Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Our first trip to the Magic Kingdom...with kids*
Our first trip to WDW with kids was in March 2006 when Olivia was 2 years old. We planned the trip at the last minute - after deciding to spend a week in Tampa in early March (it was a great time to go - the college where I was teaching had an early spring break and the crowds at the MK were wonderfully small!).
So, after deciding that we were taking Olivia to the MK for her very first trip, we had a few choices to make: where to stay, what to pack, where to eat. You know...the important stuff! And I didn't have six months (or more) to plan this trip [and that is my normal suggestion - start planning at least six month before your trip -- personally I start planning my next trip as soon as I get home from my current trip...but I AM a bit obsessive about planning].
We decided that we were going to stay at the All-Star Movies Resort and that we'd do a one-day base ticket, but add on the Disney Dining Plan. I figured that way everything would (essentially) be paid for BEFORE our trip and there'd be less to worry about. I called AAA (because we're members) and they took care of the details. And, we were lucky enough to be able to make an Advance Dining Reservation at The Crystal Palace with only a few weeks left until our trip.
We had our "Magic Kingdom Day" planned for the end of our Florida trip, but in retrospect (yes, three years later I'm still thinking about this), we should have done it FIRST. We should have stayed "on property" for two nights - giving us more time to enjoy our resort and RELAX. But we all learn from travel mistakes...and that was mine.
As it is, we arrived at the resort before 7:30 a.m. and were lucky enough to be able to check in (normal check-in time is 4 p.m.). So, we quickly brought the luggage to our room and then headed to the bus stop to get a bus to the MK. We chose to leave our small umbrella stroller in the car and just rent a Disney stroller (again, going against what I now recommend - bring your own stroller!).
This one-day trip was a great learning experience - our first lesson: When a ride has the word "Scary" in it's title, be warned....it probably IS scary.
Exhibit A: "Snow White's Scary Adventure". That was the first ride we took Olivia on...and it was a disaster of epic proportions. She screamed during the entire ride and was afraid of any ride that had even the smallest 'dark part' (including the Pooh ride, the Jungle Boat and the train!). Yikes. Bad, bad parents. However, she did enjoy 'it's a small world'...whew. [And now, her favorite ride is The Haunted Mansion! So at least she wasn't permanently 'scarred' from our bad ride judgment.]
We tried to fit as many experiences into one day as was possible with a two-year-old. We rode all the 'must do' rides, we visted Mickey's Toontown Fair and met Winnie the Pooh and friends (this was before Olivia discovered the princesses), we ate lunch at the Pinocchio Village Haus (sitting at a table that overlooked it's a small world -- the best seats in the house!), we watched the afternoon parade, we met more characters, we shopped, we ate dinner at The Crystal Palace and we stayed to watch Spectromagic.
The only thing we missed was Wishes (and only because we were all exhausted and had to start our drive home to Ohio the next day). Oh, and nap time...who needs it....Olivia took a 20 minute power nap in the stroller outside Cinderella's Castle. [I do NOT recommend this. I always say go back to the resort in the afternoon and REST. But we only had ONE day!].
I think by the end of the day we were all over-stimulated and exhausted and had done more in one day than some families can manage in two or three days. Which brings me back to why we should have done this visit at the START of our Florida vacation. Had we put more thought into it, we could have stayed on property for two nights (instead of just one), and we could have enjoyed our resort and maybe even had half of a day more to spend in the Magic Kingdom. Ah, hindsight is always 20-20, right?
As it was, I started planning our next trip as soon as we packed up the car and headed home to Ohio. We knew we'd be coming back in the fall of 2007 (and would likely have an addition to our family -- as we were planning that too)! And, as planned, our next trip was in September 2007 and our "party" was now a family of four (kids ages 3 1/2 and 8 months). I learned a lot during that trip and during our most recent trip (with a party of 10!!)...and so...sit back, relax and enjoy the next couple of posts -- I'll be sharing my pre-arrival tips and 'while you're at the parks' tips.
*OK...so it was really just 1 kid....