Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wonderful World of Disney

For Spring Break this year, we decided to take the kids to Disney. We have not been for about five years. Autumn wanted to go again before she graduated, so it was either this year or next year. Next year, Makayla will be 16 months old, which to me is the worst age imaginable to bring a child to Disney. So we opted to bring her at 5 months old. Not ideal, but it worked out great.

We drove this time, and I clearly had forgotten how long it takes or else we would have flown. That being said, the kids did great. We got there much later than we expected, which made for a late night of preparations for Mike and I to get us prepared for the park in the morning. I think we went to bed at about 1 am. Our plan was to be at the park by 8. We got about 5 minutes down the highway when I realized I left Makayla's formula on the counter, so back to the condo we go. We then decided to stop at Target on the way out to get autograph books for $2 instead of paying $8 at the park (total savings $42). We arrived at that parking lot at 9 am and by the time we got our tickets from will call, took the monorail, got a double stroller ($32 a day- what are they nuts?) it was 10 am and we walked into the park just in time for the morning parade. The kids loved it, but I was looking around and wondering really how we were going to maneuver our huge family amongst the seemingly millions of people that were at the park that day. Apparently, it had rained for two days straight prior to our arrival, so everyone was back at Magic Kingdom to celebrate the return of sunshine. I needn't have worried though, as I have "Super-Mike" on my side. He ran to get fast passes all day, and kept us out of lines. Having a child swap option makes it so easy to avoid waits! We would use 5 of our tickets for fast passes for the rides that everyone including Hunter could ride, and the other four tickets for fast passes for the rides only our 48 inch and over kids could ride. Mike would take four kids on, leaving one to help me with the little ones. At the front of the fast pass line you ask for a child swap and they give you a fast pass good for three more people to come through the line! So after they got off I would ride with two of the kids. It worked great. We didn't have time to go to Walmart to get food for the day because we got in so late, so the only lines we waited in were for food and to get autographs from characters.

We got home from the park at around 11 pm. The kids were fabulous for having such a long day. We were so grateful to have bought a Winnie the Pooh "harness" (fancy name for leash) at Walmart in Texas. It kept Julia from being lost, trampled, drowned.....several times over. Probably the best $20 investment we made for the trip.

We took the kids back to the condo and then Autumn and I went shopping for food to bring to the park on Monday ( Uncrustables, crackers, water bottles, nutrigrain bars, protein bars, pringles, apples, oranges, etc...) and food for Sunday meals (cereal and oatmeal, lunchmeat for sandwiches and lasagna for dinner) as well.

We took the day off from the parks on Sunday and went to a local ward for church. We showed up late because at the last minute we realized we had forgotten daylight savings time! We didn't stay for classes and instead assigned the kids to teach each other. Emily taught Julia's nursery class and did a great job with her providing snack, bubble time and a great lesson. We went to bed early to prepare for the crazy week we had coming up.

The rest of the week went much smoother and we arrived at each park much earlier and had ridden most of the rides before the crowds arrived. We did Hollywood Studios on Monday, Animal Kingdom on Tues, Epcot Weds, Magic Kingdom again on Thurs and Hollywood Studios again on Friday. The highlights were: "Finding Nemo- the Musical" at Animal Kingdom- we loved it so much we bought the CD and Julia goes to sleep to it every night. The rides we loved were "Splash Mountain", "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad", "Space Mountain", "Soarin", "Kilamanjaro Safari" and "Mickey's Philamagic". Our all time favorites were "Expedition Everest", the new roller coaster at Animal Kingdom, and "Toy Story", an amazing 3-D ride at Hollywood Studios where you play simulated carnival games. Disney really is amazing. The little kids loved dining with the Disney characters and meeting them. Julia and Hunter are still in the "magical" ages, where it is all real to them. Their faces lighting up with excitement at every new thing made it worth all the work to get them there.

Mike and I were able to sneak away one evening to Downtown Disney for a fun date night.
( Animal Kingdom closes early so that night Autumn babysat for us) I blew my diet at Ghiradelli chocolates but didn't even care because it was so good it was worth it :)

All in all the trip was a great success. We love being together as a family, and I love the way my older children look out so much for the younger ones when we are in situations like this. We will probably go one more time when Makayla is in those magical ages ( @ 4-6 years old) and then we will move on to the other parks that have bigger thrill rides for the older ones. By then we'll probably be bringing Autumn's husband and kids along..whoa, I'm getting ahead of myself there. If I could turn back time, this would be one vacation I would return to over and over!