Thursday, July 9, 2009

My take on Disney World...

So, we went to Disney World with our 3 ½ year old son, made it back home in one piece and absolutely LOVED it! We had the most wonderful time and his melt downs were few! They did get a little worse as the week went on, but can you blame him when your spending 12 hour days in the different parks!?

During our 5 ½ day – 6 night stay we hit all four theme parks – The Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. I’m not sure which one was my favorite as they all had parts that I loved! My favorite ride at The Magic Kingdom, as corny as it may sound, was the Aladdin ride and I loved the show PhilharMagic. I don’t know how long that show has been there, but I’d never seen it before. It was a 3D show that had Tanner reaching out to grab at Donald as he flew toward you and reaching for the conductors stick! It was pretty darn cute! You could smell the desserts that were in the show and at one point you got wet! REALLY neat and Tanner said he loved it!

Magic Kingdom – Since we had so much rain when we were there we didn’t get to check out all that we would have liked too. The Haunted Mansion scared Tanner & he did not like, but he enjoyed It’s a Small World! That’s one of those that I say you can’t leave without doing! We really enjoyed these rides: Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Snow White, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Dumbo, Goofy’s Barnstormer (3rd visit he finally rode), Cinderella’s Carousel, Mad Tea Party (until Dad had us spinning too fast) the Speedway, Buzz Lightyear’s ride. There were many shows that we also took in and really enjoyed:
Monster’s Inc. LaughFloor, County Bear Jamboree and The Enchanted Tiki Room. I really wish we’d of gotten to check out Tom Sawyer’s Island & Pooh’s Playful Spot! Tanner and I did not care of the Astro Orbiter, but I bet he will in a few years and I didn’t like the Swiss Family Treehouse (I hate heights) but the boys liked it! Of course Chad loves Splash Mountain & Big Thunder Mountain, but Tanner was still too little to ride those. Maybe next time!

Epcot – Tanner really enjoyed the Finding Nemo ride and all that went along with that in regards to the huge aquarium, Mission Earth and even got to be in a show at Innoventions! Chad & I enjoyed Soarin’, Mission Space (orange ride) and he went on Test Track. I waited with Tanner b/c he was too small to ride and I didn’t want his feelings to be hurt. The friends we went with have an 8 year old daughter so they did Kim Possible & really enjoyed that! It took their whole day so they weren’t able to go on the three big rides (Soarin’, Test Track and Mission Space) but they did make it back to the park another day & got to ride some two of them another day. We didn’t take any time in the World Showcase, but I think next time it may be easier to do, and Tanner may enjoy it more, if he’s a little older. We ate and Lotus Blossum Café and I would not do that again…the orange chicken was good, but there was not much of a selection to choose from. Also, I got a Mango Margarita while there – NOT WORTH the $8! Maybe another flavor would have been better, but this just was not the best margarita I've ever had.

Animal Kingdom - It was pretty rainy when we went to Animal Kingdom so we didn’t do as much as we would have liked to. We did enjoy the Kilimanjaro Safari and were able to walk right on since we got to the park when it opened & went straight over! We really enjoyed the Finding Nemo show that we went too, though Tanner was getting restless toward the end and so we did not go see the Lion King show. We’ll have to hit that next time as we were told it was very good. Tanner had a great time in Dinoland, U.S.A. area & loved the Tricera Top Spin! I did not enjoy the Primeval Whirl all that much b/c it was SO jerky, but Chad didn’t complain. I enjoyed Dinosaur much more this trip than I did 8 years ago! I knew what was coming and so I was prepared, and I plugged my ears so the dinosaurs weren’t as loud! Tanner totally enjoyed himself in the play area that also in included the dinosaur dig! All in all – we have a lot more to do hit (Camp Minnie & Mikey) & many trails to walk next time we go down! Hopefully it won’t be as rainy next time either! Oh, and Chad enjoyed the roller coaster Expedition Everest!

