Sunday, April 22, 2012

Disney Thoughts Part I

This is gonna be a long one so I'm going to break it up....

So without a doubt I would say that our Disney World trip was fantastic!  In terms of our resort, the parks, and all of our dining reservations - I cannot think of a single thing to truly complain about.  I remember when I was planning this trip and wondering if this would be THE Disney trip or if it would be the first of others and I can say now without a doubt, it was only the first.  Even Jason, who I never would have expected to have loved it as much as he did, is ready to go back.  I was absolutely touched to hear him (along with my mom and Kevin) say what a great time they had and how much they appreciated the planning that I did.  It was a little stressful sometimes because I was so intent on making sure I had planned the "perfect" week, but it was totally worth it. All the hours I spent reading the unofficial guide, reading the DisBoards, and flipping through the Disney World website were worth it.  In fact, I can't wait to start planning again, but it's a little early for that.  Initially we said we'd go back in 5-7 years but now we want to go a little sooner.  However, I  don't want to go back until we are done with strollers so maybe more like 3-4 years.  And this leads me to my random thoughts on Disney World....

Stroller World - Was having a stroller at Disney horrible?  No.  But if I could do without it, I would.  (Mostly because then there wouldn't be one for my kids to fight over!)  I was rather good at flipping that umbrella stroller up quickly to get on buses and holding it if we had to stand.  Disney is VERY stroller friendly though and I love how they are almost a part of the culture.  There is stroller parking everywhere and I love how everyone just leaves their strollers without worry.  I remember the first day feeling kind of weird about it.  I followed the tips I read though and put a strange looking bandana on it to help quickly identify it.  The other funny thing about strollers at Disney though is that they WILL move them while you are gone on a ride!  I almost freaked the first time it happened but when I found it somewhat nearby, I realized that a cast member had done it as they try and keep things neat and tidy around the park.  On our last day coming out of Indiana Jones, I thought we'd lost our stroller (good timing?) but turns out Jason had already found it while we were watching the show and thought it would be helpful to grab it.  It's just so funny how Disney really is made for strollers but if you don't have one, I'm sure you'd be happy too!  Although I think people with double wide strollers have the hardest time because of how they don't fit through gates very easily.  I loved how Piper and I always would put our cards through the ticket reader and then get to walk through the gate and of course they'd tell her "Hello, Princess!"

Packed Parks = Not Looking at People - Yes, we were there at spring break and yes, it was packed, but the funny thing is, in the regular world crowds would annoy me and individual people would make me crazy, but at Disney World, they didn't!  Jason and I both talked about how weird it was that you were around so many people but other than cast members, you hardly looked at anyone!  You are so focused on where you are going, the sights around you, and keeping track of your kids, you barely notice anyone!  I think the only time people got in my way was when we were racing through the park somewhere.  Plus, it just seems like most people are in good moods.  Sure, there are exceptions (Kevin saw a guy give the finger to the camera on the Monster's Inc show) but for the most part it really is a strange, alternative universe.

No Time Except Park Time - Why did I bother to bring my Kindle and music player?  I charged them both up, made sure they were loaded only to never touch them the entire week.  I guess I thought I'd use them on the plane or maybe one evening in the room.  Nope.  Completely forgotten and unused.  I've found that since having kids, it's almost impossible to read in close quarters because they are constantly talking to you.  And why put on headphones when you have to constantly take them off or turn off the music?  I remember hoping to do a little mobile blogging too, but nope.  No time.  I did manage to send an email to my boss one day with some pictures of the kids (her request before I left - she was so excited for us), but that was only because I had a moment on the bus going back to the resort one afternoon.  I guess unless you purposely make it, there is no free time in Disney!  Thank goodness Facebook makes it so easy to update because I knew my MIL and SIL were following us closely on FB and I loved seeing their comments knowing they were getting to see what the kids were doing.

Crowds & Touring Plans - So even though the crowds didn't annoy me, they certainly did add to wait time on rides which isn't a great thing.  But, we quickly learned our lesson - you either stay in the parks extra late and ride (Kevin and Kelly stayed until 3am in the Magic Kingdom the night it had extra magic hours that late!) or you get there early.  I had been reading this in the Unofficial Guide along with TouringPlans.com but until you see it for yourself, it's hard to convince you.  But wow!  The morning we arrived at Hollywood Studios before 8am felt like magic.  Hard getting up, but wow.  Emptyish park, no lines and you can buzz from ride to ride and get fast passes easily.  Plus, the park is fresh and cool - your energy level (and mood) is high and you feel like you own the park.  I wish we could have gotten to the parks early every day just to experience it.  The early day in the Magic Kingdom was similar.  Loved it!  Cast members even seem happier and there are characters everywhere without lines!  But getting up early on vacation is no joke and not easy (even with early risers like we are) so you have to prepare.


Breakfast in the Room - My kids like to eat breakfast as soon as they get up (as do I) so I knew having breakfast food in the mini-fridge would be so helpful.  We could all get ready as we ate and not have to stop and wait in a line to get food.  This plan worked like magic as we had ordered our groceries ahead of time from GardenGrocer.com - I highly recommend them!!  We had milk, juice, cereal, yogurt, fruit, etc and we were able to get out of the room dressed and fed in less than an hour - not too shabby.


Lunches & Dinners - Being on the dining plan, we had 6 sit down meals to plan for. In thinking about the fact that dinner time might not always be the best meal to have to sit down for (tired kids), I planned 4/6 of our meals as lunch reservations rather than dinner. I'm very glad we did this!  Not only did it mean we were already in a park at meal time, but the kids were generally probably in better spirits than they might have been later in the day.  Here's an example of Piper the first meal (Liberty Tree Tavern) for dinner on our first night:


You can see Bryce's legs because he was laying down too.   Not that lunch meant they were perky either, but in these cases it was usually only Piper that was fighting the sleepies as opposed to all three.  Quite honestly, if I had to do it again, I would probably do it the same mostly because you know you'll be in the park for lunch time whereas who knows how long you will make it in the park on any given day - hanging around for a 7pm reservation could be tough.  Plus, with having lunch midday, we had the option of going back to the resort after lunch and then wherever we were for dinner we just ate counter service there. Our one exception was the evening we did dinner at Chef Mickey's - but we purposely left the MK earlier that day so we could have time to relax before dinner.  I wouldn't have wanted to show up directly at Chef Mickey's after spending the entire day in the park (but that's just me).  One other thing I learned for next time is that if we do make dinner reservations to make them MUCH later than we normally eat.  Once you're on Disney time, you don't eat at your usual dinner time.  It was crazy how busy the food court at the resort was at 7:30pm as opposed to 6pm.  We ate 4 counter service meals at our resort and while the food was good, I reallllly would have liked to have tried counter service places at the parks but since we weren't there (and didn't want to make the kids wait to get back to a park to eat) we made do.  Thankfully, it was a good food court with a lot of selections - I loved the made to order salads!  I also think that by having your "big" meal at lunch, you get your bigger, heavier meal over with early and don't go to bed as full.  Probably something good for non-Disney times too.

More thoughts coming.....

2 comments:

jason said...

Absolutely, my favorite vacation ever, bar none. You did a perfect job in planning and I will hire you again to do our next trip. Thanks for the best vacation ever!!!!

Katie said...

Now you know why we went back after 2 years and why we're going again before T goes to Kindergarten. It is a different trip every time at every age and at different times of year. I don't know if I can take the spring break/summer crowds after being there during low season though. Getting up early sounds brutal, but worth it to avoid crowds. I am taking notes for the next trip though just in case...