Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends, family, and followers! I hope your day is full of food, fun, and football! I’ve got a few posts in the works, including more Disney and something about my latest adventure. And my Facebook page (Loving Lemonade) is full of words of wisdom and inspiration, if you’re looking for a little reading in the meantime! Have a safe and wonderful holiday!
When one thinks of Disney World, what park does he or she think of first? Magic Kingdom, of course! The iconic Cinderella’s Castle is always the first thing I want to see. Then I know I’m in Disney and not just dreaming!
We spent more time at Magic Kingdom than any other park, 2 full days, plus an additional evening for dinner. And we STILL didn’t do everything there is to do. But we were on our own speed, and as much as I personally enjoy the Carousel of Progress (There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow…), I know Carlene would much rather ride the teacups.
With the exception of Peter Pan’s Flight, Magic Kingdom was fully operational. Last time we were at Disney, Fantasyland was completely under construction, so Belle’s castle area and Ariel’s grotto were brand new to us this time! As of our trip, Snow White’s area was still under construction (it looks to be some sort of roller coaster set in a cave!), so we look forward to seeing that completed next time. The Storybrook Circus area was also open now.
Enchanted Tales with Belle, one of the new attractions: THIS was probably my most magical Disney moment on this trip. Belle has always been my favorite, and the tradition has continued with Carlene. I didn’t know what to expect from this, but I noticed the wait times were very long each day, so we used one of our Fastpass+ allowances towards it. But after seeing it, I totally understand why you’d wait in line an hour for it. Children and parents are involved in Belle’s tale, and after storytime is over, Belle takes photos with the children one by one! The setting is small and intimate, and there is a Disney PhotoPass photographer present to capture the perfect shot. Whatever you do, DON’T leave Magic Kingdom without seeing this one!
Speaking of Fastpass+… have you heard of it? You can pick 3 attractions for each day and book your Fastpass time before even hitting the parks. Carlene and I chose ours about a month before vacation. This works with the MagicBands currently being tested as well as Keys to the World. I read they are making changes to the Fastpass+ system, so I can’t promise your experience will be like mine, but I loved it. It really helped us make the most of our time.
Other big ride pluses: Carlene got front row of Splash Mountain TWICE! Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was even more fun than I remembered. Blake really loved Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Ariel’s Grotto put a big smile on all of our faces. And you can’t go to Disney and not ride It’s a Small World. It’s an unwritten rule.
Besides the rides, don’t forget to check out the Dream Along with Mickey show in front of Cinderella’s Castle, and the Captain Jack Sparrow Pirate Tutorial across from Pirates of the Caribbean, both performed multiple times throughout the day. And stay late for the Main Street Electrical Parade, Celebrate the Magic show (which is when images are amazingly projected onto the Castle), and the Wishes fireworks show (watch for Tinkerbell!). Oh, and if you get there early enough to see the park opening, you’ll catch a brief but fun show featuring Mickey Mouse himself!
Food is aplenty at Magic Kingdom. Our first night, we dined at Cinderella’s Castle. It’s a nice experience, and if you’ve never done it and you are the parent of a young princess (or if you are a princess at heart!), you should do it at least once. The food was good, the service was good, but really, we only did it for the Princess experience. We’ll probably skip it next time.
We had dinner at the new Be Our Guest restaurant one night. Now THIS. THIS was awesome. I was in awe. Like I said before, Beauty and the Beast has my heart, so maybe that’s why I was stunned. But it was just like going into the movie. The food was delicious, and yes, we tried the grey stuff!! We also got to take our picture with the Beast. The West Wing is very cool, watch the portrait! My one question I should have asked… Anyone know the story about the baby faces on the cherubs on the ceiling of the ballroom? I highly suggest putting this on your reservation list.
We also had dinner at Tony’s Town Square, the Italian Restaurant centered around Lady and the Tramp. I made this reservation because we had never eaten here before, and when we got to Disney, I found myself disappointed that I hadn’t booked Liberty Tree Tavern instead (I looove that place). But how pleasantly surprised I was at Tony’s! It was so yummy! It’s right near the entrance to Magic Kingdom, so do yourself a favor and don’t pass it by!
And I can’t forget our Pooh and Friends breakfast at the Crystal Palace! One of the best breakfast buffets you’ll have anywhere on Disney property, AND you meet Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore!
So what didn’t I like? I was a little disappointed at how short the Barnstormer ride was. I know it’s meant for smaller children to be able to ride a coaster, but Carlene even said, “That’s IT!?” once it stopped. Not worth waiting in line for a long time.
Rapunzel’s tower is anchored by bathrooms. Really?! It’s constructed beautifully. I mean, I know Disney needs plenty of restrooms, but I was hoping it would be Rapunzel’s meeting area.
