Saturday, November 07, 2015

Disney 2015 - Vacationing in the land of the Mouse (with three kids.)

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We just returned from a Walt Disney vacation in Florida, and I already want to go back.  I have become such a Disney junkie over the years.  I think I may love it more than the kids.

We went during our "Mid-term break."  This is a distinctly UK tradition that is followed here in Bermuda, wherein the kids get a week off in October.  Since no school in the US has this holiday, it is wonderful time to go visit massive theme parks like Disney.  I personally lost track of how many Brit accents I heard whilst we were wandering the parks.  (Yes, whilst is a word.  See what I did there?)  Did I use it right?  Brit friends, help me out.

It is an especially fantastic time to go if you want to see Disney done up for the fall.

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This is our dear friend K, who is the absolute best person in the world to travel with, bar none. Seriously. When the sh-t hits the fan in my own life, I ask myself .. how would K handle this? She is that good.
 
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I'm not really sure why I love this place so.   Disney is over the top, expensive as heck, and absolutely mental in terms of planning, hyper stimulation and consumer spending ... but still...

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We had the best time.

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Does is make any sense to bring a one year old?  Heck yeah.

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Did we have an awesome time with our fabulous friends?  Oh yeah.

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Was trick or treating at Mickey's Not so Scary Halloween Party cool?  Yes!!!!  (even in the rain.)

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Does Disney think of crafty ways to get you to buy their products. (I'm looking at you Memory Maker.)

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Kidding aside, I do love Disney.  They know how go do it well.  All of it.  We have done it with the kids several times now, and each time, it seems to become more fluid.  Our first time was a complete disaster, of course... Jordan in the Disney hospital with a raging fever, flu across the board spread to friends with us, money wasted .. Etc.  

Since then, we've worked out some kinks...

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I'm not going to pretend it was easy traveling with a 13/14 month old.  The airline flights alone (for us, it meant two plane rides both ways) were brutal enough to make the most seasoned parent nervous.  While it's nice that his entry into the parks is free, throwing him into this mix meant accepting some sleepness night, some overstimulation, and some fussiness from the extreme change in routine.

And he was constipated.  Enough said. 

But we kept our expectations low and were lucky to be with understanding friends who pinched in and helped make the experience memorable for all of us.  And on the plus side ... His screaming in the security lines at the airport became a fast pass of its own.  I am not joking.  They pulled us out and got us through longer lines than I have ever seen.  

And of course, at Disney, having an infant means you can legitimately use the rider switch program.  Combined with a fast pass, it is just about the quickest way for a group like ours to go.  Extra bonus points for the kids tall enough to go as solo riders.. (I am telling you, our friends have taught us the best Disney tips.)

Added discovery - the infant care centers located in each park.  I took advantage of one on our first day at Epcot, and brought Theo in there for a diaper change, a cuddle and some down time because he was over stimulated.  The place was amazing - quiet and serene in the midst of KA-POW happening outside.  Anything you need for a baby is there (diapers, formula, baby food, basic first aid care, changing tables, little bathrooms.)

Apart from private nursing rooms,  they also had a room set to the side with Disney movies playing on a low volume to keep the slightly older siblings occupied.  I had read about these in the Unofficial Walt Disney Guide, and was so glad I remembered.  After the big kids and adults had finished their ride, they met Theo and I and we regrouped.  Theo was calm again and we could venture forth.

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We visited the parks we wanted to see, prioritized our rides and adventures, and made the most of what time we had.  The magic band system, particularly when used as a guest at an on site resort, is awesome.  Our super savvy Floridian friends booked us all at a great on site hotel (Tree house villas - the three bedroom option for those staying at the Saratoga Springs Disney resort).  With our own cars, traveling between the parks and the room was much simplified.
 
There's so much to say about each individual park, and the best way of navigating them.  Much of it depends on what your group consists of and what your priorities are.  Like I said, I really kept my expectations low.  Since we have done Disney before, done the character breakfasts and reservations at fancy restaurants .. for this trip, my only goal was getting Theo to see Buzz and Woody. 

Really.  That is it. 

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Having accomplished that, I sat back and watched in awe as my big kids ran off and tackled the Tower of Terror, Test Track and Mount Everest expeditions. We let them run off and do their rides and meet us back at designated locations, so I could manage the baby.

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 And just as I thought they had all and grown on me, I saw this happen:

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 Disney brings out the kid in all of us.  Even the kids. 

Especially the kids.

Other highlights:

 - The Food and Wine day at Epcot.  Yes, I would like the three wine pairing and cheese tray, thank you.  Sushi and pineapple sake?  Go on then...

-  Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party fireworks and Boo to You Parade;

-  The Kilamanjaro safari ride at Animal Kingdom (done this three times and I still love it.);

-  Beating Jeff's score  on the Toy Story Mania Ride;

-  The creepy crawly effects on the "It's Tough to be a Bug" ride at Animal Kingdom. Very cool.

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All I want for Christmas is a Disney Annual Pass.  I know, in fact, I am quite certain, I can make it economically feasible within  year. 
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