I'll start from the beginning. I'll keep it to Magic Kingdom only for this post as we also went to Hollywood Studios; I wrote down some things and tips that worked for us so will regurg that here more for my reference than anything else.
Every year Disney does a deal for Florida residents, a 2- or 4-day pass. We had talked about going, it just felt like a good time. Last year on New Year's Eve day we had ended up in downtown Disney in search of a photobooth (we're so nutskis). We walked around a little bit and from just that little taste we could tell Mila was smitten. She was ready. Then for Valentine's Day Marmousch surprised us with tickets...and upgraded to the 4 day pass! We were so grateful and excited. Thank you again Marmousch for such incredible memories.
|Baby Mine on the carousel|
We stayed at the Coronado Springs Resort, which was great. Most likely when we go to WDW in the years to come we'll go for the day (Florida perks!); that's what we always did growing up. For the girls' first time though AND since they're still so young and it's tough for us to mobilize quickly--we figured being on-site would set us up for success. Also, then we could take advantage of magic hours, when parks stay open an hour earlier or later just for Disney hotel guests (it varies from day to day). Oh I'd certainly recommend this. There were a few hotel advantages, namely free parking, shuttle pickup and drop-off allowing you to bypass the monorail, three fast passes/day (this is HUGE), and that magic hour was a big perk. Yes, we took full advantage and were there when the cannon went off and the park opened. Magical! We had also wanted a hotel room thinking it would be a 'day base' where we could come back to if the girls were tired so they could nap. That didn't end up being the case and I'm so glad it wasn't because let's face it, that would have been a huge chunk of the day. I'm sure it has nothing to do with our parenting but for whatever reason our girls are troopers. Dani napped on the go, Mila held her own and Steve and I just went with it. We ended up staying until 10:00; as the bus was pulling away from the entrance we could see fireworks beginning (another magical moment!). That's 14 hours at Magic Kingdom! Like I said, troopers to the max.
Also! Mila had no idea we were going. It was a big ole surprise. She thought we were going to Orlando for IKEA (which for us is a totally normal, nearly-monthly thing). Then as we got closer Steve, ever the actor, started playing up this headache, and he got "lost," and wanted to stop for directions at the hotel. Very much not rehearsed between us and it was damn comical to watch it unfold. When we pulled up to the hotel guardbooth, Steve was jerking his head in the direction of the backseat and whispering. The look on the guard's face: priceless.
When we got to the room (which we told Wugs we were just going to stay for the afternoon until Papa's headache got better, a by-the-hour place! Haha) there were mickey-shaped balloons, Mickey ear hats with the girls' names on them, a card...all orchestrated by Steve. Apparently he was smitten too. And we slowly revealed our plans to Mila. She was all hands-jammed-in-mouth giddy, which is the Wugs way. She was excited. Don't let some of those non-smiling pictures fool you, she had the time of her life. I know because she HAS NOT STOPPED talking about it ever since. Mila's play at home now either revolves around her going to Disney or going to a Disney hotel.
It's funny, having grown up in Florida we went to Disney quite a bit. Not like crazy Disney people but I'd say at least once a year we went to one park or another, more if we had houseguests from Italy visiting. I knew what to expect. But seeing Disney through the eyes of your children? Incredible. Even without the more thrilling rides, which I didn't partake in for the first time in decades...no, it was all teacups and Small World and dumbo sort of hokey parental fun. We'd come full circle! I wasn't prepared to fall head over heels in love with the Disney experience the way I did, and I credit Mila and Dani with that. And Walt. Thanks Walt. See you very soon!
when I think of Disney I think of rides. But for kids, the parade is right up there! We hadn't scoped out parade information because up until that point Mila hadn't watched a huge amount of Disney movies and really had only gotten into Frozen (along with every other little girl in North America, nay, the world). We got in line at a cafe for lunch and saw that the sidewalk was already being cordoned off for the parade. Then I heard that Elsa and Anna were going to be in the parade. And....duh. Steve and I didn't even have to communicate on this one. I grabbed the girls and our stroller to stake out a front-row spot, Steve waited out the line for the food, and the rest was h-i-s-t-o-r-y. Definitely one of Mila's highlights and Dani was mesmerized as well. So, a very very happy accident by way of the parade.
We took our BOB stroller (it's a single but Mila will hop on the front from time to time if she's tired of walking) and the ergo. Dani slept in the ergo throughout the day. Amazingly, she slept through the entire spinning teacups which Steve was turning with all of his might (pre-shingles, ha!), the Little Mermaid ride, and the very jerky/jostling Toy Story Mania ride at Hollywood Studios the next day. Ergo's still got it fo sho.
We also had a two backpack system that worked well. One was lighter and smaller that just had a few diapers and small wipes container. This way if I had to change Dani there was no fumbling around for anything, just grab and go. The other backpack, the beast--had snacks, our camera, sunscreen, a couple bandaids, water bottles...this is what we'd take while waiting in ride lines. In our stroller, the workhorse, were more diapers, changes of clothes, the beast if one of us weren't wearing it...you get the picture.
Of course, when Disney-ing with littles, it's helpful to slow down your pace a bit. Sometimes more than a bit. In past times Steve and I had raced through parks trying to strategize and avoid lines. This time, we walked like normal people. Took breaks (diaper changes). Spent 30 minutes hanging around a fountain eating a le feu brew (more on that below). There were more snacks. Lots of grazing.
|Dani's sleeping, we're snackin'|
speaking of snacks! In order to make it on time for our 'magic hour' that first day in the Magic Kingdom, we ate breakfast on the go while waiting for the bus. Our favorite things that we'll be taking this time around were cereal bars, fruit and veggie squeeze pouches, applesauce squeeze bottles, and juice boxes. Those snacks also carried us through the day, when we weren't stuffing our faces with park goodies. Snacks and my favorite vitamin C lollipops got us through a few long lines.
park goodies! pineapple dole whip, mmmmkay? and nutella waffles at the Spooky Hollow Inn--this is also where we stumbled upon the parade. but my favorite park snack, a le feu brew at Gaston's Tavern. It's like this passionfruit smoothie drink thing, soooo delicious. We did a character dinner at Crystal Palace (I think that's the name?) with Pooh and Co. I wasn't expecting anything special at the buffet but it wasn't bad. A step in between cafeteria and wedding food, if you will.
and random: that footpath that goes around the outside of (not through) Cinderella's castle should really be appropriately labeled as Tobacco Lane on the WDW map. I don't think that would take away the magic or anything. Okay maybe it would. But it would save your lungs so I think that's a legit tradeoff. Be weary of Tobacco Lane folks.
And, just a few of the happy little moments that I loved and want to remember. You know, because this whole childhood thing is flying by much too fast.
* at the souvenir stores we'd go into Steve would bypass all the stuff he usually would make a beeline for (like t-shirts) and go straight for the Frozen merchandise. For his girls. I thought that was so sweet.
*we got caught up in parade route detour after detour in the evening ("we just want to ride the carousel for crying out loud!") that first night. And suddenly we found ourselves once again in the path of the nighttime light parade. Steve threw Mila up on his shoulders (Dani was in the ergo, relaxed and heading to sleep) and once again we marveled at how special it was that the parade had seemingly found us.
*the carousel ended up being our last ride of the night, Mila's choice. I nearly started crying when it started turning and Baby Mine from Dumbo began playing. I used to sing that song to Dani when she was an infant. Bittersweet. It always comes back to bittersweet, doesn't it?
*Mila has stood by her statement since we went that her favorite ride was It's a Small World. Dani loved that one too, bopping along to the music. Now that's a memory (and iphone video) I want forever.