Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Disney World.

I have big plans to get around to catching up around here. 

First up, Disney. 

Back in November, our family of four traveled to Orlando for our boys' first Disney World experience. This will have to go down as the one family vacation that had the least amount of preparation put into it, yet surprisingly more enjoyable than I could have imagined. (I'm a planner.) 

I hadn't been to Disney since I was a child. And let me tell you, a lot has changed in those 20 years. Fast passes and magic bands and character dinners.. oh my! 

We stayed on Disney property - something I'd highly recommend. There are a lot of options - with ranges from lower end to high end. We chose one of the cheaper options, but a recent build, so it was nice and fresh: Art of Animation. A single room for the 4 of us worked just fine for our 4 night stay, as we left at breakfast each day and returned at bedtime. The shuttle transportation to and from the airport, hotel, parks, and downtown Disney (dining & shopping) is included, so car rental, parking, and directions are one less thing to worry about. And really, traveling with little people makes conveniences like those worth their weight in gold.

After a couple of date modifications, the trip ultimately landed at the beginning of November, which turned out to be a really great time for a visit. We seemed to dodge the holiday break crowds which made our park line waits and transportation waits all relatively small, considering some of the lines I recall waiting in as a child or stories I'd heard from others. The weather was unseasonable chilly, but it was completely manageable - and warmer than what we left in KC. 

We had acquired a double stroller to accommodate our growing brood just before our trip, and it turned out to be a dream. Owen has long been out of the stroller phase, but a full day of walking, in crowds would certainly have resulted in one lost 4.5 year old (who has no fear of being separated - he just veers in whatever direction grabs his interest with no regards to his parents' locale), OR have suffered through moans and groans of being tired of walking (the boy is not shy to voice his current woes and grievances.)

Four was a really fun age to take Owen. He was just tall enough to ride most of the rides, and I was surprised by how much he loved some of the more exciting ones. With Brooks being under two, he was a free plane ticket and park admission, so it made it easy to justify going while he was too little to remember. Besides, I needed someone to keep me company since being pregnant excluded me from some rides. ;-)

We had 3 full days at the parks. We spent the first day at Magic Kingdom, split the second day between Animal Kingdom and Epcot, and the third we ended up back at Magic Kingdom instead of a split between that and Hollywood Studios. At our boys' ages, Magic Kingdom was definitely (and obviously) a crowd favorite. Next time we're there, we'll be sure to hit up Hollywood Studios, but we really have no regrets skipping out on that visit.

In short, vacations with my family were among my fondest childhood memories, and have already become some of my favorites now as a momma. I hope our children will look back on their childhood family vacations with the same fondness. (see my posts on our Florida and California [post 1 and post 2] vacas!)

I could definitely go on and on about our trip details, but I'll spare you extra paragraphs and share a compilation of photos from our trip!

We had a nonstop flight to Orlando - Brooks' longest flight to date, and he did remarkably well. Since I fly solo with the boys so frequently, it sure was a nice change in pace to have Colby along for an extra set of hands.

Day 1 at The Magic Kingdom's festive entrance. Disney is magical already - Christmas heightens that experience. 

Breaks from the stroller were exhilarating. 

Family photo at the first day's end. No, the boys aren't wearing smiles, but they are both looking at the camera. It's the small things.

Coats were necessary for the majority of Day 1. 

Animal Kingdom on day 2, with an increase in temperatures. Coats shed.

Our hotel grounds had some really fun scenery. Owen loved this part of our daily walk. 

We stayed in The Little Mermaid portion of the campus.

Park food.

Shark food.

Owen chose a safari Pluto as his souvenir from our trip.


Magic Kingdom.

Because this is what kids are suppose to do on hotel beds. Didn't we all?

And the rides. Since Brooks and I took the sidelines during the rides we couldn't do, we enjoyed our vantages points of being able to wave and snap a photo as the other two went by.

This was before the Dinosaur ride.. the one ride Owen claimed he did not like. Colby agreed it was pretty scary for a 4-year-old, but he was a great sport about it. 

Being contained to waiting in line for this little one was tricky. We passed him back and forth like a hot potato, put him down, picked him up, let him wander in little corners, climb bars, touch everything in sight.. it was exhausting.

Winnie the Pooh - our favorite of the rides we could all do together. (Owen is hiding behind Colby.)

Colby & Owen in the back row on Splash Mountain... which they rode 4 times during our visits. I have to say that this made me a little jealous since this was my favorite ride way back when. It was a toss up between this one and Thunder Mountain as Owen's self-proclaimed favorites of the rides.

Watch out, Owen's behind the wheel!

An added bonus to our trip was getting to meet up with the Orlando locals - I finally had the chance to meet Kendra's crew at dinner one evening in Downtown Disney.

Ghiradelli in Downtown Disney was a must. Brooks even had his first sample of whipped cream (it was the only thing that bought us a few minutes of sitting at a table), and obviously, was in love. ;-) 

Me and my biggest little man at Epcot. 

If I were going to go pregnant, I'm glad I went late enough to be over the sickness, but early enough to still have the energy. 

We were completely (understated) exhausted by the end of our trip, but our hearts so full. It was so good to spend those days together as a short-lived family of four.

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