adam and I called it a night. We were pretty whopped from traveling and spending the evening at Magic Kingdom! But to be honest, as tired as I may be, I will never pass up time at MK. The kids were great since they could relax in the stroller. It is much easier for them to hop in and enjoy the ride so we can get through the park at a faster pace.
So, that is all I have for our very 1st day!
Traveling and Magic Kingdom exploring- right up my alley!
Next up, our day at Hollywood Studios!