Ah. Nothing like making memories on a family vacation. Our 2016 Disney vacation has (sadly) come to an end and it’s back to work we go. So for those truly interested, here’s a not-so-brief recap of our vacation.
1. The Rides
Princess Pigg is officially 42 inches which meant she could ride basically every ride! Her absolute favorite was Splash Mountain, which we rode no less than 7 times. This trip was so much different than our last one in that respect. Last time, she was obsessed with meeting all of the characters, where this time is was more, “What are we riding next?!” Other than Splash Mountain, she loved the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Sadly, we only had one Fast Pass for the Mine Train, so the second time she wanted to ride it we had to wait for over an hour. But when we got up to ride, I was in the car in front of Princess and Poppa, and on the ride I could hear her giggles and squeals, which made the tiring wait totally worth it.
For our next trip, I think we should skip the Fast Passes at either Epcot or Animal Kingdom, and get 2 days worth of Fast Passes for Magic Kingdom!
2. The Entertainment
No matter how many times we go to Disney World, I am always amazed at their attention to detail. Not only the rides and characters, but the parades, shows, light displays, and over all ambiance truly make it the Happiest Place on Earth.
3. The Food
We used the Disney Dining Plan for the first time this year, and it was a huge success. We ate like royalty. We had a reservations at a nice restaurant every night. I won’t bore you with the food we ate, but here is my decisive ranking of the restaurants we ate at:
- Be Our Guest
- Tusker House
- Crystal Palace
- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
- 1900 Park Fare
- Mama Melrose’s (No characters, but we did get VIP tickets to Fantasmic, so it was still totally worth it.)
Besides having great food that is even great in non-theme-park restaurant standards, most of the dinners also allowed us to have meet and greet with Disney characters. This was totally worth the money! Each dinner had on average 4 characters. Most wait times to meet characters around the park average around 30 minutes. So if my algebra hasn’t failed me, we saved 2 hours of wait time by eating really great food and letting them come to us!
Disney Dining Plan is a must for us for every future trip!
1. The Weather
We had planned this trip for a 5 day stay. We were going to spend 4 of those days at the parks, and the other day soaking up the Floridian sun. However, Mother Nature had other plans. Instead of the mid 70s degree weather we were expecting, it was in the lower 60s for most of the trip. Which meant it was chilly in the morning and evening and required a jacket. This wasn’t too bad for park days, but it meant no pool day. Womp womp.
2. Terrifying our Daughter
As I said before, this trip was much different than last time because Princess was able to ride basically every ride. And she loved them! The roller coasters at Magic Kingdom were a huge success. And since she had to be 42 inches to ride them, we stupidly assumed she would enjoy any ride that she could ride. We were wrong.
We were pretty pumped for Tower of Terror after our day at Hollywood Studios. Although Hollywood Studios is probably my favorite park, there aren’t actually a lot of rides. It’s mostly (awesome) shows and entertainment. So when it was finally time for our Tower of Terror Fast Passes, we were pretty excited to get to ride something. We pumped Princess up about the ride as much as we could, telling her how fast it was and how it would “tickle her belly.” But, as soon as it was our turn in line, I knew we’d made a horrible mistake. To start the ride, they take you into a small room and play a Twilight Zone-esque video. The goal of the ride is to make it seem as if you’d entered the Twilight Zone. Our poor Princess was freaked out from the get go. By the time we heard the story, and got buckled in, she was saying how she didn’t want to do it. That she wanted to leave. When the ride started, it takes you through a dark “hotel”, and the group of college age hooligans we were with made it worse for our poor girl my randomly screaming and making spooky noises. By the time the thrill part of the ride started where you drop up and down quickly, we had to hold our trembling daughter’s legs in place and try to console her the best we could while still remaining buckled in.
She was so scared she didn’t cry, just trembled. It broke my heart. As we unbuckled her to exit the ride, I just looked at Poppa and muttered, “We’re horrible parents. Who takes their 3 year old on Tower of Terror?!”
3. Disney Vacation Club
I put this on the Bad list because it was almost financially bad. On our day off, we went for a meeting with the Disney Vacation Club, which is Disney’s timeshare. When we went into it, I was totally against it. After all, I’ve heard horror stories from my coworkers in the Consumer Fraud bureau about people being out major money through raising maintenance fees, or being unable to sell back your interest if needed. Poppa was kind of all about it.