Hollywood Studios – OK, so the big kids really enjoyed Tower of Terror (Tanner and I did not)! He was pretty upset that he couldn’t go on it. I know it would have been a different story had we been able too & gotten in line! Joe (other 3 year old on the trip that was tall enough) really liked it the first time so they took him on it again and he did not like it the 2nd time at all! I LOVE the Rockin’ Roller Coaster & rode it twice in a row! We took the advice of a friend & I had us all walk as quickly as possible to Toy Story Mania! This was such a fun ride and they were out of fast passes within a couple of hours from when the park opened! So much that we missed here (Voyage of the Littler Mermaid, Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage, Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area, American Idol Experience, which Tanner kept asking to go do, Studio backlot tour, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Journey to Narnia: Prince Caspian, The Magic of Disney Animation). Tanner wasn’t able to do the Star Tours so I didn’t go on it either. I told him next time we come back we’ll ride it for the first time together! He did love the Muppets 3D show though! Laugh out loud funny and he was reaching for the 3D objects again!

Favorite meals
Cape May Café at The Beach Club - This was a character breakfast (Minnie Mouse, Goofy & Donald Duck) that had great food! They were really late in getting us in for our reservation, but the food was great once we made it in! The characters all stopped by the table for pictures & autographs so that was nice! The kids had a blast! I can say, be sure you try the bread pudding, breakfast pizza & omelet – all really tasty!

Kona Café at The Polynesian – We had a teriyaki style new york strip I think it was? Whatever we ate that night, it was really good! We also ordered the pot stickers and they were OK.
The Wave at The Contemporary – We each had a filet for dinner and it was incredible! Melted in your mouth…our waitress was great! She brought our son a bowl of Fruit Loops when he didn’t like the kids chicken fingers. They were more of a baked chicken with a bread coating rather than fried chicken fingers. She was great! We shared the creamy indulgence and decadent flavors desserts & they were both PHENOMENAL! We would definitely go back there again with the great food and service we got. Also, the décor was very nice and I couldn’t believe how incredible the hotel was! REALLY neat! Gotta go take a peek if you go down to Disney World! My husband tried the Organic Beer Flight with dinner & really liked this. One more thing: DO NOT order the kids drink in the cup with the clip on light! It was really sour and our son did not like it. Heck, we didn’t really like it much either and all three of us like sour. Oh well, fun cup, straw & light up Lighting McQueen!

OK food -
Akershus Castle at Epcot in Norway - This was a Princess Storybook breakfast that we did and it was OK. Not as good as Cape May, but I would do it again. You went through a buffet line with yogurt, fruit, pastries and then they brought bacon, eggs and hash browns to your table (family style). All of the princess’s (Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Ariel) come to your table so you are able to get autographs and pictures. You meet Belle on your way into your table and get a professional picture taken there.

Tony's Town Square at The Magic Kingdom. Food wasn't out of this world and our server was not very good. He was not very friendly, seemed to have too many tables and drinks wre allowed to run completely out. I had a good Chicken Parmesan, but nothing spectacular.

Not great food
Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios- It was buffet for dinner which in my opinion is never a good thing. I will say that they had an amazing spoon cornbread dish and mashed potatoes, but other than that – not impressed! Also, it was very loud and we had very poor service! The place was packed and understaffed as some at our table even ran out of drinks before they were refilled. I would not eat here again.

Hotel –
We (my husband and I) decided that we liked Riverside better than where we stayed this trip, Port Orleans – French Quarter. It was much dirtier and the room seemed smaller. Great food court, gift shop and lobby though. Also, great pool with a really fun slide that they kids loved! We will always stay on site though b/c it's great not having to worry about driving anywhere & the extra perks you get with the extra hours in the parks!

My best advice…
1. Go when your child is at least 3 ½ years old (less naps needed, hopefully past the diaper stage and really excited about the characters). I can’t imagine if we’d of been dealing with diapers, bottles and having to go back to the hotel for naps! Tanner napped as needed while out and about in his stroller.

2. Take a stroller! We had bought the Chicco Liteway stroller. It was great b/c it folded up quickly/easily which is needed with getting on and off the buses (or Monorail) when going to and from the parks. It also has a handle to carry it from which was nice! The
main reason I chose this stroller was b/c it laid down pretty well all the way. I wanted this as my son has always been one to nap and knowing that we would be at the parks to watch fireworks at night, I wanted to know he would be able to go to sleep comfortably if he needed/wanted too.

3. DO THE MEAL PLAN! We ate many meals that we never would have eaten had it not been for the meal plan. It is so worth it and I will never go again without doing the meal plan!
4. Call (or email) Maralee to plan your trip! She was awesome and gave us a lot of insider tips and really got us set up for some great meals with our dining plan!

Can't wait until we go again! Best trip ever!

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