Friday, February 28, 2014

RANDOM DISNEY WRAP-UP

(You can see pictures and fun details of our trip at this post: Epcot and Hollywood Studios and this post: Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom!)

Here's the deal about Disney - you can certainly overthink it.  I would tend toward the overthinking direction, because I like to research and try to figure out the best plan for every situation and budget.  I remember realizing a couple of months ago that there are endless things and opinions to read about how to do Disney, and that I really just needed to pick what was best for us and own it.  I had to pull the research plug, because there is TOO MUCH INFORMATION AVAILABLE.  Yes, I needed to shout that at you, because it is true.  Fair warning.

So, I am going to try to keep this concise and try to answer a few questions I have already gotten in person or through the blog.

Question:  How did you feel about the ages of your kids for Disney?

Answer:  Lily and Bella are 5 and 3.  We left the twins at home with my wonderful in-laws, which was definitely the right call.  I sort of feel like when you take young kids anywhere that you have to take the bad with the good.  It was absolutely magical to see it through their eyes - truly it was.  And, because neither of them nap, even while at home, they were able to hang through the days with us.  That being said, we dealt with our fair share of whining and melting down over little things just because they are little and they were tired and overstimulated.  But, I would do it over again the way we did it, if I were given the chance.

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Q:  Did you like where you stayed?

A:  We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside - a moderate Disney resort.  Since Disney has over 25 properties to choose from, there is certainly something for everyone.  I really love staying on property, because once you are there, you don't have to worry about a car or carseats or where to go.  Though it takes a while to get around, it is very easy, and there are a lot of different options - though it is mostly buses.  Most Disney rooms, in my experience, are a bit on the small side, but since you spend so little time in your room, this really doesn't matter to me.  Port Orleans Riverside is beautiful, has several pools and is on the River.

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Q:  Did you get the meal plan?

A:  Yes.  We got the moderate meal plan which includes One Table Service Meal, One Quick Service Meal and One Snack per night of stay.  I like pre-paying for the meal plan and knowing what we will be spending.  It works well for us, because then we aren't worried about what we spend at each meal. There are SO MANY eating options, and much of the food is really good.

Q:  On the subject of food, did you like where you ate?

A.  Yes!  I did a lot of research on different meal experiences, and I made reservations for each of our Table Service meals to be at restaurants that had characters as part of the experience.  It was a great way to make sure we got to see certain characters, and they do a great job of all coming around to the table to see you and pose for pictures.  They also do a parade through the restaurant with all the kids, which the girls loved.  We did Akershus Royal Banquet Hall with the Princesses in Epcot, the Crystal Palace with the Winnie the Pooh Characters in the Magic Kingdom and the Tusker House with Safari Mickey and friends in the Animal Kingdom.  I highly recommend them all!  My favorite quick service meal of the trip was the Be Our Guest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom - it counts as Quick Service at lunch!

Q:  What did you think about the new FastPass Plus system?

A:  We LOVED it!  We got our Magic Bands in the mail about a month before our trip, and I was really excited about the new system.  They served as our room key, our fast passes, our meal plan, and our photo pass.  The technology is pretty amazing.  I really liked being able to pick our FastPass experiences ahead of time online and then be able to change them on the go using the My Disney Experience App on my phone.  It was all really easy to figure out and use, and it made our trip that much more enjoyable.  The old Fast Pass machines are all covered up, and the whole system is going to booking them ahead of time or right when you reach the park, which makes it a lot easier than running to the ride.

Q:  If I wanted to do a lot of research, what do you recommend?

A:  The best website I found was recommended through a blogger I read (Jenna's Journey), who went to Disney a few months ago.  It's called the Walt Disney World Prep School.  It has way more information than you are probably looking for, but you can search through and learn about crowd calendars and discount schedules and anything else you can think of.  It's pretty amazing.

Q:  How did the girls do on the rides?

A:  The girls are both over 40 inches, which meant there were a lot of options of stuff for them to ride - basically just no big roller coasters.  We didn't do stuff that we knew would be super dark or extra scary, but we definitely pushed their limits.  To our great surprise, they loved Soarin' - a simulated fly through the air over landmarks and scenery.  It was fun to see what they enjoyed and to help them embrace some of the unknown.

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I have realized that I could go on and on about Disney stuff.  I obviously have great love for the parks, and I am often sad when I think about the fact that all the fun stuff is always happening there without me.  I really do think about it sometimes.

That said, if you have any questions, shoot me an email.  I am by no means an expert, but I almost always love to give an opinion.  At the end of the day, I reminded myself that this trip was not the be all and end all of our life.  That helped me to take it a little less seriously.  We had a great time, and I am hopeful that we will return again when the twins are older.  But not too soon - it certainly takes a lot of time and energy, not to mention cash.  I'm so thankful we had this chance this year.

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