The area in front of the Castle is ridiculously congested during parade times, to the point where you can’t go forward or backward. I know it’s not necessarily Disney’s fault, but it sucks when you can’t go anywhere, nor can you get a good view of the parade because you are smooshed far back. You are better off trying to get on the parade route near Liberty Square.
Waiting for a quick service meal at Cosmic Ray’s one night took far longer than it should have. We were simply getting a PB&J for Blake because he had slept through dinner, and we waited 20 minutes. For an Uncrustable, a bag of grapes, and a milk. All prepackaged. Blake was pretty pissed. I normally wouldn’t complain, but it really wasn’t busy, and people behind us in line were getting their burgers before we got our order. Just a mini, truthful vent!
Well, that’s Magic Kingdom in a nutshell! Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? I’ll see you at Epcot (via words) in the near future!
Where have I been? Disney World! Remember that time I told you that Carlene convinced us to go? Well we did. We had a blast! We stayed in the new Art of Animation Resort, hopped around from park to park, shopped at Downtown Disney. And Carlene was tall enough to ride just about every ride!
So this was my 8th (I think!) trip to Disney. My 2nd as a mom. My 1st as a mom with a dreaded double stroller. I’m a planner by nature, so I planned the entire trip myself, had our dining reservations made 6 months ahead of time, made FastPass+ choices a month in advance. My husband swore I stayed up at night in the hotel and memorized the maps of the parks, but I promise, I sleep. Disney vacations require PLENTY of sleep. I just love the place so much that I remember exactly where I need to go! I really should be a Disney travel agent, or just work in Disney World. Hmmm…
Anyway, I want to share my pluses and minuses so that you can have the best Disney vacation ever too! And once I started writing them, I realized I was writing a 10 page essay, so I’m going to break this up into multiple segments so I can really share everything I want to share.
First up, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. This resort was FANTASTIC for families. Most of the resort is family suites (in themes of Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King), but we stayed in a Standard Room with a Little Mermaid theme. Carlene couldn’t have been more excited about the room, or the resort. Statues of all your favorite characters from the themes decorate your walkways, with the main pool surrounded by Finding Nemo friends.
I checked in online while we drove down, so checking in once we got there was a breeze. We were greeted as soon as we walked in the door, and all set to go within 5 minutes, with no line to wait in. Definitely check in online! And since the check in process is so quick, you can take the time to check out the awesome sketches on the walls in the area. You have got to see how scary Ursula was originally drawn to be!
Our room had been meticulously prepared, even with a towel Mickey on the bed. To our surprise, there was also a mini-fridge, which was so great for us with having a 1 year old who drinks milk. The downside to the mini-fridge is that you are limited to just 3 drawers in the room, total. But there is ample space to hang clothes in the sink area. Or if you are lazy like me, you just throw random crap in the drawers that you gather as the week goes on, and you keep your clothes in the suitcases. Hey, I’m on vacation here.
Our room continued to be meticulously cared for as the week went on, so thank you to the housekeeping staff for that! We did get to meet our housekeeper one morning as we were returning from the pool. I didn’t catch her name, but she was very sweet, and I’m glad I could personally say thank you for helping to make our stay great.
Speaking of the pool, there are 3. Two smaller ones, and one Big Blue Pool. If you stay here, go to the Big Blue Pool, and make sure you duck your head under water and keep your ears open! There’s also a cool sprinkler area that the kids were able to run around in. And there are a few playground areas throughout the resort, perfect for letting them stretch their little legs.
There were some things you’d wish for better, of course. The food court is your standard Value Resort fare, and the food was just eh compared to some food you can get in Disney. We ate dinner there on our first night, and breakfast there one morning, and otherwise steered clear, besides hitting it up for our refillable mugs that came with our dining plan. And as a quick FYI- the resort refillable mugs now have a sensor which activates the soda fountain for the length of your stay. So if you are used to bringing your mug from last time to use again, it’s not going to work.
The shower in the Little Mermaid room was made to look like Ariel’s treasure trove. Very very cool, until you attempt to shave your legs in a navy blue dimly lit shower, or if you are the kind of person who likes to wake up with a shower. It’s dark in there. But that’s minor in the big scheme of things. Also, the walk from the Little Mermaid area to the main building is a small hike, but this was no surprise to me, as we did opt for just a Standard Room. Just be aware!
I’d personally love to stay at Port Orleans, or the Polynesian, or the Contemporary. But when we visited the Polynesian for breakfast one morning, Carlene said, “I’m glad we didn’t stay here, this place is boring.” And you know, she’s exactly right. As an adult, these resorts are so beautiful. But as a kid in Disney, of course you want to be surrounded by your animated friends! So yes, we’ll stay at these others someday, but I definitely foresee us back at Art of Animation for our next Disney vacation!
So what would you like to hear about next?? Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom? Or do you have any specific Disney questions?