Monday, April 22, 2013

Disney World with 2.5 Kids in 2.5 Days - part I

After hearing comments like "You will need a vacation to recover from a Disney vacation" and knowing that just because something IS wonderful and fun does not mean that a 3 year old will ACT as you think appropriate for said fun/wonderful thing, I was excited, but not exactly sure what to expect out of a Disney vacation.

Well I learned a lot last weekend, Disney and non-Disney lessons, and am happy to share!

Jacob, Jack, Cora and I joined my parents, big kid Uncle Chris, and pregnant Aunt Kristen last Friday in Orlando.  (CPA Uncle William had to miss this mid-April trip.) My dad and Kristen had just completed their company's convention.

Cora in her "Minnie" skirt, ready to go!
We bought our plane tickets but my parents generously treated us to a room at the Coronado Springs, a Disney property, and bought us park tickets.

Take-away #1: I imagine Disney is a lot more enjoyable when you aren't feeling like you are bleeding money the whole trip! Thanks Mom and Dad for this gift!

We took advantage of left over convention after 4:00 passes and decided to visit Epcot the day we arrived.  We figured this was the least child friendly park, but, being Jack's first taste of Disney, on day one would seem entirely novel and fun.

Jack's fun had actually started hours before.  Ride a bus from the airport parking lot to the airport?  Sign him up!  He was grinning from ear to ear and we had a great busmate, a 20-something year old guy who guessed where Jack was going and was happy to share with him just how cool Disney World really is.

Take-away #2: I will consider myself a successful mother if I raise my son to become a 20 year old who engages with a small child, treats them like they are important, and genuinely enjoys the conversation.  Kudos to this guy's mom - I was impressed.

Other exciting moments of the day: free pretzels on the plane, riding Disney's Magical Express to the hotel, complete with a welcoming video, a free Mickey sticker, hugs from Grammy and Big Papa, as much fruit as you could want at lunch, and even spending 30 minutes at the hotel bus stop, eagerly anticipating the arrival of the EPCOT bus.

Take-away #3: Don't view the Disney trip as just about the parks.  We were able to stay relaxed and keep things at a leisurely pace, and, as a result, every part of the trip seemed like part of the fun.

The evening at Epcot was enjoyed by all and was a good first park to see.  We happened upon a food stand in "Germany" and had meatloaf sandwiches and potato pancakes for oodles less than we'd have paid at a restaurant.  And the food was surprisingly good!

We had been advised not to miss the opening of Magic Kingdom, so the next morning we arrived just in time to see the characters open the gates.  This was such a magical day.  At 3, Jack probably thought he was walking in a hybrid real life Cinderella/Mickey kingdom. His innocence had him taking everything at face value, so at this point, I'm sure he thinks all the characters he saw are real life beings.

All 6 adults were up for adventure and without an agenda (exception: Grammy was not willing to get her hair wet), so we went from one person's ride suggestion to the next seeing Splash Mountain (Jack = smiling), Pirates of the Carribean (Jack = wary), Jungle Cruise (Jack = stoic), Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (Jack = intrigued), Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride (Jack = having a great time), Thunder Mountain Railroad (Jack = laughing), Haunted Mansion (Jack = no nightmares as of yet!), It's a Small World (Jack = truly enjoying himself), Peter Pan's Ride (Jack's favorite of the trip), and the new Little Mermaid ride (also a hit).

Pirate Baby

Takeaway #4: Go with a mature group! I laugh to think how much my siblings and I have matured since our last family Disney trip when we spanned the late teens and early twenties.  I remember there being grumpiness and a little sibling stressing, but this trip everyone seemed happy just to be together.

We watched the Main Street Character Parade and I, the sap, was tearing up every time a character winked, waved, or high fived Jack because he was just so enraptured by it all. 

We felt like naps were needed (by Big Papa just as much as Jack), so we took a 3.5 hour park break and returned, rested, for Tomorrowland that night.  Jack repeatedly asked to ride the People Mover, which I don't think any of us had ever ridden because it doesn't look all that special, but it was actually fun to ride around/above/through Tomorrowland.  Jack rode it a few times while small groups of "big kids" went on Space Mountain. He then opted for more rides rather than watching the fireworks.  We closed the park down at 11:00.

Jack & Cora at a Tomorrowland concert be continued...

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