Maybe it was the lemonade they greeted us with. Maybe it was the size and luxury of the suites they let us tour. Maybe it was the genuine friendly demeanor of our sales consultant, or the fact that he had an answer to all my questions. But before I knew it, I was ready to sign up for a membership. The package we were interested in would allow us to stay for a week at the Grand Floridian every other year. Plus, if we so desired, we could use our points at other locations around the world.
In my head, I was already re-arranging our budget to allow for this added expense, because can you really put a price on family memories? And this would really be an investment! Luckily, Poppa came to his senses and we were able to pass. While it might be something we do in the future, we probably do not want to take on any more debt when we’re getting ready to make some major life changes. Because let’s be honest, if it comes down to me being able to stay home with the girls, and being able to go to Disney World every other year, I’m going to pick the time with my girls.
No family trip to Disney World can be complete without some sort of meltdown. In fact, there was just an Onion article spoofing the need for Disney to open a separate park just for family meltdowns. Our little family was not immune, and we all had our little moments.
1. Mild Meltdown
On our first day, Princess got one of those magical Disney World balloons. You know the ones I’m talking about. Well, this $12 balloon was worth the money for the amount of happiness it brought Princess throughout our stay. That is, until we were packing up to go home. It was like diffusing a bomb when we had to tell her that we couldn’t take the balloon home because it couldn’t go on the plane. After waking up the entire resort with her wails, she finally agreed to release her beloved balloon back into the wild, and let it float away into the clouds as we were leaving.
2. Medium Meltdown
It was day one in the parks, and we were headed to Epcot. Our Disney Magic Bands worked perfectly to open the door to our room, and I checked to make sure the credit card was connected by buying something in the resort gift shop. Before our trip, I had connected the tickets that we purchased on base so we were able to get the military discount. I had email confirmations that the tickets were connected, and that enabled us to make our Fast Pass sections online. Given that every thing was connected to the magic bands, Poppa Pigg left his wallet at the resort, and we went on our merry way.
However, upon attempting to enter the park, we were told we needed to go to the Ticket Window. There, we were told that they needed to see the military ID to confirm that we were eligible for the military discount. Seems logical, but there was definitely some curse words expressed by Poppa Pigg when he realized that we would have to take the bus back to the resort, get his wallet with his military ID, then take the bus back to the park in order to do so. In all, we lost about a solid hour of park time. Poppa Pigg was not pleased, and let everyone know so.
Yet, in true Disney fashion, Disney Guest Services came to the rescue. As we were finally walking into the park, I got a call from Disney Guest Services. They had heard (everyone at the park at heard) of our mix up, and wanted to help make it up to us. They offered us 3 fast passes to any attraction of our choice. So, we were able to get Fast Passes to see Elsa and Anna, which in turn saved us an hour of wait time. Shout out to Disney for making right my mistake!
3. Major Meltdown
It was the final day and I was more than a little tired. We had dinner at Be Our Guest, which was fantastic, and I indulged in a little wine. We went and rode a few more rides, and at about 9 pm, I was ready to settle down, watch fireworks and the parade, and call it a night. My other two companions had other plans. Instead of getting a Starbucks, and relaxing for the last 2 hours the park was open, I was drug around to no less than 7 other rides. There was such a sense of urgency in Poppa Pigg riding as many rides as possible in that last 2 hours, that at one point he suggested leaving the stroller so we could jog across the park. I’m not making this up.
So, come 11 pm, I had finally given up and was sitting on a bench while the other two rode Splash Mountain for one more time. I was exhausted, wet from the water rides, chilly because the temp had dropped to 50 degrees, had a slight headache, and knew that when we got back to the room we’d have to pack up to leave in the morning.
I whined the entire time back to the resort, but had finally at least gotten to the comfort of the room. Princess Pigg had fallen asleep on the bus ride back to the resort, so we made Princess Pigg’s bed, and were trying to get her in her pjs without waking her up. That’s when she woke up, and screamed at me that she wanted a different nightgown than the one I was trying to put on her. I. Lost. My. Shit. I threw the nightgown against the wall and screamed at her that she could sleep naked for all I cared, that I was going to bed. I then yelled at Poppa for turning our last night into the death march, and started dramatically throwing our clothes into the suitcases.
Poppa got Princess to bed, and once I calmed down he told me to get some sleep, and that he’d pack the stuff in the morning. All in all, I think my head hit the pillow around 2 am, and we were scheduled to leave the resort at 9 am.
Hooray for family vacations!